Excerpt 9 of Lake of Lies is finally here!

October 20, 2008 at 1:40 am (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

Halloween is getting closer.  My son is gearing up to be Boba Fett!  I hope that you are all enjoying Lake of Lies.  This story will always be dear to me because it was the second book I wrote.  I also hope that you will check out my novel, The Pleasure of Sin, which comes out from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid December 1st.

Chapter 9

The next morning the entire house was buzzing with preparations for the party.  With Derek missing again, Samantha spent the entire morning helping Gladys.  She tried not to think about where he was or worse, who he was with.  What was really bothering was her conversation with Nick the night before.  It seemed like nothing had changed between them despite the time spent apart.  He still wanted her to lay her heart at his feet, while he sat smugly back in indecision. 

            Well, she was through with all that. 

            If he was waiting for her to make some big confession of her undying love for him, he could wait until hell froze over.  By the end of the day, she was exhausted.  Gladys finally told her to get some rest before the party started.  She gratefully took the reprieve rushing upstairs to enjoy a long decadent bath.    After tonight, they would go home, and she would forget all about him.  She wished that the thought comforted her, but it didn’t.  She climbed out of the tub drying off before wrapping herself in her terrycloth robe.    She opened the door to walk into the hall.

Realizing that she was being watched, she turned to find Nick standing in the doorway to his room.  His gaze felt as powerful as a caress.  She could feel it travel the length of her body from the tips of her bare feet to her tousled wet hair.  Heat flooded her body at the intensity of his stare.  His lips parted slightly, as if he was about to say something.  Before he could, she retreated to her room, but not before she saw the look of amusement in his eyes. 

She slammed her bedroom door, leaning back against it.  Damn him!  He knew the affect he had on her, and he was using it to his advantage.  Well, if he could use it, so could she!  She crossed the room to begin getting ready, her lips curling on a smile.  The sexual attraction that was brewing between them was making her crazy, but if she turned the tables…How would he handle it?  She used a curling iron to stream loose curls down her back.  She applied her makeup with a discerning hand so that it was not too dark, but was still alluring.  With that finished, she undid her robe to slide on a pair of black satin underwear and a matching bra.  The feel of the fabric made her tingle.  Normally, she wouldn’t have worn something so risque, but if she was going to fight, she was going to fight dirty.  She quickly misted herself with perfume, before sliding into her dress.  She was trying in vain to zip the zipper when a knock sounded at her door. 

“Who is it?” she called out. 

“It’s Derek.”

She breathed a sigh of relief.  “Come in.” 

He stood in the hallway looking like something out of a James Bond movie.  He took a moment to look at her noting the zipper she had been struggling with.  He offered her a boyish grin.  “I’m just in time, I see.” 

She smiled back.  Still, she couldn’t stop the little pang of disappointment.  The easy comfort she had once prized had been replaced by an awkwardness that was almost suffocating.  He stepped in the room closing the door behind them.  “Okay, turn around,” he instructed. 

She turned feeling his fingers on her bare back.  She closed her eyes as the zipper slowly slid into place.  “There,” he said, when she faced him again.  His gaze traveled the length of her body in silent approval.   Her black heels sunk into the carpet.  Her simple black dress was sleeveless with a neckline that plunged just enough to be provocative.  

“You look gorgeous,” Derek observed. 

She accepted his compliment with a grin.  At some point soon, they would have to talk.  It was inevitable, but that night was not tonight.  Tonight was a celebration.

“Shall we go down?” Derek asked, reaching for her hand. 

She gave it to him.  Despite his faults, she cared for him deeply, and she would do her best to put on a happy face for the evening. 

Tomorrow was another story. 

As they walked down the staircase, she noticed that many of the guests had already arrived.  They turned to stare up at the approaching couple.   Derek led her through the crowd gracefully, mingling with the other guests.  He was the consummate host, answering questions about how they met.  He passed her one glass of champagne after another, until she almost felt tipsy.  She clung to his arm as they moved through the room.  Being with him like this made her remember what she had always loved about him.  He could make her laugh.  Derek had the inherent gift of dragging the fun part of her out of the serious shell she presented to everyone else. 

She was giggling at one of his jokes when they came upon Nick with another woman.  Her mouth fell open involuntarily, but she quickly pulled it back into place.  She would tell herself later that it had to be the tuxedo.  Nick in jeans was a force to be reckoned with, but Nick in a tuxedo was all out war.  His black hair glinted in the light from the chandeliers. 

He smiled easily at the two of them, his gaze immediately drawn to her.  She quickly changed her focus to the girl standing next to him.  Her red hair was held neatly by a clip at her nape, her green dress creating a stark contrast.  The neckline plunged to dangerous proportions making her worry that the other woman would soon reveal far more of her ample bosom than she intended to.  The dress clung to every curve in a way that was almost pornographic.  In ordinary circumstances, she might have thought that the other woman was beautiful if a bit overstated in her sexuality.  But the possessive way the woman was clinging to Nick’s arm made her want to scratch her eyes out. 

Jealousy rose up begging her to give in to its temptation.  The alcohol she had ingested earlier dared her to make a stand.  Still, she refused to let Nick know that his overt display bothered her.  Luckily, Derek intervened, by saying, “Nick, I didn’t know that you were bringing Lauren to the party.” 

Lauren? 

Who the hell was Lauren? 

Nick grinned looking down at the woman briefly before his gaze returned to Samantha.  Something in the way he looked at the woman made her hand curl tighter around Derek’s arm.     

“Well, since I was in town, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Nick admitted in a low voice.  “Lauren, this is Samantha Chastain.  Samantha, this is Lauren McCain.” 

The other woman extended her hand, and she realized that she was going to have to swallow the vomit that was rising up in her throat, and take it.  “It’s nice to meet you,” she offered in a clipped tone that barely disguised her anger. 

“You, too.  So, you’re the woman who swept Derek’s heart away,” Lauren observed, giving Derek a playful wink. 

She couldn’t help the glare she cast the other girl’s way.  Lauren, it seemed, was oblivious to anything but the outrageous flirting she seemed intent on doing.  Derek, too, seemed not to notice the animosity simmering between them.  Nick, on the other hand, seemed all to aware of her unease.  And, unfortunately, he was enjoying every minute of it. 

“So how long have you known Nick?” 

As soon as the words left her mouth, she cursed her weakness and the five glasses of champagne.

Lauren tilted her head to the side to look up at him.  “Oh, we go way back.” 

She curled her fingernails into her palm in an effort to stop herself from striking the woman.  Were they lovers?  From the possessive hold she had on him, it appeared they were.  Damn him! 

The look on Nick’s face told her that he was all too happy to be basking in the joy of Lauren’s overt flirting.  To her dismay, she realized that he was also enjoying every bit of her reaction to the situation.  Well, two could play at that game, she thought as she clung to Derek  lightly placing her breasts against his arm. The look of surprise on Derek’s face warned her that she was about to go too far, but he didn’t pull away. 

Nick’s jaw clenched as he watched the display.  Lauren was still babbling about old times, her body edging toward Nick.  His arm came around her and she took the opportunity to press more fully against his side.  “Actually, I was hoping that I could drag Nicky away from the party before too long.  We have a lot of catching up to do,” she divulged, licking her lower lip suggestively.  

He gave her a devastatingly sexy grin as his hand pressed her closer.  “I’d love to catch up with you, darlin’,” he drawled. 

She was about to lose control.  She could feel it.  Nicky?  Did she just call him Nicky?  She knew that the endearment shouldn’t shake her so much, but it did.  Just how long had he been seeing this woman?  Had he been sleeping with Lauren the whole time he had been in town?  Even when he had been trying to sleep with her?  The thought made her feel physically ill.  Still, she wasn’t about to give up without a fight. 

“I know what you mean,” she offered, curling her fingers into the hair at Derek’s nape.  “I was hoping that Derek and I could slip away quietly tonight.  It’s been so long since we’ve been alone together.”  She let the last word roll off her tongue suggestively. 

Derek gave her a look of surprise, which she quickly squelched by planting her lips firmly against his in a long seductive kiss.  When she pulled back, only Lauren seemed to be amused by the display.  Nick looked as if he was ready to kill her and his brother.  Derek looked as if he had been knocked off his feet. 

“Well, we should probably mingle some more,” Derek admitted a little shakily, pulling her away from the other couple.   Once they were a safe distance away from Nick and Lauren, he corned her by the French doors.  “What was that all about?” he asked. 

She couldn’t look him in the eye.  “Nothing,” she lied. 

She could feel the weight of his stare.  “You could’ve fooled me.  You were acting like a jealous girlfriend back there, Samantha.  I’ve never seen you act like that.”

She laughed playfully in an attempt to divert his attention away from the truth.  “That’s crazy.  Why would I be jealous?  I have the man I want right here,” she chided, her hand coming up to stroke his hair.  That’s it!  She was definitely going to hell.

Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, Derek didn’t look convinced.  But after a few minutes of silence, he relented.  “Okay, I’m going to go find Dad.  Will you be okay by yourself for a few minutes?” 

“Of course,” she assured him. 

He wielded his way through the large array of people gathered in the front area.  She watched him disappear into a sea of strangers leaning back against the wall.  She closed her eyes as the room beginning to spin ever so slightly.  Why did she have to drink so much champagne?  It was worse than sodium penithol.  If she wasn’t careful, she would give away all of her dirty secrets tonight. 

Suddenly, she felt a presence beside her.  She turned to find Nick looming over her.  She gave a disgruntled snort and turned away in an effort to avoid him. 

He caught her by the arm.  “What was that little display back there all about?” he bit out furiously.  His eyes blazed as he looked down at her. 

She shrugged his arm off.  “Why don’t you tell me?” she challenged.  She turned to face the other guests trying her best to keep her fake smile in place. 

“I think I know,” he said, his lips dangerously close to her ear. 

She tried to keep herself still, but the feeling of his breath against her neck was doing funny things to her pulse.  “Enlighten me,” she dared, trying to sound nonchalant. 

“I think that you got jealous, and it scared the hell out of you.” 

She gave him a harsh laugh as if the mere thought was outrageous.  “You really should have that over-inflated ego of yours checked out, you know,” she replied wishing she could control her reaction to him.

“Maybe.  But I’m right.”

“Just keep believing those delusions,” she replied in a huff of aggravation.

He cocked his head to the side.  “So, you weren’t jealous at all?”

She rolled her eyes.  “Get real.”

The cocky grin he offered her was almost her undoing.  “Oh, I’m all real, honey.”

She turned to face him trying to circumvent the maddening things he was doing to her ear.  Unfortunately, her plan didn’t work very well, because it put her face to face with him.  He was so close that if she breathed in too deeply, her body would press against his.  The very thought made her pulse skyrocket. 

“Yeh?” she returned, the sound coming out as a breathless whisper instead of the harsh reply she had intended.  Her nipples tightened in response to his nearness.  Why did he have this power over her?  And why did her body always have to betray her at the worst times?

He smiled, his gaze traveling over the betraying buds.  “Careful, Sam, I might actually think you care,” he said softly.  

“Don’t get your hopes up,” she offered. 

He chuckled as if her unease was amusing to him.  Then, his expression turned serious as he looked deeply into her eyes.  His penetrating gaze made her want to turn away for fear he would ferret out all of her secrets, but she couldn’t.  All she could do was stare at him.  One of the corners of his mouth tugged up in a grin that was incredibly sexy.  He leaned a fraction of an inch toward her, and for a heart-stopping moment she thought that he was actually going to kiss her.  Here, in front of all of these people! 

Before he could, Lauren came over to interrupt them.  “I was wondering where you went,” she observed, curling her arm around his. 

He pulled back to look at her.  Lauren looked back and forth between them.  “Was I interrupting anything?” 

She wanted to say yes, but she couldn’t. 

Nick was right.  Even though she had no claim on him, she was jealous.  In fact, she was so jealous that she wanted to smack that smile off Lauren’s face. 

“No, Samantha and I are done talking.  Aren’t we?” he said, his hand covering Lauren’s hand on his arm. 

“Of course,” she quickly agreed. 

They walked away together leaving her fuming.  She hated him!  That smug look of his was enough to make her want to scream.  Why did she allow him to do this to her again and again?  Was she that stupid?  The answer was yes. 

She only hoped that she didn’t prove it to everyone else at the party tonight.

 

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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Check out Excerpt 8 of Lake of Lies!

October 11, 2008 at 4:26 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you are all enjoying my book, Lake of Lies. 

Also, I hope that you will check out my novel, The Pleasure of Sin, which comes out December 1, 2008 from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.

Here’s what people are saying about The Pleasure of Sin:

https://www.darkangelreviews.com/The_Pleasure_of_Sin.html

Chapter 8

Sitting at the dinner table, Samantha silently watched the people around her.  Everyone kept their gaze focused on their plate.  Only Margaret seemed interested in providing polite conversation.  “So, Nick, how did your business deal go?” she asked, trying to spark some life into the table. 

He looked up startled, casting a quick glance Samantha’s way before turning to look at his mother.  “It went fine,” he replied in a clipped tone.  

“What about you Derek?  Are you and Samantha enjoying your stay?” 

Derek looked up from his plate.  “Oh, of course,” he said in a distracted tone. 

Margaret sighed in exasperation.  “Well, Thomas, how is that new mare?” she inquired, obviously giving up on trying to pry information out of the quiet inhabitants of the table.     

After dinner, Derek quickly excused himself complaining that he wasn’t feeling well.  Christina, too, left the table in a rush.  She watched them go, her eyes more discerning after the scene by the lake.  Were they meeting somewhere?  She hated to think it, but after witnessing what happened earlier she couldn’t say it would surprise her. 

Thomas and Margaret walked into the living room, leaving her alone.  With Nick.  She started to pull her chair out, but he stopped her. 

“Samantha,” he said softly. 

“Yes,” she replied, sitting back down. 

He hesitated not quite sure what to say.  She wouldn’t even look him in the eye, which made this even harder.  Still, he probably deserved that after their last encounter.   “Will you take a walk with me?” he asked, quietly not wanting to be overheard. 

She looked up, her eyes meeting his and holding them for a moment.  She should say no.  She knew that.  A walk with Nick could be dangerous.  Even sitting at the dining room table in a well-lit room with Nick could be dangerous. 

She was about to refuse, when he added, “Don’t say no.”   

“Okay,” she heard herself say, her voice sounding way too husky. 

He got to his feet, reaching for her hand.  She pushed her chair back knowing that she was inevitably making a mistake.  But something inside of her couldn’t help it.  She placed her hand in his loving the way it felt when his hand closed over hers.  It had always been that way.  Easy.  Too easy.  Things had always fallen into place between them, until now.  He led her outside walking aimlessly into the night.  She had no idea where they were going, but she didn’t care.  After the scene she witnessed by the lake, she deserved at least one moment of weakness. 

She followed him through the woods to a  green pasture divided by a wooden fence.  “Where are we?” she asked in a whisper.  Somehow, she felt the stillness of the night should not be interrupted. 

“At the south corner of the property.  I didn’t want us to be disturbed,” he explained, turning to look at her. 

Her breath caught in her throat.  She told herself that it was ridiculous to feel self-conscious in front of a man who knew every inch of her body intimately.   So, why did she feel like she was on a first date?  Deep down, she knew the answer to that question.  Because she was alone with Nick, in a place where they wouldn’t be disturbed. 

She turned to look at him.  The white shirt he wore was a stark contrast to the night sky.  The first two buttons were left casually undone revealing curly dark hair.  Faded blue jeans clung to his form like a second skin making her fingers twitch involuntarily.   The breeze ruffled his hair like a lover’s caress.  He braced one hand against the fence.  Her gaze rose to meet his only to realize that he was studying her, just as closely as she studied him.  She quickly turned to stare out across the field past the fence.  “Sam, we have to talk,” he began, his voice a deep rumble in his chest.  

She closed her eyes at the sound of his voice, and the ring of honesty that it held.  “I know,” she replied. 

His hand came up to encircle her forearm.  “Sam, look at me,” he pleaded. 

She opened her eyes.  She didn’t want to do this.  She didn’t want to have this conversation, even though, she knew it had to be done.  Still, she couldn’t help the surge of anger that rushed through her body.  “What?” she barked. 

“Do you love my brother, Sam?” 

Her mouth fell open, her breath suddenly stolen from her body.  She tried to turn away, but the gentle hand on her arm restrained her.  “You shouldn’t be asking me this,” she explained. 

He grabbed her other arm, pulling her closer to still her futile attempts at escape.  “I know, but I have to.  Do you?  Do you love my brother?” 

“Yes,” she confessed. 

Her answer took him aback.  For a moment, his hands loosened their grip, only to return harsher than before.  “Do you love him like you loved me?” 

The question hung between them like a loaded gun.  She looked into his eyes, knowing the truth but wanting to deny it.  She didn’t.  She loved Derek, would always love him, but never in the way she had loved Nick.  Nick had consumed her entire being.  She had given him everything, all she had to offer, and she would have given him more.  That was why it hurt so much when he left. 

“Do you?” Nick barked, giving her a shake. 

“No,” she muttered, tears beginning to fall down her cheeks.  “No.  Are you happy now?”          He was.  

He couldn’t deny it, but the pain the admission caused left a bitter edge.  He should feel like he won, but he didn’t.  Making her admit how strong her feelings for him were didn’t make things right.  It didn’t solve anything, because she still wasn’t his.  He released her, walking over to lean against a tree. 

She stayed frozen to the spot he left her in.  Her muffled sobs drove a knife into the most guarded section of his heart.  He glanced over at her.  She had her back turned to him.  He knew that she was trying to compose herself.  Why did he always have to act like a jackass at the most inopportune times?  Why couldn’t he ever just let things be?  The answer was startlingly clear. 

Because he had to fight. 

He had to fight for what he wanted. 

Pete had been right.  Some things were worth fighting for, and Samantha was definitely one of them.  He wasn’t going to let her go.  Not again.  He couldn’t.  He loved her, and it was time that he faced the fact that it wasn’t the kind of love that went away. 

For too many years, he had let Derek have things that he wanted, but she was one thing he couldn’t give up.  He crossed the distance between them, coming to stand beside her.  His hands covered her shoulders, causing her flinch.  Slowly, he turned her to face him.   “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have asked you that,” he offered, his thumbs coming up to wipe away her tears.

“No, you shouldn’t have,” she agreed.

“I had to know.”

“Why?  What difference could it possibly make?” she cried out.  “It doesn’t mean anything.”

His eyes met hers.  “It means something to me.”

“What?  Did things miraculously change?  Did the past suddenly disappear?  No, it didn’t.”
            “I had to know.  I’m not saying it makes things better or right, but I had to know.”  He was silent for a few moments, before continuing.  “How do you feel about me now?”

Her slightly red eyes refused to meet his gaze.  “I don’t know,” she replied honestly. 

“You don’t know?” he bit out, her words cutting him worse than a knife. 

She pushed away from him.  “No, I don’t know.  How do you feel about me?” she challenged. 

He turned away, the guilt he had tried so desperately to stamp down rearing its head.  “You’re my brother’s girlfriend.” 

“Exactly,” she replied. 

He muttered a curse under his breath that she couldn’t quite hear.  For a moment the silence seemed to engulf them.  Finally, taking a deep breath, she turned to walk away. 

“Wait,” he called out from behind her. 

She stopped in her tracks refusing to face him again.  She couldn’t.  She didn’t have it in her.  “No, Nick.  I’m going back to the house.  We don’t have anything to talk about.  What we had was in the past, and now its over,” she said, disappearing into the woods. 

He stayed there for a moment trying to understand what had just happened.  God, he really was an idiot.  Why didn’t he just tell her how he felt?  His brain immediately answered.  Because if he was wrong about the way she felt about him, it would tear him apart.   He had learned to live without her a long time ago because he had no other choice.  It was bearable.  He could do that. 

But he couldn’t go through losing her again. 

He cursed a string of obscenities all the way back to the house.  He went straight to his room discarding his clothing as he paced back and forth.  By the time he reached the other side of the room, a trail of clothing covered the floor.  He climbed into bed pulling the bedspread over the lower half of his body. 

Tomorrow was his mother’s party. 

If he didn’t do something by then, he might as well kiss his chances goodbye forever.  One way or another he was going to have to make a decision about Samantha.  A decision that would change their lives forever.   She had said that she didn’t love Derek like she loved him.  Well, it was time to give her a glimpse of the life she was about to choose. 

He just hoped that he didn’t destroy his brother in the process.

 

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

 

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Check out Excerpt 7 of Lake of Lies!

October 5, 2008 at 4:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  Things are going well here.  I am in the process of working on my next erotic romance novel.  Make sure to check out my new novel, The Pleasure of Sin, which is coming December 1st from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid!

Have a great week,

Shauna

Chapter 7

Samantha spent the entire day Nick was gone with Derek.  He showed her around town, shopping with her in the quaint boutiques the town had to offer.  By the time they returned, she was exhausted.  She returned to her room telling Derek that she needed a quick nap before dinner.  In truth, she was trying to prepare herself to face another dinner of tense stares.   Family meals were usually a nice event for all involved, except when most of the participants were fighting.  She couldn’t imagine having dinner with people who were barely on speaking terms.  Part of her thought that was the exact reason Derek had chosen to take her into town.

            To escape.

Later that night, her suspicions were confirmed.  The table was completely silent.  The only time anyone spoke was to answer Margaret’s incessant questions.  Nick returned to the house shortly after dinner.  After a brief hello, he went upstairs to unpack.  She sat downstairs for a while drinking coffee and trying her best to still the impulse to run upstairs to see him. 

Derek disappeared shortly after dinner, and Christina went straight to bed.  They seemed like a family who was trying to act like a family instead of actually being one.  The worst part of it was the feeling that she was intruding here.  She could feel the tension in the house.  It resonated in the walls. 

She walked upstairs, pausing by Nick’s door, before hurrying down to her room.  She wanted to talk to him.  She couldn’t deny that.  But what could she say?  He had all but told her to stay away.  She slipped her satin nightshirt over her head, and climbed into bed.  Gratefully, it didn’t take long to fall asleep.  Her dreams were unsettling.  Derek was standing by her side.  Then, he turned, as if hearing someone call his name, and Nick appeared.  She tried to speak to him, but he turned away from her too.  When he did, she woke up.  She glanced frantically around her room, trying to get her bearings.  She fell back onto the bed taking deep breaths for a few minutes, until her heart rate steadied. 

Finally, she got up, and slipped into her robe.  She padded across the hallway on bare feet.  After a quick shower, she returned to her room to get dressed.  The dream shook her, and not for the obvious reasons.  Why had it hurt more when Nick turned away than when Derek did? 

She walked downstairs to the kitchen to find Gladys in the kitchen.  “Where is everyone?” she asked, getting a cup of coffee and sitting at the table. 

“Derek took off early this morning.  He said he had some things to take care of.  Margaret went with Christina to finish preparing for the party.  Thomas is out at the stables.  I’d swear that man spends more time out there than in here.  And Nick hasn’t come downstairs yet.  He must still be sleeping,” Gladys mused. 

Yes, Nick was a late sleeper.  She remembered that from their time together.  No matter how many times she tried to get him up, he would just sleepily pull her back into bed.  She could remember many mornings when they had lunch in bed, sometimes dinner too.  She shook her head.  She shouldn’t be thinking about that.  Remembering the times they had together was just adding fuel to a fire that was already out of control. 

After she finished her coffee, she walked over to stand beside Gladys putting her cup in the sink.  “How long have you worked with the Daniels’?” she inquired. 

The other woman looked up at her.  “For as long as I can remember,” she replied jovially.   “I love them like they were my own.” 

The grin Gladys offered her was contagious.  She started to turn away, but Gladys grabbed her arm.  She ushered Samantha over to the kitchen table, sitting down across from her.  “I’ve been watching you over the past couple of days,” Gladys said softly. 

She couldn’t stop her look of astonishment.  She was being watched?  Why? And, exactly what had been revealed by the investigation?  “You have?” 

Gladys smiled patting her hand.  “There’s someone else in the house who has the same look on their face that you do,” Gladys observed. 

She stared at the other woman unable to speak.   Did Gladys know the truth about her relationship with Nick?  How could she?  Unless Nick told her, but why would he?  Caught in such a precarious position, she did the only thing she could do.  It was what she had been doing for the past few days. 

Deny, deny, deny. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said stiffly. 

Gladys shook her head at her attempt to refute the truth.  “Oh yes, you do.  I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but I just want you to know that I’m here to listen if you need me.” 

She stared at the other woman, her mouth hanging open.  Somehow, the woman had been able to guess what she had tried so very hard to deny.  She barely mustered a “Thanks.” 

Gladys patted her hand again, before getting up to go on with her business. 

Samantha stood up on wobbly knees.  How did Gladys know?  She hurried outside dragging in a steadying breath.  She wanted to run.  To get out of here.  She started walking toward the lake, but her legs speeded up of their own accord.  She followed the path, not really knowing why.  She ran until she reached the large rock that Nick had been sitting on the other day.  She collapsed beside it. 

When had her world become so reckless? 

She had always prided herself on being in control.  Now, she felt like those days were gone forever.  All he had to do was show up, and she felt like everything she had fought so hard for was spinning toward oblivion. 

Suddenly, she heard footsteps coming through the brush.  She kept herself hidden, not wanting to see Nick right now.  As if she had conjured him with her very thoughts, he came through the maze of trees dressed only in swim trunks.  His sleek body glistened in the sun’s gentle rays.  A towel hung haphazardly around his neck.  The muscles in his arms bunched in tension.  Crisp dark hair swirled on his chest blazing a trail lower to disappear into his trunks.  He flung the towel on to the ground, diving into the water. 

She crawled to her feet still concealing her location from him, but allowing herself the guilty pleasure of watching him in this unguarded moment.  He took the laps swiftly, his breaststrokes long and confident.  His head came up for short intervals as he maintained a steady stride.  She took the opportunity to watch his lean legs kick with a driving force.  His arms sliced through the water with a vengeance. 

She stood transfixed by the sight he made.  She couldn’t move.  His head came up as he traveled back to the embankment.  He pulled himself out of the water.  The water fell off his body, sliding down ever so slowly.  She ached to call out to him, to talk to him about what happened.  Her body burned to feel his skin against hers.  Her tongue tingled with the itch to lick the water from his body. 

His head began to turn, as if he sensed her presence.  Feeling stupid standing there drooling after him, she quickly ducked behind the rock.  She didn’t dare move.  She didn’t hear a sound, which added to her discomfort.  Had he seen her?  Was he coming over here?  Oh God, she wasn’t ready to face him.  Not after the incredulous thoughts that had just been in her head.  She stayed still, silent.  Finally, she got up the courage to peer out from her hiding place just in time to see Nick retreat back down the path.  She collapsed behind the rock.  Why did he have this power over her?  It was becoming dangerously obvious that she could no longer control her desire for him. 

After a few minutes, she heard a noise from behind.  Had he come back?  She peered around the rock to see Derek striding up the path in shorts and a tshirt.  He came to stand beside the water looking across the lake.  She was about to reveal herself when she heard Christina’s voice. 

“Derek,” Christina said coming to stand beside him.  “We need to talk.” 

Derek turned to look at her, his apprehension clear.  “What is there to talk about?” he asked sharply. 

Christina winced at his tone.  “Derek,” she began trailing off.  The othe woman looked down at the ground avoiding his eyes. 

Samantha sat watching them.  She knew that she should say something, that she should let them know she was here.  But she couldn’t.  She had to find out what was really going on between them.    

“If it’s about Samantha.  I don’t want to talk about it,” he replied. 

Anger smoldered in the other woman’s eyes.  “Why did you bring her here?” 

He turned toward the rock causing her to burrow further behind it.  “I brought her because she’s my girlfriend.  What did you expect Chris?  That I would never have one?” 

She eased around the rock to peak at them.  “No.  I knew that someday you would bring someone home.  I guess I just didn’t expect it to be so soon,” she replied, looking at the back of his neck. 

Samantha watched Derek’s face.  She couldn’t describe the look she saw there.  She had never seen it before.  “I couldn’t wait forever, Chris.  Things change, wasn’t that what you said before?  Well, now things have changed.” 

Christina turned to stare across the lake.  “Are you going to marry her?  Mother seems to think you will,” she inquired. 

Derek closed his eyes.  Samantha realized now what it was that she saw there.  Desperation.  When he opened them, they were cold, colder than she had ever seen  “Maybe…..I don’t know,” he said in a low voice. 

Christina turned toward him.  She raised her hand stopping in midair before placing it gently on his back.  His jaw clenched when he felt her touch.  “Whatever you decide, I hope that you’re happy, Derek.  That’s all I want for you.” 

She started to turn away, but he grabbed her arm.  He held her hand in his staring at her for what seemed like a long time.  “You, too, Chris,” he whispered before letting her go. 

Christina practically ran back to the trail.  Derek turned away staring out at the lake.  He stayed there for a long time, and Samantha was getting more anxious that he might see her.  She hated eavesdropping, but she couldn’t help it.  Finally, he, too, retreated back toward the path leaving her with more unanswered questions.  What was going on between Derek and Christina?  That was definitely not a brother-sister conversation. 

The one thing she couldn’t deny was that she had never seen that look on his face when he looked at her.  There was something in his eyes, something she couldn’t quite describe.   It bothered her more than she wanted to admit.  Were they lovers?  The question crept into her mind like a plague taking over and killing anything good and decent.  No, surely that couldn’t be true.  They were practically related!  They had grown up together as brother and sister.  There had to be another explanation.

If there wasn’t… 

Samantha got to her feet, thinking that she had better leave before anyone else showed up.  Apparently, the lake was a hot spot for dangerous encounters.  It seemed to have the ability to bring secrets out of their hiding places.  The thing that scared her most was that the secrets it was bringing to the light were secrets that could destroy them all.

 

Stay tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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