Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Gabriella Bradley
Word Count :48386
Publication Date :2012-10-24
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-77111-416-5
When fate leads you to your soul mate…it might be a good idea to answer.
The message on her machine was not meant for her, but Leah Britton can’t resist the urgent plea. The pain in the man’s voice is unmistakable and she begins a cascade of events that will take her out of her comfort zone and into a whirlwind of sensuality with a hint of deadly danger.
Logan is furious when he finds out that the heartfelt plea he voiced to his ex was heard by a stranger, the very woman who meets him in his ex-wife’s place. Her sympathy at his recent breakup is written on her lovely face and he sees a pain that echoes his own.
Together they let their personal pain become something different, stronger, and wilder than either of them could have guessed.
“Julie, please don’t hang up.”
Leah had no idea why she didn’t. The phone had rung persistently while she was in the tub enjoying a luxurious soak after a harrowing day at work, and after the answering machine clicked in no one had left a message. She wondered if it was the same person who’d called a million times during her hour of utter relaxation. She wished she hadn’t left the generic, metallic voice message on her machine. The caller would then have realized he’d called the wrong number.
The voice at the other end continued, the deep, sexy timbre of it sending a thrill through her body, so without saying a word, she listened.
“Honey, I love you so much. After all this time, do you really want to end it? Waste all that precious time? And for what? I don’t trust him. I don’t know why, but after seeing him with you that night in the restaurant, I have a strong feeling that man is hiding something. I’m sure of it. And you know me and my gut instincts.”
Was it coincidence that the man who’d called had the same answering machine and computerized message? Leah felt she was listening in on a very private one-sided conversation and opened her mouth to tell the poor guy he had the wrong number but she didn’t have a chance as he continued.
“I can hear you breathing so I know you’re listening to me. You think you’re head over heels in love, but that’s the kind of love that more than often dies. Remember our early days after we fell in love? It was love at first sight and exciting and sweet. That first love always wanes and then comes the real test. We were happy. At least, I thought we were. Is it worth it to discard it all for a new relationship when you hardly know the man? My gut tells me your whole world will come crashing down about you. Please don’t act so impulsively. Honey, meet me in the park by the duck pond so we can talk about all this. I’ll be there at eight this evening. If you’re not there, I’ll know we’re finished for good.”
A soft click and he was gone. Leah gazed dumbfounded at the receiver for a moment before putting it back on the cradle. “That poor man. I could almost feel his pain,” she muttered as she toweled her hair dry and walked to her bedroom to get dressed. Standing in front of the mirror, she brushed out her long blonde hair and gazed at the reflection. Sad blue eyes looked back at her. She’d gone through a broken relationship herself just recently and wasn’t over it yet. Mark had dumped her unceremoniously for another woman. Without warning, he’d packed his bags and moved out of their apartment, leaving her a short note telling her he’d fallen in love with someone else. Listening to this stranger had caused her own pain to surface.
What would she have done if that had been Mark calling her? The man had obviously punched in a wrong number several times, hung up before the answering machine clicked in, and hit the redial button again and again to finally find the courage to wait for the machine and speak his piece. Not telling him that she wasn’t Julie wasn’t very fair. Would Julie have gone to the park that evening? Or would she have slammed the phone down and ignored the man’s pleas? Deep down, Leah knew if it had been Mark calling her, she wouldn’t have agreed to meet him. He’d driven a lethal stake through her heart. It was unforgivable and nothing could mend it except time.
She walked to the nightstand, picked up her bedroom phone and looked at the call display. His number showed up as private. Then she dialed star sixty-nine. “I’m sorry, the number—” She knew the monotone spiel and hung up again. If she could have retrieved the number he’d called from, she would have apologized and told him he’d spoken to the wrong woman.
“Damn, I should have said something,” she muttered softly. “I can’t let him wait for nothing. I’ll meet him and tell him I’m sorry for listening to his private one sided conversation.”
She glanced at the clock. Not quite two hours to eight o’clock and it would take her twenty minutes to get to the park. Dropping the towel, she quickly plugged in the blow dryer and swore softly as it sputtered, sparked and shorted out. If she didn’t style her springy hair, it’d be all over the place. Exasperated, she threw the offensive object in the trash and sat on the side of the bed. Deftly, she started to braid her hair.
While she braided the thick strands, she thought about Mark, how he’d always said he loved her hair. But that seemed so long ago. Each time she allowed him to enter her thoughts, her clit throbbed with longing. Though he’d hurt her deeply, he hadn’t killed her feelings, her wanton desire for his body. She shifted uncomfortably and looked at the drawer, which used to contain her toys. Mark had been furious when he’d discovered them, and they’d had a huge fight. Squashing the urge to satisfy herself, she tried to ignore the ache between her legs and yanked on her panties and jeans. No need to get dressed up for a stranger. The jeans were loose on her. After the breakup, she’d lost a lot of weight. Even her bras were too big, but she didn’t want to spend money on new clothes. Not bothering with a bra, she took a clean sweatshirt out of the closet and while pulling it over her head, glimpsed her breasts in the mirror. The dusky nipples puckered, indicating the surge of libido. They stood out sharply from her reduced breasts. Once, she’d been proud of her bosom, but now she resembled an adolescent. She’d lost weight fast after the breakup. Quickly, she yanked the shirt down and made a resolution to eat more. But that was hard when your stomach was tied in knots most of the time.
After putting on a warm ski jacket and winding a scarf around her still wet hair, she headed out to the park. It was cold out, so cold her breath came out in puffs of mist. She didn’t hurry. There was lots of time. While walking, the thought suddenly occurred to her the man hadn’t mentioned the name of the park he was going to. “Hell, there is more than one park in this city. Matter of fact, who said it was even that city? “Has to be. He couldn’t have gotten all the numbers wrong,” she muttered and stuck her hands in her pockets to keep them warm. While she walked, she passed houses merrily decorated with festive lights, a fully lit and decorated Christmas tree in front of their windows. She sighed. Mark had never wanted to do anything special at Christmas. What would it be like to have a family Christmas? Every year during the holiday season emptiness gnawed at her heart, the deep-down longing to belong to a real family, to have siblings, to be surrounded by love and laughter.
She arrived at the duck pond fifteen minutes early. She knew it well. Many a warm summer evening, Mark and she had sat on one of the benches and talked about the future while feeding the ducks.
This was a mistake, she thought. It’s only causing memories to surface again. She didn’t sit on a bench. Instead, she strolled up and down to try to keep the circulation going. The wind was icy and bit into her cheeks. Not a duck floated on the rippling water and there wasn’t a soul in sight. She’d been a fool to go out to meet a total stranger. What if he was some kind of stalker and the call had been a ruse to get her there? A pang of fear replaced her longing for Mark and she turned around to rush home.
But there he was. From out of the shadows of a naked tree, its branches silhouetted eerily against the night sky, a man strode toward her. It had to be him. Continuing to pace back and forth, she waited to see what he would do. She couldn’t see him clearly in the dark. He wore jeans and a leather jacket. A baseball cap hid his hair so she had no idea if he was blond, dark or gray. His face for the moment was just a pale blob.
The urge to rush home was great, but she’d have to pass by him. The man sat down on one of the benches and she noticed him twirling a rose between his fingers. It had to be him, and it was probably for real. Would a stalker bring a red rose? Its crimson color contrasted like a splash of blood against the wintery night scene. She stopped and regarded him for a few minutes. He took off his cap and ran his fingers through hair that looked dark blond and shoulder length. Without moonlight, it was difficult to see. Glancing from right to left and back again, his gaze came to rest on her for a moment. He started to get up, then sank down to the bench, his legs spread, elbows on his knees, the rose twirling between his fingers.
“Okay, here goes,” she whispered, and strode resolutely toward him. Clearing her throat, she said, “Excuse me. Are you waiting for Julie?”
At the sound of her voice, he jumped to his feet and faced her. “Who are you? Did you bring me a message from her?” His voice was laced with anticipation and she felt her stomach sink. That close, she saw part of his face—the cap shadowed the upper part, so his eyes were still a mystery. He had full sensitive lips, beautifully formed. Lips that looked kissable. What the hell am I thinking? His face looked like it hadn’t seen a razor for a few days, and she guessed him to be around thirty. He was tall—very tall. She was by no means a short woman, but he towered over her.
“My name’s Leah Britton. No, I don’t have a message from Julie. I’m sorry.”
“Are you one of Julie’s friends?”
“No. I have to own up to something. When you dialed Julie’s number, which must be very similar to mine, you dialed a wrong number. It was me you spoke to earlier this evening.”
“Oh, my God. The generic message on the machine was the same.” He backed away from her, crushing the bloom in his fist. It dropped to the ground and the red petals scattered behind him. His fists balled. “Damn you, woman, why didn’t you speak up instead of letting me ramble on like a blithering idiot! Do you like listening to private conversations? Does it turn you on or something?”
Oh, he’d hit a raw nerve. Yes, his voice had turned her on, just like it did at the moment. In real life, his voice was even sexier. “Look, I apologize. I wanted to speak up, but something made me listen. So here I am to tell you I’m sorry. I could have just let you wait for nothing.”
“You’re sorry? God, I must have sounded like a whining fool! Why the hell didn’t you stop me?”
“I know,” she said in a small voice. “For some reason, I continued to eavesdrop. Maybe it’s because I’ve just gone through a breakup myself.”
“That’s still no excuse.”
“I suppose. Look, I’m freezing and this conversation is going nowhere. All I wanted to do was apologize. I’m sorry I couldn’t be your Julie for you. Have a good evening.”
A soft sarcastic chuckle followed her. “Good evening? How do you propose I have one of those?”