A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss - Romance>Contemporary
He's back from the dead, on a new mission...because two can play her game!
After two years as a POW presumed dead, SAS soldier Lee Davis is finally going home. Back to his family, friends and...fiancée? He doesn't have a fiancée...the night before his last deployment, Juliet Browne rejected his proposal. That makes the sight of her playing the grieving almost-wife beyond infuriating. Feigning amnesia, Lee decides to put Juliet's "commitment" to the test.
Yet tormenting her conscience isn't as easy as Lee thought it would be. Juliet's still the woman whose memory got him through the worst of his captivity and her actions now prove she cares--a lot. And despite her betrayal, he needs her more than ever. Because Lee is beginning to realize that for him, Juliet is home.
Sleep was always elusive, the first night in a strange bed.
Juliet Browne plumped the pillow, trying to put more volume into it. It was too soft, the mattress too firm and ambient light emanated through a picture window to her right when she was used to cocooning darkness.
She could close the curtain....
Except what she did like about this room was the gnarled pohutukawa branches, spindly as ballerina legs and tufted with leaves dancing in the wind outside the window. Moonlight filtered through them, dappling the stark walls and Spartan-white duvet cover with monochromic graffiti. There was something anarchic about the bony branches that channeled her growing emotion.
Don't be sad.
Rolling on her back, she stared up at the ceiling, shaped like an inverted triangle. This house was pale, stylized and angular, reflecting its architect owner. She liked Mark, liked his steadiness, his creativity, his easy conviction that, gee, life was pretty good, wasn't it?
Tears prickled behind her eyelids and she blinked them away, sidling closer to the edge of the bed, as far away as possible from the man sleeping on the other side. It was normal to feel bewildered, even bereft, under the circumstances. Sex represented the last goodbye in a two-year journey of moving on--it was bound to raise Lee's ghost.
Go to sleep, she sternly ordered herself and his ghost.
But if their short, intense relationship had taught her anything, it was that Lee Davis had never been one to lie down quietly. Tucking the sheet around her, Jules thought about the trust agreement she'd been amending that day. The intricacies of subclauses would soothe her faster than watching branches dance.
A sound startled her awake. Opening blurry eyes, she saw her evening clutch bag vibrating on the nightstand. The realization of where she was returned slowly. Glancing over her bare shoulder at Mark, curled away from her, sound asleep, she turned back in time to see her quivering bag topple onto the floor, spilling its contents.
Mark muttered but didn't wake. Just as well--she'd told him she'd switched off her cell. He'd wanted an intimate dinner with no outside interruptions. Instead, she'd put it on vibrate, unwilling to entirely disconnect from the world.
The low hum stopped as the call went to message. Rolling to the edge of the mattress, Jules shoved her things back into her handbag. A lipstick, comb, a couple of business cards--Juliet Browne, Solicitor, West Harbor Law--a credit card and keys hooked to a miniature tennis ball. Just out of reach, her cell pinged a message, its screen casting a green glow across the white carpet.
She frowned, catching sight of the time. Who would be trying to contact her at six o'clock on a Sunday morning? Pushing aside the covers, she crept out of bed, grabbing her cell en route to the bathroom, where she slid the partition door shut before flicking on the light switch. Ignoring the naked brunette illuminated in the mirror, she checked her messages. Texts from Dan, Ross and Nate.... Surely Lee's surviving army buddies weren't already after a progress report? And two missed calls from Nate. She scanned the text messages first.
From Ross at midnight: Have you talked to Nate yet?
From Dan at 1:00 a.m.: Phone me soon as you've talked to Nate.
Anxiously she listened to Nate's voice messages, the first sent at eleven-thirty the night before. "Jules, I need to talk to you urgently. Good news, incredible news but--" he gulped "--call me, okay?"
His second was the call a few minutes ago. "Where are you if you're not at...