From the Author
Of course, Nash Security Solutions would be housed in a donut shop.
Time and the elements had nearly scrubbed the painted Dixie Kreme ad from the side of the old brick building and I'd almost missed it. But with my Jag's top down, the confectioned-carb aroma assaulted my senses. I pulled in a long, exhilarating breath, then pretended I couldn't taste that sweet mouthful of heaven.
My trainer, Jerry, would have accused me of manifesting donut reality through my sheer love of trans-fats. After all my years in LA, delectables like donuts should cause my brain to flash a warning with a similar intensity to the bright red neon "Fresh & Hot" sign hanging in this storefront window. However, my brain's warning was more of an appetizing apple red. As in Snow White's "one bite and all your dreams will come true" red.
My therapist has an opinion on that subject, something about denied sugar both literal and metaphorical. Either way, donuts meant trouble.
I almost buckled to temptation. But I had a mission. I sucked down another mouthful of donut air, placed one Jimmy Choo in front of the other and moved through the front door of the Dixie Kreme Donut building. Then into a dim hall, up the stairs and into a dimmer hall. And stopped before the door with the words "Nash Security Solutions" painted on the frosted glass.
I grabbed the old-timey, brass knob of the Nash Security door and strode through with a "go get'er" set to my features, ripping off my Barton Perreira Jet-Setters and shoving them into my bag like I was on an episode of Miami Undercover.
"Mr. Nash," I said with great authority. And then dropped my bag. Forgot to close my mouth. And I might have gasped.
From Miami Undercover to I Love Lucy
Nash Security Solutions consisted of two rooms. The outer room had a battered corduroy recliner, a few metal file cabinets, and a frumpy couch. In this room, all was well, although run down and dusty. Unfortunately, the door to the second room stood open. I was unaware of the condition of that room because Mr. Nash of Nash Security Solutions was naked.
Well, not naked-naked. Half-naked. But he was a big guy. As in tall, solid wall of muscle. Movie star muscle. Like Mr. Nash had a personal trainer who specialized in tone and definition.
Except this was Black Pine, and I doubted Mr. Nash had ever hired a trainer to watch him sweat while screaming about the evils of trans-fats and the virtues of chili pepper colonics. Mr. Nash didn't look the type to put up with anyone yelling at him about anything.
He did seem a little slow, though. At my authoritative "Mr. Nash," he froze. With a t-shirt in one hand. And unbuckled jeans. Giving me time to peel my ogle off all those muscles and the unbuckled buckle and peruse his facial features. His head was shaved and his nose looked broken. A wicked scar curled from his chin to chiseled jaw.
But most astonishing, Mr. Nash's eyes were Paul Newman blue. Startling intense, arctic blue.
He countered my ogle for a few long seconds, taking in my hidden curves, the reddish-blonde hair, sea bottle green eyes, and a nice pair of legs. I get a lot of ogling. Vicki trained me to take ogles as a compliment. Should it bother me? Ask my therapist. She's got plenty to say on the subject, too.
Behind me, I heard the door open and close while Mr. Nash and I continued our stare-off.
"Didn't know you gave peep shows this early, Nash," said a deep, gravelly voice.
I jerked my eyes off the hard body and onto the older, African-American man dropping into the recliner. He wore a chef's apron over his t-shirt and jeans and smelled of donuts.
"Oh my God. I'm sorry," I said to all listening and glanced into the inner office where Mr. Nash fumbled with his belt buckle.
"Why should you be sorry?" said the man, throwing the lever on the recliner to prop up his feet. "Nash's the one raised in a barn."
"Morning, Lamar," drawled Nash, then addressed me. "Excuse me, ma'am. I'm sorry about this. Forgot to shut the door. And you are?"
I relaxed my face, which felt squinchy. My directors hated that look because it made me look constipated rather than astonished. Taking a deep breath, I said, "I'm Maizie Albright. I mean, Maizie Spayberry. Well, it was Spayberry, and I'm thinking about switching back permanently. Although I do like my other name. It has a better ring, which is why my manager changed it."
Nash nodded and focused on buttoning, although he revealed a flash of what I like to call "WTH face."
"Spayberry. Which Spayberry?" said Lamar. "There's a ton around here. Unless you mean Boomer Spayberry? Of DeerNose?"
"Yes, sir. Boomer is my father." DeerNose was big among those that shopped at Bass Pro and other hunting outfitters, but I didn't get recognized as a DeerNose daughter much in LA. It produced a feeling of pride and awkwardness. Among hunters, Daddy's considered the Michael Kors of clothing and accessories. He designs scented hunting apparel. The awkwardness comes with the scent. Deer pee. Big with hunters. Not so much with anyone else.
I glanced at Nash, who was now buttoning a white dress shirt over his muscles. An Armani. A bit old, but still sharp.
"I'm sorry, but aren't you expecting me?" I glanced at my watch. "I was told to come at this time."
"Told by who?" Nash paused the buttoning.
"A Jolene Sweeney. I didn't speak to her, my assistant set up the interview. Maybe our wires got crossed?" I raised my brows at the string of curses Mr. Nash uttered. "I'm sorry. Do I have the time wrong?"
Shooting a look of concern at Lamar, Nash pushed past me to flip the lock on the front door.
"So are you living over at the DeerNose cabin?" Lamar continued. "I heard it's pretty grand. Nice land Boomer's got, too."
"Yes, sir," I said, watching Mr. Nash pace before the locked door. "I haven't been in Black Pine for about six years. As a kid, I spent my summers here. Although I would've been better off moving back a long time ago. But you can't change the past. At least that's what Renata says."
"Who's Renata?" asked Lamar.
"Oh, my therapist. The last one." I bit my lip, realizing you shouldn't admit to numerous therapists in an interview. Or what should be an interview. "It's something we do in LA."
"Therapy?" asked Lamar.
"Rehab." Then bit my lip again.