The best mistake she ever made...
Tessa Brooks is dated. Not dated as in going out with men--having dinner and light conversation in poorly lit restaurants in hopes of finding someone with whom she can get naked. No, Tessa is dated. And the year she seems stuck in is 1988. The year her life changed.
With her twenty-year high school reunion coming up, Tessa's daughter has surprised her with a makeover on the Jade Star television talk show. However, that's not the only surprise. Enter Matt Toler, the best mistake she ever made. Tessa might not feel a ribbon of panic tightening around her neck if Matt had spoken to her again after their one-night sexual encounter...and if knew he had a daughter.
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September 22, 2008
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Excerpt from With or Without You by KyAnn Waters
The audience applauded. Colored strobes and flashing lights pulsed over the stage. With or Without You by U2 piped through the sound system. Tessa was transported back to prom night, 1988, and her heart skipped a beat. Brianna didn't...wouldn't...couldn't... Oh God, if she did...
"Are you ready for your second clue?" Jade crooned.
Tessa didn't need another clue. Only two men had been with her the night that song played. Please, please, please, she privately prayed. Be bachelor number one. Stan Yarrow owned and operated the local pharmacy back home. She and Stan had been friends and he'd taken her to the prom, but the real dance hadn't taken place until much later...with bachelor number two...Matt Toler.
She swiveled around, eyes darting about searching for a face she'd prayed she'd never see again but also lingered in her thoughts more than she cared to admit. How could he not? They'd shared an incredible night...one stupid, irresponsible, romantic encounter that had changed her life.
Bright lights flashed above the audience.
Jade stood next to Tessa. "Here is your second clue."
The voice that had haunted her dreams for the last twenty years blended with the music. Just as he sounded in 1988, Matt Toler said hello. Oh crap, it was him! He was here...somewhere. She glanced around the stage, over the audience, to the ceiling where the detached voice echoed.
Suddenly her skin grew clammy. Her attention shifted to Brianna. What in the hell had they told him to get him to come on the show? Did he remember her too? She might not feel this ribbon of panic tightening around her neck if Matt Toler had known her before April 23, 1988...or had ever spoken to her one single time after Sunday, April 24.
Matt stood on the other side of a silk screen. He couldn't believe he actually agreed to come on a daytime television show to rekindle a romance with a high school sweetheart. The muted melody from the theme song of his senior prom blended with ohs and ahs from the studio audience.
He'd received the call a week ago. The producer from the Jade Star daytime talk show told him someone from his high school days wanted to reconnect. They hadn't been specific, but the message had been clear. The show was reuniting lost lovers.
Matt had dated girls, but there had only been one who would call a daytime talk show for a second chance hook-up.
Heather Krump. Cheerleader, class vice president, she'd dated him off and on for most of their senior year. They'd had some crazy times. Then he'd left for college right after high school and she'd become a cheerleader for a professional basketball team back East.
The stage tech snapped his fingers and pointed to the side entrance leading to the studio set.
More applause sounded. His stomach tightened. Lately he'd lacked excitement in his life. This wasn't exactly what he had in mind when seeking adventure, but who was he to balk at opportunity knocking? He and Heather had history...mostly good history.
He couldn't wait to see what she looked like now. In high school she'd been lean muscle, long dark hair, and had an enticing ass that molded to his palms. He took a deep breath and settled the flash of sexual awareness heating his blood. The last thing he needed was to walk across the stage with a blatant erection.
His hands formed fists at his sides. Tension pulled at his forehead. He relaxed his face into a smile, unclenched his hands and walked into the bright lights.
Confusion crept into his mind. He vaguely recognized the woman on the stage and there was something familiar in the younger woman with her. The younger woman smiled wide with straight white teeth glinting under the bright stage lights. He couldn't say the same thing for the older woman. Her mouth narrowed into a thin-lipped line. Her eyes widened when she looked at him.
Oh hell, she was clearly not Heather. This woman had blonde hair that moved softly around her shoulders when she looked from him to the woman at her side. Subtle makeup, incredible figure, he supposed it could be Heather. He didn't remember Heather being so petite, but hell, twenty years could dull anyone's memory.
Finally the hum of voices around him drilled through the confusion. He turned to Jade Star.
"Matt, are you surprised?" Jade put her arm around the older woman.
Uneasiness squirmed around in his gut. How could he pluck the name out of Jade and not look like he'd forgotten the woman? Not the woman, he was sure he knew her from high school. But what was her name? Perhaps if he wasn't a bit jetlagged and hadn't just completed a heavy week at the hospital, he could remember. Doctors tended to have great memories. Two years could pass and he remembered a patient's name, but come on, twenty years? He wished Jade would put him out of his misery rather than continuing to stand there and stare at him as if he'd grown a third eye and uni-brow.
Hell. He'd done it often enough, he'd bullshit his way through. Opening his arms, he smiled big and bright for the host, the television audience, millions of viewers at home and the almost-stranger in front of him. Then he pulled the blonde woman into his arms and gave her a hug.
Interesting, he felt her breath catch. Beneath the silk of her dress she trembled. Not intending a lustful embrace, but with his hands sliding against the smooth feminine contours of her back, detailing her ribs, he pulled her a bit tighter.
She responded. The audience erupted in cheers and applause.
"I'm sorry." Her lips brushed the shell of his ear when she whispered.
Chills broke across his skin at the seductive tone to her voice. She could make millions as a phone sex provider. Two little words had his cock hardening and images of this hug taking place with less clothing. Male lust, sure, but he didn't consider himself a letch. He worked with nurses, had female patients. Imagining a woman naked thirty seconds after he met her was definitely off-par for him. In fact, he could really only remember one other time when lust had sucker-punched him in the gut.