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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Rules to Survive By

 

 She's a force of nature not meant to be trifled with, but this sexy Australian is more than willing to try








"You have three choices Miss Duncan. Pay the taxes and fines, grow old in jail, or let Devin Deller take up residence in the house and use the clinic until you're paid up. We're all praying the Australian can handle you until it is." The judge’s face puckered into a sardonic smile. "My bet is he can."
In Barren, Saskatchewan, everyone knows Cherish Duncan is no baby doll; she's a force of nature not meant to be trifled with and she hardly ever gives warning before she strikes. That's how she keeps people on their toes and out of her business, but buried deep, under the snarl and sarcasm, there's a girl that longs for love, family and acceptance.
Devin Deller has an infuriating way of talking circles around her and his constant refusal to pronounce the 'er' in words irritates her like a mosquito bite, but he's handsome, dangerously charming, and doesn't take her crap.
Cherish can't help but fall for him, but for it to be real, she has to come clean about her past. Will he accept it as readily as her rank attitude or will he hate her like everyone else in Barren?

Excerpt


 “This is bullshit!” she spat. Her Rules to Survive By were second nature to her. She got angry and it shoved the guilt so deep, it was likely never to surface again. She’d rather go stark raving mad than feel guilty, or hurt, or sad when it came to the people of Barren, Saskatchewan.
 

John shuffled through his brown leather folder and pulled out a paper.
“Then, Cheri bomb, you had better cough up two thousand, eight hundred and seventy two dollars and, ouch... ” He paused, giving her a sardonic, pained expression, “... seventeen thousand, thirty-eight dollars for the repair costs of the Clucking Duck. Gee, I hope the Barnabys haven’t been keeping tabs and waiting to bill you.”
 

“I don’t have that kind of cash!” she screeched, her eyes bugging. She ripped the paper from his hands and read it. “Jesus Christ!”
 

“Guess you better clean this up, then, because you have a new roommate.” His hand clapped against the Australian’s thick shoulder and leaned to whisper something to him. “If he’ll have you.” Her eyes widened and then narrowed but before she could speak, John’s cell rang. He looked at the display just as Cherish started spitting expletives. 

“The wife’s pregnant and it could be important,” he said loudly over Cherish’s swearing. He shook his head at her and opened his cell. She ripped the paper in quarters, tossed it in the air, and began waving the hockey stick at him. The only money she had was in the house. Her dad had used all his savings
to pay for her to go to medical school and when he’d died, there was nothing but the house left.
 

How the hell would she afford this?
 

“Someone needs to wash your mouth out,” Devin announced, cocking his head to the side and startling her. Some of the merriment in his face was gone. She turned her anger on him. It was another of her habits. When she was in a mood, anyone within earshot had better watch out!
 

“Try it, buddy, and you’ll need surgery to remove this stick from your— ” John covered her mouth as he greeted the caller.

“I’ll just be a minute,” he said, moving his mouth from the mic. “Cherish, behave!” He released her lips and jogged out of the room. Cherish tucked her weapon under her arm and gave him the middle finger with both hands.
The movement made her pants slide down again and when she bent over, attempting to navigate them up again, Devin Deller landed a smarting swat right across her polka-dotted backside.
 

“Ow!” she yelled, grabbing her butt with her free hand. She gave him a deadly look and then tried to ram her stick into his gut. He dodged it with a dark laugh. Before Cherish could turn without tripping on her pants, Devin’s arm was wrapped around her waist and lifting her off her feet. The stick clattered to the floor as she tried to wriggle out of his grasp.
 

“You let me go!” she hollered in a strangled voice. When her wiggling did nothing to loosen his grip, she started grabbing at things. At one point she got the doorjamb between the kitchen and clinic’s waiting area but after a few good yanks, her grasp broke and she was carried deeper into the room.
 

“Not until you stop actin’ like you’ve got kangaroos loose in the top paddock!” He tapped his temple with his free hand. The man’s slang was infuriating! And why the hell did he have to smell so good? She kicked her legs together like a mermaid, since they were trapped by her pants.
 

“So help me, I will knock your head off if you don’t put me down!” Her pants flew off her ankles and landed across one of the blue upholstered chairs. With her legs free, she scissored them wildly, knocking over a magazine table and another chair. There were no advantages, if you asked her, to being 108 pounds and barely five feet tall! She was like a freaking Chihuahua fighting a Great Dane.
 

“You’re small but furious, like a Tasmanian devil,” he commented with a chuckle. He caught her wrist just as it took aim in the one place a woman should never threaten. “Uh-uh-uh,” he said, clamping her arm to her side. “Are you a naughty one, or what?”
 

He stopped, propped his leg on one of the chairs and dumped her across his knee. She pitched forward with a yelp of surprise, her free hand grappling for his leg to keep from toppling onto the ground. She stilled for a moment trying to get her balance, her heart in her throat.
 

“I don’t think I’ve eva met a woman more in need of one of these than you!”
 

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she screeched. He had her tightly in his grip. She tried to twist out of her vulnerable position but the fear of falling on her face made her attempt half-hearted.
 

“I’m giving you exactly what you’ve been askin’ for.” He yanked her hip tightly against him, where her struggles became even less productive. With her core powerless, all the fight she had was in her flailing limbs. However, the one was tightly clasped at her side and since she was still a little afraid to release her other for fear of the long way down, her legs were the only limbs flailing with worth.
 

When his palm bit into her backside, she straightened and yowled. Her right arm
struggled to break his grasp so she could rub the bare skin right beneath her panties. It felt as if a hand-shaped group of fire ants had decided her right butt cheek looked like a picnic lunch! Her hand was immediately immobilized in a tighter bond and another attack of ants was launched.
 

She struggled without fear of her own safety now. If she fell and smashed her face on the floor, it couldn’t possibly be any worse than what he was already doing to her, so what did it matter?
 

“Ow!” A string of idle threats followed her shout but did absolutely no good. The man was immune to her. For a full minute, he continued his attack until she finally managed to buck and roll off his lap. She landed with a graceless thump on the floor and scrambled in a crabwalk out of his reach for the second time that day. Her breath came in quick huffs as if she’d run a marathon. She called him a handful of names that would put a nun in her grave, and scrunched
herself in the corner.
 

The smug bastard just sat back onto one of the sofas and crossed his ankle over his knee. He didn’t even look winded. Cherish eyed the room for a weapon before he gave her a kid-in-a-candy- store grin.
 

“Well, I feel betta,” he stated. “How ‘bout you, love?”
 

Her jaw went slack. “No, I don’t feel better, you jackass!” He stood then and straightened his clothing. If looks could really knock a man dead, then
surely he’d be the one on the floor, because Cherish was shooting scalpels at him. He walked over to her and despite the fact that she had never backed off from a fight before in her life, she scrunched tighter into her corner and threw up her hands. She launched another verbal barrage of curses at him as if words alone would keep him at bay. He just gave her a stern look and reached
down to pull her up by her arm.
 

“You’re just asking for trouble. I’m a good-natured bloke but you’re getting up my grundies.”
 

Cherish quickly covered her butt with both her hands.
He chuckled at her and shook his head. “Nah, you’re done this time, sweetheart.” She let her hands drop back to her sides and scowled at him.
 

“No worries, though, a feisty Sheila like you,” he nodded his chin at her. “You’ll need more than one trip ova my lap before you’ll learn.” He winked at her and her body betrayed her with a deep flutter.
 

“And, sweetheart, I’m a determined man. I don’t ever give up.”
Her eyes were huge and her mouth still gaped as he firmly assisted her to sit on the sofa.
 

Cherish quickly grabbed a magazine off the pile strewn across the floor and covered her lap with it. She was suddenly aware of her modesty, mostly because the parts that she needed to be modest about had suddenly made themselves known.

“This is all your fault!” she groaned. “If you hadn’t come sniffing around here, I would have been gone before any of those bumpkins even noticed I was here.”
 

“I like that bloke, John.” He nodded toward the kitchen where they’d last seen him. “I don’t know about anyone else, but he’s aces!” He plopped down beside her on the sofa and threw his arm over the back, above her shoulders.
 

“If ya want ta have a go at this, I’ll come by afta I get a feed and we can talk. Am I starving, or what?” He loudly patted his flat stomach and took one final look around the room.
 

“God, I hope this rank attitude of yours is just lack of caffeine or your monthly. How rippin’ perfect is this place?”
 

“You scum sucking—” 

Devin reached sideways and placed a coppery hand across her lips. “Not that I’m not willin’ to have a go at tamin’ ya again right now,” he added. She tried to bite his hand but he moved it away too fast and John came back in. Devin leaned close to her ear. “You’re lucky you’re sitting on that backside of yours and that John’s here,” he whispered. “I don’t think we were nearly finished when I let ya up.”
 

Cherish swallowed a dry patch in her throat. He let her up?

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