Torrid Teasers 44: Smoldering Ember
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Chapter 1

Cassandra Vance stared at the invitation several times and checked inside the envelope. After reading the invitation one more time, she checked the four-by-nine envelope again. If she looked very carefully, she knew she could find traces of the crack that the envelope was laced with. It had to have been laced with something, or at least the sender was on some new experimental drug. She looked at the arrangement of lilies and orchids that came with the card. All of it came from the one person she never thought to hear from: her ex-husband, Ethan.

She just received an invitation to her ex-husbandís inaugural building ceremony. Ethan sending an invitation wasnít the strange part; it was the fact he signed the bottom of the card asking her to please show up because he needed her there. Ethan needed her? Why would he need her at his building opening? Why her, wasnít he seeing a new bimbo this month?

Cassandra stared at the penmanship as the first flutter in her heart escaped. They had been divorced for almost five years, and the time without him was miserable. As many times as she told herself she wanted him back, she knew she had to keep her ground. They were married when they were twenty-two years old and were college graduates. Ethan wanted to continue his degree in architecture and she wanted to start medical school. For those years, three wonderful years in their marriage, they were inseparable. He spent late nights helping her study for exams, or she would help him with his design portfolio. It seemed perfect, until they were driven apart by one person: Stacey Williams.

Stacey Williams was Ethanís new boss when he decided to work during the day full-time and go to school at night. There were signs; she should have known when things were slipping away. Instead of confronting the issue or questioning Ethan, she submerged herself in schoolwork. Ethan no longer came home with his portfolio, no longer asked for help with his day to day tasks. Each let down brought heated arguments, long walks, and more distance. Ethan then began taking overnight trips followed by weekend trips, and then eventually weekly trips. Toward the middle of their fourth year of marriage, she didnít recognize her husband anymore. His mood changed, his temperament on everything changed, including the things he used to love about her.

With the constant criticism, the constant irritation with her schooling and work, Ethan Vance was no longer the man she knew. Though she managed with good-nature to dismiss his behavior as the stress of the occupation, she would never forget the day her heart broke. Ethan had informed her that he would be out of town for an architecture conference. She missed him in his absence, but had to work a forty-eight-hour shift at the hospital. Unexpected news shortened the very long day. Let out earlier than expected, she came home to romantic music and the smells of dinner cooking in the kitchen. With the naÔve hopes of a wife thinking her husband returned to his old self, she walked into the kitchen ready to shower Ethan with kisses. The image greeting her was a womanís worst nightmare. Standing in the kitchen was Ethan, her husband of three years, boyfriend of four years, having sex with another woman.

Ethan was engrossed in the act. She stared at the couple, for they were oblivious of her presence. Ethanís strong arms were holding, touching, and caressing this stranger with a more tender touch than he held her. The soft, full lips she loved were nibbling and kissing a stranger with more compassion than he had given her in the past year. Tears streamed down her face as she watched him thrust his cock into the other woman. The only man she had ever loved ripped her heart from her chest and smashed it.

Stepping back, she retreated in silence and walked upstairs to their bedroom to pack her things. She didnít know what possessed her to pack, and not yell and scream at Ethan. The only thing she knew was that she no longer would be Ethan Vanceís wife. She took what clothes and small belongings she had and left Ethan a short note which stated everything she needed to say: ďIíll send the divorce papers in the morning. Goodbye, Ethan.Ē

Afterward, she tried the dating scene, but after Ethanís betrayal, she couldnít bear the thought of it happening again. Besides, some things were much more important than social get-togethers.

Almost five years later, she was staring at an invitation from the only man she would ever love. The invitation said she could bring two people with her, and she knew precisely who to ask.