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All’s fair in love and war. That’s what I’d always believed.
Our marriage was built on bonds of honesty and mutual respect. Our son the glue that cemented our perfect union. The possibility of an affair never crossed my mind. Divorce was not in our future.
We were better than that.
Until, I found the text messages. The hotel receipts. Saw that the words “I love you” had been exchanged with increasing regularity. It was a living and breathing cliché. My husband. His secretary. Their desire to push me out of the picture.
I was happy to oblige. A tainted marriage was not for me.
My son was the only thing I had left. He was my reason to get up in the morning. To rebuild my life after the rug had been swept out from beneath my feet. The dark days weren’t quite so bleak because I had my child to brighten them. Until they took him from me.
Money and power were used to strip me of my dignity. Lies and deceit employed to steal my child. They thought I’d lay down and die. That I would be an easy target. They didn’t realise that there are some things a woman just cannot take.
Separation from her child is top of the list. My blood beats within my son. It gives him life. Fuelling him. Nourishing him.
It also sustains my rage. The birth of a child doesn’t simply create new life; it forges an unbreakable bond. A blood oath. A promise that you will always be there for them. That you’d kill to keep them safe which was something my ex-husband was about to learn the hard way.
Brace yourself for a brand-new romantic thriller from International Bestselling Author, Kylie Hillman.
When Emmaline Averell is forced out of her son’s life after a messy divorce, she’ll stop at nothing to find a way back to him in this thrilling tale of vindication as a mother’s love proves a lethal match against politics, power, and greed.
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“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” ~Agatha Christie~
The birth of a child changes everything. Your figure. Your marriage. Your heart.
I had loved my husband since I was fifteen. He had been my one and only since the day he asked me to go steady and every day since. Through ups and downs, bad days and good, it was me and him against the world.
I loved him with my whole heart.
Every beat since our first day as a couple had been for him.
Or so I thought.
Because the moment they handed me my newborn son, slippery, squirming, and screaming, I found a whole new level of love. What I felt for my husband was child’s play.
Since the minute of his birth, my heart has beat for my child.
I created his life. His life gave mine reason.
My bond with my son is indestructible.
And no man, no matter how much I once loved him, will ever break it.
“They’ve promised that dreams can come true – but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too.” ~Oscar Wilde~
Last night, I killed my husband.
At least, I dreamt I did.
Not that it matters. It felt so real that I can still feel the warmth of his blood running over my fingers when I reach over to silence the alarm clock that had just jolted me out of my nightmare. With one eye open in a squint, I flop onto my back and hold my hands in front of my face to examine them.
Lily-white skin greets me. The smooth skin that I constantly moisturise to silence the nagging voice that lives in my head and reminds me on a daily basis that hands are always the best indicator of a woman’s real age—a voice that sounds suspiciously like my mother’s—shows no signs of the heinous crime committed during my slumber. My antique white gold and diamond bridal set glistens from the ring finger of my left hand while my grandmother’s ruby graces the middle finger of my right. The buffed and manicured nails I spend a fortune to maintain remain perfect. The tiny freckle near the plumpest part of my thumb is where it should be.
My hands are clean.
Yet, my racing heart and jangled nerves refuse to believe what my eyes can see.
In my stomach, an inferno rages, burning from the inside out, fed by the guilt that I robbed the man I love of his life with nothing more than a sharp kitchen knife and self-righteous determination. As I plunged the knife into him, I felt nothing bar an overriding sense of justification. It had coursed through my veins, fuelling me, exhilarating me, promising me that once he was dead, all would be right in my life again.
My bottom lip trembles. My heart beats a staccato rhythm that steals my ability to breathe properly. My mind whirls with one question.
What could possibly make me dream about something so horrific?
“Emma.” Normally, G’s morning voice sends a shiver of longing down my spine. Today, I feel disgust when he greets me by the shortened version of my name. I don’t deserve his affection. “Are you okay?”
I close my eyes to will away the residual guilt of my nightmare and find myself overcome by an instant replay of the terrible situation my brain had conjured during the night. Visions of me, stabbing my husband until his chest was a macabre mess of sliced skin, exposed bone, and spurting blood, assault me. Dragging in a shuddering breath, I hold it deep in my lungs before I let it out between my lips with a silent plea for the images to leave me alone.
“What’s wrong?” G tries again.
I can’t speak. How on earth could I explain this without sounding like I’m in need of a seventy-two-hour psych hold?
When I don’t speak, my husband rolls his body over mine. He cages me inside his embrace, holding most of his weight off me, allowing the perfect amount of pressure to push me against the mattress. Enough for him to prove to my psyche that he’s real… and alive.
“Bad dream?” he asks, ducking his face into my neck and pressing his lips against my pulse point. “Was it about the babies?”
The care he takes to keep his tone neutral hits me in the heart. I know that my inability to carry another baby to term hurts him as much as it hurts me, yet he’s never once been anything other than sympathetic to my ongoing distress. Sometimes, I wish he was the type of man to lash out in pain.
At least, then I could let the full force of my grief free as well.
“Something like that,” I reply. With shaking hands, I move my fingertips over his defined back. As distractions go, it’s foolproof. He’s been hinting for weeks that he’s ready to resume the physical part of our marriage, and at my touch, I immediately feel his cock harden where it rests against my bare heat.
While my needy body feels as taut of a tightrope, my mind attempts a revolt at the thought of being intimate again. I love my husband. I love having sex with my husband. I want to be with my husband again. Unfortunately, using sex as a balm for my aching soul is like pouring more water over the head of a drowning man to revive him.
It’s both the cause and the consolation.
Getting pregnant hasn’t been the problem. It’s staying pregnant that’s the tricky bit.
Apart from the one aberration that resulted in my son, Devon, I have spent more time in the first trimester of pregnancy than I ever did in a court room when I was building my reputation as a bulldog of a defence lawyer back in the day. I’d promised myself that I’d stop counting the lost pregnancies when the number hit double digits, but like any woman who’s ever miscarried, I still have the numbers, dates, and times tattooed on my heart.
Fourteen times pregnant. One seven-year-old son and thirteen angel babies to show for it.
“Baby,” G whispers against the side of my neck. He rocks against me, ever so slightly, hesitation in his movements as he croons to me. “I’m gonna give it to you so good. Gonna make everything better. I’ve missed this so much. Missed feeling you even more.”
He nudges my legs wider apart and settles his trim hips between them. I tilt my pelvis to accommodate his forward motion, tensing a little as he pushes inside my body for the first time since we lost baby number thirteen.
Whatever I was expecting—pain, maybe?—doesn’t eventuate. Instead, I feel the usual burn and stretch as G thrusts all the way inside me. Hooking one leg around his hip, I move back and forth, meeting his pumping hips with the matching motion of my own. Like well-rehearsed dancers, we find the rhythm that pleasures us both with ease. Twenty-five years of practice has made our love making a finely tuned exercise. My hands roam his shoulder blades, his shoulders, and his biceps, gripping his upper arms with tight fingers when he picks up the pace.
G nibbles along my collar bone then he retraces the path with his tongue. Nipping at my chin with sharp teeth, he smiles when I gasp. Tucking both hands under my ass, he lifts me and holds me at the angle he seeks. He lowers his lips to mine, devouring my mouth, invading the inner recesses with his tongue, demanding I match his passion with thrusts of his hips that mimic the actions of his tongue.
“Oh, my,” I moan. Arching my back, I let the leg resting on his hip drop back to the bed. “I think I’m gonna—”
“I know you’re gonna come,” G groans his promise against my mouth.
“You need this Emma.” My husband’s tone brooks no arguments. His hips piston faster. His intent is clear. “You deserve this. Let it happen. Let me make you feel good. Let me make us both feel good.”
It feels wrong to enjoy the process when the eventual outcome is so painful. I’m unprotected—contraceptive-free—and his cock is bare inside me. My heart’s not ready for another sorrow, which is all we seem to create when we love each other like this.
Hence this being the first time in months I’ve allowed him inside me.
Stupid, stupid nightmare.
If I hadn’t woken up with guilt tattooed on my heart, I would’ve been in the shower before he was properly awake.
“Yes, you can,” G promises. He slows his pace to strong, measured thrusts before he peppers my face with tiny kisses. Lifting his head, he peers deep into my eyes, and pleads, “Let me show you how much I love you.”
Without waiting for my response, he pumps his hips like a man possessed, sliding in and out of my body, a jagged breath punctuating his low groans. He has total control—and it feels good to let go. In response to his ministrations, I arch my back further. G knows me too well. When you’ve given one man all your firsts, and seconds, and thirds—he becomes the only one who can use your own body against you. Propping my hips with one hand, he angles the head of his cock against the spot inside me that sends sparks through my nerve endings, then he uses the thumb of his free hand to work my clit in a figure-eight.
“Please, Gareth,” I beg, shaking my head from side to side. Tears well in my eyes and as the first shards of my orgasm splinters free, they spill down my cheeks and over my ears to the pillow under my head. “Please, stop. I can’t.”
“No,” my husband vows. He rests his forehead against mine and looks me in the eyes. This time he lets his own anguish show. “You can, and you will. I won’t stop until I’ve wrung every last drop of your orgasm from you.”
His blue eyes shine wetly. I see all the despair that I’m feeling in the sapphire depths. “Can’t you see that I need you back? It kills me to see you in pain. I need you more than I need air. Don’t deny me my oxygen. Please, Emmaline.”
Blinking fast, I try to stop the tears from flowing and concentrate instead on the climax that’s currently sending my vagina into spasms. If my husband needs my pleasure to feel better about us, then that’s what I’ll give him.
It’s the least I can do since I can’t give him a child.