Authors: Kelly Jamieson
WORTH WAITING FOR
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Worth Waiting For
Copyright © 2015 by Kelly Jamieson
Dollar Photo Club
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
“Kelly Jamieson delivers a blazing passionate read that tugs at the heartstrings!”
New York Times
“seductive and bewitching from the very start … Softly romantic and wickedly provocative”
RT Book Reviews
on Rule of Three
“Kelly Jamieson now has a permanent place on my keeper shelf and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.”
“Ms. Jamieson once again gives the reader a richly detailed story that is brimming over with sexual tension, intoxicating desires and intriguing carnal needs that is edgy and psychologically intense…”
The Romance Studio
“…I love Kelly Jamieson’s books and the way that she depicts her characters…”
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
It had been ten years and she
thought she saw him everywhere she went.
Ainslie shook her head as she waited for the light to change. Then it turned green and she stepped off the curb toward the crowd of people on the other side of the street, who likewise started to cross. As she neared the man who’d attracted her attention, her eyes widened in disbelief. He met her gaze and slowed his pace, stopping in front of her.
In the ten years since Griff had left, she’d played this scene so many times in her imagination, in her dreams. Sometimes, it played out as gracious, mature friends who hadn’t seen each other for a long time. She’d smile, kiss his cheek and inquire cordially about how his life had gone for the last ten years.
Other scenes were more dramatic.
She’d imagined herself walking up to him and slapping his handsome face as hard as she could.
She’d also envisioned cutting him cold and walking right by him, not deigning to speak to him.
But in her most secret dreams, he’d held out his arms, pulled her against him and kissed her crazy, like he had so many times.
The reality was unlike any of those dramas. She was completely speechless, her mind shocked blank. Then her heart started thudding heavily in her chest and her throat closed up.
The blare of a horn startled her out of her trance, and, apparently, Griff, too, as he grabbed hold of her arm and dragged her the rest of the way across the street, back the way he’d come.
“Wh-what are you doing here?” she asked in a daze, now standing on the busy sidewalk. Six o’clock on a sunny summer Friday evening in Santa Adalia, California
meant traffic was heavy and the sidewalk crowded with weekend visitors and residents going out for after-work drinks or heading home.
Griff smiled at her and her breath caught in her throat.
His smile was still as dangerously sexy and charming as ever, although he did look different. Sort of.
“I came to see you,” he said, astounding her.
“Ten years later, you just remembered to come and see me?” she asked, an edge in her voice. “‘Oh, yeah, there was that girl I was going out with…maybe I should tell her I’m leaving.’ ”
His smile faltered a bit. “Okay, I guess I should’ve expected that. Look, could we go somewhere and talk? Have a drink?”
“You can’t be serious.” She now stared at him incredulously.
He glanced around them, and she became aware of the looks they were attracting from other people.
There was her office assistant, Carmin, coming down the street, who was also the sister of the man she was seeing, Matthew. She did not need Carmin to see this.
“Okay,” she said hastily, turning and stalking away from him. “Let’s go.”
Effortlessly, he caught her and took her arm. She shook his hand off. “We’ll go to Delmar’s. One drink.”
She strode down the sidewalk and around the corner to the closest bar she could think of at that moment. She prayed Carmin wasn’t going there, too. Thankfully, they were shown to a small table on the back patio, shaded by a vine-covered lattice fence and potted palms. Or maybe that wasn’t such a good thing. The palms surrounding their table gave an intimate, private feel.
She sank into her chair, afraid her weak knees might give out now they were actually near seating. She clutched her purse on her lap, still feeling like she was in a dream and this wasn’t happening. If it were really happening, she’d be cool, poised and gracious…ha! She was anything but. Her hands were shaking and she still had no clue what to say to Griff.
In her fantasies, when she saw Griff again, it was always at time when she was impeccably groomed, dressed to kill, and looking her absolute fabulous best. Not like this—hair scraped back, makeup all worn off at the end of a long day. Make that a long week. “Okay, tell me why you’re really here.”
He looked at her, his eyes warm, mouth still curving slightly in that sexy half-smile. Fury welled in her, hot and fierce, and she glared at him. How dare he sit there so composed, smiling at her like this was nothing? Like he’d done nothing wrong.
The big jerk.
“I guess I should start with an apology,” he began, just as the waitress arrived to take their order. Ainslie looked up at the girl blankly, her mind spinning on overload.
“Uh…white wine?” he asked. “Sauvignon blanc?”
She gave a jerky nod, and he ordered a Corona for himself.
“You still like wine?” His smile deepened.
“Do not sit there pretending you know me.” She bit off each word. “You do not know me. And do not sit there pretending we’re friends or that everything is fine.”
He frowned. “I was starting to apologize—”
She raised a hand, proud that it was reasonably steady. “Are you insane? You can’t apologize ten years later for something. It’s way too late for that.”
He reached out and grabbed her hand, and lowered it to the table. His thumb stroked over her ring finger, her left hand. She looked down at their joined hands and realized what he was observing. Horrified, she also realized how his touch was sending hot little pinpricks of electricity through her hand. She snatched her hand away from his and clutched her purse again.
“You’re not married?”
She stared at him coldly. “Why would you care?”
His face grew serious again, almost sad. “Look, Ainslie, would you just listen to me? I know you’re mad but….you always listened to me.”
She snorted. “You can’t be serious. You didn’t expect me to be angry at how you treated me?” She shook her head. “I know I was a bit of a pushover, but even
got angry sometimes.”
He shook his head slowly. “Not very often,” he said. “You were so gentle and patient.”
Now confusion muddled her thoughts and her anger deflated somewhat. “I…I don’t get this, Griff. Okay, go ahead; talk if you need to. Obviously you’re feeling some kind of guilt or need for closure or something.” She shrugged. “So, I’ll listen.”
“You were always a good listener, too.” His lips lifted into a smile again. “Unlike me.”
Her eyes widened. Griff had apparently developed a bit of insight.
“So, yeah, I needed to talk to you.” He lifted one shoulder. “But I don’t know if I can explain why.”
“I told you. Guilty conscience.” Then she gave a little laugh. “Oh yeah, but then you’d have to realize you’d done something wrong.”
“I know I did, Ainslie,” he said quietly. “I’ve felt guilty for the last ten years.”
She snorted again, just as the waitress arrived with their drinks. She set the glass of chilled wine in front of Ainslie, who resisted the urge to pick it up and down it. Jesus, she needed this drink.
When the waitress had left, he continued. “I want to try to explain to you why I…did that. Why I left like that. Why I acted like that.”
She sat back in her chair, glass of wine in her hand and studied him. Was he being sincere? It was hard to believe, but on the other hand, although Griff may have been a charming, lighthearted rascal, he’d always valued honesty and fairness. Despite the way he’d treated her. Pressure built inside her.
“I was young, Ains.”
Her heart gave a little bump at the shortened name he’d often called her. Nobody else had ever called her that.
“Not just in years, but emotionally. You were the first serious girlfriend I ever had.”
She nodded. She’d known that. “Is that why you cheated on me?” She kept her tone cool, again proud of her ability to control the tremor in her voice.
His head snapped up and his eyes lasered onto hers. “I never cheated on you. Never.”
“Bullshit. You cheated a whole bunch of times. Everybody knew it. Everybody felt sorry for me. But I was so damn afraid of losing you, I let you get away with it.”
He shook his head. “No,” he said again, his eyes still fastened on hers, those dark blue eyes that could be laughing and sparkling, or intense and piercing. She could feel them…as she always had…like a touch. “I know I did things that made you think I was cheating, but I never really did. I’d go see other girls I knew, but it was never anything other than friendship. Nothing ever happened.”
She shook her head, even while wanting to believe him.
He was sucking her in again with that irresistible charm, like he had all those other times.
“Well…” She licked her lips and swallowed hard. “I don’t see what difference it makes. If you wanted me to think you were cheating, you may as well have. God, I don’t even understand that. Let’s just set aside that little issue. Go on.”
He took a deep breath. “If you don’t believe me, there’s not much point in going on.” His voice deepened to a low rasp.
He was getting to her, drawing her in to his enchanting web yet again. A familiar helplessness wrapped around her. This was crazy. She’d changed a lot in ten years, and he could not do this to her all over again.
But again, when she looked into his eyes, she felt herself warming and yielding, against her will. She did believe him.
“Okay,” she conceded. “You never cheated on me. But you still hurt me.”
He lifted his beer to his mouth and took a long pull. She watched his throat work as he swallowed and it was sexy as hell. She studied him across the table.
His face was the same, if a little more mature. His dark hair that had been a haphazard mop was now cut short, longer on top, casually brushed back from his face. The eyes were the same, maybe a little more intense. His body had filled out. He’d only been twenty-two years old the last time she saw him…tall, lean and sinewy. Now his shoulders were broader, the muscles in his arms more defined, his chest solid. He was still gorgeous, although Ainslie recalled that some of her friends had thought him a little geeky way back in college. No way was he a geek now.
“You were my first real girlfriend. Before I met you, nobody else would even look at me. I was a major dork.”
She couldn’t help but smile. “You were never dorky.” Immediately she regretted saying that. He’d never had any lack of confidence, despite the self-deprecating comment.
He grinned then. “Whatever. Anyway, I…did care about you.”
“Funny way of showing it.”
Again, his grin faded.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I’m trying to listen.”
He nodded, his gaze going to the condensation on the beer bottle. He rubbed his thumb through it and the slow, sensuous gesture reminded her of his thumb on her left ring finger a few moments ago. A flashing vision of his hand on her breast, his thumb on her nipple, made her head grow dizzy, her pussy warm and wet. She gulped her wine, which did nothing to alleviate the dizziness, but was pleasantly cooling.
“I did,” he insisted, not looking at her. “I know I had a strange way of showing it, but that was the problem. I didn’t want to admit to myself how I felt. It was way too much. Too much for a young kid with all kinds of ambitions and goals. Too much and way too soon.”
Her body softened, sank into the chair, warm and molten. Despite her wildest fantasies, she’d never expected to hear these words from Griff. She had to be strong, though. He had that strange power over her, and it certainly seemed it still existed, despite the years that had passed. He was dangerous.