My thoughts drifted to that night after service, the hunger in Jacob’s touch and the way his lips had claimed my body. Just the memories made me tingle. Lying back on the bed, I held my side and sighed. If only he weren’t so worried about my ribs.
Courtesy of the truck ride yesterday, the injury was more aggravated then it had been. I’d tried hiding it. Shaking my head, I wondered if it was possible to hide anything from him. According to Elizabeth it wasn’t allowed. The way I saw it, I wasn’t lying. I was withholding information for the benefit of both of us. By the way his breathing became labored and his body hardened that night at the clinic, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to make love.
It seemed as if it didn’t matter if I told Jacob what I was thinking or not; he knew. Somehow he always seemed to know, sometimes even before I did. Maybe it was because we’d been together so long.
If only I could remember how long.
The sound of the rising garage door pulled me from my carnal thoughts, and I covered my cheeks. With a giggle I hoped they weren’t as flushed as they felt. If they were, he would know what I’d been thinking . . . I shook my head. I didn’t want that conversation. Exhaling, I willed the pink away.
When I heard the garage door lowering, I stood and made my way toward the stairs. Wearing the boot on my right foot made walking with my cast much easier. As I approached the landing, I took a deep breath and visualized the stairs. Since I’d counted them multiple times, I knew there were fifteen steps. I might not have my sight, but I was trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. I made it only to the second step from the top when I heard his voice.
“I’m coming down,” I called, taking one step at a time, cautious not to go too fast.
Even before I reached the bottom step, I knew he was there. When we went to service, I’d realized why I associated him with the scent of leather; it was his coat. When he wasn’t wearing it, just the right amount of aroma lingered around him. When he wore it, as now, the leather scent was overpowering. That, plus the sound of his boots walking and stopping on the wood floor, prompted me to stop on the fourteenth step. If I went one more, I was afraid I’d run into him.
“Sara.” His voice came from very close.
Gripping the banister, I tilted my face toward his. Smiling and hoping my cheeks had returned to their normal color, I replied, “Yes?”
“Did you hear the garage door go up?”
“And what did you think that meant?”
“I assumed it meant you were here.”
“So you knew I was home and yet you chose to not greet me?”
What the hell?
“Answer me,” he demanded, his tone now too calm. “Why weren’t you waiting for me at the door?”
The thoughts I’d entertained upstairs evaporated. I knew this tone. I not only recognized it, but with everything in me, I wanted to avoid it. My heartbeat quickened and my mouth dried like the Sahara. “I was on my—”
Interrupting, he rebuked, “On your way is not there, waiting as you’re supposed to be. When I return, I expect to find you waiting for me, greeting your husband.”
The bubble of apprehension that had waned and waxed in my chest since I awoke nearly three weeks earlier began to grow. “At the door . . . wh . . . I’m sorry . . . I didn’t know . . . you didn’t tell me to—”
He grasped my arm, the harsh movement a stark contrast to the eerie calmness of his voice. “Do tell, Sara, are you blaming me for your forgetfulness?”
What the hell is his problem?
“I’m sorry,” I pleaded. “I’m not blaming . . . I didn’t remember. If you told me . . . from now on, I’ll do it.”
“Must I remind you of everything?”
“I’m trying to remember; I am. I’ll be there from now on, at the door, when you come home.”
“Perhaps you need a reminder?”
My body sagged and my knees weakened. The bubble within me grew and popped, filling my nervous system with dread. “No. I don’t need a reminder. I’ll remember from now on. Please give me another chance.” If it hadn’t been for his iron grip on my forearm, I might have fallen to the step where I stood.
If I had, I wasn’t sure if it would have been because of the sudden dizziness his tone induced, the bout of trembling, or that it would’ve enabled me to beg. It wasn’t something I was proud of considering, but to avoid his belt, at that moment, I was willing.
“Sara, go to the door.”
Inhaling more pleas, I nodded. When he released my arm, I stepped down and down again. Around the steps, past the closet, I found the door between the living quarters and the garage.
He was right behind me, his voice still eerily calm. “You may stand or kneel; the choice has always been yours.”
I swallowed the vile bile bubbling from my stomach. In that moment I couldn’t for the life of me fathom that merely minutes ago I had been having pleasant thoughts about this man. I also couldn’t imagine kneeling.
Who does that?
I brought my feet together, straightened my neck, and said, “I’ll stand, thank you.”
He reached for my chin and lowered it.
“This is where you are to be when I arrive, and if you choose to stand, your head will be bowed.”
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!
Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.
In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romance with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK will be published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.
Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates.
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