Will Samantha be able to say “I do?”

December 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I hope that everyone got what they wanted for Christmas!  Unfortunately, I got a little something special for Christmas.  The flu!  I’ve been out of commission for the past few days.  After a wonderful doctor and a prescription for Tamiflu, I am finally starting to feel better. 

Will Samantha be able to say I do?  Find out in Excerpt 17…

 

Excerpt 17

Nick climbed out of the warm water of the lake, grabbing the towel that lay on the embankment.  He had thought that coming out here would relax him.  Unfortunately, all it had done was remind him of the night they spent together.  He pressed his face into the towel inhaling deeply.  He had purposefully not slept in their bedroom, opting to sleep in the guest room instead.  After spending the night with her pressed tightly against him, he had realized that he wouldn’t be able to control himself much longer. 

Samantha, on the other hand, seemed to have no trouble with this self-imposed abstinence.  He walked down the path, stopping short when he saw the three women piling into the car.  He waited until they were well down the driveway before he came out from the cover of the woods.  He went inside to get a fresh change of clothes.  Her scent lingered in the room, making his eyes fall shut for a moment.  Being so close to her without being able to have her was slowly driving him insane.  But soon, she would be his wife. 

He ran downstairs to find his father and Derek waiting for him.  The closer the wedding day came, the more his fear that she would run from him again grew.  Except this time she would leave him at the altar in front of everyone he knew.  He sighed heavily.  He would be glad when it was over, because the more they planned for this inevitable day, the more sure he was that it shouldn’t be taking place.

Samantha stood on the pedestal as gown after gown was pulled over her head to try on.  Finally, after two hours of tiresome changes, she came to a decision.  The dress she chose had spaghetti straps at the top and was cut straight along the bodice.  Small pearls were sprinkled delicately along her chest.  The dress cinched her waist before spraying out into a full skirt with a long train.  Pearls were intricately placed on the skirt.  She quickly chose shoes to match.  The low heels made her smile.  At least, she would not have tired feet at the end of the evening.

She waited while the seamstress stuck pins in the dress for the appropriate alterations.  Amazingly, there was not much to do.  The dress seemed to have been made for her.  She stared at her reflection in the mirror as Margaret and Christina remarked about how beautiful she looked.  Tears welled up in her eyes as they studied her, but she refused to let them fall.  For years she had imagined this day, imagined what her wedding dress would look like.  Everything was almost perfect.  If only she didn’t have the sinking feeling in her chest that her soon-to-be husband didn’t want her, she would have been ecstatic. 

Nick stood in his father’s study that evening staring out the window.  Getting the tuxedos had been exceptionally easy.  Of course, there wasn’t much to say.  “Black, regular” and an hour of alterations had been about the jist of it.  Thankfully, his mother had taken care of most of the preparations for the ceremony.  From the flowers to the cake, the woman seemed to be a genius at planning weddings even though this was the first one she had been involved in since her own.  He was beginning to feel more like a guest than the groom.  Not that he minded.  In fact, with the way things were going between the two of them, he was extremely grateful for his mother’s fortuitous assistance. 

Samantha seemed unsure about the wedding itself, let alone up to making all the preparations for the ceremony.  Nick couldn’t help but worry that she was unconcerned about the wedding, because she wouldn’t be around to see it.  If she left him this time, he would let her go.  He wouldn’t follow her around like some lovesick puppy.  As much as he wanted to believe it, he wasn’t convinced.  The real truth was that if she left him at the altar, he wasn’t sure what he would do.   

That evening as they ate dinner, Nick looked curiously from Christina to Samantha.  It seemed that a new bond had formed between the girls.  On the other hand, Samantha hadn’t spoken to him all day long.  It wasn’t too surprising.  It seemed as if every day he received a daily dose of being ignored as punishment for impregnating her. 

He downed his glass of wine.  His mother gave him an admonishing look, but chose to ignore it.  After all, she couldn’t possibly understand what this week was doing to him.  It seemed as if Christina, too, had gone through some sort of transformation.  Derek seemed to notice the change as well casting odd glances at her. 

He couldn’t help the smile that crept across his face.  It seemed the Daniels boys would forever be at a lost where their women were concerned.  Christina continued to talk animatedly about who was scheduled to attend the ceremony.   When she mentioned Lauren McCain, Samantha bristled noticeably.   Sensing the tension, his mother took control.  She clinked her spoon on her wine glass signaling a toast. 

Everyone turned their heads to look at her, as she tipped her head regally.  “I would just like to make a toast to Samantha who will soon become a member of our family.  Samantha, you have brought us all so much joy and I just hope that we can give that same happiness back to you.” 

“Here here,” everyone called out at the table.  Everyone except Nick. 

They all clinked their glasses against hers waiting for her acceptance. 

“Thank you so much.  I would be lucky to have a family as wonderful as you have all been to me,” she replied softly. 

Everyone at the table grinned at her tender words.  Everyone but Nick.  He couldn’t help but notice that her words included “would be.”  Was it a hint at her intended plan to escape?  He wasn’t sure, but it certainly didn’t make him feel better.

Samantha couldn’t help but be aware of his refusal to be a part of the caring scene.  He seemed to be purposefully avoiding her.  Margaret came over to give her a warm hug with Christina at her heels.  Christina leaned down squeezing her tightly.  As she leaned over her, she whispered, “I’m so glad that I will finally have a sister.” 

As everyone began to drift toward the other room for coffee, Samantha remained where she was at the table.  Nick poured himself another glass of wine, lifting it to his lips apparently pretending she wasn’t there.  Finally, she could contain her anger no longer. 

“Where were you last night, Nick?” she asked. 

He leaned back in his chair refusing to make eye contact with her.  “What do you mean?” he dodged carefully. 

She gripped her napkin, wringing it in her fingers under the table.  “I mean, you didn’t sleep in our bed.  So, whose bed were you sleeping it?”  

He smiled as if her question was amusing, which only served to infuriate her more.  He placed his glass on the table before leaning in to whisper, “Are you jealous?” 

“Of course not,” she denied. 

He laughed.  “No?  You could’ve fooled me.” 

She closed her eyes willing herself to remain in control.  She refused to give in to his ridiculous goading.  “What I mean is that it should at least look like we want to get married on Friday,” she bit out. 

His temper seemed to snap at her words.  “Well, it’s none of your business where I sleep.”         She pinned him with an unrelenting glare.  “What do you mean ‘it’s none of my business’?  I’m going to be your wife in a couple of days?” 

He leaned in so close that they were almost nose to nose.  “Well, you’re not my wife yet, and until you are I suggest you not lecture me on what I do.” 

With that, he pushed his chair out, throwing his napkin on the table to storm out of the room.   She practically ran up the stairs determined not to break down until she reached the sanctity of her room.  Once she did, she collapsed on the bed.  Knowing that Nick wasn’t happy about marrying her had been painful enough, but hearing him say it had been excruciating.  She couldn’t bear the hatred she saw in his eyes every day for the rest of their lives, she thought sadly.  She had to get out of here.  How could she go through with this farce of a wedding when she knew the truth about the way things were between them? 

She changed into a satin nightgown before settling into the bed and pulling the covers high.  She had made up her mind.  Tomorrow, she would tell everyone that she couldn’t go through with it.  It would be hard, but it would be worse to lie to everyone. 

She wouldn’t do it, not even for him. 

Nick woke up the next morning with a splitting headache.  He climbed out of bed walking quickly to the bathroom to jump into a hot shower.  He leaned both hands against the wall letting his head fall under the warm spray.  Obscenities escaped his mouth as pain sliced through his head.  He had no one to blame but himself.  After his confrontation with Samantha, he had continued to drink for the remainder of the night.  Knowing how much she despised the idea of marrying him was eating him alive.  He wanted nothing more than to right his wrongs with her, but that seemed to be impossible. 

He stepped out of the shower walking back to his room.  After getting dressed, he crossed the hallway, glancing at the door to her room.  He hesitated for a moment.  He wanted to go to her, talk to her, but what would he say?  What could he say that would erase what happened?  Besides, he certainly didn’t need a recap of last night with the way he felt this morning. 

He turned to go downstairs.  When he walked into the kitchen, he poured himself a cup of coffee.  Sitting down at the table, he rested his head in his hands. 

“Late night?” Derek asked, as he stepped through the doorway to the kitchen. 

He looked up at his brother with a look that clearly warned him to leave the subject alone.  Unfortunately, Derek had never been good at taking hints.  “Ouch!  It must have been bad from the looks of you.” 

He growled, taking another sip from his mug. 

Derek fixed grabbed a glass of orange juice before taking a seat beside him.  “You know, you could always try to just go along with everything, instead of trying to make waves,” Derek suggested, giving him a look of admonishment. 

His eyebrows rose.  “Why should I?”  

Derek shook his head in exasperation.  “Oh, I don’t know.  So that your wedding isn’t a total disaster,” he observed, clearly annoyed. 

Nick remembered the argument he had with Samantha last night.  “If there is a wedding,” he replied, before he could stop himself.  He hadn’t meant to voice his fears about Samantha standing him up to anyone, but it was too late now. 

It was already out there.

“What are you saying?  Are you going to stand her up at the altar?” 

He almost laughed at his brother’s ready defense of his bride.  He guessed that Derek would always have these protective instincts toward Samantha.  Their friendship hadn’t seemed to lessen with their breakup, which was evident with the fact that Derek was the first to learn of her pregnancy. 

“Not me.  Her,” he confessed softly. 

He couldn’t help but wonder what she was doing right now. Unfortunately, he had the sneaking suspicion that whatever it was, it was not going to be to his benefit.  Another thought speared through him like a sword.  Had she already left? 

 

Samantha quickly showered and dressed in jeans and a cotton pullover shirt.  Then, she took her suitcase out of the closet laying it in the middle of the bed.  The enormity of what she was about to do suddenly hit her, and she had to sit down to keep from fainting.  If she left him now, he would never forgive her.  She knew it in her heart. 

No, if she did this, she would be declaring war.

A knock at the door startled her out of her thoughts.  She crossed the room to pull the door open.  Christina stood on the other side in a brightly colored sundress. 

“Can I come in?” she asked, an expectant smile on her face. 

She backed up a few steps to allow her entrance.  Samantha closed the door.  Christina turned to her in surprise as she noticed the open suitcase. 

“Are you going somewhere?” 

“I have to leave, Christina,” she admitted solemnly. 

She walked over to clear out another drawer placing the contents in to the suitcase.  She had expected the onslaught of questions that she would face from Nick’s family.  She just hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. 

Christina grabbed her arm stopping her from packing any further.  She pulled her around to sit down on the bed beside her.  “What are you talking about?” she demanded, her face etched with concern. 

“I can’t go through with this wedding,” she confessed, trying to hold back the tears. 

Disbelief clouded Christina’s eyes.  “But, why?  Don’t you love Nick?” she asked, her eyebrows jerking together. 

She looked around the room, searching for a way to make her understand.  “Of course, I love him, but there are things that you don’t know about which make this wedding impossible,” she explained, hoping that it would be enough to cease her questioning.  She could tell by the confusion in Christina’s eyes that her explanation had not carried much weight.  

“What is it, Samantha?  What is it that can’t be resolved?” 

She had to look away from the accusations in Christina’s eyes.  She knew what the other woman was thinking.  She was thinking that Samantha was a coward, that she was running away, but she didn’t know the full story.  She wanted to tell her.  She wanted to say that Nick didn’t love her anymore.  Maybe he had once, but that died a long time ago.  He didn’t want to marry her.  And no matter what she didn’t want to force him into it no matter how much she wanted things between them to work.  Leaving was the right thing to do.  She knew that he would fight her on it.  He would put up a struggle for propriety’s sake, but deep down she knew that he would be relieved.  Nick was a possessive man.  It was his way.  He would not allow her to walk away carrying his child with a smile, but his actions had shown her his true feelings.  It was only when he felt that he had no choice that he asked her to marry him. 

“I wish that I could explain things, Christina, but I can’t.  Just please believe me, it would never work.”  She got up from the bed continuing with the chore of packing. 

She felt Christina’s stare on her back and knew the other woman was trying to make sense of things.  She also knew that there was no sense to any of this.  She had fallen in love with a man who didn’t want to marry her, and she had found him again only to relive the same hell she had already been through.

Today, she would walk away from him for the second time.

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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Do fairy tales really come true?

December 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

 

I can’t believe that Christmas is next week!  Things have been so busy around here with the release of my new book, The Pleasure of Sin, from Whiskey Creek Press,  I’ve barely had time to breathe.  I hope that you are sharing the holidays with loved ones and enjoying the true spirit of the season.

 

Have a wonderful holiday!

Excerpt 16

When she awoke again the next morning, he was gone, and she couldn’t but feel a sense of longing.  She got up taking a leisurely shower before dressing and heading downstairs for breakfast. 

Margaret was sitting at the table eating on a piece of toast.  “Hi honey, how did you sleep?” she asked. 

She pulled a chair out, taking a seat beside her.  “Good.  Where’s Nick?” 

Margaret got to her feet getting her some toast and juice.  “Oh, he went with Thomas to pick up Derek at the airport.  Christina will be flying in this evening, too.  Everyone is so excited about the wedding.” 

She took a bite of toast, ignoring the way her stomach rolled.

At her silence, Margaret eyed her curiously.  “Samantha, I know that it’s none of my business, and you can tell me to butt out if you want to, but you seem very unhappy.” 

Her gaze rose, her surprise evident.  “Why would you say that?” she hedged.

“Well, for one thing, you’ve been walking around here like a zombie since you got here.  Don’t you want to marry my son?  You know, just because I’m Nick’s mother, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be your friend as well.” 

Tears formed in the corners of her eyes.  She wanted so badly to have someone to confide in, but how could she tell his mother the truth.  “I’m fine, really,” she replied, putting on her best fake smile.

Margaret pursed her lips.  “Do you love my son, Samantha?” 

She offered the other woman a sad smile.  “Yes, I do,” she admitted softly. 

Margaret sighed, relief evident in her face.  She reached over patting her hands reassuringly.  “Don’t worry, dear.  Everything will be okay.  Nick loves you.  You’re probably just having a little bit of pre-wedding jitters, that’s all.”  With that, she left to confirm their appointment at the bridal shop.

For Margaret, it seemed that everything was tied together with a pretty bow.  Unfortunately, Samantha knew the truth.  She wished that she could believe that Nick wanted to marry her, but unfortunately she lived in the real world.  She had to be honest with herself.  And if she was honest with herself, she had to admit that he was just going through the motions for appearance sake.  The realization made her heart sink.  Tears began to slide down her cheeks.  Despite her best attempt to quell the flow, a sob escaped her mouth.  She missed her mother.   She had never felt so alone in her life. 

Suddenly, the door flew open behind her.  She tried her best to wipe the tears from her cheeks as she turned around. 

Unfortunately, Derek’s look of concern let her know that she wasn’t fooling him. “Samantha, what’s wrong?” he asked, coming over to kneel beside her chair. 

She wanted to tell him everything.  She wanted to tell him that Nick didn’t love her, that it was all a show.  But she couldn’t.  With the award winning performance Nick was putting on, no one would believe her even if she did.     

“Come here,” he instructed, climbing to his feet.  He took her hands pulling her up to stand in his embrace.  She clung to his shoulders trying desperately to stop the flow of tears.  He whispered in her ear that everything would be okay, as his hands softly caressed her back.  She heard a door open behind them.  The stiffening of Derek’s body alerted her who was standing behind them.  She slowly moved out of his embrace to turn around. 

Nick stood in the kitchen door, a halo of morning light outlining his body.  His gaze flew back and forth as he took in the pair.  Derek quickly dropped his hands from Samantha’s waist.  She held Nick’s stare, unable to turn away.  For a moment, no one moved. 

Derek was the first to cave.  “I had better go tell mom that I’m home,” he explained, quickly excusing himself.  He hurried out the door making his escape. 

Seeing her in his brother’s arms had infuriated him to the point of madness, especially since she had been holding him at arm’s length for the past few weeks.  “I guess old habits die hard,” he bit out sarcastically, trying to control the strong urge to pummel his brother. 

“What are you talking about?” she retorted, her eyebrows arching. 

He crossed the distance to loom over her.  “I’m just wondering how many times I’m going to discover you in my brother’s arms.” 

She shook her head trying to turn away.  “You are being ridiculous, Nick,” she replied, her irritation clear. 

He grabbed her arms spinning her around to face him.  “Am I?  I mean, if you weren’t pregnant with my baby, whose bed would you be sleeping in, Sam?  Mine or his?” 

Before she could still the impulse, her hand came up to slap him, but he caught her arm before she made contact.  His eyes glittered, as he shook his head.  “Not this time, sweetheart.”

She jerked away from him, furious at the way he was behaving.  He was talking to her like she was nothing more than a cheap whore.  She responded in the only way she could, by striking back.  “I hate you,” she cried out vehemently, feeling tears burning the backs of her eyes but refusing to let them fall. 

His lips curled up in a cruel sneer.  “I think that we’ve established that already, haven’t we?” he asked through gritted teeth.  He spun on his heel leaving her alone.

She ran up to their room, slamming the door behind her to collapse on the bed in tears.  Why had she ever agreed to this sham?  Why hadn’t she refused his bargain?  She knew the answer.  She had wanted to offer her child a true family, but how could they be with all of this animosity?  And at what cost would it be provided? 

He stormed out, heading toward the stables.  He wanted to shake her.  It seemed as if she wanted everyone to pity her for the fact that she was marrying him.  Was he really that terrible?  Did she hate him that much?  If her words were any indication, it certainly seemed as though she did. 

He paced the length of the stables, his hands curling into fists as he tried to reign in his temper.  Unable to stop himself, he punched the side of the wall.  Pain shot through his knuckles but he barely felt it.  What was he going to do?  What did she want from him?

He sat on the bench, his head in his hands.  The worst part of it was that he did know.  He knew what she wanted.  She wanted to be free of him.  The thought made his chest ache.  The only thing that would make her happy would be for him to let her go, and he just couldn’t do it.   Everyone told him to fight for what he wanted, but how could he fight her?    

“Nick,” he heard Derek say. 

He winced under the cover of his hands.  The last thing that he wanted to do right now was deal with Derek. 

“Nick, I think that we need to talk,” Derek said a little more firmly this time. 

He raised his head to find Derek standing several feet in front of him.  It was obvious that his brother was still keeping a safe distance just in case.  He couldn’t say he blamed him after his earlier outburst in the kitchen. 

“What?” Nick asked in exasperation, raking a hand through his hair. 

“Nick, about what happened in the kitchen…” Derek began pensively. 

He held up a hand to let him know that there was no need for further explanation.  “You don’t have to explain Derek.  I know that nothing is going on between the two of you.” 

Derek’s eyes narrowed.  “Then, why?”

He got up, walking over to lean against the door to an empty stall.   “Because I think that I’m losing her, and there doesn’t seem to be a damned thing I can do about it,” he admitted. 

Derek walked over to stand directly behind him.  “Nick, what are you talking about?  She’s marrying you in a couple of days.” 

He smiled sardonically as he looked around at the interior of the empty stall.  “Yeh, she’s marrying me, and she hates me.  All she wants to do is run away.  It should prove to be a perfect match, don’t you think?” 

Derek was silent for a moment, as if mulling that over.  “Have you talked to her about it?” he asked hesitantly. 

Nick laughed, the sound coming out harsh.  “We don’t talk, Derek.  We argue.  Besides, with her telling me how much she hates me every chance she gets, I don’t think that a heart to heart would change things much.” 

Derek put a hand on his shoulder.  “No matter what she says, I know that she loves you Nick.  After all, she passed up a chance to be with me for you.  That’s gotta say something,” he joked, in an attempt to lighten the mood. 

Nick chuckled.  He knew that his brother was only trying to make him feel better, but his words had the opposite effect.  Samantha didn’t love him.  Maybe she had before, but that was a long time ago.  No, as much as he wanted her, he had to admit that he was winning her by default. 

 

Samantha awoke the next morning to find the bed empty.  She glanced around the room realizing that she must have fallen asleep accidentally.  Her clothes were still intact.  The bed was still made.  She couldn’t believe that she had slept all day and all night.  She wondered why no one had woken her up. 

Her stomach growled, making her all too aware of the fact that she had missed dinner.  She got to her feet grabbing her robe and heading next door to the bathroom.  After a quick shower, she returned to their bedroom.  With the haze of sleep finally wearing off, she realized that he hadn’t even slept here last night.  She couldn’t help but wonder where he was, and what bed he had chosen to sleep in.  Apparently, he couldn’t even bear to share a room with her anymore.  She couldn’t say that it surprised her.  After all, the tension between them was becoming unbearable.  Her stomach rolled reminding her that the child in her womb was not concerned with where he slept but when it would be fed. 

Still, she couldn’t help but feel the anger bubbling up to the surface.  She stormed down to the kitchen determined to get some answers.  How dare he question her faithfulness when he himself was missing in action?  Images flashed in her mind.  Lauren’s arm possessively curled around his.  Was he with Lauren last night?  Had he spent the night at her house?  The thought made her want to throttle them both.  How dare he jump down her throat over a simple hug yesterday, when he couldn’t even be accounted for? 

She burst through the kitchen door to find Margaret and Christina eating their breakfast.  Margaret’s head snapped up at the abruptness of her entry.  “Oh, Samantha, I was just coming upstairs to get you.  You had better eat something quickly, because we have to be at the bridal shop in half an hour,” Margaret said.  Samantha quickly got a plate and began to load it.  “I almost forgot my dayplanner,” she remarked, scurrying out of the room.

Samantha shifted in her chair uneasily.  Both women stared at their plates unsure of what to say.  The tension in the air was almost palpable.  A few moments passed before Christina spoke. 

“Nick wanted me to be in the wedding, but I don’t have to be.  I told him that you should have your own friends, instead of me, but he wouldn’t listen.  Anyway, I would understand if it would make you uncomfortable to include me after what happened.” 

She thought about the other woman’s words for a minute.  It would be nice if she did have someone in the wedding she could claim as her own, but in truth she hadn’t invited anyone.  After everything that had happened between her and Nick, she just couldn’t.  She didn’t want to bring anyone else into the farce that Nick had concocted. 

Christina waited, her unease evident.  Despite what had happened, she longed to make peace with her.  Besides, how could she blame Christina for what happened?  Hadn’t she done the same thing?  She knew better than anyone that feelings didn’t always come in a pretty packages.  Sometimes, they ruined everything.  If Christina felt anything for Derek like what she felt for Nick, she could completely understand the lack of judgment. 

“It wouldn’t make me uncomfortable.  Actually, I was going to ask you if you would consider being my maid of honor.” 

The surprise in the other girl’s eyes was obvious.  “You’ve got to be kidding?” 

Samantha hesitated.  “Well, if you don’t want to, I understand,” she said softly. 

“Are you serious?” she asked surprised. 

“Of course, I’m serious.” 

Christina’s gaze lowered to her plate.  A single tear slid down her cheek.  “How can you be so nice to me after the things that I’ve said and done?” 

Samantha reached out to put her hand on top of the other girl’s.  “I think that I understand why you did what you did.  You love him a lot, don’t you?”   

Christina’s eyes fell shut.  “It doesn’t matter,” she replied. 

“I’m sure it does to him.”

“It would never work.”

“Are you sure?”

Her gaze rose for a moment, and Samantha could see the hope shimmering in her eyes.  “You’re going to make a beautiful bride,” she beamed, effectively closing the subject.

“You think?”

Christina’s grin widened as she nodded her head.  “I know.  It’s going to be just like a fairy tale come true!”

            Despair clutched Samantha’s heart.  A fairy tale?  If only that were true.  But she had never heard of a fairy tale where the prince was forced to be with the princess.  She wished that she could share Christina’s happiness, but this was no fairy tale.  It was just a lie that they would both have to live for the rest of their lives.

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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Could you say goodbye to your one true love?

December 13, 2008 at 3:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I’m sure, like me, you are all gearing up for the holidays.  It has been a hard year for everyone, I think.  Hopefully, 2009 will  bring wonderful surprises.

Now, let’s get back to Lake of Lies.  In the last excerpt, Samantha said “no” to the only man she’s ever really loved.

But will she be able to let him go for the second time?

Excerpt 15

He winced at her words.   He had known that she didn’t want to be with him, let alone marry him, but hearing the words come out of her mouth seemed to drive the stake just a little bit further.  He used the only ammunition he had.

“If we don’t get married, what are you going to do?  How will you support yourself and a baby?” 

She turned away, not wanting him to see the tears in her eyes.  She knew that he was right.  She knew that he was offering her the only solution that would work, but she still didn’t want to accept it.  She didn’t want a marriage of convenience.  She wanted him to want her, she wanted him to want to marry her.  She didn’t want him to feel like he had no other choice.  “I’ll find a way,” she replied vehemently. 

“How?” 

Her eyes searched the room frantically trying to find a solution that would appease him.   “Think about it.  I’ll call you tomorrow,” he offered, getting up and walking to the door. 

She followed after him barely seeing the steps in front of her.  At the door, he turned to place a gentle kiss on her lips.  “It’s the only way, Sam.” 

With that, he was gone leaving her alone to try to make sense of her muddled thoughts.  Circumstances raced through her mind.  She didn’t have the money to raise her baby alone.  If she married Nick, she knew that he would take care of her.  She would be able to stay home with her child. She thought of the baby she so desperately wanted.  Her baby needed a father.  And, whether she liked it or not, she needed him. 

Nick gripped the steering wheel as he drove to Derek’s apartment.  He had been fuming since Derek told him the truth.  He had barely been able to restrain himself from putting his fist through the wall.  Why hadn’t she told him?  Did she really hate him that much? 

He opened the door to Derek’s apartment using the spare key.  He wasn’t exactly thrilled to be staying with his brother, but it was better than a hotel.  He threw the keys on the counter closing the door behind him.  Derek sat on the couch, his arms stretched out on the back as he watched ESPN. 

“How did it go?” he inquired, his feet resting on the coffee table.

“It went,” he replied noncommittally.

“That good, huh?”

He sighed heavily.  She would come around.  She had to.  Even if she didn’t want to be with him, she had to see the logic behind his proposed arrangement.  He wasn’t the type of man who could be a father from afar.  He wanted to be a part of his child’s daily life, and he wasn’t about to let her rob him of that right. 

“Was she angry?”

“About what?” he asked, his brows furrowing together in confusion. 

“Was she angry that I told you?”

Nick walked over to take a seat next to him on the couch.  “Does it matter?” he challenged.

Derek stared at him for a moment, before turning back to face the television.  “I guess not.  You had a right to know.”

He snorted.  “She should have told me herself.”

Derek nodded his head in agreement.  “You know, Samantha.  I think she was just in shock,” he explained, ready at her defense.

Nick rolled his eyes.  “Tell me about it.”

“So, what now?”

That seemed to be the question of the day.  What now?  He had no idea.  If she didn’t agree…She would.  She had to.  “We wait for Samantha to make the right decision,” he offered solemnly.

Derek’s eyebrows rose.  “And if she doesn’t?”

“Then, I’ll just have to make it for her.”

 

Samantha sat curled up on the couch, her feet tucked underneath her.  It had been a full day since Nick had arrived and thrown down his ultimatum.  The day had gone by in a blur.  She could think of nothing else.  Finally, after several mistakes at work, she had decided that coming home was the prudent choice. 

Her fingers trailed over the pages of the book of baby names, but all the while she thought of her child’s future.  Marrying Nick solved so many problems.  She would be able to provide the kind of life for her child that she had always dreamed.  And, despite what he thought, she didn’t want to keep the baby from him.  She would never do that to him.  Deep down she knew that there was only one answer that she could give him that was unselfish…to say yes.  If she said no to his bargain, she would be doing it to protect herself from the pain of knowing that he didn’t truly want her. 

The next day when he called, she gravely accepted his bargain.  His parents were elated with the news.  Margaret went into overdrive in planning a quick and intimate wedding for the two of them.  Samantha felt numb.  In all of the times she had thought of planning her dream wedding, she had never expected to feel so detached.  When Margaret asked if she wanted to be involved, she hedged.  She would not make preparations for this sham of a wedding.  It was a lie…pretending to be the happy couple, and she wanted no part of it. 

After a week of discussion, she finally allowed Nick to stay at her apartment until ceremony.  At first, she worried that he would take advantage of the situation, but instead he made a pallet on the couch for himself.  She should have been happy that he wasn’t expecting anything, but she couldn’t deny that a part of her was angry.  Did he find her unattractive now?  Did he no longer desire her?  A part of her wanted to confront him, but she didn’t…she couldn’t.  She wasn’t about to invite him into her bed if he didn’t want her, even if they were about to be married.

Finally, the week of the wedding arrived.  Her stomach was tied in knots as they drove to stay at his parents’ house for the ceremony.  Panic raced up her spine at the thought of seeing them again.  How would they feel about her now that she was pregnant with their son’s child?  Especially when it was a different son?  The thought made her stomach turn.  They probably hated her, and they had every right.  After all, her present condition confirmed her duplicity. 

As soon as they pulled up into the driveway, Margaret rushed out to the car beaming.  She opened the door hesitantly getting out of the car.  As soon as she was out, Margaret pulled her into a warm hug.  “Oh, I’m so happy for the two of you,” she exclaimed. 

Nick got out of the car grabbing their bags out of the trunk.  He walked around the car to smile at his mother as she hugged Samantha.  “Hi, Mom,” he said. 

Margaret quickly turned to him pulling him into a quick embrace.  She ushered them into the house telling him to take the bags upstairs.  She led Samantha into the kitchen sitting her down at the table.  “So, Nick wanted to have the wedding as soon as possible.  We set up a small ceremony for Friday evening at six.  I figured that the day after tomorrow we can go shopping for your dress.  Most of the arrangements have been taken care of, but I don’t want you to feel like your mother-in-law is already taking over.  If you want to change anything, you just let me know.  After all, it’s your wedding,” she rambled on. 

Samantha took a deep breath feeling a little overwhelmed.  Everything was moving so fast.  “Thank you,” she managed to say. 

“Nick told me what happened to your family.  I’m so sorry,” she offered patting Samantha’s hand.  “I want you to think of us as your family now.  Anything you need, we will be there.” 

Her heart almost broke.  For years, she had longed for a family.  Now, she had one, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.  Tears began to slide down her cheeks, and she reached up to wipe them away with the back of her hand.  “I’m sorry,” she replied.  “I seem to be crying all the time these days.” 

Margaret got up to get a Kleenex before returning to the table.  She handed it to Samantha, concern evident in her eyes.  “How have you been feeling, dear?” 

Samantha quickly wiped the tears from her face feeling ridiculous.  She looked into the other woman’s eyes wondering if she knew the true reason for their speedy decision to marry.  “I’m okay,” she answered a little too quickly. 

Margaret placed her hand on top of Samantha’s.  “Nick told us about the baby,” she explained. 

She looked away not wanting the other woman to see the shame she could not hide.  So, everybody knew that Nick had to marry her.  That was just wonderful!  Humiliation overcame her. 

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I think it’s the best thing that could’ve happened.” 

Her statement made Samantha’s head snap up, her eyes widening.  “What?”  Margaret laughed.  “It was obvious when you were here before that you two had feelings for each other.  You both just needed a little push, that’s all.  Sometimes, God has a way of simplifying things.” 

She couldn’t believe her ears.  Had they really been so transparent?  “Well, that’s enough serious talk for one day,” she admitted, getting up and walking her out to the staircase.  “Why don’t you go up and get settled?” 

She climbed the stairs in a daze.  Tomorrow, she would be Mrs. Nick Daniels.  Somehow, the thought hadn’t become a reality.  She walked across the hall to Nick’s room.  The door was open.  She walked into the room collapsing on his bed.  She curled up into a ball inhaling his scent.  She felt like her whole world had become a merry go round that she couldn’t get off of. Tomorrow, she would become his wife.  The thought should’ve made her happy, but it didn’t.  She placed her hand protectively over her stomach thinking of the child that lay snugly nestled inside her womb.  She had to think of the baby’s happiness now, and try to forget her own heartbreak. 

Nick stood in his father’s study staring out the window.  She had barely said two words to him on the drive up here.  Her unhappiness was evident, and it drove a knife into his heart.  There had been a time when marrying him had been what she wanted, but now it was a thought that she dreaded.  That fact hurt him more than he wanted to admit. 

Thomas sat at his desk staring curiously at his son’s stiff back.  The muscles in his neck were corded together so tightly that he couldn’t help but worry that they might snap.  “Derek will be here early tomorrow morning,” he said, in an attempt to break the tension. 

His son shrugged his shoulders at his comment, as if it held no interest for him.  “I made an appointment for the day after tomorrow in the afternoon to get our tuxedos tailored.” 

His second attempt to pull his son out of the daze he was in seemed to have little to no effect.  Nothing seemed to be working as he watched him stare sightlessly into the night casually taking sips of scotch.  Finally, he could skirt the subject no longer.  “What is it, son?” he asked. 

Nick casually turned around at his question trying to keep his face from revealing his emotions.  “What?” 

Thomas leaned back in his chair studying his eldest son.  “What is it that’s eating at you?” 

He walked over taking a seat in the leather chair that sat in front of his father’s massive mahogany desk.  “What could possibly be wrong?” he replied, trying to sound convincing. 

His father’s eyes narrowed.  “Are you nervous about the wedding?” 

He laughed.  “No, I’m not nervous,” he answered, willing his father to let the subject drop. 

“Then, what is it?  Is it Samantha?  Is she unhappy about the pregnancy?”

He thought about his father’s question as he swirled the liquor in his glass.  “I don’t know,” he answered honestly.  It was the truth.  He wasn’t sure if she was unhappy about the pregnancy or her soon-to-be husband.  Husband?  It wasn’t a word Nick would have thought he would be saying any time soon a couple of months ago.  But, soon, that was exactly what he would be.  He just wished his bride was excited about the prospect.

To tell the truth, he wasn’t sure how she felt about anything anymore.  The baby, the wedding, and especially him.  Right now, he desperately wished that he could turn back the clock to a time when he had been sure of her, a time when she had loved him.  But those days were gone.  He had sealed their fate long ago.  Now, when she looked at him, her gaze was blank.  For Christ’s sake, she hadn’t even told him about the baby, a fact that he still hadn’t fully forgiven her for. 

“Well, it’s not too late, you know,” his father interrupted his thoughts by saying. 

“For what?” he asked. 

His father looked uneasy as he continued, “Well, if you’re both not happy there are always other solutions.  You don’t have to get married to be a father to your child.” 

His head jerked up sharply.  “Yes, I do.  I will not cheat my child out of having a family.  Whether Sam likes it or not, we will be man and wife when this baby is born,” he explained in a firm tone. 

His father shook his head in agreement sensing that the conversation had just been effectively closed.  When he left his father’s study later that night, he made his way down the hall to his room.  He was exhausted.  Luckily, his mother had taken over most of the preparations for the wedding.  He couldn’t thank her enough for her help with the whole affair.  After all, he felt ridiculous picking out colors for the flowers.  He knew nothing about bouquets or centerpieces. 

He opened his door to reveal her snuggled in his bed.  She was curled up on one side her face buried in his pillow.  He couldn’t help but smile at the picture she made.  He walked around to the other side of the bed wondering if he should sleep in the guest room.  They hadn’t made love since the night of his mother’s birthday party, and he had to battle with himself nightly to keep it that way.  Staying in her apartment had been a lesson in torture.  Just knowing that she was in the next room had kept him awake all night. 

Still, it was time that she understood that they would soon be married.  He wasn’t about to spend the rest of his nights in a spare bedroom.  He slipped out of his clothes as quietly as possible.  Then, he slowly undressed her.  She sighed as he slid her jeans down her legs.  When she was clad in nothing more than her tshirt and underwear, he climbed into bed pulling the covers over them both.  His arm instinctively went around her gathering her against his side.

She moaned, a grin teasing the corners of her mouth as her arms went around him.  She rubbed her cheek against his chest and he could feel his erection stir under the covers.  He stared down at her.  Her eyes still closed, she smiled contentedly.  It was ironic that only in sleep would she allow him this liberty.  Soon, however, all that would change.  Soon, she would become his wife, and he would be free of this self-imposed restraint that was tearing him to pieces. 

She awoke in the middle of the night feeling oddly refreshed.  Her eyes slowly fluttered open to reveal him at her side.  His arm was slung around her waist in a protective gesture imprisoning her against him.  He had obviously slipped into bed without awakening her.    And he was here with her.  He stirred beside her, and she tried to regulate her breathing.  He kissed the top of her head, before settling back into a deep sleep and leaving her to wonder at the tender motion. 

How would she ever be able to live with this man knowing that he didn’t truly love her? 

Just being with him these last few days with that knowledge had nearly killed her. 

Could she really be with him knowing that he would’ve chosen another life? 

Stay Tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

 

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Excerpt 14 of Lake of Lies is heating up!

December 8, 2008 at 12:39 am (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  It was a busy weekend for us catching up with friends and family.  Plus, I just started a new book, so I have been trying to fit in some writing. 

 

Samantha is having a pretty bad week herself.   Will she tell Nick about the baby?

 

Find out in Lake of Lies…

Chapter 14

            Pregnant? 

            Her eyes widened in shock.   He had to be mistaken.  He just had to be. 

            “Are you sure?” she managed to say. 

“Positive,” he replied with a wide grin. 

Samantha stared at him as he explained the course of prenatal vitamins he was putting her on and the list of appointments she would soon need.  She didn’t hear anything.  Pregnant…The word echoed in her mind.  She was pregnant. 

How could she have been so stupid?  How could she have been so blind?  The truth was that she hadn’t wanted to believe it.  She hadn’t had a period since before she left to visit Derek’s parents that weekend.  Still, she just thought that the stress had made her cycle irregular.  Pregnant?  She was going to have Nick’s baby.  The doctor told her that she was two months along. 

Sensing her discomfort with his diagnosis, he suggested that she get dressed so they could talk in his office.  She woodenly pulled on the long pink dress she had been wearing feeling the room begin to spin around her.  Gripping the side of the wall, she leaned back against it for support.  What was she going to do?  How would she raise a child on her own?  Her salary was barely enough to make ends meet.  Now, she had a baby on the way.  There would be numerous doctor bills to pay.  Not to mention when the baby came.  She wouldn’t be able to take any more time off of work than necessary. 

A single tear slid down her cheek.  Dear God, what was she going to do?  The next few days went by in a haze.  Her mind seemed unwilling to process things.  And all of the questions she had didn’t seem to have answers.  The worst part was when Derek called.  She just couldn’t face him…not now.  She needed to think.  She needed to figure out what she was going to do.  Even when his calls became more insistent and panicked, she refused to answer him.  She couldn’t talk to him until she had a plan. 

She knew that she should contact Nick, but a part of her couldn’t face it.  What was she going to say?  ‘Remember that time we had sex by the lake?  Well, guess what?   I got pregnant.’   She was a fool for letting this happen, and he would probably remind her of that fact.  No, she couldn’t subject herself to his criticism until she knew what she was going to do. 

The problem was that she had no idea.  She was staring blankly at a claim report on her desk when a knock sounded on her office door.  She looked up to find Derek standing in the doorway.  He walked over to her desk shutting the door behind him.  He took a seat in front of her, his eyes remaining locked on hers the entire time. 

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, Muhammed will have to come to the mountain,” he explained, noting her surprise. 

They sat in silence for a few moments, each staring at each other.  She pulled her lower lip into her mouth, not sure what would explain her odd behavior.  Unfortunately, she could think of nothing that would suffice.  “I’ve been really busy,” she lied. 

His eyes narrowed dangerously, and she felt a moment of fear that he would glean the true reason for her withdrawal.   “You look like you feel better,” he observed, gesturing toward her. 

“I do,” she answered. 

“Why don’t you want to see me anymore?  Is it Nick?” 

Nick.  Yes, it was Nick, though not in the way he thought.  “It’s not that I don’t want to see you.  I just needed some time to myself,” she tried to explain without revealing too much. 

“And it has nothing to do with Nick?”

Yes, she wanted to scream.  It has everything to do with Nick.  But she couldn’t.  She couldn’t reveal too much until she had a better handle on what she was going to do.  “Of course not.”

“Well, the alone time is up now, right?”

His question brought an unwanted smile to her lips.  Leave it to Derek to find a way to make her smile.  “Right,” she agreed, shaking her head. 

He grinned a grin that let her know that he would forgive her anything.  “Good,” he said with a playful wink. 

She loved talking to Derek.  He could always find humor in every situation…well, almost every situation.  Still, the more questions she couldn’t answer, the worse she felt.  She desperately wanted to tell him about the baby. She needed someone to confide in, someone she could trust.  Normally, he would fit the bill, but she couldn’t take the chance that he would tell Nick.  She wasn’t ready for that.  Not yet. 

Luckily, he kept the conversation lively as he filled her in on his latest business acquisition.  Her appetite was curious at best.  One moment she was extremely hungry, but by the time the food got to the table, she felt sick. 

“So, what’s the secret?” he asked, startling her. 

Her head snapped up.  “What?” 

He chuckled, leaning back in his chair.  “Samantha, all night you’ve been looking at me like you want to tell me something.  What is it?” 

She squared her shoulders.  She did want to tell him.  She couldn’t deny that.  She needed to share this with someone, even if it couldn’t be with the man she wanted.  “If I tell you, you have to promise me that you won’t say anything to anyone until I’m ready.” 

He sat up in his seat, his eyes narrowing.  “I swear.”

She took a deep breath gripping the armrests on her chair.  “I’m pregnant,” she plunged forward. 

His mouth dropped open, but he quickly closed it trying to cover his shock at her announcement.  He looked down at the table breathing in deeply as he tried to absorb the news.  Suddenly, his gaze pinned her with an unwelcome questioning. 

“It’s Nick’s,” she answered, with a grimace. 

His eyes shifted back and forth, and she knew with a sense of dread that he was trying to establish a timeline.  “It happened when we went to your mother’s house,” she admitted, not having any words to defend her actions.  She stared down at the plate of food she couldn’t finish.  Her stomach rolled just looking at it.  He had every right to be mad at her.  After all, she went there to meet his family and ended up making love to his brother. 

“Have you told Nick about the baby?” he asked her. 

She flushed.  “You are going to tell him, aren’t you?” he prodded, his eyebrows jerking together. 

Her throat felt like it was closing up.  She hastily took a sip of water. 

“Samantha?” 

Finally, she gathered the courage to meet his gaze.  “I’m going to tell him, just not yet,” she explained, wishing he would just leave it alone. 

Unfortunately, he would not be swayed so easily.  “When?” 

She pushed the food around her plate with her fork.  “Soon, I just need some time to figure things out,” she offered softly. 

“You have to tell him, Samantha.”

“I know.  I just need to get used to the idea,” she explained, willing him to understand.

For a moment, he looked like he would argue, but finally he acquiesced.  “Okay, your secret is safe with me…For now.”

“Thank you, Derek.”

He offered her a playful wink.  “Anything for you, kid.”

They finished their meal without any more talk of the baby.  He seemed to sense her that she was too fragile to be pushed.  The next few weeks he was her constant shadow.  She couldn’t help but be amused by his sudden solicitous behavior.  He treated her like she was a china doll, who needed his constant protection. 

Still, she sensed that he was burdened by the fact that she still hadn’t revealed anything to Nick.  She hated the fact that she had dragged him into this, but she was still glad of the company.  She knew she was just delaying the inevitable, that she should just come clean, but a part of her still held back.  Once Nick knew, things would be even more complicated than they were now.  Nick was a force of nature.  He wouldn’t just sit back and allow her to think things through calmly.  He would take control, just like he always did.  She wasn’t ready for that.  She had to know work things out herself, before she let him in on things.  Soon, she would tell him soon, she promised herself. 

Derek, however, wasn’t so sure of that fact.  He had waited patiently for a month after she dropped her little bomb, and she still hadn’t told his brother the truth.   And worse, she didn’t seem to have any plan to divulge the information.  At the rate she was going, the baby would be born before his brother learned he was about to become a daddy.  He couldn’t let that happen.  They may have had their differences, but he was still his brother.  And if there was one thing he was certain of it was that his brother deserved to know the truth.

Samantha was just glad that the indecision was gone.  She no longer periled over what would happen.  On the contrary, she was beginning to get excited about having this baby.  Sure, it wasn’t happening the way she had once envisioned it would, but it was still happening.  She had always dreamed of being a mother, of having a family of her own.  Now, a part of that dream was about to come true. 

She was sitting on the couch thumbing through a book on baby names when a harsh knock sounded at her door.  She jumped as the door reverberated with the sheer force of the knock.  She laid the book on the coffee table walking over to the door.  She looked through the peephole to find an irate Nick looming on the other side of the door. 

A gasp escaped her lips as her eyes widened.  What was he doing here?  She hesitated, unsure of what to do.  “Open the door, Samantha,” he commanded firmly in a voice that bellowed down the hall. 

The tone in his voice made her all too aware that this would not be a pleasant conversation.  Her hand covered her stomach, as if she could keep the baby all to herself. 

At her reticence, he warned.  “Open the damn door, or I will break it down.”

She took a deep breath slowly unlocking the dead bolt to pull the door open.  He pushed the door open wider with the flat of his hand.  He shoved his way inside slamming the door behind him.  She had never seen that wild look in his eyes.  Her heart rate quickened.  “What do you want, Nick?” she asked, wishing she heard more strength in her voice. 

His eyes were alive with curiosity as he glanced around the room.  Her apartment was small, but the decor made it homey.  He breathed in her scent as he glanced at the overstuffed chair she had so recently vacated.  His eyes narrowed as they caught a glimpse of the book that sat on the table.  He walked over picking it up.  He held it up in the air as he walked back to stand in front of her. 

“Do you have something to tell me?” 

Oh my god, he knows.  She knew he was waiting for an explanation, but her mouth suddenly wouldn’t work.  How had he found out?  The answer came to her as quickly as the question had.  Derek.  Derek must have told him about the baby.  Damn him, she thought angrily.  Why hadn’t she just kept her big mouth shut?

His eyebrows rose, as if her lack of speech amused him.  Unfortunately, the amusement did nothing to conceal the barely restrained fury in his eyes.  “Nothing to say, Sam?  Well, let me help you.  You’re having my baby.  Isn’t there a song that goes something like that?  Of course, in the song that was her way of telling him that she loved him.  Somehow, I don’t think that applies here, does it?” 

He circled her making her feel even more vulnerable than she already did.  She tried to walk away from him, but he followed her backing her into a corner.   “I was going to tell you, Nick,” she said, her voice so low it was almost a whisper.  Her explanation sounded pathetic, she knew, but it was all she had. 

He threw his head back on a harsh laugh.  “You were going to tell me, huh?  When?  When the kid graduated from high school?” 

Her body began to shake at his nearness.  The look in his eyes confirmed what she already knew.   He was furious with her, and he had every right to be.  Still, she wouldn’t let him bully her.  “This is my baby, Nick.  It doesn’t have anything to do with you.” 

She took a step back from the barely restrained violence she saw flash in his eyes, but unfortunately, she only succeeded in forcing herself further into the wall.  He grabbed her forearms, giving her a harsh shake.  “Oh, that’s where you’re wrong.  This has everything to do with me.  Did you think that I would let you keep my child from me, Sam?  Did you?  I thought you knew me better than that.” 

Fear rose up in her chest.  He had never been violent with her before.  He had never even playfully slapped her.  Still, seeing the look in his eyes, she couldn’t help but be afraid.  The worst part was that she knew he was right.  She should’ve told him.  She just hadn’t wanted to see him, talk to him, touch him.  Not so soon after what had happened between them.   She could smell the faint scent of his cologne, and it made her dizzy.  She tried to compose herself.  If only he wouldn’t stand so close, then maybe she could control her errant body. “I’m sorry, Nick,” she was barely able to muster. 

The room was beginning to spin, and she felt sure she was going to pass out.  He must have seen the glazed look in her eyes, because his grip loosened to a soft caress as he led her over to the couch.  He forced her to lay back on the overstuffed green couch, his eyes never leaving her.   She leaned her head back closing her eyes for a moment as she tried to regain her composure. 

He studied her for a moment, his fists clenched at his sides.  Her breath slowly ruffled the wispy bangs along her forehead.  Her eyes were closed.  A slight color rose in her cheeks.  God, she was beautiful.  Damn her for playing these games with him.  He couldn’t help but notice the slight changes in her body.  Her breasts appeared fuller than before.  They jutted out from underneath her pink tshirt.  Her hips seemed wider and he ached to span their width with his hands.  A small bulge at her waist hinted of the life inside.  His child.  Possessiveness coursed through his veins. 

For weeks he had talked himself out of following her.  He had wanted to with everything in him.  He had wanted to find her and haul her back to his cave to show her that she was his, but he hadn’t.  He couldn’t.  He wouldn’t allow himself to, because he knew the truth.  If she really loved him, she wouldn’t have left.  It wasn’t something he was happy to admit, but it was honest.  So, instead, he had tried to put her behind him. 

Tried?  What a joke?  He had barely been surviving.  Licking his wounds with alcohol once again.  An all too familiar vice.  He was waiting for Pete’s next attempt at a heart-to-heart, when Derek told him the news.  At first, he was furious.  Why hadn’t she called him?  And worse, why had she called his brother?  Did she hate him that much that she would rob him of something so precious?  He couldn’t deny that he had wanted to throttle her when he came here today.  She had the unwitting ability to bring him to moments of insanity like no one else in the world.

Now, looking down at her, he felt the urgent need to comfort, to protect.  Her eyes slowly fluttered open to focus on him.  He sat down on the couch beside her, turning to look deeply into her eyes.  “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked, his voice broken. 

Tears clouded her deep blue eyes.  “I was afraid,” she whispered honestly.

 At first, he didn’t think that he had heard her correctly.  “You were afraid?” he questioned. 

She shook her head lowering her gaze to rest on her lap.  He couldn’t help but notice the protective movement of her hand, which strayed to her stomach.  “Of me?” 

She glanced at him, before nodding her head in agreement.   His hand came up to caress her cheek.  Her gaze hesitantly rose to meet his in surprise.  His thumb stroked the tender skin of her cheek, as he leaned over to brush his lips against hers.  Her breath caught as he skimmed her lower lip with his tongue.  Her mouth opened allowing him access to the inner depths.  His tongue explored the depths of her mouth mating with her tongue in an age-old rhythm.  Her hands came up to encircle his neck clinging desperately.  He pulled her closer to him on the couch, his hands softly kneading her hips.  His mouth devoured hers as if the time they had been apart had been as painful for him as it was for her. 

Suddenly, he pulled away stilling her attempts to pull his head back down to her.  “We need to talk,” he observed huskily. 

She pulled back to gaze at him, her eyes still clouded with passion.  Whether she wanted to admit it or not, she had missed him.  She had missed everything about him.  She waited for him to speak, memorizing every detail of his mouth, his eyes, his nose and his cheeks.  She hadn’t realized how hungry she was for him until she saw him.  Now, her hunger threatened to take control.  Before she could stop herself, her hands came up to caress his face traveling to lightly trace his ear. 

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, before quickly being replaced with a serious look.  “I think that we should get married,” he said solemnly. 

Her hand dropped from its torturous attention to his ear.  “What?” 

He sat up a little straighter.  “I think that we should get married.” 

She fell back against the couch.  Had she just heard him right?  Married?  He couldn’t be serious.  Could he?  A part of her was elated.  Married.  It was what she had always wanted.  A family.  He was offering her everything she had ever dreamed of.  So, why wasn’t she happy?  Why did she feel this sudden ache deep in her heart?  Because of one word.  The word ‘should’ in his proposal spoke volumes.  He didn’t want to marry her.  He never had.  If he did, they would’ve been married long ago.  No, he was only doing this because she was pregnant.  The realization created a hole in her heart.  Deep down, she knew there was only one answer to his question. 

“No,” she whispered sadly. 

Stay tuned for more of Lake of Lies…

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