Steamy hot emotions rattled his mind and body the second he noticed Jaleena Falcon. The intensity of them left Ridge Taylor speechless in her stunning presence and there was nothing he could do about it. Honestly, all he wanted to do was gain her trust and eventually her heart.
Jaleena Falcon felt Ridge's penetrating eyes on her the second he sauntered through the front doors of 'Talk of the Town' but, she held it together. He was probably accustomed to women falling for that look, yet she wanted to be different and more intriguing to him.
However, she was worried her plan would fail and break some of the wonderful wicked attraction sizzling between them. She only hoped he was man enough to keep pursuing her and make the chemistry between them into something more.
Jaleena Falcon drove down the street, trying to fight off the bitter disappointment after leaving the flea market empty handed. It had been over three weeks since she found anything worthwhile at any of her favorite hot spots. She had woken up early and drove two hours for absolutely nothing.
She had to find some good pieces for her store, but it wasn’t happening for her. Her latest hunt turned up zilch, and she was running out of ideas. She couldn’t afford to make another trip back home without something in the back of her truck. She couldn’t describe the pleasure she got from purchasing dusty and outdated pieces of furniture no one else wanted or took a second look at, then turning them into treasures to sell at her business.
Turning the corner, Jaleena was headed towards her store when a beautiful item that had been tossed on the side of the road captured her attention. This must be my lucky day. She must have done something right this morning, because she couldn’t believe what she saw.
Sure, she was good at finding things at the flea market, but nothing ever appeared out of nowhere for her. Jaleena truly believed her days of finding good deals were over after her horrible morning. She had given up all hope for discovering a diamond in the rough. Still, it seemed like someone loved her more than she first thought, since things were improving for her. She couldn’t be more excited if there was a pile of money lying in the middle of the empty highway.
Not twenty feet in front of her was a gorgeous black loveseat, or divan as more fashion forward people might call it, with a note taped to it with the word Free. In the past, Jaleena had been fortunate enough to find abandoned pieces, but never anything that looked this brand new. It looked like it came from a showroom of any major furniture store in town.
Driving past the divan, she parked her truck and rushed over to the item of her dreams. She crossed her fingers that there weren’t any surprises waiting for her that she couldn’t see from a distance. If the first glance turned out the way she hoped and prayed, Jaleena found the last piece for her grand opening tomorrow.
Bending down, she felt her skinny jeans stretch across her ass and, in the back of her mind, she could hear her mother saying Jaleena, girl, you know better than to wear pants that tight. You don’t need to advertise everything that you have. She quickly shoved the memory of her amazing mother away. She didn’t want to start crying, not when she had so much work to do.
Reaching out, she ran her hands over the material, checking it for any signs of damage, but she didn’t see a thing wrong with it. She was astonished someone would just toss away expensive furniture for no apparent reason.
What was that old saying? Someone else’s junk is another person’s treasure.
Hell, she had found a gem in this and she wasn’t about to leave it here for another person to take. This would bring in an excellent price at her business, Talk of the Town.
Dashing back to her truck, Jaleena backed it up until the lift she had installed on it was in front of the divan. It was like a tow truck, but only for furniture and other pieces she couldn’t move on her own or without some extra help. Operating the controls on the console inside her vehicle, she moved it and placed it in the back without any problems.
Jaleena glanced in the rearview mirror and made sure there weren’t any cars coming before pulling off the side of the road and back into the street. As she drove towards her store, she couldn’t help but remember the main reason she started Talk of the Town in the first place—her wonderful mother.
Her dreams of owning something that she could call her own came to her when she was a little girl. Every Saturday morning her mother would wake up early for their weekly visits to rummage sales. Going out and doing that with her parent was, without a doubt, the favorite part of her weekend. It seemed like the week couldn’t go by fast enough for her back then.
Yet, like clockwork at seven o’clock on Saturday morning, her mother would holler upstairs at her. “Jaleena, you better be up and dressed if you want to go with me. You know that I will leave without you.” She actually knew that her mama would wait for her, but she liked giving Jaleena that little threat to get her moving a little faster, and it worked every single time.
What her mother didn’t realize was she was already dressed and about to race down the stairs. She loved riding her pink Huffy bicycle with the white basket tied on the handlebars, and it would be outside waiting for her.
Laughing to herself, Jaleena ran her fingers through her hair and recalled how she loved learning the ropes of being a good second-hand shopper. Back then, she studied very closely how her mama would check each and every item quite well to make sure of its condition.
The best rummage sales were the ones where they found plenty of things at good to great prices. If the seller didn’t like to bargain with her mama, then she would just leave the item there and walk away. Most of the time people wanted the sale, so they went down to the price her mama offered them.
Jaleena also learned something else as a child. She watched the ladies wearing huge diamond rings on their fingers. She saw how they picked items that looked inexpensive and one day she overheard a few of them talking to each other. God, she learned so much about her future job by going to those amazing rummage sales with her mother.
“Mama, I miss you so much,” Jaleena sighed as she continued thinking about her past. “I wish that you were still here with me. We could be working side by side.”
She had been best friends with her mother and it had devastated her beyond belief when she passed away. In spite of that, she knew her loving mother was smiling down from Heaven, because her baby girl made her business dreams finally come true at the age of twenty-eight.
I swear that I’m going to continue to make you proud of me, Jaleena told herself. Talk of the Town was as much her inspiration as well as her mother’s, and she wasn’t about to let it fail for the either of them.