Authors: Keri Ford
Tags: #Romance, #erotic romance, #erotic
The Roughnecks Series
Copyright © 2012, Keri Ford
Digital ISBN: 9781622370788
Editor, Ayla O’Donovan
Cover Art Design by KJ Jacobs
Digital release, November, 2012
Trade Paperback release, November, 2012
Turquoise Morning, LLC
P.O. Box 43958
Louisville, KY 40253-0958
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work, in whole or part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, is illegal and forbidden, without the written permission of the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, settings, names, and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination and bear no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, places or settings, and/or occurrences. Any incidences of resemblance are purely coincidental.
This edition is published by agreement with Turquoise Morning Press, a division of Turquoise Morning, LLC.
This Book Is Dedicated To
I’ll work on that super suit for you.
Having her fiancé admit through email that he married another girl while away was humiliating enough. Telling the small town the truth was something Tonya just couldn’t face yet. With him in the military, it seemed easy to let everyone think they were still together. Just for a little while. Fast-forward through time a few months and Tonya’s restless, lonely, and unsure how to fix her lie. To add to that, she’s finding her best friend, Trent Iverson, more and more attractive.
When Tonya confesses the truth, Trent feels like his life is finally on the right path. Everything is smooth sailing until old fears that makes him controlling surface. He has to face the mirror and see his controlling ways if he wants to keep Tonya.
Jealousy was an ugly thing. An ugly thing with bad hair. Tonya picked at the corner of her napkin. Maybe jealous was a strong word. Envy might be better.
She wasn’t upset her best friend was having the happiest day of her life. She couldn’t be happier for Gretchen. It was that Tonya wasn’t getting there. Hard to when her ‘boyfriend’ was as fake as the pearls sitting tight around her neck.
Being dedicated to her boyfriend who was shipped off to war didn’t leave a lot of guys asking her out. Not that she could accept, mind you, if they did ask her. Nice Tonya, real nice pickle you got yourself in. Not that the boyfriend had always been fake. Marc enlisted in the military and never bothered to come back home. At the time it seemed a far better idea to say he was shipped overseas than explain
The Email of
as they called it after three pitchers of sangria.
Ha. If she knew then what she knew now….
But she didn’t. No amount of wishful thinking would change things. She ought to know. She’d done lots of wishing on pennies, quarters, fountains, eyelashes and yes, a couple Thanksgiving Turkey Wishbones.
No dice. Not even lucky seven ones.
She tucked the soft edges of her off-white bridesmaid dress under her thighs, rested her arm against the soft tablecloth and watched as the bride and groom spun around the room in a sweet dance.
The pale pink dress Gretchen wore was loose and soft around her knees. The rippled layers of flowing silk turned with her, twisting about her legs and then out again, making Gretchen an even more beautiful bride than she already was. A thin bit of scalloped white lace had been added to the bottom of the dress so that it peeked out from the waving pink silk.
This wasn’t Gretchen’s first marriage. She had refused to wear white and be tacky even though she had wanted the big white dress she never got in her quick first wedding. The simple added trim had caused a whole other round of happy tears because in the end they all knew the dress and the wedding didn’t mean a thing. Gretchen was happy.
Glowing even. She deserved to be happy. After being widowed far too soon in her first marriage, Gretchen was due for some major happy times ahead.
With her awesome man, Lane. Who absolutely adored her.
Jealousy, that ugly bitch, was crawling up her back again with long vicious claws digging against her spine and into her neck.
Tonya puffed air out her mouth, adjusted her seat once again like that was going to do something, and then drew in a deep breath. No, no. Envious. She had to remember that part.
She returned to the fun task of making fringe out of her napkin. Having a fake boyfriend had been a fantastic idea at the beginning. Not just because it saved her from telling the embarrassing truth, but
The Email of
had pretty well put her off men for a while. Now that both of her friends had found awesome men, the fake boyfriend was less and less appealing.
It wasn’t that she didn’t see Gretchen and Flora anymore. They saw each other as much as ever, but they were always so freaking happy and moving on in their life. Talking about that next step. Taking that next step. Now here Gretchen was, married. Flora, bless her, had managed to make closet room for her man just a few months ago so they could live together. Slow and steady, those two.
Even still, a sad sigh slithered through Tonya and—wait no. No. She straightened and slapped that Envy Gal around. There, she finally remembered to call it what it was.
In the beginning it was easier to keep up the fake boyfriend. Even better with him ‘in the war’ people tended not to ask for updates on the guy. It wasn’t like he was on a business trip to New York. He was
in the war
Fighting for his life!
For our freedom, dear God!
And she was that dear sweet girl waiting at home for him, worrying herself sick that he could die at any moment.
Her eyes started rolling before she could catch them. Bad habit that, when she thought of her ‘man’. Because big ass problem she didn’t see coming when all this started: she couldn’t break up with her fake boyfriend without throwing herself under a bus. She knew this to be true as on more than one occasion she was told “So sweet that you wait for him. I bet it keeps him going, makes him fight harder knowing he’s got a good girl waiting for him at home.”
Her teeth were gritting and the neat napkin fringe she’d spent the last fifteen minutes creating was wadded in her palms.
“Glad to see you.” His voice relaxed her strangling grip on the napkin as he slid onto the folding chair next to her. Trent Iverson. The recent bright spot in her life. He had a big grin that dimpled the corner of his mouth. Short cropped hair that was a sliver off from being bald. Just a dark shadow cresting over his round head. Broad shoulders. Thick chest. Firm abs and muscular thighs.
That was just the start, believe it or not. Put that man in a pair of good fitting jeans with his back to her? Oh, sweet baby Jesus, she was getting warm just thinking of it. Don’t even get her started on him being shirtless with his tattoos showing.
Swirls and turns of black art he’d sketched himself. Something very few knew about him, but he shared his art with her. She kept a drawing he’d tossed in the trash. A simple, almost flower, but not quite. It was
, swirly and loose, yet circular like the petal head of an artistic flower. One day when she quit being a chicken, maybe she’d find the guts to have it put on her…somewhere.
. Passing his name through her head sent a shudder over her skin. As if she didn’t regret having her fake boyfriend enough, Trent made it horribly worse. Because if he knew she was single, she would be making passes, wearing lipstick, and even shaving her legs daily just in case.
On one level it was a little dorky and cliché. Two of his brothers were dating and marrying her best friends. Trent, Jacob and Lane. Triplets, not identical, but similar enough that if you looked fast enough, you had to slow down for a second glance. Not that it was much of a hardship to look twice at Trent. Or any of them.
Besides, how awesome would family events be since they were all so close?
Either way, she and Trent had gravitated to one another. When his brothers partnered off with her friends over a year ago, that left them finding things to do. Usually that was working in her diner in the evening. For some unknown reason, he hung out there, had even picked up how she ran the diner and pitched in when she was shorthanded.
More than once, Tonya considered gravitating a little closer. Especially when he was all cleaned up like this wearing that intoxicating cologne that made her body steam up like windows on a truck parked down a deserted road.
Not that she didn’t think about getting closer when he was just in from hard labor outdoors either. Oh my, get her a fan, because the guy was hot testosterone on a stick that was deep-fried when sweat was dripping down his throat. T-shirt wet to practically see-through with black oil and grease stains across his chest from working. From lawn mower to tractor to bulldozer, he knew how to fix it all because the man was good with his hands.
His broad hands with long fingers that were skilled whether he held some big clunky tool or used a pencil making those quick whisks over some scrap of paper. She shook.
But, well, there was that whole issue of her boyfriend risking his life by fighting in the war. Not to mention, Trent hadn’t exactly shown any sort of interest in her either. Hard to with her
fighting in the war!
And Trent was a good guy. A really, really good sweet guy who’d taken time to fix her ice machine in her diner or help move heavy furniture across her trailer. Whatever she needed done, in the last year and a half or so, Trent had become her platonic go-to guy. Not once had he crossed that line with her, looked like he was thinking of crossing that line, or voiced anything that made her believe she could be more than a friend.
Straight up platonic.
Yay, good times.
He tugged at the knot of his tie, pulling it loose two inches and unbuttoning those top buttons that had been hiding his tanned throat. “Thank God you were sitting alone.”
That was the brutally honest man she knew. “Glad I could be of help.”
“Jacob wants to tell Flora he loves her. I’ve been listening to my brother talk about his feelings for forty-five minutes. I was seconds from clawing my ears off when I saw you sitting here.”
She chuckled. “We just finished cutting the rest of the cake. Flora ran to the restroom, so she should have him occupied in a few minutes.”
He glanced around. “I’m glad the weather held off for the wedding.”
“Me too.” Last she checked on her phone, the storm was still another three hours away. They had plenty of time left to enjoy the reception. Not that she wouldn’t mind seeing him caught in the rain. Water dripping down his scant sideburns. Streaking along his tanned and jutted jaw. Soaking that dress shirt. If silent lusty sighs could solve her problems, she’d try bottle them and selling them. Yeah, that would be awesome. So not going to happen. It was a miserable life for her as she had to remain hands off because he didn’t know the truth. Just a few sentences though and she could change all that. If only they weren’t risky sentences to speak.
She plucked a honeysuckle from the decoration off the table, pulled the center out, sucked the sweet nectar off, and tossed the flower aside. Screw all her
thoughts. It was still beautiful outside. A happy day and she was going to enjoy it.
They’d spent hours wrapping honeysuckles and vines around every last surface they could squeeze, but that was only half the work. The boys had worked their asses off for the last couple of years on this place and it was work well done. Iverson Manor not only looked refreshed and new, the grounds were fantastic. Trees were brought in. Landscaping done. Of course, the boys drilling in their backyard and hitting oil and natural gas was a massive help. They were able to pay people in town to come out and work. Weekends, nights, the boys didn’t care so long as work was done. At lot of Christmases were made this year because of the Iverson boys being in Apple Trail and literally pumping money back into the town from the wells they drilled.