#WildWednesday with Molly O’Keefe
One of the things I enjoyed most about the relationship between Monica and Jackson is how they had to learn to be friends. Jackson is a man who is very good at superficial relationships. Looking at him, people assume he has lots of friends. But the truth is no one gets close. Monica on the other hand makes no bones about the fact that she doesn’t have friends. Doesn’t want them. Wouldn’t know what to do with them if she had them. So, creating the moments that the two of them were not just physically intimate but emotionally intimate was a real pleasure for me. This scene – I call it the muffin scene – totally highlights that.
Monica turned only to see Jackson, his head down over a notebook. A cup of coffee steaming at his elbow.
“Standing rule as of this morning,” Cora said.
“He’s buying whatever you’re having.”
“Then give me one of those peach muffins, too,” she said, unable to look away from him. The roll of his shoulder, the way he rested his head in his hand, scribbling away in that notebook.
He was the picture of dejected. Of burdened.
Cora handed her the bagged muffin and Monica approached Jackson, who didn’t look up until she stood nearly beside him.
“Hi,” he said, the light in his eyes flaring for just a moment. And she felt like a spider caught in his gaze. Caught in him. Caught in the memory of the pleasure he gave her. The soft wilted edge of those flowers.
“I understand you’re paying my way around here.”
“The least I can do.”
“No one’s ever given me flowers before.” She had no idea why she told him that.
He ducked his head, humble and earnest. “Then I am especially glad I picked them for you.”
“Christ, Jackson, you are so polite,” she breathed, both charmed and then angry that she was charmed.
His smile was different from all his others. This one was worn. So terribly depleted, yet she refused to be swayed by that smile. She knew, with the sixth sense that came with the intimacy that they had shared—and not just the intimacy of their bodies, but of all they had inadvertently revealed about the parts of themselves they usually hid from people—that whatever was weighing on his mind was heavier than her.
“Sadly, Monica, I can’t find it in myself at the moment to be rude, just to please you.” That he tried to make it a joke broke her heart.
“I’ll . . . I’ll talk to you later,” she said and again he nodded, before running his hands through that thick curl of hair over his forehead and looking down at the notes he was making.
She got as far as the fire hydrant she’d tied Reba to, the sunlight glittering and sparkling, causing her to squint against the dazzle of the day.
Jackson had come back for her. Despite the disappointments of yesterday, she had to remind herself that he was also the guy who came back to her hotel room after she’d rejected him and pushed him away with no explanation. He’d sensed her wounds and returned to see if he could help. And he had. And in that back corner booth, he was wounded. And she could accept his flowers, and his coffee. Bilk him for a free muffin every once in a while, and eventually let him back into her bed—but walking away from him right now would be a betrayal. She’d be using him the way all those men had used her.
And she didn’t want to be that kind of woman.
“I’ll be right back,” she told the dog and walked back into the café, heading right for Jackson’s booth. He looked up, startled, when she slid onto the bench across from him.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I think . . . I’m trying to be your friend.” It was hard work being honest. Being vulnerable with all her clothes on. “Because you need one. And so do I.”
Check back for more next week – on #WildWednesday!
The Boys of Bishop Are Coming!
Wild Child October 2013
Never Been Kissed June 2014
Between The Sheets July 2014
Life. Not as it seems.
About the author:
Molly O’Keefe published her first Harlequin romance at age twenty-five and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring each character’s road toward happily ever after. She’s won two Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards and the RITA for Best Novella in 2010. Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two kids, and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.
Monica Appleby is a woman with a reputation. Once she was America’s teenage “Wild Child,” with her own reality TV show. Now she’s a successful author coming home to Bishop, Arkansas, to pen the juicy follow-up to her tell-all autobiography. Problem is, the hottest man in town wants her gone. Mayor Jackson Davies is trying to convince a cookie giant to move its headquarters to his crumbling community, and Monica’s presence is just too . . . unwholesome for business. But the desire in his eyes sends a very different message: Stay, at least for a while.
Jackson needs this cookie deal to go through. His town is dying and this may be its last shot. Monica is a distraction proving too sweet, too inviting—and completely beyond his control. With every kiss he can taste her loneliness, her regrets, and her longing. Soon their uncontrollable attraction is causing all kinds of drama. But when two lost hearts take a surprise detour onto the bumpy road of unexpected love, it can only lead someplace wonderful.
“Molly O’Keefe is a unique, not-to-be-missed voice in romantic fiction.”—New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen