Lying Eyes and Alibis
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by J. T. Schultz
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Dark secrets and whites lies. Everyone has them, especially Janelle Hart. After walking away from organized crime, she starts a new life with her daughter and cat in the quiet mountain town of Spring Rock, Colorado. JC claims her ex is dead, but fears he'll appear any moment. She has another problem: her online friend, Josh, has moved to the same town. She knows her new identity is safe from him, but what about her heart? Mr. Love'em & Leave'em--Josh Sutter knows JC's real identity and why she ran. She may have secrets and lies, but he has a fair share, too. Will JC still love him when she discovers part of his job is to hang out with the same type of criminals she left behind? Moreover, can he save them both from their lies and the deadly secrets from the past? Read the gripping erotic romance from the author of THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS and MEN OF ALASKA: ALL THAT ICE.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: March 2008
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [427 KB]
Reading time: 297-416 min.
"It kept my attention, and I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. The attraction and sex between JC and Josh was hot, and the unsaid love was sweet. Overall, this book was good and by the end of the story, all of my confusion was gone. This was my first JT Schultz book, and I will be looking for more from this author." - Fallen Angel Reviews
Five Months Later...
Once upon a time, JC Hart was in love. Now, she was wondering what she had done. When had lucid thoughts fled and the trouble begun? It wasn't like it began all of a sudden; it was gradual. Like rain in a bucket that started out as one little droplet, but before she knew it, the bucket was overflowing. It took time, and like the rain, it came in spurts.
She had loved Dominic, but that love was never returned in the same way. One did not lie, cheat, and steal from someone they loved. They did not pacify them with sweet words, then turn around and break their heart. Dominic Mecelli had his lies and his alibis, and at one point, had held JC's heart. The time had come that she was now quickly taking it back. She wished she had not wasted her time having girlish fantasies on a man not worth holding.
Dominic was it--tall, dark blonde, and handsome with blue eyes like a summer sky. He dressed well, talked well, and could charm the stars in the heavens if he wanted to. He was a gentleman, a spender, and most of all, a player, who had quickly turned from the man of her dreams to a man of nightmares. JC was tired of being alone and tired of the lies. She was tired of Dominic walking out of the house and leaving her wondering if he was going to get arrested, killed, or if he was being faithful. He had confessed to one affair, but had denied the one before, which made her wonder how many others there had been. Too many nights of lost sleep, and too many times she had accepted his lies. She always carried the pricking suspicion that he was lying, but took his word for what it was worth. Those days were done; his words no longer held their value--nothing more than inflated dollars with no substance or use.
She closed her eyes as she stood in the living room and shook her shoulder-length red hair. With him, she had gone from believing there was no such thing as true love to thinking maybe destiny was a romantic. Now, she just felt used and stupid. Her heart longed for more, away from the city, away from the crowd--a place she could raise her daughter and write a book or two. Some small town would be the perfect destination. Someplace where he would never find her.
Her face still hurt from the slap the night before. From the way her eye looked in the mirror this morning, she knew she would have the slight purple, green and black discoloration for a few days. She would have to pick up some witch hazel to speed the healing process up. It didn't matter how hard she had tried to please him, she always failed him. How was a woman supposed to feel pretty and attractive when the only time she was ever noticed was when clean clothes were needed, meals needed to be served, or life's stress got to be so much that he needed to hit something? That something was always her, and there was always a good reason in his mind as to why she got it.
She would be taking no more abuse and deceit; she was through and more than done. Her heart sank. This was the biggest failure of her life. JC knew she was weak. Walking away was easy, it made her a quitter. She thought about her daughter, Shelby, out in the vehicle and knew, in her heart, that she was actually the stronger person for leaving. Shelby had been through enough and so now she had to have strength for her daughter's sake. They had both seen enough heartache to last a lifetime.
JC purposely scuffed her cowboy boot heels as she walked across the perfectly smooth and flawless shiny finish of the hardwood floor of the living room. She walked to the wall that held pictures. She stared at the one of the day she was at Dominic Mecelli's family's place; she looked happy in the picture. Of course she had been happy, it was before all the trouble. She extended a long, perfectly French manicured nail and tapped the bottom of the picture. It bucked against the wall, then fell forward, crashing to the hardwood below. The glass shattered as the frame broke. The floor was nicked from the sharp assault. "Oops." Her sarcasm was as thick as her determination to leave. She then came across the elegant frame of the picture next to it.
Again, she extended her nail, bumped the picture and followed its descent to the floor where it splintered in shards. "Oh look! That really made a scratch." Her tone was cold and void of all emotion. It didn't matter she was alone in the house, as always. She knew Dominic would be furious over the mess. Her lips turned up in a grin. Too bad she wouldn't be here to listen to his rage.
She introduced another heavy frame to her nail and was amazed she did not break it from the weight of the crystal. It fell forward fast. "This is going to suck right away." No sooner did the words leave her mouth, then the frame hit the floor and shattered. The picture slid across the perfect maple finish. She no longer cared; it was no longer her problem.
In her hand, she held a manila envelope. The pictures of the man she called her husband, but had no relationship with, were held within the manila folds. The pictures were every wife's nightmare. They weren't for JC; they were motivation. She smiled and tossed the manila envelope onto the shattered remains of her relationship with Dominic. JC figured the reason she wasn't sad or hurt, but ready to move on without remorse was due to the pain she endured so long as Dominic's wife, even if it was just a common law wife. He had promised her marriage, but never found the time or the money for it. She glanced at the gold and amethyst ring on her hand and slipped it off. She dropped it on top of the manila envelope, walked to the front door and out to her brand new red Jeep Grand Cherokee.
She climbed in the vehicle that Dominic had no idea she had bought. It held her computer, her printer, of course her Sai, her cherished cookie jar of a famous yellow bear in a red shirt, a couple of Shelby's favorite toys and some clothes. That was all; the rest could be bought with the money she had collected from the lottery ticket that Dominic had misplaced two months earlier. It was a lot of money. Just over a million. It was enough for the vehicle and to get her and Shelby set up somewhere other than here.
JC knew that Dominic would be mad that she left; she just hoped he would not pull strings amongst his seedy, but well-connected, friends and come looking for her. He had spent enough of her money over the years. There was no way she was going to let him get his hands on just over a million dollars. There were things JC wanted, and by the heavens above and the will of God, she was going to get them.
She put on her sunglasses and shook her head then turned to Shelby sitting in the front seat. "Are you ready?"
Shelby smiled at her, then looked back to see Fink, a dark gray Manx, in her cat carrier. "I have you and Fink; let's go."
JC started her SUV and pulled out of the driveway then onto the street and moved toward the intersection, just as the light turned red. She looked east and then west; she had no idea where they were headed.
"So, Mom, where are we going?" Shelby sounded excited about embarking on an adventure.
She had no clue really. "Where do you want to go?"
"Near the mountains and water," her daughter answered, putting on a pair of trendy sunglasses. "We're going to be okay now," she reassured JC most sweetly.
She hoped her daughter was right. As the light turned green, she flipped on her signal light, and decided to go east, then head south until they found a place that suited her and Shelby for their fresh start. Maybe Colorado would be good--mountains and rivers. She made the left-hand turn and never looked back. * * * *
JC had found a house in Spring Rock, Colorado, bought it and decided to fix it up. She was now buying groceries in a grocery store with her displeased daughter. However, by looking at the very full shopping cart, it looked more as if she were buying out the store.
"I cannot believe you bought that place," Shelby said with displeasure from behind the shopping cart. "Mom, the place is a dump. You know those signs that say 'Home Sweet Home'? Well, ours should say 'Home Dump Home.'"
She looked at Shelby's overdramatic facial expression and couldn't help but smile. "It's not that bad."
"Right, anyway, I like the town. It's pretty here, but, Mom, the house bites bagels." Shelby giggled and continued pushing the shopping cart behind JC. "We sure are getting a lot of groceries."
"That's because we have nothing in the house, and frankly, I would like to cook a meal." JC continued walking down the aisle of the grocery store.
"Does the fridge work?" Shelby asked in a sarcastic tone.
She turned to her daughter who had a thin teasing smile on her lips. "It's new, like the stove and the dishwasher."
"Good news for us." Shelby laughed.
She shook her head and continued to smile. Shelby was not like most kids her age. At ten, Shelby was more mature, and JC was sure it had a lot to do with the things she and her daughter had been through. That's what this move was all about, getting away from the unstable chaos and starting a quiet, stable life--just the two of them. "Come on, let's go get ketchup and stuff." * * * *
Joshua Sutter walked behind his work colleagues and close friends, Mitch and Keith, to Landers Grocery Store and listened to them banter on about the night's activities at the shop. Joshua had been out on a date with Lisa and had come home to his twelve-year-old, Brooke, madder than hell at him. She didn't like Lisa; then again, his daughter didn't like anyone he dated.
Joshua heaved a sigh and shook his head, feeling gritty from the work he'd done at the shop. When his ex-girlfriend, Mandy, and her long-time boyfriend died in a car crash three months ago, he woke up one morning to twelve-year-old Brooke with a representative from the Montana Child Authority telling him his summer visits with Brooke had just become a full-time deal. Ever since, things had been rough between them. He loved his daughter, but he had gone from being a single man of thirty-two, to a full-time dad overnight. Brooke wasn't making it easy, to say the very least. She had gone from living with Mandy and her boyfriend in Great Falls, to living in a small Colorado mountain town an hour south of Grand Junction.
"Hey, Josh, you should check out the long tanned legs in aisle six. Man, they go on for miles, and are really toned. Damn! The whole blonde package is a nice deal." Mitch held a box of frozen pizza pockets in his hand.
"Whose legs are we talking about?" Josh thought of a few ladies in town that fit that description. A lazy smile crept across his face. Most of the ladies that came to mind he had been given a chance to get to know on an intimate level more than once.
Mitch's green eyes took on a sparkle. "I don't know, man; she's new, but I would sure love to find out if she's staying around. From the heap of groceries in her cart, I'm gathering she is."
Keith came up with a container of chocolate milk and a frozen dinner. "Wait till you guys check out Blondie in the denim shorts and white T-shirt."
Josh could not help but smile at his friend. "Apparently, Mitch here says she is quite the looker."
"She can look at anything on my body she wants because there is so much of hers I want to see," Keith replied with devilish chuckle.
"I need to grab ketchup for the lunchroom, so I'm going to check this out for myself." Josh shook his head. He walked through the store and saw the condiment aisle, aisle six.
Turning into the aisle, he saw a chestnut-colored little head with blonde streaks through it. Standing by a cart, the little girl turned and looked at him as a funny look slowly crossed her face. She smiled and her dark brown eyes sparkled. If Josh had to guess, she was just a couple years younger than Brooke.
The girl turned away and started talking to someone bent behind the cart.A tall blonde with braids stood up and looked at the little girl. She was in a white T-shirt that had a small V in the front. The shirt was tucked down into a pair of mid-thigh denim shorts. She had small, trendy black-framed glasses on and had the whole 'girl next-door' thing happening. He let his eyes roam down her long, tanned legs that were very nice indeed.
The little girl studied him as he came closer to them. She was a cutie, and by looking at her mother, it took no genius to figure out where she got it.
"Mom, are you sure?" The girl looked at him with the strange look again.
The blonde spun around with a jar of sandwich-sliced dill pickles in her hand. "Sure about what?" No sooner had the words left her full, pink-glossed lips her, then dark brown eyes met his.
Josh became winded as if he'd been punched. She was as cute as her body, and a blonde version of her daughter. Her dark eyes widened slightly, and her full lips opened in surprise. The jar of pickles slipped from her hand and hit the white and gray-flecked tile of the floor. The jar broke and the pickles slid like fish out of water.
"Sorry." She looked back up at him. "You startled me."
An odd sensation crept over Josh, and he had a little tickle in his stomach as if this had happened before. No, it wasn't déjà vu, it was something else. There was something strangely familiar about her though, and he quickly ran through the data bank of women in his mind. He didn't know her; he would have most definitely remembered. "Do I know you?" he finally asked, still feeling there was something about her.
The blonde quickly got her startled composure back. "No, I'm new to Spring Rock."
Josh couldn't get over the darkness of her eyes; they were hypnotizing. "I didn't mean to startle you. I just needed ketchup." He stepped closer to reach up by her head and grab a bottle from the shelf. It wasn't until she turned slightly that he caught the scent of vanilla. He then noticed their bodies were less than a foot apart and seemed to react to each other like batteries. He was positive that the temperature had just shot up ten degrees.
Her dark gaze locked on him, and she puckered her lips together quickly before giving him a nervous smile. He stepped back and noticed her cheeks had a new pink color to them and knew he wasn't the only one who had experienced the charge of attraction between them. "Well, welcome to Spring Rock." He found it suddenly hard to swallow. "I hope I see you around."
She nodded politely. "I'm sure you will."
There was something about her that he couldn't put his finger on, and it was driving him insane. He nodded back, winked at the pint-sized version of her and walked away.
Mitch and Keith waited for him at the check-out.
"Nice face, buddy. By the look on your face, I'm guessing you saw the blonde," Keith replied, laughing at Josh.
"She seems nice; daughter is a cutie. Apparently, she just moved here," he told them with a smile.
"How do you know that?" Mitch sounded surprised.
"You talked to her? Of course you did. You always talk to the pretty ones with nice bodies." Keith shook his head as they paid for the purchases. "So, did you get her number?"
Josh thought of the dark brown eyes, then of her blonde hair in braids that longed to be slowly undone until it fell loose around her shoulders. He recalled pink glossed full lips that beckoned to be kissed while his hands ran over her long, tanned legs. "Not yet, but I will," he told his friend with a grin as the sexual possibilities played out in his mind. * * * *
"This is no longer open for discussion," JC told Shelby as they put the many groceries away in the very large kitchen. It was the nicest room in the house, and the only one that had been touched since the change of the millennium. It was fresh and new compared to everything else, but she had been limited in her choice of houses and knew that the large home, despite its work, would make a great bed and breakfast.
"I am just saying that he looks like that guy you used to talk to online," Shelby protested.
JC looked at her daughter."Well, it is nothing more than coincidence, and it's now a dropped conversation. I did not dye my hair blonde, cut yours to your shoulders and move you to another state so I could resume the life I have tried to put behind us."
"Spring Rock is another state?" Shelby asked like she had just learned something new.
JC stared at her daughter, appalled with what she had not learned in school. "No, Spring Rock is a town in Colorado, Colorado is a state, in the country of the United States. What are they teaching about in school?"
"Not that," her daughter answered, breaking into a box of granola bars. "The guy at the grocery store was cute though. Didn't you think he was cute?"
She sighed in minor--no make that major frustration. "Yes, he was cute, so? There are always going to be good-looking men, but Mommy is not looking for one. We just left one, remember?"
"I know, but it's okay to look," her daughter scolded, sounding older than her years.
She fought the urge to scream. "Why don't you find the bag that has the dishcloths and tea towels in it and start folding them for me?"
"Okay." She sighed and walked off, taking the box of granola bars with her.
JC let out a long exhale and looked at the groceries she still had left to unpack. Yes, she had noticed the guy at the grocery store was good-looking, once her shock wore off when she noticed who it was standing in the aisle. Never in a million years was she expecting it to be Josh and hoped to dear God he hadn't recognized her. She did look a lot different now that she was a blonde and had lost about twenty pounds--stress was great for weight loss. Her mind wandered as she stared at the full white plastic bags that still seemed to cover the hardwood of the kitchen floor.
He had only ever seen two pictures of her, and that was it. It had been just about four months since she had even talked to him online. He had probably forgoten about her. As she recalled, he had started to ignore her and was mad that she just wouldn't leave Dominic. He would've been really mad if he knew that Dominic had physically abused her.
Defeat and insecurity tickled down her spine; it wasn't like she was drop-dead gorgeous or young. She was pushing thirty, had a less than a perfectly flat stomach and was positive those little lines on her face this morning were the start of wrinkles. Shelby had told her she didn't see anything, but JC knew they were there.
"Mom, I finished the towels and stuff; they're sitting on the stairs. Can I go ride my bike?" Shelby called out from the front hall.
She wanted to say no, but Shelby was ten; it was a little hard to force her paranoia on her daughter. "Fine, where are you going?"
"Just to the park we passed up the street by the school," her daughter called as the wooden framed screen door shut.
JC did a mental recall and knew the park was straight up the street about three blocks. She bent down and grabbed the box of soda crackers and onion soup mix, and walked over to the cupboard she had assigned to dry goods.
Walking away from her life had been tough, but it had been for the best. Even her friends didn't know where she was, only that she was safe. That was not entirely true; her friend and fellow writer Kelly in Montana knew where she was. She was also the only one who had JC's new number.
JC shook her head, Josh had probably totally forgotten about her. He always had plenty of women to keep him occupied, and was usually dating more than one. She smiled at that thought; okay, so he was usually dating three, with one or two on stand-by.
She opened the white cupboard door and put the groceries away. This was it, a new life, and everything from before was to be locked away and forgotten forever. * * * *
"Where are you going?" Brooke demanded, sounding more like a nagging wife than a twelve-year-old daughter.
"I told you that I am going to meet Mitch and Keith for a beer. Maybe you would know that if you hadn't bolted out the door to hang out with your friends at the park," Josh told her shortly. Brooke was notorious for forgetting that she was the kid and he was the parent. "I highly doubt you spoke to your mother and her boyfriend like they were kids." He threw on a dark green corduroy shirt over his black T-shirt.
"Mom and Jack acted like adults, not recklessly abandoned teenage boys on a hormonal rampage." She sounded far too mature, and very sour.
"Nice vocabulary, besides, you have homework then bed. I'm not going to be gone long. I'm stopping off at the Carter's to pick up some work orders, and then going for a beer."
"What, no tramp-of-a-date tonight?" Brooke folded her arms across her chest and pouted, her green eyes shined like emeralds in disgust.
Josh pointed a finger at her. "Watch your mouth." Brooke sure knew how to push his buttons. He understood that she missed her mother and this was an adjustment, but it was for him too.
Brooke rolled her eyes and stomped toward her room. "Well, have a good night, but I think you should know I'm having a friend over this weekend." She slammed her bedroom door behind her.
Josh puffed air out from his lungs in a rush. The problem with Brooke was even though she looked like her deceased mother, she had Josh's personality through and through. He grabbed his keys off the shelf by the front door and walked out of the house. The night air was cool, but still relatively warm. He glanced at his pickup and decided he would just take his motorcycle.
As he drove through the mountains, he was glad in some ways that he had moved to Spring Rock to be close to work. It also made things easier with Brooke needing to be in school. Her first month had been tough and she had hated being the new kid. Two months later, she seemed to be adjusting just fine with everything and everyone, except him.
He pulled up in front of his boss' place and got off his bike. Josh figured that Allan would want to talk to him about the orders before assigning the task of getting the steel and parts for them. He had to admit he loved his job. The paperwork, however, sucked.
He hurried up the steps and noticed there was a light on at the Beckett house next door to the Carter's. A little odd, since it had been empty for months. He thought for a minute; he wasn't aware of anyone buying it, either. He moved up the porch steps and rang the bell.
Mrs. Carter opened the door; it was obvious she had been laughing. "Oh! Joshua, come in, dear." She opened the door a little further to allow him to enter. "Allan and I were just in the living room having a coffee; come join us." A serious expression worked its way onto her face. "You do have time for a quick coffee, don't you?"
Josh adored his boss' wife. Gaby Carter had been his godsend over the last few months. She was very maternal and had looked at him as a son from the moment he started working for Allan. She wore her curly gray hair in a trendy cut that allowed her curls to fall right around her chin with a side part. Worn smile lines were apparent by her mouth, and there were not many times if ever Josh could remember her not smiling.
"I have time for a quick one," he answered her with a smile.
"Well, Allan is in the living room. Go on in and have a seat; I'll bring it in to you." She smiled.
Josh nodded and turned down the short, wide hall toward the living room. A soft warm laughter filled his ears and he knew that was not Allan's laugh; it belonged to woman. He couldn't remember Allan saying that his daughter and her husband were coming to town. Their daughter and her husband had two children, and since he didn't hear kids, he was sure it must be someone from town he knew.
As soon as he walked into the living room, the faint smell of vanilla tickled his nose. It brought an image of the blonde from the store today; only now, he was imagining her in fitted jeans and her hair falling in waves around her face. He blinked a couple times and realized that it wasn't an image in his mind, she was standing in the Carter's living room.
He knew he was smiling, because the one she was giving him was as contagious as the flu. Unlike the flu, however, her smile was radiant. He turned to Allan. "I didn't realize you had company."
"Ah! There is my right-hand man," Allan greeted with a laugh and a welcoming wave of his arm to have Josh come further into the room. "I'm glad you chose now to stop by. Let me introduce you to JC Hart, she just bought the Beckett place. She's going to turn it into a bed and breakfast." He then turned to the pretty blonde. "JC, let me introduce you to Josh; Josh works for me over at the shop. He's like a son to Gaby and me."
Josh couldn't tear his eyes from hers, framed by fluttering long dark lashes from behind her trendy glasses. He struggled to swallow and hoped he could speak, but JC was affecting him to the core, and that core was directly behind his zipper. "It's nice to put a name to the face," he told her with a grin.