Sweet Redemption by Nicole Morgan

Sweet Redemption by Nicole Morgan

Sweet Redemption
Sweet Awakenings, Book 1
by Nicole Morgan

Siren-Bookstrand

eBook ISBN: 1-60601-927-9

After a chance meeting and a night of passion, Jack and Tamara find love. Brent, an ex boyfriend, isn’t willing to let her go, though, and with secrets of his own, there’s no telling what he’ll do to keep her. Will he succeed, or can Jack stop him in time?

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Chapter One

Jack Peyton closed the door to his office and sat in his chair. It had been a long day, and he felt completely worn out. Not to mention he was silently dreading tomorrow, their busiest day of the year for new members to sign up at his health club. Maybe he was still worn out from the holidays. Who was he kidding? The holidays consisted of him and his best friend, Rex, getting together, watching football, and drinking beer. There was no use in denying that he was stuck in a rut. Worse than that, despite Rex’s ability to pick up women anywhere and everywhere, Jack hadn’t had sex since Thanksgiving Day. Jack laughed, remembering that day. Only his buddy could go to the liquor store to pick up more beer and come back with two gorgeous women looking to have nothing but a good time.
Jack was still supposed to call a member back before he headed out of here to meet Rex, so he decided he better get moving. This member seemed to have a complaint of some sort, which was one of his least favorite things about owning the health club. He had bought it a little over four years ago from an old man looking to retire. It was just a weight room with a couple of boxing rings back then. But one thing that it wasn’t lacking was space. It was an old warehouse, and Jack had used a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of money to make it into what it was now. It was a full-scale, top-of-the-line health club with a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, tanning beds, and so on. There wasn’t anything it was lacking. It was also recently mentioned in a local magazine that praised it for having the largest array of cardio machines in the greater metro area. Jack had worked hard to make this club a success, and he was pretty darn proud of himself for it.
Leaning back in his black leather swivel chair, he saw the light blinking on his phone. He hadn’t remembered getting any pages. Maybe he’d just missed one. He dialed his voice mail box and entered his pin to retrieve his messages. Listening to the robotic woman’s voice give him instructions, he hit option one to retrieve the message.
“Peyton, this is Chris Barnes. Listen up, and listen good!” Did he know a Chris Barnes? Maybe he was a member.
“I found the card you sent with the money. I’ve told you before to stop sending things to my family. If you want to send a card, fine, then send a damn card. But at least have the common decency to address it to the right people. Her name is Cara Barnes, not Cara Jenkins, got that Barnes, B-A-R-N-E-S!” Oh, that Chris Barnes. Jack remembered him now. What was this guy’s problem anyway?
“We’ve been married for three years now, and every time you send this stuff it upsets her. She hides it from me because she doesn’t want to upset me also. Your gesture is causing us to fight during the holidays. We have young children. Why can’t you just leave us alone? She is happy now, she’s not sad anymore, so let us be!” Click. Jack winced as he could hear the receiver on the other end slam down with such force he was surprised it didn’t jar his own phone.
Geez, what a jerk! It wasn’t like Jack was an ex-boyfriend of hers or something. He was just trying to help out the widow of an old…well, he didn’t mean any harm. That Barnes guy obviously has just got a chip on his shoulder.
Hanging up the receiver, Jack picked it back up and began dialing the member he was supposed to call.
After he introduced himself, the woman on the other end immediately went into a greatly detailed, almost rehearsed speech about her personal trainer. He listened to the woman go on and on about how she had tried every trainer in the gym and she just didn’t feel like she was getting anything out of it. Waiting, he wondered how long it would be until she asked for a refund, which was usually the case with these calls. People would get all pumped up, pay for a personal trainer, and once the holidays hit, their excitement deflated right along with their bank accounts.
Jack was flabbergasted when she not only didn’t ask for a refund, but she asked him to train her instead. He tried to respectfully decline, telling her that he was the owner, not a trainer. Jack went on to explain how it would be more beneficial for her to stick with someone that knew what they were doing in that area of expertise.
She was relentless, not giving up her pursuit of having him as her trainer. “Are you sure? You probably don’t remember me. I could send you a picture of me. What’s your email address?”
What the hell? “Miss, I really don’t see what a picture of you has to do with you meeting your health goals.”
After an exaggerated exhale, she stopped being coy. “Okay, fine, we’ll play it your way. I don’t need a trainer, I’m very fit. But I would love a little personal, one-on-one workout with you, if you know what I mean.” Her voice took on a low and seductive tone with the last sentence.
Oh, great, she was coming on to him. He hated when women at the club came on to him. This was his business, not a dating service. He had always made it a strict policy for both himself and the staff to never fool around with the clientele. “Miss…Miss Hayworth, I do remember you.” A lie, but who cared? This was business. “As much as the idea of alone time with you is tantalizing, I’m afraid my very serious and very possessive girlfriend would shred my genitals apart with her bare hands.” Another lie. The day he ever had a girlfriend was the day Rex became gay.
“Oh, I see. Well, I’m certainly embarrassed now. Please forget about this conversation. I don’t think I would be able to continue coming to your gym if I knew you were constantly remembering how I threw myself at you. Please accept my apologies.” Her voice echoed her words. She was embarrassed.
“What conversation would that be, Miss Hayworth? Now, you have a happy New Year’s Eve, and if my girlfriend ever breaks my heart, I’ll give you a call.” Thatta boy, Jack, throw her a bone, it’s good for business.
“Really! Well, okay then, bye.” With the excitement of the hope he gave her, she hung up.
Jack shook his head. Sure, he was used to women coming on to him. Sometimes it was okay, but usually he preferred to be the one doing the picking up.
He stole a glance at his wall clock. It was a quarter past five, and time to get out of here. He grabbed his keys and cell phone and headed towards the front of the gym. All he needed to do was go home, shower, and head over to Rex’s “love castle” as Jack liked to refer to it as. Apparently Rex had picked up a couple of stewardesses who were stranded in town for the night with nothing to do. Jack laughed, Rex had a radar system implanted somewhere inside his body that only detected gorgeous, horny women. It truly was an amazing and incredible gift.
Walking out, Jack was stopped by Anna, his front desk supervisor. “Jack, where are you going?”
“Sorry, Anna. Have a Happy New Year, be safe. Good night!” Jack pushed the door open.
“But you promised.” She all but yelled it as she was staring at Jack in disbelief.
Geez, what the hell did he do now? Anna had been with him for years, and she was always like his subconscious, hard at work. “What did I promise this time?” he asked as he turned back to look at her.
She rolled her eyes at him in apparent frustration. “I told you earlier when Johnny didn’t show up that I couldn’t stay until closing. You said you would take care of it. We’re the only ones left. If you leave, then I’m stuck. You promised me after you did that last time that it would never happen again. I have two kids at home. The babysitter expects me there no later than six. If I am late, I have to pay double the hourly rate. You can’t leave. I can’t afford it!” Her words were frantic now.
“Johnny didn’t show up? When did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack was sure that he would have remembered that, wouldn’t he have?
“I did tell you, earlier, about three hours ago. And then you said you would take care of it! I tell you what, Jack Peyton. You are impossible sometimes. I have already stayed fifteen minutes past my shift, without you even asking if it was okay. All because I knew you were on the phone. I was trying to be respectful. Why don’t you try the same thing once in a while? I might be your employee, but I’m still a person with a life of her own.” She reached for her purse and swung it onto her shoulder. “I am going home and you are going to work the front desk. Maybe next time you will think before you speak, hmm?” With that remark she headed out the door.
Jack stood staring at her. He had just been thoroughly told off, and he was the boss. She stopped just outside the doors and started to come back in. Thank god, she was going to stay after all!
Anna walked up to him, patted his cheek, and said, “Have a Happy New Year, Jack. Don’t forget to lock up.” Then she left.
What in the hell had just happened? Wasn’t he the owner? Who does she think…Jack vaguely started to remember her telling him something about Johnny earlier. Damn that kid. This wasn’t the first time he had missed work either. What was his deal?
Walking back over to the counter at the front desk, Jack put his keys and cell phone in a drawer and began to look for some sort of instruction or checklist on what to do at closing time. He was sure there must be one. He remembered he’d made one years ago. Opening binders, looking in folders, and searching high and low, he still couldn’t find it.
“Where in the heck is it?” Jack was muttering to himself as a female member walked by ogling him.
A while later Jack slammed the phone down once more. He had called Johnny’s home and cell numbers and had gotten no answer at either place. He couldn’t even leave a message. There was no machine at his house, and the voice mail on his cell phone was full. It was now a quarter to six, and he was stuck here covering the front desk. What had he done to deserve this? He could be at Rex’s condo with two hot women. He was the owner of this place. He shouldn’t have to work the front desk.
The phone rang again. Did the phones always ring this much here?
“Lean and Fit. This is Jack.” Jack answered, he didn’t mean to sound so sarcastic when he answered. But, damn it, he was annoyed. When he got his hands on that Johnny…well, he didn’t know what, but he did know he was pissed!
* * * *
Tamara finished the last tape of dictation at 3:30. Since it was New Year’s Eve, most of the attorneys in the office had already gone home. The only people that were left in the office were Nina and Enrique, a very sly-looking, wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing sort of guy who was their newest law clerk. He had asked her out several times, never once caring that she had a boyfriend or that he even knew him. He was definitely the kind of man you wouldn’t want to trust with anything. She laughed, thinking it was a good thing he was going to law school to become an attorney. They were almost expected not to be trustworthy.
“What’s so funny?” Nina asked from behind her.
Nina was the secretary who had been with the firm the longest. Her hair was starting to gray near her temples, and her demeanor was sweet. Her oldest son had given her the gift of a granddaughter just one week before Christmas, and she was still beaming from it. She was always well groomed and professional looking. You would never find Nina in the brightest colors or the hottest fashions, but she had her own unique style, and it worked for her. But, more importantly, she was an extremely nice lady and always excruciatingly polite. Tamara wasn’t sure if she ever remembered Nina saying anything derogatory about anyone, well, except for some of the attorneys. But that was understandable.
“Oh, I was just thinking how incredibly shady Enrique is. He cornered me in the break room again earlier. He tried to tell me that I should dump Brent and give him a roll in the hay.” She laughed at the memory. “He actually used those exact words. I didn’t know anyone said ‘roll in the hay’ anymore.”
“Well, don’t you listen to him. That Brent of yours is quite the catch. Attractive, charming, financially well-off, and romantic.” Nina motioned towards the dozen long stem red roses that were sitting on Tamara’s desk. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been dying all day, can I read the card? I love romance. It’s not like I get any myself. You hit a certain age and it’s all you can do to lean over and kiss each other goodnight.”
“I guess I don’t mind, it’s nothing special.” Tamara really didn’t think the card was that big of a deal.
Without waiting for Tamara to change her mind, Nina ripped the card from its plastic holder. It was one of those simple little cards you get from the florist that said For You at the top of it.
Dearest Tamara,
Tonight we will be ringing in another New Year together. I love you so much. I have a feeling that this year will bring us much joy and happiness. I’ll meet you at your place tonight. I have a little surprise for you.
Forever and Always,
Brent
Xoxoxoxox
“Oh, my gosh. He is so romantic. How do you stand it?” Nina cooed.
How indeed? Tamara knew Nina was right, she knew she was lucky. Most women waited their whole lives to have a man cherish them the way Brent did her. Why was she always just going through the motions? He wasn’t a bad guy. She had really liked him when they first started dating.
When they met a couple of years ago, he had come to her office to sit in on a deposition that was taking place in the conference room. They casually bumped into each other several times over the next few months until finally he asked her out. She was excited at first. He was attentive and caring and always so thoughtful. He didn’t rush her into sex. He was almost like the perfect guy, almost.
If only there was a spark, that one that all teenage girls dream about. She had tried to break up with Brent several times over the past year. He was a charmer though. He always had a way of smoothing over it. By the time they were finished talking, she always ended up apologizing to him for being silly enough to try to end their relationship. Then he would take her to the bedroom and make love to her. That was it, though, the reason for her wanting out. It was the sex. It was so…so…boring! Brent never wanted to try anything at all. She had never even been on top. They had never even had oral sex. Hell, he never even touched her down there. It was a good thing that the condoms he wore were lubricated because she was never ready. It was like they were together for the sheer act of mating, not making each other feel good. Not once had she had an orgasm with Brent. She had become quite the actress, though. She was pretty sure that he never doubted his abilities to please her.
About six months ago, maybe longer, she began to doubt if faking it was the best idea. She thought maybe that was the problem. How could she expect him to give her pleasure if she never told him what she wanted?
One night as they were in bed, she had climbed on top of him and started to rock her body up against his. He had become rigid and tense. She remembered it like it was yesterday. At first she thought she had hurt him, but then she realized that he was shocked. He clasped his hands across her waist and pulled her off of him. When he started to kiss her and make love to her “the usual way,” she had stopped him. She told him everything that had been on her mind. She told him the things she wanted to do, the things she would love if he would do to her. He gave her a look of sheer terror. He told her he didn’t think a lady thought or talked that way and that she should go to sleep and they were to both forget the uncomfortable incident ever took place. The incident! He called her opening up to him an incident? He thought her sharing her fantasies with him was an uncomfortable incident. That had really ticked her off.
She had tried in more subtle ways to open the door to his insipid sexuality since then, but she was always shut down. His lovemaking was inattentive, slow, and lazy, strokes in and out, in and out. Sometimes it was like he was moving no faster than a turtle. Tamara ached to have hard and fast sex, the kind that turned that special area between your thighs into a liquid river of heat filled with want and lust. She needed that so badly.
“Are you listening to me, Tamara? I said I think he’s gonna propose.” Nina was almost jumping up and down with excitement.
Tamara had thought the same thing when she read the card. And that’s what she was afraid of. She knew she could try to say no. But she had a feeling that once the night was over, she would once again be apologizing to Brent for declining, and he would make the most boring love to her, and she would wear his ring.
“Tamara, I’ll finish up here. You go home early, take a bubble bath, and paint your toenails. Do something special to get ready for tonight. Pamper yourself. You are going to get engaged tonight. I can just feel it! This will definitely be a night you will never forget, ever!”
Before she could give Tamara a chance to respond, Nina was slinging Tamara’s purse around her neck, throwing her coat over her arms, and pushing her toward the bank of elevators.
Tamara got into the elevator and waited as Nina ran back to her, holding the huge vase with the flowers. “Don’t forget these. They’ll provide ambiance.”
The doors started to close, and Tamara smiled a good-bye at Nina. She knew she should be the happiest girl in the world right now. It was just sex. Why couldn’t she get over it? She should be happy, shouldn’t she?
Driving home, Tamara started to relax a little. Maybe Nina was right. She was lucky. Brent was clearly devoted to her. He would never cheat on her or hurt her, and he would provide a nice life to her and eventually their children. Brent loved her. She would just have to be content with the fact that most women would give up their right arm to be loved the way she was. She pulled into her spot and decided that Nina was right. When she got upstairs she was going to take a nice long, hot bubble bath. She would pamper herself. As far as Brent proposing, she just hoped that her heart would allow her to agree. She was sure that she could learn to love him in time and she could possibly even be happy with him. She could ask Shelby to be her maid of honor. The two of them had become so close over the past few years since they’d become neighbors.
She closed the door to her Toyota Camry and noticed Brent’s very distinctive metallic cobalt blue BMW with its tinted windows a few spaces over. How strange she hadn’t noticed it when she pulled in. She had driven right by it. Obviously he’d decided to come a bit early. She shrugged and headed up the flight of stairs to her apartment with her roses in hand.
When she got to her apartment door, she started to struggle to dig for the keys but then realized that Brent had probably left it unlocked. She opened the door and was startled to hear a banging sound coming from the kitchen. What was Brent doing in there? It sounded like he was moving furniture. Was he moving her kitchen table? She rounded the corner to the kitchen and dropped the vase of roses. The vase shattered, and glass shards went flying in every direction. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“Would you care to explain this, honey?” Tamara’s voice was as cool as ice.
Brent froze, his eyes fixed on Tamara. He stopped in mid thrust, not moving. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. His pants were around his ankles, he was holding Shelby’s legs apart as she lay sprawled on the kitchen table with Brent’s cock buried in her pussy.

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