The Rebel Daughter(3)

By: Lauri Robinson

He was a smooth one, Forrest Reynolds, always had been. A real charmer, even as a kid, teasing all the girls and pretending to be a hero. In truth, leastwise in Twyla’s eyes, Forrest was the reason Norma Rose had become a tyrant over the past few years. Norma Rose had always been bossy, but after Forrest had left, she’d turned gnarly. She’d worn nothing but black and acted like a spinster twice her age. At one time Norma Rose had been in love with Forrest, but then he and his father, Galen Reynolds—an evil man if ever there was one—had broken her heart. Nope, Twyla would not let Forrest spoil her sister’s happiness, or ruin the life she was finally getting a chance to live.

“I don’t need a date,” Twyla muttered out the corner of her mouth. The evil thoughts she’d poured forward were slipping, perhaps because there weren’t too many. At one time she’d considered Forrest a friend. Her best friend. She reminded herself she’d been about ten years old back then. That allowed the reason he was standing beside her now to pop forward. “You’re only here because with Brock in Chicago, we needed a musician.” It was the truth. Brock going to Chicago to play on the radio had left the resort without a top-notch performer, which the guests of Palooka George’s party expected. “Norma Rose only agreed to let you come because you wouldn’t loan us Slim Johnson if she didn’t.”

“She didn’t put up much of a fight,” Forrest said. “Far less than I expected.”

Twyla spun to shoot a glare directly into his chocolate-colored eyes. They were such a contrast to his blond hair that she had to suck in a quick breath before she could spout, “You leave my sister alone.”

“Norma Rose and I are old friends,” Forrest said, curling his lips into a sly smile. “Just like you and I. And I look forward to getting reacquainted with all of you.”

She wasn’t fool enough to believe that. If he’d wanted to get reacquainted with any of them he could have made an effort months ago, when he’d first returned to town with his convertible roadster and airplane. Her hopes, if she’d had any, of reigniting their friendship had died long ago. “My father put yours in prison,” Twyla reminded him. “I don’t believe that would lay ground for any of us to be friends. I for one have no desire to get reacquainted with you, and I know Norma Rose feels the same.”

“Same old Twyla,” he drawled.

She’d give about anything to be able to kick him in the shin.

Glancing around, he added, “I’ll let Norma Rose decide that.”

Kicking him might be impossible, but she wouldn’t allow him to ruin things. Not again. “Stay away from her, Forrest,” Twyla warned. “Test me on this, and I guarantee you won’t like the outcome.”

He had the gall to laugh right in her face. Then again, he’d always had the gall to laugh at her. Usually she’d laughed with him. Not anymore. She let her glare tell him that.

“Everything’s still a challenge to you, isn’t it?” He flicked the end of her nose. “When are you going to learn you are no match for me, Twyla, and no match for your sister, either?”

That invisible creepy spider moved from her spine to her chest, where it wrapped all eight hairy legs around her heart and squeezed tightly. She was a match for Forrest and would prove it. No one would get in her way. Especially not some flyboy who thought himself a hero because he’d returned home in the nick of time to save his family business, the Plantation nightclub.

“I hope you’re hungry,” she said, in between greeting guests and wearing the smile that moments ago had started to slip but now returned, rejuvenated. The Plantation would never rival the resort, no matter who ran it. “Because you’re about to eat your words.”

The glimmer in his eyes was full of challenge. To say Forrest Reynolds was handsome would be an understatement. He’d always been more on the gorgeous side. Besides his contrasting brown eyes and blond hair, he was tall and lean, the type of man who looked good in everything he wore. His navy blue suit was fitted—wide across the shoulders, slender at the hips. He looked ravishing in it, and although she’d never told anyone nor ever would, no one looked as dashing as Forrest when he was wearing his flyboy getup. With brown boots that came up to his knees, his bulky leather jacket and that hat with its floppy ear flaps and round goggles, no man came close to his handsomeness. Her heart fluttered just thinking about it.

Only because she appreciated a handsome man. She always had. Forrest, handsome or not, was no contest for her. Few knew, but Twyla had long ago learned how to charm men into doing just about anything. She’d learned how to be slick, too, in order to sneak away from the resort without being seen by her father’s men, the watchmen and guards who surrounded the property twenty-four hours a day. There was, after all, only so many nights a girl could stay locked in her room. She’d met her quota some time ago.

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