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Hearts Kept Waiting
Julianne Elliott
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Another unsought fantasy flashed through Melissa's mind, an image of Justin seizing her, kissing her as if his life depended on it, fisting her curls with one hand, dragging her shorts down and off with the other--

Stop it right now! she commanded herself. What on earth has come over you? So what if he has some sort of animal appeal? So what if he would probably oblige you and pin you to the wall right here, right now, without further ceremony, if you showed the slightest interest? He's married. And you're going back to New York in two days.

When she finally spoke again, her words were little more than a whisper. “Ever since you carried me out of the orchard, every time you’ve touched me I should have told you to stop. I’ve meant to, but I haven’t. I couldn’t. Day after day, I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘no.’”

“To say ‘no’ to what?” He leaned closer, his black eyes intent, imploring. “I wasn’t looking for a ‘yes’. I wasn’t expecting anything.”

“Justin, if you’d just listen.”

“Jesus Christ, Melissa. I am listening.” He raked his hands back wildly through his hair, leaning closer still. “I’ve been listening. But what I’m hearing doesn’t make any sense.”

“Justin,” she said as calmly as she could, sitting up very straight in hopes that he’d back off. “Look. I’ve set certain rules for myself, rules I intend to live by, and--”

“Well so have I. You know I have. Jesus, you were there when I wrote the damn things down.” He fumbled a small, grubby wad of folded papers out of his back pocket. “Here. Look. I told you--I read these every day.”

“Your vows aren’t any of my concern.”

“What? What? You’re the whole reason I made them! Don’t you realize that? I would never have needed them in the first place if it weren’t for you.”

“Listen. Please... Damn it...” she pressed her fists hard against her eye sockets, determined to explain without yielding any ground. “Justin. Don’t you see? It’s like there’s this giant wave of wanting, of coveting, rolling up out of my guts, and it’s about to spill over.”


“I’m sorry, but I can’t make myself stop wanting you. And it gets worse every time you come around.” She sighed and turned toward the window again. “You have no idea how hard this is for me.”

“Oh, yes I do. Believe me. I do.”

“Then you’ll understand, and you’ll help me, you’ll help us both, by staying away. Please promise me that you won’t come around anymore.”

“No. I won’t. I will not. There’s got to be a better way to fix this.” He jammed the vows back into his pocket. “Just give me a minute to think.”

“There’s no other way I can live with,” she said, reaching for the door, desperate for the sanctuary of Gladys’s little yellow house. “So, I’m sorry. But I really have to go now. Goodbye.”

“Melissa. Please don’t do this.” Turning back, she saw such desolation in his jet eyes that another sob caught in her throat, and she let go of the handle.

“Jesus. God.” He rocked his head back and stared blindly at the ceiling. After a long, painful silence, he blew out a shaky breath and went on. “You know, I--”

“Yes. I know. I know all of it. And none of it’s any of my business.”

“But, Sweetheart, if--”

“I also know I have to get my mind back on my work, or make up some excuse to scrap this article and go home to New York, because I’m way beyond distracted here. I can’t focus at all. And my art, my reputation, they mean everything to me. Everything.”

“I know that!” He slammed his fist down hard against the seat then reached for her hands, tearing them away from her knees to clasp them tightly in his own. “Melissa, please. Please. Things between Caroline and I. They aren’t good.”

“Stop! I won’t listen to this. I won’t!” She tried to free herself but he was holding on too tight. Determined to drive him away once and for all, Melissa narrowed her eyes and said very slowly, very precisely, “Justin, you may be capable of having an affair, but--”

His head snapped up and he blinked owlishly at her, letting loose her hands. “What did you say?”

“I know all about you and your girlfriend.”

Her heart didn’t have a chance to beat again before he’d shoved her back against the truck’s door, banging her head into the glass and pinning her there. “What? What are you talking about? I have never--I would never--suggest such a thing. We haven’t done anything wrong here. Nothing. And we won’t. I won’t. You can trust me. You can. I took those vows because of you, and I mean to keep them.”

Julianne Elliott lives in California’s scorchingly hot Coachella Valley with her two great kids, a very naughty dog, and way too many Norwegian rats and German cockroaches. She teaches by day and writes by night.

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: General Books

ISBN: 1597050202
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597050202
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 358
Paper Weight (lb): 15.0

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