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Authors: Suzannah Daniels

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Teen & Young Adult, #Love & Romance, #Romance, #Contemporary

Delirious

BOOK: Delirious
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Dedication:

 

To bloggers everywhere

Thank you for sharing your love of books.

 

To Jennifer Mitchell,
Two Sassy Chicks

Writing can be a solitary job.

Thank you for your friendship and your words of encouragement.

One of these days, I’m going to buy you a baby doll with three eyes.

 

 

 

Delirious

 

(Dangerous Trilogy #3
)

 

 

 

by

 

 

Suzannah Daniels

Copyright © 2014 by Suzannah Daniels

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

This book is a work of fiction.  Any similarities to any person, living or dead, events,
businesses, or places are coincidental and not intended by the author. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are used fictitiously or are conceived from the author’s imagination.

 

First Electronic Edition: February 2014

 

Delirious (Dangerous #3) / by Suzannah Daniels

 

www.SuzannahDaniels.com

 

Prologue

 

One Year Anniversary of Stone and Dara’s Engagement

 

Dara

 

As we lay on a soft blanket in the moonlight, I gazed at Stone’s profile as he admired the thousands of stars that had been sprinkled in the night sky like glitter in a puddle of ink. Our fingers entwined as he reached for me, and I found the warmth of his hand comforting. At one time, I would have thought it impossible for me to love anyone as much as I had loved Granny, but as I watched him, I knew that our romance would be one of the greatest love stories ever lived. My heart filled with emotion so potent, it was tangible, and I could feel it as it pumped through my body, a feeling of euphoria more addictive than any I’d ever experienced.

I had asked him once to make love to me in a moment of weakness, and he had refused.
It was after Granny’s death, and when the darkness of that difficult time released me from its tendrils, I loved him even more. On the surface, Stone could seem self-absorbed, but I’d seen the other side of him, the side that was usually locked away, the side that would put my needs, even when I couldn’t see them myself, above his own desires.

I’d thought about that night many times during the last few months.

I wanted Stone. I wanted him more than I’d ever wanted anything. I squeezed his hand, and he turned toward me, propping himself up on his elbow. Smoothing an errant strand of hair from my face, he whispered, “Happy anniversary, babe.”


Happy anniversary,” I whispered. My heart thumped in my chest, and it amazed me that as long as we’d been together, he still had this effect on me.

He watched me silently, so
othing me with his touch.

My gaze flitted to the willow tree behind him, silhouetted in the moonlight
, and I thought about the first time we’d come here. I loved that tree, and as I watched its dangling branches sway in the gentle breeze, I knew that was where I wanted to be married.

Cupping my cheek, he kissed me tenderly
as if I were his most prized possession and I required the gentlest of care. It was one of my favorite things about Stone, the way he always made me feel safe, cherished, loved.

Overwhelmed with the need to touch him, I lifted my
fingers to his recently shaven face, admiring the smoothness of his skin, the contours of his cheek.

“Stone,” I whispered.

The darkness cast shadows on his face, but I knew he was watching me, waiting for me to finish. Bringing my hand to his lips, he brushed a kiss into my palm.

I swallowed,
reluctant to continue.

“What is it, Dara?”
he asked softly, and I could detect a hint of worry in his voice at my hesitation.


Will you make love to me?”

 

Stone

 

Damn. She had no idea how much I wanted to. But I knew Dara. And the one thing I wanted more than making love to her was to marry her, have a family with her. She was my forever, and I didn’t want to screw it up.


I will,” I whispered, “if you marry me.”

“I’m going to marry you, Stone, just as soon as we graduate from college.”

“I can’t make love to you until you marry me.” That was something I never thought I’d hear myself say, and I had to grit my teeth to make sure I didn’t take it back. She pursed her lips together, and the corners of her mouth tilted down in a frown.

“You’ve mad
e love to plenty of other girls,” she said, her tone carrying a hint of aggravation. “We’ve been engaged for a year. You don’t want me?”


Hell, Dara. You have no idea how badly I want you, but you’re not those other girls. You mean something to me. You mean
everything
to me. And I’ve screwed up too much shit in my life. I will
not
take that chance with you.”

“Please,” she whispered.
“Just once.”

I laughed, slightly amused beca
use she had no idea what making love to her would do to me. “There’s no such thing as just once. Once we start having sex, everything changes. And what if you get pregnant?”

“We can use protection.”

“I won’t risk it. I won’t risk having something happen that you’re not ready for. If you’re not ready to marry me, then you’re not ready to make love to me.”

She nodded slightly, placing her palm
against my chest. “I know you’re right. I don’t want you to be, but I know you are.”

I touched my lips to hers because I understood. I’d wanted her since the first day that she came to work at the bookstore and teased me with those pink sparkly lips. Damn, I’d want
ed her then, and I’d wanted her nonstop ever since. But I knew Dara as well as I knew myself, and she was the one person that I could push aside my own temptations for. I had to do what was best for her because I was terrified that if I did what was best for me, I’d lose her forever. Part of me thought that perhaps I was insane for not taking her up on her offer, but I was focusing on our future. I may not be getting instant gratification, but I was playing this game for keeps. And nothing was more important to me than winning the heart of Dara Golding forever.

“Here, I have something for you.”

I sat up and rummaged through my backpack, pulling out a thin box wrapped in shiny white paper and topped off with a dainty, pink bow. Handing her the gift, I pulled a flashlight out of my backpack and turned it on.

She sat up, her plea to make love momentarily forgotten.

“What is it?”


Open it and find out.”

She carefully removed the bow and
unwrapped the box. Lifting the gift from the soft, black velvet interior of the box, Dara dangled the silver heart pendant from her fingertips.

“Look at the heart,” I instructed her.

I shined the light on the pendant, so that she could read the inscription. “Stone and Dara,” she said softly.

“Now flip it over.”

She obeyed and read the inscription on the back, “Delirious.”

“That’s how you make me feel, Dara.”
She looked at me, and I cupped her cheek in my palm, the emotion of all the things I felt for her rushing to the surface. “I want you to wear this necklace, and when you do, I want you to be able to reach up and feel the shape of the heart, to know how much I love you. I want you to feel the smooth surface with your fingertips and imagine me caressing your skin. I want you to feel the weight of it against your chest and imagine my palm resting over your heart, feeling its erratic beat from my nearness. I want you to remember
Stone and Dara
because from now on, it’s you and me, for as long as I live. I want you to remember the word
delirious
and to know that no matter where I may be, I’m thinking of you because you’re my world, and I’m so in love with you that I
am
delirious.”

I took the necklace
from her, and she held up her hair while I fastened it around her neck.

Lunging toward me, she
wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “It’s perfect, and I’ll wear it always. I love you, Stone.”

“I love you, too, baby.
And I promise you that one day, after I’ve made you my wife, I’m going to make slow, intense love to you.”

She leaned back and looked in my eyes
, fingering the pendant. “That seems so far away.”

I grabbed her, and she squealed as I lay back on the blanket and pulled her on top of me. “Then we’ll have to make up for it on our honeymoon. Until then, I can think of other ways to have fun.”

And I kissed her in the moonlight, my hands roaming her body as I reveled in my delirium.

 

Three Years Later

 

Chapter 1

 

Dara

 

Scarlet, one of my best friends, popped her head in my office and tapped the nameplate on the door. “Hey, Ms. VP of Marketing. Hey, Stone.”

“Scarlet!  What’re you doing here?” I asked as Stone, who was seated in the chair facing my desk turned and waved at her.

“Dylan and I are going out to lunch.”

I noticed the baby carrier in her hands, and I shrieked, “You have Isabella with you!”  I stood up and scurried around the desk as Scarlet entered my office. Kneeling, I rubbed my finger across her cheek. “She’s so precious.”

Scarlet grinned
. “I know. And she’s already got her daddy wrapped around her pinkie.”

“There’s my beautiful wife,” Dylan said as he entered my office and bent down to kiss Scarlet on the cheek
. “And my princess,” he cooed as he rubbed Isabella’s crown, eliciting a smile from her.

I stood, and Scarlet handed the baby carrier to Dylan.
It had been nearly two years since Scarlet married Dylan, Stone’s brother, and three months ago they had been blessed with little Isabella. Stone’s parents were ecstatic.

“The graphic design work is nearly completed for the grand opening of the Atlanta salon,”
I said as Stone walked toward us and slid his arm around my waist.


Crimson told me that she’s just about ready to open the store,” Scarlet said. “Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday we were opening the first one, and now we’re getting ready to open the fifth one!”

After Dylan and Scarlet were married, Dylan convinced his dad to provide the capital to expand Cruze Salon, and it had proven to be a good business
decision. Crimson and Scarlet’s fresh approach to the beauty industry had been an immediate hit with the younger generation.

Dylan looked at his watch
. “We gotta go, Scarlet. I have a meeting in an hour.”

Scarlet waved to Stone and me
. “See y’all later.”

“Have a good lunch,” Stone said.

“We’ll have to get together soon,” I called to Scarlet.

“I’ll call you,” she said as she followed Dylan down the hall.

I walked back to my chair and sat down.

“What’s wrong?” Stone a
sked as he walked up to me and sat against the edge of my desk, his long legs stretched out in front of him.

“Everybody’s having babies but me.”

A mischievous grin shot across his face. “We can remedy that.”

I shot him a look of disdain
. “It feels like our wedding’s never going to get here.”

“Well, the date’s only a month away
. How soon do you want me to get you pregnant?”

“How soon do you want to have babies?” I asked.

“I’m ready when you are. You know I would’ve married you years ago. All you ever had to do was say the word.”

“I know, Stone. I just wanted to be
prepared, you know? I never wanted to have children until I was ready and until I could take care of them the way they deserved. Now that we’ve been together for so long and we have our education, I feel like I’m ready.”

“Then we’ll start trying right away. Hell, I can get you pregnant on our wedding night if you want.”

I laughed. “I’m glad to see you’re not lacking in the confidence department.”

“My girl gets whatever she wants. And if you want to get pregnant on your wedding night, I can deliver.”

“Let’s get married before we start talking children,” I said, realizing that our wedding day would be here soon. I had a lot to do between now and then. “I still have to get my dress altered and make sure everything’s on track with the caterer. Are you sure we’re actually going to have three hundred guests?  I wished we’d made it smaller. I’m going to be so nervous in front of all those people.”

Stone chuckled and pulled me up from my chair and into his arms
. “Relax,” he whispered in my ear as he rubbed the small of my back. “My mother will handle most of the details. You know what a party freak she is, and as far as the actual ceremony goes, don’t worry about everyone else. You just focus on me. It’s going to be our day, no one else’s.”

It was kind of scary how much my life had changed since I’d met Stone. After Stone’s brother, Dylan, had graduated from college, Stone’s father had opened a corporate office for his company, Hamilton Enterprises. While Mr. Hamilton owned it, he spent much of his time traveling, sometimes for personal pleasure, sometimes to check on his businesses and scope out new business ventures.

He named Dylan t
he chief executive officer, and Stone was named the chief operating officer. I’d been handling the marketing for them, but now that I’d graduated from school, Mr. Hamilton had given me a nice salary increase along with the official title of vice president of marketing.

On top of the business, my personal life had changed dramatically. I now had my mother and my little sister, Emma, in my life.
And in a month’s time, I would have a husband.

Despite the fact that we’d been engaged for four years, it still seemed strange to think of Stone as my husband.
Dara Hamilton. I wondered how long it would take me to get used to writing that.

“I wish Granny and Luke could be there,” I whisper
ed, fiddling with his tie.

He caught both of my wrists in one hand while the other hand lifted my chin. “Look at me.”

I lifted my gaze to his face, his touch sending jolts of awareness through my body.

“They will be,”
he assured me. “Granny’s going to be dabbing at her eyes with a tissue while she watches her sweet, baby girl walk down the aisle, and she’s going to say that she’s never seen you look more beautiful, and Luke’s going to clasp me on the shoulder and congratulate me and tell me how lucky I am.”

A small smile touched my lips, and I nodded. Perhaps I nodded because I could see the scene play out exactly as he had described. Or perhaps I nodded becau
se I needed to believe it would be true. Either way, it brought me joy to know that they would be there in some capacity, even if it was only as a figment of my imagination.

His hands fell to my hips.
“You’re still going shopping for a dress tomorrow, aren’t you?”

“I’ve got to. I
f I procrastinate any longer, there’s no way the alterations will be done in time. Maybe we should’ve pushed the date back further away from our college graduation.”


We’ve waited long enough. We’ll make it happen, one way or another.” He kissed me on the cheek. “While you’re dress shopping tomorrow, I have to be fitted for my tux.”

“We have to pick up Emma’s dress, too. They had to special order it, and they called today
to tell me that it came in.”

Stone glanced at his cell phone. “Why don’t we knock off early today? This is the last time we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of our engagement. Starting next year, it’ll be our wedding anniversary.”

“I have nothing going on today that can’t wait until Monday.”

“Good. I’
ll tell Tom and Courtney that we’re heading out. So what do you wanna do? You wanna go out on the town? Go on a motorcycle ride? Have a quiet night at your place?”

“Let’s stay in tonight. I have a feeling the next month is going to be madness, and I just want to relax and spend some time with you.”

Stone shot me a crooked grin. “If I get you alone, what makes you think I’m gonna let you relax?”

A feeling of warmth and excitement swirled in my belly. “Either way it goes, I win.”

He chuckled. “Optimism…I like that in a girl.”

I smiled at him, and he bent down and lightly kissed me on the temple. “I’ll meet you at your plac
e.” Then, he walked briskly out of my office.

 

***

 

After I got home, I showered and changed into white shorts and a pink, fitted top. I straightened up the house and waited for him on the porch while I rocked in one of the rocking chairs my grandpa had made.

Stone and I had decided
that after the wedding, we’d move into the house that I inherited from Granny. In the early part of spring, he had helped me work on the dilapidated siding, replacing wood that had rotted and painting it with a fresh coat of white. He’d repaired the old shutters, painted them black, and hung them back up. It would’ve been easier to buy new ones, but my grandpa had made these, and I didn’t have the heart to throw them out. As always, Stone indulged me.

A soft breeze passed through the tree branches in the front yard, rustling the leaves and sending the wind chimes into a gentl
e frenzy, their high-pitched song bringing back memories of porch conversations with Granny.

Stone and I planned to buy some property on the mountain and have a home built, but I could never sell Granny’s house. When I was here, I felt close to her.

I glanced at my cell phone, wondering what was taking him so long. I tried dialing his number, but it went to voice mail.

My stomach grumbled, and I decided that if he didn’t show up soon, I’
d have to find something to snack on in the kitchen.

A half an hour later, I was still rocking on the porch…alone.

Where was he? I didn’t know whether to be aggravated or worried. I had visions of him careening off the side of the mountain on his motorcycle and being unconscious and unable to call for help.

Trying to remain calm,
I busied myself, sweeping the porch that Stone and I had stained a steely gray. I continued sweeping down the porch steps and along the cracked sidewalk.

When I heard my phone ding with a text, I hurried to pull it out of my pocket and check the message.
Can’t make it. Unexpected business. See you tomorrow.

I texted back a brief reply.
Okay.

I wanted to ask much more, but if he didn’t answer my call, then he must be face-to-face with a client.

I was relieved to find out that he was fine, but I was quite disappointed that we wouldn’t be celebrating our anniversary together. I fingered the heart pendant dangling around my neck, and my mind immediately played through the list of things that he had instructed me to remember when he’d first given me the necklace. Finding a sense of comfort in the memory, I went inside to find something to eat.

 

***

 

Stone

 

Damn it. I couldn’t believe this freaking shit was happening now. I glanced at my phone. Almost midnight. I should’ve spent the evening with Dara, but I supposed my life had been running too smoothly lately. I should’ve known that could only mean a bunch of shit was building up, just waiting to dump into my lap and screw everything up. I’d worked so hard to hold on to Dara the last four years, to be the man that she needed me to be.

When she waltzed into the bookstore on that rainy day nearly five years ago, I’d wanted her. I’d wanted her like I’d wanted plenty of girls before her, but it didn’t take long to figure out that there was something special about Dara Golding.
That tiny wisp of a girl had wrapped her dainty fingers around my heart, holding it in her palm, and I didn’t want her to ever let go.

I walked through the darkened bookstore, staring out the plate glass window where I’d first watched Dara crawl out of her grandmother’s car and report for her first day of work. She was my whole life, the reason that I started caring about anything after Luke’s death.

Our wedding day would be one of the most memorable days of our lives.

Shit.

Should I tell her?

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