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Reclaiming My Wife
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We were young and stupid then. We’re older and wiser now. But some things never change.
Eight years ago, she was the only woman to heat my blood and make me lose all my senses. I gave her my last name, but within a year, it was over.
Now, she’s back in my life and wants the divorce that was never finalized. I want that too, after I get what’s mine.
True, I’m not the same college boy she’d married, and she’s not the wild, carefree woman I could never tame. But I still burn for her, and now that she’s back on my ranch, this cowboy will do whatever it takes to melt his ice princess..
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It was the kind of dinner that Don would undoubtedly consider to be romantic.
The kind with dimly lit candlelight dancing in hurricane glasses on the ends of the wooden tables covered with plastic checkboard cloths. The evening was still early, so the restaurant was hardly crowded, even on a Friday. When Don mentioned that he was taking me out to a nice steak dinner, I thought he was planning to take me to Arman’s. The city’s newest steak restaurant was all the rage, and I’d been talking about it for weeks.
Instead, I got a chain restaurant with a kid’s menu, green and blue crayon covering the walls next to me. Apparently, the color choices were limited. I felt a little sorry for the kids that had a budding artist inside of them but couldn’t color a brown tree trunk or a yellow sun. My steak had been overcooked and over-seasoned, and even though I wanted to say something, my date had already berated the waitress nearly to tears, so I sipped the cheap wine and focused on my salad, trying to be grateful.
I needed to be grateful for everything in my life, I reminded myself.
Because I knew just how quickly things could fall apart.
“Jill, if you’re going to order the most expensive thing on the menu, you should at least act like you’re enjoying it,” Don said, disapproval sparking from his eyes as he swirled his wine glass and inspected the contents closely.
I wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to inspect every single damn refill. It all came from the same twelve-dollar bottle, after all. But I didn’t say a word. Instead, I just smiled at him and wondered for the hundredth time what I was doing there.
Dr. Don Augusta had been “courting me” for several months now. He was a good-looking man nearly fifteen years my senior with gray hairs around the temple that accented his fake tan. He taught a few classes at my university, but he had a high-priced private therapy practice that he was still trying to get off the ground, and he had his sights set on a more powerful position at the university. His reputation was well-known in the academic community, and since I was finishing my dissertation, I appreciated that connection. He knew it, and it didn’t seem to bother him. In fact, he seemed to feed off his power over me.
Power or not, there was no spark. No chemistry. His kisses were as dry and boring as our conversation, and we’d yet to darken a bedroom door. But he was stable, and I needed that more than I needed passion and romance.
“Sorry. I guess I’m just not that hungry yet.” Probably because it was two hours before a normal dinnertime, but I didn’t say that either. Don did not like criticism.
When I first enrolled in school, I tried several times to get into one of his classes, but I was always dropped at the last minute. It wasn’t until my last semester that I discovered he had a personal interest in me. He had been so kind at the time, and I’d been extremely flattered. And more importantly, he’d been safe. Secure. Which was exactly what I’d needed in my life. At least that was what I kept telling myself.
We’d taken things slow in the beginning, which had been perfect for me, and apparently, for him as well. Now that all I had left was my dissertation and my work-study job at the local therapy clinic before starting my internship next year, I had more time on my hands, but our relationship wasn’t going any faster.
I was beginning to wonder if it ever would. Would my heart ever beat faster when he walked into a room? Would I ever find myself fantasizing about him? Dreaming about him?
As I watched him sniff the wine again, I doubted it very much.
Which was fine.
I’d had my fill of fast-tracked relationships anyway. Not that I’d had that many experiences with those either.
I mentally shook the memory away and was reaching for my wine glass when my phone vibrated. Don frowned when I picked it up, but I ignored him. He always wanted me to give him my undivided attention, but he never had a single qualm about answering his phone during a date.
“It’s Cindy.” I flashed him an apologetic smile. “I should take it.” Before he could respond, I scooted back my chair and stood. Skirting the tables, I headed to the exit and found some privacy outside.
“Hi, Cindy,” I answered as I sat down on a nearby bench.
“Jillian! For a minute, I thought you weren’t going to answer. I need you! Can you stop by the house? I’ve already let the guard at the gate know to expect you.”
Her flustered cries didn’t faze me one bit. In fact, if her voice would have been normal, that would have panicked me. So I took a deep, cleansing breath, and used my most soothing tone in response. “Cindy, I’m in the middle of dinner, and we’ve talked about this. You can deal with situations like this on your own, remember? You don’t need me to come at the drop of a hat. Now, just tell me what happened.”