If you woke up on your 40th birthday to a half-naked twenty-six year old stud-muffin offering to light your candles, could you say no? Nancy Tobin can’t --and why would she want to?
Cover by April Martinez
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Suddenly single on the eve of her fortieth birthday, Nancy Tobin’s not sure turning middle-aged is worth celebrating. She's stuck in a dead-end job as the boss’s bitch with only her morose Labrador for a companion. What does she have to party about? Maybe if she ignores the whole birthday thing, it will just go away.
Hot, twenty-six-year-old Jake Turner has other ideas. When he bumps into Nancy at the library, he sees a woman in need of a wake-up call. Determined to unleash the beauty hidden beneath the sad façade, he schemes to relight her spark. He wants to give her a birthday to remember but he ends up being the one who can't forget: a visit to his apartment becomes a weekend in his bed where he discovers an offbeat, unpredictable, sexually adventurous woman he never wants to let go.
With Jake, Nancy can do anything, her life can be whatever she chooses. But this new and exciting relationship teeters on the edge of destruction when her soon-to-be ex-husband reveals the reason for Jake’s initial interest in her. Can Nancy trust Jake when he finally tells her he loves her?
Nancy walked toward the library. What bright spark thought it was a good idea to build a university campus on the side of a hill and park the library right at the top? Thank God she was finally fit enough to climb the stairs without having to stop to catch her breath halfway up.
When she arrived at her destination, her first port of call was the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Sipping the warm liquid, feeling the caffeine invade her senses, she wondered what excitement the day held. No doubt it would begin with putting last night’s returns on the shelf. Then she’d be at Cynthia’s beck and call. She grimaced. They should just change her job title from library assistant to Cynthia’s bitch. She chuckled. Maybe she would suggest it at her next staff review.
Footsteps approached. She poured the last of her coffee into the sink, put her cup in the dishwasher, and escaped. Small talk was horrendous at the best of times; in the mornings, it was completely unbearable. No one gave a crap about the latest episode of Big Brother or what the weather was supposed to do all week.
Why waste your breath on such trivial bullshit?
Nancy heard giggling as she pushed her second full cart around the corner into the row she needed. She came to a halt and stared with disgust at the aisle’s occupants. The library on a Friday morning!
“Excuse me; would you like to take this somewhere else?”
The couple pulled apart, and Nancy glared at them. The boy slowly removed his hand from inside his companion’s shirt and zipped up his pants. They didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed about being caught.
The blonde piece stuck her nose in the air and barged past Nancy. Her liberally pierced male companion smirked as she dragged him along behind her. No doubt they would find some other equally inappropriate place to copulate.
Not willing to go quietly, the young girl sneered at Nancy and turned to her partner in crime. “Miserable, dried-up old bag. I bet she’s never had a man in her pants.”
Nancy shook her head. The stories she could tell would turn their hair gray, although she’d never considered screwing anyone at the library, not even in her wildest dreams. Why did youngsters assume middle-aged people had never had a life? Dear God, did that mean her parents had been like rabbits, with nothing but sex on their minds? She closed her eyes and shuddered with disgust as she deliberately pushed the thought aside and turned to racy memories of her own youth.
She’d been a typical teenage girl, her bedroom wall covered with posters of virile young men and her head full of love and sex. However, her first sexual encounter had been far from typical. Underage, she had sneaked into a club with her friend Fiona to see a local band, Freddie and the Slayers. Fiona had been madly in love with the lead guitarist, even though he had only had eyes for Nancy. A gorgeous sex god, resplendent in tight black leather pants and a loose white shirt open to the waist. His light brown hair had fallen halfway down his back in a mass of soft curls, and when he’d stared at her, his cobalt blue eyes had given the impression he could read her mind. He’d been a showman with a reputation for being a hard-drinking, hard-living whore who picked up women and discarded them wherever he went.
It seemed his reputation was well earned. Nancy still remembered the pain of losing her virginity and the humiliation when the back doors of the panel van had been flung open and the rest of the band -- and Fiona -- had stood staring at them. That was the last time she had ever seen Fiona.
The boys had chuckled and made some comment about the “shagging wagon” as the guitarist climbed off her, cock still semierect. At his request, she had written her number on the back of his hand, but she’d never expected Christopher to call. On reflection, it might have been better if he never had.
Lost in her memories, Nancy jumped when a hand squeezed her shoulder.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I spoke to you twice.”
Nancy turned around. Stunned, she stared at the gorgeous specimen who had interrupted her. Had he sought her out after their impromptu skirmish in the corridor the day before? She mentally shook herself. Get a grip. Of course not. Look at him. He was only about twenty-five, if that. Yesterday she’d only seen those big smoky brown eyes ringed by long dark lashes. They gave the impression he wore eyeliner. She looked closer. Now she could see the gorgeous eyes were complemented by a square jaw, high cheekbones, and short dark hair.
She became aware she was staring at him and the fact that he was still waiting for a reply. She smiled.
“Not your fault. I was miles away. What can I do for you?”
“Were they pleasant?”
“Were what pleasant?”
Nancy shrugged. “Not really, just memories from another life. So what can I help you with?”
“The lady at the desk told me to try looking over here for a copy of the Kama Sutra, but I can’t find it. Any ideas?”
Nancy stared at him, opening and closing her mouth a couple of times. The students game enough to check out that tome usually hid it in a pile of textbooks. They certainly didn’t accost her in the aisles and ask for help finding it. “Why would you want the Kama Sutra? What the hell are you studying?”
The young man folded his arms and chuckled. “Don’t tell me you’re a prude. Surely someone as pretty as you is a woman of the world?”
Okay, so he majored in bullshit. The reflection in this morning’s mirror pulled no punches, and pretty was stepping way beyond reality.
“Flattery will get you nowhere, young man.”
He smiled at her, his eyes seeming to twinkle with amusement. It appeared she’d become his latest plaything. The batteries in his Game Boy must have gone flat.
“My name’s Jake, Jake Turner.”
Well, Mr. Smoky Eyes had a name. It suited him. Not that she needed to know his moniker. They were ships in the night. No doubt he had some blonde bimbo tucked away somewhere, ready to scratch his itch. Nancy could see the wall clock over his shoulder. Time was marching on. Cynthia would be doing her rounds soon. Woe betide anyone caught shirking.
“Well, Jake, if we have a copy, it will be in the next aisle.”
“Thank you.” His lopsided grin made her heart beat faster. “Lovely to bump into you again.”
Despite her best intentions, her face broke into a smile. “You’re most welcome. Now move along.”
He leaned his shoulder against the shelf. “Not until you tell me your name.”
The familiar stomp of Cynthia’s size 10 shoes approached, but he still didn’t move.
“Nancy. Now get out of here before I get in trouble.” She waved her hands to shoo him along.
“Okay, Nancy. Thank you for your help.”
She watched him wander away. When he slid his hands into his front pockets, pulling his jeans tight, she couldn’t help but notice his firm backside. At the end of the aisle, he glanced over his shoulder and winked at her.
“Maybe I’ll bump into you again.”
Caught with her gaze drilling his backside, Nancy felt her face flush and turned the other way as she fumbled and dropped a book on the floor with a loud thud. She bent down and scooped it up just as Cynthia arrived in the aisle and glared at her.
“Nancy, get a move on. You’re not paid to socialize with the students. If that book’s damaged, the cost will be coming out of your wages.”
With great difficulty, Nancy fought the urge to flip her the bird, afraid Cynthia would look back around the corner and catch her. Alone again, she glanced down the now empty corridor toward where Jake had disappeared. What did he mean about maybe bumping into her again? Her heart skipped a beat at the thought that he might come back.
* * * * *
Nancy sat alone at the table near the student café. Despite her best intentions not to, she searched the male population for Jake. He must have been teasing. Why would a cute young guy be interested in her? She stared at the nubile female bodies as they walked past, their belly buttons proudly displaying all manner of trinkets and tattoos and yelling to the world, I’m young, supple, and the best shag you could ever have. She looked down at herself and saw the roll of flab above her waistband. Her body appeared to yell, I’m old and saggy and too fucking tired to care if I ever shag again. Why would he even give her a second thought? Perhaps it was a dare or a joke.
“Excuse me; is this seat taken?”
The voice dragged Nancy back to reality, and she looked up, surprised to see a familiar face. Her cheeks burned, and she struggled to speak.
“No, please, feel free.”
Jake slid into the seat next to her. “So, Nancy, we meet again. Are you stalking me by any chance?”
Nancy was quick to shake her head. While she had been hoping to see him again, she had no intention of revealing that to anyone. She could barely believe it herself. Was she so desperate for love she would latch on to the first male who showed a glimmer of interest? No matter why she attracted him, with her track record, she should avoid good-looking young men like the plague. “No, absolutely not. Are you sure you’re not stalking me? I was here first.”
His deep, sexy chuckle resonated through her. “Touché. You guessed it. Someone is paying me to follow you.”
“Well, they’re wasting their money, I can assure you. There is nothing to see here.”
“Let me be the judge of that. Did you miss me?”
Nancy tore her eyes away from his and tried to sound nonchalant. “I haven't given you a moment’s thought since you left the library.”
He put his hand over hers, and she felt the blood rush to her cheeks again. When he leaned closer, she closed her eyes. The smell of his musky cologne and the feel of his breath on her face as he whispered in her ear made her stomach lurch and her heart rate lift.
“Liar, but it’s okay. I’ve been thinking about you too.”
Nancy opened her eyes and snapped her head around to glare at him. No one in their right mind would think about her. She refused to be the butt of anyone’s joke. Her hand hovered in midair as she fought the urge to slap his face. Jake leaned back and put his arm up. Deciding he wasn’t worth it, Nancy dropped her hand and snatched her empty Coke bottle off the table instead.
She clenched her teeth. “Fuck off, you git; you’re not funny,” she spat out.
Without another word, she got up and stomped back to the library, tears of frustration stinging her eyes. Stupid, stupid woman!