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by Rachel Smith
Description: Addiction and HIV disease almost destroyed Marty, but he's determined to overcome both. In a small Texas town, can love conquer prejudice and fear?
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books/Awe-Struck E-Books, Inc., 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: March 2009
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [493 KB]
Reading time: 295-414 min.
He fussed over what to wear until he worked himself into a state of screaming aggravation, staring at every article of clothing he owned, piled on the bed and rejected. He hung up on his brother Daniel, making some ridiculously curt excuse about a neighbor's barking dog, and continued staring at his reflection in the door mirror of the tiny closet, wearing nothing but boxers and a frown.
Finally he simply grabbed a clean pair of slacks and a short sleeve button down shirt, told himself she always said he looked nice in anything, tossed a jacket over his shoulder and combed his hair on the way out the door.
He pulled up at the curb in front of her grandparent's house, walked up to the front porch and rang the bell. He smiled at Grandma when she opened the door, chatted amiably in the living room for ten full minutes, answering Grandpa's grunted questions about work, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Angie emerged from the bedroom at last.
"Sorry." She beamed. "Last minute hosiery change."
Hose? Like he gave a shit whether she wore hose or not. But she looked good. Better than good, in sheer black stockings and above the knee black velvet dress. The dress wasn't overly sexy, in and of itself. The neckline didn't plunge, and the hem wasn't nearly the shortest he'd ever seen. What made it sexy was the woman in it: the smooth arms emerging from the sleeveless bodice, the soft swell of breasts beneath the modest V-neck. The curving little waist and gentle hips, draped in snug fabric, above elegantly stockinged legs.
She wore strappy heels, which brought her almost exactly to his height, and she'd done something sleek and sophisticated with her hair. But he frowned when he placed what was different about her, aside from dress, shoes, makeup and upswept do--everything distinguishing her from cheerful Angie-behind-the-counter at Second Horizon.
"Where are your glasses?" he asked, on the way to the front door.
She smiled serenely. "I got contacts. Yesterday, during lunch. Remember, I told you I had an appointment. What do you think?"
"I think you'll stop traffic," he said honestly. "And if they could see you now, you'd break every male client's heart, at Second Horizon."
He heard Grandpa's grunting guffaw, as the front door closed behind them.
It was true, though. Without the tortoise shell frames to hide behind, her brown eyes were wider and softer than ever. The makeup just enhanced them, the little slick of lip gloss made him want to stop and kiss it from her mouth, before they ever reached the car.
He settled for kissing her, once they were safely in the car.
"Marty," she murmured after a year or two.
"Hmm?" He enjoyed simply holding her in his arms, hauled up close against him, letting his lips drift lazily across her face, down her cheeks, along her chin and to her throat. Up beneath her ear, across her brows, at the corners of her lips. Then another slow, sweet foray into her mouth itself, sweeping, stroking, torturing himself with a pale imitation of what he'd really like to do with other body parts.
It was torture, yeah. But it was the most exquisite torture he'd ever known, and he didn't care if it went on forever.
"Seven forty-five," Angie whispered in his ear, tilting her head a little, allowing him unrestricted access to the hollow of her throat. "Curtain's at eight. Campus theater's clear across town."
"Okay." He didn't release her, and he didn't stop tasting her, either. He could feel her heartbeat against his tongue, throbbing beneath the nearly translucent skin. Its rhythm matched his, ragged and rapid, skittering and accelerating at the same time.
Here, right here, in the delicate little hollow, he hovered virtually right above her breasts. The small golden cross was just as warm as her skin, under his lips. The neckline of her dress gapped below his chin; if he slid a little lower he could taste velvet dragging at the corner of his mouth. He was only a few short inches away from heaven.
After a week of restraining himself, preserving the illusion of professionalism for them both at work, waiting for Saturday night with bated breath, knowing she had classes and homework to keep up with, and he had his own household chores and commitments to NA--he never wanted to let her go again, now that he had her back in his arms.
"Should we just skip the show?" she asked, amusement laced with desire in her voice. Her fingers swept through his hair and he reveled in her touch, closed his eyes and turned his head, the better to absorb it. Over two years, since any woman besides an elder sister touched him with tenderness. "And if we do, should we find some better place than your car, on the street in front of my grandparent's house?"
"No," he sighed against her skin. "No. You already bought the tickets."
"It's a school production and I'm a student," she laughed. "I got a discount; they were only five dollars for the pair."
"No," he repeated. He pulled away, righting himself and her. He turned the key in the ignition, but kept her hand in his and drove one-handed, easing out into traffic from the curb. "We'll do this right. You want theater; we'll go to the theater."
"I want the other, too," she softly said.
His heart pounded in his chest. "Theater first," he decreed.