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Authors: Melinda Peters

Taming theresa

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Taming Theresa

 

by, Melinda Peters

 

Copyright 2014 Melinda Peters

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

 

Thank you for downloading this eBook. This bookremains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not beredistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes.If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to downloadtheir own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank youfor your support.

For my daughters, Carolyn and Camille, who alwayssaid:"You really ought to write a book."

 

This book is dedicated to the memory of:

 

John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac VanWart.

They undoubtedly did as much as any other privatesoldiers to help win our

American Revolution.

 

"The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph."George Washington

Chapter 1

 

 

"No,” said John as he leaned back in hischair, swallowing the last of his beer. “You can bet Doc won't behiring a stripper.” He and his two friends occupied their usualtable in the back corner of Paulding's Rest Tavern, the history ofwhich, dated back to the 1700’s. It was late afternoon, a bit tooearly for the Friday night dinner crowd, so the tables were mostlyempty, but the usual regulars were at the bar, their numberssteadily increasing.

"I don't know about that," said Joe leaningeagerly towards his two friends. "I'll bet I could talk him intoit."

"I'm telling you, that just isn't Doc. He'san old married guy," said John, as he looked around for thewaitress. “Elvira wouldn't like it and Doc Sweeney is the kind ofguy would respect that."

"It's a bachelor party,” said Joe. “You gottahave a stripper. He's the best man; he’s gotta know that. Right? Imean, come on. Let me talk to him.” He smiled. “Then we just showup at the party and act pleasantly surprised when the girl dancesin.”

"Nope, there's not gonna be a stripper andyou can take that one to the bank," said John Van Wart. He leanedback in his chair again, as if daring his companions to challengehis opinion.

John had a handsome face with warm brown eyesand dark wavy hair he kept cropped short. At six feet tall with astrong athletic build, women found him very appealing. Catching theeye of their waitress, he gave her a sly wink, and pointed to theirempty glasses.

Vince Cangelosi frowned in mild disapprovalas he listened to the discussion of the evening’s entertainment. Apolice officer in the small town of Pippen's Grove, Vince was astraight arrow. He cut in, "No, Doc wouldn’t hire a stripper. Hiswife wouldn't like it. I know my wife wouldn't appreciate iteither. I’m not sure I'd feel comfortable myself. Worst of all, I'msure it would piss Vicky off."

"Why does Jack want to go and get marriedanyway," said John shaking his head. "Another one bites the dust.Don't get me wrong, Vicky is one hot lady, but I never thoughtJack..."

"Come on, John. Marriage isn't such aterrible thing,” said Vince. “I oughta know."

"Yeah, I know Vince; you're a happily marriedguy and all. No offense, but I'm never getting married, not for along time. If I somehow did manage to get snared by some fox, I’mnever having kids. Can you believe it?” He shook his head indisgust. “Jack says he and Vicky want to have kids right off."

Joe grinned at his friend. "Do I detect somesour grapes, Bud? Can't remember the last time you even came closeto getting snared by a fox, or any woman for that matter."

"John gave him a dirty look. "No, I'm justsaying, marriage isn't for me, but getting back to thestripper..."

“Forget the stripper already,” moanedVince.

"Tell you one thing," John said, giving thewaitress an appraising look as she ambled toward their table. "Ifwe do get a stripper, I want her to have really big knockers. Astripper with little boobs just doesn’t do it for me, know what Imean?"

"You just like boobs period, no matter whatsize," Joe Vandersmoot muttered softly, so the waitress wouldn'thear.

Vince held his hand over his glass signalinghe’d had enough as the others nodded their assent to another roundand the woman bustled off to the bar with the empties.

As she went, John’s gaze followed her,completing his appraisal with a look at her firm roundbackside.

Vince said. "I still say it's not a goodidea. If Vicky found out, she wouldn’t like it. She's a littlestraight-laced."

"But Vince, the bachelor party is for thegroom, not the bride. The bride has no say in it and besides,she'll never know unless somebody tells her,” Joe reasoned.

“Question is; would the groom appreciate astripper?” John asked. “Jack being Jack, I think the answer isyeah, he would. Bachelor party is the last hurrah for the guy."

“Come on. If Jack needs to see some girl takeher clothes off, then maybe he's not ready to get married. He'sthirty years old, for God’s sake, not some teenager," said Vince,shaking his head in disgust.

"Will there be an open bar? What about thefood and all that?" asked Joe, who was always first in line at abuffet.

The waitress gave them a big toothy smile asshe set down two foam-topped glasses.

"Doc is taking care of that. He’s alreadytalked with Ralph. The party's going to be in there." He aimed athumb over his shoulder at the door to the tavern's back room.

As though on cue, the door opened wide andthe tavern's owner, Ralph Spangenberg, stepped out, his beer kegtorso preceding him into the dining room. Grinning broadly, heturned to hold the door open for a very beautiful girl who emergedtrailing a small-wheeled case, her high heels rat tatting on thehard wood floor.

Astonished, all three men turned, mouthsopen, to stare. Ralph was smiling down at the lovely girl; so petither three-inch heels only brought her up to the height of the bigman's chin.

She immediately had their full attention. Aperfect hourglass figure filled the silky material of her tiny reddress in all the right places revealing smooth round thighs andshapely legs. Her red heels were strapped around delicate ankles.Thick wavy chestnut hair cascaded over her shoulders spilling intothe low neckline that revealed considerable cleavage. Her largedark eyes and long lashes accentuated her exotic Mediterraneancomplexion. She was drop-dead gorgeous.

Ralph and the girl stood talking outside theback room door at the end of the bar. "So, do you think it’s largeenough?" asked Ralph.

"I think it's plenty big, Mr. Spangenberg. Ifeel between us, we can make it work. Thanks for showing it tome."

The men closed their mouths and swallowed.Joe very audibly cleared his throat as he nudged Vince's elbow,then sipped his beer. "Who’s that, John?" he whispered.

He didn't answer, but John’s eyes locked onthis stunning new arrival, listening to her low sultry voice.“Damn!” he breathed. “Who’s the lovely little piece in the shortred dress? What a package!” She’s so hot, but very professionallooking. Maybe she’s here for the party. Only one way to findout.

John took a long pull at his beer, rose, andslowly sauntered over to the bar. The regulars behind him on theirstools, now numbering nine or ten, turned their heads to watch ashe approached the good-looking girl. Switching on his most charmingsmile, John lounged against the bar on one elbow, blocking her pathto the front door.

He nodded to his old friend. "Hey Ralph, howyou doing?” His eyes rested on the pretty girl. “And who’sthis?”

She smiled politely, but didn't speak,waiting for him to let her pass.

Revelation dawned, helped along by two pintsof ale. It wasn’t hard to figure out that Ralph had just shown thislovely, hot as a firecracker, lady where the bachelor party wasgoing to be held tomorrow night.

"So, are you here for the wedding, or for theparty, or...?"

Her smile broadened, flashing very even whiteteeth. "Yes! Will you be there too? I'm so excited about it. I'mreally looking forward to it," she answered enthusiastically.

“I’ll just bet you are.” John grinned andlooking over his shoulder at his friends, he gestured toward thegirl and proclaimed, "Hey Joe, you were right after all! Doc ishiring us a stripper.” As he said this, conversation at the barceased and the Friday afternoon regulars turned as one in hisdirection.

The bride's cousin and maid of honor, TheresaBuonadies, manager of her family's successful Italian restaurants,had just made the long drive up from New Jersey to assist with thewedding. A feisty Italian girl with a short fuse, she was in nomood for insults from this stranger. Only a few weeks before, she'ddumped her lying, no good, cheating, fiancé and she wasn't feelingcharitable towards men in general.

The silly self-satisfied leer on this guy'sface was enough to light the fuse. There was only the briefestsizzle before the blast.

Van Wart grinned toward his two friends, andthen turned back to Theresa, as she launched a powerful,well-aimed, open palm at his unsuspecting cheek. Like the crack ofa fastball connecting with a bat, the slap reverberated around theroom, followed by stunned silence.

The bitch just tore my face off! His handclutched his cheek and through the ringing in his ears, John heardthat charming sexy voice rise in pitch, screaming like a dentist’sdrill.

“Stripper? You bastard! How dare you! Who thehell do you think you're talking to, you son of a..." Theresawasn't finished. Punctuating this short speech, a small sharp fistrocketed into his solar plexus and he grunted, bending double asall the air left his lungs.

When the little spitfire in the tight reddress aimed one of her pointy high-heeled shoes straight at hisgroin, Vince came to his rescue. Darting across the room, hesnatched her up by the waist, and took two steps back as shestrained toward her target. He held the pretty girl up as her armsand legs flailed the air and Italian obscenities streamed from hervery beautiful mouth.

"Okay, okay, Miss, that's enough. I thinkyou've made your point. We don't want to cripple him. Let's alljust settle down, all right?" said Vince, trying hard to keep astraight face.

The room erupted with laughter as thebartender and his customers burst into spontaneous applause inappreciation of Theresa's performance. One of the regulars, gaspingfor air, slipped sideways from his stool and spilled his drink,sending ice cubes skittering across the bar.

Chapter 2

 

 

Vicky watched the brilliant autumn leavesrain down; their flaming colors eddied and swirled in the lightbreeze to gather with fallen brown ones in drifts over the frontlawn. From her front porch, the autumn palette of the distant hillswas still magnificent. The morning sunlight dazzled the reds,yellows, and browns of oak and maple intermingled with the brightgreens of spruce, and pine.

"You missed the peak of the season, butaren’t the mountains beautiful?” Vicky asked, wrapping a sweateraround her, grateful for its warmth in the chill morning air.

Theresa smiled at her cousin. “Oh my god,it’s so gorgeous up here! I can’t believe Grandma Baxter never toldyou about this place.” She was curled up in a large wicker chair,cradling her steaming mug of coffee in both hands.

They were relaxing together on the widewrap-around porch after a late breakfast.

“Well, Nanna did tell me she grew up on afarm in upstate New York,” said Vicky thoughtfully.

“I guess you and Jack will live here on thefarm? I'll miss you being close. No chance you'll come back toJersey?”

"No,” said her cousin, “I really love it hereand I know Jack would never want to leave. We’ll live here inNanna's big house and Jack will continue farming and taking care ofthe orchards. Hey, we’ve got plans for remodeling the kitchen."

“That would be awesome. The kitchen totallyscreams out 1950’s! How old is that fridge anyway? Amazing it stillworks.”

Vicky laughed, “That’ll be the first thing togo.”

“I can’t believe she never told you she stillowned this place. Your mother must have known."

Vicky shrugged. "If Mom knew anything, shenever mentioned it to me. Nanna was apparently so unhappy when sheleft here, she never came back and never mentioned it. Her firsthusband, Charley, was allowed to stay here if he took care of theplace and sent her a support payment every month. I guess Nannawanted to keep her bad marriage a secret. She never told me aboutthat either. Charley was Jack's uncle, but that's another long,weird, story. Tell you all about that some time."

"Divorce wasn’t common back then. Maybe Nannawas ashamed,” suggested Theresa.

Vicky took a deep breath as she nestled intoanother wicker chair. "After Mom and Dad were killed in that carcrash in Pennsylvania, I went to live with Nanna. That’s when Irealized she’d started losing her memory. I knew nothing about herearly life in this little town until I got a phone call from herlawyer, Fred Douglas, last spring,"

“You were so devoted to her. I don’t know howyou did it, taking care of her all those years,” she said.

“You just take it one day at a time,” Vickyanswered. “You’re just like me. What about all the time you’vespent managing your family’s restaurants? Now they’re some of themost successful places in Jersey and it's because of all your hardwork.”

“But I wasn’t alone like you were. Mom andDad were always around." She sighed, looking out at the splashes ofcolor on the mountainsides. "Of course Mom and Dad were the onesthat insisted on hiring Tony. They wanted to fix me up with ‘a niceItalian boy’, their best friend’s son.”

“And now you’re planning a beautiful Junewedding.” Vicky smiled at her cousin. Theresa didn't resemble hermuch. Entirely Italian, her olive complexion, dark eyes and hairwere unlike Vicky’s own auburn locks and hazel eyes. Theresa wastiny with shapely hips and ample breasts. Her cousin was tall andslender with small even features.

Vicky looked at her cousin. “In a few months,we'll both be married. Who would have thought?”

“Life’s full of surprises.” Theresa drainedher coffee and sat silently staring into the empty mug for aminute. “Anyway, Tony gave me a big surprise a few weeks ago.” Thenher head came up and she looked at her cousin with a painedexpression. “Nice Italian boy, my ass! I walked in on that no goodbastard and my best friend, Maryanne.”

Vicky froze. “And they were...?”

Theresa suddenly unburdened herself in a rushof words. “There they were, naked, twisted around each other likepretzels, screwing right in front of me. Tony is a no goodson-of-a-bitch! Excuse me. I'm sorry Vicky. I wasn’t going to tellyou. I don't want to ruin your wedding with my problems.” Shesniffed, brushing tears from her cheeks before changing thesubject. "I'm really happy for you, Vicky and I can't wait to meetJack. You two are so lucky to have each other."

“Terry, I can’t believe it! How could anybodycheat on you? You’re so beautiful," she said, shocked. “You don'tdeserve to be treated like that! I hope you dumped his ass!

Her magnificent eyes flashed like a pair ofglittering black opals in the sunlight. “You bet I did. Thebastard's been cheating on me the whole time. I never want to seehim again”

“I guess you told your mom and dad?”

“Yeah. There's no engagement, no wedding, nonothing. It's off!" The hard expression softened, her chinquivered, and Theresa dabbed at her tears. “Mom and Dad know that Icalled the engagement off, but I couldn't tell them about Tonycheating on me.”

“No, that wouldn’t be easy. Maybe it’s betterthey don't know,” said Vicky.

“I wanted to warn you guys. I wanted you tounderstand, I might be a little down, but I’m really, really happyfor you.”

"Oh, Honey, it’s okay. I don't blame you."She hugged her cousin, and then reached for a box of tissues as thetears came in a sudden stream.

"Thanks.” She plucked a handful of tissuesfrom the box and wiped her eyes. We were pretty close when we werekids.”

"We’re still close Terry.”

“Remember how the family would always betogether on Christmas or Thanksgiving or whatever, and we'd havesleepovers, just you and me. We'd play princess, dress up, and talkabout our handsome prince coming along some day? Well, I'm here totell you, girl, there's no such thing. At least Tony was no prince.The bastard turned out to be a big ugly friggin' toad instead.”

“I’m sorry we haven't spent much timetogether for a few years. What with taking care of Nanna, and youworking twenty-four-seven at the restaurant, but I never thought weweren't still best friends, best cousins. Soooo. Tell me whathappened. Tony is a son-of-a-bitch? Go ahead and tell meeverything."

She nodded and sniffed. "He was cheating onme the whole time!” A mirthless grin spread over her face, but wasgone again in an instant. “After I caught that bastard banging mybest friend, I asked him why. Tony said he had to cheat because Ihad no time for him, and I was no good in bed anyway. Can youbelieve it?”

“Oh no! Honey you know he’s lying. He'sprobably just saying that to get back at you for catching him inthe act.”

“Maybe,” sighing, Theresa continued, “I’dbeen trying to call him. It was important. I needed to talk to himabout scheduling the restaurant wait staff for an event. There wasno answer on his cell, so I figured maybe he left it somewhere orhad it turned off. Who knows? So, I stopped by his place on my wayhome." She paused, plucked more tissues from the box, and blew intothem.

"Oh Terry, this doesn't sound good,” saidVicky leaning forward, her brow creased in sympathy.

"No, it wasn't good at all.” She looked downat the hands twisting in her lap. “There was loud music on, so whenhe didn’t answer the door, I let myself in. I couldn't believe it.For a minute I just stood there staring, like an idiot, until theysaw me."

Vicky sat quietly waiting for her to continuemurmuring a weak, "How awful."

"So, I didn't say anything, just turned andwalked out. I never want to see him again. A few minutes later, Isaid plenty. On my way home, I called his cell and left a message.Told him he was a rotten son-of-a-bitch and I fired him. Told him Iwas going to sell the ring. At least that way I'll come out of itwith something.” She wiped away a tear. “Know what I mean?”

“Of course I do.” Vicky reached for herhands.

“He was no good from the start. I think hewanted a partnership in the restaurants, more than he wanted me. Ishould’ve known, should have seen it coming. There's something elsetoo, besides his cheating on me. Vicky, I think Tony's involved insomething illegal, something kind of shady, but I have no ideawhat."

She leaned back in the big comfortable wickerchair and for a minute watched the leaves falling and dancing inthe gusting wind. "Terry, you could never ruin my wedding. If youcan, I want you to forget all about Tony and enjoy being my maid ofhonor. I'm sure it's not going to be easy..."

“Tony was my first.” Terry confessed. “It wasso humiliating finding out that I wasn’t good enough for him as awoman. Screw him. The whole sex thing is so over rated anyway.What’s the big deal?”

“Vicky’s head jerked up. “What do youmean?”

“I don’t know.” Lifting her shoulders in anelaborate shrug, she let them drop again. “It was nice, but notlike all those silly unrealistic romance books talk about. Youknow, women falling in love big time, having incredible sex.”

“Maybe Tony was the problem?” said Vickysounding worried.

“Well, from what I’ve heard since we brokeup…he’s pretty popular with women.” She stood up, walked over tothe railing, and leaned against it and sighed. “I feel a littlebetter now that you know. Thanks for listening.”

For the moment there seemed to be little elsefor either of them to say. They watched the wind blow the fallenleaves across the lawn from one pile to another, drifting againstthe tall oaks lining the driveway.

Vicky looked away nervously. No one knew,except for Jack and her literary agent, Marsha Chandler, that sheauthored a popular series of erotic romances under the pen name,Tori Baxter. She'd carefully kept that part of her life hidden, butJack had discovered it before proposing that summer. He'd kept hersecret, letting on to no one in Pippin's Grove. Maybe, given hercomments about silly romance novels, this wouldn't be a good timeto let her cousin in on that secret.

Theresa's change in relationship status gaveher an idea. “I’m so sorry that Tony hurt you, but I did have athought,” she said, breaking the silence. “Now be honest with me.Will it upset you if I’ve paired you with one of thegroomsmen?”

Theresa shook her head. “I'm not going to bea drag on your party okay?”

“John’s a nice guy and he’s not seeing anyonejust now, so he has no date for the wedding. I’ll change my plansif it bothers you.”

“One or two days with some friend of Jack’swon’t kill me. I'm sure he's a nice guy.” Theresa came back andperched on the end of the chair next to her. “Listen, I know you'vegot a lot of friends and family staying here, so don’t be upsetwith me. I've booked the coolest room in that awesome little B& B in town. You know, the Scarlet Pippin. Their web site lookssuper nice. It's just around the corner from Paulding's Rest, soit'll be convenient.”

“But why? I thought you’d stay here.”

“Please don't argue with me, because I'vemade up my mind. I just need some time to myself. There’s a bottleof wine and a huge Jacuzzi calling my name.”

“Are you sure?” Vicky asked.

“Yes. Don’t worry.”

“Well, all right. If that’s what you want.You’ll like it there. The guys who own it now put a lot of moneyinto it and it's really very charming. They bought it maybe twoyears ago and I'm told it was pretty run down before they restoredit."

“I’ll love it. It’ll be better if I stay intown anyway because I need to spend time with Ralph, the guy whoowns the tavern, planning your reception and decorating the room.”She looked at Vicky. “I really love the historic old building wherehis restaurant is.”

"Ralph Spangenberg is a sweetheart. I'm sureyou won't have any trouble dealing with him on the food. We cantalk about the menu details tomorrow. Paulding's Rest does havesome history attached to it. Legend has it that it's calledPaulding's Rest because the local hero, John Paulding, stayed thereduring The Revolution. Everyone says it's a nice story, but notactually true. Jack's friend, John, is kind of a history buff. Hegoes to re-enactments and that sort of thing. I’m sure he couldtell you about it."

“That’s nice. Listen. I don’t want you toworry about the reception. I’m doing this for you. The event istotally arranged. I have flowers, tablecloths, and the candles youchose coming. Ralph has agreed to the menu, still subject to yourapproval of course, and he’s going to let me in during the week todecorate and set up. It's your day. Anything you want changed youlet me know, girl. Remember, this is what I do all the time. I’lltake care of everything."

"That’s so nice. I really appreciate allyou’re doing. Jack and I haven't given anybody much time to plan,but we just didn't want to wait. By the way, I want to reimburseyou for what you’ve spent. Give me a total so I can write you acheck."

Theresa smiled at her cousin. “No, that won’tbe necessary. Dad's taking care of everything. He insists on payingfor the reception and didn't even want me to tell you ahead oftime."

Vicky was shocked. "That's so incredibly niceof Uncle Dom. He doesn't have to...."

“Don't argue. Daddy says he wants to do thisfor you.”

“That’s so nice. He shouldn’t have to...”

Theresa held up a hand to silence her. "Dadsays no arguing. You know what he's like when he makes his mind upabout something. Now, we've got a bachelorette party tonight. I'mgoing to party with you and forget about that bastard, Tony. Thatreminds me, speaking of bastards, yesterday some idiot at thetavern thought I was a puttana!”

“What!” cried Vicky.

“Well, not in so many words, but theson-of-a-bitch announced to the whole restaurant, that I was thestripper for the bachelor party.”

“Oh my god! Who said that?”

“I don't know who he was, but he just walkedup and told everyone I was there to strip for their party.”Giggling, she shrugged. “Then…I had a little meltdown. The wholeTony thing was on my mind and I was in no mood, know what I mean? Iadmit I lost it and went ballistic. Afterwards, I felt a littleembarrassed.”

“Oh my god. Terry, I can’t believe it. I’m sosorry.” Then her chin shot up. “They’re hiring a stripper?”

“I don’t know what they’re doing. Men! Younever know what kind of crazy bullshit their going to do. They'reall the same except for, I guess, your Jack, right?” She opened thefront door and called over her shoulder, “I’ll be down in a fewminutes. I just want to pack my things.”

While Theresa was upstairs, Vicky took theopportunity to straighten up the kitchen and wash their breakfastdishes. She poured herself a fresh cup of coffee, wondering howsoon Jack would return from picking up his younger brother in PennYan for the bachelor party. How would her Italian cousins fromJersey mix with their friends in Pippin's Grove?

There's so much we still have to do, evenwith Terry handling everything for the reception. I have to lookthrough the invitation responses and come up with numbers for her.Tonight though, we'll just have fun, a girl’s party while the menhave their bachelor party downtown. I guess they’re going to haveit at Paulding's Rest. And what’s this about hiring a stripper? Ihope the party doesn’t get too wild.

Leaning against the counter she surveyed herbig country kitchen, mentally reviewing her remodeling plans. Thescarred red Formica counter tops and metal cabinets were easilyfifty years old if they were a day. There was no dishwasher and theancient faded light green refrigerator groaned and strained asthough it were giving up its death rattle. Running the entire widthof the back of the farmhouse, the room was easily thirty feet longand fourteen or fifteen wide. A stone fireplace dominated one wall,between wide doorways that led into the spacious living and diningrooms. Maybe a new oak mantle would lend character to the room.

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