Authors: Carol Jean
Tags: #fiction, #romance, #suspense, #tragedy, #free, #woman alone, #romance adult contemporary, #two men and a woman, #woman adventure, #complete novel
By Carol Jean
Copyright 2015 SK Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced in any form by any means without the prior written
consent of the publisher, excepting brief quotes used in
This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents either are products of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
book is intended to be an adult contemporary work of fiction. It
may not be suitable for readers 17 and under.
Comments and questions regarding this book or
the author are welcome and appreciated. Carol Jean will respond in
a timely manner to each message or inquiry. Contact
His hand is steady on the
trigger of his .45. His eyes bore into hers as his grin mocks her.
She has only one bullet left. She’s calm. She’s sure. She fires. He
flies back with a shot right between his eyes, a warm rush of
satisfaction zips through her body. He’s dead. Judy takes her
finger off the trigger and a deep cleansing breath.
There are all kinds of triggers. The most dangerous
isn’t the one on a gun. It’s the sore spot in your heart,
irrational logic flaming your mind, or unjustifiable cruelty
shattering your soul that makes you pull the trigger of a gun.
“You finally out of ammo, girl?”
“That’s always my last shot, Gerry.”
“If you ever need to do that for real instead of a
paper target, you know that should be your first shot. You’d be
dead before that last shot.”
Judy pulls back the slide to check it, ejects the
clip and then throws her arms around the elderly man behind her in
a huge hug.
Concern for her creases his face more than age. She
isn’t happy that he looks at her that way, he doesn’t deserve that
stress. She kisses the top of his head. “I love you too, Gerry. See
you Tuesday.” She’s gone in seconds. The dark and dangerous are
ever-present. It’s best to keep moving.
Three times a week Judy practices to keep her
well-earned skills sharp. She’s been shooting for six years. She’s
an expert now. Gerry says so.
He helped her pick out her first gun she paid for
with her second paycheck. An ex-Marine, Gerry had taught her
everything about guns and the attitude and mindset necessary to use
When she graduated from the range to his combat
training course, he started pressuring her to enter competitions.
She quietly shook her head no, kissed him and left. They don’t talk
much but she knows his kind. Gerry is a good man and he knows when
to keep his mouth shut and when to let it go.
It is the smell of gun powder before breakfast and
the feel of cold, hard steel in her hands that really fires her up.
Competition is nothing compared to knowing she can protect
Judy believes in herself and in people who believe
in her. Two years when Gerry was struggling to pay the bills and
wanting to retire, she bought the shambling range, made Gerry a
full partner and renovated the building from three shooting booths
to a full Olympic and police training facility. The space tripled
in size and so didn’t Gerry’s customers. He has his Olympic team
now, but she’s not on it.
“Miss Mason your meeting is waiting.”
Taking her coffee mug from her new P.A. Judy sits
down at her desk and closes her eyes. The first sip of the day is
always the best. She savors it -- rich, aromatic and delicious. The
big things in life are fun, exciting and fulfilling, but it’s the
little things that make life worth living.
Charles waits until she focuses on him. “The
completed contracts are in your left. The research reports, above
them and I’ve tagged your emails for relevance and priority. Here
are you notes for the meeting.” The young man lays a portfolio on
the edge of her desk.
“Thank you Charles. The coffee is delicious.” She
smiles at him. He blushes and she wonders if he’ll make it. She
picked him from ten finalists for this job. He’s just out of grad
school, handsome, well-dressed and intelligent. He’s a year older
than she is, but if he survives working for her, he’ll make a fine
Every P.A. that made it through her training program
has done well and she’s seen to it. She has bright, up and coming
executives strategically placed inside companies important to hers
now and for the future. They’ll always take her call.
She glances at the clock above the entrance to her
office. The morning staff meeting is always at seven. She has five
minutes to finish her coffee, read emails, messages and glance over
the other items on her desk. She nods. Charles leaves.
“Good morning. It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” Judy
greets her staff as she enters the conference room. Almost as good
as her first cup of coffee each morning, the faces waiting her her
around the conference table brighten. They trust her and they like
working for her. She likes them too. If she didn’t they wouldn’t be
in this room.
“Mr. Straight, will you begin please.” She settles
in her chair for the daily department reports and gives him her
attention. She can smell the fading scent of gun powder on her navy
blue suit. Mixed with the aroma and taste of coffee, it’s her
favorite scent and the only one she wears.
“We need to respond to Highlander charity
invitation. Have you decided?” Charlotte continues to press,
wanting Judy to go to the formal event. It’s high visibility.
Anyone who is anyone in Virginia business and politics will be
attending. Charlotte believes I Stalwarts should be visible too.
However, Charlotte is insisting that Judy have an escort. That’s
not going to happen. She’s never dated. She’s never had a
boyfriend. She’ll never hang on a man’s arm for any reason.
“I’ll go. Make a reservation for one.”
Charlotte frowns. I laugh at her cute pout and face
“Mrs. Lawrence thinks I should have an escort to
give me credibility as a business person and a woman?” I tell my
staff. I have no secrets from them. They look at her startled and
then look at Charlotte.
“Miss Mason that’s not the reason, please believe
me. It’s just that this is more a non-business event. The people
attending are those that are in a position to support your
charities and it’s great for Stalwarts. Nearly all those attending
will be bringing their wives . . . or other close associates . . .
for a nice dinner and dancing and friendly and relaxed
introductions and conversations. Going single could give the
impression that you challenge the way things are done.”
I get her point. She doesn’t want her to be thought
of as power woman or a woman looking for a man with wives around.
My company is upbeat and family friendly, she thinks my going alone
will send the wrong message.
“I understand your concerns, Mrs. Lawrence and I
appreciate that you have the company’s best interest in mind.
However, this is who I am. I’m proud of Stalwarts I’m proud of what
we do and how we do it. If my going without a date reflects badly
on me or this company then to hell with them, that’s my take on
I’ve kept my voice soft but firm. This situation
comes up more often than I ever imagined. Last week I was
interviewed by a highly reputable business magazine and the first
question the reporter asked was did I have a boyfriend?
“Judy, do what you think is best. That’s what you
always do and we support your decisions one-hundred percent. If
Charlotte thinks you should not go without a date, maybe Evelyn and
I could join you or better yet, why don’t we all go and include our
Heads nod affirmative around the table. Franklin is
my vice president, the first person I hired and the only one of my
staff that calls her by her first name. He was retired and bored
and he’s become my best business friend. I absolutely adore him and
highly value his opinions and solutions.
“If any of you want to go, the company will pay and
I hope you have a nice evening. You all work hard and deserve a
night out. I’ll go alone.”
She hits the punching bag
with a quick combination and Steven has to take a step back to keep
“Got troubles Judy?” Steven grins at her with his
perfect teeth, dimpled chin and piercing blue eyes. Tall, naturally
tanned, muscular with sun bleached hair curling over his forehead,
he’s gorgeous and sexy, especially with the two-day stubble. She’s
the envy of every woman at the club that he personally trains her
and when she enters the woman’s locker room, conversation
It’s his club. He’s the best. She only works with
the best. He’s relentless and demanding. Instead of lunch five days
a week, he puts her through a routine that has the hardened male
athletes watching and shaking their heads at her effort and glad
they’re not her.
“No. I just want to get strong enough to kick your
She loves to hear him laugh. Steven doesn’t laugh
often, but when he does its hearty and musical. “Three miles and
cutoff ten seconds and then hit the showers. I’ll get your lunch
“I thought you were going to spar with me?”
“Another time, you’re too much woman for me today. I
had a great date last night and I don’t want to be embarrassed in
front of the guys.”
She’s showered and back in her navy blue suit
drinking a disgusting gray/green sludge while Steven sits and
“You’re loosing weight, Judy. What gives?”
“Busy.” She pushes the half finished drink away.
“Are you trying to kill me with this stuff? I do have to go back to
work you know and my breath is going to smell like this. What’s
wrong with French fries every now and again?”