Home > The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)(7)

The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)(7)
Author: Nora Roberts

“I have conditions.”

She plopped back down. “Name them.”

“I can’t afford first class, so fine, that’s on you. But I pay my share of the rest.”

“I don’t care about that.”

“Yeah, because you’re a freaking millionaire.”

She threw back her head and howled with laughter. “I’m a freaking millionaire.”

“That’s one condition. The others are just as solid from my side. When you finish eating, you’re going in there and washing your hair until you wash that stupid-ass brown shit out of it—for the last time. And you’re tossing that stupid-ass hair dryer out, the one you spend an hour with every morning blowing your gorgeous curls straight.”

He shook his head when she opened her mouth to object.

“You’re going to Ireland. Bet you won’t be the only redhead there.”

“I’m not the only redhead anywhere.”

“That’s right, but you let yourself be convinced the hair, your hair, made you look, what, frivolous? That it attracted attention—and why the hell shouldn’t it? Fuck that, Breen.”

“You’ll go with me, at least two weeks, if I go back to my natural hair.”

“That’s right.”


“Not quite there yet. I have one more.”

“You’re a hard sell, Marco Polo.”

“I ain’t no pushover. This one’s important, it might be key.” He leaned forward. “Tomorrow, we’re going shopping because tonight we’re bagging up damn near everything in your closet. We’ll drop it by the Goodwill tomorrow, then you, being the lucky woman with every woman’s dream of a gay best friend, are going to let me help you buy clothes that don’t hurt my heart when you wear them.”

“My clothes aren’t that bad.”

“Sad and pitiful is what they are, and you are not. You’ve let yourself think you need to be, or need to be goddamn beige. I’m not going to talk against your mama, because that’s not how I was brought up. But I am going to say, when you go talk to her next week, you’re going to look like what you really are: strong, capable, beautiful, and smart. And we’re buying some good makeup while we’re at it, too.”

“That’s a lot of conditions.”

“It is what it is. I love you, Breen.”

“I know you do, and so . . .” She held out a hand. “Deal.”

“That’s my girl!”


In another series of firsts, Breen took off work on the day of her mother’s expected arrival. She’d bought the listed groceries, put them away. After all, she’d agreed to do so.

She opened the windows, watered the plants, sorted the mail.

She had a calm, and firm, monologue in her head. In fact, she’d written out what she intended to say to her mother. She’d edited and revised it several times. Practiced it in the mirror.

Then she’d practiced it without the mirror, as she didn’t altogether recognize the person looking back at her.

She knew the drama of the change if only from the looks, comments, even compliments at work, on the bus.

The hair, flaming curls well beyond her shoulders—and Marco had vetoed her option of having it cut—made the statement. She wasn’t sure, yet, what the statement was, but it made one.

No chance of fading into the background now, she thought. She’d see, that’s all, she’d just see how she felt about it in a week or two.

But she knew already she liked her new—if limited—wardrobe. A few strong colors, some spring pastels—no beige. Pants that fit, a couple of simple, and pretty, dresses. One business suit. New shoes—she’d held the line at three against an enthusiastic Marco. And with Ireland in mind, a good pair of walking boots.

She’d stuck with sales, and had still spent more money in a single day than she spent on herself—just Breen—in six months.


Maybe it had been the rush of it all that had weakened her enough to let Marco talk her into getting her ears pierced.

She fiddled with the little silver stud as she looked at the latest text from Marco on her phone.

It said: Courage.

And as she saw the cab pull up outside, she tried to take it to heart.

Going with instinct, she went to the door, stepped out.

Because her eyes were trained on her mother, she didn’t see the man with the silver hair glance her way as he strolled by across the street.

Jennifer Wilcox looked, as always, perfect in trim gray pants, a light jacket in bold red over a soft white shirt. Her hair, richly brown, expertly highlighted, complemented her sharp-featured face with an angular wedge.

Breen saw the surprise—and, oh yes, the quick disapproval—as she walked down to help with the luggage.

“I’ve got this,” Breen said as she took the handle of the large wheeled Pullman.

Jennifer shouldered the matching tote and her computer case.

“I didn’t expect to see you here. Why aren’t you at work?”

“I took the day off.” Battling back the knee-jerk anxiety, Breen rolled the suitcase to the door and inside.

“That certainly wasn’t necessary.”

“It was for me.”

“Are you ill?”

“No.” She wheeled the suitcase to the base of the stairs, realized she’d started to take it up. Stopped herself. “I’m absolutely fine. In fact, I’m just terrific.”

“A new boyfriend, is it?” Jennifer set down the tote, gestured at Breen’s hair. “Is that was this is all about?”

“No, no boyfriend, new or otherwise. I’m a redhead,” she heard herself say. “I’ve decided to embrace it.”

“Your choice, of course, but no one’s going to see past your hair. How do you expect your students to take you seriously when you look frivolous?”

“That won’t be an issue much longer. I’ll finish out the school year, but I turned in my resignation on Monday.”

The fact Jennifer stared, just stared, brought Breen a dark satisfaction.

“Have you lost your mind? You need to rescind that resignation immediately. You’re not going to throw away your education, your security, your future.”

“I never wanted to be a teacher.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. And I don’t have time for this nonsense. I need to unpack, check in with the office.” She looked at her watch. “You have plenty of time to get back to school, apologize to your supervisor, and fix this.”


Jennifer’s eyes, a changeable hazel, narrowed with temper. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said no, and you’re going to need to take some time out of your busy schedule to talk about Mr. Ellsworth and my Allied Investment account. And my father.”

The color, rising hot in Jennifer’s cheeks, leached away. “How dare you! You went into my private papers?”

“My papers, but no, I didn’t. And that’s not the point. You lied to me, that’s the point. You lied.”

“I didn’t lie to you. I did my job as a parent and did what was best for you. I looked out for your future.”

“By making my past and present a lie, and miserable. He sent that money to me, for me. You let me believe he just left, he didn’t care.”

“He did leave, and I invested the money. You were a minor—”

“I haven’t been a minor for a long time.”

“You’ve never shown any skill or interest in handling money.”

“I’m not taking that.” Fury just erupted inside her. “That’s bullshit.”

“Don’t you dare take that tone with me.”

“I’ll take whatever tone I like. I worked two jobs, took out loans, did without, all so I could get degrees I didn’t want. So I could become a teacher because you hammered it into me that’s all I could be. Not that it’s a vital, honorable, incredible profession and vocation, but that those who can’t do, teach. How many times did I hear that, Mom?”

“You don’t have any other skills. And you’d better calm down.”

“I’m way past calm. I could’ve taken a couple semesters to explore, to try to figure out what I wanted to do, to be. I could have tried writing.”

“Oh please. Stop being childish.”

“You decided what I should do, how I should do it. How I should dress, how I should wear my own hair, for God’s sake. And you kept what was freedom for me locked in a file cabinet drawer.”

“I protected you! I’ve spent my life protecting you.”

“From what? From living my life? You told Mr. Ellsworth I had no interest in handling the money, you let him think I was incapable of handling it.”

“Because you aren’t capable, Breen.” Jennifer brushed back her hair, and her voice took on that irritatingly, endlessly patient tone.

“Look at you, right now. You find out there’s some money, and the first thing you do is quit your job. How is that responsible?”

“You know what I think’s irresponsible? Slogging through a job you hate day after day. Covering up who you are, or who you may be given the chance to be, because your mother’s made you feel inadequate.”

“I’ve never said you were inadequate. That’s not fair.”

“No, you’re right. Adequate was the line. Just barely adequate. And you know, maybe you’re right. Maybe it’ll turn out that’s all I am. But I’m going to find out.”

She took a breath. She could see, clearly, her mother looked ill, but she couldn’t stop. “You knew how anxious I was about the student debt, how I had to juggle my paycheck, take extra work to keep treading water. And you kept the money that would have let me take a good, clear breath secret.”

“It’s important to learn how to budget.”

Most Popular
» Magical Midlife Meeting (Leveling Up #5)
» Magical Midlife Love (Leveling Up #4)
» The ​Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash
» Lover Unveiled (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
» A Warm Heart in Winter (Black Dagger Brothe
» Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)
» Shadowed Steel (Heirs of Chicagoland #3)
» Wicked Hour (Heirs of Chicagoland #2)
» Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland #1)
» The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club
» Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #
» Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)
fantasy.readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2024