The house was too quiet. She could hear her own footfalls as she walked through it, her own heartbeat as she stared into her coffee. She could feel her fear, closer, stronger than it had ever been before. The new house was so still, the memories that her New York home had held were absent here.
She had moved to be closer to Tess. To try in some way to make up for the cruel, bitter words she had thrown at her daughter. And she had moved to live again. She had hidden from herself and from the memories of her marriage for so many years that she was feeling the deprivation in ever increasing levels. Her family was here. Her sister, her friends. They were all here. With Tess gone, the New York house was too silent, too lonely. Though this one wasn’t much different today.
She still wore the cream lace dress she had chosen for the wedding, though the matching wide brimmed hat had been thrown carelessly on the embroidered chair that sat inside the front entryway. She felt lost in a way she hadn’t felt in years. A loneliness she couldn’t explain haunted her; needs she couldn’t admit to shadowed her mind and her desires. So she thought of Tess instead.
The wedding had been one of the most beautiful Ella had attended in her life. Her daughter, her baby, had made a gorgeous bride. The pervert she had married had looked handsome and darkly seductive.
She ran her fingers over the careful upsweep of her auburn hair, feeling the pinch of hairpins holding it in place. Her hairdresser had followed her orders to the letter. Not a strand of hair had slipped free of its mooring. Her dress hadn’t creased, and her silk stockings hadn’t dared slip or snag. She looked as well dressed now, six hours after the wedding, as she had when she left that morning.
Thankfully, with the move to Virginia, the damage she had done to the relationship with her daughter was healing. In her shock, in her rage, she had been hurtful to Tess. But, still, she couldn’t believe what she had walked in on.
Her hands trembled as heat flooded her face. It had been Jesse, not James, but the likeness was too great. The twins were identical in nearly every way, even to their sexual preferences. Tall and distinguished, with a lean muscular build and dark toned skin that looked perpetually tanned. Thick, black hair fell along their napes, straight and glossy, tempting the women around them to touch.
Her legs trembled as she sat down at the small, walnut kitchen table. Her fingers trembled as they covered her lips. Her heart pounded with hard, driving beats within her chest. It had been her worst nightmare come to life, except her daughter played the role Ella had played within those dark visions.
Not with Cole, but with James. And there lay the demon that lurked in her mind. Perverse, depraved. She had walked away from her marriage and the life she had fought to build because of her husband Jase’s perverse desires. The light spankings she had managed to tolerate, though they had seared her with shame. Being restrained had been easier, though even then, what pleasure had filtered through the experience had been tainted by the fact that she knew, knew what was coming and she knew she couldn’t bear it.
Her lack of submission to Jase’s needs had finally broken their relationship. She hadn’t been able to give him the trust, the control he needed. She had been terrified, knowing instinctively what would come next, who would come next. And she knew she would never be able to maintain her control, her sanity, if James touched her.
He had been at Tessa’s wedding. He had watched her with knowing eyes, so green, so wicked, her body had pulsed with depravity. He had shaken her hand, the heat and pleasure of his touch nearly taking her breath. And all the time he had watched her, knew her, tormented her.
She stalked to the glass door that led to the cool, foliage sheltered area of the garden. The slender heels of her shoes created a hollow, lonely tap against the wood of the porch as she moved to the end of the vine-covered shelter. Her hand gripped the thick post, her nails biting into the wood as she fought her anger, her fears for her daughter.
Tess was too much like Jase. Ella had always been afraid of that, especially after the books she had found years ago, hidden in Tess’s bedroom. Her desires were extreme, and evidently she had no fear of them. Unlike her mother, who fought the demons, the knowledge of her own needs.
She couldn’t get the image of it out of her mind. She couldn’t fight the dark nightmares of James, holding her, taking her as another did. She never knew, never cared who joined them in those nightmare images, all she saw, all she knew was James.
One day, Ella, you’ll have to stop running. When you do, let me know.
“Like hell,” she bit out, turning and moving purposely to the house. She wasn’t running, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to let him know anything.
Jase’s sexual tastes had nearly ruined her life, and now they would ruin Tess’s. No man could truly love a woman, truly respect her, if he allowed another to touch her, to take her.
She fought the ripple of response between her thighs. The creamy moisture that she fought to ignore, the desires she kept carefully banked, always hidden. Controlled. She couldn’t let him break her, couldn’t let him see her response to him. If anyone had the power to break her heart, it was James Wyman.
She couldn’t ignore him; she couldn’t pretend he didn’t exist. Due to her own foolishness, he would soon be a daily part of her life. But she could handle it, she assured herself. She had spent her life practicing the careful control that had sustained her over the years. She could handle James Wyman, easily. It was all a matter of control.
It was all a matter of control. James watched as Ella Delacourte led him up the carpet-covered stairs to the bedroom he would be using while he stayed in her home. He was still amazed that she had given into Tess’s request that she allow James to stay in the house until the home he was buying was ready to move into.
Her slender waist and gently flared hips drew attention to the delicate, perfect curves of her ass as she moved in front of him. Dressed in gray silk slacks and a pearl gray blouse, she was the epitome of grace and elegance. Calm, controlled…so perfectly controlled it made him itch to hear her scream. To hear that perfectly pitched voice ragged and hot, begging him to fuck her deep and hard, to take her however he wished. He wanted, needed, to break that control.
And Ella knew it. She had been well warned years before, and he wasn’t a joking man. But he was a patient man. He had waited five years for the chance at the only woman he knew that could make him think of forever. The only one he knew would challenge his mind, as well as his sexuality. If he could manage to keep from getting kicked out of the house.
He hid his grin. He knew Ella was desperate to make up for the painful words she had thrown at her daughter when she caught her sandwiched between Cole and Jesse. She had been furious, outraged, and if Jesse was right, certain at first that it was James rather than Jesse who had participated in Tess’s first ménage.
Tess, too, wanted that relationship repaired, but she also wanted her mother happy. She had been more than happy to participate in James’ plot to get closer to her mother. Especially after he convinced her how long he had been waiting for the opportunity.
“You can use the kitchen and the washroom if you do your own cooking and laundry. The living room is okay for entertaining, but I have to ask that if you need overnight female companionship you rent a motel. I won’t have it in my home, James. ” She pushed open the bedroom door before turning to face him.
She wore only a minimum of makeup today to accentuate her eyes and her graceful cheekbones. Her lips were colored with a soft dawn shade, and at the moment the lower lip appeared slightly swollen, as though she had been biting at it as she walked upstairs.
“I’m not a teenager, Ella. ”
“I’m aware of your age,” she said coldly. “I’ll leave you then to get settled in. If you need anything, the house is laid out fairly simple, and everything is easy to find. I’ll talk to you later. ”
“Ella?” He stopped her as she turned for the door.
He caught the ready, tense set of her body, as though she were preparing herself for a battle. She turned back to him, her expression carefully closed, cool.
“Yes, James?” She kept her voice well modulated, soft yet not simpering.
“Am I allowed to come out of my room if I’m a very good boy?” James kept his voice low, teasing. There was no way in hell he was going to get close to her if she didn’t loosen up a little.
She was wary, almost frightened of him, and she almost succeeded in hiding it. Almost. He knew her better than she knew herself in some ways. She stiffened further, her perfectly arched brows snapping into a frown.
“I’m not in the mood for your games. ” Her voice was non-confrontational, but the flush along her cheekbones warned him of the coming storm. Damn, he loved pissing her off. Watching her eyes glitter in ire, her pale cheeks flushing so prettily. It gave him a glimpse of what she would look like in passion.
He tilted his head curiously. “Shame. Tess assured me you would welcome my company. I’m feeling as though I’m putting you out, Ella. Perhaps I should stay in a hotel until the house is ready. ”
For a moment—a very brief, infuriating moment—satisfaction glittered in her eyes, until she remembered Tess and her promise to make James comfortable. Her lips thinned as she drew in a deep, careful breath. The smile that she pasted on her face had little to do with warmth; it damned near caused frostbite.
“You’re perfectly welcome, James. Tess’s little friends are always welcome in my home, you know that. ”
Ouch. Little friends? He chuckled silently. She was finding every opportunity to remind him that he was several years younger than she was. The six years made little difference to him. As a matter of fact, it seemed perfect. An older man would never keep up with the passions he knew ran beneath that cool exterior.
He allowed a smile to curve his lips as he stared at her intently. “Little friends? I’m hardly that young, Ella. ”
“Not far from it,” she grumbled. “I have work to do, James. Make yourself at home, and perhaps I’ll talk to you later. ”
But not if she could help it.
“What type of work?” He stopped her again. “I was unaware you worked. Jase should have given you a very healthy settlement from the divorce. ” By God, if he hadn’t, James would be talking to him about it.
“That’s none of your business. ” She frowned again. “What I do, James, I do for my own pleasure and how Jase decided to pay me for the divorce is none of your concern. ”
Pay her for the divorce? James was damned well aware that she was much less than happy in that marriage, yet she sounded bitter, rejected. Had she cared more for Jase than he had once thought? That idea didn’t set well in his mind, or in his heart.
“Ella, you weren’t happy, and neither was Jase,” he said softly.
“I refuse to discuss this with you. ” She straightened her shoulders majestically, her lips thinning as her anger grew. “I don’t mind your presence here, James, but I don’t have time to entertain you. You’ll have to find your amusements elsewhere. ”
“But you said no women. ” She stopped again as she turned to leave.
“No women. ” She shook her head tightly, her voice strained. “Not in my home, James. Never again in my home. ”
“You know, you need a housekeeper or a cook. ” James’ voice early the next afternoon had her jumping in startled awareness as she finished filling the coffeepot. She turned, facing him, thinking what a shame it was that one man would have such sexual presence.
He stood propped against the doorway, dressed in dark blue silk slacks and a lighter blue silk shirt. His jacket was held at his shoulder by the crook of his finger, and his green eyes regarded her with lustful secrets.
by Lora Leigh / Romance / Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on50 votes