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Authors: Brenda Jackson

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BOOK: Forged of Steele Bundle
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Chapter Fourteen

Dane walked into the living room and stopped in his tracks. Sienna sat in front of the fireplace, cross-legged, with a tray of cookies and two glasses of wine. He knew where the cookies had come from, but where the heck had she gotten the wine?

She must have heard him because she glanced over his way and smiled. At that moment he thought she was even more breathtaking than a rose in winter. She licked her lips and immediately he thought she was even more tempting than any decadent dessert.

He cleared his throat. “Where did the wine come from?”

She licked her lips again and his body responded in an unquestionable way. He hoped the candlelight was hiding the physical effect she was having on him. “I found it in one of the kitchen cabinets. I think it’s the bottle that was left when we came here to celebrate our first anniversary.”

His thoughts immediately remembered that weekend. She had packed a selection of sexy lingerie and he had enjoyed removing each and every piece. She had also given him, among other things, a beautiful gold watch with the inscription engraved,
The Great Dane
. He, in turn, had given her a lover’s bracelet, which was similar to a diamond tennis bracelet except that each letter of her name was etched in six of the stones.

He could still remember the single tear that had fallen from her eye when he had placed it on her wrist. That had been a special time for them, memories he would always cherish. That knowledge tightened the love that surrounded his heart. More than anything he was determined that they settle things this weekend. He needed to make her see that he was hers and she was his. For always.

His lips creased into a smile. “I see you’ve decided to share the cookies, after all,” he said, crossing the room to her.

She chuckled as he dropped down on the floor beside her. “Either that or run the risk of you getting up during the night and eating them all.” The firelight danced through the twists on her head, highlighting the medium brown coiled strands with golden flecks. He absolutely loved the natural looking hairstyle on her.

He lifted a dark brow. “Eating them all? Three boxes?”

Her smile grew soft. “Hey, you’ve been known to overindulge a few times.”

He paused as heated memories consumed him, reminding him of those times he had overindulged, especially when it came to making love to her. He recalled one weekend they had gone at it almost nonstop. If she hadn’t been on the pill there was no doubt in his mind that that single weekend would have made him a daddy. A very proud one at that.

She handed him a glass of wine. “May I propose a toast?”

His smile widened. “To what?”

“The return of the beast from the east.”

He switched his gaze from her to glance out the window. Even in the dark he could see the white flecks coming down in droves. He looked back at her and cocked a brow. “We have a reason to celebrate this bad weather?”

She stared at him for a long moment, then said quietly, “Yes. The beast is the reason we’re stranded here together, and even with our low rations of food, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be…than here alone with you.”

Chapter Fifteen

Dane stared at Sienna and the intensity of that gaze made her entire body tingle, her nerve endings steam. It was pretty much like the day they’d met, when he’d walked into his father’s study. She had looked up, their gazes had connected and the seriousness in the dark irises that had locked with hers had changed her life forever. She had fallen in love with him then and there.

Dane didn’t say anything for a long moment as he continued to look at her, and then he lifted his wineglass and said huskily, “To the beast…who brought me Beauty.”

His words were like a sensuous stroke down her spine, and the void feeling she’d had during the past few months was slowly fading away. After the toast was made and they had both taken sips of their wine, Dane placed his glass aside and then relieved her of hers. He then slowly leaned forward and captured her mouth, tasting the wine, relishing her delectable flavor. How had she gone without this for six months? How had she survived? she wondered as his tongue devoured hers, battering deep in the heat of her mouth, licking and sucking as he wove his tongue in and out between teeth, gum and whatever wanted to serve as a barrier.

He suddenly pulled back and stared at her. A smile touched the corners of his lips. “I could keep going and going, but before we go any further we need to talk, determine what brought us to this point so it won’t ever be allowed to happen again. I don’t want us to ever let anything or anyone have power, more control over the vows we made three years ago.”

Sienna nodded, thinking the way the firelight was dancing over his dark skin was sending an erotic frisson up her spine. “All right.”

He stood. “I’ll be right back.”

Sienna lifted a brow, wondering where he was going and watched as he crossed the room to open the desk drawer. Like her, he had changed into a T-shirt and a pair of sweats, and as she watched him she found it difficult to breathe. He moved in such a manly way, each movement a display of fine muscles and limbs and how they worked together in graceful coordination, perfect precision. Watching him only knocked her hormones out of whack.

He returned moments later with pens and paper in hand. There was a serious expression on his face when he handed her a sheet of paper and a pen and kept the same for himself. “I want us to write down all the things we feel went wrong with our marriage, being honest to include everything. And then we’ll discuss them.”

She looked down at the pen and paper and then back at him. “You want me to write them down?”

“Yes, and I’ll do the same.”

Sienna nodded and watched as he began writing on his paper, wondering what he was jotting down. She leaned back and sighed, wondering if she could air their dirty laundry on paper, but it seemed he had no such qualms. Most couples sought the helpful guidance of marriage counselors when they found themselves in similar situations, but she hadn’t given them that chance. But at this point, she would do anything to save her marriage.

So she began writing, being honest with herself and with him.

Chapter Sixteen

Dane finished writing and glanced over at Sienna. She was still at it and had a serious expression on her features. He studied the contours of her face and his gaze dropped to her neck, and he noticed the thin gold chain. She was still wearing the heart pennant he’d given her as a wedding gift.

Deep down, Dane believed this little assignment was what they needed as the first step in repairing what had gone wrong in their marriage. Having things written down would make it easier to stay focused and not go off on a tangent. And it made one less likely to give in to the power of the mind, the wills and emotions. He wanted them to concentrate on those destructive elements and forces that had eroded away at what should have been a strong relationship.

She glanced up and met his gaze as she put the pen aside. She gave him a wry smile. “Okay, that’s it.”

He reached out and took her hand in his, tightening his hold on it when he saw a look of uncertainty on her face. “All right, what do you have?”

She gave him a sheepish grimace. “How about you going first.”

He gently squeezed her hand. “How about if we go together? I’ll start off and then we’ll alternate.”

She nodded. “What if we have the same ones?”

“That will be okay. We’ll talk about all of them.” He picked up his piece of paper.

“First on my list is communication.”

Sienna smiled ruefully. “It’s first on mine, too. And I agree that we need to talk more, without arguing, not that you argued. I think you would hold stuff in when I made you upset instead of getting it out and speaking your mind.”

Dane stared at her for a moment, then a smile touched his lips. “You’re right, you know. I always had to plug in the last word and I did it because I knew it would piss you off,”

“Well, stop doing it.”

He grinned. “Okay. The next time I’ll hang around for us to talk through things. But then you’re going to have to make sure that you’re available when we need to talk. You can’t let anything, not even your job, get in the way of us communicating.”

“Okay, I agree.”

“Now what’s next on your list?” he asked.

She looked up at him and smiled. “Patience. I know you said that I don’t have patience, but neither do you. But you used to.”

Dane shook his head. “Yeah, I lost my patience when you did. I thought to myself, why should I be patient with you when you weren’t doing the same with me? Sometimes I think you thought I enjoyed knowing you had a bad day or didn’t make a sale, and that wasn’t it at all. At some point what was suddenly important to you wasn’t important to me, anymore.”

“And because of it, we both became detached,” Sienna said softly.

“Yes, we did.” He reached out and lifted her chin. “I promise to do a better job of being patient, Sienna.”

“So will I, Dane.”

They alternated, going down the list. They had a number of the same things on both lists and they discussed everything in detail, acknowledging their faults and what they could have done to make things better. The also discussed what they would do in the future to strengthen their marriage.

“That’s all I have on my list,” Dane said a while later. “Do you have anything else?”

Sienna’s finger glided over her list. For a short while she thought about pretending she didn’t have anything else, but they had agreed to be completely honest. They had definitely done so when they had discussed her spending more time at work than at home.

“So what’s the last thing on your list, Sienna? What do you see as one of the things that went wrong with our marriage?”

She lifted her chin and met his gaze and said, “My inability to stand up to your parents.”

He looked at her with deep dark eyes. “Okay, then. Let’s talk about that.”

Chapter Seventeen

Dane waited patiently for Sienna to begin talking and gently rubbed the backside of her hand while doing so. He’d known the issue of his parents had always been a challenge to her. Over the years he had tried to make her see that how the elder Bradfords felt didn’t matter. What he failed to realize, accept and understand was that it
matter…to her.

She had grown up in a family without love for so long that when they married, she not only sought his love, but that of his family. Being accepted meant a lot to her, and her expectations of the Bradfords, given how they operated and their family history, were too high.

They weren’t a close-knit bunch, never had been and never would be. His parents had allowed their own parents to decide their future, including who they married. When they had come of age, arranged marriages were the norm within the Bradfords’ circle. His father had once confided to him one night after indulging in too many drinks that his mother had not been his choice for a wife. That hadn’t surprised Dane, nor had it bothered him since he would bet that his father probably hadn’t been his mother’s choice of a husband, either.

“I don’t want to rehash the past, Dane,” Sienna finally said softly, looking at the blaze in the fireplace instead of at him. “But something you said earlier tonight has made me think about a lot of things. You love your parents, but you’ve never hesitated in letting them know when you felt they were wrong; nor have you put up with their crap when it came to me.”

She switched her gaze from the fire to him. “The problem is that
put up with their crap when it came to me. And you were right. I thought I had to actually prove something to them, show them I was worthy of you and your love, and I’ve spent the better part of a year and a half doing that, and all it did was bring me closer and closer to losing you. I’m sure they’ve been walking around with big smiles on their faces since you got the divorce petition. But I refuse to let them be happy at my expense and my own heartbreak.”

She scooted closer to Dane and splayed her hands against his chest. “It’s time I become more assertive with your parents, Dane. Because it’s not about them—it’s about us. I refuse to let them make me feel unworthy any longer, because I am worthy to be loved by you. I don’t have anything to prove. They either accept me as I am or not at all. The only person who matters anymore is you.”

With his gaze holding hers, Dane lifted one of her hands off his chest and brought it to his lips and placed a kiss in the palm. “I’m glad you’ve finally come to realize that, Sienna. And I wholeheartedly understand and agree. I was made to love you, and if my parents never accept that then it’s their loss, not ours.”

Tears constricted Sienna’s throat and she swallowed deeply before she could find her voice to say, “I love you, Dane. I don’t want the divorce. I never did. I want to belong to you and I want you to belong to me. I just want to make you happy.”

“And I love you, too, Sienna, and I don’t want the divorce, either. My life will be nothing without you being a part of it. I love you so much and I’ve missed you.”

And with his heart pounding hard in his chest, he leaned over and captured her lips, intent on showing her just what he meant.

Chapter Eighteen

This is homecoming
, Sienna thought as she was quickly consumed by the hungry onslaught of Dane’s kiss. All the hurt and anger she’d felt for six months was being replaced by passion of the most heated kind. All she could think about was the desire she was feeling being back in the arms of the man she loved and who loved her.

This was the type of communication she’d always loved, where she could share her thoughts, feelings and desires with Dane without uttering a single word. It was where their deepest emotions and what was in their inner hearts spoke for them, expressing things so eloquently and not leaving any room for misunderstandings.

He pulled back slightly, his lips hovering within inches of hers. He reached out and caressed her cheek, and as if she needed his taste again, her lips automatically parted. A slow, sensual acknowledgement of understanding tilted the corners of his mouth into a smile. Then he leaned closer and kissed her again, longer and harder, and the only thing she could do was to wrap her arms around him and silently thank God for reuniting her with this very special man.


Dane was hungry for the taste of his wife and at that moment, as his heart continued to pound relentlessly in his chest, he knew he had to make love to her, to show her in every way what she meant to him, had always meant to him and would always mean to him.

He pulled back slightly and the moisture that was left on her lips made his stomach clench. He leaned forward and licked them dry, or tried to, but her scent was driving him to do more. “Please let me make love to you, Sienna,” he whispered, leaning down and resting his forehead against hers.

She leaned back and cupped his chin with her hand. “Oh, yes. I want you to make love to me, Dane. I’ve missed being with you so much I ache.”

“Oh, baby, I love you.” He pulled her closer, murmured the words in her twisted locks, kissed her cheek, her temple, her lips, and he cupped her buttocks, practically lifting her off the floor in the process. His breath came out harsh, ragged as the chemistry between them sizzled. There was only one way to drench their fire.

He stretched out with her in front of the fireplace, as he began removing her clothes and then his. Moments later, the blaze from the fire was a flickering light across their naked skin. And then he began kissing her all over, leaving no part of her untouched, determined to quench his hunger and his desire. He had missed the taste of her and was determined to be reacquainted in every way he could think of.


Her tortured moan ignited the passion within him and he leaned forward to position his body over hers, letting his throbbing erection come to rest between her thighs, gently touching the entrance of her moist heat. He lifted his head to look down at her, wanting to see her expression the exact moment their bodies joined again.

BOOK: Forged of Steele Bundle
4.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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