Twice the Night
ISBN eBook: 1605042528
ISBN Print: 9781605045689
Also available in print as part of the MOONLIGHT AND SHADOWS anthology including the following stories: “Tooth and Claw” by Annmarie McKenna, “Trust the Moon” by Jamie Craig, and “Twice the Night” by Dawn Halliday.
Can one woman be twice beloved?
After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder by a gang of vampire thugs, it took Tamara O’Leary four long years to learn to be happy again. Now she and Duncan’s best friend Cole Thompson, after working through their shared grief, are about to be married. Finally, she can eagerly look forward to the future with a man who has not only reopened her heart, but brought her out of her sexual shell.
Until one night she awakens to find Duncan gazing lovingly at her. He’s not just a beautiful dream. He’s real…and he wants her back.
Tamara still has feelings for Duncan, but she isn’t willing to give up what she’s found with Cole. Worse, she soon learns that Duncan survived that night by turning into the very thing she fears most—a vampire.
Caught between tears of joy and terror, Tamara has a choice. Retreat back behind her shell of fear—or step boldly into the arms of two men who love her.
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“Put me down,” she whispered.
Duncan let her slide down his body. She could still feel the long, hard length of him between them.
“What am I doing?” she groaned, covering her face with her hands. “Oh, Duncan.” She was shaking again. He closed his arms around her, holding her tightly, but now it felt all wrong.
“What is it, love?”
She shuddered in his arms. “Cole is downstairs. Cole, Duncan! I’m marrying him in six weeks!”
Unable to control the trembling, she pulled away from him. She grabbed the first thing she could find to put on. It was a shirt of Cole’s, and she yanked it angrily over her head.
It smelled of him, spicy and woodsy, and it covered her down to her knees.
Arms crossed over her chest, she sank into the single armchair in the room and watched Duncan get dressed. When he had his jeans on, he looked at her. “Shite, Tammy. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen.” He pulled on his T-shirt and then went to the edge of the bed and sat, facing her in silence for a long moment. Finally, he said, “I should have revealed myself to you a long time ago, but I didn’t. I was wrong, but at the time, I couldn’t help it. The first time I saw you again, you were with Cole, and you looked happy. I wanted you to be happy, love.”
“Without you?” She stared at him, aghast. “Are you crazy?”
He pushed a hand through his black curls. “I’m not the same, Tammy. I went through… I thought you’d be better off without me.”
“How the hell could you think that?”
His expression went flat. “As I said—I’ve changed.”
Tightening her arms across her chest, she glanced at the closed bedroom door. “How’d you get in if you didn’t talk to Cole?”
He glanced away and then back at her. “I had a key made. I let myself in.”
Her breath stuttered in her throat as she stared at his shadowed form. At his GQ face, the dark eyes that gave him just the slightest dangerous air, the thick curly hair that she’d loved to comb her fingers through. His wide shoulders and slightly tapered waist and hips. The black tee accentuated every muscular curve of his chest and shoulders.
His dark good looks combined with his sexy accent had always made him the type of guy that had women falling at his feet at every turn. When she’d first met Duncan, she’d been convinced he was way out of her league, and she’d nearly passed out in shock when he’d asked her out that first time.
He looked exactly as he had four years ago. Not a mark on him from that awful night. How could that be? A plastic surgeon had worked on her scar, but it was still visible when one looked closely.
Chewing on her lower lip, she met Duncan’s dark eyes. “So you aren’t upset? About me and Cole getting married, I mean.”
Smiling ruefully, he shook his head. “No. I’m not upset. I’ve had a couple of years to get used to the idea of you two together.”
But why? Maybe… “Was there someone else?” she whispered, imagining some woman nursing him back to health, falling in love with him… She closed her eyes against the biting jealousy that thought conjured.
He pursed his lips. “No, there isn’t someone else, and there never was. But aye, there were lovers. Not anymore. I didn’t love them. They weren’t my wife. You are.”
For a moment, she just stared at him stunned. He’d had sex with other women. Lots of other women by the sound of it. She felt like kicking his ass. In fact, she kind of wanted to wrap her hands around his neck and strangle him.
Then again, she’d been with Cole. His one-time best friend. She’d been with him a lot, and in more ways than she’d been with Duncan.
Maybe that made them even in some warped way.
She shook her head desperately, rubbing the bridge of her nose between her fingers. “God, this is too much.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not your wife. I can’t be. I’m going to marry Cole.” She tried to breathe, to tamp down the hysteria. Duncan was alive, and she was going to marry Cole. And she had no intention of stopping the wedding, even though Duncan was back. And yet, even after four years, she still thought of Duncan as her husband.
What a twisted, impossible situation.
“You are my wife.” He took a deep breath. “But I still want you to marry Cole.”
She gaped at him. “Duncan, I—” She snapped her mouth shut. “You’re confusing the hell out of me. Why are you back? What do you want from me? Why now?”
He gave a low chuckle. “I knew this wouldn’t be the easiest thing—for either of us. Let’s just take it a wee bit at a time, all right?”
“O…kay,” she said, not following him at all.
“Look, Tammy. We have all the time in the world to become reacquainted with one another. I’m back. I want you. But I’ve no plans to interfere with the life you’ve made with Cole.”
“Um. Okay,” she repeated, for lack of anything better to say. She was so confused.
“I love you, sweetheart. I never stopped loving you.”
Again, tears sprang to her eyes. Four years of mourning your dead husband was a long time. She’d loved him, cried for him, missed him. She still had terrible nightmares about that night.
After all that, Cole had brought lightness back into her life.
“I know. You’re in love with Cole.”
“It’s all right.”
She shook her head at him, looking at him with wide eyes. “Why? If you knew I was happy with Cole, why did you come back now?”
“Because, after all this time, I realized something.”
“What was that?”
He pinned her with his deep brown gaze. “I’ve spent too long away from you. I need you, Tammy girl. I don’t want to live without you.”