Embers doesn’t have time to waste on any more dirt-bags. Too busy trying to take care of herself and her daughter to take any more chances on romance, she’s limiting her love life to daydreaming about one hot and sexy, Jack Cole.
Except her surefire way to keep her heart safe goes completely awry when her dream guy and her reality suddenly collide.
A master of recreating the human emotions he’s never allowed himself to feel, Jack must now deal with the consequences of offering his heart to someone who may be too scared to keep it.
While Jack was downstairs getting himself situated in May’s apartment, she and I were upstairs totally losing our shit.
“Jack Cole is staying in our house!” she squealed as soon as the upstairs door shut behind us.
“I know! And paying us to be here! It’s fucking unreal.”
“That’s because I’m a genius.” May’s ability to sound humble while boasting was nothing if not admirable. It was all in the tone.
“Yeah well, genius, that could have totally backfired. What were the odds he was willingly going to spend five minutes, let alone two weeks, in a place that looks like a giant snowball cake exploded in it?”
May made a noise that sounded like a tire going flat and waved her hand dismissively.
“Oh, please. I saw the way he was looking at you. We could have rented him the space under the overpass and he would have set up camp without questioning it.”
I nearly dropped my keys as I went to hang them on the hook by the door.
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re kidding, right? Jack Cole is totally into you, Embers.”
“Are you fucking with me right now? ‘Cause I honestly can’t tell.” She had to be. There was no way Jack Cole was interested in me. Not when he had hot actresses and super models at his disposal. And this was not a low self-esteem thing. I’m just saying, I didn’t do pretty and primped. I was a single mom who spent her life inside of a food truck. I owned maybe one pair of heels, and I say maybe because I hadn’t actually set eyes on them since 2008 when I wore them to my cousin’s wedding. My hair was generally styled via wind while driving with the top down and my choice of make-up tended to involve something that went beyond the smoky eye straight into inferno, and then that’s where it came to an abrupt halt. Unless you counted Chapstick as make-up, which I didn’t. You weren’t about to spot the likes of me on the cover of In Style or Cosmopolitan. Like ever.
I was still staring straight at my sister waiting for an answer while she had her eyes directed at the ceiling, twirling the end of her hawk near the nape of her neck between her fingers. A tell-tale sign she was getting annoyed with me.
“It was so obvious, Em. But if you couldn’t see what was happening right before your eyes, I can’t explain it to you. Meanwhile, what did you do to hook him anyway?”
Feeling like a scolded twelve year old who really should have learned by now not to wash her whites with reds, I wandered over to the couch and plopped down beside our cat, Coyote. We had originally named her Lucy when we brought her home from the shelter three years earlier, but had since realized that she suffered from a major identity crisis. Lucy was no cat. She was a coyote. Or at least, she thought she was.
I could hear humming coming from Jessa’s room. A good indication that she and Mermella had started their daily ritual of dressing up for tea.
“I didn’t do anything to hook him. It was more like he got trapped in my presence and I helped set him free.”
May slid down into the recliner across from me. “Care to elaborate?”
“Jessa and I were on the elevator coming up from the parking garage when Jack busted in just as the doors were closing on the middle stop – you know, the one for the rental cars. Anyway, he was on the phone talking about how he caught his girlfriend cheating on him when he came down here to surprise her.”
May was glued to every word like I was revealing the secret of life to her. “Shut up! Who cheats on Jack Cole?! Then what?”
“Then, I reached our floor and I got off. In the meantime, a ton of other people got on with Jack still standing there in the elevator. I don’t think he really knew where he was going. Anyway, I saw this guy about to talk to him and it was just so clear that he wanted to be left alone.”
“Yeah. So, basically, I saved him from being hassled by a horde of fans, hence I gave him his freedom.”
“And how did you do that?”
I shrugged. “I called him Brady.”
May fell back into the cushions, deflated by the ending. “That’s it?”
“Pretty much. I also did a German tourist routine while we were waiting for you at the gate. That was kinda fun.” I had to smile just thinking about it.
“Sorry I missed that. Jack Cole’s German is hysterical.” No doubt she was remembering the same assassin movie I had earlier.
“Yeah, I didn’t let him do any of the talking.”
I could feel the giggles start to rise again and all it took was one look at my sister for them to spill out.
Five minutes later we were still catching our breath.
“So, are you going to sleep with him?”
“He does not want to sleep with me. And even if he did, I’m not looking to be anybody’s rebound. Not even Jack Cole’s.” Even as I said the words I knew I was lying. So did May.
Humiliated, I face planted into the couch cushions, giggling yet again. After a moment I came up for air, tears in my eyes from laughing and beet red cheeks which were a combined result of embarrassment, as well as, lack of oxygen. I sucked in a deep breath and held it, forcing myself to be still. Then my inner twelve year old made yet one more appearance.
“I’d totally make out with him though. I mean it. I would kiss the crap out of the man.”
May shook her head laughing at me. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Maybe. But you still love me.”
“Like a mad woman loves her slippers and whiskey.” And that was really saying something.