Happy New Year! In December, after a few months’ hiatus, I brought back The Story Circle with the gracious and talented AmyBeth Inverness. AmyBeth tagged Taylor Lunsford to pick and pass along the story. Taylor handed her baton to Alyssa Linn Palmer. Alyssa passed the story, and its conclusion to Allie Sanders. Allie writes and edits, and along with AmyBeth and Alyssa, she contributed to—and edited—Felt Tips, a recently released erotica anthology edited by Tiffany Reisz. I hear tell it’s got everything from sweet to saucy to BDSM, and all involving office supplies. This charity collection donates to kids in need of school supplies and job seekers in need of interview clothes. In their own words:
some kids who couldn’t afford new school supplies and some down-on-their-luck parents who can’t afford work clothes will be getting a hand from our one-handed read.
Awesome, right? I’m adding it to my to-read list.
And now back to Jennytown.
For nearly three weeks Dodge had been trying to get Leigh to himself. He’d never been so frustrated by a woman before.
From sun up to nearly sun down they worked on clearing away the rubble hiding the remains of Jennytown but the nights were their own and while most of the volunteers spent their time drinking and turning the old mining town into party central, Leigh was never among them. Some nights he’d find her deep in conversation with Holly or other girls but often she’d disappear and no one could tell him where she was.
He’d tried to follow her one night but he’d got caught talking to Jack. He knew the older man was impressed with his work on the project and had hinted at the permanent position Dodge was hoping for. He’d do just about anything to get in with the prestigious firm.
Finally, on the last night they were to be in Jennytown, Dodge found his opening. As he was leaving the cabin he shared with a few of the other archetects he saw Leigh leaving the cam p and heading into the woods.
The cabins they were staying in weren’t actually that far from Jennytown. It was a good thirty minute drive down winding roads but straight through the woods it wasn’t more than ten minute’s hike. Dodge was surprised to follow Leigh there.
“Do you come here every night?” He asked, stepping clear of the woods just moments after her. Leigh jumped, her hands flying to her chest as she let out a small scream.
“My God! You scared the crap out of me! Don’t ever do that again.” She dropped her hands to her sides as he joined her. “Yes, I love it here. You can almost see them walking around. Nature’s trying to take the town back but even hundreds of years later she hasn’t been able to. There’s something magic about this place.”
Dodge agreed. He’d felt it from the moment he laid eyes on the town but what brought the magic alive was Leigh’s face as she spoke. She was softer, younger, almost wistful. Nothing like the hurt, angry, sad woman she’d been a year ago when they’d hooked up.
“I’ll be sad to leave this place tomorrow.” Dodge took her hand as they walked around the ruins. She tried to tug it free but gave into his hold after a moment.
Dodge said nothing as they walked. The moon was bright, not full but enough so he could make out certain details of her face. Her eyes were shadowed, giving her a sad look. She’d had that look the first time they were together and he’d hoped to wash the sadness from her eyes.
“Why did you never come back or call me after that night?” He hadn’t meant to ask that but once the words were out he realized he needed to know. Their weekend together had changed him in ways he didn’t understand.
For a long time it seemed like Leigh wasn’t going to answer. They walked through the dead town without saying a word and Dodge wanted nothing more than to grab and shake her until she explained.
“I was tired of being pitied,” she finally said. “For three years I’ve gotten nothing but pity from people because my husband died and then I met you and spent a night crying on your shoulder before taking you to bed and damn it I didn’t want to see you again and see the pity in your eyes. I may not have much but I’m not going to take pity sex.”
“You think that was about pity?” Anger welled up, making Dodge see red. “We had sex because we wanted it. We both wanted it. Don’t try to tell me it was about pity.” Before she could say anything he pulled Leigh against him and crushed his mouth to hers.
Leigh sighed into Dodge’s mouth, shocked at the forcefulness of his actions. She’d wanted him. God help her, she wanted just this since the moment she saw him again. All of the reasons she shouldn’t touch him flew through out of her head as she tasted him, as she felt his hard body against her and his work-roughened hands slide down her arms and around her waist to cup her ass.
Their mating, there in the abandoned town amid the rubble, was rough and primal and everything Leigh needed but didn’t know how to ask for or take for herself. After, while they dressed he turned to her in the moonlit night.
“You won’t leave me again. Not this time. I’m not stupid, I know why this shouldn’t work and why this isn’t a good idea but we want each other, we like talking to each other. We can give this a shot.” His growled words pierced her.
Her heart raced. Her stomach fluttered. And when he offered his hand she knew it was more than just an offer help her stand up. Her own hand shook as she placed it in his and allowed him to pull her to her feet.
“This isn’t forever,” she warned.
“I never said it had to be.”
As they left Jennytown Leigh realized the weight she’d been carrying since Miles died was missing. No, it wouldn’t be forever but it was the start of a new life for her and she couldn’t wait to take it on.