Monday, March 01, 2010

Pride & Passion Blog Exclusive Excerpt

Lily closed her bedroom door behind her and slumped against it, flipping the lock with a flick of her wrist. When she was alone with Jake Tolliver, sometimes she forgot who he was. Lucky for her, he had no problem showing his true colors.

He was a perfect match for the hard edges and biting remarks of Dee Gibson. They deserved each other. So why was she shaking because she’d caught sight of Dee’s arms around Jake in the foyer?

She refused to think about it. She’d done what she had to tonight. She’d held her tongue, buried her pride and let Dee turn the heat up under Jake. Hopefully it was enough to have him rethinking his marriage demand. She couldn’t live in a relationship like this. Not without homicide being an option.

Lily pushed off the door, crossed her room and then pulled back the painting over her wall safe. She worked the combination with ease and slid out her jewelry case.

She had no intention of keeping the beautiful necklace from Jake, but she thought something so lovely should be treasured and protected until she could return it. She set the box on top of her vanity, right next to the colorful bouquet of lilies.

Being near him was the worst kind of emotional torture. Such a dichotomy of what she craved and what she loathed. She flipped open the lid of the box, noticing how the jewels glittered in the light.

A thought skittered across her mind. She could sell everything in the box and probably have enough money to be rid of Jake, to finish school and stay in an apartment until she could secure a teaching position. She could, except how much were her mother’s pearls worth? She fingered the strand, wondering if anyone would care that the pink pearls were one of the few things she could remember her mother wearing. Eventually she could buy herself another diamond tennis bracelet, but it wouldn’t be the one her father had gotten her for her high-school graduation.

She pursed her lips and blinked away the hot tears as she reached behind her and undid the clasp of Jake’s necklace. She dropped it in the box, refusing to look at it as she removed her diamond teardrop earrings. College graduation from Dad.

It was stupid jewelry. Just things. She slammed the lid closed and shoved the box back in the safe, closing it quickly. They might be things, but they were tangible pieces of her memories.

What was it Jake said? Memories live in your heart? What if it was broken? Might all the memories spill out with your tears?

Lily choked on a sob as she walked into her closet and shed her dress, leaving it in a pile on the floor. She didn’t want it anymore, didn’t want anything to remind her of how she’d felt while sitting at a table with Jake and his lover. She slipped on a nightgown and turned off the light. She stood at the window, staring at the dark night. Dee’s car was gone, which gave her some modicum of relief. She wouldn’t have to think about them together in the house. At least if he slept with Dee tonight, he had the decency to do it elsewhere.

She sunk down onto her bed and pressed her palms against her damp eyes, trying to stem the flow. Maybe she was as stupid as everyone thought. She was jealous of a woman she never wanted to be, wanted a man she could never actually have.

“Lily?” Jake’s whisper drifted through the door and straightened her spine.

She listened and waited for him to try the handle, but he didn’t. Instead, she heard his retreating footsteps. The darkness and silence must have been enough to convince him she’d fallen asleep. If only it would be so easy to convince him she still hated him.

Pride and Passion
Copyright © 2010 by Jenna Bayley-Burke

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