Ford Brothers Series Book 1
A heartbroken heartthrob. A fugitive fiance. Sparks fly when Julia flees...right into Colton.
He had me at hello. Months later, I’m fleeing the state with an engagement ring on my finger. John isn’t the one. What looks good on paper is ugly behind closed doors. My sister Liz doesn’t know about John, but she takes me in, with problems of her own. The night I help tend bar with Liz is when I meet Colton. Liz warns me about him. Says that he’s a hardened man. And he looks it, too. With his smouldering eyes and square shoulders, he’s a force to be reckoned with. But he notices me looking over my shoulder and teaches me a thing or two about men like John, and not in a way that I would expect.
Afghanistan changes a man in a way that nothing else can. Betrayal does the same. Mix the two and you get me. It’s like I wear a badge, marking my military background, and then they find out that I’m a Ford boy and suddenly I’m a piece of meat with dollar signs. But they can all drop dead, because a woman is the last thing that I want. I bounce at a bar strictly to protect my little brother. He plays in a band in this seedy joint, and I’m here to keep his nose clean in more ways than one. But then Liz brings her little sister Julia in one night to cover, and I realize that I’m not the only one with a sibling looking over their shoulder.
“Tube Top Tuesdays!” I bark. “Are you serious?” My face turns as red as a tomato as Mary holds up a hanger, draped with a multitude of different colors of tube tops. Covering my heated cheeks, my expression says I am half aghast, and half ‘are we really going to do this?’. “You’ve GOT to be kidding! I’m NOT wearing one of those!”
“We’re ALL wearing one!” Mary insists, tossing each one on her bed. We both giggle over the AC/DC playing in the background. Her house is empty for the next five minutes, when we expect the other two of our work girlfriends to arrive.
“I wouldn’t be caught dead in one.”
Mary feigns a glare. “And you’re not wearing those glasses, either.”
“Really?” I place my hands on my hips. “And how do you suppose I’m going to be able to see? Or shall I just walk into the walls?”
Shrugging, she tears off her white t-shirt, braless underneath. Her jeans remain as she wiggles into a flamingo pink tube top. As she tugs it into place, her pert breasts sitting perfectly under the elasticized garment, she mirrors my defiant stance. “See? Not so bad.”
I must admit, with the tight blue jeans, the tube top is hot on her.
“Now you try one.” Mary glances at my red denim skirt and decides on a white top.
Modesty getting the better of me, I turn my back and lift my cream linen shirt, and then unfasten my bra. “Oh, for Chrissake!” she steps in front of me and helps me wiggle into the top. “Perfect. Your nipples show just enough.”
Through bulging eyes, I watch Mary pull my spectacles off and place them on her dresser. “Now for makeup.”
“I don’t wear any.”
“That’s the problem. It’s…what…twice a year your man goes away on business? You’re wearing makeup. AND you’re ditching the rock.” She points at my engagement ring as I mentally tally the two jars I have in my head: one for Mary being a good influence, the other for her being a bad influence. The bad influence jar is about to overflow. “We’re straightening this hair, too.” She picks up a handful of my long brown curls that extend three quarters down my back. Straightened, I’d be sitting on it.
“That’s going to take hours.” I pull a strand of her short black hair, almost envious.
“Not with four of us at it.”
Six minutes later we hear voices downstairs. “Up here!” Mary yells over the music as she draws a thin black line across my upper left lid.
“Where’s Chris?” Misty asks Mary as she opens the bedroom door. Mary’s bedroom boasts a four-poster oak bed tall enough that you have to get on your tippy-toes to get on it. The matching oak dresser and chest of drawers are thoughtfully placed in the small room so that one can enter and exit the room without challenge. Her iPhone sits in a cradle on the nightstand with a small speaker attached, playing music almost too loudly.
“Fishing.” Mary answers as she dabs the eye shadow palette and blots it onto my lid.
“I brought wine and glasses, girls!” Karen calls as she comes in behind Misty. Misty and Karen are both single, and Mary has been living with Chris for nearly a year.
Finishing with a dab of red lip gloss, Mary stands back and observes my painted face.
“Wow, you look awesome!” Misty compliments as she hands me a glass of wine.
“Thanks. I feel like I’m about to wake up in a grocery store wearing nothing but this tube top.”
“Pick which one you want.” Mary gestures towards the bed, at the leftover tube tops. “And then come help me tame this mane.” She lifts my hair again. “You guys remember the straighteners?”
Misty plugs hers into the outlet above Mary’s dresser and touches up her mid-length red locks. Karen tosses back her wine and picks out a flaming red tube top to go with her leather skirt. “Girl, you look hot!” Mary whistles at Karen.
While nervous, I can’t help feeling liberated. John rarely goes away and when he does, I have to go with him. This once a year trip is paid for by the company and therefore no spouses are allowed. Despite his distaste, he went. Our wedding is still two years away, only because his company is rumored to be relocating, and he doesn’t want us to settle until that is over with. Luckily, I’m not in a rush. Frankly, I hesitated when he knelt in front of me and asked me to be his forever. If it wasn’t for my father, I would never have said yes. Dad told me that John had asked him for his blessing first, and the warning not to disappoint did not fall on deaf ears.
Gregory Abbott’s mission in life is to marry off his daughters to well bred men, and I’m no exception. We haven’t even started planning our nuptials yet. But with money, timelines are a moot point. John’s said more than once that we’ll have a spontaneous destination wedding if he has his way about it. But we’ll see. If John knew what I was up to tonight, I don’t even want to say…John hates Mary, and has warned me to avoid her, but what can I do? I work with her. Mary, Karen, Misty and I all teach at the same school, and have for the last two years.
My phone rings from the other side of the room, inside my purse, announcing that it is John. Hearing it, Mary gives me a warning look. “Ignore it, babe. This is our night.” the ‘bad influence’ jar tips over inside my head. I’d heard it beep ten minutes ago but I hadn’t said anything. John is likely flipping out back in Toronto, where he flew for work. A mere two-hour plane ride away, and I can still feel his seething glare. I’ll pay dearly for that when he gets home.