This story takes place a year before the book A Woman’s Worth, which came out yesterday. Kim Holmes is best friends with Chantal, the main character in A Woman’s Worth. I’ve included info on A Woman’s Worth below, following this short! Remember to comment on this post to be entered in the Massive Giveaway, and thanks for reading!
“Chantal is getting divorced.”
Kim Holmes sank down next to her husband Jeff onto the cushions of the overstuffed couch in her living room and let out a long, tired sigh. The kids were finally asleep and even though it was only eight o’clock in the evening, she wanted go to bed, too. But she’d barely seen Jeff all week, and the news from Chantal today was overwhelming her.
“Chantal and Mike?” Jeff looked surprised. “Wow. I didn’t see that one coming.”
That wasn’t surprising, since Kim hadn’t told her husband everything Chantal had been sharing with her over the past couple of weeks. But even so, she had seen it coming and still…hearing from Chantal that she had started the wheels in motion—kicked Mike out and hired an attorney—had thrown Kim for a loop.
“He’s been cheating on her.” Saying it to her husband made it more sad, somehow, like a real and horrible thing that could happen to anyone…including them.
Jeff sank back against the couch and blew out a heavy breath. “Shit. Poor Chantal.”
She nodded in agreement. Chantal didn’t deserve this. Of course, Chantal had deserved better than Mike, to begin with—Kim had never been able to understand what her best friend saw in the guy—but the way it had happened felt exceptionally tragic.
Ten years, two kids, and a house. Gone. All because a man couldn’t keep his hands to his wife.
It scared the shit out of Kim.
“She doing okay?” Jeff asked.
Kim thought about the way Chantal had sounded on the phone, so hollow and almost mechanical. And at the same time, she knew how tough Chantal could be, and how much strength it had taken for her to file for divorce in the first place. “She’ll get through it. It’s hard right now but I’m pretty sure she’ll come out on top. She’s a fighter.”
“And Mike’s a dumbass,” snorted Jeff.
The fear only increased. Why was she feeling like this?
“Do you ever think about it?” The question was out of Kim’s mouth before she could stop it.
Jeff twisted to look at her. “About what? Cheating on you?”
She nodded, feeling wretched in her insecurity, but how could she not? She was thirty-four years old, with dark circles under her eyes from not sleeping, lank hair from not showering, and an increasing feeling of distance from her husband that the demands of young children had created and she felt powerless to bridge.
Jeff looked at her a moment longer, then reached out and took her hand, dipping his head to stare down at their intertwined fingers. He looked like he was deep in thought over something.
Or possibly contemplating a confession.
She tried to push away the negativity and pull herself together, but his next words stopped her cold.
“Sometimes I think about cheating…”
What? Oh my God. No. I take back the question. I don’t want to know. Is it too late to not know?
She wanted to cry.
“…with you,” he finished.
But her brain was so flooded with adrenaline from what she’d thought he’d been saying that nothing was firing right. She couldn’t cry or speak. All she could do was gape at him.
He looked back up at her and his mouth turned up in a wry smile. She loved to complain about how much she hated that expression, since it usually meant he was exasperated and it was usually directed at her, but the truth was that she loved when he did it. It was familiar and sweet and a symbol of how many years they’d invested in one another.
Then he pulled her close until she was half sitting on his lap. She considered protesting that the baby weight she still carried after Nick’s birth eight months ago would crush her husband’s legs, but it felt so good to be held that she didn’t say anything. She was the one whose arms were constantly full of another person. It had been a long time since someone else had held her.
He kissed her hair and whispered in her ear, “I think about sneaking off while the kids are napping and having you fast and rough against a wall. I think about ducking into the closet and peeling off all your clothes and making you shudder against my mouth. I think about you and me, turning our back on this crazy setup and running off together for a wild weekend away. I think about cheating on our exhausting life.”
Something that had been coiled tight and deep inside Kim started to relax: the worry that she was the only one who felt like that sometimes. It reassured her that Jeff had similar thoughts.
“But they’re just fantasies,” he continued. “I wouldn’t do that to the kids, no matter how much I want you or how exhausted we both are or even if we had the opportunity to run away. But regardless, the fact remains that I want you. Not anyone else.”
It was the best thing she’d ever heard.
“So you wouldn’t even throw me over for someone on your list?” She referred to the list of famous or imaginary people she or Jeff would be allowed to sleep with if presented with the opportunity.
He laughed. “Well, Cameron Diaz isn’t exactly easy to resist—” He stopped abruptly, probably because he felt her stiffen against him. “ Kim. No. I’m teasing you. No one comes close to the way I feel about you. Even a celebrity. I love you.”
It was a sign of how tired she was—it had to be—that she felt tears pricking at the back of her eyes. “I love you, too.”
He pulled her closer and slowly, almost tentatively, pressed his lips to hers.
Eight years. Two kids. A condo in the city and a vacation cabin. But what it came down to—what held them together then, now, and into the future—was this. Love. Care. Respect.
She melted into the kiss, into the man she’d known for so long but whose touch she’d never tired of. They kissed like they had when they’d first started dating: hot but sweet, and languorously urgent.
His hands rubbed down her arms and back, stroking gently over her breasts through the sweatshirt she wore. She could feel her body responding, her arousal intensifying with every caress. But when his fingers dipped beneath the hem of her sweatshirt and started to push it up, she drew back, her breath coming fast.
“I’m a mess,” she protested, and he stopped moving, studying her face, instead.
“You’re beautiful.” He started to withdraw his hands from under her shirt. “But I understand if you don’t feel like it.”
There were a thousand reasons why she didn’t feel like it. But there was one reason she did. One reason that trumped all the arguments for why she should get up and just go to bed.
She wanted her husband.
She grabbed his hands and kept them from leaving her body. “I do want to. I want you.”
He gave her a wolfish grin. “Then what are we waiting for?” In one fluid move, yanked her sweatshirt off and tossed it to the floor. He kissed her again, and the last of Kim’s fears fell away as she showed her husband just how much she wanted him.
The next stop on the hop is author Kelly Maher! Remember to comment on each story to be eligible for the Massive Giveaway at the end. Thanks for joining us for #ValentinesRewind! ♥
Want to read Chantal’s story? See below for a blurb and buy links! Sign up for my newsletter for access to FREE books, exclusive content, and giveaways. You will also receive a special FREE serialized full-length novel starting March 1st. The serial will not be available anywhere else!
About A Woman’s Worth
Chantal Jones is going through a rough patch. A divorced single mother to two demanding boys, she’s constantly putting the needs of others before her own. She’s exhausted and the only thing that fuels her fantasies these days is her sexy, off-limits boss, Ronan Nakata.
Ronan has definitely noticed how attractive Chantal is, but he’s her employer and their relationship has to remain strictly professional. Besides, he isn’t looking for anything serious and the last thing he wants to do is get emotionally involved.
But when a chance encounter in the company elevator leaves them both strung tight and wanting, taking it to the next level is seemingly inevitable. In such close quarters, will they be able to get their attraction out of their systems without losing their hearts?