Authors: Diane Alberts
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement (including infringement without monetary gain) is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in, or encourage, the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by Diane Alberts
Cover art by LFD Designs
Cover model: Jason Baca
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Look for us online at:
Also by Diane Alberts
Kill Me Tomorrow
A 1Night Stand Story
To Greg, for believing in me. To my family, for supporting me.
To my publisher, for taking a chance on me.
And to Rie and Meredith, for making my baby shine and helping me become a better writer. I love you both!
Sabrina Hodges never backed down from a challenge, no matter how daunting the task. When a bully named Mandy Warbuck grabbed her pigtails and demanded her lunch money in the cafeteria, she let loose a well-aimed kick. Sandy steered clear of her for the rest of their childhood years. In high school, the same type of kick, though admittedly in a different target area, saved her from a prom date who couldn’t understand the meaning of
. Even so, the choice to move to a foreign country hours away from all her family and friends surprised her as much as them. Her late grandparents were British, but she was all-American.
Well, she had been.
She pulled her shiny red Smart Car up to the top of her newly acquired driveway, and shut off the engine. She exited the car and followed the flower-lined gray stone walkway. The flowers, which looked like carnations, were pleasing shades of pink and white. The spring-like colors seemed to make the crisp autumn air feel warmer. The beautiful blooms lined both sides of the walkway to the front door, and Sabrina’s heartbeat accelerated in excitement as she followed their path in a trance-like state.
She studied the gray and white stones that made up the front of the house, which showed signs of a fresh washing beneath the vines that climbed past the doors and windows to hang tenaciously from the roof. A twig snapped in the murky forest behind her, and she jumped. She rubbed the goose bumps rising over her arms and glanced into the forest. Did a shadow just move behind the tree across the driveway?
Or are you just afraid of the shadows?
She thought of the next afternoon, when the security company would arrive to install an electronic system and new locks on all the doors. Though she loved her new place, her mama hadn’t raised an idiot. She had no desire for any late-night visitors. Well, not
late-night visitors, she snickered.
Wandering around to the back, she admired the immaculate landscaped backyard with its vivid green grass and vibrant red, pink, and purple mums arranged in mulched flowerbeds. Roses, tulips, and pansies surrounded her, and she smiled and constrained a squeal of delight. She swore she heard the waves crashing against the cliffs.
Well, are you going to go inside, or stay outside all day, Sabrina?
Heading to the front, she unlocked the brick-red door—no,
front door—just as her phone rang. She placed her fatty, greasy, one-whole-day’s-worth-of-calories cheeseburger and fries from the local fast food joint on the floor, threw her keys on the stairs, and scrambled through her purse to look for her Blackberry.
Lipstick, wallet, passport, mirror…phone
Ignoring the endless pocket of junk inside her purse, she glanced at the caller ID.
“Hello, Marie.” She clumsily shrugged her coat off while she walked further into the house. Since she hadn’t bought a coat rack yet, she dropped it in a careless heap on the gleaming hardwood floor behind her.
“Did everything go okay?”
“Yup, I just walked into my new home,” she replied.
“Woohoo. I must admit I’m confused why you’d prefer to be alone in a drafty old house in a country that never sees the sun. I would
you’d rather be in sunny California with me.”
Sabrina rolled her eyes at the statement. She’d heard it at least a million times by now. She couldn’t blame Marie’s confusion, though, since she didn’t understand her sudden obsession, either.
Sabrina didn’t exactly enjoy being left to her own company, to say the least. Sometimes—okay, a
of times—she’d get so lonely she’d leave her apartment to walk around Target to listen to snippets of hushed conversations as people passed her by. An argument between an old married couple about who should take out the trash, the excited murmurs of newlyweds planning the arrival of their first baby…she needed to hear life. To have company. Yet here she stood, in a new country with no friends and no family in a deserted, drafty, house—and perfectly, peculiarly content.
“I already told you, it’s for me. It’s mine.” In the background she heard Samantha, Marie’s two-year-old daughter, giggling.
Samantha won’t even remember me as she grows up. What have I done?
“Well, congrats again. I have to get Samantha ready for a bath. Just wanted to make sure you got everything worked out. Love ya!”
“Love you, too.” Sabrina sighed and pressed the end button. Loneliness crept over her for a brief moment, before she stomped it down in irritation. Time to stop reminiscing about her family thousands of miles away. Peeking into the kitchen, she got wooed once again, impressed at the way the modern conveniences mixed with the old-fashioned architecture surrounding her. It was next to impossible to tell that the house had once been a barn.
She inhaled the scent of the freshly stained mahogany wood cabinets topped with gleaming amber granite. She skimmed her fingertips over the cool stainless steel appliances, and caressed the double stove she had chosen. Images of cooking filet mignon and steaming mashed potatoes for her and her faceless husband, while the pitter-patter of little feet running through the house flashed in her mind. They—a boy and a girl—maybe twins; would race around the island in the kitchen and into the formal dining room, their giggles filling the silence that currently resided within. She had always wanted a pair; why go through labor
She sighed and went into the foyer to retrieve her dinner and hunched over that same kitchen island for an early meal of greasy take-out dinner. She scrunched her nose in disgust at the bland taste of the hamburger and stalked across the kitchen to throw away the remains. First thing in the morning, she needed to go shopping for cooking items—and food. A yawn forced her to claim defeat from jet lag, not to mention her move from America to England, and she climbed the stairs to her makeshift bed in her empty room.
Sabrina stood in the woods, staring up at the moon that cast an eerie purple hue through the leaves overhead. Goose bumps rose on her skin, and her heart quickened as a lone wolf howled in the distance. A twig snapped behind her, and she spun on her left heel. Expecting to see the wolf she had just heard, she found herself taken aback at what met her eyes instead. A man stared at her in silence. Never before had she seen a man like him—he was simply unbelievable. At about six and a half feet tall, he easily towered over her, and his body screamed of pure muscular power.
The exquisite perfection of his face looked like it belonged on an ancient Greek god’s statue. Even more so in the purple moonlight. His thick, black hair curled around his head in flawless order—as if it would not dare to disobey his command. Even his casual gray T-shirt clung to his body, seeming to fear invoking the retribution of its owner. She read about men who looked like him before—she had even written about them in her novels, but never believed they were in existence. His bright blue gaze locked upon her in intense scrutiny. His stare hypnotized her—at once startling and somehow familiar.
He rushed toward her, and she flinched when he pulled her into his embrace. She battled the urge to break free of his hold and fought to get a breath of air. His grip was so snug that she suspected that she fought against iron chains instead of arms. His grip on her loosened a bit, and she wondered if he had realized how tight he held her.
“God, how I’ve missed you. I’ve hoped you’d return to me. Yet even so, I didn’t believe it could happen. But you’re here, in my arms, once more.” He shook his head, and his eyes seemed to devour every detail of her face.
Did she know him? She didn’t think so. Come on, if she was going to remember anyone, it would be this exquisite man.
His arms tightened around her once more, and an overwhelming desperation to be away from him came over her. Her lungs burned for air, and she struggled to get out of his hold. She sensed freedom lurking in her mind; she just needed to fight a little bit harder.
“Let go of me!” She kicked his shin, and he didn’t even so much as flinch.
“I love you, Amelia,” he whispered in her ear.
His breath caused her to shiver. She continued to struggle in his arms, but he smiled seductively down at her, seeming not to notice she didn’t clutch his neck but instead fought him. “Please, don’t leave me. You don’t really want to, do you?”
Confusion rolled over her even as she fought to free herself. Why would he call her Amelia? Jeez, even in her dreams men were jerks who called her by the wrong name.
When Sabrina awoke the next morning, the dream remained fresh in her head. She almost sensed his presence next to her as she moved listlessly throughout the day. She couldn’t seem to shove him out of her mind. Those eyes, that body….
She accidentally rammed her foot against the island, and pain shot up her foot at the collision. She hopped on one foot and squeezed the offending toe as she glared at the cabinet.
Stop mooning over some dream man. He doesn’t exist, and never will. You’re more likely to see a freaking vampire or werewolf, for God’s sakes
After a hurried breakfast, she drove into town to shop for furniture. She exited the car and stretched her sore muscles with a grimace. Last night had done nothing for her posture, to say the least. She longed for a hot shower—or better yet, a long soak in the huge tub that she now owned—and soft Egyptian cotton sheets and feather pillows. She stalked into the furniture store determined to take care of the latter.
Hours later, she emerged from the same doors with a sense of accomplishment. Tomorrow, she’d be sleeping in luxury and comfort—something she’d taken for granted until last night. Her stomach growled, and a glance at her watch revealed it was already one forty-five in the afternoon. The tea and croissant she’d indulged in that morning no longer held the gnawing hunger at bay. She stood in indecision as she debated whether or not she had enough time to grab a bite to eat before the security company arrived.
A tavern stood just up the road, and she approached it cautiously, given its ramshackle appearance. The exterior boasted of red brick, and the sign that hung over the door appeared to be hand-painted, lending it a quaint touch that lured Sabrina to give the place a try. Outside the faded green door, where paint peeled off in more places than it remained, a homeless man had an empty jar in front of him as he dozed in the mid-afternoon sun.
Deciding to take a chance, she withdrew a few Euros, dropped it in the man’s jar—got rewarded with a snore as he jerked awake—and entered. Seated immediately in a dark wood booth topped by a mustard-yellow tabletop, she surveyed her surroundings. The single light hanging from the ceiling flickered in the middle of the small room, casting a gloomy tone upon the whole interior.
“Hello, ma’am. Welcome to McGuiness. May I take your order?” asked the waitress.
Her faded nametag had Patti imprinted on it…though the P had long ago been rubbed away to look like an F. She laughed inwardly at the image.
…uh…Patti glanced up from her pad and her jaw dropped.