Authors: Cynthia Dane
Tags: #contemporary romance
When Passion Flares
THE DARK HORSE TRILOGY
When Passion Flares
THE DARK HORSE TRILOGY, #2
Copyright: Cynthia Dane
Published: 5th December 2014
Publisher: Barachou Press
This is a work of fiction. Any and all similarities to any characters, settings, or situations are purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.
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Kerri Mitchell, the governor’s delightful daughter, had been raised as the quintessential good girl: always smiling, done up in dresses and bows, impeccable manners, and never once in trouble.
Although she knew what it was like to see her mother Brenda frothing at the mouth about one thing or another, rarely was it ever directed at Kerri. On the contrary, it was more likely to be directed at some idiot of a manager or a member of the press.
were the types of people who got to see the nose hairs flare and Brenda’s face attempt to convey more than the stoic veneer of plastic surgery. Kerri always sat on the sidelines, where she was safe from her mother’s wrath.
Never before had she known what it was like to feel that anger crash into her now.
“How could you do this?” Brenda cried, her long nails clawing at her cheeks in desperation. “How could you do this to our family? To yourself?”
Kerri clung to Hunter’s arm as they backed away from the tag-team of their mothers. Brenda dominated the fray now, however, as Ronnie Hall kept her distance and mustered up the most disapproving face of the century. But Kerri could only keep her attention on her mother, the one woman with the power to make certain things go away in her daughter’s life.
“Stop touching him!” Brenda yanked on Kerri’s shoulder, pulling her away from Hunter as he attempted to snatch her back. For a few seconds, Kerri was literally torn between her mother and boyfriend – the old guard hauling her back to prison, and her liberator attempting to make off with her in the night. “I said stop!”
Their shoes scuffled against the floor, heels digging into finished woods that would later need fixing. Eventually the Mama Bear won out and snatched her cub back into her hold. Hunter was left stumbling against the wall while Ronnie bolted to his side. Never before had Kerri felt as childlike as she did at the age of twenty-two. The sensation riled her up until she burst.
“I am not a child!” she said, struggling in her mother’s arms. Eventually she overcame the older woman and stood on her own in the corner of the hallway. “I have done nothing wrong. Where’s the state law saying I can’t be with whatever grown man I want?”
“Don’t talk back to me.” Brenda snatched her daughter by the wrist and attempted to haul ass before anyone at the club could see this fracas erupting outside the restroom.
“Excuse me!” Hunter stepped in, although he made the wise decision to not touch Kerri again. Not in front of a growling mother bent on destroying anything or anyone coming near her daughter. “You have no right to do this. Kerri is a grown woman… we’re
adults, and this is absolutely ridiculous. Kerri can make up her own mind about…”
Brenda raised her hand, but then backed off when she saw Ronnie come running to intercept the blow to her son.
After that, things became an inescapable blur. Brenda tugged Kerri out of the hallway, not even bothering to return to the lunch she had promised to attend. Instead, she called for their Town Car and shoved Kerri inside, not even careful to keep her daughter’s forehead from banging into the top of the car. One loud cry of pain later, Kerri found herself in the car and the driver taking off as if an assassin were on their tail. In Brenda’s mind, there probably was.
Brenda did not say anything for the duration of the ride to the Governor’s Mansion, but just because she didn’t say anything didn’t mean Kerri couldn’t read what her mother
to say. The worst of the worst words must be swarming in Brenda’s large head right now. Kerri had heard her mother utter them before about other young women who found themselves embroiled in sex scandals.
Is that what I’m in?
A sex scandal? If the media caught them, was that what Kerri and Hunter would be branded as? She shivered, and it wasn’t from the air conditioning blasting in the back of the Town Car.
Once they arrived home, Brenda made sure that Kerri did not stray far from her sight. She called down a butler to take their personal items as she escorted Kerri into the library, where Brenda promptly locked the door and poured herself a strong drink from her husband’s bountiful liquor cabinet. Kerri was aghast.
I’ve never seen her drink more than wine or champagne before.
Now Brenda downed a lowball glass of whatever as if she were preparing for a frat party.
“I can’t believe it,” she muttered, staring into the bottom of the glass, perhaps in the hope of it spawning more alcohol. “My daughter… cavorting in such a way with…”
Finally, Kerri was able to get a word in. “We were not ‘cavorting,’ Mother.” She tried to maintain a mature air, although it was difficult with her own mother glaring at her as if she were a dirtied piece of tissue. “Hunter Hall is my boyfriend. We’ve been seeing each other for a while now.” She might as well admit it since her mother saw firsthand what they had been up to. There was no explaining away the two of them being hung up in a closet with nothing better to do than fool around like horny monkeys.
“Your boyfriend!” Brenda tossed the glass onto the couch. Even in this moment of fervor, she could not bring herself to destroy a simple piece of glassware. Brenda Mitchell: the paradigm of propriety, even when tearing her daughter a new asshole. “You think that boy cares about you? About your reputation? Don’t be stupid.” Brenda scoffed. “He will tarnish you the moment it’s convenient to his father. Don’t believe a single word otherwise.”
Kerri slammed herself down onto the couch and looked the other way in a huff.
I’m acting like a child.
This wasn’t how she should try winning over her mother. If anything, she was playing into how Brenda saw her.
A naïve girl who is being taken advantage of.
Kerri stared at her open-toed heels and tried to think of her good times with Hunter. Thinking of him only made her angrier. “You don’t know him. Not like I do.”
“I don’t even want to think about
you know him.” Another drink. Did Brenda usually drink like this? Kerri leaned her head against the back of the couch and counted the pocks in the ceiling. “I’m absolutely not surprised that boy has no morals. Did you know that his mother used to be a
teacher? Such foul things have no place in our schools. It’s like nobody knows the word abstinence these days… and you, young lady…”
“And me what? Don’t tell me you thought I was some beacon of purity at twenty-two.”
“Heavens no, not that I ever wanted to think about it.” Brenda scoffed into her empty glass. “You’ve always been precocious about things I didn’t want you to be. You get that from your father. Then again, I can’t blame him. Look at the world you grew up in. Sex on every TV channel. Raging hormones from that music or whatever. Don’t think I didn’t know about that boy you brought home for Christmas that one time. I saw the way you looked at each other.”
Kerri wrinkled her nose in disgust. Sure, she had slept with that boyfriend by the time she brought him home for Christmas. They broke up because Raymond threatened to cut off his gonads if he ever looked at his daughter again. Kerri had been nineteen at the time – damn well old enough to have a man in her life, wedding ring or no.
“Look, sweetie.” Although Brenda used her old pet name for her daughter, it was not saccharine. Brenda looked at Kerri with a weary countenance that had weathered one political scandal after another over so many years. “I’m sure you like this… boy.” The governor’s wife shuddered as she remembered who it was. “I’m sure you think he likes you too. But you have to understand that it’s
okay seeing him. He’s Terrence Hall’s son! Even if he’s not using you – which I am not convinced he
it’s still too dangerous.”
I can’t take this anymore.
Kerri stood up, sure to pull down the skirt of her dress before any mother hens could click their tongues in admonishment. “As Hunter and I both told you,” she said with a bite, “we are two consenting adults. I can date whomever I want. Just be glad it’s not a woman, huh?” Good thing Kerri never told her mother about that one roommate in college.
“Don’t start that with me again. This is just like you. You think I don’t remember what it was like to be your age? I thought I knew everything then too. Could really stick it to my parents when I thought about it. But I wasn’t in the position you are in today. You have to think of us, your family. I wasn’t the governor’s daughter when I was your age. It was scandalous enough when it came out that I had been dating your father for a few months. Scandalous because my father was a prosecutor and his was a defense attorney in the same jurisdiction. That was a big deal back then, and that was before this social media trash and the ficklest hearts constituents have ever had. So don’t tell me you’re an adult and can make your own decisions. Those decisions don’t occur in a vacuum, Kerri. We’re not some nobody family, and the Halls aren’t some nobodies either. Everything you do reflects on your father and his campaign. And you’re a woman. Double standards aren’t fair, I know, but that boy Hunter won’t hurt a bit of his reputation if this ever came out. Only you would suffer any consequences, and those would blow up right in your father’s face. We would be the laughing stock in the voting booths. If you care about your father’s reelection, then you’ll stop seeing this boy right now.”
The room grew cold even with the sunlight streaming through the library window. “And what if I don’t care about his reelection?”
Brenda was quick to respond. “Then you’re a selfish girl and not the adult you think you are.”
Before Kerri could formulate a clear thought after sifting through her shock, someone knocked on the door before opening it. “What are my two favorite ladies doing in here?” Raymond asked, his balding head and portly body pushing their way in with a chuckle. “I thought you were having lunch?”
Like the practiced queen she was, Brenda put on a reassuring smile and went to her husband to stroke his shoulder. “Nothing, dear. Kerri and I were having some private girl talk. Our darling daughter might be going to Italy soon to take her mind off this election fuss.”
Kerri spun around in her seat “I don’t intend to go to Italy,” she told both of her parents.
“Like I said, we were discussing it.”
“Italy? Now?” Raymond lost the doting demeanor he saved for his family. “Now is a terrible time to do some sightseeing, Kerri Kitty.” He shook his head. “Can’t this wait until after the election? Our chances are much higher with my beautiful daughter nearby.”
Kerri did not respond. She was too busy wishing that Hunter would knock down the library door and save his confined princess from the top of her lauded tower, where two well-meaning (or were they?) gatekeepers tried to tell her how to live her life.
Funny, she didn’t recall signing up for such a thing. Years since she last had the chance to make a substantial decision for herself.
And I chose to date Hunter.
Whether she thought that because she believed it or because she was rebelling against her parents was not important to her in that moment.