Authors: Honor James
Jackie had been having the worst morning of
Valentine’s Day was less than
a week away, and she had to fend off yet another
from one of her friends.
She didn’t want to be set up, didn’t they get that? But oh, no, everyone
saw her as a single woman in Texas, heaven for-freaking-bid that she
this morning she had fended off three match-making attempts and one idiot who
brought her flowers and a ring, someone she didn’t even freaking know!
Gripping the steering wheel so hard her
knuckles were white, she spoke into her truck’s Bluetooth receiver.
I really appreciate you trying to ensure that
I don’t spend the rest of my life alone.”
She was only thirty for the love of God!
“But having Dale Buck come by today and ask me to marry him? That was
low,” she said.
“He did what?” The woman’s voice came through
the phone, shock evident.
beat that boy with a horse whip,” she muttered.
“He did,” Jackie said as she whipped into a
parking space and then groaned.
freaking course! Of course, Grant, too freaking hunky for his own good,
Franklyn was there, parked in the only spot open on the street near her
Please, please tell your
bridge partners, players, whatever they are, that I’m over the being set
I can find my own love interests,
thank you very much.”
She turned off the
truck and added, “Gotta go.
is stopping by today for color and cut and you know how she is if I’m not on
Without waiting another moment,
she disconnected the phone.
Tapping her forehead on her steering wheel,
she sighed and shook her head.
bless America,” she grumbled as she opened the door, and in her frustration,
flung it open far harder than she had intended to.
“Crap on a freaking cracker,” she said as she
heard the distinctive crunch of metal on metal.
“Son of a bitch, he’s going to have a kitten.” Everyone and their
brothers knew that Grant Franklyn thought more of
than any other thing in the world, even if she was a
Grabbing a notepad, she wrote a quick note and
stuck it under the windshield wiper and ran for her shop.
She was ever so hopeful that he would just
let it go since it was her.
thing everyone and their brother knew was that she was his
favorite being in the entire world.
often came up when people linked their names together.
She bet the bridge crew that was trying to
set her up would have heart attacks if they knew she had the hots for the ranch
Best to keep the word
between them or someone would try to get the two of them
together, and that was something she didn’t want.
Not that she didn’t want
but she didn’t want him to be forced.
Yep, she was a weirdo.
After getting everything set up, she greeted
Dawn as she entered, and the woman immediately began to
the latest gossip, to which Jackie gave the necessary nods and sounds of
Jackie paused and looked at Dawn.
"Hold the phone, sugar.
Mind repeating that last bit there?” she
asked with a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
She had to have heard wrong, prayed she had
“I was just saying that everyone is trying to
figure out why you aren’t married yet.
The only thing anyone has been able to come up with so far is that maybe
We will still love you, but don’t be
surprised if some of the older women don’t come back to your shop.
You know,” she leaned in and whispered, “The
older ones that aren’t as hip with today’s young people.”
Her temper was simmering and getting ready to
She was ready to cuss those old
bitches out, and if she did, her momma would roll in her grave.
So instead Jackie counted backwards from ten,
When she was a little calmer,
she politely said, “And I keep telling everyone that my love life is none of
Please make sure to pass
Pulling off her gloves, Jackie finished the
styling for Dawn and then groaned when none other than Grant freaking Franklyn
walked into her salon.
“Hang on a sec,
Sug,” she said and patted Dawn’s shoulder.
Walking toward Grant, she asked, “Can I help you, Mr. Franklyn?”
He was staring at her, hard.
looks could kill, she’d be a pile of goo, no, not even that.
She’d be a skid mark on her wonderfully
His pale grey eyes
with the black hair that fell over his tanned forehead, too damned fine, and he
Square, chiseled jaw, slightly
crooked nose and cheekbones that most women would beg, steal, and kill
Course, he wasn’t looking so hot
right then, not with the color riding those spectacular cheekbones.
Oh, all right, he was damned hot.
“Yes, Ms. Hunter,” he said.
His eyes darted to where Dawn was sitting,
and his voice lowered more.
“I saw the
crater you left in my truck and got your quaint little note.
Care to explain just how you managed to
create so much damage in the mere seconds you likely were parked in the spot?”
Damn the man for looking at her with his
too-perfect grey eyes.
Closing her own
chocolate brown eyes, she pushed her too long and thick chestnut hair back,
took a deep breath, and looked at him again.
“I’m sorry, but really, if you weren’t parked in the other parking space
I wouldn’t have damaged your precious vehicle.
Because if you will look, Mr. Franklyn, you will see that
precious Matilda is more than a foot over the line into
the next space.
So, really, this is your
So, maybe not the brightest
thing to say, but she was seriously unhappy with him.
The lines of his jaw got sharper, and was that
His eyes narrowed more.
“It likely escaped your notice, since you
decided that the spot you were going to park in would fit your vehicle, but
there is a large truck on the other side of mine, not in its spot.
As are the other six vehicles down the
And yet, in your infinite wisdom,
you still chose to squeeze into a spot you knew was too small, instead of
finding another, and opened your door.
You made that choice, and you will be getting the bill for the repairs,
Ms. Hunter.” The way he said her name led her to believe that he was
envisioning her very bloody demise.
“Why do you think I left you the note?” She
stepped in closer to him, poking her finger into his chest.
“I could just as easily have walked away
without leaving one because God only knows that you don’t pay enough attention
to anyone other than your ranch and your precious truck.” She didn’t know why
she was so bloody angry.
Maybe it was
because of only a moment ago being called a lesbian by another busy-body
asstwat, but who knew.
He swatted her hand away.
“It wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure
out it was you, Ms. Hunter.
No one else
would drive a hybrid in ranching country.” He was glaring at her, had even
tipped his Stetson back so his eyes weren’t as shadowed, pretty, pretty
“I pay attention to my ranch
because it’s my livelihood and the livelihood of everyone working for me.
As I didn’t realize it was a crime to ensure
my business ran smoothly, you’ll just have to forgive me for not giving a damn
about your opinion on the subject.
As for the truck.”
His jaw had a tic
and some scruff too,
“My father gave me that
truck two weeks before he passed.
excuse me if I baby it just a little.
It’s all I have of the man besides the land I slave on, day in and day
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
Her anger was deflated that quickly.
“I told you that I will pay for it.
I left the note so that you would know where
to come so that we can discuss it.
for my hybrid,” she said with a shrug.
“Is it so wrong to want to be better for the environment than our
parents were? I might seem brainless to you, but I assure you I’m not.” Just
because she had been Miss Teen USA, and then Ms. Texas later in her twenties,
didn’t mean she was stupid.
One of the
many things she had learned was that even one person changing from a
gas-guzzling, nature-polluting vehicle to a hybrid vehicle could make an
“Never said you were brainless,” he said.
He pulled off his Stetson and shoved his
fingers through the thick, wavy hair before slamming the hat back down.
“Forget it.” He shook his head and moved to
“Just forget it,” he muttered
and proceeded to slam out of her shop.
“Blasted damn man,” Jackie said under her
breath, moving away from the counter and turning back to Dawn, who was looking
at her, and the retreating back of Grant, with intense interest.
She could almost see the wheels turning.
“Now, Dawn,” she began.
“Don’t you go spreading
Shit, that woman had that look on her face, the look of a woman who had some
“I would never spread rumors,” Dawn said with
Too bad the smirk on her lips
“But I do need to ask,
why in the world have you never jumped that fine hunk of Grade
“Because I don’t sleep with people who
obviously hate me,” she said, grinding the words out as she put her gloves back
Not because she didn’t want to ruin
her manicure, but because she was
allergic to most of the chemicals in her own shop.
Getting back to work, she had to suffer
through Dawn’s chatter as she cut the woman’s hair and then, thankfully, sent
her on her way.
Dropping into the chair behind her desk,
Jackie rubbed her temples and sighed.
Damn, maybe she should take one of the ladies up on their offer to set
her up on a no-strings-attached sex date.
It had been far too long since she had had a lover, so maybe that would
After leaving the papers with his accountant,
Grant had to see his poor damaged truck again.
He couldn’t believe he’d told Jacqueline Hunter about its origins.
But she’d pushed him; she
pushed him, made him so damned
and quick too.
Nobody else in the rest of Texas had ever gotten under his skin that
Shaking his head, he grabbed the tools he’d
completely forgotten about until his meeting was half over, and got into the
made sure not to leave a bloody mark on her precious little
hybrid piece of crap.
Backing out of the spot, he shot her place one
glare as he drove past.
He had work to do and, unfortunately,
stopping to get his truck fixed wasn’t on that agenda.
Cursing his luck with that particular female,
he headed for the ranch.
Maybe if he put
in a few extra hours, he’d eventually have time to get it looked at, at the
His phone rang, startling him.
He was even more surprised when he heard her
voice on the line.
“Please, don’t hang
up,” she spoke softly.
“Look, like I
said, I feel really bad about your truck.
I did from the moment I hit it, and I honest to God didn’t mean to.
However, if you don’t mind, I have a friend
who works on classics like your truck, and he’s willing to come out to your
ranch and see if he can fix it.
you are a busy man, and that’s why I called Chip and asked him if maybe he
would be able to do the repairs on the fly.
It was clear she was
trying damn hard to make amends.