If you are looking to read on the beach this weekend, check out When First They Practice To Deceive
Meet the man reviewers are calling a "hunk" and "Mr. Trey McDreamy" in the action packed third book of the Secret Lives series.
Read The Reviews Here!!!
To Get You Started...Here's a little bit of Jessy and Trey... enjoy!!
Jessy stepped out into the cold and wrapped her coat around her more tightly. Agnes had given her an envelope for the packet of papers that she carried under her arm. The wind had definitely kicked up while she was inside the office; she wouldn’t be surprised if there were a storm brewing off the coast.
Quickening her step, she crossed the road and headed to the lot where her car was parked. From behind her, someone called her name.
“Jessy! Wait, Jessy!” She stopped when she reached the sidewalk and turned around, expecting to see one of Sam’s friends or some guy he worked with. Instead, she saw Trey.
Her body didn’t know how to react. The hint of electricity that ran down her spine at the sight of him in his well-worn leather bomber jacket warred with the nausea over possibly being seen coming out of the attorney’s office.
“Hi, Trey. What are you doing in this neck of the woods?”
He grinned down at her. His cheeks were red from the cold, but that just made his blueeyes bluer. “I was supposed to meet my dad for lunch but he had to cancel. Work stuff, I guess. How ‘bout you? Do you live around here?”
“No. I, uh, I had an appointment.”
“I hope it was to file for divorce against that loser husband of yours. There’s about ten divorce attorneys around here. I can recommend a good one for you if you want me to.”
Once again, her emotions warred with each other. Her mind wanted to both defend Sam for some crazy reason, and she wanted jump into Trey’s arms so he could hold her until all of it was done and over with. She settled for telling him the truth instead.
“Actually, I did.” She pulled the packet from under her arm. “Here’s the papers I have to fill out .”
Trey reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. Jessy may have leaned into his touch just a tiny little bit, not that she’d actually admit it to anyone. He didn’t seem to mind, if the sparkle in his eye was any indicator. “I know how hard all of this is. I’ve had my share of loss. If you need anything—a shoulder to cry on, a couple bottles of wine—I’m here for you.”
Jessy couldn’t resist his smile. It consumed the entirety of his features and made her feel all warm and fuzzy in places that had, just moments before, been freezing. “Thank you, Trey, I appreciate that.”
“Hey, have you eaten yet? I’m starving and I don’t have lunch date.”
“I don’t know—”
“I promise, no diner food. There’s a great little barbeque place down Lynnhaven Parkway. They were on the Food Channel once, I heard.”
It was so hard to resist his boyish grin. What the heck, it was only lunch, right? It’s not like they were dating. She threw caution to the wind. This was the first day of the rest of her life; she might as well start over the right way. Lunch with a very handsome man sounded good to her. “Okay, fine. I’ll follow you there.”
He rubbed his hands together. “Excellent. As soon as I get some feeling back in my fingertips, I will unlock my car and we can be on our way.”
She had no idea what came over her when she reached her hands out and took his in her own, rubbing the backs and the palms to create warmth between them. Time slowed around them. Jessy was no longer aware of anyone or anything except the point where she and Trey touched and the depths of his eyes that searched her soul in a very unnerving way.
“Coming through!” a panicked voice yelled, jarring her back to reality. Trey wrapped an arm around her, pulling her toward him swiftly. She slammed into his chest as they tumbled to the icy ground in a heap and tangle. A man on a motorized scooter whizzed by them, the orange flag attached to his seat waving wildly in the air. “Watch it next time, suckers!”
Trey was on top of her, his eyes full of worry. “Are you okay, Jessy?”
Was she okay? Now that was an interesting question. She was sprawled on the wet ground, wind blowing up her long skirt, and she was fairly certain there was mud on her face. On the other hand, an almost illegally sexy man was spread out on top of her and she was pretty sure he didn’t have a gun in his pocket. So, was she okay? Hell yeah, she was more than okay.
“Are you sure?” He rolled to her side and started checking her appendages for broken bones. “Did you hit your head? Does anything hurt?”
Oh, something hurt all right. But it wasn’t because she had fallen. “I’m really okay, I promise.” She sat up and smoothed her hair. Yup, full of mud. “I must look a real fright though.”
Trey wiped at her cheek with a thumb. “Actually, you look quite beautiful.”
All kinds of heat radiated from her as blood rushed to the surface of her skin. “You don’t have to say that. I fell in the mud.”
“Yes, and you wear it very well.” Trey gave her another amazing smile as he stood and gently pulled her to her feet. “I suppose this means you are going to cancel lunch on me as well?”
She should probably go home, clean up, and take a nap before work, but the war in her brain was happening again. This time it was between her practical side and the rest of her that really, really wanted to have lunch with Trey.
“Nope. I’m hungry. If you can stand to look at me like this for the next hour then I’m game. I just need to hit the ladies’ room to wash up a little.”
“It won’t be any hardship on my part to look at such a beautiful woman while I eat.”
“You don’t have to keep saying that.”
He looked confused. “Saying what?”
“You know, that I’m beautiful. I’m still hungry either way. Flattery is unnecessary.”
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you how stunning you are?”
“Please, I am as homely as they come. Let’s go eat.” She started walking the rest of the way to her car.
“That man of yours was a bigger ass hat than I thought. He never once complimented you, did he?”
She waved away his words with one hand as she unlocked her car with the other. “I’m sure he did. We were together for years.”
Trey took the keys from her fumbling fingers and hit the remote unlock button. Nothing happened. “Why didn’t it work?”
She shrugged. “Battery died.”
He fit the key in the lock and pulled the driver’s side door open. “We need to get that fixed for you. I don’t like the idea of you not being able to unlock your car after work. I’m not there every night.”
“I’ll take care of it. With everything going on, it kept slipping my mind.” She slid in behind the wheel and nodded toward a car she recognized as his. “Go. Get in your car and lead me to food. My stomach is going to digest itself soon.”
Trey offered her a mock salute, obviously deciding the key fob was a non-issue at the moment. “Yes, ma’am. You every wish is my command.” He turned and jogged toward his car, leaving Jessy wondering if he meant everything he said.
It took over ten minutes to get to the restaurant. Apparently everyone in Virginia Beach was out to lunch on Lynnhaven Parkway that day. When he finally led her into the parking lot of a strip mall, Jessy was confused. Maybe with all the traffic he had changed his mind about lunch.
Trey pulled into a spot and Jessy pulled up alongside him, rolling down the passenger window. A gust of cold air swirled into the car, making her shake. “Change your mind?”
“What? No. This is it. Come on, I told you it was a little hole in the wall.”
A restaurant in a strip mall worried her. How good could it be if they couldn’t even afford their own building?
Trey walked around her car and met her as she stepped from the driver’s seat. Tucking her arm in the crook of his, he led her to a tiny storefront she never would have noticed on her own. As they walked inside, the sweet, vinegary smell of Carolina barbeque assaulted her senses, making her mouth water. She might have moaned right then, but she would deny it until her death bed. She completely ignored the cashier eyeballing her and her disheveled, dirty appearance.
“Okay if I order for you?” Trey stood at the counter, looking over at her. “I’m not trying to go all alpha male on you or anything, I just have a feeling I know what you will like.”
Yeah he was going a little alpha male, but it actually didn’t bother her. Truth be told, she kind of liked him taking care of her a little. “Go ahead, I trust you. I need to go clean up anyway.”
She could feel Trey’s eyes on her as she walked to the restroom. At least, she hoped they were his and not everyone elses’ in the tiny restaurant.
Thankfully, the bathroom was a single-occupant-only space. She closed and locked the door behind her and turned to face the evil truth in the mirror. Opening eyes she didn’t realize she had closed, Jessy bit back a little scream. Pieces of dead grass and a few brown pine needles were stuck in her hair. Smudges of mud under her eyes made her look like a wannabe athlete, and the hem of her skirt was nearly black. Yay. Either Trey really didn’t see what a hot mess she was, or he was enjoying a secret laugh at her expense.
Squirting a pile of foamy soap in the palm of her hand, Jessy scrubbed her face until it was red and felt raw. Carefully picking all the vegetation from her hair, she then undid her braid and brushed through her waist-length hair. Her wrist ached with the effort. Apparently she had hurt herself a little in the fall after all. It took too much effort to try and braid her hair back up, so she tucked the long waves behind her ears, put her brush back in her purse, took a deep breath and left the bathroom. Things were as good as they were going to get.
She caught sight of Trey setting two foam plates on a table, and headed toward him. He turned, one large Styrofoam cup in each hand and stopped when he saw her. “I didn’t know what you liked to drink. You look different.”
“No more dirt on my face?” She smiled and reached for the cups. “Let me fill them. I like sweet tea. You?”
“I’ll have the same.” He sucked in a breath as she turned away from him, bringing a smile to her own lips. “Jessy, your hair.”
She felt a light tug and glanced at him over her shoulder. “Thanks for not telling me it was full of pine needles.”
“I didn’t notice.” He kept step with her as she went to the drink station. As she poured the two sweet teas, Trey buried his fingers in the hair at the base of her neck, sending a shiver down through her.
“Here.” She turned and handed him one of the cups. “It was too hard to re-braid in the bathroom, but I can if it bothers you.”
“Bothers me? What is wrong with you, girl?”
“Wrong with me?” Unexplained anger started to boil slowly inside her.
“Relax, I don’t mean it as an insult.” He leaned forward, placing his lips close to her ear. “You have no idea how many fantasies I’ve had about that hair of yours. You’ve just made one of them come true.” He straightened and returned to their table, leaving her rooted to the floor and stuttering. Sam had hated her hair, said it got in the way of everything—clogged drains, irritated him while he slept.
Did Trey just say he had been fantasizing about her? Yes, he most certainly did. Tossing all her hair over her shoulder so that it fell, sensually she hoped, over her body, Jessy joined Trey at the table. She picked up her sandwich, complete with fresh coleslaw piled on the pork just the way she liked it, and took a bite, watching Trey all the while.
They chatted about the weather and Dixie and the colorful customers that Jessy was getting to know. When they were just about done, Jessy asked the question that had been on her mind for a while. “Have you always been a cook?”
“Have I always loved to cook? Yes. The job at Dixie’s though is just temporary…while I figure a few things out.”
Maybe she had been completely off base thinking he was a cop. Her instincts weren’t usually wrong, but maybe they were this time.
“What did you do before?”
“A lot of different things, much to the dismay of my father.” He laughed, but the sound lacked his usual humor.
She reached across the table and touched the back of his hand. “I’m sure he is very proud of you.”
“I guess. He is a good man. Does great things for people in need. He expected me to follow in his footsteps but I wanted something different. Something that didn’t quite fit the family mold.”
“I wish I knew how that was. My parents died when I was young, and my grandparents raised me. They loved me, but they didn’t have a lot of expectations of me. By the time I graduated high school they were nearing their eighties. I left home and have been on my own ever since. Until I met Sam on my nineteenth birthday. We were married a year later. If I could go back in time, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten married so young.”
“Our experiences in life make us who we are. I just wish your experiences hadn’t been so heartbreaking.”
She shrugged. “It wasn’t all bad. I mean, aside from the obvious. I had a good childhood. I just have a lousy taste in men, I guess.”
“Not all men are like your soon-to-be ex-husband. Some of us are capable of appreciating a real jewel when we find it.”
“I really hope not all men are like Sam. I’d be forced to join a convent, and I don’t really look all that good in black.”
Trey leaned back against his chair, folded his arms over his chest, and bellowed loudly, “Trust me, Jessy. You’d look good in a paper sack.”