Then Came Love

Then Came Love by Mona Ingram Read Free Book Online

Book: Then Came Love by Mona Ingram Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mona Ingram
“I beg your pardon?”
    “You heard me. The man is excrement.” Agnes waved her cigarette holder. “Do you want to know why the women here wouldn’t talk to you?”
    “I don’t know. Do I?” Amanda wasn’t sure she wanted to hear this.
    “Because he told everyone that you were a stripper.” Agnes snorted. “Seemed to think that made him a stud, or something.” Eyes sparkling, she leaned closer. “Were you really a stripper? I’ve always thought I’d be good at that.” She looked down at her body. “At least when I was younger.”
    Amanda didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “He really did that? He told them I was a stripper?”
    Agnes nodded.
    “And yet he was the one who suggested that I come here to find friends.” She was too angry to cry. “What kind of a man does that?”
    Agnes didn’t respond.
    “I wasn’t a stripper. I was a dancer.” She offered a weak smile. “Most of the girls call themselves exotic dancers but that makes it sound worse if you ask me.”
    Agnes stabbed her cigarette into the ashtray. “You asked me what kind of a man does something like that. A man who needs to control everyone and everything around him, that’s who.”
    Amanda nodded. “You’re right.” She looked at her friend. “You were kind to me while everyone else was talking about me. Thank you for that.”
    “No need to thank me. You’ve made things interesting around here. I haven’t enjoyed myself this much for a long time.” Agnes dug in her purse and pulled out a slim gold case. She opened it and removed a business card. “Here,” she said. “My address and the number of the cell phone that I always answer. Just in case.”

Chapter Six
     
    A sound startled Amanda out of her reverie. It took her a moment to re-orient herself. She looked toward the lake, where something had disturbed the surface. The moon was high in the sky now, coating everything with pale, silvery light.
    She listened, then recognized the sound of a paddle dipping into water. She stood up and watched as Jackson emerged out of the darkness and guided a canoe onto the small beach a few feet away. He leaped out and pulled it up with one hand.
    “Hi,” he said. His gaze caressed her face and a curl of desire unwound in the pit of her stomach.
    Could he hear her heart pounding? She didn’t care. “Hi yourself. I didn’t see you around today.”
    “No.” He didn’t offer any explanation. “But I’m here now. Do you have anything to drink?”
    She was glad he couldn’t see her blush in the darkness. She’d brought a couple of beer from the restaurant for just such an occasion. “I can offer you a beer, or a soda, or I could put on some coffee.”
    “I’d love a beer.” He motioned to the cottage. “Shall I get it?”
    She laid a hand on his arm and they both froze. The energy pulsing between them was enough to light a small city. “No, I’ll get it. You sit down; you look tired.”
    She retrieved her hand. It was tempting to look at her fingers to see if they were singed. Stop that nonsense , she told herself and went to collect the beer.
    When she came back out she noticed that he’d angled the chairs. They were still close together, but now they could see each other as they talked.
    He took a long swallow of beer, eyes closed. “Good,” he said, and settled back into the chair. “How was your first full day in the kitchen?”
    Was it really only her first full day? So much had happened. “It went well.” She dragged herself up out of the depths of the chair and perched on the edge of the seat. “Carlos was amazing.”
    He gave her an odd look. “I’d forgotten that you’re leaving.” He waved his beer can around. “Seems like you belong here.”
    “I was saying the same thing to Kathy today. But at least she can feel confident that she’ll have a cook.”
    “Has she found someone?”
    “Carlos. He’s more experienced that we realized. By the time I leave he’ll be ready to take over.” She

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