Authors: Renee Wynn
WHISPER THROUGH THE PAIN
Copyright ©2015 by Wynn, Renee
First Edition Electronic May 2015
Published by Revel Publishing LLC
This is a book of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead or events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Thank you for sharing this journey with the author.
~A Whisper Novella ~
The husband she loved, Brent Sinclair, declared his love for his brother’s wife. Heart-broken, Melissa Delaney leaves Dallas and her privilege life behind. Settling in Los Angeles, she finds an inner-strength and her self-worth working for a capital venture group.
Jake Sorensen, the CEO and founder of the company wanted her from the first moment he saw her, but her cool manner kept him at bay. It was something mysterious about the brown-eyed beauty that continued to draw him to her. He was determined to crack the ice around her heart and make her his.
For Michael and Derek, the loves of my life.
Melissa rummaged through the papers, scattering them over her desk. “Damn. Joan!” she shouted through the open door. Her assistant, a tall salt-and pepper-haired, middle-aged woman with pale skin and a calm disposition came into the office.
Melissa spared her a short glance and returned to filtering through the stacks of folders. “Do you know where the Lakeland file is?”
“Jake has it.”
Melissa glared at the bundle in the assistant’s hand. “What’s that?”
Joan pushed them in front of her face. “Invitations to galas, parties and political events.”
Melissa frowned. “I don’t do social events.” She grabbed the stack and threw them on her desk without thought.
Joan picked up the discarded papers and arranged them into neat piles. “You have no choice.”
“We all have choices.” Melissa’s tone was sarcastic but she didn’t care. None of those invites were for her. They only wanted Jake Sorensen, the CEO and Founder of the Sorensen Group to attend, not his right hand person. However, some thought it would be advantageous if they went through her. But right now she wasn’t feeling it. Lack of sleep and working non-stop had pushed her patience to the brink of the cliff. Negotiating the Lakeland Project required a lot of concentration and hard work. She didn’t want to lose the account. No mistakes were allowed. “I’m not responding,” she said.
“I don’t care. Where is he anyway?”
“In his office. He’s in a meeting and asked not to be disturbed.”
An eyebrow lifted. “Really?” She stood and moved from around the desk. “Who’s with him?”
“A representative from an engineering group out of Chicago.”
Melissa frowned. “Chicago? I didn’t know we were working on a new project. The Lakeland acquisition along with all the other ventures are huge enough. All our concentration is supposed to be on getting the final contracts signed. He knows old man Lakeland is getting cold feet about selling.” She headed toward the door.
“How do you want me to respond to these invitations?” Joan called out as Melissa walked out of the office.
“Don’t,” she threw over her shoulder.
“You know if there is no response they’ll just keep coming.”
Melissa sighed, turned around and took a few steps back to her assistant and held out her hand. Joan gave her the stack. She quickly glanced through them, picked out three, and handed the rest back to Joan.
“Okay.” She waved the three invites in Joan’s face. “I want you to look at these, choose one and respond with an acceptance. Ignore the others. If there’s no response, they will get the message.”
“Trust me.” Melissa threw her a quick wave and left the room. “They won’t send another.”
With hurried steps, her heels clicking on the Italian marble floor, she strolled into the hallway. With respect she acknowledged people as they greeted her.
For the last four years, she’d worked for the Sorenson Group. When she left Dallas with an unused college degree, a broken heart and a social pedigree that was of no use, she didn’t know where she was headed. After months of hiding out in a college friend’s remote family estate, located in the Sierra Mountains, she made her way to Los Angeles.
The first job she applied for was at Sorenson. It helped her low esteem and boosted her confidence. Especially when she received a call a few days later that extended an offer to become an apprentice in training. The company’s financial wizard had taken a chance on her. Grateful for the opportunity, she accepted the apprenticeship. Within three years Melissa had moved up in the company, becoming one of the four chief negotiators for many of the acquisitions and mergers.
At Jake’s office, at the far end of the floor, she knocked once and walked in. Jake stood. He frowned as she moved further into the room and shut the door.
She smiled, knowing he hated to be interrupted when he asked not to be disturbed.
“Hi Jake. Am I disturbing you?” she asked with a grin satisfied with his reaction.
The Sorenson Group, a multi-million dollar, large Capital Venture Company that bought other companies and then after a length of time, sold them for a profit, was headquartered in downtown Burbank, twelve miles outside of Los Angeles. The office complex covered two entire blocks with fifteen floors and twelve hundred employees. With branches in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston, the company had risen to be a powerful force in the business world.
“Does it matter,” he retorted, drily.
She chuckled. Since Jake could tend to be a bit of a stuffed shirt at times, throwing him off his routine was something she enjoyed.
He was a tall man with black inky hair, with the tips lying against his collar, and piercing gray eyes. His mouth was wide and sensual. He rarely smiled but when he did the entire atmosphere around him changed. Without a doubt, he was a man’s man. Just looking at him caused her heart to flip and her vagina to pulsate. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking about him like that, but damn she couldn’t help herself.
He placed his hands on his hips. His muscular arms moved against the fabric of his starched white Brooks Brother shirt. He was physically toned from many summers felling trees for his grandfather’s lumber company in Oregon. Nowadays he kept in shape running miles every day and lifting weights a few times a week.
He grew up wealthy, made no excuses for it, and worked harder than any person she knew. Dutifully he graduated from college. A couple of years later, at the age of twenty-three and not wanting to go into the family business, he started his own company. Fifteen years later, Sorensen Group was the number one venture capitalist firm in the United States. Without tapping into his trust fund or his family’s wealth, Jake became a success on his own.
Jake had a mesmerizing pull when it came to business…and women. He was extremely handsome and smart. Added with the combination of being rugged and masculine, he was what her friends called a babe magnet. It didn’t matter he was married, women still swarmed around him like bees waiting to mate. In droves, they vied for his attention wanting the chance to apply their stinger. He always seemed perturbed by the attention, and angry at the boldness of women’s antics to get him into their bed.
Men loved his sharp mind but feared his tenacious ambition to devour competition by winning at any cost.
The man seated in front of the desk also stood and faced her. Shock riveted through her body and she stumbled in her approach.
“Melissa.” The man hurried toward her. “Oh my God, Melissa.” He wrapped her in his arms, as if he didn’t want to let her go. He pulled back a little, his blue eyes exploring her face, but kept his arms firmly around her. “It’s been so long.” He kissed her forehead, then her face and her lips, lingering longer than necessary.
She groaned at the rapid emotions vibrating through her body. He deepened the kiss and she clung to him. Anger, confusion and finally euphoria at being in his arms enfolded in its grip. She moved further into his embrace, absorbing his heat and strength. Emotions long buried rose in her. Panic assailed, stemming from the sensations he’d produced—memories he’d awakened—so vivid. Things she tried to forget. She remembered the heartache—the agony of him discarding her. Shaking her head, she needed to step away but he held her hand, not letting her go.
They remained connected. So she barreled back into his arms—deeper this time. Her eyes filled with tears, distress, his with regret. Many emotions were running through her. Love—confusion—happiness—hurt—and anger. They seized her along with grief. Her insides knotted against the warring tides.
Her fingers feathered his face to make sure he was real. It was warm and caused her to tingle with sensation, making her smile at memories not forgotten. Swimming in the lake behind his parent’s massive estate, the uncontrollable passion and eating ice cream in bed oblivious to the mess they made.
Melissa’s breath caught in her chest when she remembered the first time they made love. It happened on her twentieth birthday, in a field of lilies and daffodils surrounded by the bright sun and the wind gently swaying the flowers.
The strength in his jaw still pronounced, just as it was all those years ago. Drawn, she wrapped her arms around him and laid her head against his chest. She shut her eyes and inhaled deeply the expensive Valentino cologne he always wore. The scent tickled her nose and she sighed with pleasure.
She stepped back and observed him for a long moment, recalling their marriage when she was twenty-two. It lasted only a few months. She’d loved this man with all her heart, body and soul— but he had almost destroyed her.
With Jake…my God. How could she have forgotten he was in the room? She shook her head to clear the fog and pulled at her hand in a panic. He held on. She tugged harder. Finally, he released her and she stepped back, creating space between them, breathing hard for air.
She turned to face Jake. He was positioned in front of his desk, leaning against it with his arms crossed and glaring hard at her. The tic in his cheek worked overtime.
Embarrassed with shame, she cleared her throat. The red tinge to his face was clear evidence of his anger along with the tightening of his lips. His stormy orbs shot daggers at her. She struggled to walk toward him; her ankles felt as if they were clasped with ten pound weights. Each step caused breathing to become difficult.
“Jake,” she said, voice low and urgent to her ears, she searched for words to explain what had happened, but couldn’t. She touched his arm.
He jerked, putting space between them. He scowled while he held her captive with a scorching stare.
“I can explain.”
“Really?” His tone cold and hard ricocheted throughout the office.
He’d never spoken to her in such a harsh manner—not ever.
“If you would give—”
“Tell me why the hell my wife is kissing a man like he was her last drink of water?” he shouted.
His body screaming with tension, Jacob “Jake” Sorenson fixed his eyes on his beautiful wife. Her face was fine boned, her shiny, dark brown hair laid against her shoulders. He loved the silky, loose strands that cascaded around her face. The smoothness of her mocha skin never failed to entice him no matter where they were. She had no idea how much power she had over him
The man with whom he was discussing a potential venture now stood beside Melissa. He touched her shoulder and Jake gritted his teeth to keep from knocking him on his ass.
A frown framed the man’s face. “You’re married?” he asked Melissa. His tone held bewilderment and something else Jake couldn’t pinpoint—jealousy?
“Yes, Brent. Jake and I were married three months ago.”
“I see.” He looked at Jake with envy. “I didn’t realize Melissa was married but—”
“No, Brent. Don’t. I’ll tell him.”
Melissa took a deep breath. “This is Brent Sinclair—.”
“I know who the hell he is. What I want to—”
“He’s my ex-husband.”
Fierce shock and then anger steamed to life hard and fast at the announcement. “Ex-husband? You never mentioned to me you were married before.”
“You never asked.”
“Is that your damn excuse? I never asked?” He ran a hand through his hair to ease the tension. “We talked about everything but your family. I respected your wishes because you said you were estranged from them. Not once did you say anything about a marriage.”
“It was a long time ago. It wasn’t something I wanted to bring up.”
“Well, the way your lips locked, the memories are still alive and kicking.”
“Don’t, Jake. That’s not the way it was.” She glanced at Brent. “I haven’t seen him in five years. It was the shock…of seeing him—that caused a reaction.”
Brent moved near her. “I think it would be better if I left. There’s a lot you and Sorenson need to discuss. But, I’m not leaving town right away.” He studied Melissa for a long moment. “We need to talk. I need to—try to explain.”
“It’s in the past, Brent.”
“Please.” He took her hand. “I need to do this.”
She gave him a short nod.
Brent turned to Jake and stuck out his hand. He ignored it. “Look, Sorenson, I know you’re upset.”
“You don’t know a damn thing about me.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. Like Melissa said it was a long time ago. She and I grew up together. Even though we’re divorced, she’s always been family and will remain so.”
Was this man trying to tell him Melissa would always be a part of his life? Like hell.
“Get the hell out of my office, Sinclair.”
“I’ll leave but not because you commanded it. I don’t want Melissa upset any more than she already is.” Brent tilted her chin, looking deep into her eyes. “If you need me—”
“My wife doesn’t need a damn thing from you.” He pointed to the door. “This reunion is over.”
Brent glanced at Melissa once again, walked out the door, closing it loudly behind him.
The silence settled thick in the room. Jake stared at her, unable to believe what had transpired in his office. He wondered what other secrets she was hiding. He hardened his resolve against the tears that filled her beautiful brown eyes, moved away, and went to stand at the office windows looking at passing cars and people walking the streets carefree and happy, while his marriage was falling apart—no it was his life—because whether he wanted to admit it or not, Melissa was his life. His heart forced him to that conclusion a long time ago.
“Jake, please look at me,” she said, softly.
He didn’t move.
“Please,” she whispered.
He turned around. Her luminous eyes were troubled and filled with confusion. He spent a long moment devouring everything about her, memorizing the smoothness of her delicate skin, her nose and the contour of her small face. But it was her lips that were engrained in his mind. This morning, for the first time, she had straddled his lap and took him in her mouth. It had surprised him but also gave him ultimate pleasure. Sex between them was always explosive. Although many times he’d given her oral, he never pressured or asked her to do the same.
Her voice was gentle and pleading. The sound drew him into its cocoon but he fought against it. He needed a drink—real bad. There was nothing in the small cooler embedded on the wall but water and organic juices. Another company rule he had made and wished he hadn’t—no liquor on the premises. Damn. He could go for a shot of whiskey.
She walked to the cooler and retrieved two bottles of mineral water. Handing him one, she unscrewed the cap and took a long swallow.
As if she knew what he was thinking, she said, “You don’t have anything stronger.”
He drained the water within a few gulps and threw the empty bottle in the trash can beside his desk. He gazed at Melissa as she sipped and shook his head. “Is this where we pretend you didn’t kiss him and that everything is going to be fine?”
It wasn’t how he’d imagined they would end up. They’d spent almost two years dating, making love, and getting to know each other—or rather, that was what he thought. He didn’t know her at all.
“No. I just want you to listen…please.”
He remained still—waiting.
She took a deep breath and then exhaled quickly. “The Sinclairs and Delaneys have been friends for more years than I have been alive. We’ve always been a part of each other’s life.”
“Do you want him?”
She blinked. “What?”
“I said. Do. You. Want. Him?”
“I don’t understand what—”
“The hell you don’t,” he bellowed. “You were so wrapped up in that kiss you forgot I was in the motherfucking room. One thing I thought we had in this marriage was trust. But it seems we don’t. We can end this farce right now.”
Saying the words brought scathing heat to his chest. But he would be damned if he would hold on to a woman if she wanted to go, even though she was his wife.
“You’re blowing this out of proportion. I won’t be interrogated. Stop trying to put words into my mouth.”
“You’re trying to explain away the kiss.” Disgust oozed through the words. “It won’t work.”
“You’re stubborn and pig-headed. You get a notion in your mind or see something and assume the worse. Nothing can sway you. Everything isn’t black or white, Jake.”
“For me it is. You still didn’t answer the question. Do you want your ex-husband back?”
She was silent for so long, he didn’t think she would answer.
Melissa rubbed at her temples with the palms of her hands. “How can I? I’m married to you.”
“That’s no fucking answer,” he shouted.
She charged at him, her feisty temper showing in her eyes. “Watch your mouth. I don’t curse at you and I expect you to respect me and do the same.”
Stung, he’d forgotten about her sharp tongue when she was cornered. He held back the coarse words he wanted to throw out. How in the hell had the tables turned such that she was angry with him? Her ire fueled his temper even more. He struggled not to lose it.
“I wasn’t cursing at you,” he ground out.
“The hell you weren’t.”
“Now, who’s doing it?”
“Don’t flip the chart, Jake. You won’t win this.”
“You’re angry.” He pinched the end of his nose and then ran a hand through his hair. “Unbelievable. You have the audacity to kiss another man—right in front me.” His finger hit his chest. “I’m supposed to ignore or pretend it was nothing?”
“I didn’t ask you to do that.”
“Your actions spoke otherwise.”
He wasn’t a man who wasted time on regrets or mistakes; instead he opted to charge forward and tackle the situation—no matter how difficult. But right now he was in a fight for his marriage—his life. For the first time, he was afraid—he didn’t want to know the answer but he wouldn’t run from it.
“Do you want your ex-husband back?” he asked again.
The silence was deafening. It was long and dark. He was looking at her, but not really seeing her. Everything was, at that moment, bleak. A large weight was suspended in the air. It would eventually fall, and he couldn’t decipher where it would land.
No sound came.
And waited—no words were uttered.
Jake felt himself moving toward the door. The silence was suffocating. Escape—Escape. His mind screamed it over and over. He opened the door and walked out, leaving behind the hollow emptiness in the air. With the closing of the door, the weight finally found its resting spot.