Jake and CeeCee
A Dear Diary…Series Short
By L. M. Reed
This short story takes place immediately following Finding Mrs. Wright, Book 3 of the Dear Diary…Series, and is the first meeting between CeeCee Wilson and Jake Wright.
Stay tuned for other shorts to follow…
The Dear Diary…Series is available on most e-book platforms.
Check out all the books in the Dear Diary…Series by L. M. Reed
The Eyes Have It
Finding Mrs. Wright
For Richard or Poorer
One Knight Stand
Take Your Mark
Judging a Book
Also, check out the Agent Jack Knight spin-off series…
Agent Jack Knight: The Beginning
Agent Jack Knight: China
And coming soon…
Agent Jack Knight: Russia
For a Paranormal romance check out
And coming soon..
With the killer out of the way and Allison—the love of his life—finally safe, Jake Wright relaxes for the first time in decades.
However, his most dangerous mission looms on the horizon, unlike any he has ever experienced before, and it will take every ounce of courage he possesses to brave the challenge.
It’s time to meet the family.
The Phone Call
“I’ll be home in about a week. I’ve missed you, sweetie.”
“I’ve missed you, too, Mom. Do you want me to pick you up from the airport?”
“No…I already have a ride. I’ll meet you at the Barrett’s house for supper. Lydia offered to let me stay with them until…for a while.”
“Okay, I’ll let Mark know. Be careful.”
“I will, but since I won’t be the one actually flying the plane…”
“Was that humor? No, it can’t be…my mother frowns upon such things.”
“Very funny, CeeCee…behave yourself and I’ll see you soon.”
“Jake…?” Allison ventured tentatively.
“Hmm…?” Jake replied absently.
“I was just wondering…won’t it be a bit difficult to drive without a steering wheel?”
“Without a steering wheel…?”
“You have quite a death grip on it and I’m afraid it’s about to disintegrate.”
Glancing down at his huge whitened knuckles, Jake grimaced and attempted to relax them.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Is something wrong, Jake? You’ve been even more withdrawn than usual since we left Colorado. Was it that phone call you had to take after we got to the airport?”
“No, that was just Mitch saying he couldn’t make it to the wedding and congratulating me on being smart enough to hold onto you.”
“You mean, rubbing it in your face and telling you ‘I told you so’,” Allison corrected humorously.
“You’ve certainly got his number,” the corners of Jake’s mouth lifted in some semblance of a smile.
Allison’s heart swelled with love realizing that she and she alone had brought a smile back to a face that had gone too long without. Although it might not be a pretty sight to other people, to her it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
“The director probably wasn’t too happy with him when he got back to the set,” Allison ventured.
“A fairly safe assumption…”
“So, if it wasn’t the phone call, what is bothering you? Are you having second thoughts?”
“Second thoughts…? About what…?”
“Marrying me…” Allison said softly.
“Never!” Jake jerked the wheel in shock. “Sorry,” he offered sheepishly. “Didn’t mean to do that.”
“Okay, then talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong, because I know something is and it’s making me more than a little nervous.”
“You and me both,” he muttered.
“That’s the problem…”
“What’s the problem…?”
“I’m…nervous,” Jake shrugged awkwardly.
“About marrying me?”
“It’s not that…never that…the thought of marrying you is the only thing keeping me from losing it right now.”
“Jake, you’re making me crazy! Just spill it, for heaven’s sake!”
“I’m nervous about meeting your family,” he said angrily.
There was a moment of silence and then Allison’s delighted laughter filled the vehicle.
“Glad I could amuse you,” Jake said grimly.
“Oh, Jake…Sweetheart…I’m just so relieved that’s all it is,” Allison said, laying her hand on his tensed forearm and caressing it gently.
“That’s so…normal…and after what we’ve been through, normal sounds so absolutely wonderful.”
Jake exhaled loudly in relief.
“That’s what we’ll do then…strive for all things normal,” Jake could feel his lips once more curving up in his version of a smile for a brief, almost imagined, second before returning to it’s customary straight line. “I never knew normal could be so…uncomfortable.”
“Sometimes it is,” Allison gazed lovingly at Jake’s profile, amazed that she alone could pull a smile out of the stony faced man she’d come to care for so deeply. “Don’t worry…I’ll be there to help you adjust to this whole ‘normal’ thing.”
“Always…?” Jake asked laying his own hand over hers.
“I plan to hold you to that.”
“As long as you hold me, my love,” Allison leaned over and planted a kiss on Jake’s cheek, “and never let me go.”
“You’re going to wear a hole in my mom’s carpet if you don’t stop the pacing,” Nick teased affectionately. “Maybe you should try sitting down for a while.”
“I can’t sit down,” CeeCee wailed. “Mom shouldn’t have told me she was bringing I. M. Donne to supper.”
“Well, it’s your own fault,” Nick said unsympathetically. “If you hadn’t insisted she explain who she’d hitched a ride with from the airport, you wouldn’t be in this fix, now, would you? You practically forced the information out of her, which I have to say isn’t like you at all.”
“There was just something in her voice,” CeeCee came to a stop in front of Nick pleading with him to understand. “I haven’t heard her sound like that since…since…”
“Since your father died?”
“Even before that,” CeeCee frowned in concentration. “It was like all the way back to junior high…since before he got really sick. She sounded…happy…and the way she said his name was the way she used to say Dad’s…oh my gosh Nick, I think my mom’s in love with him.”
“With Donne…?” Nick asked in surprise.
“She is…that’s the only explanation,” CeeCee whispered almost inaudibly. “But he’s so…old…and…well…fat…I mean, I’ve seen pictures.”
“CeeCee,” Nick said reproachfully, “You’re mother isn’t shallow. None of that would make any difference to her.”
“I know,” CeeCee admitted miserably, “but he’s not…he’s not…"
“Your dad,” Nick finished for her.
CeeCee nodded wretchedly.
“Do you think it’s mutual?”
“Of course it is,” CeeCee glared at him. “Who wouldn’t love my mom?”
“Not touching that one,” Nick chuckled, raising his hands in mock surrender. “Been there done that.”
“Okay, don’t you dare go there,” CeeCee warned, narrowing her eyes at him. “I had plenty of evidence to support my theory.”
“Hmm mm,” Nick murmured sarcastically. “Sure you did.”
“Anyway…as I was saying…” CeeCee continued glowering at him, “she must have…”
The sound of a vehicle pulling up in front of the house interrupted what she was about to say, and CeeCee jumped as if scorched.
Racing to the window, CeeCee pushed her face up against the pane, looking for all the world like a kid outside a candy store.
“CeeCee,” Nick touched her back gently causing her to jump, “I think it would be okay to go outside to greet them.”
Turning to face Nick, CeeCee’s lower lip trembled.
“But I’m scared.”
“Of what, exactly…”
“What if Mom is in love? What about Dad?”
Nick pulled CeeCee in his arms and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“I can’t imagine how it feels to lose a parent, CeeCee, but I do know how miserable your mom has been,” Nick murmured against her hair. “If she’s found someone to make her happy…”
“I want her to be happy, Nick, really I do,” CeeCee said earnestly, “but if she’s in love with someone else, then it means that Dad is really…gone. It’s like, I know he is…but still…” she trailed off before adding wistfully, “I wish Mark was here.”
“He’ll be here soon,” Nick reminded her.
CeeCee nodded and buried her face in his shirt, trying her best to hold back her tears. Nick slid one hand around her waist and tenderly caressed her hair with the other as his shirt absorbed the few drops of moisture that managed to escape and make their way down her cheeks.
As the doorbell sounded, CeeCee pulled back and swiped at the tears with the palms of her hands.
“Good thing I don’t wear mascara,” she laughed shakily.
“Is that Allison, Nick?” Nick’s mother called from the kitchen.
“Probably,” Nick hollered back. “We’ll get it.”
Turning to CeeCee, he asked, “Are you ready, my love?”
“Did I forget to mention that on top of everything else, I’m nervous about meeting somebody famous?” CeeCee asked flippantly, trying to lighten the mood.
“No,” Nick grinned as he reached for the doorknob, “I think you forgot to mention that part.”
Taking a deep breath and straightening her shoulders, CeeCee said, “I’m ready.”
Opening the door, Nick stepped back just in time as Allison made a beeline for CeeCee, immediately wrapping her arms around her.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Allison choked out as she pulled her close.
“I love you, Mom,” CeeCee whispered, squeezing her tightly. “I’m so glad you’re home.”
Pulling back, Allison turned towards the door watching as Nick greeted the incredibly tall, dark, and muscled figure that filled the doorway. Nick was tall and burly, but next to the man with Allison, he felt almost dwarfed.
“I’m Nick Barrett,” Nick said offering his hand to the giant, trying to hide his puzzlement.
I. M. Donne was nothing like his picture.
“Jake Wright,” the giant rumbled as the two shook hands.
“Jake Wright…?” CeeCee asked in confusion, “I thought you said you were bringing home…”
“I. M. Donne is his pseudonym, CeeCee,” Allison threw over her shoulder as she moved to the doorway to take Jake’s hand and lead him into the living room. “It’s a huge secret and you can’t tell anyone, but Jake is the author of the Agent Jack Knight books.”
“Oh my gosh,” CeeCee said dazedly, “You’re Jack Knight! I mean, he’s you…you look just like him…I mean, just like in the books, not just like Mitch Hunter. I mean, you kinda look like Mitch Hunter, but you look exactly like I pictured Jack Knight from the books. You’ve even got a scar—it’s obviously not an acid scar, so that’s different—but other than that, you look just like him. I mean, you have black hair and black eyes and you’re like huge and muscled, just like he is, even though you’re older than him, at least you are now, but I guess you weren’t when you started writing the books…”
“Breathe CeeCee,” Nick suggested humorously, suddenly appearing beside her and rubbing her back, “just breathe, sweetheart.”
“But it’s him, Nick,” CeeCee breathed in amazement, “It’s Jack Knight…the real one.”
“Nice to meet you, CeeCee,” Jake’s lips twitched as he held his hand out towards her.
“Are you trying to smile?” CeeCee asked in astonishment. “Can you smile? Because Jack Knight can’t smile…”
“Allison’s teaching me,” Jake admitted, eyes twinkling. “It’s a frightening undertaking, but she seems to be weathering it well.”
“I’m sorry,” CeeCee gulped, “I know I’m being stupid, but…I mean, you’re Jack Knight! I never in a million years thought he really existed. I just assumed the author…I. M. Donne…you…just totally made him up. He’s so stinking cool he can’t be real…but here you are…and you’re real…and I’m going to shut up now before I end up sounding any more idiotic than I already do.”
“CeeCee,” Allison prompted gently, “Are you going to leave Jake hanging?”
“Oh, sorry,” CeeCee reached out and grabbed the hand in front of her. “Wow, you have major humongous hands.”
“I’ve heard that rumor,” Jake acknowledged in amusement.
“Were you a government agent, too?” CeeCee asked wide-eyed.
“CeeCee…” Allison began.
“It’s fine, Allison,” Jake turned to her and placed a hand at the small of her back, “I’ve got this.”
Facing CeeCee once more, Jake said firmly, but kindly, “The Jack Knight books are loosely based on my life, CeeCee, but I officially quit working for the government over ten years ago. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Now, I need something from you.”
CeeCee nodded wordlessly.
“For your own safety, as well as that of your whole family, no one can know any of that or anything else we tell you or you discover about me unless I give you the okay. Is that understood?”
Once again, CeeCee nodded, unable to find her voice.
“Nick…?” Jake glanced over at him.
“We understand,” Nick assured him. “At the risk of sounding nosey, is there some special reason you’re letting us in on…well…all of this?”
“I’ve asked Allison to marry me,” Jake fixed loving eyes on his fiancé as he continued, “and she’s graciously accepted.”
“You’re marrying Jack Knight?” CeeCee exclaimed in shock.
“Sorry about that,” Nick grinned apologetically, “I’m afraid my normally well-grounded and down-to-earth fiancé is having a bit of trouble separating reality from fantasy. I have to say, I’ve never seen her quite this scatterbrained before, and it’s rather entertaining.”
“I’m not scatterbrained,” CeeCee objected, “just a bit…shell-shocked.”
“I apologize for the lack of warning, CeeCee, but your mother insisted we tell you face to face.”
“I just…I just need some time to assimilate all of this,” CeeCee shook her head to clear it.
Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” CeeCee assured them, adding under her breath, “…eventually.”
“So, have you set a date?” Nick asked.
“Um…a week from today…?” Allison replied uncertainly, eyeing CeeCee.
“A week…?” CeeCee squeaked, “but you just met!”
“CeeCee,” Jake reached out and grasped both of her slender, cold hands in his large, warm ones, “I’ve been alone for more years than I care to admit, and I can’t imagine going one more day than necessary without your mother by my side, but if you need more time, I’ll do my best to convince her to wait.”
CeeCee swallowed hard before asking, “Do you love her?”
“She’s my life,” Jake answered simply.
“Mom…?” CeeCee turned to look at her mother, standing next to Jake with tears in her eyes.
Allison knew what she was asking and, taking CeeCee’s hands from Jake, she faced her squarely.
“My love for Jake doesn’t mean I loved your father any less, sweetie, or that I’ll ever forget him. He lives in a special place in my heart, and I’ll always grieve for him, but he’s gone from this life now and in a better place and I have to accept that and move on. I know it’s hard, baby girl, but we have to let go of him. I believe your father loved me enough to want me to be happy, even if it is without him. I honestly never thought I’d feel this way again, but Jake is a wonderful man and I love him dearly. I just hope that one day you’ll be able to accept him into the family, because Jake has been without one for so long, and he deserves to be loved for the incredible man that he is.”
Tears streamed down both their faces as Allison once again pulled CeeCee into a hug.
“And just so you know, CeeCee,” Allison said as the two separated, “unlike Jake, I’m not willing to postpone my wedding, so I hope you come to terms with this before next Saturday.”
For a moment, silence reigned as all eyes focused on CeeCee, each one present waiting with bated breath for her response.
Finally, chuckling softly, CeeCee said, “Now that’s the woman we all know and love.”
Look for other books in the Dear Diary…Series by L. M. Reed
Like L. M. Reed on Facebook for updates on upcoming books
Go to lmreed.com for links to all of L. M. Reed’s books