One to Save
By Tia Louise
*unedited draft, subject to change*
Everywhere March 26, 2015
Chapter 1: Secrets
In the cool darkness of the semi-crowded bar, I study the glass in front of me and consider my journey, how many steps I’ve taken in the last two years, how far I’ve come. Memories of my old life fade like smoke in a glass. The shame that held me so tightly now dances at the edges of my mind like the whisper of a bad dream, a flicker of shadows that no longer make sense in my world.
Young women in shiny slip dresses twist and laugh on the dance floor, but instead of resentment, my lips curl into a smile. My old self—cynical, bitter, defeated—is a memory I have to work hard to recall. These days I could dance all night with them, but I’d rather spend my energy engaged in other activities.
The slim glass holds a pale amber liquid, and I can’t resist taking a sip. An involuntary wince pinches my eyes as I put it down. Seven and seven. Refreshing citrus dragged down by the heavy undertone of whiskey. So gross.
Sliding my palms over my thighs, I realize my outfit isn’t much different from those of the girls on the dance floor. The deep red silk is fitted at my waist, and drapes loosely over my torso. My long dark hair is swept over one shoulder revealing a thin spaghetti strap. I lightly touch the delicate gold chain around my neck leading to the floating heart pendant that sits between my collarbones, and light glances off the thick gold cuff on my wrist.
Unlike that night, I’m alone. My best friend Elaine is miles away with her new husband, most likely indulging in that blissful honeymoon period of early marriage. Make that, most certainly indulging. I know those two well.
No, I came by myself to the bar in Princeton after finishing my business with a client in town. My infant son is in Wilmington, spending the weekend with his grandmother. Studying my hands, I admire the deep blue sapphire ring on my finger, but I have no wedding band.
At thirty-two, I’m an unmarried mother of a beautiful little boy, and I wouldn’t change a thing… Yet. The tiny silver scar at my hairline reminds me of what a bad marriage looks like, and with my successful marketing business and the gorgeous cottage at the beach I own, I’m satisfied with my life. Calm, not desperate. I’ll take my next steps deliberately, with confidence.
All these thoughts preoccupy my mind when I blink up and catch him watching me from across the square-shaped bar. Blue eyes, strikingly blue because of the way they stand out beneath his dark brow, coupled with collar-length thick dark hair.
He’s massive, at least six-two, and elegantly dressed with a thick stainless watch on his wrist. I can spot his type a mile away—rich, powerful, accustomed to getting what he wants. I can’t deny the hum his gaze sets off under my skin. I know what he wants.
Catching my lip in my teeth to stop my grin, I also know what I want, and it’s no coincidence I happened to look up at that exact moment to meet his stare. Still, I’ll make him work for it.
He starts to move, his eyes never leaving mine. I don’t look away either. Thick cords of muscle ripple beneath the thin black sweater he wears as he glides past the oblivious patrons talking and laughing. Some are more animated than others, waving their arms and putting their drinks in peril.
Yellow lights hidden in the recesses above the bar illuminate rows of liquor bottles in all colors and shapes. Glasses hanging upside down above also catch the flickering light. It’s a raucous atmosphere, but this man and I are in our own secret place of longing and desire.
As he rounds the final corner, and I see him in full, my breath quickens. My eyes drift from his broad shoulders to his narrow waist, grey slacks and black shoes, then back up just as he reaches me. A close beard shadows his face, and the muscles low in my pelvis tighten at the thought of how it feels brushing the soft skin of my inner thighs…
ONE TO HOLD (One to Hold, #1)
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ONE TO KEEP (One to Hold, #2)
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ONE TO PROTECT (One to Hold, #3)
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ONE TO LOVE (One to Hold. #4)
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ONE TO LEAVE (One to Hold. #5)
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