Valentine's Day is just around the corner! I'm feeling a little generous today, so I've decided to grant the requests for another teaser! Not only do you get an entire chapter, but if you comment on this post, you're entered for a chance to win a copy of the book once it's released! Check it out!FALLING AWAY (A Falling Novel #2)
Expected Pub Date: February 14, 2013
***Note: teaser is from rough draft version and could be altered before the final version***
F five F
Ah, Christmas. Trees were blinking, sleigh bells were ringing and carolers were singing. But sadly, it wasn’t the halls I wanted to deck. That honor belonged to Robert’s mother.
“Jenna, seriously. Don’t put a silver ornament next to another silver ornament. Everyone will be staring at that spot because it’ll be the only spot that doesn’t have a change of color, and they’ll wonder what fool put those two together.”
Wow. Really? That’s the fifth time she snapped at me the past hour, and I now understood why the help they had in this house wasn’t allowed to put up the decorations. Apparently no one but Mrs. Penelope Jennings was talented enough to do it right. Even the garlands we hung had to be measured and pinned at exactly fifteen inches apart. Exactly!
Just for fun, I occasionally nudged it to sixteen when she wasn’t looking.
I was definitely gonna have to ask Issy where she kept the hidden stash of After-Penelope liquor. She was their maid, and a thirty year old immigrant from South America. Only Robert’s mother called her by her formal name, Esmeralda. And I knew there was no way in hell Issy didn’t have to drink herself to bed every night in this household.
I mumbled an apology, which of course she rolled her eyes over ‘cause I didn’t speak at a proper auditory tone. I shot a pitiful look of absolute misery Robert’s way and he solemnly mouthed, “I’m sorry.” I wanted to kill him for sitting across the room watching football while I rotted away in hell, but even Robert had proven unworthy to decorate after his many years here. I was half tempted to continue screwing up on purpose, but figured it wasn’t worth the nagging that was sure to follow. A few more hours and my servitude to the devil would be over. And I’d have Robert give me a full body massage to relieve the tension, but in this household we weren’t allowed to be in the same bedroom together. We might have sex, you know?
As if we’d want to with his mother right down the hall. The woman was a life-sucker. Trust me when I said our energy levels were at absolute zero by the time we headed to bed, so sex was the last thing on our minds around here.
My only condition for coming to Robert’s family home for Christmas was this: at no time was he allowed to ever leave me alone with his mother. To do so would mean I’d get to stab an ice pick in his eye. So when Robert’s dad tried to get him to follow him to the study to go over Robert’s finances, I knew the whispered conversation that followed involved that very request. Having been subjected to Penelope’s criticism’s plenty of times himself, I began to get sympathy glances from his father as well.
My only solace was Julie, the wife of Robert’s brother Reynold. Finally an ally! We clicked instantly when we met last year at Christmas (super joyous then too, by the way) and realized neither one of us were who Penelope wanted her boys to be with. Guess it’s saying something when both boys go with the complete opposite of their mother. Unfortunately, mumsie noticed our bonding, and we couldn’t help but notice the ol’ divide-and-conquer philosophy when it came to dishing out the decoration assignments.
Julie was already married into the family, so since I was the only one left Penelope could truly ruin, of course I got stuck with her. I just wished this freakin’ house was decorated already. Who the hell waits until December twenty-third to decorate their house when they have a huge party planned for Christmas Eve? It’s almost like she planned this just to make us suffer.
Probably her Christmas present to herself.
Four hours later my servitude was done. After dinner I kissed Robert good night and sank into the bathtub for two hours before dragging my wrinkly, over-hydrated ass back out.
I actually got to sleep in the next morning. Now that it was party day, Penelope was too focused on the caterers and waiters to notice I was missing. Robert actually came and woke me up at eleven, thinking I was never gonna come back out. He dragged me out of bed, passed me my coffee and shoved me into the bathroom. And after flashing me a super sexy grin and a wink as he closed the door on the way out, I really wished he would’ve stuck around a bit longer. I would have totally made it worth his while.
Robert and I snuck out of the house with Reynold and Julie to hit up a movie and a quick bite to eat before dressing for the party. No one wanted to be near Penelope as she constantly yelled at the guest staff, and it was impossible to lose the madness anywhere in the mansion. For the first time in days we each had a smile plastered across our face, the tension finally seeping from our systems. But all groans, moans and headaches made a sudden reappearance the moment we pulled into the drive and parked in the garage.
Robert said the party included the same people year after freakin’ year. Business associates, important clients, close friends and neighbors, and family that used the opportunity to make their obligatory yearly visit while Penelope was forced to behave in front of her other guests. Wish I had thought of that. And of course, my most favorite gal pal in the world, Anne Bridgeway, who took the opportunity to wear a dress with a plunge line that dipped all the way down to her belly button.
Hey, look at that. An outie! And it’s pierced…of course. Bet the girl had a large tramp stamp too.
It was only an hour into the party and already I was bored out of my mind. Robert and I were forced to mingle with these people, most of which I couldn’t care less if I ever met again. By two hours I needed something to refresh me. The bartender was limited on Ginger Ale so I offered to grab my own from the kitchen. Big mistake. Jenna Enemy #1 was in there and it was too late to walk back out without being seen. She forced a sharp smile as she swirled the cocktail in her hand.
“Mrs. Jennings,” I said politely, making my way to the refrigerator, determined to exit as soon as possible.
“Jenna, good. I’d been meaning to get you alone. I didn’t want to say this in front of Robert.”
“You know, it still surprises me you want to go all the way to Rutgers when Yale can offer you a better education.”
Ugh. This again? My choice of schools was such a broken record.
“Are you and Robert having problems?”
You wish, bitch. “No ma’am. I’ve always had my heart set on Rutgers. I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t follow what I feel is right for me.” I opened the door disguised as cabinetry and scanned for my soda.
“So it’s the education you seek? I thought perhaps it was because going to Rutgers would cut your drive to Penn State by two hours.”
Thank the Lord I was buried head first in the refrigerator, ‘cause there was no way to hide the way my eyes just bugged out, filled with fear over what she may know. Damn it! I knew I should have withdrawn cash from the ATM to purchase those damn tickets! I should’ve known the old crow would find a way to get a hold of Robert’s purchase information and comb through it meticulously. Damn it, damn it, damn it!
Forcing a slow breath into my lungs, I calmed my face and emerged from the refrigerator with my soda in hand. It probably wasn’t good that I wanted to smack the smug grin off the face of my boyfriend’s mother, huh? “Why would I wanna do that?”
“You tell me. Someone purchased tickets to and from Penn State when Robert was out of town at a swim meet, so I know it wasn’t him.”
Unbelievable. I crossed my arms and leaned back against the counter as I returned the chilly glare. “Seriously? You’re going through his finances? He’s not a kid anymore. He’s twenty years old.”
With a belittling expression, she said, “Exactly. And until he’s proven he can make proper decisions, I’ll check behind him to make sure he doesn’t stray off the right path. And that includes making sure others don’t compromise him as well.”
Afraid to let this conversation go any further, I silently acknowledged her statement with a tip of the head and turned to leave.
“You haven’t given me an explanation,” she snapped at my backside, raising her voice, as if it held authority and could demand my feet to lock in place.
I huffed, but I didn’t bother looking back. As I continued through the entry way, I rudely replied over my shoulder, “That’s ‘cause I don’t owe you one.”
Man I really hated that woman. Nothing I’d ever done had been good enough for her. All ‘cause of what? The fact that I wasn’t born to the right parents? I wasn’t born into a family she’d known all her life? I worked my ass off to get where I was today, and I hadn’t taken anything from her these past couple of years.
And maybe that was the problem. Thus far I’d refused their money, their connections that could get me into the most prestigious schools in the nation, and especially her neverending attempts to increase my knowledge of social etiquette. Robert’s been the one to foot the bill for what I couldn’t afford, and usually only then ‘cause he’s so freakin’ stubborn he does it behind my back. But even he didn’t borrow from his parents, living comfortably off the money his grandfather left him.
And since I hadn’t accepted anything from her, she had nothing to hold over my head. And she knew it. That’s why she was up my ass over this, the only questionable purchase I’d made to date. I wondered how long she’d been waiting for something like this to happen. And there was no doubt in my mind she’d tell Robert next. Good thing I mentioned it to him once before. The last thing I needed was him thinking I was keeping secrets.
I snatched a glass of ice from the bartender and filled it halfway with Ginger Ale, then made my way back to Robert. His back was to me ‘cause Reynold and Julie had found him. If I wasn’t so pissed I would’ve taken the time to smile over the way he wrapped her up in his arm, protecting her from the madness of this room. I sighed as I cut my way into the triangle, silently digging my way through Robert’s jacket for the thin silver flask Reynold gave him for Christmas. Appropriate gift for this household. I felt their eyes bore a hole directly into my head as I poured whatever the hell’s in there into my glass.
“You know, that doesn’t really go with Ginger Ale.”
“Don’t care.” I slapped the flask into his chest, waiting for his hand to take over, then took a few sips. It was nasty, though I’d probably think that even if I had mixed a proper cocktail. I could sense their amusement without even looking their way, but it was Julie’s eyes I met first, and she had this pained expression, like she knew exactly what was going on in my head.
Robert tucked the flask back into its secret location and tried rubbing the tension out of my neck. I sighed, shook my head and mumbled “bitch” before I took a few more sips.
“So who won the first round?” Reynold asked with a knowing smile.
“Probably your mother. She caught me off guard.”
“What. Happened?” He wasn’t so much as mad, but there was a definite tone to Robert’s words.
“She’s nosy and she thinks I’m cheating on you or something.”
“Why would she think that?”
“I’ll tell you later.” I shook my head and slightly rolled my eyes. The glass felt cool against my cheek. “That is unless your mother beats me to the punch. If she actually thinks that’s what happened.”
Now Robert was sighing.
I looked to Julie. “Does it ever get any better, or should I expect this until the day I die?”
“You could always do what we did,” Reynold cut in.
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“Move to Seattle. She hates the rain and doesn’t visit, so we only have to deal with her on lovely occasions such as Christmas.”
Hiding behind the drink she was about to sip, Julie muttered, “Probably because she’ll melt.”
I tried to keep my giggles silent ‘cause I didn’t think either of her sons were close enough to hear that, but Julie and I shared a look of camaraderie and raised to clink our glasses. “I’m gonna need your digits before we leave this place.” Gotta find all the allies I can.
“Alright…” Robert’s grip tightened against my shoulder. “We’ll catch up with you guys later.”
I waved goodbye as Robert’s fingertips drifted down my arm to my hand, then led me through the sea of people and up the stairs. Gratefully, he bypassed the media room, where a bunch of young adults our age had congregated…including little Miss Robert’s-wife-wannabe, Anne Bridgeway. I really hated how amazing she looked in that sleek, black dress, even if she was revealing too much.
A tickle of sorts fluttered inside my stomach when I realized he was defiantly leading me into his bedroom, an action his mother still forbade and would probably castrate him for. Or more likely go after me, as I doubt she’d ever do anything to her precious son. He closed the door behind us, flicking on the table lamp, which dimly lit up the warm tones of mahogany wood, silky midnight blue linens, and what I would consider these garish gold accents.
No, it didn’t look like this when Robert lived here as a kid. It wasn’t until he went away to Pennington that his mother took the fun out of it and made it seem like he’d never spent a day in his life here.
Admiring the plumpness of the bed, I meandered towards it and sat on the monstrous pillow top. Robert chose the desk to lean against, which was about ten feet farther from where I wanted him right now.
“Alright. Give it to me straight. All of it. I want to be prepared when my mother ambushes me.”
I rolled my eyes at the thought, imagining her waiting, practically itching, to strike against my happiness. I moved to sip more of my concoction but the stench was like a two-by-four to the face, snapping my head in the opposite direction. I set it down on the bedside table, sure to use the coaster in order to avoid the wrath of Penelope for making a water ring on her expensive furniture.
I sighed, then whined, “God! It wasn’t even a big deal but the woman is just so freakin’ nosy. Did you know she was checking behind on all your purchases?”
His eyes darkened when he scowled. “Really? Technically, my father was responsible for handling my trust once my grandfather died. I’ve been given a partial, but the full amount won’t come until I’m twenty-five, so I’m afraid that gives my mother some access by association. But I’m with you, if she’s monitoring my credit card statements, then we’re going to have to start buying things with cash from now on.
“What exactly did she see that upset her?”
I pursed my lips. “Bus tickets to Penn State.”
His eyes scrunched up a bit. Confused, he asked, “For you? Or for someone else?”
“For me. Remember when you came back from Bucknell and I told you I met up with an old friend?”
Uh…yeah. I told him when he was sick on purpose. Sue me – I was totally hoping he’d forget that confession.
“Well, I heard through the grapevine that he got hurt with some sort of head trauma.” I leaned sideways and allowed the side of my head to rest against the high bedpost. “When we were in high school, he was in a coma for six months before I met him at the hospital, and I knew the doctors were worried about how his brain would recover. So when I heard he’d been in another accident and I couldn’t find out how he was doing, I decided to just hop on the bus and go visit him for a few hours.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about all this?”
I shrugged. “I did, I just didn’t elaborate. I was back the same day, my friend was fine, and life went on, ya’ know?”
“Well, I guess my mother thinking you slipped off to meet another guy wasn’t completely unfounded then, was it?”
I smiled weakly, the brunt of the alcohol really beginning to daze me now. “No, I suppose not. But forgive me; I didn’t realize I needed to run all my actions through an approval process first.”
He chuckled as he rose and strutted towards me. My heart tried to amp up from anticipation, but thanks to the numbness overtaking my body, it could only sputter its excitement. “No, baby. You don’t. You’re allowed to be friends with whoever you want and see them whenever you want.” His lips gently brushed my forehead, feather-light, as his hand reached out to caress my face, stroking my cheek softly. “And don’t worry about my mother. I’ll talk to my father. See if I can’t get him to pull her rein in a bit. Months, if not years, of snooping and this is all she’s come up with? She needs to quit bugging us and let us live our lives already.
“But just in case, what do you want me to say if she corners me?”
If. As if there’d be an if. Of course she was gonna corner him.
“Wedding?” he asked.
“No. I went on a Friday and she’ll notice that. Tell her funeral. Say it was a girl that grew up in the system with me. Car accident.”
That ought to make her feel like an ass for snooping. Maybe. Hopefully? Probably not.
He nodded in agreement. The faint glow in the room really made his chocolate-colored eyes look rich and velvety, and they burned with desire for me. Heat flushed my cheeks as he finally leaned down to warm my lips with his. My hand instinctively reached for his neck, my fingernails gently scratching the buzzed hair along the bottom of his hairline. I moaned my content, and could kiss these lips forever.
And right on cue came the witch of unhappiness. The door swung open without knocking. I was feeling really groovy inside, a nice warm and yummy numbness, so her abrupt entrance didn’t faze me. Robert, however, jumped a little in surprise.
“Mom! Do you mind?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” she snapped hotly, her face filled with disgust for me.
Fuck it. I ain’t getting up. My head repositioned against the bedpost and I mentally prepared myself for whatever scolding she was about to give us.
“You know, there’s a party going on downstairs and your attendance is required. And you know my rules about bedrooms.”
Funny how she only denied us sharing a bedroom. As if we couldn’t sneak off to the media room, the sauna, or any other freakin’ room in this mansion to go at it. Maybe she kept it in the bedroom, but the younger generations tended to explore their horizons…and their sexual locations.
“Yeah, Mom. You’re afraid I’ll have sex with my girlfriend of two and a half years, whom I live with. Trust me, we don’t have to wait until you’re distracted with a dinner party to jump into bed.”
“One less chance at pregnancy, the way I see it. Now hurry up.”
That was the most overdramatic swish and turn exit I think I’d ever seen. No wonder she and Anne got along so well.
Robert was shaking his head with so much annoyance that the darkened features and pouty lips actually aroused me. “You know…” I teased, gently pulling on his tie so he’d lean closer. “Technically, she never said we couldn’t share the shower.”
Huffing under his breath, a growl rumbled from his chest before he pressed hard against my mouth, taking the very breath from my lungs. But his lips pulled away too soon. “Remind me of that when we get back home. When I’m not worried my mom will bust down the door to get in.”
He reached for my hand and pulled my reluctant feet into motion. “I wonder if we have Anne to thank for the authority sweep of the bedrooms again. Bet’cha your mom wouldn’t have cared if she was the one you snuck in here.” Sure enough, as we passed the media room on our way back down, Anne was mysteriously absent from her group of chummy friends.
Robert sheltered me the rest of the night, moving me in and out of rooms opposite his mother. I wasn’t sure if it was for my benefit, or if he feared a stand-off between us in front of their guests. Now that would be a Christmas to remember.
The night finally came to a close and only a few stragglers remained. Anne, of course, was one of them. She actually had the nerve to come up and say goodbye, pretending she had nothing to do with earlier. I’d latched onto Robert the entire night, never letting go, so she finally decided to call tonight a loss in terms of finding him off by himself.
“Well,” she said, looking to Robert and completely ignoring me, “we’ve survived yet another uneventful Christmas gathering forced upon us. Only three hundred and sixty-five more days until we have to do it all over again.”
“Oh, darn,” I lamented. “Anne, the night’s so young. Are you outie like a bellybutton already?” I wrapped my arm around Robert even tighter, who was completely oblivious to my twist of words. Anne, however, understood it completely and smirked. “Oh, well. Thanks for coming. Toodles.” I wiggled my fingers goodbye, Robert quietly said, “goodnight,” under his breath and together we bailed on the few remaining guests. He kissed me long and gentle in the hallway and whispered his love before finally parting ways. I was so ready to sleep I barely had the energy to shower before I crashed into bed.
It took me a moment to figure out what was happening when I awoke. The room was dark, and my insides were all warm and tingly, and Robert was hovering over me, nibbling on my neck. I whimpered my approval and reached around his back to bring our bodies together.
“Merry Christmas, baby.”
“Mmm…” I moaned, realizing he was completely naked between the sheets. “Merry Christmas. And if you’re staying… Best. Present. Ever.”
“Might as well. What’s she really going to do? Kick us out? Never let us come back?”
I beat my fists against the back of his shoulders and a burst of giggles erupted from my chest, Robert quick to muffle them until they ceased. “I stand corrected. Now that would be the best Christmas present ever!”
We were still chuckling as he slid off the panties that matched the satin slip I was wearing. “Shh… I still don’t want her coming in here.”
I couldn’t help it, my euphoria was getting the best of me, but when I focused my mind on the pleasures Robert’s hands and lips were creating, the giggles soon faded to nonexistence.
Did you miss the first TEASER I did for Falling Away?
When Chance and Robert Meet?
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