Dare to Dream
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by Leigh Ellwood
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance All Romance eBooks Book of the Month
Description: Book Four of Dareville! An act of pure humiliation drives Claire Walker from the big city to her native Dareville, and a tearful reunion with family and friends. Everyone is overjoyed to see the prodigal daughter return, and Claire contemplates making the visit permanent, but there's just one score to settle. J.J. Marbury never stopped loving his high school sweetheart. Seeing Claire again after nearly fifteen years sets his passion to overdrive, and he's determined to make sure that Claire doesn't leave again. Can a love lying dormant be revived? Will Claire find the closure she needs in her personal and professional lives so she can start over? Is there room for J.J. in this future? Welcome back to Dareville, the little town that proves Virginia is for romance lovers.
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: November 2008
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [252 KB]
Reading time: 142-200 min.
"All right, let's keep this party rolling. How about we get all our single vic--er, fellas up here for the garter toss?" Cal joked. "Honestly, I know you're out there, come on. The gals don't bite unless requested."
"Or when provoked," Sue offered from the dance floor.
Laughter and playfully suspenseful music filled the air, but much of it muffled in Claire's ears because of the suffocating bear hug that trapped her. Ellie had her front, Brady her back, and neither seemed ready to let go. How had this happened? She wanted more preparation, a moment or two to absorb her surroundings and choose the words she really wanted to say. The bouquet toss had caught her off guard--she hadn't expected to catch it.
Looking through her cousin's embrace, her gaze level with a thinning tuft of Ellie's blonde hair, she caught sight of Lauren staring at them and smiling. Then a clandestine wink, and she was off to cheer on her husband.
The sneak. Of course she and Kate would have orchestrated the toss to force Claire's hand. Doing so, though, prevented the thought-out scenario Claire hoped for, and instead paved the way for a blubbering, emotional scene worthy of an Oxygen Network special. And she'd cried that she wasn't leaving Dareville again, where the hell did that come from?
Ah, well. Claire quietly savored the hug, yet felt some relief when she was released. Ellie's eyes were rimmed red and shining.
"I'm so glad you came home," she said, her voice cracking. "We have so much to talk about, and the last time you were here--"
"I know. I didn't give it a chance." Claire nodded, then chanced a look at Brady--her ex-lover, now cousin. His smile was genuine and warm, his touch brotherly. Claire felt no familiar shivers of lust from it, which suited her fine. This was how it should be.
"How long have you been in town?" he asked. "Did you rent a car, did you fly? Where are you staying?"
She held up a hand, laughing, to calm him down. "Oh, I literally just got in. Kate picked me up." No sense mentioning Lauren's role, or that Claire had spent the night at JFK with her former boss' ex-limo driver while waiting for her flight. Everything would come out soon enough, but right now the anticipation of the garter toss was too distracting. In particular, one participant held Claire's attention.
J.J. stood amid a group of five young men, rocking on his heels. Of the gathering he appeared to be the oldest and most confident, the others looking as though their mothers had goaded them forward.
Ellie had been carrying on through the whole thing. "Well, once this is over we're going straight to Kate's to get your luggage. You're staying with us, no arguments. We just redid the guest room, and you'll have your own bath. You'll have the room next to Jared's."
"Jared?" She thought the tall, wiry young man next to J.J. looked familiar. She'd seen him in Brady's building in Manhattan, minding the lobby. "What's he doing here?"
"Publicity," Brady said. "Among other things. He just got his degree and I hired him to handle my press and maintain my website. That kind of thing."
"I see." Claire didn't bother asking how Jared qualified for the guy Friday job. From what gossip she'd heard about her cousin and her husband, Claire imagined "among other things" included duties one might not find on a resume.
How well she knew that.
"Looks like he's about to take a dive," Claire observed. The trio watched as Jake, prompted by a drum roll, turned his back to the crowd. Holding the blue silk garter over his heads with both hands, Jake released it slingshot-style above the group. The garter arced smoothly over the crowed and several hands reached for the prize, but once the initial jostling was over it was J.J. who held the trophy aloft.
Claire's heart caught in her throat. He was still so handsome when he smiled. When that Cheshire grin slowly drifted her way she sensed the energy pulsing between them. Her pussy twitched in reaction to his hungry gaze, yearning for the tongue that now circled his lips.
"The J-man scores!" Cal bellowed to his band's fanfare. "Okay, kids, you know what comes next. Let's get our lucky lady on the dance floor..."
Hands pressed against Claire's back, and she was moving, not of her own volition. Both Ellie and Brady nudged her into the spotlight, fueled by the crowd's encouragement.
Before she realized it, J.J. palmed the garter into her hands, then draped his arm about her waist. "So, you're next in line, eh?"
"What?" This, after nearly fifteen years apart? No "Hello?"
It wasn't until J.J. gently eased her down into a chair brought up front, however, that she remembered the wedding tradition. Before the dance of the "betrothed" couple, she had to try something on first.
Which meant J.J. would help, and have access to a place that, attention though it needed, was not where she wanted him right now.
So much for cool, calm, and collected.
Seated before the entire wedding closing around her, Claire's body responded to the growing encouragement. What she had hoped would be a dignified reunion had quickly spiraled into a reality-TV spectacle as J.J. kneeled before her, removed one high heel, and lifted the leg.
"Here's how this works," Cal egged on from the stage, "every inch up her leg equals one year of wedded bliss. What do you say, J? Go for the golden anniversary?"
J.J. smirked. "What do you get for a hundred years?" he said, more to Claire than anyone else.
"A hundred? Some kind of metal out of Star Trek that built the ship, I bet," Cal quipped. "Aaand, we're off!"
Claire felt a chilling spark as the garter slipped from her hands into J.J.'s and looped around her bare foot. Because the dress dusted her at mid-calf, and because the day was rather warm, she had opted not to wear stockings.
Due to her limited wardrobe, she'd forgone a more essential item of clothing as well. Claire cursed her thrifty nature. If only she'd checked one more aisle at the drugstore...
Bass strings vibrated and strained the ominous theme from Jaws as the garter snaked up her leg and over her knee, J.J.'s soft fingerpads leaving behind a trail of shivers. She tried not to let her free leg bounce with her anxiety, but involuntary nerves got the best of her, and that foot raised on the ball and began a lively springing. Thankfully J.J. edged closer to stop it, but that maneuver did little help for her senses.
She felt wetter underneath the dress, the delta between her thighs slick. A slight brush of skin and silk hitting a dangerous zone alerted her to J.J.'s discovery of the same thing, and the bouquet fell from her hands to the floor so she could grasp the sides of the chair for support.
Claire looked around her, at men and women dressed in fine clothes, all clapping and cheering and laughing along to a times-old wedding game. Cal's teasing bass increased its urgent rhythm and shook the floor. Each vibration was torture, licking up her labia with flames. She'd read somewhere once about a woman who achieved orgasm by doing nothing but sitting near a bassist's speakers at a concert. Claire had to commend Cal for his ability to please a woman without touching her, excruciating though it was.
A finger scraped her pussy and she looked down at J.J.'s bewitching smile. No sense trying to deny it now--he knew she wasn't wearing underwear, and he had her in a position where he could take free advantage. How graceful could a bouquet catcher look leaping from her throne with a man's hand up her crotch? It couldn't be done.
So she closed her eyes and braced for the inevitable probing of her wet slit. To be honest, it would feel good to be touched, to have months of pent-up sexual frustration released. Given the way J.J.'s fingers expertly secured the garter around her thigh, he seemed a good candidate to assist.
But his hands retreated and he rocked away, sitting back on his haunches. He waggled his fingers in the air to indicate his mission was a success, and Claire's head filled to capacity with the roar of an approving crowd.
"Hey, Jay, where's your watch?" a slurred male voice shouted from the back. There was laughter, even a few gasps of dismay for the minors within earshot. Claire tried to zero in on that heckler but was distracted when J.J. jerked her upright and scooped her into his arms.
"What are you doing?" she cried, and kicked her feet skyward. Then she realized her nether regions might be made visible by the action. So she crossed her ankles and squeezed her thighs, but that seemed only to put more pressure on her throbbing clit and to heighten her enraged lust.
"Hey, Marbury, you're supposed to marry her before you carry her over the threshold," Cal called over to them. "Or at least over to the pet supplies aisle. Where you going, man?"
J.J. filed past wedding guests and wove around tables, into the aforementioned sales aisle. Claire watched over his shoulder as the wedding shrank with increased distance. A mixture of reactions were left in the wake--Ellie beamed proudly, Lauren cackled into Jake's shoulder and toasted their departure with her champagne flute. Cal shrugged and motioned to his band to play. Over J.J.'s labored breathing she heard the bassist quip about J.J.'s giving the wedding a miss and going straight for the honeymoon.
Technically, he was taking them to the back of the store, down the hall and into a restricted area. When the world slowed to normal, and J.J. returned her to a standing position, she realized they were in the employee lounge. Standard minimum wage and safety posters Claire remembered from teenaged summer jobs lined the beige walls. A small table with mismatched chairs took up one corner, a refrigerator the other.
And J.J. locked the door behind them. He turned toward her, shedding his jacket. His darkened eyes reflected his passion.
"You know what, I changed my mind," he said. "I want the garter back."