Available now across all platforms!Three Things by Melissa Shirley
Professional baseball player Ethan Remington—Remy to his friends—falls for Dr. Jillian Carter at first sight, but Jillian does things in her own time. It takes her a bit longer to realize this is a man worth hanging onto. And she does…for ten years, through the births of their daughters, through Ethan's career-ending accident, and through marriage counseling to deal with problems he isn't aware they have. A new job, though, sends Jillian on her way to another town, and when Ethan doesn’t follow, she lets the pain overcome the love she’s never forgotten. Ethan convinces Jillian to come home for a weekend where they face all their hurt, all their memories and a past that will either draw them back together or tear them apart for good.
I almost swallowed my tongue. Jilly stood in the doorway wearing only a towel, clutching it as though I might give it a yank—and boy did I want to.
“Yeah?” I sounded like I hadn’t quite reached puberty yet, but I hadn’t seen her this near naked in a very long time. Long legs…smooth skin…hair piled up leaving all those sensitive inches of neck exposed, begging me for tender kisses that would make her mine again.
“I don’t think the hot water heater is working. It’s coming out cold.” Her voice was soft, breathless in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and over the last months, I’d tried.
I smiled and swung my legs off the bed to follow her to the master bathroom. The water heater worked just fine an hour before she showed up when I’d stepped in and dabbed on enough of the cologne she’d bought me to remind her I still cared.
She moved to the side as I stuck my hand under the stream of ice-cold water pouring into the tub. I twisted one knob off and the other on, waited a second and shoved the stopper into the drain. I’d gotten the lines mixed when I built on the new bathroom. She knew that. “Hot’s cold. Cold’s hot. Remember?”
She chuckled, and I almost closed my eyes to imprint that sound on my memory. I would hang onto it this time, not let it fade until I couldn’t call it up again. “I forgot.”
Even if I’d wanted to—which I didn’t—I couldn’t have stopped myself from stepping closer, from pressing every bit of luck I might have had. “Did you?” She sucked in a breath as I trailed my finger down her throat and across her collarbone to her shoulder. “Or did you just really want me to wash your back?”
Every inch of her visible skin colored to deep, rosy red and her gasp caused a telltale hiccup. She tugged the towel tighter and lifted her chin. “No. I think I can…I can wash my own back.” Hiccup.
“You don’t sound very sure.” This was dangerous territory, me pushing her, but I couldn’t let this moment pass. Not now. Not with every single thing riding on her wanting me again.
“I’m pretty sure.” Hiccup. She snatched a long-handled loofa off the hook over the tub. “See. Got the right tools and everything.”
I grinned, pretty sure there was a joke in there somewhere I should have recognized and used to remind her I was charming and witty, the man she loved. Instead, I stepped away, dropping my hand to my side. “Damn. I should have thrown that thing away a long time ago.”
The letdown hit me harder than I expected, and I blew out a breath. This was not something I could rush. While the clock continued to tick off minutes not in my favor, I couldn’t force her to love me if she wasn’t feeling it.
I reached over her shoulder and pulled down a bottle of the bubble bath she used to love. I’d spent hours sniffing fragrances in a department store until a salesperson had stepped forward to help me out and I described the scent to her. Flowers and maybe coconut?
Every once in a while, when the hurt ached through me and missing her was almost more than I could take, I came in here, sat on the floor with this bottle and opened the top, letting the scent wash over me. In those usually drunken moments, I could almost feel her palm sliding against my cheek, her lips in the soft spot where my shoulder met my neck. Almost.
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