For Old Time's Sake
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by Sarah Winn
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance All Romance eBooks Book of the Month
Description: At home for a month's vacation before dedicating herself to her new career as a corporate attorney, Linda Harper sees Wade Preston, her teenage lover, and thinks a little fling with him might make the time go by faster. One night in Wade's bed turns a flickering flame into a raging fire. Her problems are compounded by the interference of the nosy residents of a small southern town and the discovery that her much respected father is harboring his own scandalous secret. How will Linda deal with her conflicting desires?
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [260 KB]
Reading time: 171-239 min.
The roar of a gasoline engine drew Linda's attention from the crossword puzzle. She glanced through the french doors of the breakfast room, and her mouth gaped in disbelief. Was that Wade Preston driving a riding mower across the emerald green sea of her father's back lawn?
How long had it been since she'd stared out this very window at the boy all the girls at Harperville High had a crush on? Seven years? Eight?
Sensing movement behind her, she turned and saw Mrs. Mills picking up the luncheon dishes.
"Why is Wade Preston mowing our lawn?" Linda asked.
The housekeeper stopped on her way back to the kitchen and looked out the french doors. "Don't know. A Mexican man usually does it."
"Surely, after all these years, Wade's doing something besides cutting grass?"
"Calls hisself a landscaper and does yards all over town. Got other men working for him."
"Well, at least he's expanded since he was in high school."
Mrs. Mills shrugged and continued on her way to the kitchen.
The steady drone of the mower's engine lured Linda to step over to the window for a closer look. In the heat of early afternoon, Wade had removed his shirt, and his sweaty pecs glistened in the sunlight. As he slowly passed in front of her, he removed his billed cap and wiped his forehead with the back of his arm. His bicep flexed. Manual labor did a lot for a man's physique.
He reached the far side of the lawn and turned the steering wheel of the mower. For a moment, all she could see was his broad back and more rippling muscles. God. He'd really filled out since their summer together. Had being in the Marine Corps done that? He completed his turn and came toward her, his straight nose and strong chin outlined by the sunshine.
Not wanting him to see her, she stepped away from the window. It wouldn't do for the lawn-service guy to think B.J. Harper's daughter still had the hots for him, especially not after the way he'd dumped her. She couldn't help feeling satisfaction over the fact he'd ended up back in Harperville, still mowing lawns.
When they were dating, he'd been full of plans to leave this town and make something of himself. Apparently, Mr. Hot Shot wasn't as hot as he'd thought he was.
As Linda stared into the shady interior of the breakfast room, a flood of memories about the summer after they'd graduated from Harperville High came back to her. Then Wade had been hot enough to tempt her into dating him. Knowing her father wouldn't approve, she'd kept their meetings secret and slipped away at every opportunity to see Wade. He'd been her first love, her first lover. No passion since had burned so brightly.
But people remember the first anything as being special. What she and Wade had shared hadn't been real love. They'd just been a couple of teenagers swept away on a sea of hormones. So why did the fact he'd turned his back on her still rankle?
She moved back to the window. For a moment, the mower disappeared behind the pump house and trellis that flanked the swimming pool. When it reappeared, Linda compared the man to the boy she had known. While he'd been well built as a high school football player, the muscles that now formed his shoulders and chest were larger and harder. His back was straighter; his jaw had a more determined line.
What else had changed about him? Had failure to make it outside Harperville humbled or embittered him? Had he married? She doubted it. Meredith, the one friend she still had in town, knew about her past relationship with Wade. She would have passed on any wedding news. But why hadn't she mentioned Wade was back in town?
So many questions and only one way to get quick answers. She pulled off the scrunchie that held her hair off her neck. Watching her reflection in one of the glass panes in the door, she ran her fingers through her hair until it flipped up around her shoulders.
Her hand hesitated on the latch, and a smile tugged at her lips. She was looking forward to letting Wade know she was well on her way to achieving her goals in life. He'd walked away from her because she wasn't willing to be his sex toy. Now she was a law school graduate, and he was still cutting grass.
The green John Deere chugged past the french doors again, and she stepped out onto the stone patio bordering the back of the house. The scent of freshly cut grass enhanced her feeling of déjá vu. * * * *
As the mower approached the pine grove that edged the yard, Wade caught sight of movement on the patio. A woman. A blonde. Linda. He'd seen a sporty little BMW in the driveway and wondered if it might be hers. Then he remembered the pine trees and snapped his attention back to the mower in time to avoid hitting one. Linda still rattled his cage.
Once he'd safely turned the mower, he checked her out as he drove toward the patio. She stood with one hand on her hip, obviously waiting to speak to him. She'd lost the coltish look of a teenager. Her honey-colored hair fell against her shoulders instead of the middle of her back as it once had. But even in shorts and a T-shirt, she still managed to look like the richest girl in town.
As he approached, she inspected him as openly as he did her. Her direct gaze, the forward thrust of her hips and her sly smile told him she was a woman on the prowl. The rich girl must be bored. He ought to snub her just for the hell of it. But he couldn't resist seeing what kind of woman she'd grown into.
He brought the mower to a stop at the edge of the terrace and cut off the engine. Tipping his billed cap, he said, "Howdy, Miss Linda. I didn't know you had returned to the old plantation."
She smirked, obviously remembering the jokes he used to make about her father's house looking like an old Southern plantation. "Just here for a little vacation after taking the bar exam," she said in a snooty voice.
"So you're a lawyer now. Congratulations."
She looked a little miffed by his good wishes. "Not quite. I have to wait for the exam results."
"I'm sure you passed."
He was getting mixed messages. Was she coming on to him or looking for a fight? "You were the smartest one in our class."
Linda shrugged. "That's not saying much."
That was definitely meant as a cut. Wade clutched his chest as if in pain. "Ouch."
She lost a bit of her snootiness. "I--I meant Harperville High was a small-town school,not noted for its educational excellence."
He nodded. "Yeah, I always wondered why your old man didn't send you to some fancy private school."
"He suggested it, but I talked him out of it."
"Since you're so fond of Harperville, are you going to live here now that you've finished school?"
The question seemed to surprise her. "Of course not. I've accepted a position from a very prestigious firm in Raleigh. But first I'm taking a month off for a little R&R."
Was that an invitation to join her? He deliberately checked out her long legs. The thighs were fuller than he remembered, but shockingly white. She'd been in the schoolroom too long and needed to come out into the sunshine. But he'd be a damn fool to get mixed up with Linda Harper again.
The memory of that long-ago summer, when they'd been lovers, still haunted him. Could they recreate the sexual skyrockets they once had? Why not give it a shot? He was no longer a teenager with his heart on his sleeve. She couldn't hurt him now.
He gave her his warmest smile. "After all the studying you've done, you deserve a little fun. Let me get the ball rolling by taking you to dinner tonight."
She seemed stunned by the invitation. Had he mistaken her intentions or was he moving too fast? "Well ... I ... have plans for dinner." She glanced nervously back at the house.
Suddenly he understood and felt his smile slide into a smirk. "Oh, is Daddy still calling the shots? I thought maybe you'd grown up by now."
She frowned at him. "Since this is my first night home, my father and I are having dinner together."
Of course, Daddy always came first with her. Without altering his smirk, he nodded. "Sure, I understand." He reached for the mower's ignition.
He was going to leave. Linda felt a moment of panic. There was so much left unsaid between them. "I'll probably be free later," she added hurriedly.
His hand released the switch, and he leaned forward, bracing one arm across the mower's steering wheel. His eyelids lowered slightly as he stared at her. "Then how about drinks at my place? We can talk over old times."
Linda felt her lips twitch with indecision. Could two people who'd once had an incredibly hot sexual relationship get together in an apartment late at night and just talk? And what did she want to talk about? Would she tell him no one had ever rung her bell like he had? Finally, she asked, "Where do you live?"
He smiled. "In those brick apartments on Monroe Street, across from the fire station. My door is at the far end of the building. Very private. You can come down the driveway and park next to the red pickup. What time?"
He sounded entirely too sure of himself. "I haven't said I'd come, yet."
"You wouldn't be asking directions if you weren't considering it. I'm just trying to close the deal."
"You make it sound like a business appointment."
He shook his head. "Oh, no, I'm just offering you a little fun on your vacation."
"Linda?" The sound of her father's voice coming from inside the house made Linda blanch. Had he heard what she and Wade were talking about? What difference did it make? She was no longer a teenager who needed his approval of her dates.
B.J. Harper stepped onto the patio wearing softly tailored slacks and a subdued sport shirt, the picture of an urbane gentleman relaxing at home. His startled expression on seeing Wade told her he had not overheard them. "Oh, hello, Preston. Having to do the mowing yourself these days?"
"One of my crew's sick," Wade replied.
With a uninterested nod, her father turned back to Linda. "Can we have dinner an hour earlier tonight? A councilman is insisting on talking with me before tomorrow's meeting. I told him I could meet him at my office by nine."
Linda felt a sting of irritation. Although semi-retired, her father still could not find time just for her. Well, she didn't have to spend the evening alone. Looking over his shoulder and into Wade's eyes, she said, "That's fine with me. I'm sure you can be there by nine."
Wade's brief nod showed he'd gotten her message. "If you folks will excuse me, I have to get back to work." The mower started with a roar, stopping all conversation until it moved away.
Linda instantly regretted her decision. Wade would undoubtedly expect more than talk if she went to his apartment tonight. Did she want to risk having another fight with him, or worse yet, risk stirring the coals of their long-ago love affair?
What if they did have sex? She'd only be here for a month, and she was no longer an inexperienced girl. Surely she could have a fling with the yard man and then walk away unscathed.
Besides, she'd never forgotten those sweaty trysts they'd had in the back seat of his mother's old Chevy. The sex couldn't have been as good as she remembered. This might be the perfect opportunity to put those old memories to rest.
"A shame about Preston," her father muttered.
"What?" Linda asked.
"He was such a promising athlete when you two were in high school together, and now look at him."
Seeing the lazy smile on Wade's face as he made another pass across the lawn, Linda shrugged and said, "He seems happy with his lot in life."
She and her father went back into the house. After closing the door against the summer heat, he said, "I've got an errand to run this afternoon, but I'll be home by six."
She nodded, and after he left, she picked up the placemats still on the dining table. She carried them into the kitchen to prove to Mrs. Mills she intended to help while she was at home. "Where do you want these?"
Mrs. Mills pointed to a counter top. "Just put 'em there."
"Did Dad tell you we'd want dinner early?"
Mrs. Mills no longer worked the long hours she once had, and Linda didn't want to be a burden while here. "If you want to leave early, I'll clean up after the meal."
"Just load the dishwasher," Mrs. Mills said, without a trace of gratitude. Then she looked at Linda as she had when lecturing a teenager. "You better leave that man alone."
"I saw you out there talking to him. He's no good for you."
How dare the woman tell her what to do or who to talk to? She was an adult. She wasn't about to be lectured by the housekeeper. "For pity's sake, he's just an old friend from high school. Why shouldn't I talk to him?"
"I know something went on between you two the summer after you graduated. Your daddy woulda had a fit if he'd known."
For a moment, all Linda could do was stare openmouthed. Mrs. Mills had been a leader in the black community in Harperville until her husband had died of a sudden heart attack and left her with two teenaged children to support. She had come to work as the housekeeper at Wisteria Hill a few months before Linda's mother died and had stayed on to supervise Linda's activities during her father's many absences. But she had never been the loving mammy type. Instead, she'd nagged Linda about everything from her homework to how much makeup she wore.
Linda didn't believe Mrs. Mills had known the full extent of her involvement with Wade or she would have made trouble. No, she'd just seen two teenagers flirting and had disapproved because Mrs. Mills's status depended on the status of the Harper family, and she hadn't wanted Linda to do anything that would detract from it.
Hoping her superior height would help make her point, Linda stood very straight and looked down at the woman. "Mrs. Mills, I'm twenty-five years old. I assure you I can manage my own social relationships."
Mrs. Mills shook her head as though she pitied Linda. "Don't be so sure. People say Wade Preston's been under a lot of skirts in this town."
Oh, great. Wade had become the town Casanova, and she'd just agreed to go to his apartment tonight. Of course, she didn't have to go, but she had this nagging feeling the door between them had never closed completely. She was about to start the most important phase of her life and needed to be free of any doubts that might distract her. * * * *
The barracks-like building sat with one apartment facing the street. Four other doors opened onto the driveway and parking lot that ran along the side of the building. The door to a sixth apartment was hidden behind overgrown shrubbery jutting out from the rear corner. As Linda drove toward the ligustrum, she wondered how a man who made his living by trimming other people's shrubbery could stand to live with those unkempt bushes.
She maneuvered into the parking area in front of the end apartment and stopped beside Wade's mud-spattered pickup. Her BMW was completely hidden from neighbors or passersby. Mrs. Mills had said Wade was a womanizer. Did he need all this privacy to hide a parade of women?
She shouldn't be surprised Wade had turned out to be the Don Juan of Harperville. Hadn't he showed such tendencies with her? Perhaps she could puncture his ego a bit by proving to be immune to his charm tonight. Of course, if she did, she wouldn't put her lingering sexual fantasies of him to rest.
As she got out of her car, his door opened, and he stood silhouetted against the light. Tight jeans and a fitted polo shirt showed his physique off to great advantage. Her pulse rate went up. Whoa! She'd better slow down. At least wait until they were inside before jumping him.
"Hello," his deep voice called out. "I see you didn't have any trouble finding the place."
The thought of being sexually aggressive caused her to smile a little more broadly than she had intended. "No. I used to come down Monroe Street all the time to go shopping."
He stepped aside so she could enter. "Back in the old days when there were stores downtown," he said.
"Ah, well, Harperville's gone to the suburbs like everywhere else."
"And thank heaven it has. I make a living off all those suburbanites."
She paused and glanced around the room, surprised by a wall honeycombed with a built-in plasma TV, stereo equipment, and shelves filled with tapes and disks. "That's some home entertainment center."
"After working all day, I like to come home and relax." He gestured toward the overstuffed, leather sofa that faced the TV and nearly filled the room. "Sit down. I'll get you a drink."
She accepted his invitation to sit, and the crinkling as she sank into the cushions told her the covering was vinyl, not real leather. Bookshelves against the wall and a low table in front of the couch were the only other pieces of furniture in the room.
"I've got beer and white wine. What can I get you?" Wade asked.
"The wine, thanks."
He smiled as though pleased by her choice and headed for an open archway on the far side of the room. She settled back on the couch, glad she'd worn slacks so her legs wouldn't stick to the vinyl. He returned, carrying a stemmed glass in one hand and a beer can in the other. After handing her the glass, he popped the top on the can.
She felt ill at ease, not knowing how to start the conversation. She took a sip of the wine and nodded at him. "This chardonnay is good."
He sat on the far end of the couch and took a long swallow of his beer. Then he held the can up and said, "So's this."
"Since you obviously prefer beer, I hope you didn't buy wine just for me."
"Some women don't like beer, so I keep wine on hand."
Before taking another sip of her wine, she said, "Oh, yes, I've heard you know a lot about what women like."
He looked puzzled. "You've heard about me?"
She chuckled. "Someone told me just today that you're quite the womanizer."
He shrugged. "That shows you how little the people here have to talk about." Turning more fully toward her, he leaned against the arm of the sofa and waited for the next jab of their sparring match.
Linda didn't know exactly why she was here, but it certainly wasn't to fight. "I'm just kidding around, Wade. Don't get your nose out of joint."
He continued to frown at her. "Is that why you came here tonight, to kid around?"
"Well, like you said, to talk over old times. We used to be good friends, and we haven't seen each other in a long time."
"Friends? Is that all we were?"
She sat her wine glass on the coffee table with a sharp clink. "We became lovers, but we were friends first."
He grinned lopsidedly. "Well, I guess that old saying is true. Love ruins friendship."
He almost sounded like he regretted their breakup. "Can't we still be friends?"
"Can we? You're on your way to becoming a big-time lawyer, and I'm just the lawn guy."
"We still have a lot in common. We both grew up in Harperville and went to the same high school. Of course, in school you were the star running back on the football team, and I was so shy that I barely spoke to you."
"Shy? I thought you were stuck up." His teasing grin softened his meaning. "But that was the first summer I worked for your dad. As I recall, you were a lot friendlier the second."
She reached for her wine glass and took another sip to cover the jolt of excitement his reference to their summer of love caused her. "I had to be after all my friends found out you were working at our place and started showing up every week. They said they wanted to use the pool, but they really wanted to flirt with you."
Wade hung his head in an unsuccessful attempt to look modest. "Those girls embarrassed me."
"Huh! You loved it. Never missed a chance to pull your shirt off to make them drool even more."
"That was hot work and also dangerous. It was hard to keep my mind on mowing grass while the best-looking girls in town jiggled around the pool in bikinis. I'm lucky I didn't cut my foot off that summer."
They both laughed. Then Linda grew serious and asked, "With all those girls to choose from, why did you only date me?"
"You were the classiest chick in the flock."
Was that just another line or did he mean it? "You liked my class?"
"That, too, but remember, I was a teenager. You held your own in the bikini department."
He was flirting with her. But he was good at it, and she wanted the game to go on. "Thanks for not saying you picked me because I was so eager."
"Were you? I couldn't tell. Asking you out was one of the scariest things I ever did."
His remark surprised her. "Why? Wasn't it obvious that we girls were all crazy about you?"
"I always felt the girls from your side of town liked to look but didn't want me to look back."
"Such thinking cut you out of a lot of action that summer."
"I had all the action I wanted," he said, as he stared into her eyes like he really meant it.
She stared back, trying to gauge his honesty. His expression and his manner seemed open and up front, but she reminded herself he'd fooled her with phony sincerity when he was a lot younger and less experienced than he was now. She needed to take everything he said with a grain of salt. "We had some wild times. I can't believe the chances we took."
"I'll say!" He shook his head as if in disbelief. "I'm lucky as hell your old man never figured out what was going on between us."
She drained her wine glass. "One of the advantages of having a captain of industry for a father. He was hardly ever at home."
"That damn housekeeper was. A couple of times I got splinters shimmying down the tree next to your bedroom window."
They both laughed, and then Wade sprang to his feet. "Let me get you more wine."
Before she could decline, he was back bearing the wine bottle and a bag of chips. "I forgot about these," he said, as he sat the bag in front of her. "As you can see, I'm a host who spares no expense." He sat beside her, near enough to refill her wine glass and make her aware of the muscular arm he casually draped over the back of the sofa. "Now where were we?"
"Talking about what wild and crazy kids we were."
He stared into her eyes. "I figured you'd have forgotten those days."
She chuckled as she shook her head. "How could I? Every time I hear John Cougar sing 'Jack and Diane,' I think of us.
"For me, it's Bob Seger's 'Night Moves'."
His hand lightly fell on her shoulder. "Why do women think they're the only ones who have sentimental memories?"
He was trying to sound like what had happened between them had been important to him. She couldn't let him get away with that. "You were my first. That made you a lot more memorable to me."
He leaned so close that his breath caressed her ear. "You were my first love."
She couldn't think of quip to throw back at him. Had he really loved her even for a little while? What difference did it make now? She shrugged. "We were just teenagers experimenting."
His hand began to massage the back of her neck. "Those were some pretty hot experiments." Moving gently but relentlessly, his hand sent warm surges into her body.
Nobody ever turned her on this quickly. Was it his technique or her memories? He slipped an arm around her and pulled her shoulder against his hard chest. The spicy scent of his aftershave diverted her attempts to think rationally.
She did manage to turn her face away from his as she said, "That happened a long time ago."
"How about a stroll down memory lane?" His tongue lightly toyed with her earlobe.
A shiver ran down Linda's spine. The sensible side of her brain whispered warnings, but the sensual side held a ticker-tape parade. This was Wade, the boy who had made her a woman, the boy she'd never forgotten. Down through the years, she'd told herself her memories of him were exaggerated. He hadn't been so much better than the men who came after him. Their youthful exuberance had just made it seem so. Well, here was a chance to settle the question once and for all.
She turned her face toward his. He placed his hand against her cheek and stared into her eyes, just stared, until Linda couldn't stand the suspense any longer and gave him a light kiss of invitation. When he didn't respond, she whispered, "Remember when we used to drive up to Ridge Road and park?" She kissed him with more force and then traced his lips with her tongue.
His arms went around her and pulled her chest against his. His voice dropped to a near whisper as he said, "Remember the night a car pulled up behind us when we were both naked?"
She started laughing so hard that she had to rest her head against his chest. Finally, she managed to say, "I can still see your bare butt in the headlights as you dived back into the front seat."
Their bodies rubbed together as they both laughed. "You didn't think it was funny then," he said. "You were screaming, 'Get us out of here! Get us out of here!'"
"I was afraid it was some killer coming after us."
"I was afraid it was your old man."
As the laughter between them dwindled, Linda realized Wade had leaned back into a horizontal position on the couch and she was on top of him. He had one foot resting on the floor and his legs wide apart. She could feel a familiar bulge pressing against her thigh. If she was going to stop, she had to do it now. But the exhilarating combination of familiarity and excitement coursing though her body convinced her she didn't want to stop.
She pulled herself up until she could look down at him. "We're consenting adults now. We don't have to be afraid of anyone."
"Are you consenting?"
His hand cupped the back of her head, and he pulled her into a kiss that quickly developed into a battle of their tongues. His other hand moved to her butt, pulling her more tightly against him. She deliberately squirmed against his arousal, and he growled, his sound waves vibrating in her mouth.
She didn't know what happened then--maybe Wade tried to get on top--but they slid on the vinyl and off the couch, bumping into the coffee table so hard that her nearly full glass of wine tipped over and splashed them. Linda squealed, and Wade shouted an expletive.
She started laughing again, trapping him under her in the narrow space between the couch and the coffee table. When she finally crawled back onto the couch, making it possible for him to get up, he said. "I do have a bedroom."
Between giggles, she replied, "Thank goodness."
She jumped to her feet, expecting to head for the bedroom, but he was staring down at his wine-sodden knit shirt. Then he pulled the thing over his head. As he stripped it off his arms, he said, "I better clean up first."
Linda took the shirt from his hands and dropped it onto the wine that had puddled on the coffee table. "Let me help you."
She leaned over and licked his chest. Air hissed through his lips. She tasted the wine, and beneath it the salty flavor of Wade. He gripped her upper arms and pushed her away. Surprised, she frowned at him. "I thought you wanted to--"
"Oh, I do. But let's slow down a bit."
"Slow down? You?"
He smirked. "I've learned a few things since I was a teenager, and I want to show off. Humor me."
He turned her and pushed her toward the doorway leading to the bedroom. When they were inside the spartanly furnished room, he left her and went through another doorway, returning almost immediately with a towel. He wiped his chest as he approached her. "Did the wine get on you too?"
"Just--" She twitched her shoulder to show the damp spot.
Throwing the towel over his shoulder, he moved his hands down to the bottom of her shirt. "Well, let's get you out of this wet thing."