Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with KD Wood’s Neely, Carrie, and Hayden from Unwilling.
Neely McIntire’s dreams warn her about the future but will not protect her from the danger hiding in plain sight. On graduation night, she plans to tell her best friend, Hayden Nelson, that she’s in love with him. Instead, they argue. Neely’s hurt feelings leave her vulnerable, giving her secret admirer, Andrew Huckley, the opportunity to put his mother’s monstrous plan into motion. When Neely gives in to her broken heart and pushes him away, Hayden knows he must fight to recapture the spark he felt in their last kiss. But will he find her in time to reverse the damage or will she be changed forever?
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away an ecopy of Unwilling, plus there’s another chance to enter for the $50 Amazon giftcard!
Second Hand Diamond
“Are you sure you want to shop for your Mom’s Christmas gift today?” Neely asked as she climbed into the passenger seat. “I mean, it’s sweet and all but Black Friday is kind of a crazy day to be at the mall.”
“This is going to be awesome!” Carrie interrupted with a squeal and shoved Neely out of the way. She lay pinned against the dash as Carrie climbed into the back seat. “I have like twelve coupons to cash in!”
I started to laugh at Neely’s disgusted expression but quickly swallowed it as she gave me a scathing dose of stink eye. They buckled their seatbelts, Carrie still chattering away and Neely rolling her eyes, as I backed out of the driveway.
“Yeah, I’m sure it has to be today,” I said. “Dad’s taking us to the hunting camp on the weekends so this is the only day I can go.” I made the turn onto the highway. “And I drew the short go-shopping-for-mom straw last night,” I added.
“Nathan cheated, didn’t he?” Neely asked with a smile.
“Of course,” I said. “We should all know better by now than to let him cut the straws.”
They both laughed with me at that.
“Hey, you got a jewelry story coupon?” I asked. “We pooled our money but I don’t won’t to end up completely broke on this deal.”
Carrie’s eyes grew very round in my rearview mirror with what appeared to be curiosity. When I glanced at Neely she gave me a narrow-eyed look of suspicion.
“Why would you need a jewelry store coupon?” Carrie asked as she leaned forward. “You sweet on some girl you haven’t told us about?”
“No,” I answered a little too quickly. I’ve never stared at the road so hard in my life as heat rushed up the sides of my neck. “I overheard Mom telling someone on the phone she doesn’t have one of those birthstone rings or necklaces or something like that and she wants one.”
“Ohhhhh,” they both said in unison.
The rustling of paper and then the tap of Carrie’s nails on her phone screen filled the jeep.
“Are you breaking code back there?” Neely asked with a snorted laugh.
“Hush, shopping on Black Friday is serious business.” Carrie never looked away from the screen. “Okay, start at the mall and then we’ll decide from there where else to go. I have a time sensitive coupon there that has to be done first.”
“Good grief,” Neely grumbled. “Maybe you two can do this without me.” She yawned. “I could use about three more hours in my bed.
Neely in bed. Hell, in my bed. Mental pictures of Neely sprawled under me exploded in my head before I could stop them. Soft pajamas. Warm skin. My hands buried in her candy scented hair and spread out on my pillow. Her nails digging into my back as I…STOP IT, HAYDEN!
I squirmed on the seat as my cock pulsed to life. Thank the baby Jesus for the hoodie and its extra material sitting on my lap.
Neely switched the heater off. “Your face is beet red,” she said and frowned. “Better crack a window and cool off. Can’t have you passing out at the wheel.”
I pressed the button and crisp November air swirled in and cleared some of the lust haze.
“So what kind of jewelry does your mom like?” Carrie asked.
“Th-the, uh,” I stammered. “Pretty kind?”
“Oh lord, this is going to be a long day,” Neely muttered.
“No, no,” Carried said. “I mean does she like, white gold, yellow gold, or platinum?”
“She has a white gold wedding set,” Neely said. “It was your grandmothers.”
I glanced at Neely as I slowed to take the exit ramp. Had Mom told her that? My stomach twisted with nerves. Or had Neely asked?
“Right, that’s a good place to start,” Carrie said. “Okay, swing around to the food court, there’s a big sale on white gold at Jingle Jewels and it’s between the two places I want to hit.” Carrie’s determined face worried me.
“Let me guess,” Neely said. “Right about now you’re realizing that you’ve invited the most aggressive shopper in Jones County to go shopping on the most aggression filled shopping day of the year.” Her lips twitched as she fought not to give me her classic I-told-you-so smile.
“Yeah, and I’m also starting to question my choice in smarty pants shopping partners,” I mumbled.
“Oh shut up,” Carrie said as the jeep jerked to a stop in the parking space. “Game on and you two need to focus.”
Neely slide out with a sigh. “Omigod, we’re going to have to hike a country mile to the damn door.”
We’d had to park across the street from the mall because the parking lot overflowed with vehicles. People were milling about everywhere. A hum of energy touched me the closer we got to the door.
The roar of so many voices smacked me in the face as soon as we cleared the doorway.
“Yikes,” Neely said. I paused as her hand fisted in the back of my shirt. “Don’t go too fast and leave me.”
I reached behind me and grasped her wrist. “Don’t worry, I got you.”
Carrie elbowed her way through the crowd in front of us and cut a path toward the neon Jingle Jewels sign. Neely’s fingers were cool at the small of my back from being outside but her wrist was warm and soft. My fingers wrapped completely around it and tugged her closer as people crowded against us. I didn’t want anyone touching her but me.
“Hi, I’m Haley,” the greeter who met us at the entrance said. “And welcome to Jingle Jewels. Is there something I can help you with?”
“We’re looking for a gift for his mother,” Carrie said and jabbed her thumb over her shoulder at me before turning to rummage in her bag. “You two stay here, I’m running down to Delks for that pair of boots I want with my coupon.”
She disappeared into the crowd again before either of us get a word out.
“Turn your ringer on!” Neely yelled after her.
Her hand shot up in a wave then the crowd swallowed her up again.
“I hope those sales people ate their Wheaties,” she said.
“For mom, okay,” Haley said in a voice too bright for this early in the morning. “Let’s look over here and see if anything catches your eye.” She waved an arm toward a glass case at the end of the room.
Everything glittered and burned with a rainbow of colors under the lights to the point I wanted to squint.
“It’s so damned sparkly in here,” Neely said, mirroring my thought.
“Here we go,” Haley said as she slipped behind the counter and started unlocking the case door. She took out a tray of rings, another with lockets, and a third with necklaces. “Tell me what you like.”
I fingered one of the tags and swallowed hard. “A lower price tag for starters,” I said.
Neely wandered a few steps away, curls falling forward as she inspected the case’s contents and I explained my budget limits.
Haley put the expensive stuff safely behind the glass again then moved down one case and took out a few more trays.
I nodded reading a few of the tags. “Much better,” I said and turned to look for Neely. “Come tell me which one you think she will like.”
Neely leaned on one elbow over the tray of rings, necklaces, and bracelets. “How about one of those add-a-link doodads,” she said and hooked the bracelet with her finger. “That way next year you know what you’re getting her by adding another link.”
“An excellent choice.” Haley agreed. “And we have the birthstone ones here.” She snatched another tray out filled to the brim with a rainbow of stones. “What months do you need?”
“February, October, July, September and March,” I answered watching Neely trace the links. She lingered on the purple one, my birthstone.
“Shall I wrap this up for you?” Haley asked.
“Yeah, thanks.” I took out my wallet. “Where do I pay?”
Haley waved a hand toward the back of the store. “This way.”
I made my way to the counter and waited for her to finish ringing the stuff up. Neely continued to wander among the other customers, leaning to look into cases and waving off offers of help from the other sales people. She sat down in front of the largest case with the fancy chairs in front of it since it was empty of customers. She crossed those long legs and one foot started to bob impatiently. Her curls fell over the back of the chair and she twirled one with a finger as she leaned over to look at the things under the glass.
“Here you are, Mr. Nelson,” Haley said and handed me the package. “Oh, I see your little lady has her eye on the diamonds.” She gave me a knowing smile and a wink. “Would you like to see a few of them?”
“Oh, no. I…I mean, she’s only my,” I fumbled and sweat broke out on my forehead.
“Come on,” Haley said and waved a hand as she started toward where Neely still sat. “I don’t mind at all.”
“What can I show you?” Haley asked, beaming at Neely as I reached them.
“Me?” Neely jerked up straight. “Uh, I didn’t.”
“You’re sweetheart saw you admiring and suggested we find out which ones you prefer,” she said and gave Neely a conspiring wink. “That way I can make sure he gets you the one you want when he comes back,” Haley stage whispered.
“Oh he did, did he,” Neely said and turned to give a raised eyebrow.
I’ve never wanted to be swallowed up by a floor so bad in all my life. “Neely, I-I.” I said.
“Well, let’s start with those in the back, the ones with 10K on the sticker.” she interrupted my stammer.
Neely slipped on twelve rings. One after the other, they steadily went up in price until I thought I’d vomit if she touched another one. Each diamond depressed me more and more. I could never afford this kind of ring for her. Is this what she really expected of her future husband?
“Thanks for letting me try those on,” Neely finally said with a smile. “But we have to go meet my sister.”
“Come back anytime,” Haley said as she locked the case again. “And I hope your mother likes her bracelet.
“Thanks,” I said but I couldn’t muster the appropriate level of appreciation. My chest wouldn’t expand since all the wind had been knocked clean out of me.
“God, I’m hungry!” Neely said as we exited the store. “Let’s go get a cinnamon roll. Might as well not starve while we wait on Carrie.”
I followed her quietly and let her order for me, still stuck in the funk of the experience.
“Hey, what’s up with you?” she asked as she licked icing off a fingertip.
I shook my head. “Tired.”
She watched me as she popped another piece of cinnamon roll in her mouth. “Don’t worry, your mom is going to like the gift.”
I nodded and stirred the ice in my coke. I needed to know. Better to know now but the words seemed to be jammed in my throat.
“Is that what you want?”
“Those rings you were trying on,” I said. “That what you want?”
She frowned at me.
“You know,” I said and scrambled for an excuse to be asking her this question. “I expect to be the one your future fiancé asks when it comes to what you like, me being your best friend and all.” I shrugged as if it didn’t matter to me. “Just want to be able to tell him the right thing.” When really, it was what mattered most.
“Oh,” she said and a tiny smile turned her mouth up at the corners. “Well, truthfully. None of them.”
I nearly dropped my coke. “What?”
“Yeah, those rocks aren’t me,” she said and lifted one shoulder. “I’d much rather have something like your mom’s.”
“But it’s a hand-me-down.”
“I know,” she said and leaned closer. “Do you know the whole story of your mom’s ring?”
“Uh, well.” I paused because I realized I didn’t. “No, I guess I don’t. Do you?”
She nodded. “I asked her.”
“Oh,” I said and rubbed a hand on the hottest part of my face.
“I always thought it was kind a weird she had a ring with two stones. At first, I thought it might’ve been a stone for each kid, then she ended up with too many kids and not enough money,” she said with a laugh. “But that’s not it at all.”
“And she told you the story?”
Neely nodded. “Do you want to ask her yourself?”
“No,” I said too quickly. “Tell me.” In that moment, there was nothing I wanted more than to hear what Neely thought about my mother’s hand me down ring.
“Well, the original was your grandmother’s,” she said. “Then your dad inherited it to propose to your mom. The deal was that he had to add a diamond and promise to pass it on to his son.”
“Dad has an older brother. How did he end up with the ring?” I asked. “And that’s not going to work, there are four of us.”
She chewed nodding. “From what I could gather, your aunt didn’t fancy the idea of a second-hand ring which made your grandmother like your mom best.” She winked. “So I guess you better hope your mom likes your future fiancé and your brothers fall for girls like my sister if you want to be the one to inherit her ring.”
I laughed thinking of the hissy fit Carrie would pitch being offered a used engagement ring. “But you like the idea of a second-hand diamond?”
“Well, yeah.” She shrugged. “But I don’t see it that way,” she said. “That ring has got real history. Character. A great story to go with it. Someone, more than one someone, has loved it. Treasured it and made promises with it.” She smiled wider. “I like that. Sort of makes the ring a good luck charm for the person one of you guys falls in love with.” Her smile faltered for a moment then she brightened again. “Whoever she is she’ll be one lucky girl.”
The band of anxiety that had tightened around my ribs finally relaxed and I took my first deep breath since we’d left the jewelry store. In that moment, watching her smile and the light flicker in her eyes I knew I’d do anything to give her the next chapter of that ring’s story.
“Thanks,” I said and squeezed her hand.
“Welcome,” she said and wiped the icing off my fingers from her hand with a napkin. “You have to promise to let me help you pick out that diamond for the lucky girl.”
Meet KD Wood!
K.D. Wood lives in north Mississippi with her family and a very spoiled White Waug. She creates love stories and smokin southern erotica but not your mama’s HEA. A consumer of chocolate but not spiders and completely composed of liquid awesome. When not in her office pounding the keys she can be found under a snuggly blanket, cup of donut shop close by with her nose in a book. Follow her on Twitter at @KDWoodauthor, like her on Facebook, you’ll find her neglecting her blog at K.D.Woodauthor.blogspot.com, or email her at K.D.Woodauthor@gmail.com
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Thank you KD for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
KD is giving away an ecopy of Unwilling. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What would catch your eye in a jewelry store? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways. To enter the main contest, don’t forget to leave a comment below. All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st. All giveaways are subject to LE’s Giveaway Policy.
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