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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