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Authors: Ann Jacobs

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Eye of the Storm

BOOK: Eye of the Storm
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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Eye of the Storm

 

ISBN 9781419922473

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Eye of the Storm Copyright © 2003 Ann Jacobs

 

Cover art by Syneca

 

Electronic book Publication October 2003, June 2009

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
 
(http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Eye of the Storm

Ann Jacobs

 

Prologue

 

Marcy Kramer had to get out. After the day she’d had in court and the hour-long bitch session she’d endured afterward with Harper Wells, her asshole boss, she could have downed a pitcher of strawberry margaritas, so it wasn’t Bennie’s Place or the bustle of the crowd that had her making her excuses after one quick drink.

No. It was listening to her former colleagues crowing about their respective offspring’s
marvelous
achievements that sent her running.

Somehow the furtive fucking she’d enjoyed last night with one of Harper’s newest fair-haired law school grads seemed meaningless compared with babies’ first words…first steps…first solid foods. Her lover’s “Jeez, lady, you sure can fuck” paled in comparison with the loving way her friends’ husbands greeted them.

Shit! Marcy, get hold of yourself. You decided eons ago that love wasn’t worth the pain that being married to Sam had caused. You told yourself you didn’t need support, and you didn’t need love as long as you could find a hard body and a harder cock.

When she opened the door to her big, empty house, a welcome burst of cool air greeted her. Apparently no one had told the weatherman it was almost October…already fall, even in sultry Tampa, because it had to be close to ninety degrees outside. After she set her briefcase on the marble-topped table in the foyer, Marcy shed her suit jacket and pulled the tortoise-shell comb from her shoulder-length hair and stashed it in her purse so it would be handy the next time she had a court appearance.

Comfy now that she’d kicked off her high-heeled pumps, she picked up the mail her housekeeper had left for her and padded into her office. Bills. Always bills. She didn’t know whether she got more bills or junk mail. A large, cream-colored envelope addressed with calligraphy instead of plain scrawled handwriting sat on top of the stack.

Who the hell was getting married now? Curious in spite of her annoyance with slight acquaintances that trolled for gifts with wholesale invitations to their weddings, she ripped open the outer envelope, then fumbled with the inner one. The office gossip mill must have gotten clogged, because she hadn’t heard of any of her colleagues who were planning a blowout wedding.

“Great. Just fucking great!” Ileana, her former next door
neighbor
, who she hadn’t seen in ten years. She and Sam had offered Ileana comfort when she’d lost her husband in a drive-by shooting. Afterward, they’d lost touch when Ileana had transferred to medical school in Gainesville, unable to stand seeing places and old friends that reminded her of Ben. Now it was Ileana who’d apparently found a new lifetime mate, while she was the one alone except for a string of meaningless fucking partners.

Marcy wasn’t going to cry. She wasn’t. And she wasn’t about to miss out on celebrating her old friend’s good luck. Maybe she’d take Cam Willis. No, not him. If she showed up with that baby-faced boy-toy, it would look as though she were robbing the cradle. Hell, maybe she was. She considered several other potential escorts, discarding each when she figured spending an entire weekend with any of them on an island just might make her retch. For a minute she hesitated, then marked decisively that she’d be attending Ileana’s wedding alone.

Determined to shake off the blue funk that threatened, she picked up the phone and arranged to meet her wet-behind-the-ears lover later. She might not have love, but she could always manage to scare up a
bedmate
.

* * * * *

So Ileana was finally getting married again. Good for her.

Sam Kramer stared down at the heavy invitation with its raised lettering, idly watching the tissue liner slide off the paper and float down onto the cluttered surface of his desk. Why the hell did they put tissue paper inside wedding invitations anyhow? Setting the invitation down, he made a mental note to send a present along with his regrets. Marcy would probably be there hanging onto one of her current lovers.

Fuck. Why should he stay away? He’d been Ileana’s friend too. He’d hurt for her as much as Marcy had after Ben’s untimely death. The four of them had been practically inseparable whenever they had a few spare moments, since he and Ben had been lab partners in med school and Ileana and Marcy had been finishing their last year of undergraduate studies together at University of Miami. Ben and Ileana had been as much in love as Sam and Marcy.

Hell, they’d probably have broken up years ago if Ben had lived. Marriages rarely lasted long these days. His own marriage—even the coldly civilized divorce that had ended it—was ancient history.

If he didn’t go to this wedding, Marcy would think he stayed away because of her. And no way would Sam do anything because of, or in spite of, his ex-wife. He didn’t give a shit if she’d fucked damn near every lawyer in town and half the docs since their divorce. Picking up the invitation again, he noticed the ceremony was to be held on Cabbage Key. He knew the place, a rustic resort on a small island off Port Charlotte, accessible only by boat. Great place to kick back and enjoy the water and sand, get a little R&R. It had a restaurant that served the best stone crab claws he’d ever eaten.

He hadn’t taken the
Lucky Lady
out as much lately as he’d have liked to. Maybe he’d motor down the Intracoastal Waterway from Tampa, fish a little, enjoy a few days’ vacation—and witness an old friend taking the plunge into married bliss. Anyway, he hoped Ileana and—he glanced down at the invitation—Joshua
Klosinski
would be more successful at marriage than he and Marcy had been.

“You need anything before I head home, Sam?”

Sam looked up at Joanne, his capable office manager and sometimes-lover when they both got the itch at the same time. “Yeah. Can you clear my schedule for a day or two before and after this wedding?”

She glanced at the dates on the invitation he’d handed her. “Sure.”

“Then let’s do it. I need a few days off.” He picked up the RSVP card and checked off that he’d be attending, hesitating only a moment before indicating that he wouldn’t be bringing a guest. Then he handed it to her along with the envelope that came with it. “Mail this if you don’t mind.”

“Okay. Anything else?”

“Not right now.”

Joanne smiled. “Don’t forget, you’re meeting Gray
Syzmanski
at the gym at six. I have a hard time understanding where you find the energy to work out after spending all day in surgery.”

Sam groaned. Exercise was his albatross. He hated taking the time but if he didn’t, he’d soon revert to flab, probably develop a paunch like his dad’s. As he shrugged off his lab coat and grabbed his keys, he gave credit where it was due—Marcy. For all she’d done to hurt him, she’d managed to coax the skinny, nerdy kid he’d been to hone his body into some semblance of “
hunkdom
” as she’d called it. She’d also taught him how to dress for success and persuaded him, after a lot of badgering, that a good hairstylist beat a barber all to hell for taming his unruly thatch of curls.

Yeah, his marriage hadn’t been a total bust. Even if it did hurt like hell every time he heard yet another cock was pleasuring the pussy that used to be his own.

Chapter One

 

Marcy heard the storm warnings but shrugged them off. For years now, the National Hurricane Service had been posting dire predictions about this storm or that one, but none in her memory had actually created much havoc on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Likely as not, Tropical Storm
Kellen
would fizzle or blow on out toward the Yucatan Peninsula, providing them with no more than a brisk wind, higher than usual tides and maybe a little rain.

Nothing in the warnings had been dire enough to make her miss Ileana’s wedding, even if more than half the guests had already taken off on the ferry that stopped twice a day at Cabbage Key to pick up and deliver guests and diners. If the weather deteriorated, they could always set out for the mainland in the morning, as soon as the vows were said.

A cool, salty breeze filtered through screened windows in the thatched-roof restaurant at the top of a gentle rise. According to the resort owners who’d greeted her earlier, the flimsy building had been
leveled
several times over the years by storms, only to be rebuilt exactly as it had been before. Marcy had to admit, the place had a rustic sort of charm. The breeze ruffled Ileana’s short dark curls and made her fiancé’s tropical print shirt billow out around his slim, almost skinny frame. Josh
Klosinski
, a
nephrologist
at the teaching hospital in Gainesville where Ileana had recently been named chief of
anesthesia
, had apparently swept Ileana off her feet. In any case, they’d been seeing each other just a few months before deciding to make the relationship permanent.

Marcy envied her friend the emotional connection but not the man. And not the life they’d certainly lead with both of them being at the beck and call of patients twenty-four, seven. “How will you ever find time for each other?” she asked, realizing they’d both been waiting for her to say something.

Josh lifted Ileana’s hand to his lips, smiled. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, I think the saying goes. Fortunately, neither of us is a resident, so we do have some control over our time.”

Sam hadn’t exercised that control once he’d finished his residency and taken over his dad’s OB-GYN practice. If anything, they’d had less time together while he’d studied for specialty boards and worked to build a reputation as a fertility specialist. Damn it, she’d promised herself she wouldn’t think about him—about the abject failure they’d made of a marriage all their friends used to say had been made in heaven. Besides, Sam’s devotion to his patients had been just a small part of why they’d split up. Marcy forced a smile. “Good for you.”

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