When Aaron Boltson discovers his wife cheating on him, he thinks his life is over—romantically, anyway. He can’t imagine trusting another that way. Even flings don’t sound good. Licking his wounds do, though. After all, if a woman who’s supposed to love him unconditionally can’t stand to touch his fat body, how could anyone else?
Her words, sure, but Aaron can’t seem to get them out of his mind.
Aaron reaches out to his younger brother, Aziel, needing to get away. Aziel immediately books him a room in Durango, near where he still lives, and welcomes him with open arms. After a few days of vegging and relaxing, Aaron opens his door to Melanie—his soon-to-be ex-wife—who begins begging for reconciliation. Shocked, Aaron is grateful for Aziel’s intervention.
Aziel rushes Aaron to a barbeque at the estate where he lives, but a gathering with lots of strangers—even welcoming ones—who are all in lovey-dovey partnerships is a little hard to stomach. Aaron retreats to a gorgeous garden maze maintained at the estate. From there, he takes refuge in the forest. Becoming lost, Aaron stumbles across the most stunning fairy-tale cottage he’s ever seen.
When a monster appears, Aaron would have forever denied fainting…except he wakes in a bedroom with Aziel by his side. His brother reminds him of stories told by their long-deceased mother…things he had never thought to be true, and gives the monster a name—Grimley. Days later, as Aaron’s memories of the beast plague him, he wonders why thoughts of searching for the reclusive Grimley seem far more compelling than returning his wife’s urgent phone calls? Even with Aziel’s tales of love, devotion, and companionship whispering in his ear, Aaron wonders what on earth he would possibly do if he actually spotted the beast again…other than faint a second time?
Aaron Boltson stared, shocked into silence.
What the hell is she doing here?
When Aaron had opened the door to his room at the bed and breakfast where he was staying, he’d been certain it would be his brother, Aziel. Aziel was supposed to be picking him up to take him to a barbeque at the estate where he lived. He would have just driven himself, but after traveling over three hundred miles—from his home in Colorado Springs to Durango—his older model Ford pick-up had crapped out on him.
In truth, it hadn’t come as a surprise to Aaron. He’d been nursing the transmission along for nearly three months. Aaron had been struggling to scrape enough cash together to fix it, since Melanie had a habit of going on splurging sprees.
At least the estate where Aziel lived had its own private mechanic. The mechanic—Grigoris—had picked it up with a car-hauler, and he’d taken Aaron’s truck to the estate to work on it. Aziel had offered Aaron the use of his truck, but Aaron had declined. Other than to visit Aziel, he hadn’t had anywhere to go.
In truth, Aaron had just wanted to stay in his room and lick his wounds, metaphorically speaking. Walking in on Melanie—his wife of twelve years—being fucked by her physical fitness instructor in the bed they shared had damn near torn his heart out. Listening to Melanie’s laughter at his shocked and hurt questions, then her callous comment about how she couldn’t stand to touch his fat body anymore, had finished the job.
Aaron had packed a bag and left, immediately calling Aziel. His brother had insisted that he come to Durango, and he’d even booked a room with an open-ended stay at a bed and breakfast. Aaron sure had appreciated it, although he wasn’t too certain about the trip to the strip club Aziel’s buddy had set up the second night he was there.
That had been the prior weekend.
Two days before, Aaron had utilized the services of a lawyer who’d been the sister of a detective friend of Aziel’s. He’d started the divorce process. Aaron was still trying to decide how much to fight for what were his share of things or if he just wanted to give Melanie everything to make her go away as swiftly as possible. One thing that Aaron had done was frozen their joint credit card accounts.
The idea of ending his relationship with Melanie had never entered his mind until he’d walked in on her cheating on him, and getting his mind around it was taking some time.
So what the hell is Melanie doing standing at my door…and how did she find me?
“Hi, Aaron,” Melanie purred, offering him a sultry smile. Stepping close, she settled her hands on his chest. “I’m so sorry about the way I talked to you last week. I was just so surprised to see you.”
She was surprised?
Aaron opened his mouth to voice that thought, but the words stuck in his throat. Feeling her hands rub over his pectorals created a weird response of pleasure and distaste. Her thumbs teased over his polo-shirt-covered nipples, causing them to bead, even as the same move made his gut twist uncomfortably.
“Won’t you invite me in, handsome?” Melanie started to lift onto her toes. With the way she tipped her head, Aaron knew she was angling for a kiss. “We can curl up on the bed and talk.” Melanie began lowering her left hand along his torso, gliding over the ample flesh of his stomach. “Maybe do more.”
Melanie’s fingers eased under his protruding belly to tease at the waistband of his jeans.
Not too long ago, Aaron knew his blood would have fired swiftly upon feeling Melanie’s touch. His body responded more slowly, but it did respond. Aaron felt his prick begin to thicken in anticipation.
It had been a long time.
Except, then Melanie’s words from the prior week echoed through his mind as he recalled the sight of her trainer’s bare ass as he pumped away between his wife’s spread legs.
“What did you expect, Aaron? Look at you. I can’t stand touching your fat body anymore.”
Any flicker of arousal died a quick death, which Aaron mentally acknowledged was for the best.
Frowning, Aaron took a step backward, separating them. Unfortunately, his retreat also left space for Melanie to enter the room. She continued to smile as she moved forward, obviously mistaking his reaction—or maybe not caring. Aaron just didn’t know anymore.
When Melanie reached for his hand, Aaron shook his head and drew further away.
I really need to get my shit together and find my tongue.
Melanie paused, her black brows furrowing. She pursed her full lips into a hurt-looking mew. Her light-brown skin appeared to flush, and her brown eyes took on a gleam as if she were hurt.
At one time, Aaron would have done anything, said anything, to get that expression off Melanie’s face.
Now, however, the memory of how she’d looked as she’d mocked him was still too fresh in his mind, seeming to superimpose itself on her even then.
“Hey.” Aziel’s anger-filled voice cut through the air. “What are you doing here, Melanie?”
Aaron looked over Melanie’s head and spotted Aziel stalking swiftly toward them. A deep scowl marred his normally friendly features. His attention was pinned on Melanie, and if Aaron hadn’t known his brother, even he would have been intimidated.
“Oh. H-Hello, Aziel,” Melanie stuttered. She went for innocent as she shrugged one slender shoulder. “I’m just here patching things up with Aaron.” With a soft titter, she added, “I’m sure he told you about our misunderstanding.”