Sharon Horton

Author of Romantic Fiction

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Artwork by Syneca (c) 2005 Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.

      My Shadow, My Love


From the patio near the pool, Rick was able to observe Cassie swim three laps before she realized she had an audience. Undaunted, she continued to swim three more laps before climbing out on the end opposite her spectator.

Her thoughts ran wild. She was torn between the memory of Rick’s last words to her and the way his gaze now seemed to appreciate the fit of her swimsuit. The meaning of what Kevin said when he explained how dangerous it was for people in their business to be close now made sense. But the more she thought of Rick’s casual inference that she and Kevin were lovers, the more angered she became.

Pushing out of the shadows, Rick stepped towards the path as Cassie attempted to pass by.

“You shouldn’t swim alone,” he said, holding his trademark smirk.

Replicating his expression, Cassie nodded in agreement. “You’re right.” With that she did a little pushing of her own and Rick literally flew backwards into the pool.

“Arghhh!” he roared, surfacing, water sputtering from his mouth. “You’re impossible! You are absolutely, undoubtedly the most willful and sneaky and sass—” he paused as a smile appeared. “Sassy Cassie, I’ll bet that was your nickname in school, wasn’t it?”

“Only one person ever called me that,” Cassie acknowledged, hands resting on her hips. “And believe me, I taught him a lesson he didn’t soon forget.”

Treading water, Rick narrowed his eyes. “I suppose you broke his nose?”

“Nope,” she answered smartly, “I kissed him.” Cassie then flashed a grin and walked away. The sound of another of Rick’s roars of surprise followed her.

When she entered the house, Cassie was in tears. Nothing mattered now except getting as far away from that man as she could. Throwing him in the pool had been stupid and she was furious with herself.

She ran blindly and was halfway up the spiral staircase when she realized she was heading for the tower room. She started to turn around then changed her mind as a painful thought occurred to her. The room was safe. She didn’t think Rick wouldn’t be looking for her ever again.

Her wet swimsuit tossed in the corner and herself wrapped in a blanket, Cassie shivered violently. It had been nearly two hours since she pushed Rick in the pool and he hadn’t been seen or heard from since. She was mortified at what she’d done, and yet knew if given the opportunity, she’d do it all over again. It would be worth it just to see the look of total disbelief on his face and hear the sound of his voice as he roared and then called her—

“Sassy Cassie.”

Following the sound of the words was the sensation of Rick’s fingertips lightly stroking the hair away from the back of her neck, then the feel of his lips as they brushed against that same place. Afraid to move, but more afraid not to, Cassie arched her head, accepting the touch as his mouth traveled upward. Guided by her heart, Cassie turned around to face Rick. She wondered how long he had been there.

From the time he had started climbing the stairs Rick’s mind had drifted to fear. Fear that Cassie had left the house and in the process also left him. And when he finally did find her, he was afraid to move, thinking her a dream he didn’t want to wake up from. He became a silent observer watching her, and until he heard the sound of his own voice whispering, “Sassy Cassie”, he didn’t even realize he’d been moving towards her.

Yet, at last the dream faced him and Rick knew if he wanted to make a move it would have to be now or never. He chose now. Holding his breath he began to lower his head when the feel of Cassie’s hands on his chest stopped him. Thinking he’d misjudged her interest in him, he was about to back away when her hands moving up around his neck made him realize she hadn’t been trying to push him away, but pull him closer. With all doubts removed, Rick wasted no time wondering what the taste of her would be like.

Their lips barely touched when Rick leaned back and groaned slightly. Startled by his sudden withdrawal, Cassie looked up at him. His eyes were tightly shut and his breathing erratic. He seemed to be fighting a demon she was powerless to combat.

Pressing herself against him, Cassie waited until Rick opened his eyes.

“Don’t protect me,” she whispered. “Love me.”

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