Long excerpt this week, as we are finishing chapter two of Split Decisions. If you haven’t been keeping up, you can catch up here if you like; there’s a link that will bring you right back. Please make sure you come back next week for a sneak peek at my new series releasing Labor Day Weekend.
She remembered their short-lived romance as if it were yesterday.
He was in town on business and had stopped for dinner at the steakhouse she worked. He waited hours for her at the bar, insisting she go out with him. Just coffee she remembered. She’d finally conceded and they’d talked for hours. Never once had he’d suggested anything inappropriate; he hadn’t even kissed her on the first night. Then he’d shown up the next night, and they had sat on the beach eating ice cream. He’d requested to go to her house so they could talk, and that’s all they’d done. He’d never pushed her for sex. In fact, she’d tried and he’d told her he wanted to wait until she could give him everything, heart and soul. Something she hadn’t been prepared to do then or ever since. On the third night, while waiting for him to arrive she’d been attacked by thugs hired by her ex-boyfriend to frighten her from dating anyone. She’d stayed at his hotel that night. Again, he’d not attempted to have sex, but insisted he loved her. The next morning, after revealing her past, in an effort to be closer to him, he’d asked her to marry him. Instead of saying “yes”, she’d asked for a couple of minutes, and after realizing she couldn’t trust her decisions with men, she’d said “no”.
She’d needed to sort out her life before making further mistakes. She knew he would fail her, as everyone else had done in her life. Accepting her rejection graciously, he’d insisted he would fly down every weekend if she allowed him, content to wait.
That same day, she’d packed just a few of her favorite items, called a taxi to take her to the airport, and moved to California.
She had a small savings, which she’d emptied entirely. She had enough to get a new apartment, and she knew she could get a waitress job anywhere. She’d never forwarded her address or returned home, even to see her grandmother. She’d left her past behind and had started on the adventure of a new existence.
Now, as she gazed in the mirror, she wondered if she’d made the right decision. Not once had any man made her feel as he had in those few days. She’d dated plenty, several men had even proposed. Each time, though, she’d broken off the relationship.
Caycee knew part of the reason was him, no man had ever compared. The other was her father. She’d witnessed him go from one horrible marriage to another. The first one, his wife had cheated on him. The second, her mother had abused her until he had to leave. The third, he never loved. Then finally, his fourth marriage, a wretched woman mentally abused him until he ended his life one morning with a shotgun.
Mindlessly, Caycee walked to the kitchen to prepare coffee. Why was she thinking about this now? What difference did it make? She’d made her choices. She’d become famous. Isn’t that what she’d wanted?
While waiting for her coffee to finish brewing, she booted up her computer. She typed in her password and hit enter. Next, she signed into her email, fan, fan, and more fans. Nothing important, nothing personal. She had no contact with any of her family members she’d left behind and no real friends. What did she expect?
For no reason whatsoever, she found herself typing his name into Google. Charlotte, she remembered, some outlying suburb, but he worked in Charlotte. Undoubtedly, he’d married and had children. Why was she doing this after eighteen years? His company’s website came up. That’s right; he’d said he owned a construction company. If the homes were anything like the website indicated, he must be doing extremely well.
The next link she saw was his Facebook page. Private of course, he was also a cop. He wouldn’t allow just anyone to peruse his pictures. What would he think if she “friended” him? Would he accept her request? His profile picture popped up along with a couple of him with his kids. Her heart sank. He was as handsome as she remembered. She had hoped that she’d imagined how good he looked—felt, holding her. The warmth of his kiss, his southern drawl…all of it, crashed into her senses as she studied his image on the computer screen.
Reaching out, she traced the trimmed beard leading up to his soft, but closely cropped dark hair. She imagined for a moment that those piercing blue eyes were gazing at her, that the smile he offered the camera was for her. Oh, God, and those arms, his solidly built body that had taken on three men to protect her, but had held her gently all night. He’d aged well, and her heart raced just looking at him.
Overcome with emotion at looking at his face any longer, she ventured to the next website. A newspaper article— almost thirteen years ago—about Detective Jordan Monroe’s wife who’d apparently suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was in a coma. Maybe he was single after all, she mused hopelessly. She decided to search the web page until she stumbled across his wife’s name, then she would Google her too and see what she discovered.
She found his wife’s name, but it stopped her in her tracks: Jaynee Monroe. Not possible. That’s what he’d called her all those years ago. She remembered the first night when she’d mentioned she didn’t like her name; he’d asked if he could call her by her middle name. Though not completely uncommon, Jaynee was an unusual name. But what were the chances of him meeting and marrying another Jaynee?
Caycee Googled the name Jaynee Monroe. Again, the website displaying the shooting popped up, a couple of North Carolina Incorporation’s pages, and then Jaynee’s Facebook link. As soon as she clicked on the Facebook link, Jaynee Monroe’s picture popped up.
Caycee bounded backward, the chair toppling out from under her as Jaynee’s profile picture filled her screen. Her hand flew to her mouth, stifling a scream; though, there was no one in her apartment to hear.
“It isn’t possible.” Chills ran down her arms as she scanned the other pictures. Only a few were visible, but it was evident in every picture; Jaynee Monroe could be her twin sister. Was this some elaborate scheme? Was this a joke on Jordan’s part, or worse, a sick obsession? Had he found her and transposed her face over someone else? Perhaps these were photo-shopped pictures of his dead wife.
She sent a friend request along with a quick message: Is this a joke? Who are you?
Leaving her computer, she heated up a muffin, downed it in two bites, and then swallowed a swig of coffee, followed by a handful of daily vitamins. She didn’t want to sit and stare at the computer waiting for a reply. It could take days until she or he checked their email and responded. She shivered at the thought. Maybe she shouldn’t have sent the message. Now he’d know she’d discovered his obsession. He’d seemed so perfect, and the thoughts she had earlier invaded her mind again. What if she’d said “yes”? What if she’d been his wife with those beautiful children? Then she remembered the shooting. Maybe Jordan had murdered his wife.
“No, it couldn’t be. Jordan was different,” she said audibly, her voice echoing in the emptiness of her apartment because she’d professed it so loudly. She’d made many lousy decisions when it came to men before Jordan, but she knew deep down he was always the one. The reason no man had ever measured up to her expectations. The reason she sat at that stupid steakhouse every evening waiting for him or someone like him. He couldn’t be crazy.
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