re·u·nite   [ree-yoo-nahyt]
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), re·u·nit·ed, re·u·nit·ing.
to unite again, as after separation.

When I first wrote Chad’s character in Personal Protection, I didn’t really know who he was until I wrote this:

“This from the man who let his wife slip through his fingers because he was too fuckin’ busy feeling sorry for himself to pay any attention to her.”

Chad stiffened. When he spoke his voice was quiet, but he couldn’t disguise the bitterness filling it. “Who better to give advice? Yes, I fucked up a good thing with Lauren. I was too blinded by everything that happened to see that I was driving her away. That’s why I hate to see you make the same stupid mistake.”

As soon as I wrote that line I knew Chad’s book would be about getting him back together with Lauren. As I was plotting their story I knew that, as often happens in tragic circumstances, each side retreated into their own world, and as a result of self-incrimination they’d stopped talking. It was that lack of communication, on both their parts, along with one other major player, that caused Lauren to leave. And both blamed themselves for their marriage’s failure.

Ten years have past and Lauren has taken that first step to reconciliation. But it’s meant getting Chad to a place where he can’t shut her down and walk away…or can he?

Copyright © 2011 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

[H]e was so cold, so controlled. The struggle to keep her disappointment from showing challenged Lauren. Did he not feel anything for her anymore? Did he have none of the desire, none of the need that had tied them together? The desire that had flared inside her, setting her body aglow as soon as she’d seen him? The need for him hadn’t lessened over the years. If anything, he was more attractive than he’d been before. She’d always found a man with just a hint of silver at his temples sexy.
How could she get him to stay? To listen to her with an open mind?

She took a step closer. Please don’t let him leave. Don’t let him close the door between our rooms and shut me out completely.

She toyed with the buttons of her blouse. She’d left the top two undone out of habit, but now she toyed with the next one, undoing it, then the next. The fabric parted just enough to show the lace of her chemise. He’d always preferred the fantasy of wondering what was beneath, letting his imagination take over. “Thank you for volunteering to guard me. I was surprised when they said you’d be the lead op.”

She had been surprised, she realized. She’d been half expecting them to call the whole thing off. Fear that she’d screw things up even more and lose any chance for a reconciliation set in, leaving her frozen deep into her bones.

“I should go.” His voice was rough but at least he hadn’t moved.

“Please don’t.” She touched his forearm, letting her fingers rest on him. Heat rose through his cotton shirt, warming her. He was leaner than he’d been. Different. Yet the same. “I don’t think I could get to sleep, not after that helicopter ride.”

His gaze dropped to her fingers, a frown creasing his forehead. “I’d forgotten you don’t like riding in helicopters. Was the flight bad?”

a gorgeous love story that will break your heart and mend it all over again. Deliberate Deceptions is a stand-out in the contemporary erotic genre. ~Joyfully Reviewed

“It could have been better.” You could have been with me. “There was a bit of turbulence coming over the hills.” Or were they mountains? She still hadn’t decided.

“I haven’t had much to eat. Maybe we could find the kitchen, rustle up a sandwich. Talk.” About so many things she didn’t know where to start. An explanation for why she’d left? For not contacting him? Or even where she’d been and what she’d been doing? Except neither of those were possible thanks to the Brigade’s rigid secrecy agreement.

“I’ll call the kitchen and ask if they can bring something up for you. As for talking…” He scrubbed his face with his hands, breaking her contact with him. “We can talk tomorrow when we’re both fresh.” He made touching him impossible by walking to the door and standing inside his room. “When we’ve both had a chance to sleep on things.”

“Stay. I don’t want to be alone tonight.” Like she’d been for so long.

If she’d had any question he could still love her, the look he gave her removed any doubt. There was no trace of the predator on the hunt he’d had when they were first dating or even five minutes ago, the dominant man determined to win her. This look spoke of the depth of his love and longing. His voice, though controlled, revealed his pain and need even though it was barely above a whisper, husky as if he’d been screaming all night. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I do.” She walked toward him, trying to be quiet, desperate not to give in to the urge to fall at his feet and prove herself to him. If she did, he might react like a wounded animal. One that could turn on her and rip her limb from limb.

Nominated "Best Contemporary Romance of 2011"

No doubts tonight, she told herself, afraid to speak out loud, afraid of breaking whatever force was holding them together. She undid the remaining buttons, tugged her blouse from her slacks and let it drop from her shoulders onto the floor.

His gaze dropped to the lace of her chemise where her nipples had hardened. He’d always loved her breasts, loved touching them, cupping them, kissing them. She debated pulling the chemise over her head, letting him view them unencumbered but decided the peep show might be more provocative. It felt strange to be deliberately leading him on, to have to seduce him. She shimmied out of her slacks and stepped out of them, leaving them in a heap on the floor beside her blouse. Seconds later, her thong rested on top of the pile.

One moment he was clutching the door frame, the next moment she was flattened against it, his thigh between her legs, holding her in place. His voice rasped as he asked, “What’s your game, Lauren?”

“I’m not playing a game, Chad.” Just doing a lousy job of seducing you.

He closed his eyes for just a second before meeting her gaze again. “So it’s just sex you’re looking for? You want to fuck and that’s it? Like an itch you want to scratch?”

We cared more about fucking than making sure Emily didn’t die, a tiny voice in the back of her head nagged. A voice she thought she’d long since banished. “I miss you. I miss us.”

His lips hovered centimeters above hers, his breath warm on her cheek, his eyes locked on her mouth. She expected him to lean down, to take charge, to kiss her. But he didn’t. Instead he held himself in check with a rigid control, as if he were fighting a battle. And winning.

“I don’t want just one night, Lauren. I want it all back again—us, the way we were. We both know that’s not going to happen.”

All her doubts crumbled into dust. He wanted her still. “We don’t know that.”

She tilted her chin and closed the distance between them until her lips brushed his. He didn’t move, letting her tongue slide against the seam joining them but not allowing her entry. She wouldn’t beg but if he wouldn’t accept her kiss, she’d find another way past his defenses.

Her hands flattened over his chest, seeking his shirt buttons. He didn’t move as she undid them one by one. His stomach muscles tensed when she parted the opening of his shirt and touched bare skin. She affected him, no matter how hard he tried to hide it. She was so close. If she could just convince him to let go, to give her a chance…she traced the curve of his stomach, up to his pectorals. Love me. Please.

As if she’d touched a switch, his body shuddered beneath her fingers. He drew a deep breath, then his lips captured hers, taking command of the kiss. His tongue swept over her lips as if he were sampling her, preparing to feast upon her. He adjusted the angle of his head; his chin rasped over hers, the heat of the razor burn rousing a lingering reminder of their lovemaking long ago.

This was what she’d remembered, what she’d dreamed of all these years. Wanted. Needed.

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Deliberate Deceptions will be available in trade paperback format onJanuary 1, 2013 in the Private Deceptions anthology

Don’t forget to visit the other Snippet Saturday participants:

Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Leah Braemel
Jody Wallace
Eliza Gayle
Mandy M Roth
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Shiloh Walker
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane
Shelli Stevens

Snippet Saturday: Reunited