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Authors: Dara Girard

Tags: #romance

Playing for Keeps

BOOK: Playing for Keeps
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Table of Contents

Playing for Keeps

Dear Reader

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four


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About the Author

Copyright Information

Playing for Keeps


Dara Girard




Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Author.



Dear Reader,


Welcome to the return of the Black Stockings Society!


After writing four books in the original series, The Black Stockings Society, I had no intention of going back, but after reading your emails and letters, I was inspired and the society was reborn. But I wasn't quite sure who my first candidate would be, that was until Stacy Price came into view....


If there was anyone who needed a little magic and romance it's Stacy, a bitter divorcee who's not sure she can ever trust men again. That is until Chance Jamison enters the picture.


It's with great pleasure I return to a series that continues to capture your imagination.






Chapter One


She shouldn't have used a sledgehammer, Stacy Price thought as she heard the jail bars close behind her. Yes, the sledgehammer had definitely been a mistake. But it had just been sitting there and looked so tempting. She suppressed a smile. It had also felt good, but now she had to face the consequences. Iron bars, cold, concrete walls and uniformed guards. All because she'd lost. Not her mind, although some thought she had, but her sense of dignity. Her integrity. If she hadn't lost, she wouldn't be here, with nothing else to do but notice every shade of gray that surrounded her.

He'd won. The lazy, no good bastard had won. She hadn't expected that and she usually expected everything. Stacy prided herself on being prepared for any outcome. But that Thursday afternoon she'd sat in divorce court unable to look at her lawyer. She couldn't see anything--rage blinded her. She could understand why bulls were triggered by the color red because for a second that's all she saw. Red--blood red. Her ex was entitled to alimony
half of all the royalties from her published books. She took a moment to glance at his smug handsome face and briefly thought it would be worth twenty-five to life to get rid of it permanently. She'd supported him and his failed artistic endeavors for ten years and now she had to pay him?

She couldn't believe he'd been able to convince the judge that he'd been instrumental in her success. Success she'd worked hard for. She’d endured years of rejections, bad contracts and lonely nights until the right book--her fourth--took off. If only she could kill him off in a book, that would be cathartic, but she hadn't been able to write in months. Actually, in years, if she was completely honest. She'd gotten away with writing essays, but nothing fictional. And the joy she'd once had when she wrote was gone. She wasn't sure she would ever be able to freely write again. And now she had to pay him until he remarried, but she knew he never would. There was no incentive. She knew he'd just shack up with some lady friend instead, and they could both live off of what she had been ordered to pay him monthly. She'd been thrown to the wolves.

"We can fight this," her lawyer said. He was a tall, balding man with a limp mustache who liked wearing expensive shoes. But his tone already sounded defeatist. It had always been that way, despite the large amount of money she paid him. She'd innocently thought at least the money would motivate some enthusiasm, but it never did. He'd told her things would be difficult from the get go. "Marshall is very likable," her lawyer had said with a tired sigh, while insinuating she should raise the white flag of surrender. "And you're well...competent."

"And that's a bad thing?" Stacy asked.

He sighed again, this time pinching the bridge of his nose, as though he were trying to fend off an oncoming headache. "Yes. You're an attractive, rich, successful woman. You won't garner the same level of sympathy he will. He's charming."

Of course her lawyer didn't need to tell her that. She already knew it. She'd fallen for his charm. Marshall was always charming. Sinfully so and he'd just sent her to hell.

That day in the courtroom, after she heard the judgment, Stacy remained silent as her lawyer packed up his things. She didn't reply to his offhanded comment, about his regrets, afraid that if she spoke fire would come out of her mouth. She hadn't felt such rage since--she couldn't remember when. She didn't want to talk to anyone. She stormed out of the building hoping the cool spring breeze would help. It didn't. Spring in New York was beautiful, there had been songs written about it, but at that moment, she couldn't give a damn. The bright sun blinded her and the sound of chirping birds annoyed her. What right did they have to be so happy? Then she saw a young couple holding hands, the man bending over and stealing a kissing, and the woman laughing in return. Love. How could love turn so sour? She noticed a crew of construction workers in hard hats glance at a woman passing by. The woman deserved their look. She was attractive, stylish and young, wearing a free flowing red skirt and matching killer high heels. Stacy looked at her with envy. She'd once been like that, but Marshall had taken that carefree confidence from her. She now felt old and used up at thirty-four.

She marched down the court steps and through the parking lot. That's when she saw it. Marshall's beautiful black BMW. The one she'd bought for him. The one she'd hope would make him stop being jealous of her career. The one she hoped would give him confidence. She was always trying to build up his esteem. His damn self-esteem. It wasn't until it was too late that she realized he was crushing hers. Stacy walked over to the car, took her car keys out of her handbag and carved her name in the door then used her lipstick to write a foul word on his window. But it didn't seem like enough. It was too simple. She wanted to send a stronger message.

Then she saw something out of the corner of her eyes: A sledgehammer. It had been left, by one of the workers, leaning up against a tree. She still didn't remember picking it up. What happened next was all a blur, rage making her strong, despair making her blind. She swung at the car and instantly heard glass shattering, another swing and she heard the sound of crushing metal. Then screams of horror and surprise blended with the sound of her destruction. She didn't care. She wanted the black car destroyed, just like he'd destroyed her life, her heart. She swung again and again and again, hot tears sliding down her face, sweat gliding down her forehead.

"I think you missed a spot," a deep voice said from behind her.

Stacy spun around ready to face her ex-husband, eager to tell him where he could shove his suggestion. She looked up, then froze, with her mouth open and her eyes wide. Marshall wasn't standing there, another man was. A handsome man with a face that was vaguely familiar. He had beautiful, laughing dark brown eyes that pierced her to the very core, as if he could see all her pain. And in an instant, he made her feel okay, made her feel that she mattered when just moments ago she felt as if she didn't. She could tell he was really looking at her--as if she were the only person there. And for one wild, brief moment she wanted to pour her heart out to him, to tell him of her dreams, hopes and fears, but of course she didn't. He was a stranger, no matter how visceral her attraction was to him. Her attraction to him shocked her, because she never thought she'd respond in such a primal way to a man again.

He was dressed casually in jeans, a jacket and baseball cap and hadn't shaved in a few days, which gave him a rugged appearance she didn't mind. He also had an oddly amused expression that puzzled her. Stacy wiped a trail of sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She blinked quickly, trying to see him clearly through her tears. "What?"

"I said you missed a spot." He pointed to the back of the car. "That section still looks brand new."

He was right. She hadn't even gotten to that section yet. She walked over to that area and gave it a hard whack. Again, feeling better after the effort. "Thanks."

"No problem," he said in a cool, conversational tone. "When you're done, could you tell me what you have against my car?"

Stacy turned sharply to him. "Your

"My car."

She looked at the car then back at him. "
is your car?"

He nodded.

She licked her lips and took a deep breath hoping he was wrong. "Are you sure?"

He nodded again, but his dark brown eyes still appeared amused.

Stacy felt her stomach drop to her feet. "No, but that can't be. I bought this car. I know this car. I--" She let her gaze drop to the license plate then swore. Oh, no. She should have looked at it first. Oh god! She'd smashed the wrong car! She squeezed her eyes shut, wishing she could disappear. But she didn't. She took a deep breath and slowly turned and faced the man. She set the sledgehammer down and kept her voice calm. "There's been a mistake. I am so very sorry. I can't even begin to tell you. You must be furious."

He folded his arms, not in an aggressive manner, but in a distant observant way as if he were at an art exhibition. "No, just stunned. I've never seen a woman work a sledgehammer like that. I'm sure the fury will come later."

Stacy couldn't understand why he was taking everything so well, but didn't want his good mood to end. She frantically dug into her purse for her cell phone. "Let's exchange information and I'll pay for the damages. What's your name?"

His brows shot up. "Really? You don't know who I am?"

Her head shot up and she blinked at him, trying to place him. Damn. Should she know him? Was he some foreign dignitary? A mayor? A celebrity? She hadn't kept up with the media lately. "Of course I do," she said trying to cover up her blunder. "I'm just not good with names."

His eyes twinkled. "You really don't know who I am, do you?"

She bit her lip."Well, you do look familiar."

"Yes, I have that kind of face." He noticed someone taking photos with their camera. He kept his back to them and his ball cap down low. He took out his cell phone. "Listen, before this gets ugly, just give me your number and--"

Without warning, a booming male voice cut through his words. "There she is! Arrest her!"

The stranger in front of her swore and Stacy shifted her gaze to another man--clean cut and enraged--coming towards them with two police officers by his side.

"Lady, put your hands up," one officer said, holding a gun on her.

Stacy shook her head. "Wait, please--"

"Hands up! Don't make us ask again."

The stranger turned. "Officers."

The office kept the gun aimed on Stacy. "Sir, please stand aside. Lady, put your hands behind your head."

Stacy did. One officer, a female, spun her around to face the car. "Do you have any other weapons on you?" the officer asked as she patted Stacy down.

BOOK: Playing for Keeps
9.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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