More Desire, Oklahoma

Reluctant Desire: Mastering Charity

(More Desire, Oklahoma 8)

Erotic Romance, Contemporary, BDSM, Romantic Suspense, Small Town, MF, HEA

Charity Parrish was madly in love with her sexy as hell husband, Beau, and thought things couldn’t get any better between them.

But lately, Beau had begun to exhibit a need for a more.

So she did what her sister would do.

She provoked him.

His reaction had the desired effect, his shock and anger unleashing the Dominant inside him with a vengeance.

Beau knew Charity to be calm and logical, with a soft heart, and feared that the need to possess her in ways he hadn’t before would scare the hell out of her.

In his playroom at Belle Fleur, his estate in Louisiana, they began a journey that drew them closer than ever.

He needed her to look to him for strength.

She needed to be all to him.

They found it in each other, and an intimacy that carried far beyond the walls of the playroom.

Excerpt

He ran a hand through his hair and met her gaze, his hands light on her waist. “I’m sorry.”

Stiffening, Charity closed her hands on the edge of the table. “What are you apologizing for?”

Beau offered a small smile, one filled with tension and self-depreciation. “For being so…intense.” He looked down at the photo of her. “Just the thought of any other man seeing you like that drives me crazy. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Deflated, Charity slid from the table and walked around it, closing her laptop and shoving it into her bag. “You didn’t scare me, Beau. You aroused me.” Glancing at him, she picked up the picture she’d been so proud of and ripped it to shreds. “Evidently, you don’t think I’m woman enough to handle that darker side of you.”

After tossing the pieces of the photo into the trash can, she hooked her purse over her shoulder and grabbed the bag holding her laptop. “I’m not stupid, Beau, and I’m not as weak as you seem to believe. I wouldn’t marry you until I knew that your playfulness didn’t mean you took our relationship lightly. You’ve shown me that love can be playful. You showed me another side of myself and made it clear that you wanted all of me.”

Beau stepped closer, holding out a hand to her. “I do, my love. I love every part of you.”

Ignoring his outstretched hand, Charity forced a smile. “Meanwhile, you hide part of yourself.”

His eyes narrowed. “It’s not that I’m hiding a part of myself. We play, Charity. I told you how important I think it is to play.”

“There’s more.” Charity lifted her chin, her insides clenched so tightly it hurt. “I’ve seen it. I’ve tried to encourage it.”

His eyes narrowed. “You try to piss me off. You try to make me lose control.”

Charity smiled faintly, wishing she knew how to make him understand. “At times.”

Beau sighed, running his hand through his hair again. “Baby, it’s not something I want to subject you to. I’ve always liked to play, but since…you—hell.”

“Since me…what?”

Beau closed his hands over the top rung of the chair. “I want more. You’re right. It’s a dark part of me that I thought ended when I met you.”

He lifted his head, something dark and tormented in his eyes. “With you, I’ve learned that wanting is much more intense when it’s built on love. You’re mine. You wear my ring. You bear my name. It should be enough. It was enough.”

“But it’s not anymore?”

“I love you.” Shaking his head, he grimaced. “Hell, that used to sound so profound to me, but now it doesn’t come close to describing what I feel for you. I love to take you slowly and give you the tenderness I need to show you and that you deserve.”

His eyes glimmered with something so stark it took her breath away. “I love when we play. But there are times when I want more. I want primitive. Raw. I want to drive you insane with hunger and show you just how much I want you. How much I need you.I want you to feel that hunger.”

With a sigh, he clenched his hands so tightly on the back of the chair that his knuckles turned white. “The need to possess you, have complete control over you is so intense that I have to walk away. It’s not something you signed on for. It’s getting harder and harder to contain. But I’m scared of setting it free. If you saw that part of me, it would probably scare the hell out of you.”

Closing the distance between them, Charity lifted a hand to his chest. “Do you think I don’t see it? How can you be so blind? How can you not see how much that darker side of you excites me?”

Dropping her hand, she tugged her purse higher on her shoulder. “How can you expect me to settle for any less than all of you?”

“Charity, you have all of me.”

Dropping her hand, she shook her head sadly. “No, Beau. I don’t, and it’s creating distance between us. That’s what scares me.”

“There’s nothing to be scared of.”

“Well, I am. You’re already holding part of yourself back from me. Eventually, it’ll be more and more. I can’t live like this, Beau. You always say that I’m impatient. Maybe I am, but I feel like I’ve been patient for months, and you still pull away.”

In a move too fast to anticipate, Beau gripped the back of her neck and yanked her closer, his lips hovering over hers. “Charity—”

Charity waited, the feel of his warm breath against her lips, the look in his eyes unlike anything she’d ever seen before.

The intensity in his look both excited and scared her, a look she’d seen only glimpses of in the past but now appeared more frequently.

Recognizing it as a part of him, a dark hunger for more dying to break free, Charity realized how much of himself he’d kept hidden from her.

She held her breath as the look in his eyes sharpened even more, the hand at the back of her neck holding her close, her face lifted to his.

His eyes suddenly became shuttered, and releasing her, he stepped back. “I won’t keep you from your plans. I have things to do myself.”

Sucking in a breath at the pain his cool tone inflicted, Charity nodded, finding she had to swallow the lump in her throat before speaking. “I’m meeting Hope for lunch. I’ll see you later.”

She went outside, closing the door behind her before releasing the breath she’d been holding, feeling better now that everything was out in the open.

And the different ways it could play out really scared her.

Submission to Desire: For Their Love of Brenna

(More Desire, Oklahoma 7)

Contemporary, Menage, BDSM, MFM, HEA

Royce Harley and King Taylor loved their wife’s playfulness, especially in the playroom, but had begun to sense a desperation in her submission that worried them.

They realized her need to play was her way of reassuring herself that they wanted her and not the submissives that visited the club they ran.

Anxious to reassure her, they changed tactics, desperate to establish the intimacy the three of them so desperately needed.

The flood of emotions pouring from her had them falling in love with her all over again, their tenderness getting through to her when nothing else could.

Happier than ever, they didn’t realize that the biggest threat to Brenna didn’t come from the submissives, but from a Dominant with an axe to grind.

They’d taken his submissive from him, so he would take theirs.

And since they loved her, the pain he inflicted would be even worse.

Excerpt

Brenna Harley-Taylor looked up from her dinner, eyeing her two husbands, who both smiled back at her. “You know, sometimes I still have trouble believing that I’m married to both of you.”

Royce Harley could have made a fortune as a model, his lean muscular physique, shoulder-length curly black hair, and a face that appeared to have been carved by the gods themselves made him so good-looking that his loving smile still had the ability to make her heart beat faster.

King, on the other hand, had more masculine features and could chill with a glance.

He wore his dark blond hair short in a military-style cut and had a body covered with corded muscle.

Both stood much taller than her, were sexy as hell, and made her feel deliciously feminine.

Royce reached out to run his finger over the emerald stone attached to the collar she wore, one that matched the stones in her wedding band, his eyes dancing with amusement. “I would think you’d be well adjusted to that fact by now.”

King raised a brow, his lips curled. “It’s a lesson I don’t mind repeating. Does this have anything to do with the bag you brought home with you from the lingerie store?”

Smiling, Brenna slid a hand from the stone on her choker downward, following the material of her low-cut dress to the curve of her breast, amused and aroused that both Royce and King followed the movement with their eyes. “It’s supposed to be a surprise. Do you always have to know everything?”

King smiled faintly and took a sip of his beer. “Concerning you? Absolutely. So what’s our surprise?”

Smiling and already aroused at the thought of their reaction to her purchase, Brenna reached for her wine. “You surprise me all the time. This time, I want to surprise you.”

Sitting back, she slid her foot from her high-heeled shoe and ran her toes up King’s leg. “You’re going to be busy tomorrow and tomorrow night with the auction. I see how eager they are to get one or both of you for themselves.”

King frowned and reached down to caress her ankle. “You don’t really think we’re interested in anyone but you, do you?”

Brenna shrugged, hating that she couldn’t help but doubt her ability to hang on to two such amazing men. “I know how much you like variety. When you’re surrounded by all those naked women, I want you to remember that you have a wife upstairs who’s more than willing to satisfy those decadent hungers.”

Royce smiled, raising a dark brow. “Decadent hunger? Is that what you call it?”

His eyes glittered with amusement and heat, his long hair loose now, the curls touching his shoulders, but it would be tied back when he walked into the playroom.

Brenna smiled when King caught her foot and lifted it to his lap. Turning to him, she wiggled her toes. “What would you call it?”

Leaning closer, Royce ran a fingertip over the back of her hand and down to her wedding band. “I call it love and lust for my incredibly sexy wife, with whom I get plenty of variety.”

She pouted, aware that both of her husbands’ gazes settled on her bottom lip. “Do you still feel that way? Maybe you’re getting bored with me.”

King took her foot and pressed it against his erection. “Never. I knew we should have gotten a privacy booth.”

Royce shrugged. “They were booked. Besides, our little sub is too loud when she comes to take her here.”

King smiled and ran his hand up her leg, running his fingertips over her silk stocking and to the spot at the back of her knee that drove her crazy. “Even when we gag her. Do you want dessert, Red?”

Brenna giggled, her pussy clenching. “I don’t think what I have on under this dress is going to allow that.”

Royce sat forward, his eyes narrowed, the look of a Dominant. “What do you have on under there?”

Brenna smiled. “I know how much you like dressing me in black.”

King’s eyes narrowed. “You’re wearing black under that dress? Black what?”

She’d bought a leather corset with cutouts at her breasts, slit, and bottom, trimmed in the lace that matched the top of her stockings.

Unable to stop smiling, she pulled her leg from King’s grasp and straightened, reaching for her wine again. “A little leather. A little lace.”

Royce lifted his hand for the check, his eyes raking over her. “Your bag was from the lingerie shop.”

Brenna ran her fingertip over the rim of her glass. “I stuck the bag from Logan’s Leathers inside.”

King’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “We take you to Logan’s store ourselves.”

Amused, Brenna sipped her wine again. “You don’t have to worry about him measuring me. He has all of my measurements on file.”

Reaching out, she ran her fingertips up his arm. “Besides, the places you don’t want him to measure are cut out.”

Creation of Desire: Reassuring Rachel

(More Desire, Oklahoma 3)

Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Ménage a Trois Romance, M/F/M, spanking, sex toys, HEA

Running a business and caring for a sick baby didn’t leave Rachel Jackson much time or energy for her beloved husbands, a fact that hit her hard when she learned that her husbands’ ex-lover had been calling them for days, and neither Boone nor Chase had told her.

She believed them when they told her that they’d kept it from her to protect her, but their deception hurt her and shook her confidence.

How could she hope to compete with such a beautiful and sophisticated woman—a woman who’d had the ability to hurt them deeply?

Mona’s appearance brought back the insecurities Rachel had spent months struggling to hide—the fear that Boone and Chase had only married her because she carried their child.

While trying to reassure Rachel that Mona meant nothing to them, they dismissed their ex-girlfriend’s persistence as a nuisance, underestimating her determination to get them back.

It was a mistake they regretted, one that almost cost Rachel her life.

A Siren Erotic Romance

Excerpt

Despite her exhaustion, Rachel smiled at the rush of heat his devilish smile sent through her. They hadn’t made love in days, and she missed it, but she was so tired that every time she closed her eyes, she fell asleep. She didn’t have the energy to make love anymore and it scared her. “Thank you. I won’t be long. I want to finish my coffee first, though. I need all the caffeine I can get today.”

“I know. You’re going to drink it all day and make yourself sick.” Rubbing Theresa’s back, he rocked back and forth, lowering his voice to a whisper. “Something tells me our chat is going to be a little one-sided, but I’ll get her dressed and change her diaper again while we have a nice long conversation.”

Watching him go, Rachel sighed and finished her coffee, listening to the sound of Chase’s low voice as he disappeared down the hall. She could still hear the shower running, and hurried to join her other husband, Boone, before he got out. Hoping the shower would help her wake up a little more, she smiled at the thought of running her hands over Boone while he was naked and wet. He’d gone without sex for more than a week, and it had to be frustrating for him.

She started out of the room, pausing at the sound of a cell phone ringing.

With a curse, she followed the sound to Boone’s cell phone on the counter. The knowledge that he and Chase used their cell phones for their construction business had her grabbing the pen and paper they kept on the counter before answering.

“Hello?”

“Hello.”

Rachel stiffened at the husky feminine voice, alarm bells going off in her head. It wasn’t unusual for women to hire them, but something about this one set her teeth on edge. “Yes, can I help you?”

After a brief pause, the woman blew out a breath. “Put Boone on.” The demand in the sultry voice had a surge of adrenaline rushing through Rachel’s veins.

“He’s busy.” Gritting her teeth, she forced a cool politeness into her tone. “May I take a message?” When she caught herself trying to smooth her hair and straightening her stained nightgown, she inwardly cursed at her own insecurity.

“Oh. He’s probably still in the shower. I thought he’d be showered and dressed by now.” The other woman laughed softly. “He’s magnificent in the shower, isn’t he? They both are. If Boone’s busy, let me talk to Chase. God, he’s so playful and inventive in bed, isn’t he?”

Finding it suddenly difficult to breathe, Rachel pressed a hand to her stomach, struggling to keep her coffee down. “Who is this?”

Dizzy, she clung to the counter.

It had happened to her mother, and Rachel had sworn to herself that she’d never let it happen to her.

“I’m Mona. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” Her voice dropped, the challenge in it unmistakable. “Boone’s and Chase’s lover.”

Rachel’s hand tightened on the phone, bile rising in her throat as she recognized the name from their past. “I believe you mean ex-lover.”

Even though she told herself that this woman had to be lying about being their lover, her knees shook, the fear of losing Boone and Chase so intense, it actually made her stomach hurt.

Mona’s twinkling laugh grated on her nerves and made the pain spread. “I can see they haven’t told you that we’ve…renewed our acquaintance. Hmm, interesting. Well, I’m sure they’ll tell you when they’re ready. When I talked to Boone last night, he told me that it was a bad time to talk and to call him this morning. I’m sure he’ll call me as soon as he can.”

Gritting her teeth again, Rachel glanced toward the doorway. She would have liked to believe that neither Boone nor Chase would ever cheat on her, but they’d had a relationship with this woman in the past—something Rachel knew she would be stupid to ignore. “I’ll be sure to tell him you called.”

She definitely would.

Later—when she wasn’t so damned tired, and when she figured out just what to say.

Mona sighed. “I really do feel sorry for you, you know. Boone, Chase and I are so good together.” Mona’s voice lowered and took on an edge that sent another chill through Rachel. “Don’t try to get in the way. You played it real good—getting pregnant and forcing them to marry you—but you had to know it wouldn’t be enough to keep them.”

Rachel gripped the counter tighter. “Good-bye, Mona.” Disconnecting, she cursed and started to toss the phone onto the counter, pausing at the last second. Lifting the phone again, she quietly went to the doorway and listened to see what Chase and Boone were doing.

Mona had gotten to her, and she was already spying on her husbands.

Chase still spoke to Theresa from the nursery. “Yes. You’re Daddy’s little girl and when you’re older, and those boys come sniffing around you, Daddy’s going to scare them all off. Yes, he is. You think that’s funny, do you?”

Smiling at his sing-song tone, she blinked back tears, hoping that he would still be around when Theresa was old enough to date.

Tuning him out, she listened for Boone, jolting when she realized that she could no longer hear the shower running. Her heart raced at the sound of drawers opening and closing in the master bedroom, and she knew she didn’t have much time.

Calling herself all kinds of a fool, and cursing Mona’s small victory, she searched through Boone’s phone for incoming calls, her heart lurching when she saw that Mona had called several times over the last several days.

Neither Boone nor Chase had said a word about it.

Blade’s Desire: Adoring Kelly

(More Desire, Oklahoma 2)

Erotic Consensual BDSM Romance, sex toys, HEA

Kelly Royal has learned the pleasure of submitting under her husband’s gentle, but firm, hand, but Blade’s interest in dominating her seems to be gone forever. Going into labor a month early scared the hell out of her, and despite Blade’s efforts, he couldn’t hide his own fear—especially when things go terribly wrong.

Unable to forget the image of her pale and unmoving form in the hospital bed, Blade can’t even imagine taking her back into his playroom, and as soon as he brings her home from the hospital, he empties the room, vowing to never dominate her again. His fragile wife has been through enough, and he can’t imagine taking her the way he did before.

Kelly, though, has other plans. She wants her husband back, and frustrated that he thwarts her attempts to take her the way he did before, she takes matters into her own hands.

Excerpt

“You look very sexy tonight. Of course, you always look sexy, but when you dress for the club…”

She didn’t want to think about the women that would be there. Scantily clad, if they wore anything at all, and probably all stunningly beautiful. Thin.

“Hmm.” Blade nuzzled her neck in a particularly sensitive spot that he’d mastered long ago. “It’s nice to know my beautiful wife thinks I’m sexy, especially since I think she’s the sexiest, most desirable woman on earth.”

Turning away, she blinked back tears, angry that he would never see her as sexy again, scared that he wouldn’t be able to find the pleasure in her he had before. “Don’t patronize me, Blade. I’m fat and I waddle.”

She tried to push him away, but he cuddled her closer. “Let go of me.”

God, she wanted him so much.

It was a need that would go unsatisfied. Blade had stopped making love to her months earlier, too scared of hurting her and causing another miscarriage.

“Never.” Sliding his hands higher, he began to massage her breasts, his touch soothing on her aching body. “You’re mine forever. I’ll never let you go. Still sensitive, baby?”

Moaning at the pleasure, she slumped against him, the heat of his body against hers easing her aching body. “Hmm.” Turning her head, she lifted her face to his. “Yes, but don’t stop. I ache everywhere. I’m so fat that I can’t even get out of a chair without help. Very sexy, huh?”

Wincing at the tightening around her abdomen, she stiffened. Not wanting to worry him, she bit back a moan, grateful when it passed almost immediately. “You’ve spent months handling me with kid gloves. I was scared of you when we met, even though I was attracted to you—had feelings for you. You were so patient with me, until I could let go, and be what you needed.” Smiling she closed her eyes. “What we both needed.”

Opening her eyes again, she sighed. “But ever since I got pregnant the first time, it seems all you’ve been doing is taking care of me. Handling me as if I’ll break. I’m sure this isn’t what you expected when you married me.”

Blade rubbed her abdomen, his lips warm against her ear. “I got even more than I could have ever hoped for.”

Turning her in his arms, he frowned down at her, his eyes full of concern. “Kelly, you’re my life. You know how much I love you, don’t you?”

Love for him swelled inside her. Reaching up, she flattened her hands on his chest, flexing her fingers into the hard muscle she knew so well. “Blade, you’ve been so wonderful through my pregnancies and miscarriages. You’ve been my rock.”

Blinking back tears, she clenched her jaw when another pain hit her—like a rubber band tightening around her abdomen. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

“You’ll never have to be without me, baby.”

Scared now, she looked up at him through her lashes, and voiced the fear that had been choking her for months. “We’re never going to be the same, are we?”

Blade stilled, his eyes narrowing. “Kelly, what the hell are you talking about?” Wrapping an arm around her, he led her to the bed, urging her to sit. “You’re tired, honey, and you’re in pain.”

Wincing at the ache in her back, she laid on her side, curling her body as she searched for a comfortable position. “I know you love me, Blade. I know how much you want this baby. I’m just afraid. You haven’t touched me in months. I see the way you look at me. Something’s missing. I miss that look.”

Blade positioned himself to lean over her protectively. “Of course I want this baby. I want you, too, Kelly. I’ve never stopped wanting you.”

Blowing out a breath, he laid a hand on her abdomen as he knelt on the floor beside her. His expression softened, but his eyes narrowed in concern. “You’re tired, baby, and uncomfortable. Just stay here. I’ll call the club and tell them—”

She didn’t want him to see her this way. She hated the fear in his eyes. Knowing he needed a break from all the tension, she forced a smile. “No. Just go. I’ll be fine. I feel better already. I’ll just lie here for a while.”

Leaning close, Blade cupped her jaw, brushing his lips over hers. “I always want you, Kelly, but we both have to be patient. You really don’t expect me to spank your gorgeous ass while you’re pregnant, do you? Or put clamps on already tender nipples?”

Kelly swallowed the lump in her throat. It had been so long since he’d done either of those things. “Blade, you love sex. Love to play, but you haven’t touched me in months. Even after I have the baby, it’ll be a while before I recover. Then, I’ll be nursing. You’re never going to want me that way again. You’re too scared of hurting me now. I see it in your eyes.”

A sob escaped before she could prevent it. “Love isn’t going to be enough for us, is it? I’m going to lose you.”

“Kelly, that’s enough.” The impatience in his tone scared her.

She’d never known Blade to be impatient about anything.

Cursing, he ran his hand over her abdomen again. Closing his eyes, he blew out a breath, before opening them again, holding her gaze with his tortured one. “You’re getting all worked up over nothing.” Frowning, he glanced at her stomach before meeting her gaze again. “You’re having contractions, aren’t you? You’re in even more pain than I thought. Were you even going to tell me?”

He shot to his feet, cursing soundly. “We’ll deal with that later. Stay here. I’m going to go call your doctor.”

Desire for Three: Winning Back Jesse

(More Desire, Oklahoma 1)

Living in Desire, Oklahoma, and married to two incredible men, Jesse Erickson felt her world was perfect, until she walks through the door of her home one day and has her world turned upside down.

Shocked to the core, and with her world crumbling around her, she runs, too shaken to cope.

Clay and Rio Erickson hate keeping secrets from Jesse, but didn’t have a choice

They certainly hadn’t expected their wife to assume the worst and run.

With the help of a friend, they find her, only to face the horror of almost losing her again.

Scared and shaken, they get her home, still reeling from the thought of losing her. Determined to show her the power of their love won’t be easy, but they know just how to get their wife’s undivided attention.

Allowing their dominant sides to rule, they will plow through her insecurities once and for all.

Excerpt

Clay wanted nothing more than to hold his wife in his arms and comfort her, to feel her soft and warm against him so he knew she was safe. With a warning look at his brother, Rio, to keep his temper to himself, he put the phone on speaker.

“Of course we’re worried about you, baby. Please, just tell us where you are so we can come and get you.”

“No, Clay.” The trembling sob in her voice tore him up inside.

With his heart in his throat, he turned, meeting the cold, hard stare of Lucas Hart, one of the partners in Desire Security Systems—and more than that—a good friend.

Lucas had been giving him dirty looks since they’d arrived a little more than an hour ago, clearly blaming Clay and Rio for hurting Jesse.

Clay blamed himself even more.

He’d hoped, prayed, that Jesse would answer the phone and that Lucas could use some of his vast array of equipment to find her.

Clenching his jaw, Lucas motioned for Clay to keep Jesse talking.

Clay had no intention of letting Jesse hang up, especially after spending the last few hours out of his mind with worry.

“Jesse, what do you mean, no? What happened, honey? We don’t even know what’s wrong. It’s not like you not to talk to us. If you’re mad at us for something, I’d rather you just give us hell like you usually do. It’s not like you to run away.”

“I guess you’re tired of having a woman who stands up for herself.” She said it in such a low voice that Clay almost missed it, but she continued on before he could say anything.

“I’ll be back tomorrow. I just need to be alone tonight.”

“You don’t need to be alone. You need to be with us!” Clay winced inwardly as the knot in his stomach turned to ice.

He kept his voice low, struggling to speak calmly when he was anything but. “You said you’ll be back tomorrow. You didn’t say you were coming home. You’re scaring the hell out of me, Jesse. If you think I’m letting you go, you’re very much mistaken. Just talk to us. Let me explain.”

Her silence scared him, and for several heart-stopping seconds, he feared she’d hung up. When she spoke again, the weariness and distance in her tone frightened him even more.

“Clay, I really don’t want to talk about this tonight. I’ve got to go—”

“No. Don’t you hang up on me, Jesse Erickson!” He scrubbed a hand over his face, praying that Lucas would be able to pinpoint her location before she hung up. Worry for her ate him alive.

“Baby? Are you cold? You left without your coat. Please tell me you’re someplace warm, honey.”

The sob in her sigh tore at him, the effect also apparent on both Rio and Lucas as they listened.

Rio sank into a chair, hanging his head, his hair mussed from running his hands through it countless times in the last few hours.

A muscle worked in Lucas’s jaw, his steely gaze holding Clay’s and his stonelike expression even harder and more intimidating than ever.

Jesse’s voice, so sweet and with a tremble in it that brought another lump to Clay’s throat, came over the speaker, softer now than before.

“I’m fine, Clay. I’m a big girl, remember? I’m not one of those sweet little things that fall all over you. I’m used to taking care of myself, or have you forgotten?”

The reminder of the cold, withdrawn woman he’d met two years earlier, a woman that had thought herself incapable of loving or being loved, nearly took him to his knees.

“I haven’t forgotten a single thing about you.”

The ice in his stomach seemed to spread, making him cold all the way to the bone and stiff with fear.

Her tone, a tone he’d never hoped to hear again, sounded so much like the one she’d used when he’d first met her that his heart skipped a beat and he actually felt dizzy for a moment.

Losing Jesse would kill him.

He didn’t even try to keep his frustration and fear out of his voice, hoping to get through to her.

He had to get through to her.

“Jesse, of course I’m worried about you. You’re my wife. You disappeared into the night without no coat and no dinner. I’m sure you didn’t eat anything. I know you, baby. When you’re upset, Rio and I have to practically force you to eat. That means you’re cold and hungry and I can’t get to you to make you eat, or to keep you warm. You’re hurting and I can’t hold you.”

His arms ached to hold her close.

“Please tell me where you are, Jesse. We need to talk, to straighten this out. I can’t stop thinking about the way you looked at me.” That look of confusion and hurt in her eyes would haunt him forever.

Jesse’s choked sigh cut his heart to shreds. “We’ll talk, Clay. Tomorrow. Look, I’m sorry I acted like a coward and ran off that way, but it was such a shock. I’ve been stupid and never saw it coming. I should have paid more attention. I should have realized that you felt neglected.”

Her voice lowered, so low he had trouble hearing her.

“I’ve always suspected it would end some day. I knew better. I just thought I would see it coming.”