I’ve returned for more #MemorableMomentMonday featuring upcoming Totally Folked hero, Jackson James. I thought it might be fun to throw it on back to the beginning, when you (the awesome reader) first meets Jackson on page. There’s a raccoon attack and a bear and a high school ex and an irritated Viking. All the things are happening in this scene. And I can’t wait for you to meet present-day Jackson on JULY 20th!! WOOT!
“Ashley? Ashley Winston?”
I turned and blinked at my name, my eyebrows high on my forehead. Standing on the other side of the table was a man, and this man looked remarkably familiar. His hair was blond and cut short, his eyes were brown, he was approximately my age, and he was roughly six feet tall. The man was in a blue police uniform, which fit him very, very well. He had a beard covering his square jaw. At present, all his white teeth were on display in a wide smile.
“Ashley? It’s me, Jackson.” He indicated himself with both his hands.
I frowned at the name from my past and allowed my eyes to dart over him again.
I knew the name Jackson exceedingly well because Jackson was the name of my high school boyfriend and best friend growing up. But the Jackson I knew was short and scrawny, Anderson Cooper pale, played the oboe in the high school band, and had a severe acne problem.
He was not a muscular, six-foot police officer with a golden tan, a sandy beard, and a manly-man voice.
“Ashley, it’s Jackson.” His grin became lopsided and boyish. “Don’t tell me I’ve changed that much.”
I flinched when I finally recognized him because he had changed that much, but his smile was exactly the same.
“Oh my dear Lord!” I blurted then shot to my feet, letting go of Drew’s hand. “Jackson James?”
Jackson came around the table, nodding the whole time. “Girl, what the hell happened to you? You look like you just fought off a black bear.”
“You have no idea.” A laugh tumbled from my lips as he folded me into his arms, giving me a big hug.
Jackson withdrew but continued to hold my hands in his. “I heard a little of it on the radio when it was called in.” Jackson’s eyes flickered over my shoulder to where Drew stood behind me, then they came back to rest on my face. “I heard about your momma. I’m so sorry.”
I flinched again, this time because I’d completely forgotten about what was going on with my momma. I’d been entirely wrapped up in surviving; then, when it was over and I was safe, I couldn’t seem to focus on anything tangible except Drew’s impossibly handsome facial features, the warmth of his hands, the deep steadiness of his voice, and his shirtlessness.
“I’m so sorry,” Jackson repeated, squeezing my hand. “I wondered if you would be in town. I’m just sorry it had to take a bear attack for us to run into each other.”
“I’m surprised you decided to come all the way out here.” This comment came from Jethro, who was suddenly at my side. My brother’s proximity forced Jackson to drop my hands and take a step backward. “Isn’t this a little out of your jurisdiction, Jack?”
“Yes, to be honest. Yes it is.” Jackson’s eyes flickered between mine and Jethro’s, his expression open and guileless. “But the report made it sound like there was an exchange of gunfire. And when I heard Ashley’s name….”
I felt a hand on my hip and a chest at my back. I deduced it was Drew’s when he whispered, “Let me take you to get you cleaned up,” his breath warm on my neck.
Unthinkingly, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, I leaned back against him. He slipped his arm around my waist and turned slightly to address the room.
“That’s enough,” Drew said. “She’s done. You all need to leave.”
I wasn’t surprised when no one argued this time, given the tone of his voice. Even if he didn’t have several inches on every man in the room, Drew’s commanding presence and aura of perpetual in-chargeness would have been enough. I surmised that when Drew Runous put his foot down about a matter, nobody was quick to contradict.
Bearded men were grabbing their hats and muttering to each other, their shoes scuffing on the wooden floor as they departed. I didn’t miss that Jackson’s eyes were focused on Drew’s arm around my waist before they lifted to mine.
“I’ll stop by the house this week so we can catch up.” He gave me a friendly smile. “You’re a very lucky young lady, Ashley Winston.”
Who remembers this one? What are some others you think deserve Memorable Moment Monday status?
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