As a special holiday treat, here is a sneak peek of Master & Commander:
He stared at Zoey snuggled up against Declan as he entered the library. His heart was breaking, shattering into a million tiny pieces. It was hard to even breathe. He knew the decision he had made was for the best for all concerned parties, but he also understood the hole it was going to create-for all of them.
“Thanks for meeting me. I know you must be tired from your travels.” He couldn’t even voice the word honeymoon. It sliced at his heart.
“What did you want to discuss?” Declan asked with a raised eyebrow, his face a calm mask of sublime satisfaction.
Had he ever felt that complete? His heart beat rapidly in his chest. “I’ve decided to leave.”
“Are you taking a trip somewhere?” Zoey asked, cocking her head to one side, her confusion evident.
He shook his head, his gut clenched at the forthcoming pain. “No, lass. I’m leaving Scotland. I need to, it’s self-preservation. I already proposed this to the other members, and they approve. I’m going to open a DFC on a private island off Nassau.”
“What? Why? I don’t understand. I thought we were all happy,” Zoey cried, trembling in her husband’s arms.
And this was what he had been dreading, looking at the woman he’d fallen for, with tears in her gorgeous eyes and no full understanding of why he must leave her. As much as he wished things were different, you couldn’t make someone feel something they didn’t. Zoey had never once gazed at him the way she did Declan. Theirs was a bond and a love he couldn’t ever hope to compete with-not that he even would, as it would ruin his friendship with Declan and everything he’d built over the last decade.
God, he loved her. And he knew she cared for him, maybe even loved him, but he would always be second fiddle to Declan and his heart couldn’t take it.
He inhaled a deep breath before continuing, feeling the tinge of moisture in his eyes. “Lass, it’s for the best. You and Declan are man and wife now.”
“But that doesn’t mean-“
He cut her off standing. “I won’t sleep with another’s wife. And I need this.”
He had to leave now, before her sobs changed his mind. Zoey’s tears were ripping him to shreds. And then his best friend finally intervened.
“If that’s what you want, and if the other members approve to use the island we purchased, then I’m in agreement. I will miss having you around, though,” Declan murmured with understanding in his gaze. He knew that Jared loved his wife.
Zoey’s tears were falling fast and furious as she shook her head. “I don’t understand why you want to go away. I thought we were happy. I thought-“
His heart in his chest, he said, “I love you, lass. And as much as it pains me, I need to go.”
“We both love you, you don’t have to leave.”
He knelt in front of her and gripped her hands, staring into her hazel depths, now turned bright green with the storm of her emotions. He pleaded with her. “Please don’t make this harder than it is. I know you love me, but not the way you love Declan. It’s nothing for you to be upset about or apologize for, but I need to leave so I can fall out of love with you. Lass, I need you to let me move on, and I cannot do it from here.”
With the gentlest care, he pressed a kiss to her forehead and stood. He shook Declan’s outstretched hand, a wealth of emotion in his gaze. This man was his brother and best friend, and always would be. With a last caress of Zoey’s cheek, he said, “Goodbye, lass. Be happy.”
And then Jared turned away, feeling wetness trickle down his cheeks as he exited the library and the manor. He took one last look at his home and homeland. One day, he would return-one day, when it no longer felt like there was a knife being plunged through his heart. One day, when he no longer loved Zoey.
Available early 2017!
~ Anya Summers