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In His Bed

By´╝ÜPauline Allan

CHAPTER ONE



“You’ve got to be kidding,” Lea’s snarky grin lifted as she unwrapped the cellophane from the plate of deviled eggs. “There is not a white knight out there ready to whisk me away from dating hell and plant my ass in a magic castle. Have you forgotten I divorced a man who knocked up his secretary? Yeah, I’m the cliché. What about Mr. Oh I Forgot I’m Married or Mr. I’ll Call You?”

Stacey slid a spoon into the bowl of potato salad. “I know. Guys can be jerks, but I think it’s time to get back on the horse. I’m not letting you spend every Saturday night lounging on the couch with your dog.” She handed Lea the stack of plastic cups. “You know, sometimes fairytales can come true. I know you’ve had to kiss a few trolls, but don’t give up.”

Lea snuck a cube of watermelon and popped it into her mouth. “Two years, Stacey. It’s been two years since we signed papers and now he’s practicing law in Chicago while I’m here making my way through the female equivalent of blue balls and men with bad teeth.” She wasn’t begging for a pity party, but the string of men she’d dated ranged from a conceited surgeon to an unemployed artist. The ones in between were only memorable because her womanly nether regions had been screaming Run Forest...run!

Together, they straightened the red-and-white checkered tablecloth and started filling the cups with ice. Stacey bumped her hip against Lea’s side. “So, girl’s dinner date night this week?” There’s a new little Italian place on the other side of the city. Rachel said she wants to go to Hacienda again. We both know the only reason she picks that place is because she likes staring at the waiters’ butts.”

“Don’t judge.” Lea didn’t care where they went as long as she got out of the house. “We can overrule and choose the Italian place. Besides, hot Italian guys are nice to look at, too.”

“Hey!” Rachel stepped onto the patio. “Jesus, Stacey, there’s a ton of food here. We’re going to have to hit yoga class twice this week. What were you guys talking about?”

They glanced at each other. “You!” Stacey said first. “No hot Latinos tomorrow night. Lea gave the new Italian place a thumbs up.”

A wicked grin parted Rachel’s lips when she snapped her fingers. “Damn. Those asses are so cute. Don’t tell Scott what I said. Husbands tend to not like it when their wives like Latino men’s asses.” She winked as her husband walked up and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I heard that,” he said and rummaged through the grocery bag to grab a package of brats. “I’m going to the grill where real men gather and I know I’ll be appreciated.”

Lea poured a cup of iced tea. “When is Colin getting here? It is his graduation party. Wait, maybe he’s as forgetful as his mother.”

Stacey nudged her shoulder. “Hey, I remembered to pick you up at the airport after you called me!”

“Right,” Lea said. “I think you just proved my point.”

“Mom, where do you want me to put these?”

Lea swallowed, almost choking on a rogue piece of ice. The voice traveling over the back of her head didn’t sound like the young man who’d laughed when she’d caught him and his friends tossing rolls of toilet paper in her trees.

She knew there were two kids in Stacey Marshal’s clan, one being the taker to the prom and the other being the taken. Melissa, Stacey’s daughter, had been serving on a medical mission trip in Africa for the last year, so that only left one other person in the brood to call her best friend mom. Colin Marshal.

She turned around. Surprise and confusion stunned her with the image of a young Colin poised on a pitching mound, leaning forward with a baseball rolling between his fingers. He slid the aviator sunglasses down the slope of his nose to clip the earpiece on the neck of his T-shirt. The cotton sleeve stretched tight around the bulge of one biceps he hitched the case of beer in his hand.

“Sweetie, you made it,” Stacey said as she waved him closer. “Well, come here. You act like you’ve never seen her before.” Lea hadn’t realized Colin had stopped his approach. Had she been that obvious? Was her mouth gaping? Instantly regretting the way her gaze locked on the sparkling blue irises staring back, she was grateful when Stacey spoke. “It’s Lea for God’s sake, Colin. It’s been two months since I’ve had a hug. Don’t keep your mom waiting.”

The pools of his vibrant eyes shimmered in the sun, teasing the black lashes surrounding the endless oceans as he blinked. The grin splitting his lips tilted up into a smile. “Hi, Lea.” Not expecting to hear the deep timbre of his voice, she didn’t respond. His chuckle pulled her lulling thoughts together. “It’s good to see you, too.”

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