FACE TO FACE
BY ARIANA GAYNOR
After four years of constant instant messaging and video chats, Jess Thomas is ready to meet Ash James in person.
Too bad he isn’t on board with the idea.
But when she’s offered the job opportunity of a lifetime, and it just happens to be located in his town, she’s ready to tempt fate. Fate is fickle though. If you don’t move at her speed she’ll give you a good push.
A woman in distress doesn’t sit well with Ash, and the one being accosted is the last person he expects to see. At least not on this side of a computer screen.
Jess’s first in-person meeting with Ash doesn’t go exactly as she hoped. Will he let her explain herself when their paths cross again and forgive her?
Does their future stand a chance?
“Dan, you need to move your hand.”
He pawed at her as soon as they got around the corner of the building, into the shadows. “Stop it, Dan. Go home. This isn’t happening, not tonight, not ever. Am I being clear enough for you?”
She heard people leaving the bar next-door and hoped the interruption would make Dan give up. Apparently, he wasn’t bothered by the possibility of being caught assaulting someone. He continued to push her, trying to get under her jacket.
“You don’t mean that, doll. We clicked, didn’t we? We just need some privacy to get to know each other better.”
She pushed at him, trying to shove him away. “Knock it off, you asshole. I said no, and that’s what I meant.”
“Hey, buddy, the lady said no. Back off!”
The deep voice booming from behind Dan was all too familiar. Oh shit! Just the person I didn’t want to run into. Jess had to think fast, she had to find a way to get out of the situation unseen.
“Mind your own business!”
“The lady said no, you need to move on, or I’ll make you move on.”
“Buddy, you need to leave us alone. We don’t need you butting in where you aren’t wanted.”
“I think we need to let the lady decide what she wants. Ma’am, now’s the time to leave if you’re going to.”
Ash walked toward them, and Dan dropped his hold. Jess took advantage of Ash’s interference and backed a few steps deeper into the shadows—hoping Ash couldn’t see her.
Keeping her voice a little gruff, she hoped he wouldn’t realize who she was. “Thanks, mister.” She took off for her car as fast as she could without running. She had to get away in case Ash walked to the back of the lot to make sure she got to her car, which is something she knew he would do.
Ash’s voice carried across the parking lot. “You better get out of here, before someone calls the cops. Don’t try to follow her either. I’ll be waiting for you to leave.”
“I’m going, asshole. The bitch isn’t worth my time anyway.” Dan stormed off to his car, gunned the motor as he started the engine then quickly tore out of the lot.
Jess tried to get her hands to still so she could get the key in the ignition of her vehicle. They weren’t cooperating. “Shit, come on, get yourself together. If he sees you, tonight is only going to get worse.” Talking to herself seemed to work. She slid the key into the slot, turned it smoothly, and the motor started immediately. With a quick look in her mirrors, she put the car in reverse.
Bam! The sudden stop confused her at first. Looking into her rearview mirror again, she saw the rear end of a truck illuminated in the red glare of her taillights. “Where did he come from?” There hadn’t been anyone behind her when she put her car in gear.
“Perfect!” She dropped her head to the steering wheel. “This is just wonderful. What else can go wrong?”
Tap, tap, tap. “Ma’am, are you okay?”
Oh my God, there is what else can go wrong.
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Ariana Gaynor has worked in the literary industry for fourteen years.
She spends her time in Central Ohio, loving her kids, along with her dog Shadow, lizard Izzy, and helping other authors.
Once the house is quiet and work is over she spends her time writing.
She started reading her mother’s Harlequin and Silhouette romances in junior high, and then moved on to horror and suspense stories from Edgar Allan Poe, Steven King, Clive Barker, Ann Rice, and James Patterson.
Sewing, crocheting, and knitting are a few hobbies she enjoys.
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