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Stricken

eXtasy Books

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 59,063
Available Formats
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A heartbeat later, he was alone—shattered, confused and suicidal. Why had Marti walked away from him?

Years later, in another place and a new chapter of Ewan’s life, fate brings them face to face again.

They start building a friendship, but Ewan wants more. He wants Marti as his wife, while she seems to prefer their current status as friends.

Can he convince her that taking another chance at their failed future will be the start of the best part of their lives?

Excerpt

Ewan glanced up and his polite smile faded. His body stiffened in surprise when his gaze met a pair of cool, familiar hazel eyes. His stomach churned as he nodded automatically and fought to keep his expression distantly professional while they stared at each other.

In a three second eternity, he could see the last six years had brought changes, to her looks and her confidence level. Her gaze didn’t waver from his as she straightened to her full height of five feet, two inches, and flipped her hair over her shoulder with her right hand.

The movement broke his shock and caused his internal walls to slam down.

Why her?

Why now?

Hell.

Like the first time they met, she looked away first.

“Guys, this is Martine Lewis, my friend and coworker. Martine, this is Sheryl Bannister, and this drop dead handsome guy is Dennis’ boss, Ewan Campbell,” Kara Winchester-Brown’s voice penetrated his brain as she pointed to each of them in turn with a grin.

Sheryl flew out of her chair and around the desk to embrace the petite brunette. “Marti, it is so good to see you!”

“Hi Sheryl,” Marti replied and leaned into the hug with a soft smile.

“My goodness, look at you! Miranda was right, you did grow up to be even more beautiful!” Sheryl exclaimed as she pulled back and fingered the reddish brown, shoulder length bob with a watery smile. “What are you doing here? Miranda didn’t say anything about you living in the city!”

“She doesn’t know I’m here.”

“Wait a second. You two know each other?” Dennis, Kara’s husband and the newest agent on Ewan’s staff, asked.

“Yes, we do!” Sheryl replied. “Miranda is her cousin. I’ve known Marti since before she got her bachelor’s degree.”

“Uh-huh. It’s funny how she forgot to mention it to me,” Kara muttered.

Ewan envisioned the gears in her brain beginning to grind, and under normal circumstances, he would have laughed and egged her on.

Seeing one’s ex-fiancée unexpectedly for the first time in six years wasn’t routine, especially with the way they parted. She hadn’t welcomed his attempts to work things out the last time they saw each other, so anything akin to teasing was out.

He felt her glance at him. As he moved his gaze to meet hers, she reached up with her left hand to tuck a tendril of hair behind her ear.

Nausea bubbled in Ewan’s stomach when he saw the flash of diamonds on her ring finger, and the echo of Kara’s introducing her as Martine Lewis rang in his ears.

It was his turn to break eye contact as he shoved his hands into his pants pockets and shifted his feet awkwardly on the dark gray carpet.

Distantly, he heard the conversation continuing around him despite his uneasiness.

“When did you get married?” Sheryl asked.

“About three years ago.”

“Really? What’s his name?”

“Gabriel.”

Ewan tried not to grind his teeth when he heard Marti’s reply, he didn’t want to know her husband’s name.

Or anything else about her current life.

Still scrambling for a polite, and plausible, means of escape, Ewan felt relieved when Marti cut off her friend. “Kara, I have someone coming in less than ten minutes. We’d better get going.” She started dragging Kara toward the door.

“Don’t be a stranger!” Sheryl called the order at their retreating backs.

“We won’t!” Kara yelled the promise over her shoulder, and barely had time to wave as Marti shoved her out the door.

* * * *

Ewan felt Sheryl’s concerned gaze turn to him as he stared at the empty spot where Marti had been. After shooting the receptionist a warning look and muttering a command of, “No calls, not even Miranda or Ralph,” he raked a hand through his thick, black hair and strode down the hallway.

What he needed was solitude, to think, regain his equilibrium, and to get over the blow of seeing Marti.

As the door to his office slid closed, the shock snapped into a red haze. Hands fisted, teeth ground together, and eyes closed as it began to overtake him.

The knuckles of his left hand bruised as they met the side of his filing cabinet several times, and a string of loud curses echoed around the room.