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Authors: Marysol James

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Open Arms

BOOK: Open Arms
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Open Arms

 

(Open Skies #2)

By Marysol James

© 2014 by Marysol James.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, including information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design:
www.doc2mobi.com
Cover photo: © marinasvetlova/Fotolia

Dedication
For T.
Romance junkie
extraordinaire
and die-hard believer in happy endings.

Chapter One

 

Julie Everett stared out the window of her bedroom at the Big House. It was a glorious morning: the sun was shining and the mountains looked gorgeous. An overnight snowfall had left the whole ranch covered in a pure white blanket. But Julie had eyes for none of it.

She was staring down at the cabin closest to her home, looking for any sign of movement inside. Her normally bright eyes were clouded and her lovely face was lined with worry. She was starting to think that maybe she had made a big mistake.

Large, strong arms wrapped around her from behind and she leaned back in to Jake. He held her against him; his body was hard and powerful, roughened and toughened by more than twenty years of working outdoors and with horses, but he was always gentle with Julie.

He kissed her neck. “Hey, baby.”

“Hi,” she said, her eyes still trained on the cabin.

“Any sign of her?”

“No.”

“It’s going to take some time, you know that.”

“But it’s been almost two weeks, Jake… maybe I should have stayed in New York with her. Got her some therapy or something to help her deal with it all. She says that she still can’t remember what happened – what do I do when she
does
start to remember? I’m not qualified to help her face any of that. God, what was I thinking, bringing her here at all?”

Jake Weston took her by the shoulders, turned her around to face him. “Don’t do that, Julie. Don’t do that to yourself.”

She looked up at him, her face gray and pinched, dark circles under her eyes. It was her mint-green eyes that worried him the most: they were dull and flat. Almost defeated.

“I just wish that she was still up here with us. Why the hell did I let her move in to that cabin? At least when she was here for that three days, I knew for sure what she was doing. I could get up with her during the night and try to get her to rest…”

“Because you had no choice in the matter, and you know it.”

“Yeah.” Julie remembered Tammy’s insistence to leave the Big House and move to a cabin on her own. When Julie and Jake protested that she should stay with them, she told them that if they pushed the matter any farther, she’d be on the first plane back to New York. Julie had backed down immediately and Tammy was now holed up in a cabin, alone. She had moved in a week ago and even though Julie dropped by every day to check on her, Tammy’s cheer was brittle and forced. Worse, she wouldn’t open the blinds, and she refused to so much as set one foot out the front door.

Jake touched Julie’s cheek. “Did you eat any breakfast?”

She shifted her gaze away from his gray eyes, a sure sign that she was about to be evasive with him. “Yeah. I had some fruit.”

By which she probably means one frozen blueberry
, Jake thought. Aloud, he said, “OK, well. I’ll make you something more. How about an omelet?”

“Oh, no. It’s OK. I’m not very hungry.”

“I know you’re not, but you need to eat. You’ve barely touched food since we got home. Now, this is not up for debate. I’m making you something.”

Julie looked up at him again. His handsome face was uncompromising and she suddenly found herself smiling at him. It still surprised her that someone cared about her as much as Jake did, and the solidity and sweetness of it struck her at odd moments.

He saw her radiant smile and some of the tension went out of his face and body.
That
was the Julie he’d come to adore.

He leaned down and kissed her gently. She responded, opened her mouth, inviting his tongue. He ran his fingers through her fiery red-gold hair, held her face in his work-roughened hands. When she shuddered, he grinned and pulled back to look at her.

Her stunning face was flushed and her eyes were warm with desire. As always when he saw that look in her eyes, he hardened. Instantly, immediately, he was ready to open her thighs and nudge the thick, hot heat of himself inside of her, to plunge and push until she cried out and came in his arms. There was nothing better.

Julie felt him swell against her and her pussy started to moisten; she was helpless to stop it. God, she just couldn’t get enough of Jake. Her worry about Tammy was being driven out of her mind – it would be back soon enough, she knew – as her body softened, became flexible and pliable and open. It wanted Jake; it always did.

“You sure, baby?” he asked in that rough-soft voice that she loved. “You want this?”

She nodded, her breath starting to come faster.

All Jake wanted was to make her feel something other than worry and guilt and fear. He pulled her over to the unmade bed, laid her down and covered her body with his. He kissed her again and she moaned in to his mouth as he untied the sash on her silk bathrobe, slipped it open. She was naked underneath, he felt now, still a bit damp from her shower, and he lifted his head to look at her curves.

Gently, he raised both of her arms above her head and held her wrists in one large hand. Julie arched her back, loving how it felt for him to take control of her body so completely. Jake ran his eyes down her breasts, down her stomach, stopped at her sex. He didn’t touch her yet, but his eyes were like fingertips and fire on Julie’s skin and she writhed under his gaze.

“Jake, please. Please.”

“Please what?” he asked.

“Please touch me.”

He stroked her inner thigh. “Here?”

She shook her head. “No…”

He moved up a few inches, grazed the lips of her pussy. “Here?”

She gasped. “No...”

His thumb pressed on her clit, making small circles, feeling how wet she was getting. “Maybe here?”

Julie couldn’t answer this time. Her head was pressed back in to the bed sheets, and she was gasping.

He slid his finger inside of her. He felt her body throb around it, pull it in deeper. He withdrew his finger, plunged in, pulled out, again and again. She gyrated against his hand, lifting her hips to meet his strokes. He groaned, his cock pulsing in time with his movements.

He pulled his finger out, slick and wet with her juices, and reached for the condoms in the bedside table. She saw what he was doing and held her breath. No matter how many times Jake was inside of her, it was just never, ever enough. He was like a fever that just wouldn’t break.

He rolled the condom down over his throbbing cock and touched the tip to her sex. She lay beneath him, trembling, clutching his muscled back and waiting for that moment when he filled her.

Jake cradled her head, his other hand between their bodies. “I want you, baby. I want all of you.”

She smiled, her beautiful eyes alive again. “So take me.”

Jake entered her in one thick movement and she arched up to meet him. He fought himself to go slow but Julie didn’t want that – she wanted him to thrust and thrust until they both dissolved in the heat and the wet and the passion of it all.

He sensed what she needed and it sent his own desire in to overdrive. Jake abandoned Champagne and roses and went straight to feral, shameless fucking. He slammed in to her again and again, holding her arms over her head now, the bed rattling. She panted his name, her eyes glazed and hot, writhing beneath him, loving every impact against her open, exposed center.

Julie felt Jake reach that place inside her, that deep and exquisite and sweet place that made her stiffen and shake. She felt the pleasure build and build, higher and higher, no stopping it now. She gave herself over to it, let the sensations sweep her away. She cried out, feeling nothing now except blazing release as she burst in to flame.

He felt her pussy clench and loosen around him, as strong as hands. He groaned and let himself go – he drove in to her with no restraint, not holding back at all. He felt his orgasm start and he gave one final lunge and stayed buried in her body, gripping her hips in place and shuddering as he exploded.

They lay together, a tangle of limbs and sheets, breathing hard. Jake recovered first and raised his head off her breasts. “I think you need another shower.”

She smiled again, her face erased of all tension and strain. “I do. And guess what?”

“What?”

“I’m starving now.” She gave him a kiss that almost unmanned him with its sweetness. “I think I’ll have that omelet after all.”
**
The sun was too bright.

Tamara Jenkins lay on the sofa in the warm and welcoming living room, her face turned away from the arched windows, ignoring the breathtaking view beyond the tightly-drawn blinds. She didn’t give a good goddamn that she was nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on a gorgeous mid-January morning. All she wanted to do was pretend that she wasn’t where she was. She didn’t want to be
anywhere
that she was.

She buried her head under the blanket and closed her eyes as tight as she could. And now here they came again – all those thoughts and images that she didn’t want to think or see. She saw herself in a short skirt and low-cut top, sitting in Grayson’s Bar, at the office Christmas party. She was drinking and laughing and talking. Attracting attention, and enjoying it. She smiled, she teased, she crossed her long legs. And then she left the bar, alone. She stupidly took that short-cut through the alley… and that was it. That was all she remembered until she woke up in the hospital and saw Julie gazing down at her, her eyes full of exhaustion and fear.

Was he there that night, the man who beat her and tried to rape her? Was he in the bar with her? Did they speak? Did she flutter her eyelashes at him, offer up a coy smile of encouragement? Did she bring all this on herself, with her clothes and drinking and flirting?

She was sure that she had, somehow. How could she not have?

She heard footsteps crunching in the snow and she shot to a sitting position. Launching herself off the sofa, she worked quickly, the routine well-practiced now: she shoved the blanket and pillow in to the closest cabinet, ran her fingers through her matted hair, and put the sandwich that she had made earlier on to the coffee table. She had taken a few bites and spit the bread and meat in to the garbage, to make it look like she was eating. She looked around, and decided that it looked like she had just been interrupted in the middle of breakfast.
Perfect
.

The footsteps stopped and she heard a knock at the door. Her panic was now mixed with affection and love: she and Julie had been best friends for more than twenty years, and as close as sisters for almost as long. Julie had moved in with Tammy and her parents when the girls were fourteen, and Julie had never really left. Even when Julie had become a well-paid interior designer in New York and moved in to her own apartment, and Tammy had scraped through community college and embarked on a series of disastrous jobs and relationships, they had stayed close. But what was going on now was different.

Tammy gave the room one final glance and walked slowly to the door. It was just over four weeks earlier that she had been attacked in an alley in New York and beaten badly, but her back and neck still hurt sometimes. She caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror by the cabin door: the bruises around her eyes were a mottled green, the ones on her cheeks and chin a sullen purple. She sighed again.

God, you’re fucking disgusting.

She opened the door. “Hi, Jules.”

Julie stood there, glowing and lovely in the morning sun. She looked cherished and fulfilled and loved and Tammy knew that she was, indeed, all of those things. Open Skies Ranch and Jake Weston were hands-down the best things to happen to her friend in her entire life, and no matter how bad things were for her personally, Tammy had the generosity of spirit to be genuinely happy for her.

“Hi,” Julie said, her eyes anxious. “How are you doing?”

Tammy made her mouth curve up in to a smile and stepped aside to let Julie in. “Fine. You?”

“I’m good, thanks.” Julie took in the room: the drawn blinds, the half-eaten sandwich in front of the sofa. She turned to Tammy. “Did you get any sleep last night?”

Tammy sat down on the sofa again. “I did, yeah.”

“That’s good. How much?”

“I don’t know. Maybe six hours.”
More like two. At most.

Julie wasn’t fooled in the slightest, of course. “Tammy, why don’t you come back to the Big House and stay with me? I have two guestrooms, lots of space… maybe you’d sleep better if you knew I was right down the hall?”

Tammy shook her head, stubborn on this point. “No.”

“If you feel weird about Jake being there, he can stay at his place, down behind the stables. He really wouldn’t mind, I promise you. It’s not like we’re living together.”

“Still no.”

“But –”


No
, Jules. We’ve been through this. I really need time on my own. I’m fine here. I know where you are if I need you.”

Julie put her hands up in defeat. “OK.” She sat down next to her on the sofa. “So – how about you get dressed and we go out for a while? It’s gorgeous out there…and maybe we could go to the restaurant for a real breakfast?” She nodded at the sandwich. “You can get something hot and a bit more substantial than that.”

“No. Thanks. Maybe later.”

The two women looked at each other. Tammy was just barely holding it together. It took everything she had to keep smiling and chatting, pretending that she was doing fine.

“Tammy,” Julie said in a soft voice. “Please talk to me. I’m here and you can tell me anything, anything at all. I’ll help if I can, or I’ll just listen. I’ll do whatever you ask or need.”

“I’m
fine
, Jules.” Tammy put on her brightest face and voice. “I’m just taking some time to get my head together. I’m really fine. Really.”

Julie’s eyes searched her face; Tammy was lying, she knew, but she couldn’t seem to break through her insistence that she was ‘fine’. Nothing she said or did got Tammy to open up or be honest. Julie was at a complete loss – she felt like she was talking to a stranger with Tammy’s face. There was nothing more she could say or do right now, she knew.

“OK,” Julie said and stood up. “Well, I have to get to work. If you need anything –”

“I’ll call. I know.” Tammy smiled, making sure to show all her teeth.

BOOK: Open Arms
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