"I made a chocolate cake…"

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Nobody’s Fool

The following is excerpted from the romantic comedy NOBODY’S FOOL by Barbara Meyers, released 1/6/15 from Samhain Publishing —

She heard her mother’s approach from the back door and wished with all her heart that she’d made it to her room before now. She’d rather her mother not know that she was upset, or that it had something to do with Court. From Sue-Ellen Kramer’s mouth to Becky Harrison’s ear. What would Becky say to Court? “Sue-Ellen told me Jolie was crying over you.”

Jolie gritted her teeth. No way would she give Court the satisfaction of knowing she was pining after him the way he had once pined after her. It was sickeningly ironic. What she’d wanted him to see was how great they could be together now that she was finally ready. Now that she was no longer afraid. She’d taken a chance and it had blown up in her face.

No. She didn’t care what Court said or how he behaved. He wanted her. He had wanted her last night. A man simply could not make love to a woman the way Court had if there wasn’t some deep emotion involved. She refused to believe it was possible.

Her tears had dried and a small knot of anger began to grow. If she wasn’t careful, pretty soon she’d be mad enough to spit.

“Jolie? Honey, what’s wrong?”

Jolie lifted her head and unintentionally glared at her. Her mother took a wary step back.

“What is it? What happened? Are you all right?”

Alarm covered her mother’s features and Jolie scaled her own back into a less frightening expression. She got up and wrapped her arms around her mom.

“What is it, baby?” Her mother stroked Jolie’s hair, just like she had when she’d been a little girl. It felt so good. So comforting. “Is it Court?”

Jolie nodded, afraid if she said anything, the tears would return.

“Want to tell me about it?” Sue-Ellen asked. “I made a chocolate cake earlier.”

“Do we have milk?” Jolie replied, her words muffled against her mother’s shoulder. It sounded ridiculous, but right now it felt like the most important question of the day.

“A whole gallon.” She could hear the smile in her mother’s voice and that almost made her smile in spite of everything.

Five minutes later Jolie felt like she was six years old again. Her mother had placed a square of chocolate-frosted chocolate cake in front of her along with a big glass of milk. At that age she’d believed all her problems could be solved with chocolate cake and milk.

Of course, how many real problems had she had back then? Jolie licked a dollop of frosting from her fork. “I feel like a kid again.”

“When things were much simpler?” her mother asked.

“I guess.” Jolie sighed. How had everything become such a mess? It all started when she’d told Court she’d loved him. Correction—last night when she’d told him she thought she was in love with him. Said what she meant, what she felt. Whoever said honesty was the best policy was dead wrong. All it ever did was create more problems.

“About Court…” her mother ventured.

“Mom, if I tell you what happened, can you promise not to tell Becky?”

“Sweetheart, she’s my best friend, and Court’s mother. Maybe she can help—”

“I don’t want her to know. I especially don’t want Court to know how upset I am. If you can’t do that, then let’s not even go there.”

She remembered when she’d stopped telling her mother things, had stopped confiding in her. It was the day she’d gotten her period for the first time and overheard her mother on the phone talking to Becky Harrison about it. That milestone had been personal and private as far as Jolie was concerned, not fodder for general consumption. And especially not Court Harrison’s mother!

That was when she realized her mother had been telling Becky her secrets for years. If Becky knew them all, then Court did as well.

She’d become more secretive after that, picking and choosing what she could tell her mother, never revealing her personal turmoil, never asking for advice or direction. She’d stopped being herself around her mother and then stopped being herself altogether. She told people what they wanted to hear, even her friends. If she kept her true self hidden no one could betray her trust.

Imagine if I’d told any of them that I liked Court in high school! She’d have been a laughingstock. Courtney Harrison? She could well imagine the incredulous reactions from her girlfriends at the time. The kid who edits the school newspaper? The equipment manager for the basketball team? The guy with enough hardware on his head to set off a metal detector? You’ve got to be kidding.

She’d buried her affection for Court so deep she’d forgotten it was even there. Now, when she’d found it again, he’d thrown it back at her. To make her pay for the hurt she’d caused him.

 

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