This is the first story I've written where the hero and heroine are already married. I never realized how much of a challenge that could be, but I love how the story turned out. I hope you do too. :) For those of you who've read CRASH, this story is about Jace's older sister. (You'll see her a little bit in MELT too.)
Her throat closed and she looked away, ashamed and devastated. He had heard. The hurt in his voice was almost too much to bear. So this was going to be it. The end of her marriage. And it was her fault. “Seth, I—I’m so sorry. I—”
“Do you love me, Lei?” he asked, his tone hard.
She looked back at him. “Of course I do. I just—”
“Do you want a divorce?”
Tears filled her eyes. Divorce. The word itself made her want to lean over the bed and hurl. They had a life together, a house…the kids. Almost a decade of memories. She thought of Myra and Preston. Imagined telling their hope-filled faces that mommy and daddy weren’t going to be together anymore. That sometimes love wasn’t enough, that sometimes relationships faded.
But staying in something that was dying wasn’t going solve any problems either. She’d seen how her own parents had grown into more business partners than husband and wife. Leila had sworn to herself that she would never let herself stay in that kind of relationship. She and Seth were too young to sentence themselves to a life of empty smiles as they passed each other in the hallway.
A vice grip wrapped around her lungs, the writing on the wall impossible to ignore. “I don’t know what to do. I love you, but we’ve lost something. You’re never here—”
He sighed. “I have to work, Lei. You know that. I know the hours are hard, but I’m so close to getting a regional position. If I get that promotion, we could go buy one of those farmhouses you’ve always talked about. I see all those clippings you pull from magazines. I know they’re not for your clients.”
She shook her head, thinking of the kind of house she’d dreamed of since falling in love with interior design. A place she could renovate from the ground up, land the kids could play on, and... She sucked in a haggard breath. Suddenly, the image she’d always had of Seth converting space to play his music in again wouldn’t materialize. Like even in her fantasy house, her husband’s image had faded.
Seth watched her intently. “But I’ll take some time off, okay? I have a week’s vacation I can use.”
“I don’t know if we can fix it,” she whispered, the sad reality almost choking her. “Or get whatever it is back. This…us…feels empty. Don’t tell me you don’t feel it, too.”
He closed his eyes, her words obviously paining him, and took a long breath. When he opened them again, the lines of his jaw had hardened. “Why were you tempted tonight? What was it about him? His money? His looks?”
She looked down, his words stinging her.
She shook her head. “It was the way he looked at me, Seth. Like he wanted me. Like I was worth wanting.”
He winced like she’d slapped him. “I still want you, Lei.”
“No, you don’t. Not like that. Neither of us looks at each other that way anymore.”
He took a deep breath. “Give me a weekend.”
She swiped at the tears that had escaped down her cheeks. “Seth—”
“Three days,” he said, propping himself up on his elbow, a resolute look gliding over his stricken features. “No work. No kids. You give me complete control over what happens with us for the next three days and let’s see how things go. After that, we can call an attorney if that’s what you want.”
Confusion swamped her. “Three days to do what?”
“That would be up to me and not you,” he said, his tone firmer than she’d ever heard it. “You give me the control. If you want to pull the parachute cord at any point, you say ‘Austin’ and I’ll walk away.”
She had no idea what he was planning to do, but the implication of using her maiden name as her “out” word was not lost on her. “I don’t understand.”
He reached out and touched her damp cheek. “You don’t have to. But if there is any part of you that wants to see if there’s anything left between us worth saving, you’ll say yes.”
The look in his big, brown eyes broke her heart all over again and for a second, she saw a glimmer of that college boy she’d fallen in love with. The one who had looked at an awkward art student as if she held life’s greatest secrets. She didn’t have much hope that they could find what they’d lost, but she owed Seth the chance to try. And she owed it to herself.
She put her hand over the one he’d used to cup her cheek and nodded. “Okay. Three days.”
If you want to know more, here's the blurb...
Seth and Leila used to have trouble keeping their hands off each other. Passion, desire, love—it was all there. But eight years after their whirlwind marriage and kids, they’ve settled into a life where choosing Letterman over Leno is considered a wild night.
Seth knows things need to change. But when he hears his wife call into a relationship radio show and admit she’s been tempted to cheat, he realizes how far off course they’ve gotten.
He comes up with a dramatic plan. Three days. No rings. He’ll take Leila to The Ranch, a resort where any sexual fantasy can be had, and gives her the freedom to have whatever or whomever she wants.
However, Seth doesn’t intend to simply stand by and watch other men fulfill Leila’s dark desires. He has a lot more bad boy in him than his wife could ever suspect. There’s only one man who can give her what she needs. Now he has to show her why that man is him.
You can add it to your Goodreads if you like what you've read. (Yes, I'm not above blatant promo on occasion. ;) )
Hope you enjoyed it! Have a great Monday!