Beg for Mercy [Mercy Hollings Series Book 1] [Secure]
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by Toni Andrews
Description: I've never been certain I'm human Oh, the X-rays and blood tests are normal, and most people have no reason to suspect I'm more than I appear to be. But if I tell you to do something? You do it--no ifs, ands or buts. I call my power the 'press.' My name is Mercy Hollings, and if you think that having the power to control people makes my life easy, you're dead wrong. Because when I get angry, everyone around me is at risk--Sukey, my friend who has frightening taste in men; my clients, who, ironically, come to me for help; my neighbors, who regard me as a loner; and Sam, a man who wants to know my darkest secret. I have hurt people in the past, and I don't want that to happen again. But now a powerful stranger is threatening the new life that I've made for myself. And I'm afraid my anger is taking over.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: September 2007
101 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [408 KB]
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I've never been certain I'm human. Oh, the X-rays and blood tests are normal, and no doctor, not even my gynecologist, has ever suggested otherwise, but it's not my body that's different. Not in any way you can see, at least. Most people have no reason to suspect I'm more—or less—than I appear to be. But none of them really know me. Sometimes I get tired of being cautious. But not so tired I let my guard down. Ever.
That's probably why I go to Jimbo's. Balboa's most notorious dive is not the kind of place that invites curiosity.
In the summertime, the population of Southern California's Balboa Peninsula swells as the beachfront condos fill with vacationing families. The trio of tiny three-car ferries circle continuously, and those who choose the longer overland route discover that the two four-lane roads leading onto the peninsula rapidly merge into one congested street and that all parking spaces are full by ten in the morning.
Evenings, when the beaches have emptied and the tourist traps have closed their doors, the heartier visitors migrate to pubs specializing in tropical drinks and steel bands. They drink Red Stripe beer and dance to reggae in their bikinis and sarongs, glowing from sunburn and tequila shots.
In the midst of this festival atmosphere, Jimbo's staunchly refuses to be festive. Its windowless single room, decorated with faded photos of men holding prize-winning fish caught half a century earlier, has little appeal to any lost tourist who stumbles into its dimly lit interior. Occasionally, some brave souls might try to blend in with the locals and sit at the bar for a draft beer and a pickled egg, but they seldom ask for a refill. If they stay long enough to need them, the bathrooms will probably scare them off. The graffiti, never painted over, is legendary.
I was sitting at the bar sipping a Budweiser—Jimbo's sells no other beer—and listening to Sukey prattle on about her latest flame, Rocko. Sukey is crazy for big, beefy guys who are long on muscles and short on brains. We definitely do not compete for the same men.
"He's gorgeous," she gushed. "I can't wait until you meet him!"
I smiled and nodded. We'd had this conversation many times before. Sukey is the most wonderful person in the world, but she's a bit high-maintenance for most men. She'll call them twelve or fourteen times a day at work and give them adorable nicknames, often involving food. In my experience, most men don't want to be called "cupcake" in front of their drinking buddies.
"Are you supposed to meet him here?" I asked, already knowing the answer. For Sukey, a date meant he had said he might stop in. If he showed up, it would count as the first step toward commitment. If he didn't have a girl on his arm, that is. I really hoped that wouldn't happen tonight. Sukey is usually a happy drunk, but a crying binge was not out of the question.
"He had some other things he had to do first," she said. "But he should be here soon. I'll just call him." She fished around in her massive purse for her cell phone. Wondering how many times she had already called him today, I put a hand on her arm and looked around for a means of distracting her. "Cupcake" would find out about Sukey's telephone habits soon enough. Maybe I could buy her a little time.
"Who's that guy over there?" I asked, pointing to the back of a head I didn't recognize. Sukey knew everyone in town and was an excellent source on anything male.
"Oooh, I'm glad you reminded me," she said, forgetting the cell phone. "That's Sam. He's the guy who bought Butchie's business. He doesn't come in here very much. And he's exactly your type."
I didn't consider Sukey an expert on my type, but the change of subject was welcome. "I missed Butchie's retirement party. Isn't this guy from Florida or something?"
"Key West." Sukey sipped her margarita. "His father's got Alzheimer's, and Sam came out here to take care of him. Sam's dad and Butchie were best friends in the Korean War or something. Sam's really nice but kind of boring." This meant that when Sukey had flirted with him, he hadn't flirted back.
"He's always at the coffee shop in the morning, reading some enormous book," she went on. Because I was on a first-name basis with everyone who worked at the local library and the secondhand bookstore, she assumed any man who had read a book was my dream boy. Reading probably meant he wasn't a complete moron, but it hardly qualified him as relationship material.
I was about to point this out when the man in question turned and I got a good look at him. I think I actually managed not to gasp, but this was my idea of gorgeous. Sort of Sam Shepard meets Matthew McConaughey. Tall, lean and wearing a chambray shirt washed until it looked as soft as a feather. Laugh lines had weathered in exactly the right way, and his light blue eyes almost matched the faded shirt. He smiled at something one of the local commercial fishermen said, and I saw the glint of white teeth against a tanned face.
Sukey laughed. I realized I had frozen when about to take a sip of my beer, and I was still holding it in front of my parted lips. I'd been staring like an idiot, and Sukey had enjoyed the whole scene.
"I told you!" she said, whacking me on the shoulder. "Do I know what you like or what?"
"This time, I have to admit you do." I raised my beer and clinked her margarita glass, causing salt to fall into my beer and raise a head of foam that dripped over my hand and onto my jeans. We laughed together, and I thought about how much I liked this silly, shallow girl. The one who was always so genuinely happy to see me and thought I had no faults. The one who was as excited as I was when I opened my own business.
Copyright © 2007 by Toni Andrews.