Malcolm - The Meeting (A Cocky Smiling O Story Book 3), page 1
Malcolm - The Meeting
A Cocky Smiling O Story Book 3
Malcolm - The Meeting
Excerpt: Ashton - The Agreement
Ashton - The Agreement
Excerpt: Cherry Popper
Also by Jade Sinner
About the Author
Copyright © 2016
Editing: Printed Matter Editing
Formatting: Indie Formatting Services
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any informational storage and retrieval system, without the written permission from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
2016 Edition License
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the appropriate retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's hard work.
"One night doesn't end with a kiss. It begins with one."
One night to remember.
That is what I allow myself.
One night for fun, for passion, but not for love.
I have a man in my life, one I adore.
He's five years old and all the man I have time for.
Fate took away his daddy.
What would happen if I allowed fate another chance,
one night, one meeting?
Blind dates are disasters. If I weren't helping the
friend of a friend, I wouldn't go.
After all, the Pep my friend knew is gone.
No longer the hockey star known for his pep on the ice
and in the sack, I have a new life, and a new career—
a new passion.
When the blind date is a bust, could
one chance meeting change everything?
Read this fun, touching, predictable, short, hot, and steamy book and learn how one meeting can lead to so much more! Malcolm: The Meeting is a standalone with a guaranteed HEA. Don't miss your next bookgasm.
"I promise you'll like him," my friend Sally says as she leans her hip against my desk. Sally is everything I don't have time to be. She's carefree, fun, and always up for a night on the town.
My bottom lip disappears between my teeth for only a moment. It's been so long since I've thrown caution to the wind and let myself go. One night of abandoned, reckless fun. How difficult would that be to do?
"See," she says with a knowing grin. "You're thinking about it. You're actually considering it."
My computer dings and I turn back to the screen. It's an email from my manager, no doubt informing me about something else that she's too busy to do that has suddenly fallen upon me.
I look back at my friend's big hazel eyes.
They're opened wide in question as she tries one more time. "Ok, I wasn't going to tell you this, but even though he's new in town, gorgeous, funny, and sexy as hell, we think there's something wrong with him."
"What?" I ask.
"I mean, you'd be helping the poor guy out, and I know how partial you are to helping the less fortunate."
"Puppies and kitties, not twenty- to thirty-something men."
"Hey, those men need a little help sometimes too. I never thought you would discriminate."
I take a deep breath, my attention torn between Sally and the persistent dings of my computer messages. "What's wrong with him?" I ask. "Color-blind? Dyslexic? One testicle smaller than the other?"
I cover my grin as my eyes open wide. Only with Sally would I say such a thing.
She leans closer. "Well, I'm not sure about his testicle. You see, Brian and I have this bet going on. Brian thinks that his old friend can't get it up...too many PEDs when he played for the Lightning." She shrugs. "I just think he has a hard playboy body with a soft heart and hasn't found the right lady."
"So you're wanting me, hardly playboy-girlfriend material, to settle your bet?"
"No," Sally insists. "I'm wanting you to be that right lady. And," she adds, "Brian wants to know if he can still get it up."
I shake my head. "That sounds like too much work. Besides, I'm taken. I have the most handsome man in my life. As a matter of fact, he slept in my bed last night."
"Jase doesn't count."
"What do you mean?" I mock shock. "He most certainly can count. He has since he was three. Truly he's a genius and you, Aunt Sally, should know that. Now he's writing his name, too."
"Honey, you're a great mom. But it's not fair to you or to Jase for you to live like a monk. It's time to see what the world has to offer."
Again my computer dings.
"Don't monks take a vow of silence or something?" I ask.
"Then a nun. You make a better nun anyway. Celibate and wine-drinking."
"Hey!" I reach up to my long brown hair, currently pulled to the side in a low ponytail resting on my shoulder. "I could never wear a habit."
Sally laughs. "Speaking of habits, try giving up that celibate thing and I know a habit you'll enjoy again."
I shake my head. "I don't know. My parents are always willing to watch Jase, but he goes to bed at eight-thirty. I'm sure Mr. Sexy-ex-hockey-player isn't interested in a date that turns into a pumpkin at eight o'clock, even if he does have erection issues."
"I bet if you ask, your parents will keep Jase overnight."
My stomach twists. I'm not ready for this. I should be. Jason just turned five years old and it's been four years since I last saw his father. The memories incite the same emotions they always do. I see his blue eyes, the same ones I see daily in our son. I remember his parting words, telling me he'd return safe and sound. And then I remember the terrible knock on the door. I knew what had happened before I opened it. No military wife wants to see a man in uniform at the front door, one who isn't her husband.
The few weeks that followed are still a blur. I can't remember how I functioned, if I ate, or if I even took care of Jase. I tried. Thank God for my parents.
Somehow we survived. Somehow time has moved on.
In a few days Jason will begin kindergarten as a relatively well-adjusted little man. I couldn't be more proud of him, and I know Jackson would be too. That's why I let Jase consume my life: he deserves more than what I alone can give. He deserves two parents. Thanks to a roadside IED, it's up to me to be both.
Yet there are times I wonder what it would be like to be a twenty-five-year-old woman instead of the responsible mother, if only for one night.
"Shit, Sally, I need to get on whatever Ms. Deville wants. If I don't, I won't hear the end of it."
My friend brushes my shoulder. "Call your mom or I will."
I shake my head. "Sometimes you're a real bitch." My accusation is only a whisper for Sally and accompanied by a big smile.
"That's why you love me. Don't make me call your mother, because I will. We both agree you deserve a life beyond Jase."
"Are you seriously ganging up on me?"
She doesn't answer.
"You mean this Friday night?" I ask as I open Ms. Deville's numerous emails.
"Yes, just the four of us."
It's only Tuesday. "Give me a day to think about it."
"I'll give you until five o’clock; Brian wants to talk to Pep."
"Bitch," I mutter under my breath as my attention is quickly diverted to the list of things my manager needs done ASAP. Number one, water her plants. Are you shitting me? I put myself through college to get a degree in financial planning to water plants?
"Careful," Sally whispers. "You don't want anyone to think you're using my endearment on someone else."
My face snaps up as I turn and look about the room of cubicles. Thankfully, no one is looking my way.
"Go. Get out of here. I have work to do. God knows that if I don't, puppies may die."
My boss's name isn't really Deville. It's DeVoe.
One evening, not long after I got my job, Sally came over to my apartment. Jase loves her and so do I. She was the one who recommended me for my job. The title, administrative and financial assistant, was everything I wanted.
Sometimes reality doesn't make the cut.
With Jase in bed, Sally and I talked work over a bottle—or two—of wine. It was purely a slip of the tongue. I could blame it on Jase's obsession with Disney. Nevertheless, Deville came spilling out—as in Cruella Deville—instead of DeVoe. Ever since, whenever I'm upset, I picture Glenn Close and the animated character and it makes me smile—well, other than the twinge over the puppy coat. That's easier to imagine in cartoon form.
My neck straightens as my name, accompanied by the click of Christine DeVoe's heels, reaches my ears.
"Amanda, have you received my emails?"
"I have," I say, thankful that Sally has gone back to her desk. "I've contacted the purchasing department and Jim is supposed to get back to me. I was waiting until I had an answer—"
She nods as her lips come together. Finally she asks, "And what about my plants?"
"They're on my list." Along with fifty other more important things. I don't say the last part.
"Let me get right on that. The spreadsheet for Mr. Smithson can wait."
"Hmm," she murmurs in agreement as she walks away.
I smile as I walk toward her office to get the watering can. This time the title wasn't meant as a term of endearment and the extra large smile on Cruella in my imagination helps my cheeks rise.
A few minutes later, back at my desk, my phone rings.
"Hello, Amanda with Stevens Financial Planning."
My heart rate jumps. After Jackson died, I went back to my maiden name. I'm only called Mrs. Harrison when it has to do with Jase or Jackson.
"Ma'am, I'm calling from ABC Preschool. This is about your son Jason. There was an altercation..."
My mother hands me a glass of wine as I collapse on the couch in my and Jase's apartment. My son is tucked safely in bed, hardly a scratch on him or the other boy. There may not be a scratch on me either but I'm fighting a headache from hell.
Looking at the glass of moscato, I debate downing it all in one swallow and then rubbing my temples or placing the glass on the table, rubbing my temples, and then drinking it all.
"He's a boy. It's alright," Mom says, forcing me back to reality and more serious issues.
I continue staring into the glass as I swirl the clear liquid. The aroma of fruit fills my senses as the coolness of the glass registers from my fingertips. I tell myself not to cry—to stay strong. It's the same mantra I've been repeating for nearly four years.
"Amanda, your dad talked to him. Jase is a good kid."
My eyes glass over as I look at my mom from under my lashes. "I know. I know he's a good kid, but Dad shouldn't have to be his father."
"He isn't. He's his grandpa and happy to be."
I take a deep breath. "I know the school handled it well, but Jase and the other little boy were wrestling. He starts kindergarten in less than a week. I don't want him to be a troublemaker."
"He isn't. He was standing up for what he believes, just like Jackson did, just like you do. You should be proud."
I hated to admit it—to admit that Jase fighting for what he thinks is right made me proud, but in a way it did. I recalled what I'd been told when I arrived. "The teacher said it started with a talk about the flag. The other little boy said it was stupid and so are our soldiers. Miss Timmons said she's never seen Jase turn so fast, but in a second he was on the other boy."
My mom shrugs. "Your dad told him it was wrong to fight. He also told him it was acceptable to be proud of his daddy."
I nod, swallowing the wine laced with the salt from my tears.
"Besides, if Jase is anything like your brother," Mom went on, "he and the other little boy are probably best friends again. That's the way boys are."
I fill my lungs, expanding my chest and trying for a cleansing breath.
Mom reaches out and holds my knee. "Honey, Sally called me."
"Shit," I mumble. "I forgot all about her invitation. I don't have time—"
"No, you don't," Mom agrees, interrupting my refusal. "You don't have time to let life pass you by. Jase is a good boy who can stick up for himself. He showed you that today. Now the best thing you can do for him is to work on balance."
I shake my head. "I-I don't want to find..."
The tears I've been holding back spill over my lids as I once again move the glass to my lips, hoping she won't see.
"You're not trying to find forever. You're not trying to find Mr. Right. However, there is someone who I'd like you to find."
"Who?" I ask, genuinely curious.
"I want you to find Mandy Wells."
My eyes dart in her direction. I haven't heard my nickname in conjunction with my maiden name in years, not since Jackson passed away. Mandy was the girl I used to be, the one who believed in forever, the one who believed that Jackson was my forever. "What did you say?"
"You heard me. I remember her." Mom pours more moscato in her glass and tops mine off. "She was a handful, a real pain in the ass." Mom's eyes sparkle. "When you're pregnant, they warn you about boys. Everyone says they get in fights and wrestle, but no one warns you about girls. Sneaky and conniving—that's what they are. That's what Mandy Wells was."
Instead of making me feel worse, her description makes me smile.
"Oh," Mom goes on. "There were days her dad and I thought we'd pull our hair out. One time, more than once, she snuck out of her room at night."
"You knew?" I ask in both surprise and embarrassment.
With a knowing grin, she continues, "And when she was with this no-good, bad influence of a friend named Sally..."
Yes, Sally and I have been friends since we were in middle school. It isn't that Sally is or has been a bad influence; it is that we both were. What one of us wouldn't think of, the other would. And despite what she's saying, my mom loves her. She always has.
"...kicked out of a Walmart. I mean, who gets kicked out of Walmart?"
I can't stop my laugh. "We weren't doing anything wrong. It wasn't like we were robbing a bank or selling ourselves. We were camping."
"You set up camp in the middle of the camping section."
I recall the scene. "Technically, it was already set up. We just moved in. We were both excited to go camping and then it rained
"It even had a fake fire made out of orange and yellow Crate paper."
"And you tried to roast marshmallows!"
"Not on the Crate paper," I protest. "That's why we used the blowtorch." I take another drink and grin. "It was from their hardware section. They really do have everything."
Mom shakes her head with a wide smile. "The blowtorch may have been your downfall."
"We paid for everything first. We weren't stealing. Who knew a few marshmallows would set the sprinklers off in the entire store? I mean, if the marshmallows hadn't gotten all sticky and gooey and landed on the blowtorch. Really, they should have had better roasting forks."
"I miss her," Mom says.
"Who?" I ask. "Sally? Because apparently you two still talk."
"No, Mandy Wells. I love you, Amanda Jane Wells. I do. But you're only twenty-five. You're a great mom, hard worker, wonderful daughter, and a good friend. You deserve to have some fun."
Before I can protest, she goes on, "Don't go out Friday night with Sally and Brian and Brian's friend looking for Mr. Right. Go out with them to have fun, and if you're looking for anyone, look for Mandy Wells."
"I-I can't. Jase starts school..."
"And you're ready. You've been to the school and shown him around. He's ecstatic! He has new shoes and clothes. He has a new book bag, pencils, crayons, tablets, pencil case...goodness, that boy has more in that book bag then I do in my desk."
"But he goes to bed—"
"School doesn't start until Monday. Friday night he can stay with us."
"Mom, I'm not going to be out all night."
"I wasn't suggesting you were. I'm suggesting you might want to stay out past eight." Her brows lift and fall. "The Mandy Wells I knew had trouble with curfews."
I sigh, letting out an exaggerated breath. "Sally said there's something wrong with him."
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