Sure Thing chapter one


ISBN 9781419914829


Sure Thing Copyright © 2007 Lorie O’Clare

Note: All Lorie O’Clare books are meant for readers

who are 18 years of age or older.

Chapter One:
Joanie Showalter looked down at her hands. Her knuckles turned white as she held on to the banister.
“I’d like to be civil about this. We can still be friends, you know.” Tommy Showalter fingered the mail and then picked it up off the vanity just inside the front door where Joanie always left it for him to see. “And I’d like to keep the house, which is best since your income couldn’t handle the mortgage. If you need help finding an apartment, let me know.”
She stared after him when he walked through the entryway toward his den.
Divorce? No way. Not them.
Tommy closed the door to his den, leaving her standing on the stairs, unable to let go of the banister. He started talking to someone on the phone. Her thoughts rumbled too loud in her head for her to concentrate on what he was saying.
Emotions should be pumping through her—pain, humiliation, fear, outrage. Anything. She searched her mind, waited for her gut to turn to a rock of dismay. Nothing. Suddenly she was at the top of the stairs and she didn’t remember climbing them. This staircase always did suck. It twisted. There were no outlets near it. It made it impossible to vacuum. And white carpet—white carpet that her vacuum wouldn’t reach. She hated this house.
Heading down the hallway toward the master bedroom, she glanced at the two other bedrooms. Wasted space. Tommy had a vasectomy two years into their marriage.

Kids just aren’t for me, Joanie.
Her mom had told her that was a bad sign. She’d ignored the comment. And what did they do with these bedrooms? Nothing. Not a damned thing. Neatly arranged with furniture to make them appear like rooms that served a purpose. The only purpose they served was extra space for her to clean.
He could have the damned house.
Sinking onto their king-sized bed—another joke, like they ever used it for anything but sleeping—she slowly picked up the phone on her nightstand.
There was a dial tone. The last thing she wanted was to hear who Tommy might have been talking to, who he might have told with relief that he finally asked his wife for a divorce.
“Jenny?” Joanie was surprised at how calm she sounded. Where were the hysterics?
“Hey, Sis. I’m headed out the door. What’s up?” Her sister was always running at a hundred miles an hour.
“Tommy just told me he wanted a divorce.”
Silence. Dead silence. She didn’t want her sister to be quiet. Her sister was never quiet. Again she searched her own thoughts. The pain would hit her any minute now.
“I know a good lawyer, a girlfriend of mine. You remember April Wright?” A loud, clamoring sound rang in her ear from Jenny’s end. “Sorry. Dropped the phone. This is a good thing, right?”
Jenny never had liked Tommy. Actually, no one in her family cared for him. Even now, after being informed he wanted her out, Joanie wondered why. God, she should be committed. He offered no explanation. Just simply, I want a divorce. Was she supposed to ask for the explanation? God. How did one go about doing this divorce thing? Other than the lawyer, paperwork, what was she supposed to say to Tommy? Weren’t there things he should be saying to her?
“I don’t know how to feel about this,” she admitted honestly. “We were leaving for our anniversary cruise on Monday.”
“Oh that’s right. I forgot all about that. God. I can’t find my keys anywhere.” Her sister would lose her head if it weren’t attached.
“I’m kind of lost right now too,” she confessed, knowing even though her sister was a scatterbrain, she was a good person to talk to. When times got hard for either one of them, they’d always been there for each other.
“That’s just because you’re scared to admit how happy this makes you. I’ve got to run and get the twins from school. I’d call you, but I forgot to charge the cell phone. Give me thirty minutes, okay? And don’t worry. This is a good thing. I promise. I love you, Joanie.”
Her sister hung up without saying goodbye, an action that would piss Joanie off if anyone else did it, but that was Jenny. Her heart was in the right place—it was everything else that she couldn’t keep organized.
She stared around the only bedroom she’d known for the past ten years. Well, almost ten years. They’d moved into this home after returning from their honeymoon. Next Monday would be their tenth year wedding anniversary.
Her gift to Tommy—a cruise along the coast of Alaska, an escape from all their cares and time to get to know each other again—was something she’d planned for months. It was such a big deal that she couldn’t make all the arrangements without confiding in him her plans. On their tenth year wedding anniversary they would embark on a cruise together, something she’d thought both of them dreamed of doing.

You’ve been living with a stranger for years.
His footsteps sounded on the stairs and she frantically tried to look busy doing something, anything.
“Why did you book nonrefundable tickets for that damned cruise?” he asked, pushing the door open and scowling at her.
There were streaks of gray highlighting his black hair. Crow’s feet that once she thought were sexy now looked like wrinkles. When did he start looking so old? Her gaze fell down his starched shirt, the tie that he’d loosened since he got home and his perfectly pleated pants. Suddenly his anal-retentiveness made him look like a geek, an aging geek.
“Because I didn’t plan on refunding them,” she said, holding her head high. Staring into those cobalt blue eyes, suddenly she had the urge to laugh.
She sure hadn’t expected the first emotion that would hit her to be humor. She cocked her head and bit her lip to keep the laughter in. God, she almost failed. Nothing here was funny. Tears would be more appropriate. Anger, remorse, sadness—but laughter? She was insane.
“Well I won’t pay for the full price of them. And don’t expect my half out of the next paycheck. Where are the tickets?” He held out his hand.
She studied his perfectly manicured fingernails.
“You want the tickets? Both of them?” The urge to laugh faded. There was the ball of apprehension that she’d anticipated slowly forming in her gut. “What are you going to do with the tickets? You just said they aren’t refundable.”
“Which is why I sure as hell don’t plan on letting them go unused.” His expression didn’t change. “I need the tickets.”
“Who are you going to take with you?”
“That’s none of your business.”
The rock in her gut turned into a boulder. She didn’t realize she’d stood until she plopped back down on the bed.
“You’re going to take someone else with you on our anniversary cruise?”
“It’s not our anniversary cruise if we’re getting a divorce. Now where are the tickets?”
She swallowed the lump in her throat. Her eyes suddenly burned. But it wasn’t sadness like she’d thought she’d experience. Hardcore anger rose like bile and burned her tongue.
“I’m going on that cruise,” she spit out, deciding at that moment she’d be damned if he took someone in her place. “You can’t have them.”
Tommy stared at her for a moment, his lower lip twitching the way it always did when he was angry. He lowered his hand, fisting both of them against his hips. His gaze traveled down her, and she looked away from him, focusing on a picture of the two of them at his family reunion the previous year. Arm in arm, they smiled for the snapshot she’d put in a silver frame and placed on her nightstand. He sure as hell had aged a lot in a year. And she, dressed in her leggings and a long t-shirt—perfect attire to hide her growing gut. Her hair was down in the shot, blowing around her face, a mixture of blonde and brown, while she grinned like an idiot at the camera. How many times had Tommy suggested that she choose a shade and dye her hair either blonde or brunette? At least her unique hair color didn’t have any strands of gray.
“Don’t expect me to reimburse you for them.” With that he turned and left her, closing the door silently behind him.
She fumbled with the bun that held her hair neatly in place behind her head. Squeezing her burning eyes shut, she waited for the tears to fall, but they didn’t.
Throughout the week and into the next, between work and moving what few things she wanted out of the house into a storage unit, she didn’t cry once.
“I still can’t believe you didn’t take more furniture.” Jenny slowed for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exit, cutting off another driver when she hurried into the lane they needed.
Joanie played with her purse in her lap, staring at the ticket for her cruise. It had been insane burning the other ticket, insane and more fun than she’d had in a long time. It had left a nasty stain in the kitchen sink. Damn Tommy’s luck.
“Your lawyer told you it would be harder to get items back later once the divorce proceedings start.” Jenny could remember every detail of conversations she’d had over the past month but couldn’t seem to wear matching socks. “And since he’s had that bimbo starting to move her things in—”
Joanie cut her sister off. “He filed for divorce before he even told me about it. And there’s furniture in my storage unit.”
She didn’t want to hear about Melanie Upright, her husband’s legal assistant. Joanie had gone to Tommy’s law firm after leaving her work more times than she cared to remember, helping him catch up when Melanie couldn’t get the work done. Obviously Melanie hadn’t been there to assist him with legal matters.
Many of her things—her hope chest, the old kitchen table her grandmother gave her when Joanie was in college—had been in storage throughout their marriage. She should have taken the hint, should have seen what everyone else saw over the past ten years. Tommy insisted she work while he went to law school. She’d kept them afloat with her legal secretary position when he’d first opened his own firm. When he started creating a client base, he’d hired his own staff, insisting they’d do better if they didn’t work under the same roof. She’d been a necessity while he slowly climbed the ladder of success.
Jenny grunted and stopped at the booth to get her ticket before entering airport parking. She honked and yelled at the driver next to her while speeding up to push her way into traffic. Joanie learned a long time ago not to look out the window when her sister drove. Helped keep her sanity in check.
At her terminal, Jenny double-parked and then popped the trunk before hopping out to help Joanie with her luggage.
“I’m jealous, you know.” She lifted the two suitcases out and handed them to Joanie. “I’ve never been on a cruise.”
“I offered to let you go with me.” Although privately she’d been glad when her sister told her there was no way her husband would survive with the twins while she was gone.
Jenny had found the perfect man. Ralph Clark was more disorganized than Jenny. Overweight with a laugh that made his gut jiggle just like Santa Clause, he adored the ground his wife walked on. She and her sister had married the same year, and still Jenny and Ralph acted like two kids head over heels with puppy love. Tommy had always found it disgusting. Like a good wife, she’d agreed with him, content that Tommy never laid a hand on her in public. Looking back, she couldn’t remember when he’d last touched her privately either. Sex had become something she only dreamed about.
Jenny pulled her sister into a hug, kissing her fondly on the cheek. “Go get yourself laid, Sis. You deserve it more than anyone.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask if her sister read minds. Instead Joanie kissed her in return, enjoying a moment of public affection that Tommy would have groaned over. No longer did it matter what the jerk thought. All that mattered now was what she thought. And Joanie didn’t see anything wrong with enjoying life and what it would offer.
Maybe at thirty-five she was getting old and run-down. By the time she got off her plane, made it through the airport to the shuttle with barely a minute to spare and then waited an eternity to board the cruise ship, all she wanted to do was find her cabin and take a nice, long nap.
“Like hell you’re going to stay in your room and do nothing for the next two weeks.” She looked around the small compartment that would be her home for the duration of the cruise.
Instantly she knew Tommy would have hated it. The double bed was hard and there was only one closet. The attached bathroom wasn’t much bigger than the closet. One small, round window looked out onto an endless ocean. She stood on tiptoe and gazed outside for a moment.
She was in for an adventure. Never in her life had she done anything like this. No plans, no arranged itinerary, just kicking back for a couple weeks and floating around on the ocean. She grinned, resting her chin on the cold metal, circular windowsill. There were no memories of the last time she’d done whatever the hell she wanted to do.
“So what do you want to do?” She turned around, looking down at her unpacked bags.
The first thing Tommy would do was unpack and organize their clothes neatly in the closet so they wouldn’t get wrinkled. Her grin spreading, she marched out of her room, leaving the suitcases right where they were.
It was time to shop. Spend money on things she didn’t need. Live a little. What cash she had was hers and no one else’s. Tommy had seen to that, closing out their mutual checking account and creating his own private one. Granted, she’d found out when the grocery store had refused her debit card, embarrassing her in front of a long line of customers. It had been a cruel thing to do. She’d been so damned pissed she almost marched into his office just for the satisfaction of punching him in the nose. That would mean seeing Tommy though. Giving him the satisfaction of knowing he’d made her miserable wouldn’t do.
Instead she made a stop at the bank and created her own accounts. She had no one to answer to but herself when she got her bank statement at the end of the month.
Staring at the long, wide aisle running down the middle of the upper deck with every kind of shop a person could imagine lining both sides, Joanie slowed while people moved around her. It was just like being in a shopping mall. With over ten decks on the ship, she could easily forget she was on the ocean and get lost shopping. She headed toward a small jewelry shop, deciding something personal and pretty would be her perfect first purchase.
It was hard to believe less than an hour had passed when she organized her receipts in her wallet. If she didn’t stop shopping now, she’d be broke for the rest of the cruise.
A woman’s voice announced that they were about to leave port. The overexcited female voice echoed across the deck and instantly everyone around her seemed to pounce into hyperdrive. Joanie grabbed her bags, scared a stampede would crush her, and allowed the crowds to push her toward the elevators. Deciding for the stairs, she hurried to the upper deck.
It was just as crowded up there, but with such a different atmosphere. A cool ocean wind wrapped around her as she searched for a spot so she could see better.
“This your first cruise?” A young man, who had to be a good ten years younger than she was, grinned and gave her the once-over.
Joanie stepped forward, returning the friendly smile, and breathed in the damp salt air. His friend, a tall, suntanned blond, turned, smiling as well, and made room for her so she could join in waving at the people still on land.
“Sure is.” She fingered the small turquoise carving that hung around her neck and then patted the bright blue hair tie she’d fixed around her ponytail, both new purchases.
Maybe it was silly, but her frivolous purchases lightened her mood and put a slight sway in her hips as she moved, as if she lived without a care in the world. Laughing, she waved at the crowd and joined in yelling, “Bon voyage” as the ship’s horns blew and the deck underneath her began rocking.
“You know the best way to avoid getting seasick, don’t you?” The tall, lanky blond moved to take her arm.
“What’s that?” she asked, noting how his blue eyes matched the color of the sky.
The longhaired guy hurried to her other side. “You have a drink with me.” He took her other arm, scowling at his friend.
Two men had never fought for her attention as long as she’d lived. And even though butterflies suddenly flew precariously in her stomach, she grinned. It was time to live it up. “I might be a little thirsty.”
“And you now have an escort to the bar.” The guy with the long brown hair stood just a little bit taller than she did. And at five-feet-five-inches, she’d never considered herself that tall.
By the time she returned to her room later that night, she was slightly tipsy from several drinks. It was more than a bit strange to have so many men flirting with her. Her divorce was underway though, and her soon-to-be ex was moving forward with his life. She might as well do the same.
Quite a few men talked to her, picked up on her and made her feel pretty. But none of them held that special something, that charisma she dreamed would sweep her off her feet.
“Who are you fooling though?” She laughed dryly, stripping out of her clothes and staring at the double sized bed where she and Tommy would have slept. Tommy didn’t have that certain zing that a man should possess if he were to sweep her off her feet.
“Obviously he didn’t even offer security,” she mused, grabbing all the pillows and stacking them on top of each other. And that’s what she believed he’d been for so many years—her rock, her foundation of stability. “Men like that only exist in fairy tales.”
The sheets were cool and fresh against her skin and she stretched out under the blankets, enjoying how well-made the bed was. Now if only some gorgeous hunk of a man was lying next to her.
Her dream man didn’t look like Tommy, nor had he ever. She closed her eyes, running her fingers down her middle until goose bumps rushed over her warm flesh. He was tall, well-built with muscles everywhere—hey, it was her fantasy. And he only had eyes for her. She would be his world. Although he would do some line of work that made him tons of money, he would live for the moments when he could spoil her and make love to her.
She touched her nipples, felt them pucker and harden against her fingertips. Then cupping her breasts, she squeezed, imagining her dream man adored them.
“I wish your mouth was on them now,” she whispered into the darkness.
There was no answer, but her imagination didn’t stop. He would have a day’s worth of growth on his chin and it would brush roughly over her skin. She arched against the blankets, squeezing and tugging her breasts while her insides quickened with need.
And that was another thing. “Size definitely matters,” she said out loud, smiling as she pictured her imaginary lover’s hard, throbbing cock.
He teased and loved her with gentle kisses. Joanie sighed when his hands caressed her body. She shifted her legs and dreamed of his thick cock, moving closer to her pussy. Her moist flesh swelled in anticipation, as eager to feel him inside her as he was to fuck her. She could tell by how the muscles in his body tightened, solid and covered with smooth flesh. He pressed against her, touching her almost everywhere. His body was warm, hard and powerful. Joanie grinned with her eyes closed. And he would have a hairy chest. Not too hairy, but enough that she could flatten her fingers into it, run her palm over his beating heart and feel his roped muscles twitch against her touch while she felt the coarse hairs tangle over her fingertips.
She loved how he would whisper her name. He would say it with reverence, adoring her while voicing how he couldn’t live without her. She tried picturing his face, but her mind leaned toward other parts of his body.
She tweaked her nipple and moved her other hand between her legs. Pressing just a little bit against her clit, she thought how he would start down there. Of course it would be with his mouth. Tommy never wanted to eat her out. Of course, he loved the idea of her rolling over, getting on her hands and knees and taking care of him. But with her dream man, all that would matter to him would be her pleasure. It was her dream, after all.

     The small turquoise necklace pooled at her collarbone and she fingered it while her other hand slowly moved between her legs. It was harder to imagine his tongue and do the work with her fingers, but she squeezed her eyes shut, picturing his head between her legs. And she spread her legs until her thigh muscles stretched, giving him plenty of room. He would make a feast out of her, whispering how much he adored her and make her promise she would be by his side forever.

Forever. There was proof that this was nothing more than her fantasy. If only forever existed. The pang of regret, the guilt that she had failed, tried interrupting her fantasy lover’s adoration of her. But her lover was too determined to allow such petty emotions to get in his way.
He thrust his tongue inside her, groaning as he lapped at her juices. Thick cream coated her fingers and she pushed several inside her, feeling her slick muscles contract around them. Maybe when the ship reached its first port, she would buy a sex toy, search until she found the perfect one that would match how she imagined her lover would be built.
Moving her fingers in and out of her with eager energy, she sucked in a breath as the pressure built inside her, swelling over the dam that she ached to tear down. More than anything she wanted her penned up lust to break the barrier that kept her from her orgasm.
And that’s when he would stop. She opened her eyes, not bothering to focus in the darkness, and glanced down, picturing his mischievous grin. She saw the glistening moisture that covered his mouth and soaked the dark shadow on his chin. His eyes glowed with promises, and his to-die-for sexy face would stare at her for a long moment. Just enjoying seeing her on the brink of coming.
“I need it now. Please.” She shook her head.
No. She wouldn’t have to beg. He wouldn’t have it. Her lover wanted her to know pleasure and to please her more than he needed to breathe. All that would matter to him would be the glow of satisfaction after he fucked her until she couldn’t come anymore.
And he would tell her that. With a deep baritone whisper, he would promise to satisfy her in every way possible.
“It’s all that matters to me. All that I think about all day,” he would remind her. Even while he was working, earning all that money so he could buy her beautiful lingerie and lovely trinkets, she would always be on his mind.
She closed her eyes again. Knowing sleep wouldn’t come until she could get off, she pictured him rising over her. He would have dark hair and it would be tousled. His hands ran over her body while he sang her praises.
He wouldn’t see her as fat, or having any faults at all. But then of course this was her fantasy. She would be thin, perfect, with beautifully shaped breasts that were as perky as they were when she was twenty. And she would be limber.
He situated himself between her legs. Joanie bent her knees, imagining him lifting her legs, placing her heels on his shoulders and then pressing his large, hard cock at her entrance.
Kicking the covers out of the way quickly, she brought her knees to her chest and rubbed her pussy with her fingers, wishing more than anything his cock really was here, really could fill her and take the ache away.
“All I need,” she whispered, and thrust her fingers as far inside her as they would go. “Make me come, my dark lover,” she demanded.
She fucked herself with her fingers, moving them in and out with the aggression and determination that her lover would have. His expression was needy and focused. Not once did he close his eyes. He didn’t want to fantasize about someone else. He wanted to see her, watch her while she moved closer to the edge.
“I’m almost there.” Her voice was husky.
He smiled, leaning forward and kissing her while his thick cock impaled her and finally hit that spot. Again. Needing all of her. Knowing just when it would happen.
Blinking a few times, she felt the moisture around her fingers, soaking her palm as her muscles inside her quivered. Her orgasm hit her, the waves tumbling over each other while she breathed hard, keeping up the momentum until she couldn’t handle it any longer.
Then pulling her hand out and holding it in front of her, she again fingered her necklace with her other hand. “Someday I’ll find you,” she promised herself.
Or better yet. He would find her.

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