The Marriage Bed [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Judith Arnold
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Joelle and Bobby.... I'm aware my visit might have been difficult for you." Difficult? In fact, nothing would ever be the same again for Joelle Webber and Bobby DiFranco. They'd come a long way from their hardscrabble beginnings. They'd built careers, raised a wonderful daughter and two fine sons. Shaped a life rich with layers of trust and understanding, just like the carefully laid stones of the garden walls Bobby builds for his clients. And their life together would have remained solid if not for the unexpected intrusion of a former boyfriend of Joelle's and the long-buried secret he unearths. Bobby and Joelle have leaned on each other through countless crises, but now the very foundation of their marriage has crumbled. Can they put it back together one more time? Can they once again find a haven in their marriage bed--the one place above all where a husband and wife should be honest and loving with each other?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Everlasting Love
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2007
2 Reader Ratings:
What the hell was he doing here?
Joelle stared at the man standing on her front porch and stifled the urge to scream, slam the door in his face…or pretend she didn't know who he was.
She did know, of course. Thirty-seven years might have passed since she'd last seen Drew Foster—she was aware of exactly how long it had been, considering how drastically her life had changed that night—but she recognized him immediately. His hair was a little sparser and grayer, his laugh lines deeper, his jaw softer. His well-cut pinstripe suit didn't hide the slight paunch that had sprouted above his belt, but despite carrying a few excess pounds, he appeared generally fit for a man only a few years away from his sixtieth birthday.
How had he found her? Why hadn't he called to give her some warning before he appeared on her doorstep? How could she get him to leave? He'd come close to destroying her life once, but she'd painstakingly rebuilt it—and now here he was, perfectly capable of destroying it all over again. Fear gathered in her gut and squeezed.
"Joelle," he murmured, his gaze deep and intense. "God, you look great."
She clenched her dust rag so tightly her fingers began to go numb. She'd been cleaning the house, as she did every Saturday morning, and she hadn't bothered to put the rag down before answering the door. If only he'd arrived a few minutes later, the roar of the vacuum cleaner would have drowned out the doorbell and she'd never have realized he was there.
At her continuing silence, his smile faded. "You don't remember me, do you?"
"Of course I do." She shook her head, then forced a smile. "I'm just…surprised. How did you—I mean, what are you…" She pressed her lips together to stop from stammering.
"It's a long story. May I come in?"
Back then, his voice had been as smooth and sweet as warm honey. It still was. Just like his warm, honey-sweet grin.
She didn't want him inside her house, but she couldn't think of a way to keep him out without leading him to assume she had something to hide. If he suspected her of hiding something, he'd be right. What had happened thirty-seven years ago, the decisions she'd made, the turn her life had taken—he mustn't find out. She couldn't let him.
But if she barred the door, he'd grow suspicious. Reluctantly she stepped back and allowed him to enter. If luck was with her, he'd tell her he just happened to be in Gray Hill, and someone at the gas station had mentioned her name and he'd thought he would stop by and say hello. They'd chat for a few minutes about old times and then he'd be on his way.
"You have a lovely place," he said, surveying the foyer before he peered through the arched doorway into the living room. "Beautiful landscaping, too."
"Yes. Bobby—" She cut herself off. If she talked about Bobby, she might start talking about their children, and she couldn't do that.
"Bobby D. Who would've thought you two would get married?" Drew smiled wistfully. "He's a damn lucky guy. Is he around?"
"No, he's—" Again she cut herself off. Bobby often spent Saturdays meeting with clients who weren't available during the week. But if she said he was working, Drew might assume he did some kind of labor that demanded weekend shifts. She wanted to assure Drew that Bobby's business was a success, that he had clients as far away as Hartford and Bridgeport and even across the state line in New York, that his sons were now working with him, that he and Joelle were no longer kids from the poor side of town. She wanted to shout that Bobby was more of a man than Drew could ever hope to be.
All she said was, "I'm afraid he's out right now."
Drew shrugged. "Well, at least you're home."
"Cleaning the house." She held up the dust rag in her hand and smiled faintly. The air smelled of lemon-scented furniture polish, and through the arched doorway into the living room the vacuum cleaner was visible, its electrical cord snaking across the rug to the socket near the bay window.
"I'm sorry for springing myself on you like this. I was afraid that if I called you, you might tell me not to come."
Good guess, she thought, then reminded herself that acting rude would rile his suspicions. If she could force herself to behave civilly, he'd be less likely to ask questions.
Everything had happened so long ago. Maybe he'd forgotten, or he no longer cared about the mistakes they'd made when they were teenagers. Maybe none of it mattered to him anymore.
"Would you like something to drink?" she asked. "Coffee? Tea?" He was standing too close, and she backed up another couple of steps. "Wine or beer?" she offered, even though it wasn't yet noon.
"Have you got anything stronger?" His voice was tinged with laughter, but she sensed that he was serious.
"No." Bobby preferred no hard liquor in the house, and she respected his wishes.
Nodding, she pivoted and headed down the hall to the kitchen, her footsteps muffled by the runner rug. She was barefoot—the house was hot, despite the air-conditioning units Bobby had installed—and she always worked herself into a sweat when she cleaned. Dressed in one of her son Danny's ratty old Colgate University T-shirts and a pair of denim cut-offs, with her hair pulled into a sloppy ponytail, she'd been warm until she'd opened her door and discovered Drew Foster on the other side. From that moment on, she'd felt chilled.
Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Keiler.