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FOLLOW-up to WHEN YOU WERE MINE
An Adams Sisters romance
A DANGEROUS ATTRACTION…
Michael Adams is no angel. But she’s no murderer either, even if she did joke with her sisters about killing her ex-husband, Phil, after their nasty divorce. How was she to know that someone really wanted Phil dead—or that she would become their prime suspect? It doesn’t help that the investigating detective is so distractingly gorgeous that Michael can hardly think straight…
Michael is sexy, smart and a little bit wild—everything Detective Kyson Dekker loves in a woman. True, there is that tiny problem of her being the prime suspect in a homicide, and the fact Kyson is torn between seducing her and getting her to confess. But if she’s being framed, Michael needs protection—and Kyson is ready to prove he’s the man for the job, in every way…
"I outta kill him,” Michael Adams grumbled into her third Long Island Iced Tea. “I gave that bastard the best years of my life. The least he could do is drop dead.”
Michael’s sisters, Peyton, Joey, Sheldon and Frankie sat huddled around Mike at their usual table in The Peppermill. Each of the sisters avoided making eye contact with their angry sister in hopes they wouldn’t get dragged into some evil revenge plan inspired by her increasing amount of alcohol.
“C’mon, girls. You must agree with me,” Mike said. She noticed the absence of ‘Amen’s to her latest rant and grew irritable about the lack of support.
Brave Shelton, the eldest of the Adams’ clan, spoke up first. “You said we were going to celebrate your divorce being final. This is starting to feel more like a wake.”
“We are celebrating!” Mike lifted her glass and egged her sisters on to join her in a toast.
The girls painted on a smile and lifted their glasses.
“To Philip’s balls rotting off!” Mike barked.
The glasses came back down with a collective moan.
“I’m kidding. I’m kidding.” Michael laughed. She held up her glass again and waited for the others to join her. “To new beginnings!”
Everyone’s glasses clinked together.
Michael gave her best effort to climb out of her two-year depression. A condition, she thought, she hid well; but tonight it was a lot harder than normal.
The word left a bitter taste in her mouth-one she kept hoping the vodka would wash off. So far, it wasn’t working.
“Philip was having an affair,” she blurted.
The sisters fell silent and darted cautionary glances around the table.
“Are you sure?” Peyton, the designated driver by default because she was eight months pregnant, set her ginger ale down and reached for Michael’s hand. “Did he tell you this?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Mike rolled her eyes and reached for another nacho chip piled high with her favorite toppings. “Phil isn’t bold enough to confess and he’s too damn smart to get caught.”
More darting gazes and Michael reached for another chip.
“Did you hire a private investigator?” Frankie asked, leaning forward and twirling her own huge diamond ring. “Or are you just working on a hunch?”
“Hell. I’m better than any damn P.I. and you know it.”
“This is true,” Joey said.
The other sister’s bobbed their heads in agreement.
Michael straightened triumphantly. “I just wish I could’ve caught him in the act, but that man is slicker than a can of oil,” she complained, thinking about her many solo covert operations during their trial separation. She’d followed her ex-husband across town and had pulled a weekend stakeouts in her old neighborhood. Each time, she was busted by the ever-present geriatric neighborhood watch gang.
Admitting Phil had gotten the best of her and have managed to walk away to tell the tale-got under skin.
“If you couldn’t catch him then maybe he wasn’t having an affair?” Sheldon suggested. “If for no other reason than the fact he’s scared of you.” She looked to the other sisters and then added, “We all are.”
Tears glossed Michael’s eyes as she fluttered a hand over her heart. “Thanks, Sheldon. What a nice thing to say.”
A round of snickering ensued and Mike took it in stride. Well, she tried to anyway. Peyton leaned over and wrapped an arm around her waist. “Cheer up, Mikey. Phil lost the best thing that has ever happened to him. Remember what had happened between Joey and Lawrence a couple of years ago?”
Of course she remembered. Everyone remembered-because Joey made it a point to tell anyone who would listen about how her ex-almost fiancé had dumped her on Valentine’s Day when she was expecting an engagement ring. Instead the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon married a leggy, silicon stuffed model slash D-listed actress who couldn’t act her way out of a box.
In the end, getting dumped turned out to be the best thing that happened to Joey because it led her to meet and fall in love with her mega-successful, A-list director husband Ryan Donovan.
Mike smiled through a film of tears. “You’re right!” Mike declared. “Screw Phil.”
“That’s our girl,” Frankie said beaming.
When Joey squeezed Michael’s thick waist, she grew self conscious about the near sixty pounds she’d gained in the last two years. A great many of them resulted from her depression. She’d tried dieting a few times, but that had turned in to a madcap comedy. She’d go weeks eating nothing but salads and chicken only to watch the scale mock her efforts by not moving or they crept higher. Once she’d join a gym, worked out like crazy and garnered the same results.
In the end, carbohydrates were the only things that soothed her. The more, the merrier.
“I know just how I’d like to do him in, too,” Michael sulked returning to her soapbox. When her sisters’ weary eyes turned toward her, she ignored them and continued, “I’d like to bash him over the head and stuff him into the trunk of my car-then I’d drive him somewhere no one could hear him scream.”
“Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into this,” Frankie said, worried.
“Thought, hell. I’ve dreamed-no-fantasized about it,” Michael confessed. “I’d tie him to a tree and beat him to a bloody pulp…but not until I got the name of that trick he dumped me for.”
Sheldon drew a deep breath and nibbled on her bottom lip-a sign she was trying not to say something.
“What is it?” Michael asked. “Spit it out.”
“Well-” Sheldon glanced at the other girls to judge whether they’d have her back. “I was just wondering if you’ve thought about, uhm, or considered talking to someone about...some of your issues.”
The table fell silent.
“You all think I have issues?”
Peyton shrugged. “One or two.”
“Peyton James Adams, you take that back,” Michael barked.
“Last name is Carver,” she corrected. “And I will not. Come on. It’s no secret you get a little crazy when you feel slighted. How many times have you been arrested for one of your revenge pranks?”
“I seem to remember having a few partners in crime sitting right next to me.”
“We’re too old for that stuff now,” Frankie admonished.
“Really? Joey didn’t think we were too old when we broke into her ex-fiancé house last year and rigged the place.”
“What?” Sheldon, Frankie and Peyton thundered and whipped their heads in Joey’s direction.
“Ex-almost fiancé,” Joey corrected. “And that was supposed to be our little secret,” she hissed.
Michael waved her off. “Right. Whenever I’m helping you guys everything is gravy, but when I ask for a favor on a simple thing like murder, it’s suddenly a big deal.” She realized that didn’t come out right, but she just waved her hand and said, “Whatever.”
It took some time, but the subject drifted away from Mike’s so-called “issues” and even the stickier subject of murder. It’s not like she really wanted to kill Phil; but if she did, her sisters, of all people, should’ve had her back-even if they still liked their ex-brother-in-law.
Happy hour morphed into social hour and then finally into a full blown club scene. Michael waved to a few friends and flirted with even more strangers, but it was the sight of two old high school and college buddies, Ray and Scott Damon that put a smile on her face.
Well past her drinking limit, Michael allowed the cute twins to pump more alcohol into her system while they reminisced on old times and the innumerable pranks they’d pulled on their unsuspecting friends.
Michael lost track of the time and it was her sisters who’d finally busted up the private party and announced she’d had enough. It was time to go home.
“You keep your chin up,” Ray said, lifting his shot glass in a final toast. “We got your back, buddy.”
“Yeah,” Scott co-signed. “We’ll be seeing you again…real soon.”
“Aw,” Michael cooed. “I love you guys.”
“C’mon on, Mike,” Joey said. “Let’s get you home.”
Michael jutted a thumb and winked. It was great seeing her old friends though she had long lost track of what they were talking about.
“Aren’t those the Damon twins?” Peyton asked, helping Mike put on jacket.
“Yep,” Mike said. “Haven’t seen them since you divorced their best buddy, Ricky.”
“Then that’s a good thing,” Peyton sneered. “Those two are nothing but trouble.”
Michael laughed. “Oh, they’re harmless.”
It was closing time. As Mike walked out to the car, she realized she’d ate too little and drank too much and when she got into the back of Peyton’s car, she threw her beloved nachos all over the backseat.
“Great. Just great,” Peyton mumbled, frowning at the mess.
“Oh, I feel much better now.” Michael panted. She rolled onto her back and watched as Sheldon, mother of six, whipped out emergency baby wipes and went to town cleaning both Michael and the backseat of Peyton’s car while they were still in the Peppermill’s parking lot.
“Is she going to be all right?” Frankie asked somewhere in the vicinity.
I’m fine, Michael said inside her head because opening her mouth suddenly required too much effort.
“Just drive with the windows rolled down,” Joey suggested. “The cool air should be good for her.”
“Someone is going have to come with me. I won’t be able to get her in house alone,” Peyton said. “I have to be careful with the baby.”
“I’ll go with you,” Frankie volunteered. “Hubby is still out of town. So it’s just me and Lola again tonight,” she said, referring to the t-cup Yorkie she treated like it was her own flesh and blood.
“We’ll all go,” Sheldon declared. “Joey and I will follow you. Try not to drive with your foot pressed to the floorboard, P.J.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Peyton lied unconvincingly.
Michael snickered and four heads peered down at her.
“Well, it looks like she’s still with us,” Frankie said, brushing back strands of Michael’s hair. “How’re you doing, Mikey?”
Managing just a smile, Michael snuggled her left cheek against her sister’s palm. It had been years since she allowed someone else to comfort her. Despite being the middle child of five girls and a baby brother, Michael had always taken the leadership role in the family.
Everyone depended on her-not the other way around. But tonight, she told herself, just this once, she wanted someone else to take over before she fell apart.
“Oh, she’ll sleep like a baby tonight,” Joey laughed.
“Tonight’s not the problem. Tomorrow morning is what she should be worried about,” P.J. said.
Michael drew a deep breath, closed her eyes, and welcomed her black oblivion-a place where nothing could harm her. Too bad, she couldn’t stay there forever. Even in her drunken state, she understood by morning she would have a splitting headache, an upset stomach and her cold porcelain toilet would be her best friend.
What was more pathetic was to be thirty-eight and single again.
The realization brought fresh tears to the surface and rolled down the sides of her face. Was it so hard for a man to love her? Sure, she was strong willed and more than a handful, but whatever happened to the adage that there was someone for everyone?
Were there no more tall, black knights who could step up to the plate and love her the way she yearned to be love? If it could happen for her sisters, why couldn’t it happen for her?
She groaned and opened her eyes. She wasn’t interested in the conversation going on in the front seats between Peyton and Frankie; but while lying down, she stared out the back window and up at a blanket of stars twinkling against black velvet. It was a beautiful, clear night. The kind made for lovers.
Suddenly, a star shot across the night sky. Michael, feeling like a lost fairy princess, closed her eyes and made a wish and promptly fell into a deep sleep.
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