Bad Boy's Revenge:A Small-Town Romantic Suspense(3)By: Sosie Frost
“Why would you ever work for him? Tell that asshole to send one of his assistants or trained monkeys to the store for some Oreos.”
If only. I had almost been one of his assistants. It would have paid more than my part-time job piecing together ads and answering calls for the Saint Christie Reporter, but I swore a year ago I’d never entertain any offer from Nolan Rhys again.
But…that was before the insurance money dried up. Before Granddad got sick.
Beggars could be choosers only until they were responsible for someone else who required more help. A year ago, I would’ve baked ten dozen cookies into ash and delivered a sack of cinders just to spite Nolan. Unfortunately, a thousand bucks sounded good. We needed everything we could get, especially since Granddad wasn’t getting better, and the nurses at the assisted care facility warned he might never come off the oxygen.
“It’s a paycheck,” I said. “Besides, it’s still good publicity. Everybody will be at his damn rally, and they’ll all be hungry. It’s like…an advertisement for the graduation parties coming this spring. I can remind people that I freelance.”
“Sounds better than I’m desperate and come with my own sprinkles.”
“But Nolan?” Delta’s tone shifted to that motherly warning she gave me when she thought I was being naïve. “He’s still trying to get in your pants.”
Gross. “He won’t.”
“He’s not bad looking.”
“He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Delta snorted. “Clothing he wants to strip.”
“I won’t trust him, but I’ll take his money. Lord knows he has more where that came from.”
“And then what?”
Easy. “And then we hope the check clears before I prove he burned down my candy shop.”
She sighed, but she pulled the phone away like I wouldn’t hear it. Her voice softened.
“Josie, Nolan didn’t set the fire. The police proved it, the fire marshal proved it—”
“He didn’t do it himself.” I wasn’t a fool. “He has the money and the connections to hire someone to do it for him. Hell, you know who his family is, where they get their money—”
“That was a long time ago. Times have changed. Nolan’s an egotistical asshole, but he’s running for state representative. His family bought the town fifty years ago, but they’re…legit now. Why would he risk his political career to destroy your store?”
Delta had been my best friend since kindergarten, but some things I couldn’t share with her. “He punished me because I refused his offer last year. He wanted more than the property; he got off on the thought of a little ebony princess hanging on his arm.”
“…He didn’t actually say that.”
“During his proposal. He happens to like that I’m the most…unique woman in town.”
“You mean the darkest.”
Delta grumbled a profanity. “Well…even if he’s a creeper, he didn’t burn down your store.”
“I know it was him,” I said.
“I’ve got almost all the proof I need to come forward—”
“This isn’t about Nolan.” Delta interrupted me. “You have to get over Maddox.”
And it circled back. Like it always did.
The shop was only one part of my frustration. I missed the candy and the cookies, the dozens of shiny baking sheets, and the framed picture over the register—me as kid with Granddad, Nana, and an ice cream cone four scoops too big.
My throat tightened. I pretended it didn’t. I wasn’t talking about Maddox in the middle of the ruined lot, surrounded by the entire town of Saint Christie as they walked their dogs and greeted neighbors and spread rumors after a long day of gossiping at work.
According to the town, Maddox was a criminal—a walking, talking, tattooed curse. When he visited, all of Saint Christie locked their doors at night. Single women crossed to the other side of the street, and the police—as well as every old lady peeping through her blinds—kept a close eye on him.