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Alexa frowned as she pulled into the parking lot of Seth Carter’s condo, her mind finally slowing down enough to think about checking her appearance. She parked in the first space she saw open and flipped down a mirrored visor that had seen a lot of use.

Pulling a lip gloss from her purse, she quickly and expertly dashed it across the generous lines of her mouth. Her mascara and eye shadow still looked okay at least. No need to add more, she decided. And thankfully, the mineral powder she’d used to seal her foundation seemed to still be keeping down the shine on her face.

She pondered her reflection for a few moments, trying to be objective, but at the same time wondering why she didn’t care more. “Leave your hair alone and stop whining,” she said to the woman in the mirror. Seconds later laughter over her self-chastisement filled the car.

Brushing her hair would only make it flatter, so Alexa expertly finger combed it instead. Eventually, she had achieved what she considered to be an attractively disheveled look, falling somewhere between slutty-just-out-of-bed and alluring-come-mess-me-up-further. At least the lush locks she invested heavily in maintaining would partially save her this evening from looking like Jenna’s frump mom in her jeans and a shirt that had seen too much action that day. So what if a coffee stain decorated one breast?

“Oh Jenna Ranger, you sweet talking chip off the old block. Why did I let you talk me into this? I knew better.”

Her fingers sorted out layers and pushed their way up higher, pausing to massage her scalp while she tried to calm down enough to produce a genuine smile. Maybe she dreaded this evening because she knew the crowd inside was populated with Seth’s business acquaintances. None were friends of Jenna’s, but in the end it hadn’t mattered who the attendees were. She’d had to cave because her twenty-seven-year-old daughter rarely asked for anything from her these days. Mother guilt was still her daughter’s weapon of choice.

‘Stop by and meet Seth’s cousin Casey,’ Jenna had encouraged. ‘Please Mama. Two minutes—that’s all.’

And now here Alexa was—sitting in her car and trying to think of a good enough reason not to keep her word to her only child. She thought of her best friends and what they would say if they saw her slumped in the seat and feeling sorry for herself. One might be nicer about the advice, but they both would say she needed to go in. Sighing, she opened the car door, and swung her long legs out.

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