Check out Excerpt 6 of Lake of Lies!

September 30, 2008 at 3:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you are all enjoying Lake of Lies.  This book is close to my heart, because it is the second book I wrote.  It is also special because this was an idea that I wanted to do for years before I wrote it.  I hope you are all enjoying it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Excerpt 6

Samantha was silent the whole way back.  Hearing everything she thought about Nick repeated by his own brother tore at her insides.   She had stilled the impulse to defend him knowing it would only serve to anger Derek more.  Of all people, she was the last person who should be on Nick’s side right now.   But she had to wonder if Derek right about him?  A few hours ago, she herself hadn’t trusted Nick.  Now, she wasn’t so sure if it was Nick that she couldn’t trust or herself. 

They pulled around to the front of the house.  Derek got out of the car turning to face her as they reached the steps leading up to the front door.  “I think that I’m going to take a swim before dinner.  Do you want to join me?” 

The thought of returning to the lake with Derek made her head spin.  “No, I went earlier.  I think I’ll go upstairs and rest for a while, instead.” 

He gave her a quick kiss before heading toward the lake.  She climbed the large staircase trying not to think about her conversation with Derek.  She had never seen him act this way, and she wasn’t sure she liked it.  As she walked toward her room, she heard a woman crying.  She stopped in the middle of the hallway trying to distinguish where the sound was coming from. 

Christina’s door was slightly open.  She crossed the hallway to find Christina perched on the edge of her bed, her face in her hands as she tried to muffle her sobs.  She was about to ask what was wrong, when Christina looked up.  Samantha opened her mouth to offer some words of comfort, but Christina got up walking over to the door.  She kept her eyes trained on Samantha as she slammed the door in her face. 

Samantha stared at the closed door wondering why the other woman hated her so much.  It didn’t make any sense.  Her thoughts returned to Derek.  She could only guess that Christina’s anger was directly related to the fight she had with Derek.  Obviously the fight was about her.  It was clear that Christina didn’t want her here. 

But why? 

She retreated to her room feeling more and more like an outsider.  It seemed that everyone was on edge.  She was in the middle of a war zone.  Besides the tension brewing between her and Nick, it seemed that Christina and Derek were ready to tear each other apart too.  The mere thought of Nick made her wonder what he was doing right now.  He obviously didn’t want to be here either.  It seemed that even Derek had changed his disposition toward her.  One minute he was the loving boyfriend she remembered, and the next he was a stranger.  Whenever she tried to talk to him, he put up a wall of indifference.  Most of all, she wondered where Nick had gone and if, despite Derek’s uncomforting words, he would come back

At the moment, Nick was cursing himself a fool in the worst way.  He would give anything to turn back the clock and not walk out like a coward.  He had never been one to give in so easily, but seeing her with his brother had made him question everything he thought he knew. 

He had also been berrating himself for that stolen moment at the lake.  Thinking about that made him want to stay as far away as he could get.  Seeing her and not being able to touch her would slowly drive him insane.  He had almost convinced himself not to return and take the coward’s way out, but he couldn’t do that to his mother.  It would break her heart.  No, leaving had been the right thing to do.  He needed to get his head together before he went back to face them.   

The next day he went into the office, intent on shutting out the world.  Unfortunately, it never seemed to work out the way he planned.  Pete, his right hand man, barely heard his secretary say, “He does not wish to be disturbed” as he barreled through the door to his office. 

“So, the rumors are true!  You’re back!  I thought that you were supposed to be out till Monday,” Pete exclaimed. 

He glanced up.  Pete had been with him since the beginning of the company.  He had also been his best friend since college.  He folded his short, stocky build, which he claimed was all muscle, into the chair in front of his desk.  The streaks of gray in his hair caught the light.  Of course, Pete said that they were the marks that showed he was becoming more distinguished.  To which Nick would laughingly reply, “No, you’re just getting old.  Don’t try to sugarcoat it.”   

Pete never held anything back from him, which was one of the reasons they got along so well.  He said exactly what he thought.  Most of the time, it was a trait that Nick admired.  Today, however, he wished that Pete wouldn’t be his trademarked-self. 

“I came back with the impression that I might get some peace and quiet, but I guess with you here that’s out of the question.” 

Pete’s eyebrows rose at his candor.  He raised his hands in mock surrender.  “Ouch!  What happened to you when you went home?” 

His gaze lowered to the contract that he had been trying to read for the last hour.  “I really don’t want to talk about it.  I have a lot of work to do,” he said in an attempt to end the conversation. 

Unfortunately, Pete was never that bright.  Nick waited for the response that he knew was coming, silently hoping that Pete would take the hint, for once.  When a few moments passed with no sign of Pete moving from his position, he sat back in his chair in defeat, ready for the inquisition. 

“What happened?” Pete asked regarding him.  “Did you get in another fight with your brother?” 

He massaged his temples.  “Not exactly.” 

“So, what is it this time?  I mean the only time I’ve ever seen you like this was when you have a fight with your brother or when…..” he trailed off.  Pete stared at him, his eyes growing wide.  “Samantha?”  

His silence confirmed Pete’s suspicions. 

“When did you see her?” Pete asked. 

Pete had met Samantha a few times when they were dating.  Pete had even made a bet with him that he would be married in a year.  Nick won the bet, but he lost more than he ever gained.  When she left, it was Pete who had dragged him out of the drunken stupor he was in to make him face the fact that killing himself wouldn’t bring her back.  For the next few months, he had tried desperately to find her, but Samantha’s friends were nothing if not loyal.  Finally, Pete had had enough of the drama.  After another meeting where Nick barely participated, he sat him down for a stern lecture.  The speech Pete had given him that day was harsh, but well needed.  He told him to stop whining about his misfortune.  After a couple of days, Nick had returned to a more normal version of the man he used to be. 

“At my parent’s house,” Nick replied. 

Pete’s shock was evident.  “Why would she show up at your parent’s house after all this time?” 

Nick sighed, not wanting to rehash the details.  “She was invited.  My brother wanted her to meet his family.” 

Pete thought about that for a moment, and Nick could almost see the wheels spinning.  “Why would Derek….”  As his voice trailed off, Nick knew that he was finally putting the pieces of the puzzle together.  “Derek’s dating Samantha?” Pete asked in astonishment. 

Nick got up and walked over to the window.  His back turned to Pete, he stared out at the city below him.  “Bingo,” was all he could say.  The buildings littered the sky adding shades of gray to clear blue.  He had always loved this view, but today it brought him no solace. 

“When did that happen?” Pete asked. 

He crossed his arms over his chest, leaning slightly against the wall.  “A couple of months ago,” he replied. 

Pete was quiet for a moment, before saying, “How could she do that?” 

It was the ready response any good friend would have, but Nick couldn’t fault her.  If he would’ve done the right thing years ago, this wouldn’t be happening right now.  “Apparently, she didn’t know.  Derek never told her about the family.  And I wasn’t a bundle of information about him when we were together,” Nick answered. 

“So, what happened?” Pete inquired. 

He grunted.  “What do you mean ‘what happened’?  She’s with my brother, and that’s the end of it,” he bit out, wishing that he kept a bottle of scotch in his office.   Damn him for thinking that business should always be done with a clear head. 

Pete was quiet for a moment.  “Well, what are you going to do about it?” Pete challenged.          Nick laughed, the sound coming out harsh.  What was he going to do about it?  That was the million-dollar question.  If he had an answer to that, he wouldn’t be standing in his office talking to Pete, now would he? 

“What can I do about it?  She’s made her choice.  I have to live with it, and forget about her.”  The words cut into him like a knife.  He wasn’t even sure if such a thing was possible. 

“How did she react when she saw you?”  

Nick ran a hand through his hair.  “How do you think she reacted?  She was as shocked to see me as I was her,” he explained, returning to his desk to collapse into the chair. 

Pete offered him a cynical glare.  “I could have guessed that much.  What I mean is were there any sparks?”  

Nick braced his hands on the armrests of the big leather chair.  Were there any sparks?  Hell yes, there were sparks!  There was close to a full-blown fire!  Even with all of the distance he put between them now, he could still feel the heat. 

His silence confirmed what Pete already knew. 

“So, what do you intend to do about it?  And don’t give me that ‘throw in the towel’ ‘take it like a man’ stuff, because I know you better than that.” 

He couldn’t help the grin at his friend’s words.  That was true enough.  Pete knew him too well, which was why this conversation hadn’t ended like it should have ten minutes ago.  “I have to.  I have no choice,” he admitted. 

“Don’t tell me you’re going soft?  Have you lost your killer instinct?”  Pete jeered.

 “Maybe I’m getting wiser as I get older,” he suggested with a smile. 

“No, that can’t be it.  Remember I work with you every day.  Besides, that’s not how I see it,” Pete snorted. 

He stared at his friend across the desk.  There were times when he wished that the other man would keep his thoughts to himself.  “How do you see it?  Enlighten me,” he answered sarcastically. 

“Do you really want to know?” Pete hazarded, his eyebrows rising. 

He spread his hands wide.  “I’m all ears.” 

Pete looked at him for a moment, as if judging how much he could get away with.  “Okay, I see a man that’s about to make the same mistake twice.  A man who knows what he wants, and is too afraid to reach out and grab it.” 

Anger flashed in his eyes.  “No, you see a man who had his chance, and blew it.  She’s not available.  She’s in love with my brother.” 

“Are those her words or yours?” Pete challenged. 

He stood up walking back to the window, needing some space. “She didn’t have to say it.  She’s my brother’s girlfriend.  It’s that simple.  The quicker I come to terms with that, the quicker everybody gets on with their life.  It just wasn’t meant to be.” 

Pete crossed the room to stand directly behind him.  He sighed heavily, placing a reassuring hand on Nick’s shoulder.  “You can’t always give in to Derek, you know.  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to fight for what you want.  He’s not a kid anymore.  He can take care of himself.  So should you,” he offered solemnly. 

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…


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Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

September 21, 2008 at 7:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a fantastic week.

Check out Excerpt 5 of Lake of Lies…

Chapter 5

Samantha sat on her bed wondering how things had gone so wrong.  Everything was spinning out of control.  She felt like she had been on a rollercoaster of emotion since she got here.  If only things were different…  She had to talk to Derek when he got back.  She didn’t want to hide things from him.  With the way she was feeling now, she wasn’t sure she could. 

She went downstairs, hoping to find some peace.  She followed the voices she heard to the kitchen opening the door to find Margaret embracing a younger woman.  Their heads rose at her entrance.  “Oh Samantha, I’m glad you’re here.  I would like to introduce you to Christina.  Christina, this is Derek’s girlfriend, Samantha.” 

She could’ve sworn that she saw a flash of anger flash across Christina’s face, but it disappeared so quickly that she couldn’t be sure.  After today’s events, it was definitely possible that her mind was playing tricks on her.  Christina came over to shake her hand.  She had to admit that the other woman was beautiful.  Her auburn curls streamed down her back stopping midway.  She was a little taller than the other woman, but she couldn’t deny that she envied the girl’s petite curves. 

“It’s nice to meet you,” she greeted.  She glanced over her shoulder at Derek’s mother.  “Derek didn’t tell me that he was bringing someone.”

Despite the other woman’s smile, Samantha heard the irritation in her voice. “It’s nice to meet you, too,” she replied graciously.  Christina’s eyes traveled her length in stern assessment making Samantha feel like she was being judged for a beauty pageant.  From the look on the other girl’s face, she definitely didn’t win the crown. 

Margaret came up to put her arm around Christina.  “It’s so good to have you back,” she exclaimed squeezing gently. 

Christina smiled at her.  “It’s good to be home,” she replied, covering Margaret’s hands with her own. 

“It will be good to have my family back together for a change.  We don’t see you often enough,” Margaret admonished. 

Christina walked over to get a glass from the cabinet.  “I know, I know.  But I can’t help it.  I’m really busy with school and work.  Where’s Nick?  I haven’t seen him in a while.” 

Margaret poured herself a cup of coffee.  “He had to leave for a couple of days.  He said something about a big deal he was working on.” 

Samantha joined Christina at the table.  The mention of Nick made the tightness in her chest return.  “Will he be back for the party?”  Christina inquired. 

“He promised that he would,” Margaret replied, taking a seat beside Samantha.  A commotion sounded in the hallway.  “Oh, what now?” Margaret cried out jumping up to investigate the disturbance.  “You two sit tight.  I’ll be right back,” Margaret said hurrying into the hallway. 

A strange tension hovered as the two women surveyed each other.  Silence gripped the room, neither one of them sure of how to break the ice.  Christina was the first to speak.  “So, you’re dating Derek?”

“Yes,” Samantha replied, not feeling the need to elaborate. 

For some reason, she felt uneasy telling Christina about her relationship with Derek.  Maybe it was because of everything that happened with Nick earlier.  She knew that it was silly to be so on guard, but something in her wouldn’t allow her to let down the wall she was holding up. 

“For how long?” Christina questioned, lifting her glass to her lips. 

“About three months,” Samantha answered.  She tried to tell herself that it was silly to be uneasy with someone that Derek thought of as a sister, but for some reason she still couldn’t relax. 

“That’s funny, he never mentioned you,” Christina said sarcastically. 

She had to admit that the barb hurt.  Even if it was true, she didn’t need to be reminded of it on a daily basis.  Besides, why would Derek’s sister find the need to rub that fact in her face?  Her defenses up, she blasted away with the only ammunition she had.  “He didn’t mention you, either.  I guess he just didn’t think about it.”  She couldn’t stop that last response.  The tightening of Christina’s hands on the table let her know that her launch had made a direct hit. 

“I guess he had other things on his mind,” Christina mumbled getting up from the table. “Well, I better go unpack.” 

With that, she left the room, leaving Samantha feeling even worse than before.  She couldn’t have missed the dismay on Christina’s face as she dismissed herself.  What was going on?  Why didn’t Christina like her?  She barely knew her, and already she had been judged.  And, apparently, she came up short.  When she came here, she had hoped that Derek’s family would like her.  Now, she had one family member that liked her too much, and one that couldn’t stand her.  How had her plans gone so awry?      

Samantha got up walking into the front hall.  Margaret was helping Gladys pick up the scattered pieces of a broken vase from the floor.  She stooped down to help. 

“Oh Samantha, thank you,” Margaret said getting to her feet.  “I’ll go get a dust pan.”      Her melancholy look caught Gladys’s eye causing her to lay a hand on her shoulder.  “Don’t worry, honey.  Things will work out.” 

The other woman’s comment caught her off guard.  She turned to stare at her blankly.  “Fate has a way of stepping in, even when people are too bullheaded to see the right road to take,” Gladys whispered leaning close to her. 

“What?” Samantha questioned, not sure she had heard her right. 

Was she that transparent? 

Before she had a chance to respond, Margaret returned with the dust pan.  The two women scooped up the remaining broken pieces taking them into the kitchen for disposal leaving her left to wonder what Gladys meant by her comments.   With nothing else to do, she wondered through the lower level of the house for a few minutes, before climbing the stairs slowly.  If Christina was back, then Derek had to have returned, too.  She walked down the hall to stand before Derek’s door.  She was about to knock when she heard muffled voices raised in anger.  One of the voices belonged to Derek.  The other was Christina’s.  She couldn’t make out what was being said, but by the tone of their voices it wasn’t good.  She stood there for a moment wondering if she should interrupt. 

As much as she wanted to find out what was going on, she had already had one too many run-ins already today.  She turned away walking the length of the hall to her room.  She had been through enough today.  Besides, it wasn’t her place to intrude on what was definitely a very personal conversation.  Still, when she returned to her room, she had to wonder.  What were they discussing?  Was it her?  Why did they both sound so angry? 

From her earlier conversation with Christina, she had to guess that she was probably the topic of discussion.  She seemed to be the villain in every situation here.  And the worst part was that she wasn’t even trying.  If she was, she could only imagine the damage she would do.  She sat back on the bed wishing that she was in her own place.   

A knock at her door jolted her.  She got to her feet crossing the room to find Derek standing at the door.  He came into her room shutting the door behind him.  He walked over to the bed leaving her standing there beside the door to stare at him curiously.  From the look on his face, she could tell that his conversation with Christina had ended badly.  He kept his back turned to her. 

Curiosity killed the cat, she warned herself.   Still, her curiosity was going to kill her anyway if she didn’t ask.  “What’s wrong?” she asked innocently, as if she hadn’t been trying to eavesdrop outside his door only moments prior. 

“Nothing,” he bit out.  Suddenly, he turned to face her.  “Do you want to go for a drive with me?” 

His question stunned her, but it was obvious that he had heavy thoughts weighing on his mind.  “Okay,” she agreed hoping that he would confide in her once they were alone. 

They hurried down the stairs to his car, his hand guiding her.  He opened the door for her, then walked around to get in beside her.  He took off so quickly that the tires squealed.  She looked back at the house.  She could’ve sworn she saw someone watching them through the windows as they disappeared down the driveway. 

They drove in silence for a while.  Tension radiated off his body alerting her that this was more than just a brother-sister fight.  His knuckles were white from the harsh grip he had on the steering wheel.  This wasn’t the Derek she knew.  She wanted to talk to him, but the expression on his face warned her otherwise.  When he was ready to talk, he would. 

It seemed like Derek was just as uneasy being here as she was.  She turned to stare out the window.  The beautiful scenery went by in a blur, just like the blur her life had become.  Just a few days ago everything had been so clear.  Now, everything was a mess.  A mess that she could no longer control or contain.

Suddenly, Derek pulled the car over to the side of the road.  He turned in his seat to face her.  The desperation in his eyes frightened her, but she quickly stilled the automatic reaction.   This was Derek.  He sighed heavily bringing her hands up to his mouth to place tender kisses along her knuckles. 

After a moment, he said, “I’m sorry that this trip hasn’t turned out the way we expected.” 

She reached out to gently caress his cheek.  “It’s not your fault, Derek,” she replied, her heart breaking for him. 

His hands came up to her face pulling her closer to his.  His lips touched hers tentatively.  Soon, his kiss became more passionate.  His hands swept down to caress the sides of her breasts.  She hesitated for a fraction of an instant.  She should want this.  He pulled her more tightly against him, not allowing her any quarter.  His lips trailed kisses along her jaw to her ear.

“There’s a hotel up the street.  We could get a room.  I know you don’t feel comfortable in my parent’s house, but we could be alone there,” he whispered against her ear.

His suggestion made her stomach clench painfully.  Derek had never pressured her to advance their relationship physically.  And she hadn’t been in any hurry.  She had done that before, and she had been left broken afterward.  After her relationship with Nick failed, she had promised herself that the next man she made love to would become her husband.  Up until now, it seemed like Derek would be that man.  But after everything that had happened in the last few days, how could she say that now? 

She hesitated, unsure of what his reaction would be.  “Derek, we need to talk,” she offered softly. 

“What is it, love?” he asked, already beginning to nibble on her ear. 

She tried to gather the courage to confess everything.  Her mind screamed it.  Tell him!! She opened her mouth to say it but he silenced her with a finger. 

“Look, if it’s something bad, let’s not talk about it now.” 

“But,” she stuttered. 

His hands came up to caress her cheeks.  “Can’t it wait till we get home?” he pleaded. 

She took a deep breath.  “I don’t know,” she answered honestly. 

Sensing her indecision, he smiled.  “Well, I do.  This week has already been hell.  I don’t know if I can take anything else spoiling this trip.  Let’s just try to have a good time for the days that are left, okay?  Please.  When we get home, we can deal with whatever you were going to tell me.” 

She looked away, unable to face the innocence in his expression.  If he only knew, she couldn’t help but think.  She knew that the past couple of days had been hard on him.  She didn’t want to add to things, but the nagging voice in her head warned that she would pay for this later.  Still, she couldn’t deny that she was happy for the reprieve he offered even if it may be short lived.  “Alright,” she agreed. 

She leaned over to place a gentle kiss on his lips willing everything to return to normal.  Later as they drove back, she wondered if that would ever be possible.  Had they crossed some invisible line?  Were they already too far to turn back?  She wasn’t sure anymore.  All she knew was that Derek meant a lot to her.  She couldn’t lose him.  Not now, when she was so close to happiness. 

 “From the look in your eyes, I guess the hotel is out.  Well, it’s probably for the best.  We should be getting back soon anyway,” he chided with a smirk.  He brought her hand up to his lips again.  “Thanks for coming with me.  I needed this.”

“Me too.”

The smile he gave her made her feel even worse for her duplicity.   She couldn’t help but wonder if he would still feel the same about her after he knew the horrible truth.  The thought made her feel sick to her stomach, but it was something she had to face.  Would he leave her?  Would he ever be able to look at her the same way knowing that she slept with his brother?  She didn’t want to Derek.  It was the last thing she wanted to do.  He didn’t deserve that.  He deserved someone sweet and wholesome.  He didn’t deserve to be with someone who couldn’t seem to keep their hands off his brother.  

 As they headed back to the house, she tried to ease the tension that still lingered.  “So, are you happy Christina is back?” 

Derek gripped the wheel so hard, she thought he might break it.  “Sure,” he replied curtly.          She stared at him curiously.  What had happened between the two of them?  And why did he seem to be so angry about it?  “So, I hear my no-account brother has already taken off,” Derek remarked with a sneer quickly changing the subject. 

“You’re mother said that he’ll be back in a day or so,” she replied cautiously.    

He snorted.  “Sure, he will.  That’s Nick for you!  Love em and leave em,” he said. 

She couldn’t help but feel offended by his words.  Why was he so angry with Nick?  She turned in her seat to stare at him.  “Why don’t you like your brother, Derek?” she asked hesitantly. 

He kept his gaze firmly trained on the road ahead.  “I like him.  I just don’t trust him.  You can’t depend on Nick.  He’s only out for himself, for whatever makes him happy at the moment.  And when it stops making him happy, he’s gone.  He’s always been that way,” Derek explained. 

It hurt to hear the words she already knew to be true in her heart.  Yes, Nick was not one to stick around.  He escaped with as few scrapes as he could leaving everyone else around him wounded and bleeding. 

It was time that she faced the truth about Nick…and herself.

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies… 

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Excerpt 4 of Lake of Lies!

September 14, 2008 at 3:54 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you are enjoying Lake of Lies.

Please check out Excerpt 4 and let me know what you think.

Chapter 4

 His lips brushed across hers tentatively.  She stiffened in an attempt to hide her reaction to him.  His hand came around to caress the side of her face.  His tongue traced the contours of her lower lip, the corners, and the stiff line where her lips held on to their last barrier.  When he began to nibble on her lower lip, a sigh of surrender escaped her mouth.  He immediately responded by deepening the kiss.   

She wanted to fight the feelings he was evoking, but there was no stopping it.  The sensation of him invading her mouth was too sweet.  She kissed him back with the same wild abandon that had always been reserved just for him.  Her arms came up to encircled his neck, her fingers tunneling through his hair.  He slid his leg between hers positioning himself, while his hands came up to her waist.  One hand ventured higher to trace the side of her breast, while the other pulled her leg around his waist.  Time seemed to stand still for both of them as they savored the touch and taste of each other. 

“God, I’ve missed you,” he murmured against her mouth. 

He trailed kisses down her neck nuzzling her ear on his journey.  His tongue traced the line of her collarbone.  “You are so beautiful,” he said in a husky voice.  He lowered the strap of her bathing suit.  Her breast was purt, her nipple taut.  He placed small tantalizing kisses along its surface teasing her, before taking the nipple into his mouth.  He circled it with his tongue, suckling her, until she thought she would cry out in ecstasy. 

When she thought she could take no more, he let his teeth lightly scrape the tender flesh.  A tortured moan escaped her lips.  Her body was on fire.  Every nerve inflamed by his touch, by his taste.  Her body craved his with a hunger she didn’t understand.   She wanted to feel him everywhere.  Parts of her body cried out to be filled.  The fire was consuming her.  She didn’t even notice when he lowered the other strap of her bathing suit.  She couldn’t stop her hips from rubbing shamelessly against his thigh.  One of his hands slid lower to clench her buttock as he let out a moan against her skin.  His tongue formed lazy circles across her flesh. 

When he started to lower her bathing suit further, reality hit, and it hit hard.  She pushed him away, quickly turning to the side to right her bathing suit.  In his confusion, she swam out of the alcove.  She heard him calling out to her, but she didn’t stop.  She swam across the lake as fast as she could.  Finally, she reached the shore. 

What was she doing? 

She was acting like a fool.  She had practically been ready to make love to him. She had all but begged him for it.  Damn him and the way he made her feel.  She didn’t want this.  She didn’t want him.  She gave her head a firm shake hoping that it would clear the warm tingling of her body.  Why the hell couldn’t he just stay away from her? 

He was Derek’s brother!  And she had just been making out with him!  She should be shot or maimed or some other horrible sentence that they do to traitors.  Why couldn’t she just have a normal conversation with him?  She grabbed her towel from the ground, her body still dripping.  She pulled it tightly around her leaving no room for air. 

How had things gotten so out of control? 

Nick was wondering that himself as he climbed out of the water.  “Samantha, I’m sorry,” he said standing before her dripping wet, his erection still visible underneath his trunks. 

He took a step closer to her, but she held up a hand to ward him off. 

“Just stay away from me, Nick,” she warned. 

He stopped in his tracks staring at her, as if to decide how best to proceed.  “Samantha, I didn’t mean for that to happen,” he admitted, taking a step closer. 

She backed away from him, shaking her head.  “I know, Nick.  You never mean for it to happen, but it always does.  So, let’s just try to stay away from each other from now on.” 

His face hardened.  A grim line formed on the mouth that had so sensuously destroyed her self-control only moments prior.  “If that’s what you want,” he conceded. 

“It is,” she agreed, turning to head back to the house.  As soon as she reached the worn path, she took off at a run.  She, who never lost control, seemed to have no power to stop herself where he was concerned.  No matter how many times she scolded herself, she couldn’t reign in her desire for him.  She entered the house through the back porch, hurrying up the stairs in case he followed her.  She could still feel the imprint of his mouth against her skin. 

Once inside her room, she changed into her robe and hurried across the hall to the bathroom.  After a quick shower to rinse the lake and Nick off her body, she felt a little bit better.  But disappointment loomed.  She still couldn’t believe she had been so stupid, so weak.  She returned to her room, hoping that Nick would stay at the lake for a while.  She couldn’t take another bout with him today. 

Not after what happened. 

She sat at the vanity table brushing her wet hair.  The brush stilled in her hand as she looked at herself.  What was she going to do?  She had to tell Derek about her past with Nick.  There was no way to avoid it now.  She couldn’t be alone with Nick.  And soon enough, Derek would realize that something was wrong between them.  Her stomach turned as she thought of what his reaction would be.  This week was stressful enough for him.  She didn’t want to add to that.  Maybe she could avoid Nick without making it noticeable?  Her hand fell into her lap. 

Why did this have to happen, when she had finally found some sense of peace and security in her life? 

 He felt like an idiot.  Worse, he felt like an idiot who was a horny teenager.  What had he been thinking when he’d reached for her?  Had he learned nothing over the years?  He shook his head from his vantage point on the large rock by the lake.  He hadn’t even tried to go back to the house yet.  Besides the fact that she didn’t want to see him, he still had a very noticeable reaction in his lower region that was a testament to her seductive power. 

Okay, so he had wanted to touch her, to kiss her.  He was a big enough man to admit that to himself.  Still, watching her with his brother for the next week was going to be pure hell.  He couldn’t do it.  He wished he was a better man, but he had to face the fact that, in this case, he wasn’t.  He stared off into the distance.  His options weighed in his mind. 

Should he go? 

Leave in the middle of the night when no one could pose an argument? 

If he did, there would be hell to pay from his mother.  Of that, he was sure.   Still, it was obvious that he was just making things more difficult by being here.  He climbed down from the rock pulling on his jeans.  As he started up the trail, he pulled his shirt over his head.  He had only wanted to talk to her.  To find out why things went so wrong between them.  Instead, he had ended up making things worse.  He didn’t want her to hate him.  And from the look in her eyes earlier, that was what was going to happen if he stayed.  There was only one way to make things better.  He hurried up to the house.   

“Gladys,” he called out. 

“I’m in here,” he heard her reply from the kitchen. 

He walked through the open door to find her at the sink cleaning vegetables.  “When is my mother going to be back?” he asked.  

Gladys turned around to look at him with raised eyebrows.  “She should be back any minute now.  What’s got your goat?” 

He pulled a chair around to straddle it, his forearms resting on the back.  “Nothing, I just need to talk to her.”  He rested his chin on his arms. 

Gladys chuckled.  “You can’t fool me, boy.  I didn’t believe it when you told me you didn’t break that vase fifteen years ago, and I don’t believe you now.” 

He sat in silence hoping that she would loose interest.  Unfortunately, when Gladys knew something was up she never lost interest. 

“It’s the girl, isn’t it?” 

He kept his eyes averted, so that she wouldn’t see the effect her question had on him.  “What girl?” 

“Derek’s girl!  What other girl is in this house at the moment?” she chided. 

His eyebrows arched.  She couldn’t know.  Could she?

Gladys turned around to study him for a moment giving him a smile.  “Did you think that I didn’t notice those long looks at dinner?” 

Had he really been that transparent?  An unwelcome warmth crept into his cheeks at her question.

“Okay, tell me all about it.”  He hesitated not wanting to reveal anything for Samantha’s sake.  “Nick, you know that anything you tell me will stay between us.  But you have to talk about it.  It looks like it’s about to eat you up,” she observed.

He sighed.  He hated to admit it, but she was right.  He did need to talk about it. His gaze met hers.  She knew him too well.  He had confided in her many times as a boy.  The time he had put a dent in his father’s car.  The time she had caught him smoking behind the house.  Never, in all those times, had she broken their confidence.  Sure, he had been forced to sit through a few stern lectures, but she had never told his parents. 

“Well, I told you that I knew Samantha before,” he began slowly. 

“Derek said you did some sort of business deal together,” she replied. 

He ran his fingers through his hair.  “It was a little bit more than that.” 

She looked at him, her gaze intent.  “How much more?” she asked. 

He hesitated for a moment.  Somehow, he couldn’t find the words to describe the thoughts racing through his mind.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have to, because his silence gave him away. 

“I see,” she said knowingly.  She looked away, a crease marking her forehead as she weighed the depth of the situation in her mind.  “I take it Derek doesn’t know about any of this,” she questioned. 

He quickly shook his head. 

“I doubt that they would still be here if he did,” she murmured lost in thought.  She studied him intently.  It was her piercing look.  The one that made him feel that she could see right through his soul.   He shifted uneasily in his chair. 

“Well, how do you feel about this girl, Nick?” 

His eyes met hers, mixed emotions flooding through him.  How did he feel about Samantha?  Where should he start?   “What do you mean?” he asked defensively.  “She’s with Derek, now.” 

She smiled.  “Well, good,” she said getting up to return to the sink.  “I’m glad that you realize that fact, and respect it.  After all, apparently you had your chance and you blew it, right?”           The anger that had been carefully contained bubbled up to the surface at her words.  “No!  It’s not good!  It’s driving me crazy!  And, no, sorry to disappoint you, I don’t respect her choice.  Every time I think about it, I want to shake her until she realizes what a fool she really is.  She shouldn’t be with him.”  His outburst shocked him as much as it did her. 

She looked over her shoulder at him as she continued her work.  “And just why not?  Derek is quite a catch.  Any woman would be lucky to have him.”

He snorted his frustration, as he rolled his eyes.  “You know what I mean.  They just don’t fit together.  He’s not…He’s not…”


He came to his feet so suddenly the chair scraped along the floor.  Her head came up from the task she was completing.  He couldn’t see her expression, because her back was turned to him.  She spun around.  “It seems to me you better figure out just how you feel about this girl, before its too late,” she warned.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh Nick, when have you ever given in easily?  Face it, boy!  It’s not in you!”

“On this, I have to,” he reminded solemnly. 

She offered him a sad smile.  “Are you sure?” she asked. 

He stared at the floor for a moment, before nodding his head.  “I’m sure,” he said with a finality that made his heart sink.   He had lost Samantha, and it was time that he accepted that fact.  Wallowing in self-pity wasn’t his style. 

“Is anybody home?” he heard his mother call out from the other room. 

“I need to talk to mom,” he explained getting to his feet. “Thank, Gladys.”  He leaned over to give her a short hug. 

            “Anytime, you know that,” she offered, returning the hug.  He turned to leave, but she stopped him.  “Follow your heart, Nick.  It’ll steer you in the right direction.” 

Follow his heart? 

Somebody should’ve told him to be careful of what you let go of, because you might not get it back again instead.  Still, he smiled at her as he left the room.  Gladys loved him like a son.  She knew him too well sometimes.  And he loved her for it. 

He entered the front room to find his mother juggling several packages.  Mom, let me help you with those,” he offered, hurrying across the room to take the bags from her arms. 

“Thank you, honey,” she greeted, putting her purse down on the table. 

He carried the bags into the kitchen, and returned to join her.  Mom, can we talk for a minute?” he asked. 

“Sure, honey, what is it?” she replied breathlessly. 

“I have to go out of town tonight,” he explained in a rush, before he could think twice about it. 

Her head snapped up.  “What?  But you just got here,” she exclaimed, grabbing his arm as if she could physically restrain him from leaving. 

“I know, mom.  Believe me, I tried to get around it, but I can’t.  A big deal is about to fall through, and I have to go save it.  I’ll be back in a day or so.  You won’t even know I’m gone,” he explained, trying to placate her.  He hated lying to her, but he had no choice.  He couldn’t tell her the real reason he was leaving, and he couldn’t stay.  Being this close to Samantha was driving him insane.  He couldn’t be here, and not want to touch her.  Hell, he had already proven that…twice. 

Margaret laid a hand on her son’s cheek, as if she could sense his internal struggle.  “Alright, dear.  If you have to go, I understand.  Only for a day or so, though, no more.  You aren’t going to miss my birthday party, are you?” she inquired, a worried look crossing her face. 

He placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.  Mom, you know I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  It will only be a short trip.  I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have to, you know that.” 

She smiled up at him.  “Okay, then,” she agreed, giving him a kiss on the cheek.  “Hurry back.  I love you.” 

“I love you too, Mom,” he replied, watching her turn to enter the kitchen.  He stared after her for a moment.  He didn’t want to leave.  He knew that she had been planning this for months.  She wanted everyone home for a peaceful visit.  It was the peaceful part that was the problem.  It seemed like every time he and Derek were together it was anything but peaceful.  Add Samantha to that mix and things could become volatile.  Normally, he would’ve let Derek take the lead, like he always did.  Wasn’t that why he had turned down the family business?  To let Derek take the lead? 

Samantha, on the other hand, was a different story.  He was doing his best to let Derek take the lead, but everything in him was rebelling.  He didn’t feel like walking away right now.  He felt like staying, and making her admit to the fact that she still wanted him as much as he wanted her.  But he couldn’t.  He couldn’t do it to Derek, no matter how much he pissed him off. He turned and started up the stairs, only to find Samantha perched at the top. 

For a moment, they just stared at each other motionless.  She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but when she had heard him talking she couldn’t stop herself from listening.  He was leaving; and, despite herself, she couldn’t stop the sinking feeling in her chest.  This was all her fault.  He was leaving his family, his home, because of her.            

He started up the staircase, brushing past her when he reached the top.  He headed down the hall to his room, with Samantha right on his heels.  “You’re leaving?” she asked, stopping at the doorway to his room. 

He walked over to the closet to grab his bags.  She glanced around the room.  A four poster oak bed stood boldly in the center of the room.  A dark green comforter adorned it beckoning her.  An oak dresser stood to the right of the large walk in closet, a huge mirror resting on the top of it.  A few picture frames adorned the top of the dresser.  One was a picture of Nick standing proudly between his parents in cap and gown.  Another was a family picture with everyone sitting together smiling happily.  Looking at the pictures made her feel even worse.  She should be the one leaving, not him. 

“Nick, don’t go.  If anyone should leave, it should be me,” she pleaded. 

He took a bag from the closet, and began to fill it with clothes.  “And just how do you plan on explaining that to Derek?” he chided with a sneer. 

“I’ll figure something out.  You shouldn’t have to leave.  This is your house.  I’ll go,” she continued. 

He closed his bag quickly picking it up as he started toward the door where she stood.  When she blocked his way, he let out an exasperated sigh.  “Sam, listen to me.  I’m leaving, you’re staying, and that’s it.  This isn’t up for discussion.” 

She was taken aback by the sound of her name being shortened.  He hadn’t called her that since they were dating.  Still, she wouldn’t allow him to bully her into his decision.  She had to stand her ground.  

Her proximity was doing something to his senses, and he knew he had to get out of here soon or he would do something stupid…again.  If she would just move out of the way, he could leave before he screwed things up any worse. 

“Nick, don’t go, please.  If this is about what happened at the lake,” she ventured.         

He held up a hand to halt her from going any further.  “Sam, let’s not get into this again,” he warned. 

“Nick,” she pleaded softly.  She wanted to make him stay, but she couldn’t find the words.  After losing her parents, she knew how important it was to spend time with family.  When his eyes met hers, her breath caught in her throat.  She could see the battle he was fighting.  She knew it all too well, because she was fighting the same war.

“Sam, please.  Just let me go,” he offered, his patience slipping.  

Those words, harmless as they were meant to be, pierced her heart.  Still, she couldn’t find an argument that would stop him.  She stepped aside in defeat.  He brushed past her disappearing down the hall.  Tears hovered in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. 

She had cried enough over Nick Daniels.


Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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Check out Excerpt 3 of Lake of Lies!

September 7, 2008 at 11:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful week.  It has been a busy week for me.  We spent the weekend at Epcot and SeaWorld.

I hope that you all enjoy Excerpt 3 of Lake of Lies.

Excerpt 3

 Samantha got out of bed stretching her arms before quickly donning a robe.  After a shower, she returned to her room to change into a pair of jeans and a striped blue and white shirt.  She was securing her hair at her nape with a barrette, when she heard a knock at the door. 

            “Come in,” she called out as she watched the door her stomach in knots.   When Derek stepped into the room, the tnesion eased.  He came across the room to stand behind her, both of them turning to look at their reflection in the mirror.  His hands rested on her shoulders, pulling her back to rest against him.  He brushed a kiss in her hair.  Her hands closed over his, and she closed her eyes. 

            “I’m feeling better.  I’m sorry I was so short with everyone last night.  I hope that nobody was offended,” she inquired softly. 

            He grinned.  ”Everybody understood.  Besides, I wanted to talk to Dad for a while anyway.  It gave us a chance to catch up.” 

            Samantha came to her feet turning to face him.  Her hands glided over his shoulders to encircle his neck.  “Did I ever tell you how wonderful you are?” she asked.     

            His laughter filled the room.  “Yes, but I still like to hear it all the time.  I was actually a little worried about you.  You seemed a little tense, earlier.  Everything okay?”            

            She looked into his eyes, loving the concern she saw there.  So unlike Nick.  More than anything she wanted to tell him the truth, to share her burden in some way; but she couldn’t.  The guilt over what had happened with Nick last night was still fresh as she woke up.  Besides, what could she say?  That she had practically begged his brother for more?  She couldn’t do that to him.  She just couldn’t.  She wasn’t ready to share all of her dirty secrets, especially the ones that involved his older brother.   Doing that now would be a selfish way to unburden herself, and she couldn’t do that to him.  Today simply wasn’t the time for hasty confessions. 

            When they first started dating, they had promised each other that the past was the past.  At the time, it seemed like a blessing.  She wouldn’t be forced to relive her breakup with Nick, and the scars she still carried from it.  Derek, too, hadn’t seemed too anxious to relive his past relationships.  She was so happy for her own reprieve that she hadn’t prodded.  Now, she wished that they had shared things.  Maybe they could have avoided the mess they were in. 

            Derek looked at her curiously.  “Samantha?” he inquired. 

            “I’m sorry.  Of course, I’m all right.  It was just a headache.  I feel much better today.” 

            “Good.  Look, Dad and I are going to go into town today to pick up Christina.  Why don’t you stay home and acquaint yourself with the house?  You could check out the stables.  Also, there’s a path through the woods that leads to a lake.  Why don’t you go for a swim?  It’s really beautiful out there.” 

            She gave him her best smile even though she dreaded being left alone.  “Maybe I will.  Don’t worry about me.  I’ll be fine.  You just enjoy this time with your family.”

            Derek bent his head, and brushed his lips across hers.  His tongue slipped into her mouth, and his hand came up to caress the side of her breast.  She kissed him back running her fingers through his hair desperate for the fire she had felt not too long ago. 

            He broke off abruptly.  “Hey, I’m meeting Dad in five minutes downstairs.  Let’s not start something we can’t finish.” 

            Samantha lowered her hands to rest them on his forearms.  “You’re right.  Sorry.” 

            He leaned his forehead against hers.  “Hey don’t be.  I love the enthusiasm.”  After giving her a chaste kiss, he started toward the door.  “I’ll be home around four.  See ya then.” 

            As he disappeared out the door, she turned to stare at her reflection in the mirror.  No, don’t go there, she warned herself.  Do not go there!  Comparing the two of them would be wrong and callous.  Still, no matter how hard she tried to banish the thoughts racing through her mind, she could not win the war.  His kiss was nothing like Nick’s.  It didn’t make her feel like she was going to burn up from the inside out.  Could she live without that feeling for the rest of her life?  Could she give up the burning fire for the steady warmth? 

            Things were becoming too confusing.  This was ridiculous!  One trip to see Derek’s family and suddenly everything was up in the air.  No!  She wouldn’t think this way.  She was just overreacting to seeing Nick again.  That’s all it was.  It was perfectly understandable, but she wouldn’t throw everything she had worked so hard at away.  Nick always turned her world upside down. 

            This time would be different. 

            Derek was stable, and he wanted a family as much as she did.  She couldn’t allow her past with Nick to mess that up.  She had to try to start thinking of Nick as Derek’s brother, and nothing more.  Okay, so maybe that would never happen, but at least she could try to think of him as a stranger and stop remembering what had happened between them. 

            She hurried downstairs to the kitchen.  Derek’s mother sat at the table eating a piece of toast.  As Samantha entered, she looked up from the newspaper she was reading.  “Good morning, sweetheart.  Are you feeling better?” she greeted cheerfully. 

            She took a chair across the table from her, saying, “Yes, I feel much better.”  Even as the words left her mouth, she felt bad.  From Margaret’s inquisitive stare, she knew that the other woman didn’t believe her.  From the way Margaret was looking at her, she began to wonder just how much the other woman knew.  Had Nick said something?    

            “Well, Derek went with his father to pick up Christina.  You’ll be able to meet her tonight at dinner,” she related. 

            “Oh great!  I’m excited to meet her,” Samantha replied a little too enthusiastically.           Margaret looked at Samantha for a few minutes, a crease forming along her forehead.  “Derek hasn’t told you anything about us, has he?” 

            Her head snapped up at the other woman’s candor.  “Of course, he did,” she replied in an attempt to cover the truth. 

            Margaret smiled as she leaned across the table to pat Samantha’s hand.  “It’s okay, dear.  Actually, it doesn’t surprise me at all.  Derek hasn’t been home very much, so the fact that he hasn’t told you about us isn’t a shock.”           

            “Why doesn’t Derek visit more often?  I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.” 

            “Honey, where should I start?” she answered, laughing.  “First of all, Derek isn’t too fond of his brother, which I’m sure you’ve already noticed.” 

            “Why is that?” 

            “You knew Nick before you met Derek, right?” she asked.       

            Samantha’s gaze fell to the coffee mug in front of her.  “Yes, we knew each other.”       

            “In business, right?” Margaret prodded. 

            The question loomed in the air between them.  She didn’t want to lie to the other woman, but she couldn’t tell the truth, either.  Anything she did would damn her.  “Yes, Nick sold a computer system to the company I was working for.  We met, then, but I don’t really know him that well,” she regurgitated the lie that had begun a day earlier with practically no feeling at all.  She glanced at the ceiling as she waited for a bolt of lightning to strike.  Luckily, it didn’t.  It seemed she was safe…for now. 

            “Yes, that’s what Derek said.  Well, anyway, Derek was the younger brother, so he felt he was always second to Nick.  By the time Derek did something, Nick was a pro at it.  Of course, it didn’t help that Nick was popular and the Quarterback of the football team.  But the thing that really sealed the deal was when Thomas asked Nick to run the business.  Only after Nick turned it down, did he offer it to Derek.”          

            Samantha felt her heart sinking with every word that Margaret said.  Would Derek feel the same way about her if he knew?  Would he feel that she was just another thing that Nick had ‘done’ first? 

            “Why didn’t Nick do something about it?” she couldn’t help asking. 

            Margaret sat back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest.  “Well, you have to realize that I raised two very stubborn men.  When Nick was younger, he felt like Derek was just being childish.  By the time he was old enough to understand, it was too late.  Now, no matter what he does, Derek will never accept it.  He even turned down the family business to try to stop the animosity, but it only made it worse.  Derek just assumed that Nick was too selfish to help out.  I understand why.  It would hurt his pride too much to admit the truth, and I don’t blame him for that.” 

            “Didn’t Nick ever try to talk to him?” Samantha asked. 

            “Well, Nick can be pretty mule-headed when he feels like it. Besides, he feels like no matter how hard he tries, Derek will turn it around and make him out to be the bad guy.  And Nick is a man.  He resents the fact that he has to feel guilty about his success.  These days they pretty much avoid each other.  I think that they both feel that it’s safer that way.” 

            Samantha let the information sink in.  Suddenly, it made sense.  Why neither of them had mentioned the other? Unfortunately, the news made her feel ten times worse than she had before.  It, also, made her even more hesitant about telling Derek about her past with Nick.  After all, they had agreed to leave the past in the past.   If she could just get through this week without him finding out…Then, when they got back, she would tell him everything. 

            “Don’t worry about it, dear,” Margaret assured her.   “Everything will work out eventually.  Besides, we’re going to have a wonderful week together.  I refuse to let anything spoil it, now that I have my family under one roof again.”  Margaret patted her hand, before getting up to take her plate to the sink.  “What are you going to do today?  I was going to pick up a few things in town before Christina gets here.  You’re welcome to join me if you want.” 

            “Derek was saying something about a lake.  I thought I might go for a swim,” she replied.           Margaret turned, her face beaming.  “Oh, that’s a wonderful idea.  It really is beautiful this time of year.  Well, if you need anything, just let Gladys know.” 

            Samantha watched her go feeling more and more like a caged bird.  She felt like the very walls in this house were closing in on her.  Telling Derek was going to be one of the hardest things she had ever done.  She ran upstairs quickly changing into her suit and grabbing a towel before rushing out of the house in an attempt to avoid running into Nick.  The last thing she needed was another one of their confrontations. 

            She followed the weathered path through a maze of greenery.  After walking for about three-fourths of a mile, she found the spot.  Derek was right.  It was breathtaking.  The trees provided a canopy over water that was a crystal blue.   She walked over to the edge, carefully testing the temperature with one foot, before throwing caution to the wind, and diving in.  The water was exhilarating.  She swam back and forth, diving under occasionally.  She felt all of the tension in her body begin to ease. 

            It had been a long time since she had been swimming.  She had forgotten the sheer glory of feeling the water envelope her skin.  She swam out to the center of the lake treading water.  A noise caught her attention, and her eyes widened as they connected with green ones.  Nick was sitting on a large rock to the right.  He climbed down to stand by the side of the lake.  They eyed each other warily. 

            “Sorry if I disturbed you,” he said with a boyish grin. 

            “You always disturb me, Nick,” she replied breathlessly.  She tried to assure herself that her breathlessness was from swimming, but a part of her wasn’t buying the story.       When his grin widened at her remark, she knew she was in trouble. 

            “I was going to go for a swim, too.  I could wait until you’re done, if it would make you feel more comfortable,” he explained diplomatically. 

            She hesitated for a moment glancing around the lake.  Mentally, she was weighing the possibilities, bad and good.  At her consternation, he held his hands up.  “Look, I don’t want to start anything, I swear.  I’ve been uptight, as you can imagine, and I thought a swim might help.  Starting something is the last thing on my mind.”

            She chided herself internally for her hesitation.  She was being ridiculous.  If she was going to be a part of Derek’s future, she was going to have to start learning to deal with Nick on a platonic level.  Now, was as good a time as any for the first lesson.  “It’s your lake,” she replied swimming away. 

            She told herself not to look as Nick stripped down to his trunks, but her eyes seemed to have a mind of their own.  She glided back and forth through the water trying not to notice the way the sun glistened off his broad shoulders.  His bronzed skin seemed to radiate with heat.   Black hair trailed a path down his chest to his stomach.  It disappeared into his swim trunks.  

            What was she thinking? 

            She jerked her gaze up to find that he was watching her.  His devilish smile let her know that he had seen her watching him.  Her breath caught in her throat.  She glared at him as she swam over to the far side of the lake.  Nick dove into the water gracefully doing laps back and forth.  She spotted a small alcove formed by rocks to her left.  She swam into it pleased to find that it was shallow enough to stand in.  She hoisted herself up onto a large rock, reclining back and closing her eyes.  The sun warmed her skin. 

            Suddenly, she heard a splash in the water surrounding her.  She opened her eyes to find Nick swimming toward her.  He pulled himself up onto a rock adjacent from hers. 

            “We need to talk,” he said solemnly. 

            Samantha sat up.  “I know,” she replied. 

            Nick studied her for a moment.  He had purposefully avoided her all morning.  After their episode last night, he had needed time to sort things out in his head.  He came out to the lake to gain the peace of mind he had been denied in the house.  Instead, he had spent his time by the lake wondering what she was doing with Derek.  He didn’t know if he could take this living situation for much longer.  He had promised his mother he would stay for the party, despite his attempts to gracefully back out last night.  As soon as it was over, he could leave. 

            Then, as if thinking about her had conjured her before him, he saw her coming toward the lake.  He watched her glance around, but he was too high for her to see him.  He had been about to announce his presence, when she dropped the towel revealing her bikini clad body.  All thought vanished and the words died on his lips in an instant.  He had been mesmerized as he watched her.  God, she was beautiful.  She had always been beautiful.  More than anything he wanted to climb down and remind her of just how good things could be between then.

            But that was then.

            Now, she regarded him with a wary look, as if she was desperate to find an escape.  Strangely, he felt the same way.  He didn’t want to have this talk, but there was no other way.  Things couldn’t go on the way they had been.  There were things that had to be said; and this was probably the only opportunity he would have to say them. 

            “Look, about what happened last night…” he trailed off not finding a suitable excuse for his impulsive behavior. 

            “We don’t have to talk about that,” she quickly stalled not meeting his eyes.       

            That was easier said than done when the sexual tension between them was still palpable.  His fingers twitched as he remembered how good her skin felt.  “Fine,” he agreed, his voice harsh. 

            She glanced up at his tone.  She could see the tension in his shoulders.  For a moment, she had the insane impulse to massage the bunched muscles.  She immediately berrated herself internally.  Every time she was around him, it seemed like her mind only focused on one thing.  “Look, Nick, I just want us to be friends.  I mean, whether we like it or not, we’re in this situation.  All we can do is make the best of it,” she said the speech she had memorized last night with effortless grace.  Too bad her insides were doing somersaults. 

            His laughter caught her by surprise.  “The best of it, huh?  And do you have any idea what the best of it might be?” he bit out sarcastically. 

            “We’ll just have to try to get along,” she replied. 

            He raised his eyebrows and tilted his head to the side.  “I don’t think we ever had a problem getting along.  Do you?” 

            Now, it was her turn to look away.  “You know, what I mean,” she grumbled avoiding the intensity of his stare. 

            He turned away, looking off into the distance.  “Yes, unfortunately, I guess I do.”          

            They were both silent for a moment each avoiding the heat of the other’s gaze.  Nick looked at her as he shifted his position on the rock.  How had this happened?  He could remember a time when they had been happy together.  Okay, so it was his fault that things ended up like this.  He knew that.  If he hadn’t been so stubborn about giving into her demands back then, they might be together now.  Maybe if he had reasoned with her that day?  So many maybes, but none of them helped him now.    He had his chance; and, unfortunately, he had been too bullheaded to take it. 

            “Look, Samantha, how serious are you about Derek?” he couldn’t help asking. 

            She looked him directly in the eyes, and said, “Very serious.”

            That hurt. 

            He couldn’t deny the pain that sliced through him as those two words left her mouth.  He took a deep breath.  His hands curling into fists at his sides.  He should let it go.  He knew that, but he couldn’t.  It wasn’t in his nature.  His mouth formed a grim line.  So, that’s how it was?  He told himself not to say anything, but since when had he ever listed to reason. 

            “So, you and the boy wonder are going to live happily ever after, huh?”

            She wouldn’t allow him to make her feel guilty.  He didn’t deserve the satisfaction it would bring.  “Nick, I know that this isn’t easy.” 

            “That’s putting it mildly.”  

            “I didn’t plan any of this, it just happened.  We only have to get through one week.  Then, we can both go our separate ways.” 

            “Is it really going to be that easy?” 

            “What?” she asked, wishing that he would just let it go.  But Nick had never let anything go…Except her. 

            “Going our separate ways?  Was it that easy for you last time?” 

            She slipped back into the water, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.”  

            He climbed down, grabbing her arm before she could escape him.  He allowed her no space, backing her up against one of the rocks, and trapping her between his arms.  “Answer me, Samantha,” he commanded. 

            She kept her gaze focused on his chest refusing to meet his eyes.  She didn’t want to have this discussion.  She had dreaded it from the first moment she saw him on the stairs.  Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. 

            “Samantha, look at me,” he instructed, his voice gentling.           

            She raised her head, her eyes meeting his.  “What do you want to know?”  she asked defiantly, tossing her hair over her shoulder. 

            He stared into her eyes.  He knew that she didn’t want to talk about their past, but it was eating him up inside.  He watched tears fill her eyes.  He shouldn’t put her through this.  He should let her walk away, but a part of him wouldn’t allow such an easy retreat.  If he was walking away from this thing with battles scars, he wouldn’t be the only one.  “Did you even think about me once?”  He hadn’t meant to let the question escape, but it was out there before he could stop it.             

“How can you even ask me that?  You chose to leave,” she cried out. 

            “That’s not how I remember it,” he reminded, his own temper rising.

            “Well, then you have a fuzzy memory.”

            “I chose not to be forced into marriage before I was ready.  I never chose to leave you.  You made that choice.” 

            “Nick, I wanted you to choose me.  I wanted you to love me so much that the choice wouldn’t be any choice at all.  I wanted you to think that living without me was unthinkable.  But I guess that was too much to ask.”  Tears began to slide down her cheeks.  She tried to staunch their flow, but to no avail. 

            God, how could he have been so wrong?  How could he have let her go?  More than anything, he wanted to kick his own ass for being so blind.  His thumbs came up to gently brush the tears from her cheeks.  The pain he saw in her eyes was torturing him.  Later, he would tell himself that he had only meant to comfort her.  Maybe it was the truth.  Maybe it was a lie, but it was the one he would stick to when the time came for explanations. 

Her eyes widened as his head began its descent.   He hesitated inches from her mouth, as if contemplating the repercussions of his actions.  She prayed for the strength to push him away, prayed that this time she would be able to save herself.  She wished that she prayed more often.  Maybe then she would have a direct line, but today it seemed like God had her intercom turned off.  But when his lips began to slide against hers, she wasn’t sure she cared.

 Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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