Authors: Kelly Jamieson
To find happiness, first you have to find yourself.
Krissa has always been the responsible one. Driven to fulfill her mother’s abandoned dreams, to make her husband Derek happy. She’s brought that single-minded determination to the one dream she has for herself—a child. Except she and Derek can’t conceive, and Derek refuses to consider using a stranger’s sperm. The result? Guilt that her desperation is causing their marital rift.
The last thing they need is a long-term houseguest, but Derek’s best friend Nate, a nomadic photographer recovering from a career-threatening eye disorder, has nowhere else to go.
Nate thought his friends’ home would be a temporary haven from the grief that has dogged his heels since his wife died. Instead he’s in the middle of a marriage in meltdown. Soon their friendship develops an underlying hum of forbidden sexual tension. When Krissa proposes a wild idea—that Nate be their sperm donor—Derek has an even wilder proposal: bypass the fertility clinic and accept Nate’s donation straight from the source.
At first, Krissa believes she’s on the fast track to having her dream. But it quickly becomes clear that when the heart gets involved—and secrets are revealed—the simplest of arrangements can become entangled beyond belief. Or repair…
Warning: This title contains a man who’s lost, the woman he finds, sizzling ménage sex, tender romantic sex, love lost and love found.
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Lost and Found
Copyright © 2010 by Kelly Jamieson
Edited by Tera Kleinfelter
Cover by Natalie Winters
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Samhain Publishing, Ltd. electronic publication: June 2010
Lost and Found
For anyone who ever wanted to write something different and was told “you can’t do that”—yes, you can. Thank you, Samhain!
“There must be a mistake.” Krissa’s husband’s voice broke the ponderous silence in the doctor’s office. “You’ve made a mistake.”
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Edgar repeated. Did he really think saying that would make them feel any better? “The tests were repeated and the results were the same.”
“Bullshit,” Derek said. “You…”
“Derek.” Krissa murmured his name and he stopped.
Krissa reached for Derek’s hand and his fingers tightened around hers. She drew in a long, quivery breath. She glanced at him, his face hard, lips pressed together, eyes staring across the doctor’s office, apparently at the framed certificates on the bland beige wall. Hot tears stung her eyes, but she blinked them back.
“So what do we do now?” Derek’s voice was thick, unfamiliar.
“Well, at this point there are a few options,” Dr. Edgar said.
Krissa’s throat tightened. They’d talked about the “options” already. Over the last two years, they’d talked about every conceivable option.
Now they knew for sure where their problem lay, their options were reduced. But they still had options.
She squeezed Derek’s hand reassuringly.
“Yeah, we know the options.” Derek gave a jerky nod, rose from his chair and walked abruptly out of the office
“Thank you, Dr. Edgar.” Krissa stood too, and followed Derek with an apologetic glance over her shoulder at the doctor.
Derek strode down the hall, and she focused on his broad back as she tried to keep up with him, followed him out of the clinic and into the parking lot.
The sun burned her already-stinging eyes as she stepped outside. She swallowed past the obstruction in her throat and dug for her sunglasses in her purse.
Derek’s long legs and obvious agitation carried him faster than Krissa could walk in her narrow skirt and heels, and she scurried across the parking lot toward him.
They’d come in two cars, Derek from his office and her from home, so she could go to her client meeting after their appointment with Dr. Edgar. She panted, paused with her hand on his arm while he unlocked the vehicle.
“What?” He yanked open his door and slid his long body into the driver’s seat.
Krissa’s chest squeezed painfully and she tried to take a deep breath. She hurt everywhere…hurt for Derek. And for herself, too.
She stood there beside the open door of the car. Derek looked straight ahead, held the keys in his hand. The summer sun had heated the interior of the car to sauna temperature, and sweat glistened on his forehead. He ran a finger inside his collar, his tie snug against his throat.
“Wait,” she said again, softly, putting her hand on his shoulder. The fabric of his suit was warm, soft, lightly padded over the muscle and bone of his broad shoulder. “Are you okay?”
He stared straight ahead. “Of course I’m okay. I’m fine.”
Her throat ached. He must be feeling so crappy, now that he knew what was wrong.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. “It’s okay, sweetheart.” She tightened her fingers on his shoulder.
She watched his Adam’s apple bob.
“It’s not okay,” he growled. His head dipped. “It’ll never be okay. Don’t even say it’s okay.”
Breath seeped out of her, leaving her hollow and aching. What could she say? What could she possibly say to make him feel better?
“I love you, Derek.”
He nodded, still didn’t look at her. “Love you too, baby.”
“We’ll talk later. At home.”
“Yeah.” He started the car, turned up the air. She felt the hot gust even outside the car.
“Okay.” She stepped back and let him close the door. He reversed out of the parking spot and sped away.
Krissa pressed her hand to her mouth and watched his car pull out of the parking lot onto Ocean Drive. Should he be driving right now?
A mother carried a baby in a car seat past Krissa and into the clinic. Did that mother even know how lucky she was?
A man walked out of the building, studying a prescription. Probably something that would make him better, whatever his problem was.
Nothing would fix this problem.
And now she was supposed to go meet with a client? My God. Her world had just been shaken as if a six-point-O tremor had rocked the San Andreas Fault just behind those mountains over there, and she had to go talk about employee rewards and incentives.
She turned, searching for her car, momentarily unable to remember where she’d parked it. She pushed her hair back off her face, her silk blouse sticking to her back beneath her suit jacket. She started walking, blindly, heels clicking on the pavement.
She paused, blinked, looked around her. Lord, she’d walked right past her car.
She sat in the car for long moments, her head feeling like a bubble.
It was good to have an answer. To finally know. They’d talk. They’d figure out what they were going to do next.
She blew out a breath, pointed the air conditioning vent directly at her hot face, and drove to her meeting at Phoenix Insurance to discuss her plan to help improve their staff morale.
He wasn’t answering his cell phone.
Krissa clicked off the phone and dropped it onto the counter.
After her meeting at Phoenix, she’d gone home, changed into shorts and a tank top, then made dinner. She had no interest in eating, but still she’d prepared one of Derek’s favorites—beef bourguignon, with little potatoes and a salad. The beef slow cooking in the oven filled the house with the rich aroma of herbs and red wine…but he still wasn’t home to eat it.
Where the hell was he? He hadn’t mentioned any client meetings tonight. She glanced at her watch again and sighed.
She wandered across the kitchen, terra cotta tiles cool beneath her bare feet, and stood at the sliding glass doors onto the deck. She stared at the Pacific Ocean. Evening sun glinted off the waves, whitecaps dotting the intense stretch of azure from foamy shore to hazy horizon.
The time when she needed him, when they should be together, bolstering each other, reassuring each other, Derek had done another vanishing act. Poof. Krissa swallowed painfully and leaned her forehead against cool, smooth glass. She needed him. Needed to know he was okay. Needed to know they were okay.
The phone rang.
She turned and ran for it, almost tripping over the table. “Derek?”
“Uh…no. It’s Nate.”
Krissa blinked. “Nate.”
“Yeah. I gather Derek’s not there?”
“Um, no.” Her mind was spinning. Nate…omigod. She’d completely forgotten Nate was arriving tonight.
“He was supposed to pick me up at the airport,” Nate continued, amusement coloring his voice. “Where the hell is he?”
“I wish I knew.” Her heart thudded slowly in her chest. “I’m sorry, Nate. I was expecting him home for dinner and he hasn’t shown up yet. I completely forgot about you.”
“Well. Thanks so much.”
“No…I’m sorry. I just…” What to tell him? Her mind was a big empty space, full of nothing but pain, longing and fear, with no room for remembering details of daily life like Derek’s old friend arriving to stay with them.
“I’ve been calling his cell phone and he’s not answering,” she told Nate. “He must have forgotten, too.”
“Nice.” Now a touch of annoyance edged his voice.
“I’m really sorry. Look, I’ll come get you. It’ll take me twenty minutes to get there.”
“Okay.” Now he sounded really annoyed. Shit.
She turned off the oven. The potatoes would be mush by the time they ate them. Oh well. She grabbed her keys and purse and hurried out to her car.
How could they have forgotten about Nate arriving tonight? She hadn’t been happy he was coming to stay with them. Not the way things were. Their life was in turmoil, and now, after getting the news from Dr. Edgar, they didn’t need another person hanging around their house.
How were they supposed to talk things out with Nate there?
How were they supposed to talk things out when Derek didn’t even bother to come home?
As she sped along the 101 from Montecito through Santa Barbara she stared straight ahead, throat tight.
But Nate had problems of his own, and when he’d called last week to see if he could stay with them, Derek couldn’t say no. Nate was his best friend. They hadn’t seen him for almost two years. Two years since tragedy had demolished Nate’s own life. The memory of that squeezed Krissa’s heart.
She pulled up in front of the small airport terminal, eyes searching for him. Her gaze skimmed over a tall man sitting on a suitcase, then went back to him. It was Nate. He looked…thinner. Those dark wraparound sunglasses disguised him, but she’d always know him. He still had an athlete’s body, his shoulders wide and muscled, his legs long and lean in faded jeans. His brown hair was longer, more tousled than it had been two years ago.
When he turned her way, she lifted a hand. He stood and grabbed his bags, one of which no doubt carried all his camera equipment. Krissa popped the trunk of the BMW, then hopped out to see if he needed help.
“Nate.” She walked up to him and opened her arms for a hug. He hesitated, then pulled her against him. “I’m so sorry we forgot about you,” she murmured into his chest. “It’s a long story.”
Despite having apparently lost some weight, he still felt big and solid. He smelled like warm male, with a faint hint of soap and cinnamon chewing gum. It felt so good to be held, it made Krissa realize how long it had been since she and Derek had hugged like this…just hugged, not for the purpose of having sex or procreating, just to connect and show affection.
“You can tell me later.” Nate’s arms tightened fractionally around her, then released her. Dark glasses hid his eyes and his square jaw with a shadow of beard and straight mouth gave him a grim, hard look.
She forced a smile. “Yeah. How are you?”
“Shitty, thanks.” One corner of his mouth kicked up in a meager smile.
She turned to his bags. “Here, let me…”
“Don’t be silly.” He hefted them as if they were loaves of bread and heaved them into the trunk. He may have been ill, but he was still strong.
Inside the car, Nate clicked his seatbelt into place. “So your husband is MIA?”
“Yes.” She sighed, glanced over her left shoulder and pulled out into traffic. “We…had some bad news today. I think he’s taking it hard.”
She tensed, waiting for him to ask, dreading having to tell the story, or worse, tell him it was none of his business. But he didn’t ask.
He looked around. “It’s nice to be home.”
“Really?” She shot a sideways glance his way. “I didn’t think you were ever going to come back.”
He stared silently out the side window. “I wasn’t sure if I ever was either.”
“It’s been a long time.”
“Yeah. It has.” He nodded. “The funny thing is, I was planning on coming back to the States next month anyway. A gallery in L.A. is having a show of my work.”
“Oh, wow! That’s great, Nate.”
He shrugged. “Not much point in going now.”
“But, you have to go. It’s your show.”
He turned to her, and she felt the intensity of his eyes even though she couldn’t see them. She wished she could. She hated it when she couldn’t see people’s eyes. He shook his head. “I don’t think I can face people like this.”
She licked her lips, unsure what to say. “Maybe you’ll be better by then.”
Again, his shoulders lifted. “Who knows.”
“What do the doctors say?”
“They have no fucking idea.” The harshness in his voice had her shrinking into her seat. “They think I’ll get better, but they don’t know when.”
“Oh, Nate. They would never tell you they think you’ll get better if they weren’t pretty sure.”
“Whatever.” He looked out the side window.
Another man in her life was hurting, dealt a crappy hand in the poker game of life, and she couldn’t make it better, didn’t know how to make him feel better. This one wasn’t even her fault, but she ached for him anyway.