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The Jinx
Author: Lori Wilde




CeeCee Adams was cursed. Hexed. Jinxed. Doomed.

Forever unlucky in love and destined to traipse the earth as a single woman, compliments of the Jessup family whammy.

How else to explain the numerous failed marriages and hapless love affairs among the women in her family? How else could she account for the likes of Lars Vandergrin, a six-foot-four Neanderthal who wrestled for the WWF?

Lars had a grin to melt snow off mountain peaks, sheer blond hair cascading to his waist, and hands as grabby as quadruplet two-year-olds at a grocery store. The man also possessed the same rudimentary disregard for the word “no” as the aforementioned toddlers. For the last three hours she’d fended off his advances while sitting through the latest high-octane action-adventure flick, and she was quickly running out of patience.

Thanks a million, Grandma Addie, as if dating in this new millennium wasn’t difficult enough.

Fifty years ago, back in the old country, her maternal grandmother, Addie Jessup, had stolen a fortuneteller’s lover. The fortuneteller, a rather vengeful sort it seems, not only zapped Addie with the evil eye, but damned every Jessup female for three generations. No woman in Addie’s direct lineage stayed married and divorce was as commonplace as swapping cars.

Which was the very reason CeeCee never dated any guy for too long. She refused to fall into the same trap as her mother, aunts, and older sister, Geena. No multiple marriages for her. No revolving charge account at bridal registries. No ugly child custody battles.

No, siree. She was forever a free spirit. Single and loving it.

Except for times like these.

She’d met Lars when he had sought treatment in her physical therapy department for a torn rotator cuff. Over the past three weeks he had pestered her to go out with him. She had finally agreed, hoping to persuade him to appear in the wrestling regalia he wore as the Missing Link for St. Madeleine Hospital’s charity bachelor auction held annually the third Friday in July. The auction raised healthcare funds for Houston’s inner-city kids and having been one of those kids, it was a cause that held CeeCee’s heart.

At the moment she and Lars were standing beneath the porch lamp on the front stoop of her apartment. Lars had her pinned against the door, his hot breath fanning the hairs along her forehead, fingers thick as kielbasa twisting the top button of her blouse. She cared deeply about the charity auction but not deeply enough to grant this slab of marble carte blanche access to her body.

“Stop it.” She swatted his hand and her charm bracelet jangled. “I don’t appreciate being pawed.”

“Come on, bay-bee, you owe me.” He puckered his lips.

“Owe you? How do you figure?”

“Shrimp dinner, movie, popcorn.”

“Hang on, I’ll give you the cash.”

“No cash.” He shook his head and his hair swung like the blond mane on the My Little Pony her first stepfather had given her for her seventh birthday. “The Missing Link wants kissy-kissy.”

“If you don’t remove your hands from my body this instant, you’ll be singing soprano.”

He giggled and ground his hips against her. “You’re feisty. Lars like that.”

He’d been referring to himself in the third person all night.

“You haven’t seen feisty, buster. Hands off.” She didn’t intimidate easily, but a small splash of fear rippled through her. Lars was a very large man.

Immediately she thought of her good friend and next-door neighbor, Dr. Jack Travis. Was Jack home?

She dodged Lars’ attempt to kiss her and shot a glance through the sweltering June darkness to the ground floor apartment across the courtyard. Light slanted through the blinds.

At that moment she would have given anything to be with good old dependable Jack, listening to jazz music, sharing a laugh. Jack had such a great laugh. A resonant sound that made her feel safe, secure, and cared for. She valued their platonic relationship far more than he would ever know.

If things got really nasty, she would scream for Jack, but she wouldn’t call unless she had no choice. She proudly fought her own battles. Besides, thanks to the curse, she’d had more than her share of run-ins with guys like Lars. Still, it was nice knowing she had Jack as backup.

“Come on, bay-bee.” Lars cupped his palm against her nape. “Let’s go inside.”

Over my dead body!

“Listen here, Vandergrin.” She splayed a palm across his chest and cocked her knee, ready to use it if necessary. “Things are moving too fast between us.”

“You want me in your bachelor auction? I do a favor for you. You do a favor for me.”


This time she wasn’t quick enough. Lars captured her mouth and gave her a hard, insistent kiss. She was in trouble. Forget subtlety. No more Ms. Nice Girl. As for the charity auction, she’d just have to find another celebrity.

“Shove off!” CeeCee jerked her mouth away at the same moment Lars thrust out his tongue. Her forehead accidentally whacked into his chin.

“Yeow,” he screamed and pressed a hand to his mouth. “You made me bwite my tonwue!”



“Thank you for taking out my garbage.” Miss Abercrombie smiled at Jack.

The elderly lady, who had once been an exotic dancer and had numerous photographs displayed around her apartment to prove it, wore a blue-green muumuu with a bright-pink feather boa draped around her neck. She wobbled on three-inch mules and peered at him over the top of her soda-bottle-thick glasses. In her arms she held a snow-white poodle dubbed Muffin. The dog’s curly coat was festooned with pink bows, and her toenails were painted to match.

“It’s no problem.” He picked up the trash bag and headed for the door.

Miss Abercrombie clip-clomped behind him.

Every Sunday night that he wasn’t on duty at the hospital, Jack took out the trash for the elderly single women at the River Run apartment complex and for one other special lady as well. His next-door neighbor and best friend, CeeCee Adams.

At the thought of CeeCee, he smiled. Zany, bubbly, flame haired CeeCee with her fearless zest for adventure and her unbridled lust for life. He admired everything about her and wished he could be more like her.

Muffin whined from her owner’s embrace.

“She wants to come with you,” Miss Abercrombie said. “Do you mind?”

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