It started as a simple search for a landscape designer…
I wanted a beautiful backyard for my new home and my neighbors suggested I look into Ward Landscaping & Design.
The owner had no pictures of himself on his website, just a portfolio of nice outdoor sitting areas, pools, and vibrant gardens that I’d always dreamed of having.
Of course I hired him.
I expected to meet an average guy, but Mr. Marcel Ward is far from your average man. He’s handsome, and well-built, and his smile—though a rare trait—is truly infectious.
He’s every woman’s dream—a handsome, older man who doesn’t mind getting down and dirty to create something beautiful all because of his passion for it. Unfortunately, that lucky woman can’t be me.
Although Mr. Ward tests my limits, quickens my breath, and makes my heart skip a beat when he’s around, I’ve promised to devote myself to my husband.
So why am I falling for a man I know I can’t have?
Marcel finishes off his lemonade and then walks around the counter, placing the glass in the sink. He’s standing right beside me now, and I draw in a breath when he turns my way. I smell the soap that lingers on his body—the Irish Spring that he probably uses religiously. My eyes slide up to his. He’s already looking down at me.
“I’ve been thinkin’, and somethin’ tells me this life you’re livin’ isn’t really you.” His voice is low, gruff.
“It’s a good life,” I tell him.
“That is obviously built on stupidity and bullshit.”
I narrow my eyes, peering up at him. My heart is racing all over again, my mouth going dry.
“Answer my question,” he demands, voice still low.
“Why does it matter to you?”
“Because if you aren’t in love with him, then maybe I won’t feel so bad about the things I wish I could do to you.”
I swallow hard, staring into his eyes. “I love my husband,” I say, but the statement is feeble, even to my own ears.
Marcel smirks. “But are you in love? Answer that for me.” He’s taken the final stride, standing right in front of me. He closes me in, planting his hands on the edge of the counter on either side of my waist, getting face-to-face with me. I look away, avoiding his eyes now, but I can’t avoid the giant in front of me or the heat radiating from his body.
“Maybe you should go back to work,” I whisper.
“I will once you answer me. And I want a real answer, not anymore of your bullshit.”
I shake my head. It’s hard to think with his body this close, his scent wrapped up around me. It’s much more primitive than Kyle’s. All man. “I love him a lot, and I would do anything for him.”
“Would he do anything for you?”
That question catches me off guard. My brows draw together. I don’t know how to answer that.
My silence lingers for only a second before Marcel makes a throaty noise. “Hmm.” He lowers his head, lightly running the tip of his nose across my jawline. “Damn shame,” he rumbles, then he inhales and groans, like he’s always wanted to know what I smell like this close. “If you were mine, I’d drop everything for you. Give you the whole goddamn world, little thing.”
His mouth hovers over my cheek, his warm breath running over my skin that’s now sticky with sweat. I close my eyes, hating myself for indulging in the sensations, but I can’t help myself. It’s…different. And wrong. So very wrong.
Doesn’t matter how upset I am with Kyle, having another man this close to me in our kitchen is wrong. A fantasy is one thing, but actually doing it is a whole other ballgame. Though I’m sure it’s an amazing feeling for a woman to have Marcel Ward between her legs, or pushed up against her body, that woman can’t be me, so I raise my arms and push him back.
He’s solid, so he hardly budges, but I make do, sliding sideways to get further away from him.
Fortunately, Marcel backs away with an arrogant smile. He heads for the double doors and pushes one of them open, still smiling as he looks back at me one more time. “See you soon, Gabby,” he says before walking out and shutting the door behind him.
I let the breath in my lungs escape, pushing off the counter and looking all around me, like I’m in trouble. What in the hell was that? What was he thinking! Maybe I was wrong about what I thought of the landscaper. Maybe he does see me in other ways…and deep down, I want to know what they are.
“Fuck my life,” I mutter and leave the kitchen before I can replay that whole scene in my head all over again.
Shanora Williams is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who loves writing about flawed heroes and resilient heroines. She is a believer that love outweighs all, but doesn’t have a problem making her characters fight for their happily ever after.
She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the mother of two amazing boys, has a fiercely devoted and supportive fiancé, and is a sister to eleven.When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her family, binge reading, or running marathons on Netflix while scarfing down chocolate chip cookies.