Desperate Hearts by Lani Aames by Lani Aames - Read Online

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Resumen

Talley Robinson has returned to her hometown and the childhood sweetheart she left behind, Mitch Holloway. They renew their relationship, but Talley insists they take it more slowly this time. Unexpectedly, another man enters Talley’s life and heart—tall and rugged Mace. Talley must choose between the sweet and familiar love she has for Mitch and the wickedly playful and passionate love she develops for Mace. Some choices come with a price.

Contemporary romance novella, approx. 33,000 words or 110 pages.

Desperate Hearts was previously published.

Publicado: Silver Heart Books on
ISBN: 9781497788275
Enumerar precios: $3.99
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Chapter One

Talley Robinson snatched up a towel and scrubbed at the spotless bar. Serving drinks at The Rusty Rose was a lonely way to spend Saturday night, but the pay was decent, the tips good, and at least she wasn’t home alone wishing she could be with—

The front door opened with a loud creak that cut through the jukebox music. She waited, almost breathlessly, until the customer entered. As far as she could tell, no one else noticed the door and who would come through. Her fingers clenched the towel tightly until the moment he stepped in…but it was only Henry Davis.

Throwing the towel aside, Talley let her breath escape in a rush. This wasn’t good, waiting for the creak of the door, holding her breath until someone came through, only to find it wasn’t who she wanted it to be, needed it to be.

Kim rushed up to the bar with a couple of empty mugs. Two more, she called out. God, they’re getting an early start tonight.

Talley took the empties and started filling fresh mugs with draft, tilting the glasses to keep the head as small as possible.

When’s Jeannie coming in?

A couple of hours, Talley said after glancing at the big Bud clock on the wall behind the bar. I can give her a call. She won’t mind coming in early.

Good. They’re getting on my last nerve.

Kim took the mugs away and Henry ordered a beer. After serving him, Talley phoned Jeannie who pretended to be inconvenienced by having to come in early but agreed nevertheless. Talley knew she could use the extra money. Jeannie had it tough with two kids and no husband.

The creak of the door sounded again, but Talley refused to look in hopeless expectation. She jerked up the towel and wiped away the little drops of condensation from the can she’d served Henry. She wouldn’t look as she tried to let go of the hope that settled in her breast, very close to a heart that sometimes felt it might split right in two.

Talley.

Although he spoke quietly, she heard her name and turned her eyes up to see. He was part of what she wanted and needed. She smiled at him even though it was impossible to have it all.

Hi, Mitch, she said loudly. Her voice didn’t carry like his, wouldn’t undercut the music so he could hear. He had a deep, rich speaking voice that was mesmerizing when he sang. She stepped over to him, the bar between them, and leaned across.

He kissed her, his fingers splayed along her neck, his thumb at her ear, a familiar gesture that went along with most of his kisses ever since they were kids in high school. They were now twenty-three, their history long and varied, sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter. Now, at this particular time in their lives, it was turning sour—only Mitch didn’t know it and Talley couldn’t find the words to tell him.

When do you get off? Mitch asked when he’d ended the kiss that was sweet and warm and held so much promise. He left his hand where it was, his fingers massaging her neck, his thumb tickling her ear.

At midnight, when the doors close. You know that.

Think you can get off early?

She shook her head. The crowd’s kind of wild tonight. I had to call Jeannie in early. Too bad you couldn’t play this weekend. Then you wouldn’t be here pestering me.

Mitch grinned. You love for me to pester you.

Do I? Talley smiled teasingly and kissed his full sensual lips. Mitch Holloway was a handsome man with a dark complexion, high cheekbones, and black brows arching over startling gray eyes. His thick black hair curled at the ends. A nuisance, he claimed, but it looked nice. He’d been a good-looking boy, but the past six years had given him a maturity that could take a woman’s breath away.

It really is too bad we couldn’t play. We need the money and the exposure. Mike had to go out of town and Bonnie’s mother is sick.

You never did tell me, is it serious?

He shrugged. I don’t think so. She has these spells from time to time. Bonnie feels better staying with her.

Although Talley hadn’t seen Mrs. Cleary since her return to Randolph a year ago, she remembered her as a pale, nervous woman and always wondered how she could have produced the vivacious and vibrant Bonnie.

I thought we might have supper at Joe’s Bar and Grill.

Sounds nice, but I don’t know. Jeannie should be here in about ten minutes. If the crowd thins out, maybe—

Someone called for a refill and Talley reluctantly left Mitch’s caress. One led to another and Jeannie had arrived before Talley had time to fill a mug and set it in front of Mitch.

On the house, but don’t tell Dylan.

One day, sweetheart, you won’t have to work behind a bar ever again.

Actually, I enjoy working at the Rose, Talley said and took up the towel again.

When The Cold Creek Band hits it big, you won’t have to work at all.

Mitch—

I know it’s a dream. He scowled. A pipe dream, Dad calls it, but I know we can make it. It’s just gonna take some time.

I don’t doubt you’ll make it. You know I’m behind you one hundred percent. Your father is wrong, you know. You’re good enough for the big time.

Yeah, but he doesn’t see it. He won’t even come and watch us perform.

He loves Shady Hollow.

That he does. More than me, I think.

Not true, Mitch. He wishes you had more interest in it, that’s all.

Well, I don’t. If I have to play in dives half the size of the Rose the rest of my life then I’ll do it. Mitch frowned and fingered the drops of water sliding down his glass. I think something’s wrong.

With your father?

The farm, I guess. He’s been awful moody lately. Well, worse than usual. He’s been back and forth to Memphis for three days now. Whatever’s wrong, he’s not talking to me about it.

Why don’t you talk to him?

And get my head snapped off? No thanks. I’ll help him any way I can—he knows that—but I can’t make that farm and raising cows my life. So he cuts me off from it all.

Talley frowned and wiped the bar again.

You know how he is. He’s a tough, stubborn son of a—

Don’t, Mitch.

Who thinks if it’s not done his way then it’s not worth doing at all. I can’t turn my back on my music any more than he can turn his on Shady Hollow.

I know it hasn’t always been easy for you, but he must be a good father. Look how you turned out. You’re a good man.

Mitch smiled bitterly and shook his head. No thanks to him.

You know you don’t mean that.

You know I do.

She frowned at him.

Whatever I am is because my father isn’t.

Talley continued to wipe the bar although the drops were long gone. Anything happening in Memphis?

Mitch talked, but Talley only half-listened. She had lived in Memphis a while before deciding to return to Randolph. Talley’s parents had divorced when she was ten. Her father was a drifter, and she rarely heard from him now. Her mother had dated, but never seriously until she met and married Frank Wilson. Because of Frank’s job, they moved every few years. The last time Talley talked to her mother, she said Frank had been transferred to Knoxville and they would be moving in the fall.

Over the years, Talley had followed along to stay close to her mother and half-sister, but she couldn’t imagine ever moving again. She wanted a more stable life. Early last year, Frank’s job brought them to Memphis, near the town where she grew up, and she decided to move back home to Randolph. Over the years, she hadn’t forgotten Mitch and how much she had loved him. If Mitch was still free, she had hoped they could recapture what they’d once shared. They had begun dating again six months ago, but in the last three months her life had become more complicated than she’d ever dreamed possible.

If she had any sense at all, she’d be in Memphis now. Unfortunately, she was human, her choices made from her heart, not common sense.

The evening was long, and the crowd swelled, keeping Kim, Jeannie, and Talley busy. When Talley took a break she found Mitch playing pool in the back room. They settled into a corner table and he put his arm around her, nuzzling her ear with his tongue. Talley laughed and pushed him away. It was a gesture that sent a chill down her spine and a throb through her belly, but she ignored it. He settled at her side again, kept his tongue to himself, but his fingers played along her arm.

What’s the name of the club in Memphis you’re going to play?

Mitch told her and became lost in the talk of his music. She didn’t have to respond or even really listen. Mitch did all the talking. She hated using the ploy, but sometimes she didn’t feel like talking and any question in connection to his music took care of the conversation.

A slow, romantic song came on the jukebox and Mitch jerked his head toward the dance floor. Wanna dance?

Sure.

Before Mitch could stand, Jack Sandler caught her hand and pulled her to her feet. Talley tried to pull free of his grasp but his hand crushed hers. She could have made a scene, but Jack and his buddies were drunk and she wanted no trouble. She just shrugged at Mitch’s glowering face.

Talley was almost disappointed when Mitch didn’t come to her rescue. Not that Jack was a real threat even if