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God, she hated conflict, especially the kind between her and Alex. And really, if this whole emotionally draining, nerve-twitching situation was anyone's fault, it was his. After all, he'd been the one to give her the gift card she'd used to buy the first book. And the second. And the third.
Jessica Meyers sighed disgustedly as she tested the water of her bubble bath. No, none of this was Alex's doing. It was all hers, and she was going to have to find a way to fix it. Soon, before the confused frustration she saw in her husband's eyes turned into something irreparable.
It was late, but she needed to unwind. The kids were sound asleep, and Alex, a Maryland State Trooper, was still at work. He probably would be all night, unless the MSP caught a break on the case that had been all over the nightly news. It was quiet for once, and maybe now she could figure out what the hell she was going to do to make things right again.
She lit some aromatherapy candles that matched the scent of her bubble bath, turned off the overhead light and climbed into the claw-foot tub, sighing as the steamy water did its thing on her muscles. She settled back and closed her eyes, breathing deeply, letting the soothing aroma of eucalyptus seep into her pores. Her hands drifted idly over her stomach, back and forth through the thick bubbles.
Alex. She loved that man so much, even more than the day she'd said I do. They'd been through a lot together these past fifteen years, but never once had she been sorry she'd married Alex right out of college. She still wasn't sorry. She couldn't imagine ever being sorry. And yet, as much as she loved Alex and their life together, she was restless and itchy, and it had all started with a book.
It had been another Friday night, and she'd been alone in the house. Ten-year-old Kara had been sleeping at her best friend's house, and seven-year-old Ben had gone on a camping trip. Alex and Jess had planned a much-needed date night, but then Alex called her to say he'd caught a case and would be working late.
Jess was frustrated, but she'd been a cop's wife long enough to suck it up and not blame Alex for things out of his control. Rather than sit home alone, she drove to the bookstore in Frederick, looking for something new and fun and distracting to read.
She picked up book after book, looking at the covers and reading the backs, but nothing caught her attention. She was kneeling on the floor, surrounded by possible choices, when she found it on the bottom shelf.
The cover drew her attention first. It showcased a hazy photograph of a wrought iron four-poster bed with plush white bed linens, rumpled as if someone had just woken and stepped out of the room. A silky black scarf, tied in a knot like a blindfold, lay at the foot of the bed. Men's ties were looped around each of the four posts.
Her mouth went bone dry, her mind whirling with images of what might've happened in that bed. She flipped the book over to read the back cover copy and got sucked right in. The erotic promise in those words flowed over her like warm honey, and she turned to the first page. Exactly what she'd been looking for. She paid for her book and headed home.