- Author: Alison Kent
Book online «Larger Than Life Alison Kent (read out loud books .TXT) 📖». Author Alison Kent
Table of Contents
To Kate Duffy,
This book, though based in fact, is purely fiction. I've twisted and bent and distorted and warped the inspiration into the end product. Such is the stuff of make-believe.
As always, I can't do a damn thing without Jan Freed holding my hand and vetting every word.
I'd like to thank Jill Shalvis for the emergency early read, Jolie Kramer, too. Jolie, in fact, deserves further recognition. She taught me to pace and to plot. In that regard, Cherry Adair helped as well, though she may not even know it.
To my critters, Emma Gads, Larissa Ione, Lydia Joyce. Thanks bunches!
And special smoochies to my family for putting up with a woman who lives in the closet, rarely cooks, never cleans, seldom listens, but loves you all very very much!
Myra Fleener: A man your age comes to a place like this, either he's running away from something or he has nowhere else to go.
Coach Norman Dale: What I'm doing here has nothing to do with you.
"Run, Liberty! Run, run, run!"
She couldn't run because she couldn't see where she was going. Didn't he get that? She couldn't breathe. She couldn't think. He was out of his mind.
"Jase, I can't!" She sobbed, choked, stopped, and wailed, "I can't!"
She spit hair from out of her mouth, spit dirt, swore she spit bugs. It was gross and disgusting, and he was never going to get away with what he'd done anyway, so why did she have to run?
Jase came back to where she stood clawing her hair from her face. He grabbed her wrist and jerked her forward, practically breaking her arm. "You better move your ass or I'm going to leave you here, got it?"
She nodded, whimpered, stumbled along behind him. She was wearing her best pair of sandals and she'd spent all afternoon doing her toenails for tonight's date. And now it was all ruined.
Ruined because Jase was stupid and greedy. Stealing money from the printing and office supply store where he worked—what was wrong with him? They paid him more than minimum wage, good enough money to take her out for a salad and Diet Coke anytime she wanted to go.
All he had to do was make the store's deliveries and daily deposits, running some of the money into Carlsbad or El Paso because of the banks being bigger or something like that. Why did he have to be stupid enough to take what wasn't his? Why did she have to—
"Jase!" She tripped, wrenched her wrist from his hand, and went down to the ground in the dark. Dirt clods and rocks the size of Lego pieces dug into her hands and her knees.
She pushed up to a kneeling position, picked the grit from her palms. Tears blurred her eyes and made it impossible to see anything. It was too dark to see anything anyway. The moon was out, but they were in the middle of freakin' nowhere on his father's ranch.
She just knew they were lost, and wished at least they were lost on an island with a beach like those people on that show she used to watch before her parents got religion and banned TV from the house. She hated Texas and was never going to forgive either of them for moving her away from California and .all of her friends.
Jase skidded to his knees beside her, throwing more dust into the air for her to gag on. She tried not to cough, tried not to cry. She even held back yelling at him for being so dumb since it hadn't done any good so far. But then he pulled her head to his chest and cuddled her close, and she forgot why she was mad.
This was all she wanted, being with a boy who liked her, away from her parents and the stupid way they tried to run her life, even though she knew she was really lucky. A bunch of girls her age at school had been promised by their parents to men old enough to be their fathers.
Men already married to two or three other women. It made her sick to her stomach to even think about it! Like, who would want to sleep with a guy and get sloppy seconds?
"Liberty, listen." Jase set her away from him, lifted her chin. "I know you're tired and scared, but we're almost there. We've got to be. I just didn't know it would take so long on foot. I'm usually on my ATV."
Yeah. Not to mention he was usually stoned since he used the hunting blind to smoke pot. "They're going to find us anyway."
"Maybe." He sat back, rubbed his hands up and down his thighs, the denim all scratchy and loud in the really quiet wide open spaces. "But maybe we can hide out until this shit blows over."
Dumb. He was dumb, dumb, dumb. And she was dumb to hang out with him.
"It's not going to blow over, Jase. Your boss is going to send Holden Wagner after you, you know that. Holden freakin' Wagner! God! He takes care of all the legal stuff with the businesses in town, and he'll take care of you, too!" She pulled away, curled into a ball on the ground, totally ruining her outfit.
Holden Wagner was a big-shot lawyer in Earnestine Township where she and Jase lived, and one of the most powerful men she'd ever met. Everyone knew him from the church and from around town, Earnestine being such a dinky dot on the map and Holden being the only lawyer and into everybody's business.
A lot of girls at school thought he was hot. Liberty supposed he was. He was only like thirty-five or something, and wore clothes that