Home > Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(8)

Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(8)
Author: A.L. Jackson

God knew I’d been judged enough as a child. I might as well have been on trial for my appearance alone, a thousand convictions made with each passing, sneering glance. And I had looked deeper at Rex. What I saw was pain and fear and a rickety defense lurking right under the hostility that seeped from his pores like poison. There was something so ferociously protective behind the shield of venom and animosity.

It filled me with the urge to break through it. To chip it away, piece by piece. To dig deeper until I’d discovered everything that was hiding underneath.

It didn’t help that one look at him made my stomach shiver and shake.

I had no idea what it was about this guy, but every time I saw him, I was struck with an overpowering shock of attraction. The kind that spun my head and left my knees weak with the impulse to run my fingers over the hard planes of his body.

Which was crazy. I didn’t know him. But I couldn’t scrape the idea from my consciousness that I was supposed to.

Nikki’s eyes widened as if my question had been absurd. “Of course we knew your grandma.” With a moan, her eyes rolled back in her head as she tipped her face toward the ceiling. “She made the freaking best pies. Like, to die for.”

Wistful laughter tumbled free. “Yeah, they kind of had that effect on people, didn’t they? Now that woman could bake.”

Her pot pies were almost as legendary as her sweet pies.

“Tell me you’re actually reopening this place and you have all her secret recipes,” Nikki pleaded as if my answer might save her life.

I glanced around the diner that had been shut down for the last two months, but with the poor shape it was in, you’d think it had been vacant for years. The entire place was covered in an inch of dust, the red pleather booths cracked, some torn. More concerning was the equipment in the kitchen that was old and in far worse shape.

Resolve set into my bones. “I’m going to try.”

Lillith laughed a tinkling sound. “Oh, if you’re anything like your grandma made you out to be, I think you’ll fair just fine.”

A sad smile emerged at just the edge of my mouth. “I think there’s a chance my grandmother might have played me up to be something I’m not.”

“Psh.” Nikki waved a flippant hand. “As long as you have those recipes, you’re golden.”

“Well, following her recipes is the easy part. It’s the two hundred thousand dollar loan I need to whip this place back into shape that I’m worried about,” I returned, trying to make it a joke and not let the reality of it bring me down.

All the while, I wondered why these two set me so at ease that I felt comfortable sharing such personal details with them.

But I did.

Concern flitted across Lillith’s face, her expression knowing. “I heard there was a tax lien?”

I sighed, but there was satisfaction behind it. “There was, but I was able to sell off some of my things back in California to pay the lien, as well as the back payments due on the house. That left me with the keys to both.” A wry chuckle rumbled out. “And you know, about five dollars to my name.” I wasn’t quite that destitute, but it was close.

“Hey, a strong woman can work magic with five dollars,” Nikki said, her grin wry.

“I just might need a little magic to come into play if I’m going to make this happen.”

Sympathy lined Lillith’s face. “I’m so sorry your return is under these circumstances. I hope you know your grandmother was a huge asset to this community and an even better friend. She is greatly missed. If there’s anything we can do, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m an attorney, and I’ll do whatever I can to help you get this place reopened, whether you need me to file anything or need legal advice or even if you just need a friend to talk to.”

Her words were carefully phrased, but there was a genuineness that seeped out with them.

“That’s really nice of you. Thank you. I may need to take you up on that offer,” I told her.

She smiled. “The entire town is really excited by the prospect of the diner reopening, especially with the hotel going in across the street. The whole intention of the Fairview Street Restoration Project is to mesh the old with the new. A cohesive fusion of the past and present, and I’d personally love to see this diner become a part of that.”

Pride lifted in her expression when she looked over her shoulder and out the window at the construction taking place directly on the other side of the street.

Nikki almost rolled her eyes. She dropped her voice as if she were whispering conspiratorially, though not low enough that Lillith couldn’t hear. “You’ll have to excuse her. Her fiancé’s company has the hotel going in, and this one right here is kind of pathetically in love.”

Lillith swatted at her. “Shut it.” She looked at me, grinning. “Nikki is the one who pretty much insisted I give him a chance, and now that we’re together, she won’t stop giving me crap about it. I think she might be jealous.”

“Hey, don’t act like you don’t want to kiss my feet for bringing the two of you together. That was nothing but pure matchmaking skill. Think of all the orgasms I earned you.”

“Nikki, what is wrong with you?” Lillith smacked her again.

Nikki set her hand over her heart. “I’m just a speaker of the truth. And yes, for the record, I am very, very jealous of all the orgasms. I mean, not that I want Broderick to be the one giving them to me. That would be kind of gross and wrong.”

Nikki sent me a wink. “You know, considering we’re best friends and all. I’m just envious of the sheer number of them.”

She feigned a sad shake of her head. “It’s a little greedy if you ask me. No one person needs that many orgasms.”

“Oh, believe me, I need them all.” Lillith was both fighting a grin and the redness on her cheeks when she said it, once again looking behind her to the construction site.

It was a large section of land cordoned off by a chain-link fence, the frame of a massive building just starting to take form.

I smiled at her dreamy look. It was impossible not to like them. They seemed polar opposites; yet, I was unable to imagine one without the other.

Lillith turned back to me almost reluctantly. “We’d better get out of your way so you can get back to work, but we wanted to stop in and introduce ourselves. Honestly, if you need anything, let us know.”

“I’m glad you did, and I definitely will.”

“Oh.” Nikki’s eyes lit up. “It’s Friday!”

My brow rose in question.

She looked at me as if it should be obvious. “Um . . . hello? Friday Funday? That means you totally have to come out with us tonight.”


Okay, maybe I was a little overenthusiastic. But I missed Macy like crazy and the truth was, I needed that—companionship and friendship. The true kind. The feeling of belonging when the last couple of days had made me feel as if I’d stepped out of bounds, directly into a place I knew so intimately but still so far removed.

Lillith nodded. “Oh, good idea.”

“Of course it’s a good idea,” Nikki shot back.

Lillith widened her eyes at me. “For the record, if you say no, chances are Nikki will just come drag you out anyway. It’s best to just concede and go along for the ride. God knows, I do.” It was all soft, playful affection.

“At least you know what is good for you,” Nikki tossed at her before she grabbed me by the wrist and shook my arm around. “Come with us. Please! I already feel like I know you, and . . . well, I think that you might be the missing three in our amigo. You complete us.”

With both index fingers, she drew a heart in the air.

“See?” Lillith asked. “Just go with the crazy.”

I grinned. I was totally going with the crazy. Forget the fears. It’d been eleven years. Who would even recognize me? And if they did, why would they even still care?

A shiver trembled through me.

What if they did?

Shaking it off, I smiled. I could do this. I wanted to do this. “That sounds like fun. Where should I meet you and at what time?”

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