Best Friends, Secret Lovers

By: Jessica Lemmon

Jack nodded. “Seating chart. Casino theme. Got it.”

His words blurred together as Brea studied her family through the hall window. They were scattered around the conference room, some speaking in pairs, others clustered behind Jack.

Brea’s gaze skirted to her baby sister, Delaney, a slender woman with dark wavy hair, standing quietly. Dressed in a simple red sweater dress and knee-high cognac-colored boots, Delaney visibly brightened as she leaned forward to look at the paper Isabeau handed to Jack Steele.

Brea swallowed hard. Memories of playing dress up with her sisters, decades ago, scrolled through her mind. Days of making bridal veils from towels with her sisters. They’d dreamed of planning those real family events together.

Her life was such a jumble.

Brea remembered her family, her childhood. But in the years that had passed since the crash, it felt like those memories had become unreliable. Thanks to the lies and betrayal of her “adoptive” parents, she questioned what was real...and what she wanted to believe.

There was so little she knew for certain. Such as how her mother had a special seal hunting knife called an ulu that she’d used to cut their pizza. Her mother’s impossibly strong and reassuring “I love you” as the plane had plummeted.

Everything else? Up for debate and analysis.

The caress of Ward’s hand on the small of her back pulled Brea back to the present. She looked at him, startled, curious.

His smile gave her only a moment’s warning before he announced, “I guess this is as good a time as any to let them know our little secret.”

Panic sent her heart racing. Had he seen her take off the gloves after all? Maybe there were cameras in his office?

“Um, let’s talk about this.”

“You’re such a tenderhearted woman.” His hand slid up her spine in a body-melting stroke that ended with his arm around her shoulders. His expression showed a warmth she’d never seen from him before. “It’s sweet of you to worry what your family will think. I know they’ve only just gotten you back, but I think they’ll understand the need to share you.”

“Share me?” She was struggling for air.

Talk about being knocked off-balance. Her efforts to pull one over on her family had been amateur compared to this move. And she was too damned speechless to come up with a rebuttal as he tucked her closer to his side.

“Yes. Share you. With your boyfriend.” Ward’s grin dug dimples in his wind-weathered face before he announced, “Brea and I are dating.”

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