Sometimes the safest path is to keep people at a distance…especially men.
Cara’s life has been one nightmare after another. Abused as a child and neglected by her parents, she’s quick to blame herself for every cruel thing that happens to her. And then there’s James, the only man capable of making her forget her misgivings and learn to love again.
James, a young doctor in training, is aware of Cara’s history. He’s determined to break through her barriers and build a life with her…and fails. Cara runs away in an attempt to reinvent herself and James fears he’s lost her for good. When she falls into the hands of a drug dealer and mob boss, life as they know it is about to get a whole lot worse.
Can their love withstand the demons of her past and present?
Be Warned: violence against heroine, rape of heroine.
The morning breeze ruffled the curtains. It was dawn, and Cara had finally drifted off to sleep. James cradled her warm body with his arm, pressing her close against him, stroking her side with tender fingers. Her hip felt soft as satin beneath his calloused hand.
He scanned Cara's delicate features. She looked like a painting, like an angel in repose. Her shining hair lay scattered across the pillow. Her cheeks were flushed pink and he could detect very faint bluish circles under her eyes, beneath the thick auburn lashes. That was his fault. He'd kept her up all night.
Damn, she was the loveliest woman he'd ever seen. And making love to her came as close to heaven as he could imagine.
What he had done? What the fuck had he gone and done? He'd fallen in love, that's what he'd done. James Mackie had fucking fallen in love.
James had never, ever been with a woman who'd responded with such intensity to his touch, to his kisses. Her warm lips had yielded to his, her mouth had tasted as sweet as honey. He had been concerned that after everything she'd been through in her past, Cara would be stiff and wooden, or icy and withdrawn, or hesitant, or fearful, or worse. But no, if anything, she'd been the opposite. She had welcomed him. She'd given herself to him without reservation, held nothing back. She'd trusted him to explore every silky inch of her, and she'd done the same to him, with eagerness and a hunger that had thrilled him.
God, he had never been so hard, so frequently, in the space of so few hours. Even now, even when it should be impossible, he felt himself stir as he pictured what they'd done just before she'd fallen asleep. He'd like to do it all over again so he could watch her face in ecstasy as she rode him like a wild thing. Listen to her moan with pleasure, feel her nipples peak into perfect rosebuds beneath his palms as she climaxed. Sense her body quiver around him while he drove deep inside her, pulsing with his own powerful, nearly simultaneous orgasm.
It bewildered him, the intensity with which he wanted her. James would be leaving Iowa City in three months and he wouldn't be returning. The Fellowship at Duke would last two years and then who knew? He might go into research, he might start a private practice, he could end up in Alaska or Chicago or Hawaii or New York City. He had no idea where he'd end up. He hadn't thought that far ahead. The one thing he was clear on was that he would be with Cara. Somehow, somewhere, she had to fit into his future. She was the one he wanted.
James didn't make decisions lightly. The decision to apply to medical school was long-planned. The Cardiology Fellowship had been in his head for years. James had always prided himself on his serial monogamy. He'd never cheated on any woman he'd dated, but he'd never even once considered committing himself to a woman for longer than a few months, certainly not for a lifetime. This one night with Cara had been an epiphany. She was young and James wanted her to graduate from college and start work on her Master's, but he would marry her. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not this year, but when she was ready.
James could be quite determined, even ruthless, when he set his mind to something. He did not intend to let Cara slip away, especially not now. He tightened his arm around her, possessive. Cara didn't wake, but she murmured in her sleep, throwing a long leg over his thigh. James smiled. He didn't have to be back to the hospital until Monday morning. They had the entire day and night ahead of them and he intended to make the most of it. Done thinking, decision made, he closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep
Cara didn't know whether to dance, laugh, sing or simply yell at the top of her lungs, “James Mackie just fucked my brains out!” She did none of those things. Instead, she turned towards him. He slept on his back, his breathing quiet, even, peaceful. Unable to resist, Cara put her lips on him. She started at his forehead, kissing her way down his face, over his closed eyes, kissing the tip of his nose, paying special attention to his soft and sensual lips, trailing light butterfly kisses along the firm line of his jaw, rubbing her lips over his delightful, rough, day-old beard.
Cara could tell he was awake now because the corners of his mouth turned up. He managed to keep his eyes closed as she continued her ministrations, nibbling lightly on the tendons of his neck and the muscles of his shoulder. She knew he had come fully awake when the sheet began to tent above his groin, as she nibbled and licked her way down to his small, hard bud of a nipple and pressed her warm mouth against it, tugging on it with her teeth and rolling it with her tongue, while her fingers explored other regions. James had a body to die for. And he knew exactly how to use it.
When they'd walked back to her apartment, Cara had no idea she would respond to him the way she had. She'd surprised herself. Somehow, without even realizing it, over the past two years it seemed as if she'd healed. She'd just needed the right person to bring it to her attention, a person like James, only James.
Head spinning, she found herself flipped on her back, his grinning face looming over her. Cara laughed.
“Are you too sore?” he asked, concern evident in his low voice, “because I want to fuck you right now. But we can wait awhile. There are other ways.” He slid his erection along the inside of her thigh, spreading her legs.
Cara opened her legs wider and wrapped her calves around his, inviting him in. “I'm sore,” she replied with a smile. “In a good way.”