Authors: Jennifer Skully,Jasmine Haynes
The Jackson Brothers, Book 3
By Jasmine Haynes
Copyright 2013 Jasmine Haynes
Cover Design by Rae Monet Inc
This is copyrighted material. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Author Note: this book contains explicit sexual material
Previously published in 2006 as part of the
A family torn apart by tragedy...
Three years ago, Lou Jackson, eldest son, died in a work accident. And nothing has been the same since for the Jacksons. They lost their heart and soul the day Lou died, even as matriarch Evelyn tries to keep them together. But things are changing and the family will either find their way back to each other. Or they’ll be torn asunder.
Connie Jackson wants another baby, but her husband no longer desires her. She’s beginning to suspect he’s having an affair. Once the woman with the smartest kids, the happiest home, and the best marriage, now she’s just somebody’s wife whose husband is cheating on her.
There’s only one thing to do. Connie’s going to have to seduce her husband back into her bed.
Mitch Jackson loves his wife too much to ever look at another woman. But his brother’s death has taught him that life can fall apart in the blink of an eye, and the fear of leaving his family defenseless if he’s gone has robbed him of a decent night’s sleep for the last three years. And now his wife wants another child they can’t afford.
When Connie pulls out all the stops, she becomes the seductress he can’t resist. Mitch has only one option, but if Connie figures out what he’s up to, it could mean the end of their marriage.
To Rose Lerma, my dear friend. You are missed.
Thanks to Jenn Mason, for saying just the right thing at just the right time. Thanks also to Christine Zika and Lucienne Diver for their hard work.
Okay, the state of the union, as plainly and with as little emotion as possible. Mitch was tired and worried. He was pissed that she wanted to trade in the old station wagon for a new minivan to shuttle around the little league team. They’d been fighting more than they made love. In fact, he hadn’t touched her in over two months. Which amounted to one thing, Mitch didn’t want her anymore.
Or maybe he was having an affair.
Connie Jackson shuddered. More than anything, she didn’t want to be somebody’s wife whose husband was having an affair. She’d die if he was.
“Oh for Pete’s sake.” The candy-coated almond leaped out of the other side of the blue lace netting Connie was trying to secure it in.
With the back door open, Connie could hear the kids yelling and screaming out in the yard. The clock ticked loudly on the kitchen wall, and the coffeemaker belched one last gasp of air from its tubes.
Next to her, Taylor smiled, expertly tying a bit of pink ribbon around her almonds and netting. “Slippery little things, aren’t they? But they were inexpensive.”
Trust Taylor to plan her wedding frugally. Taylor was good at everything, whether it was doing her wedding on a budget, keeping the books down at the office, or making coleslaw for the Sunday barbecue.
Taylor patted Connie’s hand. “And I thank all of you for coming over this afternoon to help me make the wedding favors.”
Connie would never have considered
helping. Taylor and Jace were part of her family. Connie looked at her completed pile, then Taylor’s, Evelyn’s, and Randi’s in turn.
“My pile is not up to snuff here.”
Her ribbons didn’t curl properly, the little names-and-date cards didn’t sit straight, and she’d finished half of what everyone else had. “I baked and decorated eight dozen Santa cookies for Rina’s kindergarten class in one afternoon. I can squish six little leaguers into seat belts in the station wagon. I can pack for a camping trip and not forget a thing. So why can’t I make these favors?”
Randi gasped. “You don’t forget anything? Not even the mayo or the mustard or a sleeping bag?”
Connie shook her head gravely. “Nope. I don’t forget a single thing. Ever.”
“Wow.” Randi’s voice dripped with awe. David’s new girlfriend was a sweetheart and a half. She’d attended the last two family barbecues, and well, Connie had to admit she’d made David into a new man. He laughed and joked a lot now, a definite transformation from his usual taciturn self over the last few years. Randi had moved in with him, and Connie was crossing her fingers for another wedding.
Evelyn tossed another favor in her done pile. “My Heavens, Connie, you’ve been bumbling around for weeks now.”
A woman couldn’t function properly without a solid nookie quotient. The baby scare two months ago—a scare only for Mitch, she’d been delighted when she thought she was pregnant—had put a big crimp in their sex life. He was too busy worrying about money. But they’d both wanted a big family, they’d agreed on it when they first got married, and now, with Rina going off to first grade...well, the timing was perfect for Connie. She’d just have to convince him somehow.
But first she’d have to convince him to make love to her. Connie sighed. At least they were speaking again.
Taylor grabbed the ribbon spool. “Maybe you and Mitch just need a weekend by yourselves.”
Connie’s mouth dropped open. How on earth had Taylor known exactly what she was thinking? Oh yeah, probably because she’d spilled her guts that day two months ago right after she’d found out she wasn’t pregnant. She’d told Taylor everything about her “Mitch problems.”
Her sister-in-law once again read her mind and winked. “I remember a few sighs of my own sounding exactly like that.” Taylor tweaked the little bow on her bundle. “You could go to some swanky resort and get his-and-her massages.”
Evelyn handed Connie the roll of netting. “You know Arthur and I would love to take the kids any time you want to get away by yourselves.”
That’s what she loved about this family. They all pitched in. Even Evelyn, when most moms would have been horrified to even think of their grown sons having a sex life.
“Thanks, but I don’t think we should spend any money right now.” Mitch would have hissy fit if she suggested it. Then they’d start fighting, then she’d get mad. And really, she was not a nice person when she got mad.
“How about some sexy lingerie?”
Evelyn was great. She might be close to sixty, but she thought like a thirty-year-old. She hadn’t even batted an eyelash when Randi moved in with David.
“Ooh,” Evelyn suddenly blurted out. “Crotchless panties.”
“How do you know about crotchless panties?” Connie gasped.
Evelyn tut-tutted. “I read about them in one of those women’s magazines while I was waiting in the dentist’s office.”
“Ha, Arthur bought you a pair, didn’t he?”
“Girls, girls, with this old body, I wouldn’t be caught dead in teeny-tiny panties.”
“Good Lord, Evelyn, you’re not old.” Taylor pinched her mother-in-law’s cheek.
“Right. So that’s why your boys bought me that button saying I wasn’t just old, I was older than dirt.”
“They were kidding.” Then Taylor smiled mischievously. “You should see what they’re getting you this year.”
“Heavens above.” Evelyn raised her eyes to the ceiling. “Now, we were discussing Connie. She needs our help, not me.”
Connie’s heart warmed. The women in your family
be there to provide sage advice on difficult matters. God knows she couldn’t ask her own mother. Between them, they didn’t mention bodily functions.
“I’ve got too much sexy lingerie sitting unused in the drawer. I need fresh ideas.”
“You could try some caviar.” Randi tossed another finished favor on to her pile. “It works miracles.”
Now that sounded interesting. “Is caviar some sort of aphrodisiac?”
Randi smiled with a wicked tilt. “Not as far as I know. But there’s lots of different ways to use it.”
“Isn’t it really expensive?” Taylor, ever penny-wise, wanted to know.
Randi flapped a hand, an almond rolling across the table with her exuberance. “That’s beluga. My parents have this really cool Scandinavian caviar paste at the shop that comes in a tube.” She batted her eyelashes. “You can squeeze it on anything you want.”
So that’s what David had been up to, that bad boy. Connie always figured him for the missionary, once-a-week type, he was so staid and serious most of the time. Until recently.
“And you say your parents carry it at their store,” Evelyn asked, cutting off the ends of her bow with more concentration than necessary.
Randi leaned forward. “You can have it shipped straight to the house so no one even knows you bought it. Except me, because I do all the shipping.”
Evelyn grabbed a cut sheet of netting. “Does it come in a brown paper bag?”
“However you want it packaged.”
They were quiet a few moments, amid the clicking of the scissors, as they all absorbed the information.
“Mitch doesn’t like fish.” But the suggestion did give Connie an idea. They needed something new in their marriage, something fresh, something different. Like any couple married ten years, they’d hit a rut in the road.
She needed to create a little spark. Maybe she’d do a lingerie striptease for Mitch. She’d never done that before. Tonight, after the kids went to bed, she’d give it a shot.
* * * * *
The kids had gone to bed, Connie was in the bathroom doing her nightly feminine routine—which meant she’d be in there for an hour—and Mitch flopped on the couch in front of the TV. The news droned, but he couldn’t wrap his mind around any details.
Mitch was tired. He was worried. His belly ached, his head hurt, and he didn’t look forward to the next argument with Connie about the washing machine, which was on its last cycle, or the car. That station wagon of hers wouldn’t last out the year before something else blew on it. Life was nickel-and-diming him to death.
And Connie wanted another baby.
The idea of another child gave him heart palpitations. Their medical insurance had gone through the roof this last year, not to mention the grocery bills, new clothes, and the million things a baby would need. Plus the house wasn’t big enough. They’d have to add on. They had the sewing room, but Connie loved that room for her projects, and he wanted her to keep it. She’d offered to get a job, but she already had one at which she was an expert—mother of the year. He wouldn’t have her feeling like she wasn’t giving the kids her best. Nor would it solve his main problem: If something happened to him, he wanted Connie and the kids to be taken care of. Over the last three years, he’d feverishly used every extra dime to pay down the house mortgage and buy a good life insurance policy.
Still, terrible scenarios in which his family was living on the streets consumed his waking hours and crept into his dreams at night. His head knew that wouldn’t happen, but his gut was another thing. The family business was doing fine. Taylor and her boys had made it through the devastation of losing Lou. And he knew damn well his parents wouldn’t let anything bad happen to Connie or the kids. None of that mattered, because it was his gut that controlled his actions these days, no matter how much logic he used to console himself. Sometimes he wondered if there even was an amount of money large enough to stop the gnawing in his insides. When Connie thought she was pregnant a couple of months ago, he hadn’t slept for two days. As badly as he wanted to, he hadn’t been able to bring himself to make love to her since.
Holy hell, he was giving himself an ulcer. Even the antacids didn’t help anymore. He couldn’t stop worrying. Life could change in a seconds. In one wrong turn of a chain saw.
How would his family make it without him? The bills, the car, the insurance, the washing machine...
Mitch didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he heard Connie’s voice in the hallway.
“Honey, are you coming to bed?”
His heart was racing. His worries had followed him into his sleep, and they hadn’t danced like sugar plum fairies.
He eased off the couch, his muscles aching as if he’d been running in his sleep. Shutting off the TV and the lights, he padded down the hallway toward their room. Light spilled across the worn carpet. It’s replacement was way down on the list of priorities.
The scent of Connie’s flowery lotion seeped into the hall. Inside, only one bedside lamp was lit, throwing the corners of the room into shadow and delicately lighting his wife’s profile. Even after ten years of marriage and two kids, she took good care of herself. Some women went to pot, but not Connie. She was as gorgeous as the day he married her. More so, in fact. Those few hated extra pounds she’d never been able to shed after pregnancy gave her luscious curves and perfect breasts with the most enticing pair of nipples.