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by Elisa Adams
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Trust is a fragile thing. It's hard to come by, and even harder to get back once it's been shattered. Felicia trusted Jace once, ten years ago when he'd first become her lover. She gave him everything--body, heart and soul--only to have him walk away without a word of goodbye. When he left, she vowed never to let him into her life, or her heart, again. But now he's come back for her and he isn't taking no for an answer. She struggled for years to overcome the pain of his leaving, and a deeper, heart wrenching pain of a loss she had to live through all alone. She's started a new life, one that has no place for commitment, and she wants no part of the man who had ripped her heart out so long ago. But even as her mind tells him no, her body refuses to deny him anything. Jace has spent the past ten years watching Felicia from a distance, protecting her even when she didn't know he was there. The time has come to prove himself worthy of her affections. Their love, their passion had been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one he's never been able to forget. It killed him to walk away from her, but he did what he had to do to keep her from living the life he has lived for the past hundred years--solitary, transient. He never expected her to seek comfort in the arms of another man. Or that he would have to protect her from the same man--angry and bent on revenge--years later.
eBook Publisher: Ellora's Cave/Ellora's Cave, 2004 Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
eBookwise Release Date: May 2005
12 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [170 KB]
Reading time: 115-161 min.
He remembered everything.
The heated touch of her hand. The soft caress of her lips brushing his jaw. The soft flesh of her neck yielding as he sank his fangs deep, the sweet taste of her blood running over his tongue. The feel of her sweat-soaked skin sliding against his. The way she moaned when she came, her fingernails cutting into his shoulders. Every second of every time they'd made love had been burned into his brain.
He couldn't forget. Didn't want to. But at the same time, his memories ate him up inside. Why had he walked out on her so long ago? He'd had his reasons--which he thought had been valid at the time. Now that he looked back, he realized how selfish he'd been. How noble of him to want to protect her from himself. Where had it gotten him?
Where had it gotten her?
Nowhere. When they'd met, she'd been so full of promise, a talented painter with high expectations of herself and everyone around them. She'd planned to be somebody. Someone important. What had happened to those dreams? Had his leaving been the cause? Or was it something else? He wasn't so vain as to think she hadn't lived in the years before he'd found her again, though the idea of her dating other men--sleeping with other men--made a knot of anger twist in his gut. Irrational, since he'd given up all claims to her ten years ago, but there nonetheless. He knew about her brief marriage--had found her and started watching over her just after her divorce--but how many other men had there been in her life?
It didn't matter. Nothing did anymore, except getting her back.
In his many years of existence, he had never met another woman like her. One who stirred his soul and owned his heart. And he had spent years looking. Decades. As a young man in Germany, before he'd accepted the change that made him what he was today, there had been several women who'd caught his attention. And in the hundred odd years since, there had been many more. But they all paled in comparison to Felicia, the one woman who had stolen his heart.
He sat in the dark corner of the bar, his gaze locked on her as she worked. She'd cut her blonde hair short. It barely brushed her shoulders and fell in soft layers his fingers itched to touch. Her skin was still the same creamy, pale color he loved so much. Her eyes still haunted his dreams to this day ... eyes the blue of the ocean in the dead of winter, too dark for a woman with such fair coloring, but striking in an exotic way. Mesmerizing. It had been those dark, knowing eyes that had first caught his attention all those years ago.
They still captured him in his dreams at night.
Her short black skirt swished around her thighs as she brought customers their drinks. The smile she gave a bar patron reached Jace from across the room, and he couldn't help the icy jealousy that sliced through him. She didn't smile for him. Not anymore. He sighed. He'd done nothing to deserve her smile. He'd only managed to chase it away, at least in the end. She wouldn't welcome him back with open arms, but maybe she'd accept his reasons once he had a chance to explain himself.
A rowdy, drunken fool grabbed for her, giving her a pat on the ass as she walked by. Unacceptable. He gave a silent cheer when Felicia turned, her face screwed up in aggravation, and issued what looked like some kind of a threat. Good girl. She'd always been able to take care of herself.
If this had been another time, another place, he would have felt the need to fight for her honor. But times had changed since the days of his youth, in so many ways, and Felicia no longer belonged to him. Breaking the other man's neck--no matter how much he might enjoy it--wouldn't impress her. Wouldn't win her back.
And that was exactly what he intended to do.
Tracking her down had been easy, once he'd finally realized he didn't want to spend any more time without her. She hadn't left the area where they'd met. Had been working as a secretary in a small legal office at the time, living in a small apartment a block away from where she worked.
Of course, he'd checked up on her every couple of years. In the time they'd been apart, she'd graduated college, married and divorced, and moved all the way across the country from Connecticut to Oregon three years ago. He'd followed, but he hadn't let her know. He'd watched her silently from dark corners and shadows, hiding himself from her, but there in case she ever needed help. Being the strong woman she was, she'd never needed him. But over time, he'd come to a realization.
He needed her.
Tonight, he would let her know. He would finally get the chance, after so many years, to tell her how he felt about her. And, despite his aversion to any kind of groveling, he'd beg her to take him back. The connection between them was still there. It had to be. Something that strong didn't just fade away. They'd both moved on to live separate lives, but he'd be willing to bet everything he had that she hadn't been able to forget him, despite the other men she'd seen in their time apart.
One of those men was there, in the bar, that night.
Jace had felt the man when he first walked in. A quick scan of the room had revealed a blond man sitting at a table against the wall, nursing a beer, his gaze sliding to Felicia every time she walked by. A baseball cap hung low over his eyes, obstructing Jace's view of his face, but he didn't need to see the man's features to know who it was.
The only rival he'd ever truly had for Felicia's attentions. The only man who'd gotten close enough to her heart for her to let him slip a ring on her finger. It incensed Jace that Randall Carson had been able to do that, when Jace himself had been too much of a coward to take that big step. He'd taken a step, a huge one, but in the other direction.
He narrowed his eyes at the other man, wishing he had the ability to strike him dead with just a glance. Being a vampire--and not a young one--he had his fair share of gifts, but heightened senses didn't do him much good from across the room.
He smiled, fighting the urge to walk over to Carson's table and show off his fangs. No doubt that would have the man running in the other direction as fast as his legs would take him. But making a scene wouldn't solve his problems. It would only create more. Instead, he'd have to do something else--like show Carson who Felicia really belonged with.
Using a lifelong talent, he opened his mind just enough to let her sense him. His mind slid into a connection with hers almost immediately, effortlessly, as if ten years and many miles hadn't separated them at all. Longing, love, pain, and regret welled in him, the emotions almost too strong to take. He willed himself to remain calm or he would alert her to his presence too soon. He stayed silent for a few minutes as he reveled in the feel of being with her again. For an endless minute, he let himself float on the soothing tide of what had once been their love. When the warm sensations of their connection started to grow and morph into something stronger, he spoke into her mind.
Her spine stiffened and she snapped her gaze around the room, hearing him but not yet seeing him. From the dark expression on her face, he guessed she'd want to kill him as soon as she found him. He smiled to himself. He had always loved that independent streak in her. If he had to be honest with himself, he loved her. He'd never been willing to admit that before, not out loud, not to her, but now everything had changed. He had changed. No longer the selfish ass he'd been when they had first met, he wanted to show her just how good things could be between them now. He wanted to shower her with love, with passion. If he judged by the fire in her eyes and the red splotches on her cheeks, she wanted to shower him with knives and daggers.
He lifted his glass to his lips and took a sip of water. He could handle knives and daggers. Coming from the right woman, he could handle just about anything.
Look at me, Felicia. I'm right here.
The world seemed to turn in slow motion as she pivoted on her heel and looked in his direction. Her eyes widened. Her lips parted, her tongue darting out to wet them, conjuring all kinds of erotic images in his mind. He knew what she could do with that tongue.
Come to me, love.
She closed her eyes and drew a breath so deep, he saw her chest rise and fall from across the room. When she snapped her eyes open, none of the fire had faded from their depths. It seemed to have deepened, taking on a life of its own. She set the empty tray on the table next to her, clenched her hands into fists by her side and marched over to the bar. The young, burly bartender put his hand on her arm, and Felicia shook her head. Even though Jace couldn't make out the words, he caught enough from watching her mouth to know more than a few cuss words escaped those luscious lips. He laughed softly. She hadn't changed one bit. Still the same wild, stubborn woman he'd fallen in love with so many years ago.
He wanted her back.
This time for good, and he wouldn't take no for an answer.