Contemporary Erotic Romance/81,000 words
Evermore (Book 3)
Trust. A simple notion for some, but impossibly out of reach for Jessica Riley. The walls around her heart are built high from betrayal and years of keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s happy with the way her life is, or so she thought.
Hard core Dom, Lucas Clark, was immediately drawn to Jessica. As their paths continue to cross, Lucas tests Jessica’s submissive nature, as well as her steadfast resolve to keep her emotions out of her relationships. He wants more than just sex. He demands Jess’ trust. The one thing she keeps locked away.
As their bond intensifies, Jessica fears that this Greek God will put the pieces of her heart back together. Family, marriages, and ghosts of her past all plague her ability to trust her own decisions, especially the ones that revolve around love.
A woman who’s afraid of heart break fights her own surrender against the man who doesn’t let her play it safe anymore.
Other Books by Rachel
My phone blinged an incoming text.
I’m back! I’ve had the best time. We need to meet up soon. Izzy
I smiled. Izzy’s honeymoon was two weeks too long as far as I was concerned. I’d missed her.
Yeah! Glad you’re back. I’d love to meet up. Just let me know when. Jess
I’m relieved my best friend is back in contact. The last two weeks have weighed heavily on my mind without Izzy to talk with.
Since Izzy’s wedding, I’ve not been able to settle. I’ve stuck to my usual set of rules that have kept me in one piece—my heart intact—for the last eight years. No emotional commitments. But, standing beside Izzy as she married Seb, for the first time, I doubted myself, and it scared me.
Seeing the love radiate from Izzy as she spoke her vows, pledged her love and watched as Seb mirrored it all back to her, was something to behold. There could be no doubt as to their love, and suddenly I felt small in the face of it.
Have I done the right thing all these years? I picture myself as a lonely old woman. The fear that image engenders almost matches the pain of walking in on Pete in bed with my friend. Almost.
Did you want to meet for a coffee? Or I can pop over. Izzy
Come over. I’ll put the kettle on. Jess
I’ve never wanted to see Izzy more than I do right now. The last year has been hard on her, and I’ve had to help pull her through. Now, I need Izzy to help pull me out of my funk. I need her to help me talk out my fears because they were beginning to preoccupy my mind. Was I too shut off to change? Did I want to change? Would the potential for hurt outweigh the chance for something meaningful?
“Hello!” Izzy calls from the hall. Excitement rings in her voice in that single word.
“In the kitchen.”
She bursts through and lights up the room. The smile on her face is infectious. I put the cups of tea on the table and pull her into a huge hug as she drops her bags. Izzy has calmed my anxiety by simply being here and for that, I love her a little bit more than I did yesterday.
“So, how was it?”
“Oh, Jess. It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted. New York was amazing and so were his parents. We ate out so much.”
“I’d love to go to New York.”
“Well, now we could go and have a girls’ weekend. Oooh, we could go shopping.”
“Really, you know I hate shopping.”
“Which is why I got you these.” She pulls a shoebox from the bag and sets it on the table. I stare at the box and then back to her. “Well, go on then,” she encourages.
I peek under the lid and see a red velour cover. I raise my eyes to Izzy, who simply nods like an excited puppy, encouraging me to explore further. I open the box properly, pull the material bag open, and pull out two black shoes.
“Do you like them?” Izzy immediately takes one from my hand, holding it as if it were a delicate piece of porcelain.
“They’re lovely. Thank you. But I already have black shoes.”
“But these are Louboutin’s. You don’t have these. These are the pinnacle of shoes. You’ll love them.” Izzy puts the shoe back on the table as if she was presenting me with Cinderella’s glass slipper.
“You know you’re the shoe girl. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to wear them. You should keep them.”
“I have my own, besides, I bought these for you. Please take them. Even if you just look at them.”
She’s lost her marbles. I can’t contain the burst of laughter that explodes from my mouth. Izzy soon joins the giggles, and we take a while to get our hysterics under control.
“I love you Izzy, but only you could think about buying shoes just to look at them.”
“I know. These are very practical. I made sure not to get the…”
“Enough about the shoes. I like them, and I’ll attempt to wear them. Happy?”
“Ecstatic. Now, what’s been happening here with you?” Her question dampens my earlier elation, and I’m right back to reality.
“I ended things with Greg.”
“Really? How come? I was hopeful, you know. You’ve been seeing him for a while.”
“Yes, but he kept pressing me about moving in together. No matter how many times I told him, he couldn’t accept that I wanted nothing permanent from our relationship and kept pushing me. He wasn’t the confident guy I first liked. He wanted me to fit in with his plan, and I wasn’t okay with that so…”
“You ended things.” I can’t miss the slight sigh at the end of Izzy’s reply.
“Your wedding sort of hit me and not how I expected it to.”
“I’d be surprised if you weren’t affected. Were you okay? I was pretty pre-occupied once we got there.”
“And so you should, it was your wedding. I was fine, really. Just it got me thinking. You know, about my rules and the future.”
“And, I don’t know. I feel scared. I know I’m not going to find love…”
“You don’t know that…”
“Izzy, I do. I’m done with love. And I’ve been okay with that. I just hadn’t realised being done with love also meant I might be alone for the rest of my life. That is… a great big slap in my face. Greg isn’t the one for me, but what if I’m being too protective of my heart?”
“Would you be willing to talk to someone about how you feel? Amanda Cross really helped me. Maybe you could talk to her?”
I close my eyes in dread at the mere thought of dragging up what I’ve spent eight years trying to forget. I turn the cup of tea around in my hand and try to pretend Izzy didn’t ask me that question.
“Jess, what do you think?”
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with talking to a stranger.”
“She’s a lovely woman who will put you at ease. You don’t have to worry about her. Plus, you said you’re confused over how you’re feeling.”
“I’m not confused. My past history with men has led to abandonment and pain. Seeing you stand up in front of your nearest and dearest has put my situation into a stark light. I’m scared of what my future holds.”
“Even more reason to book an appointment. You can take it as slowly as you like with her. You will feel better, perhaps even be able to get a better perspective.”
“Okay,” I whisper, feeling panic rise as the air leaves my lips.
“Excellent. I’ll text you the number to make an appointment.” Izzy drinks her lukewarm tea. I suddenly need a stronger drink.
“Oh, Seb and I thought we’d have a few people over for dinner in a couple weeks. You’ll come won’t you?”
“Sure, when is it?”
“Two weeks’ time. Saturday night. It’s sort of a dinner party thing.”
“Will anyone be there that I know?”
“Umm...Natasha and whoever she brings. You remember Natasha, right? Seb’s friend?”
“Yeah...I think so. Tall, assertive brunette? Really attractive?”
“Yes. I would have said bring Greg, but I’m not sure how you feel about that now.”
“I made it clear to him we aren’t going anywhere. Can’t I come on my own?”
“Of course you can. You know that.” She finishes her tea and fawns over the new shoes one last time before I grab her bag from the floor.
“Right, I need to get home. I’ll text you. Let me know about seeing Amanda.”
“I will. See you soon.”
I close the door on Izzy, head back to the kitchen and pull out the bottle of wine in the fridge. Devil heels and exposing my raw insides to a stranger, all in one quick catch up. I deserve a glass.