His Scandalous Commands – Excerpt!
To be Published 11/14/16
Book #2 in The Jamison Sisters series.
Note from Elizabeth Lennox: There’s a bit of a back story at the start of the full book – but I decided to start the excerpt here where the good stuff begins. Enjoy!
Lila entered the diner cautiously on her first morning in town, her hat tugged down low over her eyes and her copper hair pulled back into a braid that hung down her back. She was wearing fake glasses in an attempt to hide her identity as well as a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and a denim jacket, all of which had seen better days.
She stood tentatively at the doorway of the entrance, looking around, praying that there was no reporter hanging around, ready to catch a picture of her dressed like this. Everyone looked pretty normal. Or as normal as she’d suspected people who lived in the country might look. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but the laughter and warmth, not to mention the welcoming smell of coffee and the incredible temptation of cooked bacon, lured her deeper into the diner.
“Come on in, honey!” a waitress in a pink skirt and matching sweater with a striped apron called out, holding a coffee pot in one hand and two plates piled high with eggs and bacon, hash browns and…were those pancakes? Oh, goodness, she would absolutely love pancakes!
“Sit anywhere?” she asked, following the waitress with the plate of pancakes.
“Sure! Have a seat and I’ll get you a cup of coffee in a sec’.”
Lila almost cried with frustration when the waitress set the plate of pancakes down in front of a big guy with a cowboy hat resting beside him on the bench.
Betty delivered the food and topped off cups of coffee, all the while watching the new gal, almost laughing as the little woman surveyed the room. “Why don’t you sit over there by the window?” she suggested, when the redhead continued to hover as if she were unsure of her welcome.
Lila looked at the booth, then smiled tentatively at the friendly waitress. It had been so long since she’d experienced such friendly, casual service and it was quite exhilarating! Normally, the maitre’d or the restaurant manager would be rushing towards her, fussing over her and snapping fingers to get a waiter or waitress to cater to Lila’s needs. The deferential treatment had grown irritating over the years. Not to mention the lack of anonymity.
This was so much better, she thought as she carefully slid into the booth. Paper napkins, stainless steel utensils…yes, this was wonderful!
The waitress plunked a cup down and filled it up with steaming coffee. “Where you from, darlin’?” she asked, leaning a hip against the table.
Lila smiled engagingly up at the lady who looked to be in her mid-forties with an easy smile.
“Oh, I just came in from…” she started to say New York but then changed her mind, “Boston.”
Betty instantly knew that the woman was lying even before she spoke the name of the city. But it wasn’t any of her business if the woman wanted to hide out for a while. It was a free country and everyone had the right to a bit of privacy if they needed it. However, she made a mental note to tell Jake about the newcomer since he was on the lookout for anyone new to the area. “What can I get you to eat?”
Lila licked her lips, her eyes moving from the kitchen area to the door as if she half expected someone to burst into the diner. “Could I get a plate of pancakes?” she asked, almost whispering and leaning closer to the friendly waitress as she tried to control her excitement over the possibility. She had personal trainers, hired by her publicist to exercise Lila in the various cities in which she was touring and nutritionists who sent food lists to the endless hotels, even most of the restaurants, so that she would still be able to fit into the skin tight dresses that were designed specifically for her while she was on stage or when she appeared on a red carpet for any reason.
Pancakes had definitely not been on the approved food lists her nutritionist had sent to any hotel and she was going to savor every bite. Lila couldn’t remember the last time she’d had pancakes, or anything made of white flour that was meant to be drenched in butter and sugar! Or even butter….or sugar! Those ingredients had been eliminated from her diet years ago. At the time, Lila had done whatever was required in order to succeed in the brutally competitive music industry but she knew that she’d gone overboard when her skinny jeans were too loose on her already slender figure.
“Sure!” Betty looked the tiny woman up at down, reassessing her initial impression of the woman. Surely this woman with the gorgeous blue eyes and the thick, copper hair couldn’t be out to kill Jake. Unless it was to jump into bed with him, she thought and released a chuckle as she moved back to the kitchen to put in the woman’s order.
“Hey, Joe, what do you think about that little gal over there by the window?” she asked. Joe was the owner, the cook and her husband. Sometimes she would add on “love of my life” and other days “bane of my existence” to that list.
Joe looked through the window where he would place the orders that were ready to be delivered to the tables, his eyes squinting a bit from old age. “She looks a bit familiar,” he grumbled in his normally surly tone of voice even while his hands were busy flipping pancakes and scrambling eggs.
Betty leaned against the stove and took another look. “I think you’re right, old man.”
Joe grunted as he poured out more pancake batter. “Better tell Jake about her.”
Betty nodded. “I will, but if that gal is the one who is sending him death threats, I’ll marry Brad Pitt.”
Joe squinted again, then shrugged. “What did she order?” he asked.
Joe took a plate down from his right side, piling on the pancakes. He added an extra three and some bacon. “She needs more food,” he grumped as he handed the plate to Betty.
Betty nodded. “I agree,” she said and grabbed two syrups off of the shelf, just for good measure.
A moment later, Betty slid the plate onto the table along with a huge glass of milk. “Here you go, honey. Eat up. You need some meat on those bones.”
Lila stared at the plate that contained about eight enormous pancakes, her eyes wide with the amount of food. “Is this just for me?” she asked, afraid to even touch the plate for fear that the food might topple off.
Betty nodded her head. “You eat every bite,” she said. “If we can’t put five pounds on you by the end of this week, we’re not working hard enough at it,” she said a moment before she walked away to take someone else’s order.
Lila picked up her knife and fork, not exactly sure how to even approach such an enormous pile of carbohydrates. She smothered the breakfast cakes with butter, then poured on the syrup.
“You’re doing it wrong,” a male voice said.
Lila was so startled that her knife and fork clattered to the Formica tabletop. Perhaps her nerves were propelled a bit by guilt for eating such non-nutritious foods.
And then her fingers were even clumsier as she stared at the man approaching the table. Several words popped into her head all at once. Gorgeous. Rugged. Hard. And pathetically moonstruck.
The “pathetic” and “moonstruck” words applied to her. Not to the man. The enormous man. The man looking at her as if he wanted to rough her up. Goodness, what was he about to do? Surely he wasn’t going to sit down across from her. Was he?
Lila pushed her plate away. “I didn’t know…” she stammered out. “I apologize.” Her cheeks were turning pink and she was looking around, painfully aware that others in the diner were now staring at her. Or perhaps they were staring at this man. He really was a huge man!
Oh my goodness, he actually did it! He slid into the booth across from her, his calloused hands resting on the table. Lila might still have the whole table between them, but just his presence caused her to pull back. She was stunned by how broad his shoulders were and, in that instant, she felt crowded by his size.
“You need to cut them up, then put the syrup on. That way, the syrup soaks into the cakes better,” Jake explained.
He was staring at the gorgeous woman who looked like she’d just helped her grandmother keel over. The guilty expression was almost laughable, and he felt slightly bad for startling her.
Lila continued to stare at the man, still trying to absorb how large he was. Perhaps the jacket was adding several inches to those shoulders, but even still, he was huge! She realized that he’d just spoken to her but, for the life of her, she had no idea what he’d just said. “Excuse me?” she replied politely, not really sure what he was talking about. Her mind had gone completely blank and no matter how hard she tried to jump-start her mental acuity, it was a lost cause with this man sitting across the table from her.
Jake thought about explaining again, but he was just a bit too flabbergasted by this woman. She was, quite simply, stunning! He was surrounded by beautiful women all the time, women who spent hours primping and spending obscene amounts of money at day spas.
None of them could even come close to the startling beauty of this redhead, her hair sparkling in the sunshine streaming in through the diner’s window not to mention those blue eyes that told the world everything she might be thinking.
As he sat across the table, he could see the dark circles under her pale skin and her nails were broken, unpainted, her sweatshirt was about four sizes too big and he still was trying to hide his body’s reaction to her. There was just something about her, a frailty or perhaps a vulnerability that she didn’t want, but couldn’t hide either. Well, and that hair! Damn, her hair was a gorgeous color and he wished she hadn’t scraped it back and braided it. He’d like to see it spread out around her shoulders. Or even better, spread out on his pillow.
So instead of speaking, which he wasn’t sure he was capable of at the moment, he pulled her plate towards him, ignoring her yelp of protest. Jake then proceeded to add more butter, making sure it melted into all the cakes before cutting them all up into bite sized pieces. Only then did he lift the syrup and pour it over the cakes. He didn’t stop until they were literally soaked with the sweetness.
“There. That’s how you eat pancakes,” he explained and swiped a piece of her bacon. “Don’t ever let anyone steal your bacon, either. Joe makes the best around here.”
Lila stared at the man, not sure how to react, or even if she could. Was he real? Could anyone really have this much confidence? It seemed impossible, but then he winked at her and she felt her cheeks turning pink again.
“So what should I do when someone steals my bacon?” she asked, pulling the plate closer. She picked up the fork as well and it all seemed strangely intimate. He’d just been holding this fork and the metal was still warm from his grasp.
“Pound them,” he said simply and stole another piece.
“Jake!” Betty called out from four tables down. “Don’t you dare steal that woman’s bacon. She needs every bite she can get!”
Jake tore his gaze away from the stunning woman in front of him to look at the more buxom waitress that he’d been friends with for ages. “And I don’t? I’m a growing boy!” he challenged right back.
Betty just looked at him with a warning look. “If you’re growing then…” her eyes moved over to the redhead and Betty shook her head. “I’m not even going to finish that sentence,” she said to the guffaws of several of the other men and women nearby.
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