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Jenna watched as the tuxedo-clad groom handed a tall stemmed glass to Suzie, his bride, then leaned in and kissed her on the curve of her neck, below the ear. His hand stroked along her shoulder, left bare by the exquisite beaded ivory-lace bridal gown she wore. Her eyes glowed as she smiled at him. Clearly, Suzie and Glen were deeply in love. Jenna felt her stomach clench, missing her own man terribly. The band started playing one of her favorite songs, triggering an intense craving to swirl across the dance floor with Ryan, the man she loved. Unfortunately, he had chosen not to be here. She was still angry that he’d backed out at the last minute. A trip to Toronto to fix some problems his clients, Bryer Associates, were having installing the new software his company had developed for them. It’s not that she didn’t understand the demands of running a business, it’s just that this was the latest in a string of broken plans. She had been looking forward to this wedding and the chance to indulge in an entire evening in Ryan’s arms as they danced the night away. Preferably followed by hours of hot sex. She’d barely seen him over the past two months, and they hadn’t made love in more than three months. She desperately wanted a night of hot sex! Cindy, Jenna’s best friend, nudged her elbow. “Look, here comes that hunky attorney, Kurt.” Jenna glanced around to see the blond, blue-eyed attorney who’d sat beside her at dinner approaching them, carrying a highball glass and two stemmed wineglasses clasped between his fingers. “Hello, ladies.” He deposited the glasses on the table, then picked up thetwo white wines, handing one to Jenna and one to Cindy. “I thought you might like something to drink.” “Thank you.” Jenna appreciated his attentiveness, but wished it was coming from Ryan. She sipped nervously, afraid he’d ask her to— “Jenna, would you like to dance?” he asked.
Cindy, who’d been trying to cheer her up all evening, nudged Jenna’s elbow, the insistent look in her emerald eyes encouraging Jenna to go. She ignored Cindy and shook her head. “Thanks, Kurt, but I don’t think so.” He took her hand and drew it upward, leading her into a slow twirl. “Come on, Jenna. I’m a great dancer,” he coaxed. “I’m sorry, but I’m involved with someone. I wouldn’t feel right.” “Just one dance couldn’t hurt,” Cindy interjected. Jenna wasn’t so sure. She longed to be held in Ryan’s arms, to be cherished and loved, but she was angry at him, too, and befuddled by a myriad of mixed thoughts and feelings. In fact, she’d been entertaining very serious doubts about their relationship. Kurt drew her hand to his mouth and his lips brushed her knuckles as he placed a lingering kiss on her fingers, sending her blood into a slow simmer. Kurt was an extremely attractive man. He was also intelligent, witty, and attentive. A killer combination. If she allowed herself to be swept into his arms, she might be tempted to forget she was in love with Ryan. With several glasses of wine already dimming the memory, and the heat of this attractive man surrounding her as he led her around the dance floor, she might decide that being loved was more important than who was doing the loving. Not that she’d ever sleep with a man she’d just met. “Are you sure?” Kurt asked. Before she had a chance to answer, Mona, the bride’s mother, approached and linked arms with him. “Kurt, you promised me a dance.” She smiled at Jenna and Cindy. “Girls, you wouldn’t mind if I stole him away for a moment, would you?” Cindy and Jenna had known Suzie and her mom since high school and Jenna had always liked the exuberant, lively woman. “Of course not,” Cindy answered. “I’ll be back,” Kurt promised as Mona led him away. “When he comes back, you should dance with him,” Cindy said, waving at them. “No, I shouldn’t. In fact, I shouldn’t have come without Ryan.” Not that he’d given her much choice. “Of course you should have.” Cindy patted her arm. “Just because Mr. Boring doesn’t want to have any fun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. That gorgeous new dress should not go to waste.” Cindy smiled in the direction of the three groomsmen standing by the bar watching them. “If you don’t want to dance with Kurt, pick someone else.
All the guys are eyeing you.” Jenna shrugged. She had noticed the men glancing at her, but their appreciative stares only made her uncomfortable. She had bought this dress to entice Ryan’s gaze and keep him focused on her and what they would do after the reception. “It would serve him right if you found a new guy to replace him right here, tonight.” “Cindy, I’m not going to—” Cindy squeezed Jenna’s arm. “I know, but it’s too bad. You deserve to be treated better.” “He’s just been busy, that’s all.” “On a Saturday night?” “I told you, he’s working under a deadline. The new software has to go live first thing Monday morning. He’s been fixing the bugs for the last couple of days and he’s testing everything tonight. He flies to Toronto tomorrow—” “Sunday!” “Yes, Sunday, so he can install the software and make sure it works on-site.” He would then stay for another week or so to train the users of the system and to be on hand if any further problems occurred. Jenna had no idea when she’d see him again. “And what about last month. And the month before.” Jenna sighed. “He has a business to run.” “Yes, and you have a life to live. Hopefully, not all alone. If he doesn’t make time to be with you, what’s the point in staying together?” Cindy’s words echoed Jenna’s thoughts over the past few weeks. What was the point? Maybe Jenna was just holding Ryan back? If he was free of feeling he had to spend time with her, he could throw himself into his work all he wanted. Jenna noticed Kurt approaching. “Here he comes,” Cindy said. “Are you sure you don’t want to—?” “I’m sure.” “Do you mind if I do?” Jenna smiled. “Not at all.” She opened her purse and rifled around inside it, looking busy to avoid Kurt’s gaze. His smile waned a little, but Cindy beamed at him invitingly. “Cindy, would you like to dance?” “I’d love to.” Jenna watched as the two crossed the room to the glossy wooden dance floor.
As Kurt took Cindy in his arms, Jenna longed to feel Ryan’s arms around her, to feel his lips on hers, to feel his body sliding on top of her. She longed to feel his hard maleness sliding into her. But more, she longed to feel wanted by him again. The heat of the room suddenly became unbearable. She tilted her glass, downing the wine, then plunked it on the table and strode toward the door. ryan typed the compile command. As the result flashed across the build window on his computer screen, his mind wandered to Jenna. He’d actually managed to go several hours without thinking of her. A new record. What was Jenna doing right now? Probably swirling across the dance floor at the reception in the arms of some hot, hungry stud hoping for a night of passion in her bed. Jealousy flared through him, but he knew, deep in his heart, he could trust his Jenna. Damn, but he wanted to be with her right now. He wanted to hold her in his arms. He could imagine her in the gorgeous red dress she’d purchased for the wedding, the slinky fabric caressing her curves, accentuating her generous breasts. As she twirled around the dance floor, the skirt would swirl up, revealing exciting glimpses of her long, shapely legs. His groin tightened at the thought of her body swaying against his, her breasts crushed against his chest, her hands stroking over his shoulders. After a few dances he would suggest they go back to his place, where he’d strip off the lovely garment to reveal her delectable naked body. Adrenaline rushed through him as he imagined her naked breasts under his hands, her nipples rising into his palms, pushing at them as though seeking escape. He would draw them into his mouth and she would moan softly. His cock pushed against his jeans, demanding release. He stroked his hand over the bulge in his pants. Damn, every time he thought about Jenna his body reacted like a horny teenage boy’s. He wanted her all the time. She was an obsession. Love. It could be damn inconvenient. As he remembered her hands stroking over his stomach, her fingers encircling his erection, then her delicate lips sliding over the head of his cock, he groaned. He wouldn’t give Jenna up for anything, but he simply had to find a balance in his life.
He couldn’t spend every moment with her, no matter how much he wanted to. He needed to make his business work. He needed to be a success. Like his brother, Jake. Ryan adjusted himself in his jeans, attempting to relieve the pressure. His erection waned a little as he thought about how embarrassing it would have been if his brother had still been here and noticed his raging hard-on. Thank God he’d sent Jake on his way half an hour ago, since there were only a few final details to handle. Certainly not enough to keep them both busy. Jake and Ryan were both software architects, but they’d each started their own company. Ryan had called Jake in on this because Jake had more expertise with the particular operating system the client used and there had been some strange interface errors occurring. Ryan glanced at his watch. Ten thirty. If he could finish up here in another half an hour or so, maybe he could head straight to the Westerly Inn and meet Jenna at the wedding reception. jenna stepped out of the ballroom, leaving the glitz and glamour behind. In the brighter lights of the atrium, she drew in a deep breath and sighed. She glanced around hesitantly. Ryan never seemed to have time for her anymore. She couldn’t understand why he had backed off so completely, but he had and Jenna had to face facts. The hot passion they’d shared a year ago had slowly dwindled over the past few months. Her heart compressed as she realized she was close to making a decision she had been struggling with for weeks. She didn’t want to be alone, and she’d felt more alone while dating Ryan these past few months than she’d ever felt while single. She loved him, she had no doubt about that, but it was becoming increasingly clear that he didn’t love her back. Not enough, anyway. Her heart ached as she finally started to face the truth. They both seemed to be hanging on, but what was the point? The relationship was over. Ryan seemed to be waiting for her to end it, so it was up to her. Cindy stepped out of the ballroom, followed by Kurt. “Jenna, are you okay?” A tear welled in Jenna’s eye and she dashed it away. She opened her mouth to say something, but her throat choked up and she couldn’t utter a word. Cindy whispered something to Kurt and he disappeared into the throng of the wedding reception. “Oh, honey.” Cindy curled her arm around Jenna’s and led her to a quiet corner near some tall plants. “What’s wrong?” jake strolled along the atrium, attracted to the lively dance music drifting from the ballroom. He’d finished dinner at the hotel and didn’t feel like sitting in the lounge alone listening to the piano. His gaze settled on the profile of a gorgeous young woman in a red satin gown sprinkled with glitter, who was chatting to a friend. She looked unhappy and he would have loved to sweep her into his arms and lead her around the dance floor in an attempt to bring a smile to her lovely features.
He wasn’t the type to crash parties, though, so he decided to just stand and watch her a little longer. The following morning, he would be accompanying his twin brother to Toronto to help him install his new software at Bryer Associates. Jake would ensure Ryan got the patches installed and would help with any last-minute problems that might occur during the on-site installation. Jake had flown to Ottawa from his home in Montreal in his little Cessna aircraft. He and Ryan had met for lunch and they’d spent the afternoon debugging the code. Everything was fixed and tested now, but Ryan, obsessive as always, was spending the rest of the evening testing and retesting every aspect of the system. Tomorrow, Jake would fly them both to Toronto for the meeting. Jake would return after the installation was completed on Sunday, but Ryan would stay a while longer to ensure everything went smoothly. Right now, Jake intended to relax and enjoy himself. “i . . .” jenna gulped, then tried again. “It’s not going to work out with Ryan, is it?” She glanced at Cindy’s face and the tight line of her friend’s lips told Jenna all she needed to know. Tears pushed at her eyes. “I’m going to have to . . .” Her throat clamped tight, muffling a sob. She sucked in some air, then continued. “. . . to break up with him.” She hated the finality of hearing the words out loud. Cindy slid her arms around Jenna and gave her a hug. “Sweetie, I’m sorry.” Cindy drew away and opened her small satin bag, then fished out a clean tissue. She handed it to Jenna, who dabbed at her eyes. “He just seems to have lost interest in me.” “You did tell him about your sexual fantasies, right?” “Yes. Last weekend.” “You included the virgin captured by the pirate?” Jenna nodded. “And the sex with a stranger?” “Uh-huh.” Cindy shook her head. “I can’t believe he didn’t jump your bones on the spot.” Jenna remembered how Ryan had closed up when she’d told him, putting an even greater distance between them. Rather than being aroused into a spontaneous sexual romp, he’d called the night short and left in a hurry. “So when are you going to do it?” Cindy asked. “As soon as he gets back, I’m going to—” “Omigod, Jenna, I don’t believe it.” Cindy’s gaze angled over Jenna’s left shoulder and locked on something. A sudden prickle scurried up her spine. “What is it?” Jenna turned around to see a pair of deep blue eyes staring at her. Her heart did a backflip and a smile turned up her lips. Ryan! Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Batten-Carew. All rights reserved.