Embraced, p.1
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       Embraced, p.1

         Part #6 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
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Embraced
Page 1

  Prologue

  It was crazy. The worst possible idea imaginable. She had spent three years denying the desire, denying the truth of her own feelings. If she walked up to that room, then it would change things forever.

  Marey pulled her little car into the parking lot of the motel and stared at the exterior nervously. Was she brave enough to do it? Could she actually walk in there and give in to all the desires she had kept hidden all her life, and then walk away as though it had never happened?

  Her hands gripped the steering wheel, her fingers curling around it in a death grip as she fought the tremors that quaked through her body. She didn’t know if she could do it. She had spent too many years fighting it. Unlike her friends, the merry five who had entered into marriages with infamous Trojans, Marey knew she likely didn’t have what it took to carry this off.

  It was one night, her hormones screamed at her. One stupid night of wild, hot sex, stop philosophizing over it. She could do this.

  Couldn’t she?

  Of course she could. She was thirty-five, not twenty, and she hadn’t been a virgin for a long time. Damned good thing, she reminded herself—Saxon Brogan would terrify a virgin.

  She laid her head against the steering wheel, groaning pitifully as she tried to force herself from the car. Wasn’t this what she wanted? she reminded herself. One hot, wicked night with the man of her dreams before reality came with the rising sun and she went back to the staid, sterile life she lived.

  Why? Something snapped within her then. Why did she have to return to anything? There was no husband. No children. No parents to catch her in some naughty act. All she had were her friends. Friends that one by one had fallen into the clutches of a lifestyle that Marey might not understand, but didn’t condemn. And it wasn’t as if she was doing anything illicit.

  She ignored the flashing thought of the underclothes she was wearing. Or those she wasn’t wearing, she reminded herself.

  She could do this. She raised her head, nodding firmly. There was no law that said the man who fucked you had to love you, was there? Of course there wasn’t. Besides, she loved Sax. The admission was one she rarely allowed herself to make. One she hid from herself as much as possible.

  Fear had held her hostage for years. The fear that her ex-husband, Vince, would finally slip his hold on sanity and kill her. The fear that she was making another mistake, that her heart would pay the price this time. Her pride had been sacrificed to her ruined marriage and Vince’s fury. But her heart. If Sax broke her heart, could she survive it?

  She breathed in roughly. She would have to survive it. Now, dammit, she had waited too long. Fantasies could only sustain a woman for so long, and toys were a poor second to what she knew was waiting for her.

  Sax, with his quirky little smile, his dark eyes, his voice whispering his need for her. The sight of his hands, so much darker than her pale flesh, coasting over her body, bringing her a pleasure she had never known before. Dominant, commanding, he was part of the exclusive men’s club that had been nicknamed Trojans. They were dominant, forceful, but even more, they practiced sharing their women, bringing them to heights of arousal that were rumored to leave their women weak for days.

  Her friends had married into the club. And though getting details was like pulling teeth without anesthesia, she had managed to pry out enough to fuel her own midnight fantasies.

  Was she brave enough? If she could fantasize about it, then surely she had the courage to do it. To go to Sax and take the pleasure she knew awaited her. To see if a future was possible, if the fantasies were a pale excuse for reality, or vice versa.

  She pried her fingers from the steering wheel, grabbed her small purse and opened the car door before she could change her mind. She was a grown woman. A mature adult. And if there was one man in the world who could trip her switches, it was Sax. So what if he didn’t love her, if he was miles out of her league. He wanted her. For tonight at least, she could be the woman she wanted to be, with no fear of gossip or reprisals.

  Squaring her shoulders, she moved across the parking lot and up the stairs to the second landing. Room two twenty-nine. She pulled the key card from the side pocket of her purse and gripped it with tense fingers. Nerves shook her body, pounded through her bloodstream. Adrenaline was a crashing crescendo in her ears as she approached the door and drew in a hard, deep breath.

  She could do this. She had waited years, lusting after a man she feared she couldn’t keep. Besides, it was almost Christmas—well, almost Thanksgiving anyway. She could treat herself to something a little different this year. Something hot and wild, something she could carry with her forever, no matter what the future might hold.

  She slid the card into the electronic lock, waited until the light flashed green, then turned the handle slowly.

  See, she could do this. She pushed the door open slowly, and stepped in before coming to a shocking, mind-numbing stop.

  * * * * *

  “What the hell happened?” Sax Brogan was enraged as he entered the ER, coming to a stop as James Wyman rose from one of the plastic seats and moved quickly to meet him.

  He wanted to hit something. Someone. Every muscle in his body bunched, tightened with the impulse as the other man approached.

  An hour at the police department hadn’t improved his mood. Being suspected of physical assault and attempted rape had been more than shocking. When he learned who he was accused of assaulting, he had nearly lost his mind.

  His only thought was to get to her, to make certain she was okay, to see with his own eyes the damage done.

  “She’s conscious now,” James murmured as he reached him, then waved him toward the elevators. “They have her sedated, though. The injuries aren’t that bad, the concussion is mild. The doctor thinks she’ll be fine. ”

  “That crazy ex of hers?” Brogan clenched his fists, fighting his fury. He couldn’t believe this. It was inconceivable.

  “Unfortunately,” James sighed as they entered the elevator. “The detective called a few minutes ago. They have him in custody now, but I don’t know if that’s going to help Marey when she faces you. ”

  Sax glanced back at James with a frown. The investigator had told him Marey called the station herself, giving a statement over the phone and securing his release.

  “She knows you’re aware of what happened. That you know she thought she was meeting you in that motel,” he explained patiently. “You know how she is. She’s fought this thing between you two for too long. This isn’t going to help things. ”

  Sax remained quiet. He stared at the elevator display panel, ticking off the floors until the muted bell sounded and it came to a stop.

  The bastard ex-husband had found her weakness, just as they had all known he would.

  “She’ll get over it,” he finally said, reining in his need for violence. “Starting now. ”

  He had stayed away from her out of respect for her, because she had asked him to. Her soft voice, her gentle gray eyes had pleaded with him not to press her, and he hadn’t.

  Squire Port, Virginia, home base for Delacourte and Conover Electronics was a small little community. Everyone was at least acquainted with every one else, and many knew each other well. Delacourte Electronics promoted a friendly, casual atmosphere with its employees and their families, and because of that, Sax had known Marey for years. Before the messy divorce and her withdrawal from all but her closest friends. He also knew her ex well enough to know that any relationship he began with her would be marred by the man’s possessive insanity.

  “How did he know to use me?” He stopped at her hospital door, keeping his voice low as he glanced at James once again.

  Sax knew he had been careful, very car
eful over the past years, to heed Marey’s wishes and stay away from her. He hadn’t liked it. Hell, he hated it to his back teeth, but he had respected her wishes. So how had Vince known she would drop her guard for a secret assignation with him?

  “We don’t know. ” James shook his head, shoving his hands in his pants pockets and staring back at him somberly. “We just don’t know, Sax. The police found a note, signed with your name, asking her to join you in that room. Her screams alerted a couple in the next room who called the cops. When they found her, she was unconscious. I think he meant to kill her. ”

  And blame Sax for the crime. Son of a bitch. He ran his hand over his shaved head and breathed out roughly.

  “I have to make sure she’s okay,” he said roughly, his throat clogging with pain at the thought of what had been done to her. “I have to see her. ”

  “I knew you would. ” James nodded slowly. “When she woke up, and Terrie explained what happened, she was horrified. She called the police herself. But she hasn’t said much since. She knows you’re coming. ”

  Sax nodded then reached for the doorknob. He turned it slowly, pushing the door open and stepped inside quietly.

  Terrie, James’ sister-in-law, came to her feet, her face still damp, her eyes red-rimmed as she stared back at him.

  “Come on in,” she whispered, glancing at the sheet-draped bed that Sax could only glimpse the bottom of. “She’s resting. For now. ”

  Sax entered the room, moving slowly as he passed the bed.

  “I’ll be outside. ” She patted Sax on the arm gently as she passed him.

  As the door closed, he turned, swallowing tightly before allowing himself to see the damage done.

  God help the bastard, he thought when he saw her face, because he was going to kill him. Her face was horribly bruised, her eyes and lips swollen. Sax prayed that Vince Clayton wouldn’t manage to get out of jail, because if he did, he was a dead man.

  Her soft, pale blonde hair framed her face—a face he knew was softly rounded, inquisitive, stubborn.

  “Looks bad, huh?” Her voice was raspy, groggy as she opened her eyes, the soft gray barely visible through the swollen lids.

  It was all he could do to restrain himself, to hold back. He wanted to pull her into his arms, hold her against his chest and swear he would never let it happen again. That he would protect her, keep her safe. But he was smart enough to know she would never accept it.

  “I’ll kill him, Marey. ” He pushed his hands in his pockets, his fists clenching as rage ate through him. “I swear I’ll kill the bastard. ”

  Her breathing hitched as she grimaced painfully.

  “It was my fault. ” Tears clogged her voice then. “I should have known better. ” A bitter laugh escaped her throat. “It was stupid of me not to check with you. ”

  He moved to the side of the bed, his chest tightening with emotion. He couldn’t believe this had happened, couldn’t conceive that anyone would do this to her.

  He sat down slowly in the chair beside her, shrugging off his suit jacket and flexing his shoulders as he sighed wearily.

  “I’ve considered it a time or two,” he finally admitted with a grimace. “Actually, kidnapping you and tying you to my bed for a week was my favorite fantasy. ”

  A short, groggy little laugh left her throat. “Trojans and their whips and chains,” she said with a little sigh.

  He picked up her hand, noticing the flinch as he did so. It wasn’t from pain.

  “Don’t. ” She pulled back from him, swallowing tightly. “I’m sorry about what happened. I’m just sorry. But I can’t—”

  “You came to that motel thinking I would be there,” he said gently, staring down at the soft creamy flesh he gripped in his much darker hand. “I wouldn’t have expected that, or I would have had you years ago. You can’t back out now. ”

  “I already have. ” Despite the drugs and the pain, her voice was firm.

  “You might think you have. ” He picked up her hand again, his fingers holding it in place as she stared at where they met. “But Marey, I can be relentless. I won’t let you go now, not knowing this. ”

 
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