Some strange magic pulls me in...
That describes the intense love affair of Dancing Barefoot.
Take a peek below.
ADULT CONTENT intended for the over 18 crowd
God, he knew how to piss her off. He couldn’t simply keep the small talk light. He had to go in for the kill.
“Congratulations on your career, Jacques. Must be thrilling.” She ripped off a piece of her sandwich and shoved it into her mouth without looking away from his eyes.
“Exciting as hell.”
“Traveling the world, a new woman with a flick of your finger. Must me damn exhilarating.” She turned her back on him to pour herself a glass of water. No more alcohol. Not for a few days minimum.
“The women are the best part. I can’t keep them out of my bed.”
He said nothing. When she turned, he had walked from the kitchen and stood staring up the stairs toward the music. The expression on his face was more curious than angry.
She thought of the drawing above the sofa and knew she didn't want him to see it. He'd called her pitiful before, accused her of not growing up. If he saw the easel, the paintings, the wine bottle...he'd know how screwed up she'd become. Those were things he simply didn't need to know.
“Do you remember the first meal I made you?” she asked to divert his attention away from the upstairs.
He grinned without looking at her. “A pastrami sandwich on fresh baked bread from the market down the street.”
“We had every window open to get some air because it was so damn hot our clothes were sticking to our skin.”
“So we took them off.” He moved up the stairs, his gaze locked on something above.
“We drank an entire bottle of wine.” Her breath caught in her throat as she followed, sandwiches in hand.
“We had gelato for dessert.” Thumbs in the loops of his jeans, he stood at the top of the stairs. “If I remember right, that gelato cooled us off in creative and erotic ways.”
She studied the way the material of his shirt stretched across his back. “Must be why I crave Italian from time to time.”
Energy snapped off him as he moved toward the tattered sofa and muttered beneath his breath.
“Still muttering and pacing,” she whispered. “I swore that when I saw you again I’d be cool and sophisticated, that I’d have all the right words.”
“You planned on seeing me again?” He stared at the painting hanging on the wall, his body rigid.
“Hoped.” She dragged her gaze to his face. “Can’t you forgive me?”
“Is that what you want from me? Forgiveness?” He frowned again, his eyes full of confusion when he met her gaze.
“More than anything,” she whispered.
“How come you never looked back? Not once did you look back.” He closed the space between them with two slow steps. “Like I meant nothing. When I got home, you had disappeared. Vanished. You didn’t even say good-bye. Now there's all of this...a painting of our place here, pictures of Florence in your living room, you're wearing my ring...but you never looked back, you never contacted me."
“I had responsibilities, no choices.” Regret rolled through her.
“You had a choice.”
“No, I didn’t.” All of the reasons that had seemed important felt insignificant now. “I can’t explain.”
He stalked toward her until her back collided with her easel. His hands gripped the top of the canvas, arms pinned her where she stood. “I haven’t wanted to remember you in a very long time.”
“I suppose not.”
“But I have.”
“Are you happy?”
“What do you mean?” She folded her arms across her chest.
“Did you make the right choice? Leaving me? Leaving our life together? Tell me you’re happy and I’ll walk out of your life forever.”
“What does it matter? I can’t undo it.”
“Why is it a difficult question for you to answer? Why can’t you tell me that you have no regrets? I want to hear it.”
“Of course I have regrets, but so what? What good does that do us?”
“That’s why I came here tonight, to see…”
“See what? I’ve done what I said I would do.” Pride forced her head high. “I’m up for associate partner at my firm. I’m a good—no, great—architect. We both succeeded without each other. Good for us.”
“You’re lying. You’re not happy.” His hand framed the side of her face, forcing her to look at him.
“I see it in your face. It’s like you’ve died. You're living in the past, which tells me you're not that thrilled with the present.”
“I see it in your face. It’s like you’ve died. You're living in the past, which tells me you're not that thrilled with the present.”
“When did you get so mean?” Too tired to fight, tears blurred her eyes. “Get out. Enough insults for one night. Just go.”
“Why do you?”
“My ring.” Dark blond hair covered his left eye when he bent forward, only a breath away from her face. “Why are you wearing it? Does it mean anything to you or do you simply think it’s pretty?”
“Please go.” She flattened her hands against his chest, but wished she hadn’t. The feel of his hard body beneath her hands liquefied her bones.
He slammed his hand against the canvas, knocking it to the floor behind her. “You just left. One day we’re living together, talking about creating a future, and then you walked away without ever looking back.”
“I look back in my own way. Often, too often, I need to grow up like you said.” Her lungs deflated like air from a balloon. Breathing ceased. “I needed to come back here, to—”
“To be safe? To do the right thing?” He had her backed against the easel. “I thought you would at least stay in touch with me, the man you supposedly loved, the man you said you wanted to marry, the man you said you needed…but you disappeared.”
“You had my address. I didn’t disappear.”
“You let me go without a word. Until today, I hadn’t heard from you in years, yet here you are wearing my ring.”
“I said I was sorry.” Every inch of her quaked with restrained emotion. “Leave now. Go. Good luck with your exhibit, the workshop, with your life, all of it. Just get the hell out of my house.”
“Do you know why I brought your address with me? Do you?”
“You wanted to tell me off, right? That’s why you came here, to hurt me.”
“I wanted to show you how much I don’t care.”
“Doesn’t that show me how much you really do care?” She lifted her chin, determined not to cry.
A fraction of an inch separated their bodies. She dragged her gaze over the opened buttons of his shirt, over his neck, over his lips until resting on the deep green of his eyes. Damn, the man rocked the word 'sexy'.
Boldness replaced caution.
Standing on tiptoes, she smoothed her hands along the front of his chest. Touching him again was like coming home from a long, exhausting journey.
He shook his head once as if trying to clear his mind. Only once. He stared at her lips. His hands curled around her forearms, but he didn’t push her away.
“Kiss me,” she whispered against his mouth.
“No.” His hands slid up her arms before cupping the back of her head.
"I dare you."
"I know you want to."
"Now who's the liar?" she asked, her teeth tugging at his lower lip.
Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her skin like candle wax, turning them into one being, one entity consumed by desire. To hell with restraint and regret. She needed this, needed him, here and now.
Passion overrode all other thought or senses. Her hands stroked his back, kneading and searching. Every sense was alive with his touch, with his kiss. The need for him was an ache that burned deep. Hot. Necessary. Urgent. Primal.
God, she had missed this, missed him.
He ripped her tank top in two and tossed the material aside. His hands squeezed her breasts while his mouth devoured her lips.
She yanked his shirt free from his jeans and shoved it high on his chest, needing his skin against hers more than she'd ever needed anything in life. Clothes fell away, bread crushed beneath their bodies, wine spilled from an overturned bottle at their feet.
They fell against the easel, knocking the canvas and paint in every direction. A tangle of limbs, they made eye contact for a moment, chests heaving, breathing labored.
"This is wrong," he muttered against her skin.
"Right. Always right with us." She sank her fingernails into his shoulders.
"What the lady wants, the lady gets," he said, a predatory gleam in his eyes.
His hands worked at pushing her yoga pants over her hips while his mouth claimed her breast.
She looped her toes in the waistband of his underwear and yanked them over his thighs. Her hands sought his erection while her back arched with every stroke of his hands and every lick of his tongue.
He ground himself inside her with the intensity of repressed rage. Her legs wrapped around his hips, holding him as close as possible as he plunged deep inside her.
Sex had never been tame with him, but this was animalistic. This was raw. Teeth sank into skin. Nails scraped against each other's bodies. They rolled together, locked as one being. Streaks of yellow and red paint lined their faces, stuck in their hair, no one cared.
Waves of pleasure rolled through her veins like a tsunami until all strength left her body. She laughed, breathless, as her mouth sought his again in a kiss filled with satisfaction and surprise.
"Is this what you meant by a do-over?" He shoved his hands through her hair, palms framing her face, and stared into her eyes. His chest rose and fell against hers.
"Not exactly but it'll do," she whispered, still out of breath, heartbeat slamming like a caged bird's wings inside her chest.
His mouth sucked on her lower lip, tongue teased hers. "I don't know what to do with you, Jessica Moriarty."
"You've always known exactly what to do with me, Jacques Sinclair." She repeated the words they'd always said to one another. She dipped her finger into the wet yellow paint on the canvas beneath his head before smearing it across his chin and over his mouth.
He grabbed her hand, linked his fingers with hers and stared into her eyes. Laughter faded.
“This shouldn't have happened. I lost control, I always lose control around you.” He rolled away and stared at the ceiling. Then he stood and pulled a piece of cheese from where it had stuck to his shoulder. Without looking at her, he dressed.
Rattled from the sex and his reaction, she stumbled to standing. Without looking at him, she grabbed the blanket from the sofa and wrapped it around herself. Man, she was on a roll today with fucking up her life.
He walked down the stairs without saying a word.
She returned to the kitchen to find him still waiting. She had hoped he'd gone.
Back against the wall, he finished buttoning his shirt. He hadn't bothered to wipe the streaks of paint from his face and hair; then again, neither had she. When he lifted his gaze to hers, he looked agonized.
"I didn't intend on that. I should go," he said.
“Stay. Don't go. Maybe we should talk or something.”
She wanted to scream, stomp her foot like a child, fall to her knees …anything to make him stay.
“There is someone else, Jess. Life moved on without you.” His quiet words sliced her heart into a million pieces. “I came here for answers, to understand. I didn't intend to rip your clothes off. I only wanted to understand why you left me. That’s all.”
“And now you understand?”
“No.” He shook his head, a slight grin curving his lips. “But I accept that I will never understand.”
She rubbed the palm of her hand over her face. Of course he had someone else. She had discarded him like a used napkin.
“You're serious with this woman? What you said about the different women all the time was just to hurt me, right?”
“Yes to both questions.”
A chasm ripped through the room, creating a space larger than the ocean that had once separated them. She felt the loss of him again, more powerful, more poignant than before.
“I wish it wasn’t like this between us…”
“I’m still the same man you left in Italy. The reasons you left haven’t changed. I’m a gypsy at heart, never in one place longer than six months or so. What did you call me? A wanderer?” He looked at the matching ring on his finger and blew out a long breath.
“Please leave. Your girlfriend must be wondering what the hell you’re doing.” She hugged her arms across her chest and tapped her foot against the floor. “Please leave, Jacques.”
“Am I wrong? Are you happy? Tell me I’m wrong about you. Tell me that you love being an architect. Tell me that you honestly don’t regret leaving me.” With every word, his face mirrored the agony she felt. “Tell me that you have no regrets, that you are happy with your life as it is now.”
“My life is damn near perfect.” She forced a smile. “Partnership is in sight, remember? Corner office here I come. I have everything I’ve ever wanted. It’s a fucking love fest.”
“It is time I let this go then.” With a quick movement, he pulled the ring from his finger and laid it on the back of the red chair
She stared at the ring against the faded fabric. “Please don’t leave it. Like you said, it’s yours.”
“Keep it, throw it away, it no longer matters to me. Be well, bella.” Door open, he hesitated at the threshold and looked around the room before meeting her gaze again.
Bella. The word hung in the air as they stared at one another, the language of Italy dancing in her memory and tugging at her heart.
“Caro…” she whispered.
Without another look back, he closed the door behind him.
She listened to the fall of his footsteps on the stairs, the outside door opening and closing, and folded his ring into her palm. She pressed the closed fist against lips still swollen from his kiss. Silent tears streaked her face.
"What have I done?" Back against the door, she slid to the floor. The question she asked had no answer. Even she didn't know if she meant the past or the present; conflicting emotions meshed together in her brain like the various paint streaks staining her skin.
Naked photographs plastered on a book cover remind Jessica Moriarty that the past isn't as dead as she'd assumed. Her carefully constructed life as an architect on the fast track to partnership is threatened by a love she'd abandoned five years ago when responsibilities had trumped dreams.
World-renowned photographer, Jacques Sinclair, could have chosen anywhere in the world for his book signing and photography exhibit, but he'd come to Boston to shake things up. He wanted answers, but they aren't what he expected.
Reunions aren't always happy—sometimes they stir up unwanted pain and forgotten passion. As Jacques and Jessica stumble their way back to one another for a second chance at love, they're ensnared in a web of conspiracy, manipulation, and sabotage designed to keep them apart. Will they be able to break free of the ties that bind them to seize the love of a lifetime? Or will the pressure to conform rip them apart forever?
**This is the conclusion of the two part Dancing Barefoot series. It can be read as a stand-alone, however, to get the full impact of the love story, the author recommends reading book one, In Between.**
What the reviews say...
4 stars via Avid Reader
"I loved this story.
It was refreshingly honest, brutally tragic, and at times lyrical in it's flow. Their connection was so intense that as I read it, I was like this absolutely cannot survive. Love this intense and in your face has a slow burn to it, and will torch everything in i's path until it is stamped out...There was nothing contrived about it. I felt like I was literally a fly on the wall and this was happening in reality and not fiction land. I liked them both, probably one of the best couples I have ever read."...read entire review http://goo.gl/R191Sa
5 stars via ChristophFischerBooks
"Conflicting emotions and insurmountable chemistry cause both of them to reassess the past, their current lives and priorities. Easton shows the magnetic and hypnotic effect of physical and emotional attraction very well and the gradual crumbling of outer facades and deep inner resolve. This is a romantic fantasy written in a convincing and heart warming manner and with enough complications thrown in to make for a very entertaining and gripping read."...read entire review http://goo.gl/R191Sa
5 stars via Sglas, Amazon reader review:
"Excitement, intrigue, twists and turns! Dancing Barefoot has it all. Very hard to put down." read entire review http://goo.gl/R191Sa
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