Dedicated to my favorite avid reader, Rachel.
Of Fire And Flames
HE WASN’T READY FOR tonight, to put on a happy face and pretend like everything was wonderful. To celebrate his marriage with friends and family while his marriage remained in turmoil. Corey wasn’t thrilled that Megan rushed off to see Joe for any reason because in doing so, she walked away from him and that burned him bad. They had a problem, and instead of staying with him to fix it, she ran back to her ex-lover and returned home a complete mess and he didn’t know what to do now. If this was an indication as to how things would be between them, he didn’t think he could stay in this marriage, and he was beginning to see that eloping the way they did could have been a mistake. He cringed as the word mistake looped in his mind, making it impossible for him to get any rest sleeping beside her.
He watched as Megan slept peacefully, no stress etched on her pretty face, her entire body relaxed and void of any heartache, wondering how she managed to do that when he could only get thirty minutes of slumber at a time. Her breathing remained steady and comforting, her dark hair fanned out over the pillow, reminding him of sleeping beauty and making his breath catch just looking at her. The more he watched her, the more he wanted to reach out and run his fingers over her body, to kiss and make love to her, to repair the rift between them and move forward, yet he still couldn’t do it. Two nights they slept side by side in that bed, and both nights the river between them grew wider, colder, seemed impossible to cross. Corey scowled and got out of bed, moving to the window that overlooked the ranch to watch the sunrise, searching for answers.
Sunlight had yet to reach out and touch the ranch, darkness surrounded everything below, the peaceful early morning encompassing him as he stared out toward the ridge where he intended to build a little cottage getaway on his safe haven. After his parents decided that they wanted Corey and Megan to stay, Nolan’s crew showed up to begin their master suite and Corey and Nolan worked on plans to build a little cottage for additional privacy if needed. He still hadn’t had a chance to tell Megan, though he had every intention of doing so, the timing just couldn’t be worse.
He never imagined the honeymoon would be over this fast, that he would be planning ahead yet in two different directions, building a getaway for if they stayed together, and planning what to do if they broke up. He raked a hand through his hair, shaking his head and realizing it was no wonder he hadn’t been sleeping. Who would be able to sleep when their thoughts were this scattered trying to prepare for a life-altering decision that shaped the future instead of dealing with the here and now?
“Damn it,” he cursed under his breath, feeling like a fool for doing the same thing his wife did, running from the issues instead of facing them head-on.
Corey turned from the window and back to a sleeping Megan and stared at her, all the craziness of the past few days dissipating as the familiar pangs of hunger reemerged pulsing through his veins. While he hated the fact that she slept with Joe first, he hated it more that they were going through the motions and that the door on their sex life shut down as well. He needed to come to terms with the information, forgive her, and put it in the past. He’d had his share of one-night stands, so he couldn’t be a hypocrite and let that determine his fate with the woman he wanted, needed and loved. She made the dark days brighter by just being near, and that smile that lit up her face when she looked up at him, oh that smile he could live off for the rest of his life. If he were being honest with himself, Megan did nothing wrong, and he needed to tell her that, prove to her that what she did in the past didn’t and wouldn’t affect their future.
He moved to her side of the bed, got down on his knees and with his forefinger, began tracing a path down her arm to her hand, delighting in the feel of her skin beneath his touch. Megan stirred but didn’t wake, so he continued running his hand over her body, moving up to her breast and her breathing became quicker. Corey smiled, loving the idea that he could arouse her while she slept, that the slightest touch of his hand had her coming to life and responding to him.
He trailed his finger up to her shoulder, across her collarbone, inching up her neck and to her sweet lips, tracing the bottom before circling across the top. Her mouth parted, and a sigh escaped, just as her eyes fluttered open and she looked at him through sleepy eyes.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispered, his finger drawing a lazy pattern on her face.
“It’s okay. What time is it?” she asked, straining to see past him to the alarm clock on the side table.
“Early, close to dawn.”
Megan shot up in bed. “Is something wrong?”
Corey shook his head. “No, I just couldn’t sleep, and the truth is, I miss you.”
Megan’s hazel eyes grew wide as she gaped at him. She sprang up and threw herself into his arms, right where he wanted her to be. “I miss you too. I don’t like fighting with you, or you upset with me.”
“I know, Honey.”
He laid her back down in the bed, and fused his mouth to hers, ready to make up the honeymoon time they’d already missed, the hunger skyrocketing through him. As much as he wanted to go nice and slow, he knew it would be impossible because Megan’s hands were gliding over his body aggressively, this would be a quick mating. Megan stopped, sat up, got off the bed, and removed her nightgown and panties, before grabbing his shorts and tugging them down his legs. She pushed him down onto the bed and climbed on top of him, taking control, and to see her this vibrant and in dominate made his mind whirl.
He watched her face as their bodies became one, enthralled by the moan that escaped her mouth, and the passion that danced in her hazel eyes as she looked down at him. The intimacy and intensity of their eyes locking as she rode him had Corey climbing right to the precipice in an instant. She closed her eyes, caught up in the moment while his hands moved to her hips, keeping her from pulling too far away from him, his body poised to take them both right over the edge. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and as she dragged in ragged breaths mingled with moans of pleasure, Corey found himself quickening the pace with deeper thrusts into her welcoming heat.
He sat up, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her body into his and capturing her mouth to quiet the sexy moans that echoed off the bedroom walls. His tongue swept through her depths, battling with hers, claiming her until she pulled her mouth away gasping for breath. Megan’s head fell back as their mating picked up the pace, her long neck laid out before him, tempting him to have a taste. With his tongue, teeth, and lips he plundered every inch of her neck, the silky skin lingering with her scent and wet from his pillaging. Corey made a lazy trail down to her extended nipple and sucked it into his mouth, making Megan cry out and dig her fingers into his hair, holding him in place. Her orgasm hit first, as she cried his name, one long, deep thrust catapulting him right over the threshold along with her.
“I love you,” Megan whispered, holding onto him tight.
“I love you more.”
MEGAN FLOATED ON CLOUD nine as she walked into Anna and Nolan’s backyard, excited for their wedding reception to begin and end so she could rush back home and make love to her husband again. Just thinking of what they did earlier in the day had her body still throbbing with a hunger she’d never known before and that only made her long for more. Anna made her a beautiful white dress to wear for the occasion, close in design to the one Megan adorned at the launch party that she loved so much, which became ruined when the hospital nurses cut it off her. Anna’s backyard was set up like the way it had been for the launch party, with two notable exceptions. One, there was a table set up to hold the wedding presents, and two, the event was catered instead of her mother-in-law doing all the cooking and baking.
Anna and Nolan did a terrific job decorating everything with a deep purple and green color scheme, with white Christmas lighting illuminating paths to the dancefloor, the bar, and the food table. Her boss’ even shocked Megan good when the Grayburg’s arrived for the celebration, making Megan truly feel like a part of the Brady family, as well as important to Green’s Boutique and Anna’s Originals. Corey stood by the bar, handsome in his suit speaking with Nolan, their father, Tom, Dex and most of the Grayburg men. He looked so good, Megan found it hard to breathe, or take her eyes off him.
“Excuse me, everyone,” Anna said, taking up a microphone and stopping the music. “I’m so glad you could all join us on such short notice. If you don’t have a glass of champagne, grab one now.” Anna paused and waited for a few people to get a drink before continuing.
Megan moved toward Corey, knowing that’s where she should be and wanting to be by his side more than anything.
“Raise your glasses. To Corey and Megan, may you live and continue to love each other through all the good and bad times, never taking for granted what you’ve found in one another.”
Megan blushed as the crowd cheered and some clanked their glasses, coaxing her to kiss Corey. Corey reached out and took her hand, pulled her into his arms, dipped her, and kissed her hard on the mouth to the delight of everyone in attendance.
He stared down at her. “Shocked you, didn’t I?”
Megan nodded, getting back on her feet, loving the mischief in his dark eyes, so happy that she could get lost in the moment forever. The music played a sultry slow song, and Corey tugged her hand, pulling Megan out onto the dancefloor. She rested her head on his chest, swaying to the music and listening to the sound of his heart beating, enjoying the closeness they shared. The night seemed so surreal, but it was happening, her friends and family were here supporting her marriage to the man she loved for as long as she could remember.
Corey froze in her arms and she raised her head to look up at him. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to be good news,” he said, releasing his hold on her.
Megan turned to follow his gaze and saw Joe Adams entering the backyard with two policemen in tow. Her heart slammed into her ribcage and fear took over making her legs tremble. She couldn’t believe Joe would interfere again in her marriage, but here he was, doing his damnedest to mess things up for her. Corey walked towards them, with Nolan and Dex right on his heels. She didn’t know what to do and continued to stand there as fear gripped her tight, making it impossible for her to move from that spot. Anna stood beside her, threaded her arm with Megan’s and led her toward the commotion.
“It’s probably nothing,” Anna whispered as her grip became tighter on Megan’s arm.
Nolan saw them approaching and shook his head in warning, but Anna disregarded that and kept moving closer, just slowing their pace a little and getting them within earshot.
“Mr. Evans, Mr. Brady, I’m afraid you’re both going to have to come down to the station to answer questions and be booked.”
“For what?” Anna implored.
Officer Sweet looked over at Anna, Megan and Karen who managed to catch up with them. “Arson.”
By now, most of the guests were inching closer and Megan’s heart sank as Joe’s words of her father wanting Corey away from her and some buried secret echoed in her mind. She wrapped her arms around herself, watching her husband who looked at her with guilt written all over his face, his eyes saturated with a sadness she had never seen before. Her brother didn’t say a word, just shook his head in disbelief, staring back at Karen and mouthing, “I’m sorry.”
Joe stood there with a self-satisfied smirk and the fact that he no longer cared who he hurt galled Megan to the bone. There was no going back from here, their long-time friendship was over, and if she never spoke to the man again she could live with that.
“We’ll follow you down to the station,” Nolan assured Corey.
The officers escorted Dex and Corey out of the yard and Nolan turned to Megan and Anna, his parents now a part of the immediate circle.
“What’s this all about?” Karen asked, her voice trembling with worry.
Nolan sighed, his gaze moving around everyone until he stared directly at his father. “Joe is accusing them of burning down the old section of town twenty years ago.”
“That’s absurd,” Tom Brady shouted.
“It’s true,” Joe announced. “Dirk caught them and snuck them out of there before anyone realized what happened.”
Megan made a beeline for him. “You get out of here. Stay the hell away from me,” she shouted, “Do you hear me? I never want to see you again. Grow up and move on with your life!”
Anna put her arm around Megan just as the tears began to fall. It didn’t make any sense how she could go from such an incredible high, to rock bottom so quickly. Megan pulled out of Anna’s embrace, wiped her tears away and took a deep breath, steeling her spine. She needed to support her husband and she couldn’t do that from Anna’s house.
“Please make my excuses. I must see my husband. Thank you so much for all you’ve done, Anna.”
“I’ll take you,” Nolan offered.
“I’m coming too,” Anna affirmed.
“No, you have to stay here and keep the guests occupied. The Grayburg’s came all this way, you can’t just leave them in the wind.” Nolan reached out and rested his hand upon Anna’s cheek and she nodded. “I’ll call you the second we have any news.”
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