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Authors: Mardi Ballou

Emergency Ex

BOOK: Emergency Ex
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Emergency Ex

Teach Him Tonight, Book # 2

a contemporary romance novella

by Mardi Ballou
Emergency Ex

Teach Him Tonight, Book #2

a contemporary romance novella

 

Kindle Edition

© 2012 Mardi Ballou

http://www.MardiBallou.com

Cover © 2012 Delle Jacobs

 

All rights reserved. This is a work of imaginative fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or deceased is the result of unintentional coincidence.

The e-book version of this story is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Please purchase an additional copy of this e-book for each person with whom you want to share it. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at
[email protected]
.

 

Dedication

 

Creation always takes a village. Thank you to all my village mates – especially Lynn, Janet, Marlene and Louisa. And my hero Lee – the guy I teach every night.

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Other Works by Mardi Ballou

Coming Soon from Mardi

An Excerpt from PHOTO FINISH

An Excerpt from AFTER CLASS

About Mardi

 

 

 

Chapter One

May 5—Brenda’s thirtieth birthday minus three weeks

Brenda Lockheart unwrapped the fancy gift wrap and gazed at a beautiful book.
Invasion of Love Slaves from Planet X.
A deluxe first edition, signed by the author, K.C. Corrigan, who sat across form her at their favorite coffee shop.

“Omigod. I can’t believe you’re giving me this.” Brenda ran her an appreciative hand over the cover. “Thanks, K.C. It’s gorgeous. Way too generous. I feel like a celebrity.”

“You are a celebrity in the world of chocolatiers. Lockheart Chocolate inspires my work, my life. This gift is a token of my total appreciation. For all you’ve done for me. And to start the ball rolling in the celebration of your upcoming birthday.”

Brenda swallowed hard. Despite all the professional accolades she’d collected, she was not used to this sort of attention in her personal life. “Not my birthday yet. Knowing you, there’s another special reason why you’re giving me this today.”

“You mean aside from the fact that I celebrate birth months and even birth seasons, not just single days?”

“Much as I like the way you think, yes. What else is going on? Give.”

K.C.’s grin lit up her face. “Okay, if you insist. Just got the news that this book is on a writer’s dream of a trajectory.”

“Which means—’

“It will probably hit the top spot on a major best seller list or two. Soon. Glory and income.”

Brenda clutched her friend’s hand. “Fantastic—but, I have to say, not unexpected. I’ve read your other books and can’t wait to read this one. I’m sure it deserves every possible success, recognition, great wealth…”

“From your mouth to the goddess’s ear. But I couldn’t have done it without your excellent chocolate. That’s why I want to include your special celebration with mine.”

“Really? You’re a great customer, but crediting my chocolate—”

K.C. nodded emphatically. “I absolutely do. Chocolate provides pure and essential inspiration along with being a source of energy and the ultimate comfort food. A power nourishment. Required for my creative processes. Your chocolate is one of the wonders of the modern world.”

Brenda raised a brow and chuckled. “Now surely you’re exaggerating.”

K.C. waved a hand in dismissal. “I’m a writer. I use language to create. It’s part of my job description. Heck, it’s my calling. But in this case I’m not exaggerating. On behalf of writers and other creative artists everywhere, thank you for your chocolate. Lucky me. In addition to providing sustenance, you’re also my friend.”

Brenda basked in the generous praise on top of the gift. “Tell me what your book is about. I love the title.”

“Catchy, isn’t it?” K.C. thought for a moment. “I’m continuing to explore my main theme. Namely that love is the most important force in the universe, no matter what planet or galaxy or world people inhabit.”

“I really like that.”

“Love is the emotional chocolate of the universe.”

Brenda sat bolt upright. “Wow. Did you make that up?”

Her friend nodded.

“‘Love is the emotional chocolate of the universe.’ Dang. Sounds like an ancient maxim. I want it needle-pointed on a pillow for my boudoir. Heck, with your permission, I’d love to find a way to use that ‘truth’ in my business. Of course I’d credit you.”

“You can ‘pay’ me in chocolate.” K.C. chuckled.

“I’d be happy to. Though with all your new wealth, you can easily afford all you want.”

“I’ll know I’ve really arrived when I can buy your chocolate without blinking at the price.”

Brenda mock scowled. She considered her prices fair for the quality she provided. “You’re making me feel guilty now.”

“You shouldn’t. Whatever you charge is absolutely worth it, no matter how much customers may groan.”

“Thanks, I think.” She shifted in her chair. “
Invasion of the Love Slaves from Planet X.
Tell me more
.

“Always happy to talk about my writing. Like all my books, this one is full of love and sex. But the women start off in a weak position. Men are using sex and love to take advantage, entrap their women.”

Brenda made a face. Boy, that sounded a whole lot like her past. “So that doesn’t happen only on our planet.”

“I’m afraid not.” Eyes narrowed, K.C. studied Brenda, who squirmed under the scrutiny. She’d often confided in her friend about her frustration with Keith, when he’d been her best friend—with benefits—and thus occasional lover. A man she’d allowed to make her miserable far too often. Fortunately, they were at a new and terrific place in their relationship, but it had taken lots of hard work—for both of them—to get there. The past wasn’t far enough behind for Brenda to view it with detachment or for her to face the future with complete confidence

“I hate to say it, but you and Keith helped inspire my story.”

“Really?” Brenda’s voice squeaked. “In what way?”

“Oh, I was thinking about something you told me from your early days with him. When you were best friends with benefits. You once did a role play to help bail Keith out of some mess.” She made a sour face. “You were his so-called
Emergency Ex
. He got you to pretend to be his furious ex. You created a scene and his girlfriend at the time backed off from putting pressure on him to commit.”

Brenda went into a full body shudder. “I remember. Actually, she disappeared. I should never have done what he asked. I chalk up the whole episode to being a stupid, regrettable thing you do when you’re young, something you’d never do once the genetic code for intelligence kicks in.”

K.C.’s frown had a touch of skepticism. “You only did it that one time?”

Brenda nodded. “I’m surprised I even mentioned it. Keith and I came up with the whole stupid
Emergency Ex
scheme in college, on a crazy night when we had too much wine and pizza. It was almost like a dare I shouldn’t have taken. I pretended to be his screaming banshee of an ex, and his girlfriend believed I was for real. I felt icky afterward. Guilty.”

K.C. grunted and her lips formed a disapproving line. “And did Keith ever reciprocate? You know, pretend to be your ex so you could get rid of an inconvenient boyfriend?”

A big fat blush heated her face. “No. I’d never ask him to.”

“Of course not. If you didn’t want to be with a guy any longer, you’d do the decent thing and tell him upfront.”

Brenda nodded in reluctant agreement. “Sure I would—not that I’ve had any such problematic boyfriends. But that sort of game is buried in our past, where it belongs.”

K.C. tilted her head at an angle, and once again Brenda felt as if her friend were examining her. K.C. said writers studied people so they could write about them. Not that Brenda believed K.C. would actually write about her— “You’re making me nervous, K.C.”

Her friend held up a hand in a scout’s honor pose, as if to show innocence. “Not my intention. Just, you have to admit, your relationship with Keith is unique.”

“You mean it started off being a bit bizarre,” Brenda blurted before thinking, which she didn’t usually do. Though K.C. was a good friend, Brenda sometimes felt a bit wary around her.

K.C. pointed a finger. “
Bizarre.
Your word, not mine. Brenda, it bothers me to see how much you lose your independence and strength when it comes to Keith Tarrant. You let him take away your power. Makes me sad.”

Brenda shook her head. “On this one, you’re stuck in the past. Keith had baggage, family problems. His dad cheated on his mom and their break-up was nasty. Both Keith and his older brother grew up to be players, big-time commitment phobes. Now his brother’s in a great marriage and Keith and I are moving fast in that direction. Well, I’m not sure
fast
is the right word to talk about any changes in such a long relationship.” She smiled at K.C., who did not look convinced. “Look, it’s impossible for a third party to understand what goes on inside any relationship.”

BOOK: Emergency Ex
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