Home > Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(10)

Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(10)
Author: Kristen Ashley

I loved that tee.

I was also wearing a pair of cutoff jeans shorts. These were faded and I fancied they hung pretty good on me, what with me putting on a bit of the weight I lost after Dick Grant hastened his retreat due to me kicking him out.

When I looked down to my feet, I saw I wasn’t wearing any shoes.

I was sporting a rather nice pedicure, though, bright purple that was almost neon.

I’d done it myself. And the results pleased me.

They pleased me enough—it all pleased me enough—I walked out and went to the kitchen, heading straight to the fridge. I slid out the homemade chocolate cream pie I’d put in there that morning. I grabbed a knife. When I was about to slice in, I moved it three centimeters wider and sliced a huge-ass piece. I slid it on a plate, covered it in cling wrap, and went to the back door. I slid on my pink metallic, slim strap havaianas with their sole covered in gray, white, and turquoise flowers then I headed to the front door.

Before I could think better of it, I grabbed my key, walked out, locked up, and moved to the lane.

Then I moved straight to cabin eleven.

The lights were on, the sheers pulled.

I walked up the steps, across the porch, and to the front door.

I sucked in a breath.

Then I lifted my hand and knocked.

A nanosecond later, the door swung open so swiftly, I gasped and took a step back.

“You okay?” John Priest asked.

Oh man.

The dude so…totally…liked me!

“Uh…yeah,” I answered.

I saw his eyes through the screen door drop to the pie.

Quickly, I started, “I made this today. I thought you might—”

His gaze sliced to mine and he cut me off. “Go home.”

“I—”

“Go. Home.”

I felt my heart start beating hard in my chest as I said softly, “It’s really good.”

“Go home.”

“John…”

I said no more because at the mere utterance of his name, something sinister beat from him through the screen right into me, pummeling me to such an extreme, it was a wonder I didn’t drop to a knee.

“Woman,” he growled, impatience threaded liberally through the word. “Go…the fuck…home.”

And it was then he closed the door on me.

I stood at his door for long moments.

Then I went home.

When I got there, I ate the pie.

I did this even though every bite made me feel sick.

Like any good woman who’d just humiliated herself would, I ignored that feeling and kept eating.

And later, when I climbed into bed, I didn’t sleep.

Chapter Three

Waging War

“We’re worried.”

“Don’t be worried.”

“No one should be alone on Christmas.”

It was Christmas Eve. I was talking to my mother. I was also in my house in Colorado while everyone, including my sister, her husband, her newborn baby boy, my brother and his new fiancé, and my beloved favorite uncle and his entire family, were at the ranch in Oklahoma.

But every cabin was filled and all of them with more than one person. Hell, one family was taking up four cabins on their own for a huge family Colorado holiday getaway.

And Colorado holiday getaway I was giving them. Each cabin had a festive Christmas tree decorated in full-on Western. There was lots of twine with painted wooden things on it, cowboy boots, snowmen wearing bandanas and cowboy hats, saddles, horseshoes, and tin stars ornaments (and the like).

Not to mention, all the cabins were strewn outside with Christmas lights. It took me two full days just to put up those twinkling lights, but in the end, the effort was worth it. It looked phenomenal. Further, the big pots I had everywhere that were filled with flowers in the spring, summer and fall were planted with baby fir trees also lit with cheerful, blinking lights.

And each cabin had a big tin of homemade Christmas cookies sitting on the counter next to a real poinsettia to welcome my customers after they checked in and entered their cabins to experience Christmas joy Glacier Lily style.

Mom and Dad and my brother, Titus, had come last Christmas. This Christmas, everyone went home, but I couldn’t afford to leave. Not even for two days. I needed the money.

And that sucked.

“I have friends in town who are having me over for dinner tomorrow,” I lied to my mom, because I had friends in town but I was too busy to put the time in for them to be true friends who would invite me over for Christmas dinner.

So I was making myself duck breast, potatoes dauphenois, and asparagus, with homemade rolls, ending in devil’s food cake with homemade frozen custard. I also had a shed load of munchies. And I’d bought myself (and the cabins’ DVD menu) six new DVDs.

I was going to eat through Christmas. Eat and watch romantic movies, lament my lonely life, my distance from my family, the fact that I hadn’t snowboarded once since I came to Colorado, and therefore I was living no dream.

I was stuck in reality.

And that sucked too.

“Your dad and I’ll make plans, come visit you next month. Take you boarding,” Mom said to me.

“That’d be awesome, Mom,” I replied quietly, and it would, the boarding definitely but mostly Mom and Dad being with me.

“We’re about to go to church,” she told me. “But we’ll call tomorrow after the mayhem. You can get a good gab in with everybody.”

“Okay.”

“And you have plans tonight?” she asked.

I had plans.

They included eating myself into a pre-Christmas stupor, while drinking myself into an alcoholic one, and watching Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock miss each other repeatedly and heartbreakingly until the universe guided them together. After that, I was going to continue on my Bullock-a-thon watching Hope Floats and reminding myself it’s never too late to find happiness while hoping the likes of Harry Connick, Jr. showed up at my cabins sometime in the near future. It could be the likes of the real him who was cool and handsome and could croon and play piano or it could be the likes of his character in that movie who could be hot and honest and take on me and all my crap. If either opportunity was afforded to me, I wasn’t going to quibble.

Tomorrow, I’d break out the new DVDs for more romantic torture.

“I have plans tonight,” I confirmed with my mom, forcing a chipper tone into my voice and not doing half bad.

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