By: Francette Phal

“I need you.”

She shook her head, refusing to look back at him. “I’ve already given you what you wanted.” She turned and left him with only a ghost of her impression.

Chapter Nineteen

He was called away a few days later on business in Greece, and the trip couldn’t have come at a better time for Eden, who had once again avoided him after the passion filled night they’d shared. They had been closer than the word. Their shadowed movements a synchronized ballet they’d mastered long ago. Even now, nearly a week later, she could still feel his thickness and the smooth, controlled cadences of his thrusts that had only grown frenzied in their last gasping moments, and it had her feminine walls clenching reflexively. The slutty part of her that she rarely allowed to see the light of day wanted more of that fullness, wanted more of the delicious soreness that hurt so good. But it was a demand Eden could not satisfy, the two main reasons being that: one, thankfully, Dominic was out of the country; and two, she couldn’t allow sex to cloud her judgment, not now when the direness of the situation called for a level head. Eden knew it was a moot point, castigating herself on her ultimate failure in resisting his advances, knowing in the end she’d ended up exactly where she’d vowed she wouldn’t. Making that vow had been the beginning of the end. A jinx that had come to perfect fruition all because of the unimaginable hunger that had proved impossible to deny, an unquenchable hunger that ebbed when he stroked her only the way he could.

Now she stood in a quagmire of her own making, faced with the aftermath with nothing to save her from sinking but willpower. She had to make a decision, a decisive one that needed to ultimately benefit her. Because that’s what this was all about. She’d gone through far too much to be impeded now by something that wasn’t even real. There were no feelings in fucking. There was no love in this poisoned garden of a marriage. Forget that for an infinitesimal breath of time when he’d been buried deep inside her and the dark passion that filled his green eyes had captured hers, she’d seen her husband for the first time. Forget the heart wrenching intimacy he’d roused soon after when they’d been entangled like twine, with their hearts drumming as one to the same longing rhythm. That intimacy that they’d fallen into so easily, so unlike them, was admittedly what frightened Eden more than she dared confess.

Gathering her hair up in its customary ponytail, she wrapped it into a messy bun on her head, and tossed a cursory glance at her rearview mirror before opening the driver’s side door. This was her first time back on the night shift, and if Lena had had her way, it wouldn’t have happened any time soon. But Carver had intervened on her behalf after Mickey had demanded his liquor slinging girl back at the bar. So now she was working the night shift again, both a blessing and a curse. But it wouldn’t be for much longer, Eden thought, tonight she was giving her two weeks. Waiting tables and working for tips wasn’t a future she wanted for herself. It had only been a pit stop, getting too comfortable there hadn’t been part of the deal.

Not that there was a chance of getting comfortable at Carver’s, what with the customers being so charming and everything. She had a little bit saved up now, not anywhere near what she’d had before, but it was enough to put first and last month’s rent and a security deposit on a small apartment. Jenna had offered to pay rent with the money she’d earned watching Liam for however long it took for Eden to find a job in real estate. They’d both formulated a tentative plan on their futures, nothing set in stone, but they were going to be there for each other regardless. That was exactly what Eden needed. Distance, time alone, time to think, time to recuperate and a start fresh. She would only be setting herself up for more heartbreak if she did otherwise.

It was packed. No surprise there. The game playing on the flat screens mounted high on the four walls had everyone riveted, erupting every now and then in a chorus of cheers or disgruntled jeers. It made for an interesting evening but no less demanding. Eden was kept on her toes as the crowd clamored for more salty food which led to their need for more liquor. Mickey had her mixing drinks, but halfway through the night, she was pulled away to help with Brenda’s tables. It was while she was coming back from getting a drink order that she saw him, and Eden frowned, not actually recognizing him until she saw the skulls and crossbones tattoo inked into his arm. Her frown deepened as she approached the table he was occupying. There was someone else seated across from him.