The invitation promised respite from the harsh realities of life.
But here at Pembrook, not even the dead are permitted to rest.
Olivia Pembrook knows something isn’t right. She’s not remembering things she should. Pembrook Manor’s caretaker, advises her to stay away from the new guest, but Hunter is attentive and sweet. She feels safe being near such a big, quite man. He listens and, Lord knows, she can’t remember the last time anyone paid her any attention. So when he invites her to join him for dinner, she can’t say no. Everything is wonderful. Perfect. Until the clock strikes five. The doors lock. And her memories return.
Luke Hunter, a wounded ex-S.W.A.T. officer, experiencing a recurrence of his childhood Sensory Perception Disorder, goes to a private island for seclusion and rest. Instead he finds a lover. A lover who relives her death nightly and forgets everything by sunrise. He’s determined to stop the cycle, but is unsure if he can survive his own ghosts—or the ones wandering the halls—long enough to secure their happily-ever-after.
And even if he does… will she remember him tomorrow?
Olivia glanced over her shoulder as she walked to the next window. “What do you do?”
He tilted his head to the side and his brows furrowed. “I’m between jobs, remember? I was an Army Ranger, and lately a cop. I need to look for something new, but I have no idea where to even start.”
“Yeah, sorry.” She winced and glanced away, staring down the hall. “I get forgetful sometimes.”
He whirled around and found himself staring at another door. What the hell was going on?
When he turned back to Olivia, she gave him a tight smile and started down the hall again. She was up to something. Was she hiding a lover? Maybe that’s why she didn’t want him to stay last night and why she didn’t want him in these rooms today.
He caught up and took her by the hand. “Look, Olivia, I don’t know what’s going on around here. Yesterday you trashed that room looking for something.” She opened her mouth and he held up his hand. “I don’t buy the mice story, so don’t start. All you wanted was for me to leave last night and today you’re acting like nothing happened.” He pointed to the room down the hall. “Someone is in there. Are you hiding someone? Maybe a lover?”
“No.” She took a step closer, a small smile spreading on her lips. “I don’t think I’ve had a lover in a long time.”
“What about Watts’ son . . . Jordan?”
“That was right after high school. We were kids.”
If not a lover, what the hell was she hiding? She was open, honest, sweet—he couldn’t imagine she had any nefarious scheme going on. “Look, you seem to be in some kind of bind here and I like you. I’m happy to help.”
“You do?” She drew up so close to him, the heat from her body seeped right into his skin. “You like me?”
His breath hitched. “Yeah.”
Her smile spread and she put her hand on his chest, lifting up on her tiptoes to press her soft lips to his.
What the hell? Hunter backed up a step and scowled. “What are you doing?”
She smiled. Smiled. The blasted woman always seemed happy. “I kissed you.”
Well, Christ, he knew that. That wasn’t what he meant at all. “You don’t . . . . You don’t meet someone, and then . . . .”
“Kiss him?” She winked. She was still smiling, damn her.
“No.” He paced away a few steps. No one had ever kissed him before. He found the whole idea disgusting. While logically he knew skin was different than sandpaper, the way his whacked-out nerves interpreted touch was similar. Why, the thought of something that abrasive—
Except she was different. Her touch hadn’t hurt. Her kiss had been . . . nice.
In two strides he returned to where she stood. In two more he had her pinned against the wall, his cane forgotten on the floor, his hands tangling in her hair.
He was no smooth Casanova that’s for sure, but as soon as she parted her lips on a gasp, he dove in, tasting her, exploring her mouth. The scent of roses and woman surrounded him, her skin warm silk under his hands. She tasted a little salty, a bit sweet and something he couldn’t name, but liked just the same.
Why her? Why was it this infuriating, confounding woman his body liked?
Olivia sighed and wound her arms around his neck. Her fingers tangled in his hair, sending shivers shooting down to gather at the small of his back. She didn’t have a light touch. No, her hands were weighty against his skin and he liked that. Her body went pliant against his, her small breasts soft against his chest. She must have noticed his erection raging between them, because she pressed her hips tighter to his.
Christ, he had an erection.
Look at that, you’re damn near a real man.
He wasn’t gentle. Desperate might be a more apt description, trying to steal as much as possible from the experience before it was ripped away. He tried to rein himself in, but she was so damn soft. So sweet. She even tasted sweet. And he needed her. Whatever it was that made her peaceful and bright, he needed it.
A pain bolted through his thigh, hinting at an oncoming cramp. It was no wonder, he had her bent back over his arm, the injured muscle in his amputated leg working double-time to support their position.
Forcing a slower pace took every ounce of discipline he possessed. He eased her out of the kiss, nipping at her lips, kissing her cheeks. They were both breathing heavy, and he let out a rusty chuckle. “Ah, Livy. I swear I didn’t follow you up here with the intention of accosting you in a deserted hallway.”
“Don’t apologize.” Her lashes swept up to reveal those deep, violet eyes. “That was lovely.” She bit her lip. “I didn’t want it to end.”
He leaned in close. “Me, either.”
A vacuum clicked on somewhere down below, the droning indicating Watts wouldn’t interrupt them any time soon and Hunter’s gaze locked onto a nearby love seat.
He shouldn’t. Olivia deserved someone better than him.
She swayed closer, her eyes heavy with passion. “Kiss me again, Luke Hunter.”
He didn’t even try to resist her invitation. He slipped his hands into her hair and lowered his head. The world fell silent as his lips touched hers.
She took a step back, pulling him along with her, their mouths sealed together in an intimate love play. With slow steps, she led him and, as long as she allowed him to continue kissing her, he cared less where they went. They turned, and something hit the back of his knee—the love seat. “Mm. Great minds think alike.”
He eased down and she knelt over him. He was sure he’d died and gone to heaven when she became the aggressor, pushing him against the back of the loveseat and kissing him for all she was worth. Her hands stroked down his chest, then clenched at his shoulders. She snuggled closer, lowered herself into his lap . . . and froze.
She stopped kissing him, staring at him with wide eyes. “What is that?”
Her hand dropped to the hard shell fused to the thigh of his amputated leg.
That was all it took to chase his erection away. “It’s a prosthesis.” He cleared his throat. “A fake leg.”
Her lips formed an O and she lifted her weight off him. “Oh, my God, am I hurting you?”
Only his goddamned pride. “No. Look, maybe we’d better open some more windows or you’ll still be doing this at dinner time.”
She sighed, getting to her feet. “Guess I did a bang-up job of killing the mood.”
Cara Crescent currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her children and three overly dramatic ferrets.
When not writing, you can usually find her curled up with a book, engrossed in a movie, or playing video games with her best friend.
Visit Cara on the web at www.caracrescent.com
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