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His first thought at the start of every day was always the same.
He’s home in the cozy apartment he shared with his wife. It’s winter, and they’re snuggled under the down comforter they’d gotten as a wedding gift from his sister. His wife is warm and naked, her body soft as she sleeps in his arms. The scent of her shampoo, the expensive stuff he bought for her at the salon she loves, surrounds him. He would recognize that scent anywhere, the scent of his woman.
His body responds predictably to her nearness. Any time he’s awake and naked with her, he’s hard and ready to claim her. He moves his hand from her flat belly, up to cup a full breast, toying with the nipple that awakens instantly to his touch.
Wanting to see her and watch her reactions, he opens his eyes and is punched in the face by reality.
Every damned morning.
He’s not in bed with his wife. He’s alone in the room he calls home now at the Sand & Surf Hotel on Gansett Island. The wife he’d loved beyond reason, to the point of blindness to the faults that ended them, is long gone. She divorced him after ruining him in just about every way a man can be ruined, leaving behind memories that torture him.
Shane McCarthy stared up at the ceiling he’d painted white the winter before when the Surf had undergone extensive renovations overseen by his sister Laura and her now-husband Owen Lawry. The call from Laura, pleading with him to come help them get the hotel ready for the summer season, had finally drawn him out of the dark hole he’d been in for nearly two years, mourning the loss of his marriageand a big chunk of his sanity.
He needed to get up, grab a shower before his nephew Holden woke up and get them both to the brunch Owen’s grandparents were hosting to celebrate the newlyweds. Shane was thrilled to celebrate his sister’s happiness with a man he liked and respected, but the minute he got up, he would lose Courtney for another day.
The beginning of every new day was the only time he gave her anymore. If he had his druthers, she wouldn’t even get that. But he was unable to control the places his mind went in that ambiguous space between dreams and wakefulness. So he gave her those minutes and nothing else. He took the time, upon waking each morning, to mourn what’d been lost, to grieve for what would never be again and to wallow, however briefly, in the past.