Authors: Rita Sawyer
Pink Petal Books
Pink Petal Books, an imprint of Jupiter Gardens Press, publishes romance novels where the relationship is primary. It doesn’t matter if you want to read super erotic or sweet inspirational books. Pink Petal Books believes that love is a beautiful thing, no matter what form it takes
. For more information about Pink Petal Books visit http://www.pinkpetalbooks.com/.
Additional Titles by the Author
A Damsel Without A Dress
Red Hot New Year
Falling Hard And Fast
The Millionaire’s Fake Fiancée
8 Ways Onto The Naughty List
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
LOVE ME OR LOSE ME
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Cover Art ® 2011 by WINTERHEART DESIGN
Edited by Mary K. Wilson
Electronic Publication Date: October 2011
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Jupiter Gardens Press,
, Grimes, IA 50111
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Love Me Or Lose Me
Even though a stray tear rolled down her cheek, Darcy smiled as she drove down the exit ramp. Soon she’d be home surrounded by people who really loved her. It had been way too long since she’d come home for visit, but Thomas had been too busy and she hadn’t wanted to go without him. At the time she hated the idea of leaving him all alone, but now she doubted he would even notice she was gone. She swiped the tear from her cheek and sniffed back the ones that were threatening to escape. Her plan to spend the next week and a half not thinking about the way things stood between her and Thomas was off to a dismal start. She hoped that would change once she got home.
It took her few minutes to reach the outer limits of town, but she felt lighter the second she saw the
Welcome to Greenville
sign. She slowed down to the thirty-five mile per hour speed limit knowing the
police department was very strict about drivers obeying it. The town proper was so small it only took her about fifteen minutes to drive from one end to the other. She went down
where she got a glimpse of her old high school. There weren’t enough ways to express how glad she was that she’d never have to see the inside of that place again. When she drove past her mother’s house on the outskirts of town noting her little blue compact car was sitting in the driveway, she let out a sigh of relief. At least she wouldn’t have to explain her sudden appearance to her just yet. Ann Marie Blackridge never let a chance to dig into her children’s lives slip past, and Darcy wasn’t ready to deal with her mother’s never ending questions. Once she got some sleep and freshened up, she’d hopefully be able to put on a good front.
Darcy planned on crashing on her sister Scarlett’s couch and sleeping for as long as she could. The drive normally would have taken about twelve hours, but this time it had taken her almost three days. It had all been part of her plan that hadn’t worked out the way she’d hoped. She had figured the time alone would’ve let her clear her mind. Instead, all it did was give her more time to dwell on her problems. It wasn’t all bad, though. The road trip gave her the chance to stop and check out some sights along the way, but without someone to share them with she almost regretted stopping. Each night she’d stopped at a nice hotel or a quaint B&B to catch some sleep, but sleeping alone in strange beds made her wish even more that Thomas was there to cuddle with. That seemed to be the only part of their relationship that hadn’t changed in the past few months. Every night when Thomas had come to bed—usually hours after she’d turned in— he would pull her into his arms and hold her tight against him. Of course, once their bodies touched, she lost all the resentment that had built up from his ignoring her. Being held in his embrace ignited something deep inside her. Unable to resist it, she’d let it burn until she couldn’t hold back. Most nights they would make love. Sometimes passionately, sometimes so slowly it seemed like it might last all night. Then the sun would come up and he would be all business again. As annoyed with him as she was, she wished he was there ignoring her right now. She wondered if he was missing her as much as she did him. Hell, she’d settle for half as much.
Pushing the thought away, Darcy turned off the pavement and onto a dirt road that wound its way up the mountainside where her sister lived. She never really understood why her sister had decided to move up into the hills. Sure the views were spectacular, but it was so isolated. Darcy could never live like that. No sir. She craved the lights and noise of the city. Her brothers hadn’t liked the idea of Scarlett living up there all alone either so the three of them had gotten together and bought the land surrounding her place. It didn’t take them long to build themselves houses close enough to keep an eye on her, yet far enough away to give her some privacy if they wanted too. Scarlett was too easy going to tell them to back off, so Darcy didn’t think she’d be getting out from under their brother’s over-protective watchful gazes too often.
It was one of the reasons Darcy had encouraged Scarlett to go off to college, but she hadn’t wanted to leave home. Darcy couldn’t have been more different. She had jumped at the chance to get out of their small town and experience the world. She’d found a freedom she absolutely refused to give up. Luckily, Thomas hadn’t asked her to. That didn’t mean he wasn’t looking out for her. He just wasn’t a forceful about it as her brothers were. She actually kind of like it when Thomas went all cave man. It made him even sexier. The urge to call him struck again and she was glad she’d packed her cell phone in the trunk with her laptop.
She came to a fork in the road and veered right. In less than a minute, she found herself sitting in front of a stunning little stone cottage nestled in the tall trees. The pictures Scarlett had sent her didn’t do the place justice at all. Everywhere she looked there were bright colored flowers ready to bloom. They lined the walkway that led to the cottage and crowded the window boxes to the point of overflowing. Now Darcy knew why Scarlett had fallen in love with the place. It suited her and she belonged there. It was as if someone had built it with her in mind.
Before she even got her door open, Scarlett came flying out of the house her long blond spiral curls bounced with each step she took. She was followed quickly by all three of their brothers. Darcy stepped out of the car and braced herself for the impact, but Scarlett’s charge sent her backwards anyway. Luckily the car was there to keep them from tumbling to the ground.
Her brothers stood shoulder to shoulder staring at them. Darcy noticed Cale had gained an inch or two on Rhett and Jarrett bringing him to about six feet. Rhett’s dirty blond hair, which was just a shade darker than Jarrett and Cale’s, was still cut military short. Jarrett wore his a touch longer, while Cale’s almost reached his collar. What surprised her was the way it almost curled. Maybe that was why the other two kept it so short.
“Don’t say a word. I’ll handle everything.” Scarlett whispered against her ear.
“What the hell is going on?” Her brother Rhett demanded from a few feet away.
Scarlett untangled herself and spun around. “Can’t you see she’s exhausted? You can grill her after she’s gotten some sleep.”
“I want answers and I want them now.” Jarrett didn’t sound like he was going to let her leave until she told them everything.
“This is my house and my property.” Darcy had never heard Scarlett use that tone before, but her brother’s groans told her they had. “I’m taking her inside to get her settled. You three can make yourselves useful and bring in her bags. Then you can leave.”
“Scar, we just want to make sure she’s okay.” Her youngest brother Cale’s tender tone made her want to run over and hug him, but she stayed behind Scarlett.
Darcy couldn’t hold back the huge yawn that overtook her. Scarlett was right, she needed a nap. Her stomach growled loudly reminding her she also needed something to eat.
“By launching an inquisition when she can barely keep her eyes open?” Scarlett shook her head. “Give her a few hours then you can come back and we’ll talk like mature adults.”
“We’ll be back for dinner.” Rhett walked over and held out his hand.
Darcy handed him the keys as he leaned down to kiss her cheek. He headed for the back of the car, and Jarrett and Cale followed him after each of them stopped to hug her. Scarlett grabbed her hand and tugged her into the house.
“This place is so…you.” Darcy looked around at all the homey touches and pictures of their family everywhere.
“Thanks. Mom hates it, but I love the less is more feel.” Scarlett led her into a big bedroom and closed the door behind them. “Do you want to take a shower, or just take a nap?”
Her sister seemed to be able to read her mind. “A shower would be great.”
Scarlett shooed her into the bathroom and went to deal with their brothers. Darcy stripped and stepped under the hot spray. It eased her muscles, which were pretty stiff from driving so much. She was getting out of the shower when she heard Scarlett enter the bedroom.
“Are they gone?” She asked wondering if Scarlett really had managed to get rid of them.
“Yeah, but they’ll be back. Damn it, they’re up to something.”
Darcy knew once her brothers got an idea into their heads they wouldn’t let go. She really didn’t look forward to telling them that she was thinking about ending her relationship with Thomas. They all liked him, so they would be full of questions.
“I know I sent the guys away, but do you want to talk about it?” Her sister asked as she turned down the bed.
“There’s not much to talk about.” She shrugged her shoulders fighting the tears she didn’t want her sister to see.
“Darcy, you left your apartment without a word to anyone and drove all the way home alone. So there is something going on.” Scarlett sat down and patted the bed beside her.
Too tired and too worn out to pretend, Darcy dropped onto the bed. “Thomas has been…so…indifferent, almost cold most of the time lately, I just couldn’t take being around him anymore.”
“Is there someone else?” Scarlett asked, which wasn’t surprising since when people split up that was usually the case.
“No it’s not like that.” She shook her head, sometimes she thought that might be easier to deal with. “He’s too busy working to be cheating.”
“Have you tried to talk to him? Tell him how you’re feeling?” She knew Scarlett was trying to be supportive so she didn’t scream like she wanted to.
“Yeah I have, but he’s in his own world so he’s not hearing anything I say. I mean I used to bring him a drink and he’d tug me onto his lap and give me a thank you kiss. I’ll let you imagine where things went from there. Now he doesn’t even glance up from his files to say thank you.” And that made her feel invisible, she didn’t like it one bit.
“Thomas has always been so affectionate, it’s hard to picture him acting like that.”
“I know, that’s what is scaring me. It started off slow, but little by little it got worse. It feels like he’s closing himself off from me.” The tears started falling and there was no holding them back anymore. “I miss him. I miss the way we were.”
Scarlett reached out grabbed her shoulders and pulled her into her embrace. She let her cry all over her, while she rubbed her back and murmured that everything would work out. Darcy wasn’t so sure.
~* * *~
Thomas was furious. Not with Darcy, but with himself. Over the past few months she’d put up with his late nights and one track mind. It was his fault that his attention had been centered solely on work. She hadn’t been happy about any of it, but she wasn’t the type to throw a fit either. More and more, he’d seen signs that her patience was wearing thin. Unfortunately, he’d been too focused in on his goals to worry about the consequences of putting his personal life, no their personal lives, in a precarious situation. He should have told her what he was doing, but he wanted it to be a surprise. Taking over the firm would have been such a huge accomplishment at his age, but without her by his side it meant nothing. Thomas paced in front of the fire place coming to a stop in front of a picture of Darcy and her siblings. The differences were so drastic no one would even think she was related to them at all.
Darcy was dark haired and sultry, where they were anything but. Her brothers were all blond and tall, the youngest easily reaching six feet. Her sister was blond, about the same height as Darcy, about five seven, but she looked much smaller. Darcy had once told him their relatives all called Scarlett Goldilocks and her brothers were the three bears that protected her. He knew they were just as protective of Darcy even though she was the oldest. He ran his finger over Darcy’s smiling face and tried to remember the last time he’d seen that smile.
He racked his brain, but nothing as came to him. He really had screwed things up something fierce. The door behind him opened and slammed closed. Thomas turned around and braced himself to face the firing squad.
“Is she okay? Will she see me?” He asked hoping beyond reason that she would give him a second chance.
“Scarlett refused to let us talk to her until she gets some sleep.” Rhett didn’t sound happy about it.
“She’s here and safe. That’s the important thing.” Jarrett was right, but she might bolt again before he got a chance to plead his case.