A Courageous Battle (Chapter 8, page 2 of 5)

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Chapter 8

To Lacey he said, "Mr. Jake Edmonds, owner of Edmonds Books."

"Hello," she murmured, her eyes briefly glancing at his before dropping again to the floor.

"My pleasure, ma'am." Jake felt her hand trembling in his.

"Come and have a seat. I'll sit with you and we can chat."

Something drew him to Lacey. He could sense her discomfort, and felt an urge to help her, to protect her. He pulled out a chair and she sat down.

"Thank you," Lacey managed.

Jake heard Miss Saxena on the intercom. "Shoppers, don't miss your opportunity to meet Lacey Wilson, author of the exciting new novel, Rosalie. Get your autographed copy right now on the main level in Section C."

Immediately a line began to form near the table. "Hmm, this is a good sign," Jake said.

The first customer approached. She held out her copy of Rosalie. "Just put 'to Emily'," she muttered, apparently as ill at ease as was Lacey.

Lacey smiled at the woman and wrote 'to Emily' and signed her name, Lacey Wilson, underneath. She had chosen to write under her maiden name after Roger left. Being a 'Brock' seemed wrong to her, in her new life.

Jake appraised Lacey as she gradually relaxed and signed books and talked to readers. Jet black hair framed her oval face in a pageboy style and was a startling contrast to her luminous white skin. Thick lashes lined her dark, wide set eyes. No glasses. No makeup.

Book signings usually produced modest results, and could be awkward if the author was a reticent type. Jake often walked around the store during signings with a pile of books in his arms, chatting with shoppers and drumming up enthusiasm.

But today there were few lulls between customers; the flow kept Lacey busy. I could go now, thought Jake. But something held him.

By five o'clock the lineup dwindled. "What a wonderful, successful afternoon, Ms. Wilson," said Jake. "Well done."

Lacey smiled at Jake, looking into his eyes this time. His heart skipped a beat. "Would you like to come upstairs and relax, have a glass of sherry perhaps?" I don't have time for this. What am I doing? But he was happy when she accepted. He thanked Miss Saxena for her help, shook hands with Solly, and spread his arm out to usher Lacey to the stairs that led to his offices.

He opened the door to the small conference room on the third level. As well as the usual chairs, tables and desks, the room contained a kitchenette with a bar sink and a small refrigerator.

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