Her mom’s brow rose, and her eyes held a twinkle of excitement.
“Someone like a man?”
Allison smirked. “Yes.”
“When do I get to meet this man?” In the distance, Mrs. Sullivan’s gaze captured the stride of a tall, confident specimen headed in their direction. She noticed him immediately as Lance Valentine. Knowing he was someone her daughter crushed on from afar, Margaret snapped a finger and whispered as she leaned in again, “Hot tamale, two o’clock.”
Allison’s brows dipped. “Huh?”
Mrs. Sullivan cleared her throat and went to speak again. “I think he’s coming to our table.”
Allison was slow in moving. By the time she realized what was going on, Lance was upon her.
The dark drum of his soothing voice filled Allison with an array of warmth. Her pussy thumped, and her body shifted as she worked to calm a quiver. Looking over her shoulder, Allison’s eyes connected with the piercing stare of Lance Valentine, and with another step, he stood beside their table with a bouquet of roses in both hands.
“Beauty…” he said, giving Allison an improper once over. Lance’s gaze shifted to Mrs. Sullivan, “Twins,” he said. Lance glanced between Allison and her mother. “You didn’t tell me you had a twin.”
Mrs. Sullivan smiled from ear to ear, her cat-like eyes dipping and fluttering with appreciation. Allison smirked and chuckled a bit, catching Lance’s wink as he glanced at her again.
“For you,” he said, offering the roses to each of them.
“Thank you,” they sang.
“Mother, this is Lance Valentine; Lance, this is my mother, Mrs. Margaret Sullivan.”
Mrs. Sullivan held out her hand gracefully, taking a close eye over his well-built stock shoulders, tailored Brioni suit that fit him so immaculately each edge of his physique was accommodated by the material.
“I know who Lance Valentine is. So, does everyone who’s got their camera phones out recording right now.” Mrs. Sullivan beamed and lifted her chin. “Have a seat, Lance. My daughter didn’t tell me we would be on the evening news.”
A smooth rising laugh seeped from his throat.
“Let me be the one to apologize,” he said. “I didn’t give Allison much of a choice.”
It was a mouthwatering kiss that changed everything…
One thing that held constant in Shelby Donovan’s life was her career. As a world renowned artist, Shelby’s paintings traveled the globe, landing in museums and homes across the nation. But what she couldn’t seem to get under control was her love life. Why? She asked herself that question time and time again. Her mother thought it was because of her best friend, Sebastian Cartwright. They’ve known each other for years. Sebastian and Shelby shared everything; embarrassing moments, secrets, dating tips, affection, and even an explosive kiss during one tipsy night on Shelby’s birthday.
But, when Shelby’s current boyfriend asks for her hand in marriage she should be excited, dancing, ready… but she isn’t. In fact, Shelby can’t stop thinking about the kiss she shared with Sebastian. It had to be a fluke, right? A simple, delicious, fiery kiss that pulled at her loins and caused her heartbeat to slam against her ribcage. Honestly, it rocked her world and thoughts of what could be played like piano keys in her head. But their friendship was too important to mix with the uncertainty of a relationship. Even worse, what if Sebastian didn’t feel the same way? It could ruin everything. Should Shelby accept the marriage proposal, or shed her fears and open up to her best friend? Find out in Everything I Always Wanted.
She said yes. The restaurant erupted with applause and congratulatory praises as I sat there stunned. She said yes. Melanie grabbed my hand, her eyes bright. She was sincerely excited for them, but I hadn’t moved, blinked, or said anything. Alan moved from his seat and lifted Shelby, an overjoyed smile on both of their faces. A waiter approached with the bottle of wine I’d requested. He poured everyone at the table a glass and sat it in a bucket on ice.
“Congratulations!” he quipped. I gathered myself, standing to my full height and closing the few buttons on my jacket.
“Ms. Scott, excuse me for a moment.” I beat a hasty retreat, my long strides taking me past the bar to the men’s room. Inside I washed my hands and checked my reflection in the mirror. My mind was reeling from what just happened. She said yes. I smirked, my mood not even close to hearty. I composed myself. Shelby was the ultimate catch. Why wouldn’t he want to marry her? I convinced myself it was for the best. She deserved every moment of happiness in her life. Who was I to feel indifferent about it? I didn’t even congratulate her. Foolish. I was acting like a child, why? That was a question I didn’t need to answer. I had no right to want her. I was her friend; she confided in me about every part of her life.
I was to keep her safe and allow her to bare her soul without thoughts of stealing her heart. It was not my place, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. I thought back to her twenty-first birthday. Something had taken over me that night. I don’t know if it were the alcoholic beverages that gave me the courage, but I’d stolen a kiss that night, and it was phenomenal. Nothing like I’d ever felt before or since. When she responded with such vigor, I’d convinced myself that we were good, and I wanted more of her, but the drive to her place gave me time to think.
None of my relationships thus far had lasted. Mostly because I couldn’t keep up with the demand of quality time. I was busy, all the time, and no woman wants a man who spends more time at work than with them. More than that, I’d shared countless stories about women I only bedded for my own pleasures. Simply because I saw no interest in pursuing a relationship. Our bond was as tight as a hogtie and I couldn’t very well offer her the love she deserved and then fail to deliver. The thought of breaking her heart was too monumental for me to pursue anything other than friendship with Shelby.
And even though I knew this and continued to tell myself it was for the best, I felt despondent. I had to find a way to rid myself of these emotions and move on. I inhaled and exhaled a deep breath and left the restroom. At the bar, I asked for another bottle of the rich wine the waiter had brought over to the table before my abrupt retreat.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a gift bow to attach to it?” I asked.
“Ah, yes.” The bartender disappeared for a moment and returned just ask quickly. He slid a ribbon onto the bottle and fastened it into a bow clipping the edges. “How’s that?”
“Excellent.” I made the purchase and strode from the bar a determined man. I pulled a smile back on my face as I neared. “Congratulations.” I held the bottle out to Alan and slapped him on the back. He stood and shook my hand.
“Thank you.” His smile was burgeoning.
I stepped to Shelby, taking notice of her downcast expression. I reached down and pulled her out of the seat, capturing her in a sealed embrace. “Congratulations,” I whispered, my lips hovering just slightly over her ear. I could feel a vibration run through her.
“You disappeared.” I could hear the question in her voice.
“Never fear, I’m back.”
She pulled back from me. “Is everything okay?”
“Of course. I want you and your fiancé to take this bottle of Tony’s finest wine and celebrate the night away.”
She smiled. “Are you coming along?”
I kept my face void of expression. “Why would I tag along, silly goose? This night is about you and him.” I released her and looked to Melanie. “We should get going so these two can enjoy their night.”
“We haven’t had a bite to eat yet,” she said.
“We’ll get something.” I looked to Alan then Shelby. “You guys have a great night.” We took our leave. I made sure to get Melanie something to eat before dropping her back at her vehicle. She was interested in more than just a five-page spread, but I wasn’t.
“Thank you for your generosity tonight, Mr. Cartwright,” Melanie said when we approached her car. “The night is young. Are you sure you’re ready to call it a night?”
I grinned. “I have to get an early start.” I placed a gentle kiss on the back of her hand and opened her driver side door. She crawled in. “Drive safely,” I said, closing the door and retreating to my vehicle.
I wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight. In my garage, I switched gears, leaving my truck for my bike. I rode through Saint Louis for an hour and a half before returning to my penthouse. I strode through the rooms in darkness, tossing my keys on the counter. My eyes shifted around the cold, lonely place, and I settled on a bottle of scotch. My cell phone buzzed and my screen lit up. I check the Caller ID and found Shelby’s face on the screen. Why was she calling me? I decided not to answer the phone. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to have a reasonable conversation with her.
I left the phone on the counter and went in search of a shower. I was determined to get over tonight no matter what it took. Maybe I should’ve invited Melanie over. It had been months since I’d been intimate with a woman. Mainly because the one night stands and brisk temptations were not enough to fulfill the desire I had for her. Shelby, Shelby, Shelby, I thought. A grumble moved through me. I opted instead to drink the night away, by myself. Maybe things would be better after I’d had a little sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until I found myself flat on my back staring at the ceiling.
This night was going to be a miserable one.
Stephanie Nicole Norris is an author from Chattanooga Tennessee with a humble beginning. She was raised with six siblings by her mother Jessica Ward. Always being a lover of reading, during Stephanie’s teenage years her joy was running to the book mobile to read stories by R. L. Stine.
After becoming a young adult her love for romance sparked leaving her captivated by hero’s and heroines alike. With a big imagination and a creative heart Stephanie penned her first novel Trouble In Paradise and self published it in 2012. Her debut novel turned into a four book series full of romance, drama, and suspense. To date Stephanie has self published seven books which includes five full novels and two short stories. They can be found on most retailers sites. Stephanie is inspired by the likes of Donna Hill, Gwynne Forester, and more. She currently resides in Chattanooga Tennessee with her husband and one year old son.