Pete has known Marla forever. In fact, she was his high school crush. When he gets wind of her plans to thwart Chas’ wedding plans, he does the only thing he can, he takes Marla in hand. Marla doesn’t know it, but Pete has no intention of ever letting her go.
This is a sequel to Just Her Luck, but reads as a standalone.
He asked about her childhood, bracing for the bragging. It had been the thing that irritated him the most back in the day. Raised in privilege she’d always expected the world to fall in with her plans and it usually did from what he could tell. In his mind that was the most reasonable explanation for her intense determination to win Chas Mackenzie back, he was the one thing she couldn’t buy or bully her way into acquiring.
Because of that, he was genuinely surprised when she described a lonely and somewhat isolated youth. Despite being in nearly every picture in the yearbook, cheerleading, the debate club, student council, orchestra, French club, and many more, she’d had few friends. Pete figured the ones she did have were likely afraid of ‘not’ being her friend. Marla was a mini-terrorist. You had to be invited into her inner circle, but talking to her now he realized none of those friendships had extended past high-school when the other girls all managed to escape the confines of her exclusive network.
It was clear she knew. When he asked about girls she’d hung out with, Patty, Allison, Jennifer, Marcella and Jeanie, Marla looked away.
“I have no idea where any of them are. We haven’t kept in touch,” she admitted a bit sharply. “I moved on.”
“Do you have any friends from college you still see?” he asked.
“A couple,” she hedged. “Why the grilling?”
“Just curious,” Pete replied.
“Let me make things easier for you,” she drawled sarcastically. “I don’t have any close friends. My relationship with my father is… challenging. Of course, my mother is dead, you knew that, but we were never particularly close. Both of my parents preferred the company of my brother, Jasper. When he was murdered, they were sort of stuck with me.
“I’m the only heir to a pretty extensive fortune. I’ve had several affairs but none worth the effort of nurturing and the only man I was ever in love with is Chas. Unfortunately, it seems he is in love with someone else, at least at the moment.”
Pete watched her closely. Her eyes shone, he wasn’t sure if it was tears or anger. For a few minutes, her cheeks looked heated before fading dramatically and now she looked quite pale.
“What are you going to do when your plan doesn’t work?” he asked quietly. “What are you going to do when Chas marries Babe?”
“Boy, you don’t have much faith in my abilities,” she stated.
Her voice quavered and she turned toward the tiny jukebox and held out her palm for another quarter.
Pete gave it to her.
“You’re wrong,” he informed her. “You’re very adept at getting what you want. The problem, as I see it, is that sometimes what we want isn’t good for us.”
“Chas is good for me,” she insisted smoothly. “You’ll see. Once I get him back, you’ll see.”
Pete shook his head almost sadly.
“You’re dreaming, honey. Chas isn’t going to break it off with Babe. He loves her and she’s perfect for him.”
“In what way?” Marla demanded, turning her head and glaring at him. “What does she have that I don’t?”
He almost didn’t answer. For some reason, he was loath to hurt her. Her hair seemed alive with fire in the muted light of the booth. Her eyes flashed with anger and her chin was tilted up in challenge. But she was beautiful. He’d always thought so. Of course, she was out of his reach even now, even after all these years.
What she was offering was temporary, a tiny taste of something he’d only dreamed about. It wouldn’t last long, a few months at best but it was better than nothing. She thought he was playing her game. In reality, she was playing his.
Still, he didn’t want to hurt her. It seemed nothing was as he’d imagined. Her life was no bed of roses and never had been. It made her hard around the edges, brittle, and intolerant. He began gently to talk about Babe.
“She’s kind-hearted. She has a gentle soul and a somewhat submissive nature. Babe listens to him and values his opinion. She doesn’t challenge his judgment at every turn,” he continued with a slight grin, “but when she does, she usually comes around to his way of thinking. They are well-matched.”
“So she’s a wimp?” Marla scoffed. “A weak-willed, yes sir, no sir, kind of girl who hangs on every word he says.”
“No, it’s not like that.
“That’s what it sounds like.”
Thanks for stopping by. Her Majesty's Downfall will be available on Amazon and Blushing Books on September 6th, 2019.