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Authors: Linda Howard

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Shades of Twilight (6 page)

BOOK: Shades of Twilight
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She'd also been gloating because now she was finally going to have the power in their relationship. After years of having to sweetly kowtow to him, she'd thought she had him where she wanted him. It was humiliating to remember how she'd thought he'd be more easily handled once they were married and she had him in bed with her every night. God knows, most men thought with their peckers. All of her discreet liaisons over the years had told her that she wore them out, that they couldn't keep up with her, but they'd all said it with big smiles. Jessie took pride in her ability to screw a man into limp exhaustion. She'd had it all planned: screw Webb's brains out every night, and he'd be putty in her hands during the day.

But it hadn't worked out that way at all. Her cheeks burned with humiliation as she guided her horse across a shallow creek, taking care that the water didn't splash on her shiny boots. For one thing, more often than not she was the one who was left exhausted. Webb could go at it for hours, his eyes remaining cool and watchful no matter how she panted and jerked her hips and worked him over, as if he knew she regarded it as a competition and was damned if he'd let her win. It hadn't taken her long to learn that he could outlast her, and she would be the one left lying exhausted on the twisted sheets, her loins throbbing painfully from such hard use. And no matter how hot the sex, no matter how she sucked or stroked or did anything else, once it was finished and Webb was out of bed, he went about his business as if nothing had happened, and she could just make the best of it. Well, damned if she would!

Her biggest weapon, sex, had proven to be ineffective against him, and she wanted to scream at the injustice of it. He treated her as if she were a disobedient child rather than an adult, and his wife. He was nicer to that brat,
Roanna, than he was to her. She was sick and tired of being left at home every day while he roamed all over the nation, for God's sake. He said it was business, but she was certain that at least half of his "urgent" trips were conceived at the last moment just to prevent her from doing something fun. Just last month he'd had to fly to Chicago the morning before they were supposed to go on vacation in the Bahamas. And then there was the trip to New York last week. He'd been gone for three days. She'd begged to go with him, dying with excitement at the thought of the shops and theaters and restaurants, but he'd said he wouldn't have time for her and left without her. Just like that. The arrogant bastard; he was probably screwing some silly little secretary and didn't want his wife around to mess up his plans.

But she had her revenge. A smile broke across her face as she reined in the horse and spotted the man who was already lying stretched out on the blanket beneath the big tree, almost hidden in the secluded little cove. It was the most delicious revenge she could have imagined, made all the sweeter by her own uncontrolled response. It frightened her sometimes that she desired him so savagely. He was an animal, totally amoral, as ruthless in his way as Webb was, though without the cool, precise intellect.

She remembered the first time she'd met him. It hadn't been long after Mama's funeral, after she had moved into Davencourt and wheedled Grandmother into letting her redecorate the bedroom she'd chosen. She and Grandmother had been in town to choose fabrics, but Grandmother had run into one of her cronies in the fabric shop and Jessie had quickly gotten bored. She had already chosen the fabric she liked, so there was no reason to hang around listening to two old biddies gossip. She had told Grandmother she was going to the restaurant next door to get a Coke and made her escape.

She had gone there; she had learned early that she could get away with a lot more if she simply did what she really wanted to do after she'd done what she'd said she was going to do. That way she couldn't be accused of lying, for heaven's sake. And people knew how impulsive teenagers were. So, icy Coke in hand, Jessie had then whisked herself down to the newsstand where dirty magazines were sold.

It wasn't really a newsstand, but a grimy little store that sold hobby kits, a smattering of makeup and toiletries, some "hygienic" items such as rubbers, as well as newspapers, paperbacks, and a wide selection of magazines. The Newsweeks and Good Housekeepings were prominently displayed up front with all the other acceptable magazines, but the forbidden ones were kept on a rack behind a counter in back, and kids weren't supposed to go back there. But old main McElroy had arthritis real bad, and he spent most of his time sitting on a stool behind the checkout counter. He couldn't really see who was in the back area unless he stood up, and he didn't stand up very often.

Jessie gave old man McElroy a sweet smile and wandered over to the cosmetic section, where she leisurely inspected a few lipsticks and selected a sheer pink lip gloss, her reason for being there should she get caught. When a customer claimed his attention, she whisked herself out of sight and slipped into the back area.

Naked women cavorted on various covers, but Jessie spared them only a brief disdainful glance. If she wanted to see a naked woman, all she had to do was strip off her clothes. What she liked were the nudist magazines, where she could see naked men. Most of the time their peckers were small and limp, which didn't interest her at all, but sometimes there would be a picture of a man with a nice, long, fat one sticking out. The nudists said there was nothing sexy about running around naked, but Jessie figured they lied. Otherwise, why would those men be getting hard like Grandmother's stallion did when he was about to mount a mare? She had sneaked into the stables to watch whenever she could, though everyone would have been horrified, just horrified, if they'd known.

Jessie smirked. They didn't know, and they wouldn't. She was too smart for them. She was two different people, and they didn't even suspect. There was the public Jessie, the princess of the Davenports, the most popular girl in school who charmed everyone with her high spirits and who refused to experiment with alcohol and cigarettes the way all the other kids did. Then there was the real Jessie, the one she kept hidden, the one who slipped the paperback porn books under her clothes and smiled sweetly at Mr. McElroy as she left his store. The real Jessie stole money from her grandmother's purse, not because there was something she couldn't have -just for the asking, but because-she liked the thrill of it.

The real Jessie loved tormenting that little brat, Roanna, loved pinching her when no one could see, loved making her cry. Roanna was a safe target, because no one really liked her anyway and they would always believe Jessie rather than her if she carried tales. Lately, Jessie had begun to really hate the brat, rather than just disliking her. Webb was always taking up for her, for some reason, and that made Jessie furious. How dare he take Roanna's side instead of hers?

A secret little smile curved her mouth. She'd show him who was boss. Lately she had discovered a new weapon, as her body had grown and changed. She had been fascinated by sex for years, but now physically she was beginning to match her mental maturity. All she had to do was arch her back and take a deep breath, thrusting out her breasts, and Webb would stare so fixedly at them that it was all she could do to keep from laughing, He'd kissed her, too, and when t, she rubbed her front against him, he had started breathing real deep, and his pecker had gotten hard. She had thought about letting him do it to her, but an innate cunning had stopped her. She and Webb lived in the same house; she would be taking too much of a chance that others would find out, and that might change the image they had of her.

She had just reached out for one of the nudist magazines when a man spoke behind her, his voice low and raspy.

"What's a pretty little gal like you doin' back here?"

Alarmed, Jessie snatched her hand back and whirled to face him. She was always so careful not to let anyone see her in this section, but she hadn't heard him approach. She stared up at him, blinking wide, startled eyes at him as she prepared to go into her act of the innocent young girl who had wandered back here by accident. What she saw in the hot, impossibly blue eyes looking down at her made her hesitate. This man didn't look as if he would believe any explanation she could make.

"You're Janet Davenport's kid, ain't you?" he asked, still keeping his voice low.

Slowly, Jessie nodded, Now that she'd had a good look at him, a strange thrill ran through her. He was probably in his thirties, way too old, but he was really muscular and the expression in those hot blue eyes made her think he must know some really nasty things.

He grunted.

"Thought so. Sorry about your mama." But even as he said the conventional words, Jessie had the feeling that he didn't really care one way or the other. He was looking her up and down in a way that made her feel peculiar, as if she belonged to him.

"Who are you?" she whispered, casting a weather eye toward the front of the store.

A feral grin bared his white teeth.

"The name's Harper Neeley, little darling'. Mean anything to you?"

She caught her breath, because she knew the name. She had snooped through Mama's things on a regular basis.

"Yes," she said, so excited she could barely stand still.

"You're my daddy."

He'd been surprised that she'd known who he was, she thought now, watching him as he lazed beneath the tree while he waited for her. But as excited as she'd been at meeting him, he really hadn't given a damn that she was his daughter. Harper Neeley had a bunch of kids, at least half of them bastards. One more, even if that one was a Davenport, didn't mean anything to him. He'd approached her just for the hell of it, not because he really cared.

Somehow, that had excited her. It was like meeting the secret Jessie, walking around in her father's body.

He fascinated her. She had made a point of meeting with him occasionally over the years. He was rough and totally selfish, and she often felt as if he were laughing at-her. It infuriated her, but whenever she saw him, she still felt that same electric excitement. He was so nasty, so totally unacceptable to her social circle ... and he was hers.

Jessie couldn't remember exactly when the excitement had turned sexual. Maybe it had always been like that, butShodes of'Ttvilight she just hadn't been ready to recognize it. She had been so focused on bringing Webb to heel, so careful to indulge herself only when she was safely away from her home area, that it simply hadn't occurred to her.

But one day, about a year ago, when she had seen him, the usual excitement had suddenly sharpened, turned almost feral in its intensity. She had been furious with Webbwhat was new about that?-and Harper had been right there, his thickly muscled body enticing her, his hot blue eyes drifting down her body in a way no father should ever look at his daughter.

She had hugged him, cuddled against him, sweetly called him "Daddy," and all the while she had been rubbing her breasts against him, rolling her hips against his pecker. That was all it had taken. He'd laughed down at her, then crudely grabbed her crotch and shoved her to the ground, where they had gone at each other like animals.

She couldn't stay away from him. She had tried, knowing how dangerous he was, knowing that she had no power to control him, but he drew her like a lodestone. There were no games she could play with him, because he knew her exactly for what she was. There was nothing he could give her and nothing that she wanted from him, except for the mindless, heated sex. No one had ever screwed her the way her daddy did. She didn't have to gauge her every reaction or try to manipulate his response; all she could do was simply lose herself in the hot nastiness of the sex. Whatever he wanted to do to her, she was willing. He was trash, and she loved it, because he was the best revenge she could ever have chosen. When Webb got into bed beside her at night, it served him right that he was sleeping with a woman who, only hours before, had been sticky with Harper Neeley's leavings.


Chapter 4

Roanna stared after Jessie as she rode away from Davencourt, up toward the hilly part of the Davenport lands. Jessie usually preferred a less demanding ride, over fields or level pastures. Why would she deviate from custom? Come to think of it, she had ridden that way a couple of times before, and Roanna had noticed it but not paid attention to it. For some reason, this time she was puzzled.

Maybe it was because she still felt resentful at Jessie's last zinger, though God knows it hadn't been any worse than the usual cut at her fragile self-esteem. Maybe it was because she, unlike everyone else, expected Jessie to be up to no good. Maybe it was that damn perfume. She hadn't been wearing it at lunch,
Roanna thought. A scent that strong would have been noticed. So why had she doused herself with perfume before going for a ride by herself?

The answer dawned on her with blinding clarity.

"She's got a boyfriend!" she whispered to herself, almost overcome with shock. Jessie was slipping around behind Webb's back and seeing someone! Roanna almost suffocated on her indignation on Webb's behalf. How could any woman, even Jessie, be fool enough to jeopardize her marriage to him?

Quickly she saddled Buckley, her current favorite, and set out in the same direction she'd seen Jessie take. The big gelding had a long, slightly uneven gait that would have been Jarring to a less experienced rider but covered distance at a fast clip. Roanna was used to his stride and settled herself into his rhythm, moving fluidly with the motion as she kept her eyes on the ground, following the fresh imprints of Jessie's horse.

BOOK: Shades of Twilight
9.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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