Daring Young Man [Dareville Series Book 3]
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by Leigh Ellwood
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Having weathered a bad marriage, Lauren McKenna is ready for a meaningful, loving relationship. Not with just anybody, either ... she's set her sights, and her heart, on Dareville's favorite grocer, Jake Marbury, a man nearly twice her age. It's been a year since Jake lost his wife to cancer, and he is hardly interested in starting over with a new love. Despite pressure from family and friends to retire, Jake is happy running the store, and looking forward to expanding to a new location. The need for help inadvertantly leads him to Lauren, who takes the opportunity to win Jake. Can Lauren convince the silver fox with the heart of gold that he's not too old to love again? Will Jake be able to find more to fill his heart than work?
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: October 2006
26 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [214 KB]
Reading time: 137-193 min.
"Lauren..." Jake faltered and turned to face her, then started when he saw Lauren was now standing in front of the desk. With her long, brown hair dusting the shoulders of her aqua blue blouse, she looked beautiful. Her dark eyes reflected an expectant blow, and Jake felt his heart sink. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, much less ruin her weekend.
"About ... what happened..." He wanted to look her in the eye, and found it to be a difficult task. Casting his gaze downward helped less. The view of Lauren's curved hips, hugged by her black pencil skirt, triggered his want again, but there was no display or table he could hide behind this time.
"Yeah, Jake, I'm sorry about that." Lauren seemed to look for a distraction in the office as well. The open doorway provided plenty, and they watched shoppers pass as they talked.
"I had too much drink," she was saying, "and I wasn't thinking. Trust me, I would never do anything to embarass you the way I did."
"Lauren, you did nothing wrong. Truly, you're a great friend and a good worker, and I'm the one who should be sorry for embarassing you. Wow." He chuckled. "You'd think at this point in my life I wouldn't have ... that kind of problem. I supposed I should be flattered..."
Now was a good time, he believed, to stop talking. He didn't need to discuss further his ability or lack thereof to obtain and maintain an erection.
"Jake, are you saying ... you're sorry that I came onto you?" Lauren frowned. As if in afterthought, she rushed past him and closed the office door. "Or," she turned slowly around, "are you apologizing for coming onto me?"
"I guess, I guess ... the latter." Had he come onto her as well? Was he that drunk?
"But you didn't do anything."
"I certainly haven't done anything gentlemanly, Lauren," Jake said. The circulation in the small office ceased when Lauren shut the door. His heart stopped upon hearing the familiar click of the lock being engaged.
Now why ... "
The aroma of vanilla coffee and sweet perfume clashed and assaulted him at every angle. He felt light-headed and nauseous, more so than earlier.
"Are you okay, Jake?" Concern colored Lauren's voice and she reached forward, as if to steady him. "Do you need to sit down?"
"No, no." He noted the look on Lauren's face as he flinched away. She looked hurt, and he wondered if she thought he was repulsed by her. Quite the contrary. Given what her voice could do, a simple touch was certain to cause an eruption.
"Lauren, I'm fine. Just a little stuffy in here." He illustrated the point with a hooked finger tugging at his shirt collar. "I think if we just--"
"Jake, I love you."
Lauren looked a like a deer in headlights. Her soft, brown eyes seemed to double in circumference, and her hands tightened into a large fist that wavered up and down before falling sharply to her abdomen. She didn't seem to know what to do with herself.
"I can't take it anymore, Jake. I have to tell you that I love you."
Her voice now took on a desperation that rattled Jake. It was true, what J.J. had said. To think, despite being somewhat aware of subtle gestures and body language, and of course the pictures on the computer, Lauren's revelation still came as a shock.
"Well," he said finally, "Lauren, I adore you, too..."
"I'm in love with you, Jake. I don't love you like you were my father. I already have a father. I want a lover, I want you."
Oh. There was that unmistakable sensation. His cock stirred to life again, bidden by her voice. When did he lose control of his body? His heart knew this couldn't happen, but his cock had other ideas.
"Lauren..." He said nothing more as he backed into the coffee station. A tower of Styrofoam cups toppled to the ground. The coffeepot clattered on its burner, yet Lauren's approach remained steady and seductive. She seemed to move toward him in slow-motion, graceful, like a movie seduction scene.
"I'm almost ashamed to admit I sort of carried the torch for a few years now," she said softly. "All that time I was married to my loser of a husband, I'd watch you with Cindy, how loving you were to her. I'd wonder why couldn't I have a man like you."
"Lauren, you're a beautiful woman. You could have many men who'd love you." Shit. That didn't sound right, more like something J.J. might have said to imply promiscuity. "Er, I mean, that man does exist for you..."
"And he's right here," Lauren finished. She was a breath away now; her scent intoxicated him, and the whisper touch of her skirt against his thigh was enough to keep his cock stiff. "I felt so bad when Cindy died, yet I still wondered why I couldn't have a man like you. It didn't hit me until a few months later that you could be that man, Jake."
"I can't be that man, Lauren."
Lauren frowned. "Why? Because you think I'm too young for you? I don't care about any age difference, and you said--"
"I can't because I love my wife, Lauren."
"But she's dead. You're here, Jake."
Yes, Cindy was dead, and he was alive, and the ache in his cock was proof of his remaining virility. It was a feeling he didn't want, yet couldn't bear to surrender. He wasn't supposed to feel desire anymore, he thought he had buried those feelings with his wife. What was so special about Lauren that they were resurrected?
Stop it. Lauren was a lovely woman, inside and out, and deserving of the kind of love he and Cindy shared. He couldn't share it with her, though. He couldn't.
"As long as I am still breathing, Lauren," he said carefully, "as long as I can see her in my sons and granddaughters, Cindy will be alive to me. I know she won't be here with me anymore, and it's taken me a while to accept that--"
"I can be here for you now, Jake," Lauren begged. "I know you still have desires, you can't just ignore them."
"I can be happy with the memories of the woman I loved. Still love." Any other time before this, he could have said that without conviction. Now, the trembling in his voice disturbed him. The shell of his grief was cracking. He had been so comfortable in this coccoon, wearing it to work every day, and he worried about what to expect should it crumble completely. What exactly did Lauren want from him? His love? It couldn't be the same love he had for Cindy. Any woman--Lauren, Marlene, whoever--would want more than he could offer.
No, he decided. Best to be blunt, and fast. This conversation was too long already.
"What I felt that night," Lauren said, "told me you still have desires. You're capable of desiring another woman, I know it. Why can't it be me?" Her face darkened. "Unless, you think you might have feelings for somebody else, like Mar--"
"I love my wife, Lauren. There is nobody else." There wouldn't be anybody else. There wouldn't.