Mac's Angels, page 18
lieberries: Where do you do this?
GearTattoo: Do you know where the teahouse shelters are?
Celebration Park was built to honor the 150th anniversary of our midwestern city, and the planning committee divided it into sections based on the countries of the world in a sort of essentialist, theme-park way. The teahouse shelters are in the “Asian” section of the park and consist of small picnic tables with a carved pergola over each one. They’re visible throughout the park, but afford the idea of privacy when sitting inside one of the pergolas. He’s thinking of safety, my comfort, again.
lieberries: Of course.
GearTattoo: I’ll meet you at the shelter closest to the bank of water fountains this Wednesday at noon. My first name is Brian.
lieberries: You don’t want me to wear a blue scarf or carry an umbrella or something?
GearTattoo: I’ll assume the strange woman addressing me by name is you. Certainly, wear and carry what you would like, though.
I snort at that. I do realize that he hasn’t asked for a picture or description, or anything like that.
lieberries: It’s just that I have a decent picture to go by, to find you and decide this. Don’t you want a picture from me? What if I’m not your type? Won’t that sort of defeat the whole idea of losing an hour to great kissing?
GearTattoo: I’m not worried. Librarians dewey it better.
I laugh, for real, at that. Finally, there seems to be something kind of sexy seeping into our strange chat. Maybe it’s just my own realization that I’m doing this, and it’s already Tuesday morning. Anticipation of my own daring.
lieberries: And I guess, if it’s awful, you just aren’t there the next Wednesday.
GearTattoo: Or you aren’t.
lieberries: Or I’m not. Good night (good morning?), Brian. BTW, my name’s Carrie.
GearTattoo: Good night, Carrie.
I snap my laptop closed. It seems impossible, but suddenly I am drowsy. When I close my eyes, I can hear the streetlights under my window start to snap off, one by one.
Read on for an excerpt from Cassie Mae’s
Friday Night Alibi
I’m naked in the same room with Alex Finnigan. This is so not good for business.
Of all the places I thought someone would first see the fully grown boobs, I definitely didn’t picture the girls’ locker room at one of Georgia’s many Christian Country Clubs. But here we are. Alex must have some kind of superpower that pops off deadbolts because I could’ve sworn I locked up.
Not even a quiver in his voice. He must be used to seeing bare chests. Why should I be any different?
“What do you want?” Yes, I’m confident too. I don’t even reach for a towel, just continue rinsing the shampoo from my hair. It’s just business with him, after all.
He chuckles and sits on one of the benches, kicking his feet up against a locker. “The usual.”
“And it couldn’t wait till after I’m done getting the stench of tennis sweat off me?” I shut off the water and ring my hair out. Guys and their impatience. He better be paying me extra since he got a look at the goods.
“I kinda need it ASAP. Brianne’s expecting me at seven.”
I sigh and wrap a towel around me, then push his legs out of the way to get to my locker.
“You know that’s going to cost you. Short-notice packets are double.”
Of course it’s fine. It’s always fine with every person in need of my services. They’ve got the money, and if they want to get that lovely thing called a “trust fund” when they turn twenty-one, they need me.
One thing about Sundale, image is everything. If your churchgoing, button-down, I’m-going-to-run-a-charity-for-sick-kids son or daughter doesn’t live up to all of that, bye-bye trust fund, hello working at Dairy Queen. And heaven forbid they want to date someone outside of our perfect little community. There goes your college money. Sorry guys, that’s not what Mommy and Daddy had envisioned for you.
But once that trust fund is signed over, that’s when the standing up to the ’rents starts. Since money is everything after all.
And true love, of course. But not till after you’re twenty-one. Just how it is. I didn’t make the rules.
It’s a good thing I keep spare packets in my purse. I’ve needed them way more than I thought I would, but it’s all good. One packet equals two hundred bucks. Cha-ching!
“Okay, how long are we talking about?” I ask, opening my locker and digging through my bag for the red emergency folders.
He kicks his feet back up. “Till midnight. So around five hours.”
Two hundred bucks for five hours? I’m making bank on this deal. And he’ll pay it. Alex and Brianne have reached that part in the relationship where I’m needed almost every weekend. Mr. and Mrs. Finnigan are going to start thinking him and I are getting it on … well, they would if I wasn’t so dang good at my job.
I pull out the bright red envelope with the words “Alibi number 7: Movie Marathon.” Good thing I spent last night prepping all the emergency packets. They’re my moneymakers, so I run out all the time since most of my clients don’t know how to plan ahead. The blue envelopes are for my clients who pay me weeks in advance. Yeah … those packets are pretty much covered in dust.
“This should cover you, Cinderella.”
He rolls his eyes and yanks the packet from my hand. “You’ve got it memorized?”
“Yup. And my own copy as well. We watched funny, yet tasteful comedies and you were a perfect gentleman. And since you’ve ‘been with me’ for the last three Fridays, before you left, you gave me a very platonic kiss on the cheek. It rocked my world.”
He chuckles, standing and tucking the envelope in his back pocket. The epitome of “good guy,” he’s got on a button-down shirt, rolled sleeves to his elbows, and of course it’s tucked into his khakis. His hair is combed over, but it’ll be messed up in a few hours, and that shirt will be crumpled in the middle of Brianne’s floor. Ah, the price some people pay for love. Cliché as it sounds, I mean it literally.
“Thank you, Kelli.” He gives me that “rockin’ ” kiss on the cheek.
“Ahem …” I put my hand on his chest and push him back. “Don’t thank me. Just pay me.” I wave my fingers to emphasize my point. No getting emotionally involved. If I actually start caring about the people I’m helping, I may lower my prices. Or start helping them for free. Yeah, that’s not happening.
He laughs again. “All right.” As he takes his wallet out of his back pocket, I take the opportunity to make sure my towel is still covering all of me. He got one look. He’s not getting another.
“You said double?”
The two bills—from a stack of about fifteen—crinkle in my open hand and my smile widens.
“Pleasure doing business with you.” I nudge him in the arm before I tuck the bills in my purse. Now that the money part is over, I can joke around. “Now go have fun. Tell Brianne I say, ‘What’s up?’ ”
“Will do.” Then without warning, he wraps me in a hug. Awkward … “Thanks again, Kel.”
He must have it bad. It really is a shame Brianne isn’t Mom and Dad approved. She should be. She’s way nice and supercute, but she’s also a “hippie” child. Her parents are the ones who go around stark naked while they mow the lawn and get the mail. The ones who believe sexuality is something to be experimented with. And Alex, being part of the tightwad Christian community that is Sundale, has better luck telling his parents he decided to date a fish. Poor guy.
Crap. Must not get emotionally invested here. I wiggle out from his hold and shrug. “Just doing my job.”
Friday nights are usually spent locked in my room playing online videogames, headset and all. Don’t call me a nerd or a loser or anything, because while I’m exploding fictional heads off an
Since I can’t be seen anywhere—I’m supposedly having a movie night with Alex—I stock up every weekend. (Protocol for the successful alibi.) I’ve got a mini fridge in my room, ’cause yes, I’m rich. Not just me, but the fam. Everyone who lives in Sundale is on the verge of ga-zillionairism. Another thing that plays in my favor as an alibi. I’m not sure if anyone who lives here knows how not to live off their parents’ money. Even after they’ve started at the university. Anyway, I’ve got a fridge stocked full of all the stuff I’ll need, and I’ve got my own bathroom so I don’t have to pee in a jug or anything, and I’ve got enough books to fill a library, enough videogames to stock up a GameStop, and enough movies to … well, you get my point.
Also, it’s lucky I work at the local Christian bookstore, which is closes early on Fridays, so I don’t ever have to worry about taking time off.
Why do I work when I obviously don’t need the cash? Well, it’s nice to do something other than go to church, play tennis, and hang out in my room. That, and I’m a bit of a bookworm, and I won’t say no to a discount, even if I don’t need it. And—probably the most important factor—in order for my “business” to be successful, I have to be the good girl. Parent approved. So the prim and perfect Kelli Pinkins who works at the Christian bookstore, plays tennis at the country club, and goes to church every Sunday, has “perfect influence” written all over her.
I do it all ’cause I totally give my clients what they pay for. And it’s really not a big deal. I mean … I do go to church because I believe in it, not just ’cause I have to. I love tennis. And I do like working at the bookstore. Nice way to pad the pocketbook for college. Not talking tuition since good ole Mom and Dad will take care of that as long as I don’t become a hooker or something. Don’t have to worry about housing because where am I gonna find a place sweeter than the room I’ve got? No, I’m talking for when I travel the world. Set off and see all the places I want to, and Mom and Dad never take me to. I’m hoping alibi money and bookstore money (aka, my own well-earned cash) will have me in Europe by Christmas—and then until I get my own trust fund.
I just found a way to be myself and make money off of it. Win-win.
“Okay, you think you’re going to creep up on me? I’m standing right behind you.”
This guy I’m playing against really doesn’t know what he’s doing, but still, he’s the only one on Xbox Live close to my age—or at least he says he’s close to my age—so I may as well teach him a lesson or two.
Plus, he’s not bad company, considering I’ve never officially met him. I guess it’s easier to talk to people you don’t know about life’s crap. He knows all about my alibi stuff, since I started logging on three years ago and while kicking his butt in HALO, we talk about why we’re the only people alive who don’t do things on Friday nights.
His army man turns around and I point the rifle right in his face. “Any last words?”
“How about … Don’t shoot?”
I laugh and push RT, blowing his character’s head apart.
“Whoops, finger slipped.”
He chuckles, it’s kind of like this guttural thing, like he was drinking at the same time. “All right, another round?”
“Sure, but I need a pee break.”
“ ’Kay. Back in ten.”
I pull off the headset and stretch out on the bed before hopping into the bathroom. I’ve had three Cokes already tonight. Way over my limit. This guy probably thinks I have the world’s smallest bladder. It’s like I drink a can, then empty it almost immediately.
I’m doing gunfire sound effects as I wash my hands, then pounce back into my room, ready for round two. But someone is sitting on my bed. Her long brown hair covers her shoulders and her back where her shirt doesn’t, and her big baby doll eyes blink as a smile tugs at her mouth.
Running at my best friend full speed, she screams as I hit the bed and swing my legs up on her lap. “What’s up, my Sades? Use the window again to get in here?”
She nods and picks up the bag of Twizzler Bites I have on the bed. “Girl, it’s Spring Break. What the heck are you doing here at home?”
I hold up a finger and grab the Xbox headset. “Hey ChazTaz, round two will have to wait till next weekend.”
“You’re just worried I’ll beat you this time.” He laughs and I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see it. “But it’s cool. Talk to you next week.”
I hold the off button and wait for the screen to turn blue, then snap the TV off. “It’s not like it’s Spring Break for me since I graduated last semester.”
Sadie dangles her head off the edge of my bed, talking to my floor. “Yeah, yeah genius woman. But not all of us graduated early. Come onnn, Spring Break is our last hurrah before we head off to be adults.”
I snort. Yes, it’s very adult-like to go to frat parties and sorority car washes. I can’t wait. “I can’t leave the house. Working tonight.”
Sadie shakes her head, leaning up to pop a Twizzler Bite in her mouth. “Who is it this time?”
“You know, he’s going to empty out his bank account. He may as well just tell the ’rents because either way, he’s losing all his money.”
I shrug. “I don’t tell them what to do, just give them another option.”
“Uh-huh.” Another bite goes into her mouth as she lays flat on my California King. Sadie’s never been a fan of my “job,” but she’s my best friend, so she doesn’t rat me out. Plus, she’s had to use me for her own alibi a few times so when she gives me crap, I throw that in her face. And it’s not like I can risk my years of keeping up my perfect rep for one night of partying.
“We can hang out here, though. Want to watch a movie?”
She shakes her head.
“I can paint your toes.”
“Fine, what do you want to do then?”
Her lips pull up as she leans on her elbows. “Something that normal people do on Spring Break.”
The bag of Twizzlers goes flying at my face and I catch it before it smashes into my nose.
“Seriously, Kel,” she says as she sits up. “I get the whole ‘good girl’ thing, but live a little bit!”
I shake my head. “I can’t get caught.”
For some reason, Sadie takes my answer as a “Oh please take me outside and let me risk Alex’s two-hundred-dollar purchase!” and drags me to my closet with a big smile on her face. “Then put something cute on, and leave the stealth to me.”
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Other author's books:
- The Redhead and the Preacher: A Loveswept Historical RomanceAdam’s OutlawBaring It All (Mills & Boon Temptation)The Judge and the GypsyPenthouse SuiteMac's Angels: The Last Dance: A Loveswept Classic RomanceImaginary LoverShowdown at Lizard Rock
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