From Ellora’s Cave Excerpt below the cut…
That voice kept whispering through his mind and he had to wonder if maybe his hallucinations weren’t on to something.
She’s the reason you came back…
The house didn’t matter to him.
Hell, his career didn’t matter to him. It had been a year since he’d written a damn thing and he couldn’t care less. Even though he knew he should.
But the house, his writing, his career, none of it seemed real. Nothing seemed real anymore, not since Alyssa had died in his arms. Well, nothing except dreams that made him hot with lust and sick with guilt. Until Bree had walked back into his life seven days earlier, or rather, until he had walked back into hers, nothing but those dreams had affected him.
Seeing her made him feel more alive than he had felt since losing his wife and if not for the guilt choking him, he might have even enjoyed it. But the guilt, man, it was killing him. How wrong of him was it to think about how damn pretty she was as he joined her at his wife’s grave? He laid a single pale-pink rose in front of the headstone and then sank down to the grass to sit by Bree.
Her voice was huskier than normal, soft and sad. He glanced at her and could tell she’d been crying. “Yeah. I can’t believe it.”
She licked her lips and glanced up at the sky. “At least it isn’t pouring down rain today.”
He thought back, remembered the unseasonably cold rain that had poured from the sky the day they buried Alyssa. That rain had chilled him through and through, freezing him in a way that had gone deeper than just the surface. It had frozen him clear through to the heart and he’d been grateful. He hadn’t wanted to feel anything. Hadn’t wanted to grieve. Grieving meant letting go and he hadn’t been ready to do that.
The hot sun shone down on his back, warming him through the simple white polo shirt he’d unearthed from his closet. He could feel Bree’s body heat along his side, warming him in a way the sun never could. And he could smell her—that soft, sexy scent that had nothing to do with any store-bought lotion or perfume.
She was so damn different from Alyssa. Smooth, caramel-colored skin, dark gray, quiet eyes that seemed to notice everything, a long, lean body with those dangerously sexy curves.
Aside from that pinup body, everything about Bree was subtle.
Everything about Alyssa had been vivid, intense, fast—just like her life. She had worn a riot of colors, had talked fast, jumping from one subject to the next with a speed that often left the listener struggling to keep up. Five-feet-four, a lush ripe figure, her long blondish-red hair a mass of spirals and ringlets. She’d spend nearly forty-five minutes a day on her hair, another twenty or thirty picking out her clothes and putting on makeup. Completely female. He couldn’t go into the bathroom without finding something lacy and frilly and pink draped somewhere. He’d loved it. He’d loved watching her slick herself down with lotion, loved watching her mess with her hair, loved everything about her.
But he’d spent half of the last year since her death fantasizing about her best friend.
Maybe it was the polarity of the two. Bree was so damn different from Alyssa—always had been.
Or maybe you’re just realizing there’s an attraction there.
That thought was quickly followed by a rush of guilt. Realizing an attraction, admitting to one that had started within weeks—no, hours—of burying his wife, what kind of bastard did that make him?
It had only been hours after they’d buried Alyssa that he’d found himself lying on the floor in Bree’s house, her arms around him, his head pillowed on her thigh and his mind full of her. He’d looked at her…and wanted.
So what kind of bastard was he?
The human kind? You’re not dead.
“You ever think you’re going stark-raving mad?” he asked abruptly.
She glanced at him. A smile tugged at her lips and she shrugged. “Daily. Sometimes hourly. Why?”
He sighed. “Just wondering.”
A breeze drifted across the cemetery, bringing with it the smells of fresh earth and flowers. Bree. It wrapped around him, taunting, teasing. The memory of the voice whispering in his ear, She’s the reason you came back.
Stupid. Fucking moronic. Why would he have come back because of Bree? She had been his wife’s best friend.
Just Alyssa’s friend? Not yours?
Okay, so yeah, she’d been a friend to him as well. But it was friendship. Nothing more. At least not since he’d gotten past that high-school infatuation years ago. He was a one-woman guy. He had been happy that way. Alyssa had been it for him and he had been it for her. They’d been each other’s first love, each other’s first lover. He’d planned on them being the only. But fate had stepped in and taken Alyssa away.
He couldn’t see himself spending the rest of his life celibate. Even depressed and eaten up inside with guilt, the past year had made him all too aware that he wasn’t cut out for a life without sex.
It wouldn’t be too difficult, he didn’t think, to get laid. A quick, anonymous fuck would ease the ache in his balls but that idea held about as much appeal as jacking off in the shower.
He wanted sex, wanted to feel a woman beneath him, her arms around him, rising to meet him as he rode her.
But he had no right wanting it from Bree.