Authors: Robin L. Rotham
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Seniorella Copyright © 2007 Robin L. Rotham
Edited by Mary Altman.
Cover art by Syneca.
Electronic book Publication August 2007
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
language and descriptiveness in these works of literature.
Robin L. Rotham
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Boston Celtics: Boston Celtics Basketball Club Inc.
Grace Hendrick blushed furiously when the doorbell snapped her out of an all-too-familiar daydream at ten to noon.
“Oh for God’s sake,” she muttered, setting aside her faithful old laptop. It wasn’t like whoever was at the door had caught her masturbating. So she was slightly worked up over her fantasy—few would suspect a woman her age even had such fantasies, much less did something about them.
Taking off her reading glasses, she stood up and stretched, wincing at the ache between her shoulder blades. If she didn’t get back into an aquaerobics class soon, she was going to petrify like so much aging wood. And if she didn’t finish grading those essays, she was going to be out of a job. Then she wouldn’t be able to afford an aquaerobics class.
Stepping into her slippers, she tightened the belt of her robe as she headed for the front door, pausing only to straighten the doily on the entry table as she went by. Who in the world would be out in a snowstorm?
Opening the door just a bit, she peeked out through the crack. The young lady who stood on the porch was certainly dressed for the weather—only her pink-tipped nose, rosy cheeks and pretty blue eyes showed between her sparkly purple cap and scarf.
“Yes, may I help you?”
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Grace,” she said, holding up a pink-frosted cupcake with a candle on top. “I have a birthday present for you.”
Grace’s eyes widened. Although the wind was gusting and snow fell hard enough to obscure the house across the street, the candle’s flame never flickered. Just as she opened her mouth to marvel, it occurred to her that it must be one of those trick candles that had to be put out in water.
Robin L. Rotham
“I’m sorry,” she said, opening the door wider. “Do I know you?”
The young lady laughed. “No, I’m just getting acquainted.”
“Oh, I heard a young couple had bought the Murray place,” Grace said, stepping back and pulling the door wide. “Won’t you come in for a while?”
“Thank you, but I can’t stay.” She held out the cupcake. “Would you mind trying a bite before I go? It’s a new recipe and I’d really like to know what you think.”
Grace smiled as she took it. “It’s so sweet of you to come around in weather like this.” In fact, it was almost unbelievable that any of the neighbors had known or cared enough to tell the newcomer today was her birthday.
“Don’t forget to make a wish before you blow out the candle.”
Grace laughed. “My dear, I’m sixty, not six.”
The girl’s eyes widened. “Oh but you have to!”
She looked so worried that Grace was immediately contrite. “Well of course, that’s fine,” she said quickly. “What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t, but it’s Marina.”
The girl was still looking at her expectantly, so Grace put her mind to the task at hand. It wasn’t too hard to come up with a wish—she’d been living one in her mind when the doorbell rang. Closing her eyes, she drew a deep breath.
I wish I could have one
more night with Jared.
Then she opened them again, puckered up and blew on the flame.
Much to her surprise, it went right out.
Marina clapped her mittened hands enthusiastically. “Oh goody! You’ll get your wish!”
“From your lips,” Grace said, working to keep the dryness out of her tone.
“Now tell me, how does it taste?”
By this time, snow was beginning to accumulate on the rug, but Grace obliged the girl, peeling back the festive Valentine paper and taking a bite of the white cake.
“Mmm, coconut. My favorite,” she said, licking a bit of frosting off her upper lip. “It’s wonderful, thank you.”
“My pleasure.” Tugging off a sparkly mitten, Marina pulled a small white card out of her coat pocket and handed it to Grace. “Sorry to rush off, but I’m late for another engagement. Enjoy your birthday!” She trotted off down the sidewalk and disappeared into the snow just a few yards from the house.
Tucking the card into her robe pocket with a bemused smile, Grace bumped the door closed with her hip while she peeled the cupcake. After she’d polished it off and disposed of the paper and candle, she went in search of her glasses. Finding them right where she’d left them, she sank back into her well-worn chaise and pulled out the card.
On one side, her name was written in bold, uniform calligraphy. On the other was a short poem.
You made your wish, and so polite!
Now I will grant you one more night…
“One more night…”
How could the girl possibly have known that she’d wished for a
For just a moment, hope fluttered in her breast, but common sense asserted itself immediately. What did she think, that Marina might be some sort of fairy godmother? If anything, she would have to be her fairy goddaughter.
And since when is your name
ella,” she muttered under her breath. Grace almost laughed out loud at the visual. Well, she’d lost nothing by making the wish and she wasn’t going to complain—after all, it was the only birthday cake she’d had in years and pretty damn good, to boot. The card might be a bit out there, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
Speaking of cards, why hadn’t she grabbed the mail while she was up?
Robin L. Rotham
Even knowing there was probably nothing but bills and sales circulars, she scurried back to the door and stepped out onto the porch. When she reached into the mailbox, she thought at first that it was empty. But then her fingers found a postcard.
Yes, Seniorella, you guessed it right—
Now love them ‘til the stroke of midnight.
Her knee-jerk English professor response was,
Another trite little rhyme
. Then her eyes widened.
? She whipped her head from left to right but the girl was nowhere to be seen. Shaking like a leaf, she turned to step back into the house and slipped on the frosty concrete. The last thing she saw was the card flying out of her hand.
“Jesus, Grace, are you okay? Talk to me, honey, please!”
The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was the battered silver pickup with
emblazoned on the driver’s door. Then she looked up. Jared McLain gazed down at her, his dark blond hair falling over his forehead, his roughhewn face creased with concern, and her heart squeezed painfully before starting to race.
Jared—the love of her life and the irresistibly dominant man she’d run away from.
The dominant man who’d been dead for thirty years.
“Jared?” Tears filled her eyes and joy exploded in her chest, bubbling outward until she couldn’t draw a breath. If this was a dream, she never wanted to wake up. She reached up and ran trembling fingers over his mouth, biting her lip as he kissed the tips. “You’re really here?”
“Of course I’m really here!” He shifted her on his lap until she was sitting up. Then he scowled at her. “And I really would have helped you carry in the groceries if you’d called me.”
All she could do was stare at his beloved face. She was with Jared!
He waved a hand in front of her. “Earth to Grace—are you sure you’re okay? You didn’t answer me the first time.”
She threw her arms around his neck, knocking him backward onto the ice-slicked sidewalk. “Oh my God, I’ve missed you so much!” Her tears ran freely as she dropped urgent kisses down his stubbly cheek. Tucking her face into the collar of his flannel shirt, she sucked in the scent of warm, musky morning man and just about had an orgasm.
Jared’s laughter set off more sparks in her tummy. Squeezing her against his chest, he rumbled, “You just left an hour ago.”
Robin L. Rotham
Grace raised her head and looked into his achingly familiar blue eyes. “It was the longest hour of my life,” she choked. Her face crumpled before she dropped her forehead onto his collarbone and began to sob.
“Hey, hey,” he crooned, stroking her hair as his grip on her tightened. “What’s going on, sweetheart? You’re not supposed to cry on your birthday.”
She gasped and pushed up, blinking down at him again. “It’s still my birthday?”
“All day.” He wiped under her eye with a tender thumb.
Grace looked at her hands, which rested on shoulders broad and hard from years of construction work. Her age spots and bulging veins were gone, and presumably so were her wrinkles and gray hair. “I’m thirty today.”
Her heart thumped when he gave her a sexy grin. “Boy are you ever. You just about wore this old man out this morning.” Then he sobered, searching her eyes. “You wanna tell me what this is all about?”
She glanced at her watch. 12:05. “
Love them ‘til the stroke of midnight.”
She had less than twelve hours.
“Is Alec still—”
probably wasn’t the thing to say. “Still coming over?” she amended quickly, wiping her eyes as she scrambled to her feet with amazing ease.
“Don’t wait until tonight—call and tell him to come over right now.”
Halfway to standing, Jared zeroed in on her face, a puzzled frown pulling down his brow. “How did you…” Straightening, he brushed the powdery snow from his jeans.
Her mouth went dry at the pronounced bulge behind his fly. “There’s no way he told you.”
“Then…” He looked as if he might demand more answers, but then his expression hardened into one that stole her breath and sent her stomach plummeting. His stare penetrated to her bones. “You know what we’ll want from you, Princess Grace.”
“Yes Sir,” she whispered, suddenly shaking all over.
“Well, it’s your birthday, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.” He leaned over and snagged one of the grocery sacks without taking his eyes off her. “Go upstairs and get into the shower while I pick this stuff up. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Yes Sir.” His gaze burned into her back as she slipped and slithered her way down the slick walk. She hobbled at first, concerned about falling and breaking a hip, but gained confidence when she realized how strong and sure her legs felt and how quickly she reacted when her feet hit a particularly hazardous patch. Suddenly the old saying