Fearing no man will ever find her attractive, she hides behind simple
attire and large glasses. When Gillian meets firefighter Jack Payle, she
is instantly attracted, and enjoys a wild night of sex with him. But in
the cold light of day she’s torn apart by guilt and shame, and retreats
to the familiar comfort of her simple, if unfulfilling, life.
After years of chasing the wrong kind of woman, Jack is shocked by
the instant attraction he feels for the mousy historian with shadows
in her eyes and passion simmering beneath her surface. Jack can’t get
past the lust firing his blood or the memories of her response to his
touch, for passionate, sexy Gillian is everything he’s ever wanted. Are
they strong enough to face down the demons haunting Gillian? Can
she trust the man who holds her heart with her darkest secrets and
accept his help to overcome the shadows of her past? Or will the
darkness destroy them both?
“That’s it, Miss Hilliard. As per your request, I leftmost of it down.” The young woman leaned
down, her hand on Gilli’s shoulder. “You’re going to knock ’em dead.”
Gilli offered a short, weak laugh and patted the girl’s hand. “Thanks.” She slipped her glasses on
and rose to totter toward the door on the stilettos her mother persisted she wear. As she exited, the
door closed behind her with a click. Gilli turned, smacking face first into a tall, hard wall of flesh before
her. Heat seared her body at the touch of his hands on the bare flesh of her back. Putting a couple of
inches between them, Gilli glanced upward. Her heart dropped before galloping in place.
Dark brown hair curled over a tanned forehead, green eyes as dark as pine stared at her,
bemusement sparkling in them. “Excuse me, miss.”
She shuddered at the slow drawl curling like a lover’s touch into her core. Her labia pulsed
beneath the lace of her panties. A flush crept along her throat to heat her cheeks and she ducked her
head to hide the wave of color washing over her face. She cleared her throat. “No, pardon me. Entirely
Scurrying down the hall, she gasped at the sensitivity in her breasts. Heavy, full, the nipples
throbbed beneath the layers of satin and lace. Desperate to cool her blood, she darted past a couple of
women and into the ladies room. The thin metal door offered minimal protection as she locked herself
into a stall. A thud filled the silence as she let her forehead drop and leaned against the icy metal and
Gods above, Zeus in the flesh right before me. What I wouldn’t give to have him … but he’s not
going…Arousal scorched along her veins, pooling between her legs and soaking her underwear. Like
venom, her ex’s sneering tone filled her mind. You couldn’t turn a light bulb on, Gillian, sexless. You
should get a boob job. Can’t count…
The soft clunk of the heavy public bathroom’s door opening preceded Barbara’s biting
tone. “Gillian, don’t think I didn’t see you…”
An uneasy cringe escaped in spite of the relief at the shattered memory. Gillian squeezed her
eyes shut. “Mother, can I not use the facilities without you harping at me?” Gillian smoothed her skirt
down, rolling her shoulders forward in the hopes of hiding her erect nipples. “I’ll be therein a moment.”
“Well hurry up, they’ve already got everyone seated. Goodness, child, you’d think you’d
remember this was my wedding!” The bathroom door clicked shut on her mother’s tirade.
With a roll of her eyes, Gillian stepped out of the stall, shot a look at her reflection in the mirror
“There’s no point in getting hot and bothered over the likes of him. He ain’t going to want you.”
Gilli waved a hand at her reflection, a perfect imitation of her mother. “Horn-rimmed glasses, mousy-
looking hair, notits. Didn’t Mike teach you a damn thing, Gillian? Men don’t want a mouse, they want a
sex pot and you’re not it.”
With a quick shake of her head, she smoothed her skirt down, sucked in a deep breath, and
pulled open the bathroom door. She glanced around carefully before darting into the hallway.
Pressed close to the wall, she took her place before her mother, feeling like an over-stuffed
Easter egg as the wedding march began to play. A smile pasted on her face, she gripped the flowers in
her hand tighter and began the slow but steady shuffle toward the preacher.
Focused on getting there without falling, Gilli gasped at the man standing next to the altar.
Laughing green eyes watched her, his lips turned upward at the corners. A slight shadow covered his
square jaw. The dark suit he wore clung to his broad shoulders, tucking in at his waist. She wondered if
beneath his suit coat, his ass was as good as the rest of him. Embarrassed, she stepped back, narrowly
missing tripping on her own gown’s hem. Her mother’s pointed clearing of her throat drew her attention
to the woman sashaying along, the yards and yards of tulle and lace out of place on a woman in her
fifties—who’d had six previous husbands and more lovers then Gillian thought healthy. The unspoken
warning in Barb’s eyes pierced clearer than any shouting match could be. There would be hell to pay if
any attention slipped from the bride.
“Typical.” Gilli glared at the flowers, disgust rolling in her nauseous gut. She offered a prayer the
ceremony would draw to a quick end so she could ditch the shoes, the flowers, and find a quiet corner
to relax in, with the help of an expensive bottle of champagne.
She shot a glance across the aisle, heat suffusing her face when she caught sex in a
cummerbund’s eye. Screw the wine—what she wouldn’t give to get lost in him. Maybe if she’d been
different… Pushing aside the vague thought, she focused on the drone of her mother’s voice as she
spoke her vows.
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