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Authors: Brenda Jackson

Forged of Steele Bundle

BOOK: Forged of Steele Bundle
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Forged of Steele Bundle
 
By Brenda Jackson
 

Never Too Late

 

Solid Soul

 

Night Heat

 

Beyond Temptation

 

Risky Pleasures

 

Never Too Late
 
Brenda Jackson
 

Chapter One
 

Twelve days and counting….

Pushing a lock of twisted hair that had fallen in her face behind her ear, Sienna Bradford, soon to become Sienna Davis once again, straightened her shoulders as she walked into the cabin she’d once shared with her husband—soon-to-be ex-husband.

She glanced around. Had it been just three years ago when Dane had brought her here for the first time? Three years ago when the two of them had sat there in front of the fireplace after making love, and planned their wedding? Promising that no matter what, their marriage would last forever? She took a deep breath knowing for them, forever would end in twelve days in Judge Ratcliff’s chambers.

Just thinking about it made her heart ache, but she decided it wouldn’t help matters to have a pity-party. What was done was done and things just hadn’t worked out between her and Dane liked they’d hope. There was nothing to do now but move on with her life. But first, according to a letter her attorney had received from Dane’s attorney a few days ago, she had ten days to clear out any and all of her belongings from the cabin, and the sooner she got the task done the better. Dane had agreed to let her keep the condo if she returned full ownership of the cabin to him. She’d had no problem with that since he had owned it before they married.

Sienna crossed the room, shaking off the March chill. According to forecasters, a snowstorm was headed toward the Smoky Mountains within the next seventy-two hours, which meant she had to hurry and pack up her stuff and take the two-hour drive back to Charlotte. Once she got home she intended to stay inside and curl up in bed with a good book. Sienna smiled, thinking that a “do nothing” weekend was just what she needed in her too-frantic life.

Her smile faded when she considered that since starting her own interior decorating business a year and a half ago, she’d been extremely busy—and she had to admit that was when her marital problems with Dane had begun.

Sienna took a couple of steps toward the bedroom to begin packing her belongings when she heard the sound of the door opening. Turning quickly, she suddenly remembered she had forgotten to lock the door. Not smart when she was alone in a secluded cabin high up in the mountains, and a long way from civilization.

A scream quickly died in her throat when the person who walked in—standing a little over six feet with dark eyes, close cropped black hair, chestnut coloring and a medium build—was non other than her soon-to-be-ex.

From the glare on his face, she could tell he wasn’t happy to see her. But so what? She wasn’t happy to see him, either, and couldn’t help wondering why he was there.

Before she could swallow the lump in her throat to ask, he crossed his arms over his broad chest, intensified his glare and said in that too sexy voice she knew so well, “I thought that was your car parked outside, Sienna. What are you doing here?”

Chapter Two
 

Dane wet his suddenly dry lips and immediately decided he needed a beer. Lucky for him there was a six-pack in the refrigerator from the last time he’d come to the cabin. But he didn’t intend on moving an inch until Sienna told him what she was doing here.

She was nervous, he could tell. Well, that was too friggin bad. She was the one who’d filed for the divorce, he hadn’t. But since she had made it clear that she wanted him out of her life, he had no problem giving her what she wanted even if the pain was practically killing him. But she’d never know that.

“What do you think I’m doing here?” she asked smartly, reclaiming his absolute attention.

“If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked,” he said, giving her the same unblinking stare. And to think that at one time he actually thought she was his whole world. At some point during their marriage she had changed and transitioned into quite a character—someone he was certain he didn’t know anymore.

She met his gaze for a long, level moment before placing her hands on her hips. Doing so drew his attention to her body; a body he’d seen naked countless times, a body he knew as well as his own; a body he used to ease into during the heat of passion to receive pleasure so keen and satisfying, just thinking about it made him hard.

“The reason I’m here, Dane Bradford, is because your attorney sent mine this nasty little letter demanding that I remove my stuff within ten days, and this weekend was better than next weekend. However, no thanks to you, I still had to close the shop early to beat traffic and the bad weather.”

He actually smiled at the thought of her having to do that. “And I bet it almost killed you to close your shop early. Heaven forbid. You probably had to cancel a couple of appointments. Something I could never get you to do for me.”

Sienna rolled her eyes. They’d had this same argument over and over again and it all boiled down to the same thing. He thought her job meant more to her than he did because of all the time she’d put into it. But what really irked her with that accusation was that before she’d even entertained the idea of quitting her job and embarking on her own business, they had talked about it and what it would mean. She would have to work her butt off and network to build a new clientele; and then there would be time spent working on decorating proposals, spending long hours in many beautiful homes of the rich and famous. And he had understood and had been supportive…at least in the beginning.

But then he began complaining that she was spending too much time away from home, away from him. Things only got worse from there, and now she was a woman who had gotten married at twenty-four and was getting divorced at twenty-seven.

“Look, Dane, it’s too late to look back, reflect and complain. In twelve days you’ll be free of me and I’ll be free of you. I’m sure there’s a woman out there who has the time and patience to—”

“Now that’s a word you don’t know the meaning of, Sienna,” Dane interrupted. “Patience. You were always in a rush, and your tolerance level for the least little thing was zero. Yeah, I know I probably annoyed the hell out of you at times. But then there were times you annoyed me, as well. Neither of us is perfect.”

Sienna let out a deep breath. “I never said I was perfect, Dane.”

“No, but you sure as hell acted like you thought you were, didn’t you?”

Chapter Three
 

Dane’s question struck a nerve. Considering her background, how could he assume Sienna thought she was perfect? She had come from a dysfunctional family if ever there was one. Her mother hadn’t loved her father; her father loved all women except her mother; and neither seemed to love their only child. Sienna had always combated lack of love with doing the right thing, thinking that if she did, her parents would eventually love her. It didn’t work. But still, she had gone through high school and college being the good girl, thinking being good would eventually pay off and earn her the love she’d always craved.

In her mind, it had when she’d met Dane, the man least likely to fall in love with her. He was the son of the millionaire Bradfords who’d made money in land development. She hadn’t been his family’s choice and they made sure she knew it every chance they got. Whenever she was around them they made her feel inadequate, like she didn’t measure up to their society friends, and since she didn’t come from a family with a prestigious background, she wasn’t good enough for their son.

She bet they wished they’d never hired the company she’d been working for to decorate their home. That’s how she and Dane had met. She’d been going over fabric swatches with his mother and he’d walked in after playing a game of tennis. The rest was history. But the question of the hour was, had she been so busy trying to succeed the past year and a half, trying to be the perfect business owner, that she had eventually alienated the one person who’d mattered most to her?

“Can’t answer that, can you?” Dane said, breaking into her thoughts. “Maybe that will give you something to think about twelve days from now when you put your John Hancock on the divorce papers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have something to do,” he said, walking around her toward the bedroom.

“Wait. You never said why
you’re
here?”

He stopped. The intensity of his gaze sent shivers of heat through her entire body. And it didn’t help matters that he was wearing jeans and a dark brown bomber leather jacket that made him look sexy as hell…as usual. “I was here a couple of weekends ago and left something behind. I came to get it.”

“Were you alone?” The words had rushed out before she could hold them back and immediately she wanted to smack herself. The last thing she wanted was for him to think she cared…even if she did.

He hooked his thumbs in his jeans and continued to hold her gaze. “Would it matter to you if I weren’t?”

She couldn’t look at him, certain he would see her lie when she replied, “No, it wouldn’t matter. What you do is none of my business.”

“That’s what I thought.” And then he walked off toward the bedroom and closed the door.

Sienna frowned. That was another thing she didn’t like about Dane. He never stayed around to finish one of their arguments. Thanks to her parents she was a pro at it, but Dane would always walk away after giving some smart parting remark that only made her that much more angry. He didn’t know how to fight fair. He didn’t know how to fight at all. He’d come from a family too dignified for such nonsense.

Moving toward the kitchen to see if there was anything of hers in there, Sienna happened to glance out of the window.

“Oh my God,” she said, rushing over to the window. It was snowing already. No, it wasn’t just snowing, there was a full-scale blizzard going on outside. What happened to the seventy-two hours warning?

She heard Dane when he came out of the bedroom. He looked beyond her and out the window, uttering one hell of a curse word before quickly walking to the door, slinging it open and stepping outside.

In just that short period of time, everything was beginning to turn white. The last time they’d had a sudden snowstorm such as this had been a few years ago. It had been so bad the media had nicknamed it the “Beast from the East.”

It seemed the beast was back and it had turned downright spiteful. Not only was it acting ugly outside, it had placed Sienna in one hell of a predicament. She was stranded in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains with her soon-to-be-ex. Things couldn’t get any more bizarre than that.

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