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Sin City Wedding
By Katherine Garbera
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLarissa Nielsen had imagined how she'd look when she saw Jacob Danforth again. None of her ideas involved wearing her oldest pair of leggings and a tie-dyed Florida T-shirt. But the early-morning call from Jasmine Carmody, a reporter with the Savannah Morning News, had left Larissa no choice. She needed to talk to Jake before Jasmine told the world who Peter's father was.
Now Larissa was sitting in her car in front of Jake's Savannah town house like some crazy ex-girlfriend stalker. She wished she were just waking up back at her house in Riverside. She wished their morning routine wasn't disrupted and she and her three-year-old son could welcome the day on their dock overlooking the Savannah River. Instead, she was about to do something, her conscience reminded her, she should have done a long time ago.
She shone the light of her tiny flashlight on the pages in front of her. A collection of Robert Frost poetry had always been her saving grace. She'd used it to escape from life more than once and this morning, while she waited for time to creep by, it provided the escape she desperately needed from her chaotic thoughts.
A rap on the car window startled her. She glanced up to see the faint outline of a man. The man leaned down and she looked into dark brown eyes she'd never forgotten. His tough-guy look faded, replaced by a welcoming smile when he recognized her. She unlocked her door and Jake opened it.
Larissa wasn't a person anyone would call timid. But suddenly she felt like the Cowardly Lion. And it wasn't anything like the green floating head of the Great and Powerful Oz that scared her. She knew the man behind the curtain and she knew he would be royally pissed when she told him he had a three-year-old son.
Peter slept quietly in his car seat and she double-checked that his favorite blanket was tucked next to his chin before getting out of the car. The March morning air was chilly. She shivered a little and rubbed her hands on her arms, praying the tinted windows wouldn't reveal her son until she had a chance to tell Jacob herself.
"What are you doing parked in front of my house at seven in the morning?"
Jake was dressed in running shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt that was stained with sweat. He must have left before she'd arrived. She smoothed her hair down, wishing she'd had the time to make herself look more presentable.
He looked as good as she remembered. Would he feel as good? Somehow she knew he would, despite the fact that it had been almost four years since she'd had sex. She forced her gaze from his muscled chest to his face.
"It's a long story."
"About four years long?"
"You have no idea."
"Well, then let's get comfortable. Come inside and I'll make you some coffee. You know I'm famous for it."
She couldn't help but smile. Even when they'd been nothing more than friends, Jake had always been able to make her laugh. But she couldn't leave Peter sleeping in the car.
"Actually, I have something to tell you."
"And you can't do it inside?"
"Well ... no."
She leaned back against the driver's door and tried to find the right words. She swallowed once then licked her lips. "Um ... this is harder than I thought it would be."
"I wish I could help you out, Larissa, but I have no idea what you're trying to say."
She shook herself. She'd be matter-of-fact. She was known for her practicality. "Remember that night at the reunion."
"How could I forget?" he asked, running the tip of one finger down the side of her face. Shivers of awareness coursed through her. Jake had always elicited a response from her even when he wasn't trying to.
"I haven't forgotten it either," she said.
"Is that why you are here?" he asked. He leaned closer toward her, surrounding her with the heat of his body and his earthy scent. His dark eyes focused on her lips and she felt them tingle. Without thinking, she licked her bottom lip and he tracked the motions with his gaze. Dammit, this was getting out of hand. His touch on her face moved to her mouth, stroking her bottom lip with his thumb.
"Larissa Nielsen on my doorstep. I can't quite figure out why. Why now? Why are you here, Larissa?"
"A reporter contacted me about your uncle's senate bid." Larissa knew the only way to the truth was through the story of what had happened. Because the reason she'd been keeping Peter a secret hadn't changed and if Jasmine Carmody hadn't called her, Larissa would still be at home in Riverside watching the sun rise and drinking D&D Coffee's special morning blend.
"Those damned reporters. They won't leave any of us alone." Jake ran his fingers through his thick curly hair in a gesture she'd seen her son make when he was on the verge of a meltdown.
"I'm sorry," she said, knowing Jake treasured his privacy above just about anything else.
"Hey, babe, it's not your fault. So why are you here?"
"She knows about our one-night stand," Larissa blurted out.
"I wish you wouldn't call it that. I wanted to see you again."
He'd called her several times, but she'd dodged his calls. Eventually she'd moved to Atlanta with her college roommate to make sure Jake never found out their one night had consequences.
Excerpted from Sin City Wedding by Katherine Garbera Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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