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Claiming Tuesday (The Next Generation #4)
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Tuesday Knowls is done. Once burned, twice shy. Twice burned? Game over. On the outside Tuesday has it all. She comes from money, she’s a beautiful runway model, her smile comes easy, and she’s quick to laugh. But looks can be deceiving. Inside, she’s lost and lonely. So when the smokin’ hot firefighter swoops in with his sweet talk and promises, she decides to be the one who uses, for once.
Jackson Clark is a man who knows what he wants. And he wants Tuesday. He sees past the beautiful façade she shows the world straight to the pain she hides. When Tuesday offers him a friends with benefits arrangement—minus the friendship—he has no choice but to accept her offer. He’s willing to do anything to get close to the elusive woman and show her he’s worth the risk.
When Tuesday starts getting presents from a secret admirer, she goes into a tailspin. She’s been down this ugly road before and she knows how it can destroy her life.
Can she really trust that Jackson is the good guy in this mess? And, if he is, will she realize in time that not only will he protect her heart, but he might just save her life?
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“Tuesday! Put that down,” my mother snapped.
I looked down at the donut in my hand and wondered what Mother would do if I quickly shoved the chocolate frosted goodness into my mouth. I bet she’d run across the room and tackle me before the delectable cream filled pastry passed my lips. The thought made me smile, and I didn’t have much to smile about those days. Nothing would give me more pleasure than a wrestling match with my mother, all in the name of milk-chocolate-covered-fried-dough-confection treats.
Gladys Knowls did not run and she certainly didn’t tackle.
That would be unladylike.
“What will one treat hurt?” my dad asked her.
“She has a fitting this afternoon before we leave. The five extra pounds she has on now is enough.”
My dad’s face got red, though he wouldn’t argue further. He never did. My mother’s word was law. The only person she couldn’t boss around was my grandmother. Gladys was no match for my dad’s mom, Patty. My grandmother had politely put her in her place for years. She was also one of the two people in this world that loved me, her and Pop, that was it.
I put the donut down, knowing there was no use trying to sneak it. My mom had already counted the delicious looking pastries. She counted everything in the house. I had to be weighed first thing in the morning and again before I went to bed. If the scale moved, Gladys would check my food journal and adjust it accordingly. At some point, all I’d be left with was a handful of nuts.
“Tuesday. Finish gathering your belongings. We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
Always barking orders. Giving commands. Would it kill her to say please?
“Are you sure this is necessary, darling? She’s already missed a month of school.”
“What else would you have her do, George? She’s not very smart, average grades are not going to get her into a good university. Where will she go? Embarrass the family name and attend a community college? Unless you want her living off us or your parents’ money for the rest of her life, this is all she has.”
“Don’t argue with me, George. Modeling is the only thing she’s good at. Agents take one look at her and fall over themselves to book her. She pulls in top dollar.”
My mother was right. I was an average student and casting directors would pay top dollar.
That was the sum of my worth.
A golden ticket for my mother.
I gripped my steering wheel and slammed on the brakes. Rubber was burning, and I waited for the sound of crunching metal but, thankfully, I barely kissed the bumper of the canary yellow Porsche 911 in front of me.
Incidentally, the car had braked to avoid hitting a goddamned squirrel. Normally I would have applauded the driver’s efforts, even admire saving the furry, little rodent’s life. But, hello, you didn’t go from sixty to zero in three point five seconds, in traffic, on a busy road.
I’d been too busy rolling my eyes at the Porsche’s “all-mine” vanity plates, which had now disappeared from my sight considering our bumpers were touching. His very expensive one to my not so expensive one, I’d completely missed the car behind until the sound of squealing tires had my eyes going to my rearview mirror and . . . bam! There went my back bumper. Well, fuck me running. Metal crunched, my body jerked, and I was really unhappy I was now paying for more than a scratch on the luxury sports car. The bumpers were no longer kissing, they were making-the-fuck-out.
I hoped the furry, little fucker that had scampered away unscathed had a nest full of baby squirrels because this was not how I pictured my Monday. The banging on my window pulled me from thoughts of nests and really bad Monday mornings, and I found Mr. 911 standing outside of my car with his arms crossed over his suit jacket looking pissed.
Pissed? At me? Um. No.
He yanked my door open, I jerked back in surprise, and he immediately laid into me, “I hope you have insurance.” He pointed to his Porsche. “Do you have any idea how much that’s going to cost?”
Yes, douchebag, I know you drive an expensive car.
“You better have fucking insurance,” he snapped.
Maybe I’d bumped my head really hard and was hallucinating.
“Are you listening to me?”
Was he for real?
He was standing on a busy road yelling at me for scratching—okay, it was more than a scratch—his precious Porsche, as cars were trying to maneuver around the accident that he’d caused. It was morning rush hour and there were a lot of damn cars, not that he cared. All this asshole was worried about was a hunk of yellow metal.
It was then I took the man in. Really looked at him, from top to toe, and I understood his need for a flashy sports car. If a man was ever trying to compensate for a small penis, it was Mr. 911. He was short, had a gut, and was balding. Yeah, he needed the Porsche to get laid. Asshole.