Authors: Cheryl Douglas
Book Four in the Texas Titans Series
Copyright © by Cheryl Douglas
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Persons, places and other entities
represented in this book are deemed to be fictitious. They are not intended to
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Cheap Shot © 2014 Cheryl Douglas
Cheap Shot—Book Four
High Rollers president and founder,
Jaxon Davis, is a workaholic. He eats, sleeps, and breaths the business, which
leaves no time for romance. His friends and partners routinely try to set him
up with one beautiful woman after another, but he’d rather spend his evenings
working than wasting time with women who are hell-bent on hooking a rich husband.
It isn’t until his business partner hires his ex-girlfriend, Sela, to act as a
hostess in their V.I.P. lounge that he realizes making time for a little fun
might not be such a bad idea.
Sela Richards is used to working hard
to put herself through school, but when her ex-boyfriend offers her an
opportunity to make more money as a hostess in the V.I.P. lounge at one of his
bars, she accepts. She knows that working with her ex might be awkward, but not
as uncomfortable as the heated arguments that ensue when he sets his sights on getting
Jaxon knew it was past time to let her
go. He’d been prolonging the inevitable for almost a year because saying
good-bye to Sela would cut deeper than all of his previous wounds combined.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” she
whispered as her blue eyes filled with tears.
He silently called himself every colorful
name that came to mind. He’d promised himself he would never hurt her. Yet
another promise he’d broken. “You know it’s for the best.” He tried to remain
detached by shifting stacks of paper on his desk as an excuse to avoid looking
She’d come to surprise him with an
anniversary gift, but he’d told her he couldn’t accept it. He said they needed
to talk, only he couldn’t find the words he knew would break her heart.
“How can you say that?” she cried. “You
know how much I love you!”
“Don’t say that, Sela.” He’d told her a
long time ago
wasn’t in his vocabulary. He didn’t want to hear it
and didn’t intend to say it. When they’d met, he’d told her he wasn’t
interested in dating, but she lured him in with her killer body, great sex, and
a wicked sense of humor. Before he knew it, he couldn’t get through an hour
without thinking about her.
“You think just because I don’t say it that
it isn’t true?” She brushed away a tear trickling down her face. “Don’t you
know I fell in love with you on our first date?”
He swallowed, telling himself the burning
in his throat had nothing to do with the fact she was ripping out his heart.
“You can’t love someone who doesn’t love you back.”
Her beautiful face twisted with anguish.
“How can you say that? You know you love me. You can’t treat me the way you do
and claim you don’t love me.”
That was true. She was his princess. He’d
showered her with expensive gifts, but a few kind gestures didn’t amount to
love. Love was a myth concocted by those who needed something to believe in.
His belief in love had died the day he found his father hanging from a tree in
their forested backyard.
“The sex is great,” he said, trying to
sound cold. It was the only way he would get through to her. “I won’t deny
that. But I warned you not to get in too deep.” He fisted his hands on his
desktop. “This thing with my mother will require all of my time and attention
now. She needs me, and I can’t let her down.”
Sela’s face softened. “I know you’re
devastated about your mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but let me help you. We
“No!” He cleared his throat to soften his
voice. “She isn’t your problem. You have enough going on with putting yourself
through school and dealing with your own family. You don’t need to add my
problems to the mix.”
Sela Richards was one of the strongest,
most determined young women he’d ever met. She had been on the fast track to
becoming a junior partner in her father’s prestigious law firm when she decided
to follow her heart and become a jewelry designer instead. When she told her
family of her plan to return to school to pursue a fine arts degree, they told
her she’d be doing it on her own dime, with no help or support from them.
“When you care about someone, their
problems are your problems,” she said.
The way she described relationships made
them sound so simple, but Jaxon knew how toxic and complicated they could be.
He’d watched his mother degrade and demoralize his father for years before the
old man decided he couldn’t take it anymore. “Think whatever the hell you want,
Pollyanna. I live in the real world. You can go on living in some fantasy if
you want, but find someone else to build your dreams around. I’m telling you it
won’t be me.”
She stared at him in shock. He wasn’t
always easy to live with, but he’d never been cruel to her before. “How can you
say that?” When he didn’t apologize or try to retract his words, she
straightened her shoulders. “You think it will be hard for me to find a man to
was going in for the kill. “Don’t let me waste any more of your time. Go find
him.” Jaxon gestured toward the door. He hoped she would leave. He didn’t know
how much more he could take.
She leaned over the desk, giving him a
glimpse of cleavage that made most men do a triple-take. “I can walk out of
here right now and find someone to take me home tonight.”
He clenched his jaw, trying to suppress his
reaction. She’d been
for the past year, and she was talking about
sharing her body with another man? It made him see red, just like she
undoubtedly knew it would. “You’re free to do whatever you want, Sela. That’s
what I’m trying to tell you. It’s over between us.”
She threw the small gold box she’d been
clutching at him, hitting him squarely in the chest. “Right, because the
almighty Jaxon Davis doesn’t need anyone, does he? You think you can handle
this thing with your mother while running a multi-million-dollar business?” She
curled her full lips in disgust as she pushed off the desk. “You’re just a man,
not a superhero. Eventually everyone needs help. Why do you have to be so
goddamn stubborn about it? Why can’t you admit you love me? Why won’t you let
me help you?”
He placed the carefully wrapped package on
the corner of his desk as he tried to rein in his emotions. “I don’t know what
you want me to say. I don’t need you. It’s as simple as that.”
She recoiled as though he’d struck her.
“Did you ever need me?”
“No.” His heart called him a liar, but he
refused to admit it.
“You just wanted me under you when you
needed a warm body, is that it?” When he didn’t deny her claim, she said, “I
can’t believe I was stupid enough to fall in love with you. My friends and
family all said you were cold, that you’d never be able to give me what I
needed, but I was so sure they were wrong. Looks like I was the one who was
“I tried to warn you too,” he said, though
he should keep his mouth shut and let her say her piece so she would leave. “I
told you this wasn’t going anywhere. If you chose to believe otherwise, that’s
She stared at him a long time. “Doesn’t it
bother you to think of me with someone else?”
Nothing she could have said would have hurt
him more, and he suspected she knew that. “Why would it?”
She straightened the hem of her tight black
wrap dress, drawing attention to her five-inch heels. She was dressed for a
night on the town, hoping to celebrate their first anniversary. Jaxon knew if
she walked out into the High Rollers sports bar, men would fight over who got
to take her home.
Her eyes drifted closed as she drew in a
deep breath. “I guess that’s it then. There’s nothing I can say to change your
“I’m afraid not.”
Without another word, she crossed the
office, slamming the heavy wood door behind her. Jaxon sunk lower in the
leather swivel chair, feeling drained, before a shot of adrenaline propelled
him out of his seat. No way would he let some dirtbag take advantage of her
while she was vulnerable. Not in his bar.
He rounded the corner and saw her at the
bar with a man on either side of her. They leered at her as she downed one shot
after another. Sela didn’t drink more than an occasional glass of wine, which
meant she’d be on her ass in no time if she kept that up. Jaxon edged his way
to the bar, ignoring the people trying to get his attention. He had a singular
goal, and no one would get in his way.
“Johnnie,” he said to the bartender when he
was only a few feet away from Sela and her admirers, “no more for my girlfriend.”
“I’m your ex-girlfriend, remember?” Sela
shouted loud enough for everyone within a twelve-foot radius to hear her.
The men all stopped what they were doing.
Jaws dropped as they stared at each other in disbelief. Jaxon knew what they
were thinking. Sela Richards was finally fair game? Hell yeah!
“You can’t tell me what to do anymore.” She
picked up the untouched shot glass in front of her. “So back off!”
He watched her throw the drink down in one
deep swallow as a few men grinned. Jaxon could practically see them rubbing
their hands together in anticipation.
“I’m warning you,” he said to the poor
bartender caught in the middle of their argument. “You serve her one more
drink, and you’ll be unemployed tomorrow.”
His partner and friend Dylan came up behind
him, wrapping his arm around Jaxon’s neck. “Hey now, you can’t threaten
Johnnie. He’s the best bartender we’ve got. What the hell’s got you so bent out
“He dumped me,” Sela announced. “Now he’s
pissed that I’m making new friends.” She put her arms around the two men
flanking her. “And gettin’ my drink on…” She laughed. “Just because I can’t
celebrate our anniversary with him doesn’t mean I don’t intend to celebrate. No
sense letting this dress go to waste.” She licked her lips as she regarded the
men beside her. “Don’t you agree, boys?”
“Hell yeah!” they said in unison, laughing
until they saw Jaxon’s warning glare.
“If y’all had another fight,” Dylan said,
“maybe you should just go to your respective corners and talk it out in the
Sela lifted her chin. “I’m so done with
him. I’m tired of being with a man who’s so emotionally impotent he can’t even
admit he loves me. It’s time for me to find a real man.” She turned and walked
away, swaying slightly before a third man helped steady her.
Her two bar buddies were about to go after
her when Jaxon stopped them with a hand on their shoulders. “You go after her,
and I’ll lay you both out right here and now.”
The smaller of the two looked as though he
wanted to argue but thought better of it.
The man who rivaled Jaxon in size was the
one to speak up. “She said you dumped her. You can’t stop us from having our
shot with her.”
“You wanna try me?” Jaxon asked, going toe
to toe with him.
“Jesus, man!” Dylan grabbed Jaxon’s arm.
“Are you crazy? You can’t start a fight here. It’ll be all over the front page
Dylan was right, but there was no way Jaxon
would stand by and watch some loser cozy up to Sela when her defenses were
down. “Fine, but I want them gone.”
“Aww, but we didn’t do anything,” the
smaller man whined. “You can’t kick us out.”
“If it’s not them, it’ll be someone else,”
Dylan whispered. “What are you gonna do, clear the bar out so nobody can get
close to Sela?”
That didn’t sound like a bad idea to Jaxon,
which proved how irrational he was being. He had to get a grip. He had wanted
them to be over; he just had to figure out how to let her go.
Dylan put his arm around his friend. “Come
on, let’s go grab a table, and you can tell me what happened.”
Jaxon had no interest in talking about it,
but he knew Dylan wouldn’t let it go until he got the whole story. They slid
into an empty booth a waiter had just cleared, and Dylan ordered a couple of
beers while Jaxon watched Sela fend off the advances of two new men. By the end
of the night, he’d either be in jail or the hospital.
“Okay,” Dylan said, snapping his fingers to
get Jaxon’s attention. “Please tell me this was some misunderstanding and you
weren’t really stupid enough to break up with Sela.”
“I had no choice.” Jaxon glared at her when
she let some guy put his arm around her waist.
How dare she let him touch
her like that! She doesn’t even know him.
“Things were getting too
“Does this have anything to do with your
mother?” Dylan asked gently.
It was no secret among Jaxon’s friends that
he wasn’t dealing well with his mother’s diagnosis. He’d always had a
complicated relationship with her, and it was his responsibility to be there
for her, to take care of her. She’d rather be left alone to slip away in peace,
as she put it, but that wasn’t an option Jaxon could live with.
“I can’t handle it anymore.” Jaxon pulled
his attention away from Sela when the waiter set two bottles of beer on the
table. Taking a long pull helped to calm Jaxon’s frayed nerves until he saw
Sela heading out onto the dance floor holding some guy’s hand. Jaxon took
another drink followed by another until he’d nearly drained the bottle.
Dylan slid his untouched bottle across the
table. “You need this more than I do. You can’t handle what? The demands of the
business, the situation with your mother, your feelings for Sela?”
Jaxon didn’t even think about trying to
deny his feelings for Sela. Dylan had known him too long to buy his lies. “All
of it. I had to let her go. I’m doing her a favor.”
Dylan looked over his shoulder at Sela slow
dancing with a good-looking back-up goalie who’d retired earlier that year.
“Maybe you are.”
“Shut the hell up,” Jaxon muttered,
reaching for the second bottle. The last thing he needed was for his friend to
agree that Sela could do better than him.
“We’ve all known for a long time where this
was headed, Jax,” Dylan said, holding up two fingers when he caught their
waiter’s attention. “Sela wants a real relationship, and you can’t give it to
her ‘cause you’re too messed up.”