Authors: L.G. Pace III
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A Carved Hearts Novel
Copyright © 2014 by L.G. Pace III & Michelle Pace
Cover designer: Robin Harper.
Wicked By Design
All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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“MOLLY, YOU ABOUT ready?” Joe’s rough voice called to me from the living room.
I paused in my effort to put in my second earring. “Just a second.”
“We’ve gotta hit the road, little girl! This isn’t exactly the kind of thing we can be late for.” His gravelly baritone sounded commanding, and I’m sure most people would’ve been quick to respond to his authoritative delivery; however, I’m not most people. I arched an eyebrow and picked up my tube of lipstick.
“Pipe down, Joe.” I shot back, and I could hear his exasperated sigh all the way in the back bedroom. Heaving a weighty exhale of my own, I turned away from my vanity and opened my mouth to apologize. But, remembering that he’d been the one to start the argument, I turned back to the mirror. I took my time, applying some coral color to my lips and giving my upswept hair a last onceover. Joe may have won the battle, but dammit…I’d win the war.
Taking a small sip from my sweet tea, I stood and surveyed the damage in my full length mirror. I’m always pretty critical of my appearance, but I felt as ready as I would ever be for the marathon of pictures I was about to be in. My mint green dress was just the sort of flouncy thing that usually picked up my spirits. But now on the day of the big event, the fitted bodice felt snug. Thankfully, it still looked okay despite the extra few pounds I’d gained from all the recent stress.
The last few months had been nothing short of chaotic. We’d just managed to put the legal situation with my ex-husband to rest. Draven had made the prosecuting attorney’s job fairly easy by leaving so much physical evidence, including the video of his tirade and the string of text messages to me. Then there was the whole business about him using an app to track my movements. Sadly, none of his shenanigans carried much of a sentence and his plentiful bank accounts had afforded him skilled representation. At least he was behind bars where he belonged, even if it was only for a little while.
Meanwhile, Joe’s wood working business, Good Wood, had taken off like a thoroughbred at the sound of a gunshot. When word got out that he was carving again, offers had come in droves. His reputation as a master woodworker had people buzzing. He had to quit his construction gig within weeks of the website going live. Who knew that my sexy carpenter had such a following in the wood working world? People from as far away as Peru had come seeking his special skills.
Between the out of control success of my food trucks and the spike in orders for Joe’s shop, we’d had very little time for each other. When we were together, we spent way too much of our time arguing. I guess you could say there was trouble in paradise. I wish I could say we fought about important things, but it seemed like lately it was mostly about trivial bullshit. Neither of us seemed to be able to break this new and disturbing pattern, and it was taking its toll on us both.
Thrusting my worries aside, I turned sideways and sucked in my abdomen. My sleeve of tattoos popped against the green dress giving me at least one thing to smile about. The constricting bodice, however…I needed to get my act together about that. Vowing to immediately cease my morning trips to the bakery down the block, I slung my purse over my shoulder and hurried out to silence my handsome escort.
Joe stood at the window with his back to me. The afternoon sunlight played on the highlights in his honey hair. His broad shoulders filled out his collared shirt perfectly, and the way his ass looked in those slacks was inspirational. He’d draped his gray suit jacket casually over his shoulder, and the pose made him look like he belonged in a Hugo Boss ad. I’d never met a more handsome man, and even though we’d lived together for going on eight months, my breath still caught whenever I saw him.