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2032 pages, ebook
First published September 17, 2012
'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
- A. L. Tennyson.
In the Deep South, we understand pride. We lost everything once, but by God, we held on to our pride. We heaped fuel onto the fire of it, stoked it as high as a crematorium. And we immolate ourselves on it sometimes.
Down South, a man would have draped a shirt around me. He would have taken a quick glance while he did it, I mean, really, breasts are breasts and men are men, but chivalry is not entirely dead where I come from.
I had a head of shoulder-length, tousled Arabian-Nights curls that framed my face seductively and made my green eyes stand out even more than they usually did.
A deep voice came out of the darkness on my left, marked by that untraceable accent that hinted of time spent in exotic climes. Like places with harems and opium dens.
I knew from Barrons, who knows everything about everyone, that the fierce, ruthless blood of a long-ago Saudi ancestor runs in O’Bannion veins.
He rolled hard and fast, and I was on my back beneath him, with my hands pinned above my head, the weight of his body crushing me to the floor, his face inches from mine. He was breathing harder than the exertion merited. “Make no mistake, Ms. Lane, I didn’t rape you. You can lie there on your pretty little P.C. ass and claim with your idealistic little P.C. arguments that any violation of your will is rape and that I’m a big, bad bastard, and I’ll tell you that you’re full of shit, and you’ve obviously never been raped. Rape is much, much worse. Rape isn’t something you walk away from. You crawl.”
There were cute guys all over the place, and I got more than a few catcalls and whistles. A bartender, a young single woman and a music lover, this was my element.
The first time I’d ever walked into this part of the city, I’d gotten whistles and catcalls, and had enjoyed them all. I’d been the kind of girl who dressed for attention, in an eye-catching outfit with all the right accessories.
I stared curiously, interestedly into the faces as they passed by. I offered smiles, collected many in return. I got a few whistles, too. Sometimes the small pleasures in life are the sweetest.