Velvet and Lace, page 1
Velvet and Lace
After being gone from her hometown of Ambrosia for the last ten years, Daphne Brooks has returned to the small town with plans to build a store and make a new life for herself back at her roots. She’s also planning on ignoring the people from her past who made her teenage years hell. That is until she runs into Trent Bradshaw, once big time crush and equally crushing disappointment.
Trent Bradshaw has always regretted how he treated Daphne and when he approaches her at their high school reunion, he expects to make his apologies. But the girl he had a secret crush on is now the woman of his dreams.
As they grow close, someone wrecks her new store. Will Trent be able to help her find out who is trying to drive her away? Or will the stress of the situation drive her from Ambrosia and Trent forever?
Genre: Erotic Romance (M/F), Contemporary
White Orchid Press
VELVET AND LACE
Copyright © 2012 by Shannon Reckler
E-Book ISBN: 978-0-9888816-1-7
The characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is purely coincidental and not intended.
Cover Art by Sloan Winters
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or physical without express written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. All such inquires should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
For my Jeka. You have always been there for me, no matter what. You are an amazing woman, beautiful on the inside and out. I am proud to call you not only my best friend, but my sister as well. I love you.
Daphne smoothed her skirt down for the millionth time as she stood outside the high school gym. She still wasn’t sure if the red satin pencil skirt was the right decision. She had changed her outfit at least ten times, trying on different looks from her very expensive wardrobe. Once she had finally settled on the skirt, it had taken forever to decide on a shirt but she finally settled on a black corset style top that accentuated her curves, but didn’t make her look like a hooker.
Unfortunately, not even her favorite Jimmy Choo high heels could calm the butterflies in her stomach.
The gym was well lit and Daphne could here the faint bass line that was coming from the sound system. She had purposely showed up late, so that no one would see her if she decided to turn and run away from the place. Hell, she would be running away from the people not the place. It was all these people who had made her life in high school a living hell. Okay, so maybe she would be running away from Trent Bradshaw, the high school quarterback who had made her life a living hell.
She lifted her head high, determined to do this. She didn’t have anything to prove. She was here to see her friends. Actually, she just put the emphasis on ‘friend’. Anna Marshall, now Anna Keaton, had gotten her through it all. Life had drifted them apart but she was hoping to see her tonight. She hated that they had lost touch.
Sighing, she knew she was stalling. She pushed back her shoulders, stepped away from her Camaro, and headed toward the thumping bass and bright lights at the entrance. As she neared the double doors, she could hear voices on inside.
A female voice made Daphne’s shoulders twitch, and she almost faltered in her steps. She continued to get closer to the voices. “I see Faggy Maggie didn’t show up.”
Another deeper female voice joined in. “Did you really think she would? It wasn’t like she had any real friends. Who here would want to see her?”
A deep male voice interrupted, and Daphne wondered who had joined in to the conversation. She paused outside the door so she could hear what else was said. “I was hoping you would lose some of that bitchiness with age Tiffany, but I see it’s only gotten worse.”
Tiffany, the ex-head cheerleader and Grade—A bitch, snorted before she replied. “It’s not bitchy when it’s the truth.”
“I’m pretty sure that she had friends in high school. Just because she wasn’t your friend, doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. Hell, I bet there are a few people here who wish they hadn’t been your friend way back then.” Daphne wished she could place the deep male voice that had spoken the kind words, but she just couldn’t.
She remembered Tiffany well and if she was chatting with another female it was probably Brittney, her partner in crime back in the day. But it was the man she was intrigued about, so she decided to face the music, so to speak.
When she walked around the corner, the white banner was the first thing that caught her eye.
WELCOME BACK CLASS OF 1997! WE’VE MISSED YOU!
Daphne had to give a snort of her own. She definitely hadn’t missed this place. Fifteen years later and there was still a sense of dread deep in the pit of her stomach. When she got close to the pair of women, the man was gone, but they looked up and politely smiled.
“Well hello there!” Tiffany stood up and smoothed down her black dress and blonde curls. As Tiffany glanced over Daphne's outfit from her expensive shoes and over priced pedicure all the way up to her diamond choker and salon expert hairstyle, and her smile got wider. It was very clear the woman was attracted more to the price of the clothing and accessories than she was the person who was wearing the outfit.
“Hello.” Daphne was trying to see how long it would take Tiffany to recognize her. She just kept smiling however, and finally Tiffany faltered.
“I don’t seem to remember you, are you here with your husband? Or perhaps maybe we just weren’t close friends. It has been 15 years after all.” Tiffany plastered the smile back on her face, and it made Daphne’s skin crawl. She was used to fake people, but fake and stupid people really irritated her.
“My name is Daphne Brooks. But I think you may have my name tag under the name Margaret Hillbrooke.” Daphne waited for a moment for her words and name to register and she relished the look on Tiffany’s face. “Perhaps the tag reads ‘Faggy Maggie,' since I’m not sure who wrote them up.” She winked at Brittney and had to laugh out loud at the stunned openmouthed expression on Tiffany’s face.
Daphne looked down at the table and found her name tag. Scooping it up, she walked away, heading for the next set of doors that would lead to the party and the rest of the guests. From the noise of the crowd, she would bet almost everyone had made it. But of course they had, not many people left this town, so it would just be a chance for them all to get together in one place. Mckinley High was buzzing tonight.
She was glad the lighting wasn’t too bright and she could slink around the edges of the building while she looked for Anna. She bumped into a few people, but she had placed her name tag on her skirt so that she wouldn’t immediately be recognized. Finally, she noticed a familiar head of brown curls and made a beeline for Anna. She was only standing with one person, a man on her right, and Daphne sent up a small prayer. At least she didn’t have to deal with too many people and she could just say hello to her friend.
Maybe after a little catching up she could plan a day with Anna and bolt from this homecoming hell before she had to deal with anyone else. She smiled, closing in on her friend, when someone placed a hand on her bicep, stopping her in her tracks.
“Daphne. Daphne Brooks?” The male voice jarred her, just like his hand on her arm. She recognized his voice from the entryway, and knew that he was the same man that had stood up to Tiffany. She was hesitant to turn around, but it was obvious she wasn’t being recognized as Maggie, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Straightening her spine, she twisted to face him. And then she s
Standing in front of her, he was dressed simply in light jeans, a crisp white dress shirt and a dark, blue dress jacket. The lights were dim and she could barely see his face. His hair had been brown back then and his eyes had once been so green they glittered like emeralds and lit up when he smiled. She almost swayed into him.
“Yes. I am Daphne Brooks.” She wasn’t sure how to play this out. So she went the simple way and waited for him to volunteer the information.
“I knew I recognized you. You’re a model correct? I know I’ve seen you in a copy of a magazine somewhere.” He looked confused for a second like he was trying to think of which magazine, but she was pretty sure she knew which one. She smiled and hoped she could just finish this conversation as Daphne and not have to bring Maggie into it. Hell, he probably didn’t remember Maggie at all, which was more than okay with her.
Maggie was a different life for her. After working her ass off, literally to shed over a hundred pounds, a few rounds of plastic surgery, a name change, and a new city, Daphne Brooks had been born. She was finally in the life and body that she knew fit her not the person that fit into this high school 15 years ago. So she squared her shoulders, as she had been taught by her agent, and smiled at Trent.
“I think we both know which Magazine Mr...?” She smiled at him and slipped into the mindset that was much easier to her. She was fun and flirty Daphne, not insecure and shy Maggie.
“Trent. My name is Trent Bradshaw.” He had a funny look on his face that she couldn’t place but she didn’t want to question it. She put a hand on his shoulder and looked up into his gorgeous green eyes. It really was unfair how good time had been to him.
“Well Mr. Bradshaw it was nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I’m here to meet someone.” She winked at him and pulled away to go in search of Anna. However, Trent snagged her again and she recognized his now-familiar, warm, male touch.
“Now Maggie, where did you think you were really going?” His voice and words went straight to her knees, which threatened to buckle beneath her. She turned to see the smile on his face, and her control snapped. She opened her mouth to say something, but turned on her heel instead. Her cheeks were flaming and she knew she had made a fool of herself again in front of Trent.
Her Jimmy Choo’s clicked on the pavement as she walked to her Camaro. When she heard footsteps behind her she tensed but kept walking. She hoped she could make her escape before whoever it was reached her.
“Daphne? Daphne, it’s Anna.” When she finally heard the sweet voice through her thoughts, she stopped. She couldn’t hear any other footsteps other than Anna’s. She figured she was safe. She could feel her heart pounding against her rib cage and her palms were sweaty, but she didn’t dare wipe them on the satin skirt. She sighed, trying to calm her racing pulse, and then turned to face her old friend.
“Anna, it’s so good to see you. I’m sorry about running away like that.” She tried to explain but she still wasn’t exactly sure why she had run away from Trent. Anna waved her explanation away and opened her arms to give her hug. Daphne smiled and returned her embrace.
Anna was an average looking woman with brown hair and brown eyes. She stood at about five feet even, maybe five foot two with the small heels she had on. But that was incredibly short to Daphne’s five ten frame, which was over six feet in the heels. Anna hadn’t been in the popular crowd or the geeks and fat kids that had been picked on. However, Daphne and Anna had been best friends since they were small. So she had stuck by Daphne’s side during the hellish years of high school.
Anna was probably the nicest and kindest person she knew. She was always welcoming and warm. She was definitely mom material and she was a spectacular friend. They had spoken over the phone a few times over the last few years but this had been the first time in a very long time since they had actually seen each other.
“You look awesome Anna. More importantly, you look happy and that makes me happy.” Daphne felt the twinge of guilt for not staying in contact and as usual Anna read her face clearly.
“Hey now, none of that. I am happy, and at lunch tomorrow I’ll tell you all about it.” Anna said, smiling at Daphne.
“Oh yeah and you’re definitely buying. I figured since you’re trying to escape, I won’t keep you longer than necessary. We can catch up over good food.” Anna winked at her and Daphne nodded in acceptance. Man, she forgot how well she and Anna got along.
“Of course. Text me where you want to go and give me a time that works for you. I’ll just be at Grams working on some paperwork.”
“Okay, well try not to spend all of your vacation working. I’ll text you later.” Anna reached in for another hug, and Daphne smiled as Anna walked back into the gym.
When she looked over at the door she saw Trent leaning against the doorway. He was watching her. But he was too far away for her to see his expression. Her cheeks were flaming once again as memories flooded her brain. She turned away from him, unlocked the car, and slid into the driver's seat. The engine purred as she turned the key. She floored the gas pedal, trying to get away from Trent Bradshaw as far and as fast as she possibly could.
Daphne smiled as she watched her Grams move around the kitchen. It didn’t matter that Grams was the only one left in the house these days, she still got up at 7:00 am every morning to make breakfast. This morning was no different. Daphne had woken up to the smell of chicory coffee and bacon drifting up the stairs.
It had been too long since she had seen her Grams. After her parents died when she was seven, Grams had taken her in and raised her. She was one of the most amazing women she had ever met in her entire life, and she was glad to be back in the old house.
Grams was currently at the sink washing dishes. She had never bought a dishwasher. She didn’t believe in the things. Daphne shook her head at her grandmother as she sipped her coffee. She had offered to help but that was out of the question too. Even though she was family, she was currently a guest in the house, and guests didn't help clean up. So she sat quietly looking out the window into the back yard.
The house sat on about ten acres and the backyard extended about 100 feet before it became a forest. It was a sunny day and Daphne loved how peaceful it was compared to her apartment in the city.
This particular morning Grams had curlers in her grey hair, and was wrapped in her Asian–print night gown. Her house slippers were yellow and Daphne noticed they were the ones that she had sent her for Christmas a few years ago. Daphne liked the fact that they looked well–worn.
Grams never turned around, she just kept washing the dishes. However, her voice was clear over the sound over the sloshing water. “How are you doing these days, Magnolia?” Daphne smiled at the old nickname. It was the only thing that used to comfort her when she came home. It made her feel special and beautiful during a time when most of her days were spent thinking about much she hated herself. Daphne shook her head at her depressing train of thought. That always seemed to happen when she returned to Ambrosia, Georgia.
“I’m doing alright. Staying busy.” She liked watching the methodical way her grandmother moved.
Grams looked over her shoulder. “Is that right? Busy with work or men?”
“Grams!” Daphne laughed when the older woman winked.
“I was just curious, sweetie. With that body I’m sure they are lining up for you these days.” She was now drying all the dishes she had just finished washing. Grams had been surprised when Daphne had shown up with a new body, and although she wasn’t particularly fond of the plastic surgery, she was happy if Daphne was happy. She loved her Grams for that. She never questioned something too much, as long as she was happy. And Daphne loved the way she looked.
“Grams, most of the men who line up for m
“Daphne!” She looked shocked for a moment but then Daphne saw her smile and she knew she wasn’t really in trouble. Grams raised her to be lady–like, polite, and to think before she spoke. Unfortunately, Daphne had a hard time filtering her mouth most days.
“Well it’s true. Besides, it’s not like I have a lot of time on my hands. I’m either working on a shoot, working out, or trying to finish up my business plans.”
Grams started to open her mouth but Daphne’s phone buzzed with a text message. She glanced down and noticed that it was from Anna.
“Lunch at Patty’s at 12:30?”
Daphne quickly responded with a “yes”. She hadn’t been to Patty’s in a long time and she was curious to see how the diner was doing. The owner, Lois, had given her the first job she'd ever had and it would be good to see how she was doing. But she had a lot to get done before then, even if it was only 8 a.m.
"I'm sorry Grams. Do you mind if we catch up later? Anna just texted me about lunch and I have a bunch of errands to run today. Maybe we can do dinner or something?" Daphne felt a twinge of guilt, but Grams must have seen it and waved it away.
"Magnolia, you are not here to cater to me and I am fully aware of that. Go, have fun with Anna, and take care of whatever you need to. You are staying here so I know I'll be seeing you around. We can finish our discussion later." After wiping her hands dry on a paper towel, she patted Daphne's cheek.
Daphne gave Grams a kiss on the cheek and a soft smile before she headed up stairs to change for a quick run.
When she walked into her room she shook her head. She still couldn’t believe that it had stayed the same after all of these years. The walls were still painted the same lavender color and the bed was still made up with the same sheet set that she had picked out when she was fifteen. Shaking her head again, she gathered some clothes from her suitcase before changing and then jogging back down the stairs.