EXCEPT FROM LONG LINE OF LOVE 5: ALL I NEED
© 2022 Marilyn Lee.
All Rights Reserved
Declan Grayhawk arrived at the large suburban Philadelphia mansion, still reeling from his breakup and in no mood to party. Still, the moment his host, Rayna Redwolfe-Stoner, ushered him into the large room, his gaze locked on one woman.
Tall and voluptuous, with nice legs, she wore a dark green dress that looked as if it had been custom made to highlight her curves and compliment her lovely dark skin.
“Stunning. Isn’t she?”
Aware that he was staring, he tore his gaze away.
Rayna slipped her arm through his. “Let me introduce you.”
“Have you met?”
“Then you can say hello to Seb and keep each other company. You and she are one of the few people flying solo tonight.”
He frowned. “Rayna—”
“Before you accuse me of matchmaking, I thought you were bringing Keely. Or is she coming later?”
“She’s traveling for business.”
“What could be better?”
“I’m not suggesting you cheat. Just let me make introductions. What you do after that is between the two of you.”
“That would be nothing. If I wanted the introduction.”
“You know what? I am not taking no for an answer. So don’t bother arguing. Come meet her.”
He allowed her to urge him across the room where her husband Sebastian Stoner stood talking to the woman near a table set for two.
“Doctor?” Rayna asked.
He shook his head. “No.”
“Why not? You earned the privilege.”
“I’m aware, but no.”
“As you wish.”
Sebastian and the woman turned to face them when they reached the table.
“You know Seb, of course,” Rayna said.
He and Sebastian shook hands before he turned to face the woman.
“Declan, this is Haven Delaney. Haven, this is Declan Grayhawk. Please help yourselves to whatever you want to eat and enjoy while I steal a few moments with Seb.” Rayna slipped her arm through Sebastian’s, and they walked away together.
Declan smiled and held out a chair for her. He then sat across from her.
“So. Declan Grayhawk.” She spoke in a soft, sensual tone that caressed his ears.
“And Haven Delaney.”
She extended her hand.
He reached across the table, expecting to shake hands. Instead, she took one of his in hers and ran her thumb around his palm.
He inhaled slowly, aware of an unexpected jolt at the contact. “What are you doing?”
“I’m getting your measure,” she said, smiling at him.
Damn. She had the most beautiful brown eyes. “Are you reading my palm?”
“I’d have to look at it to do that.”
“Then what are you doing?”
“I’m sensing you.”
“And what do you sense?”
“I sense warmth, kindness, compassion, a generosity of spirit, and a wonderful sense of power.” As she spoke, she continued to run her thumb along his palm.
“You sense all that from my hand?”
“No. From your palm.”
Intrigued, he arched a brow. “Why not my entire hand?”
“My grandmother used to say the soul of a man lived in the palm of his hand.”
“Hmm. My mother used to say the same thing about a woman’s eyes.”
“Yes? Well, different strokes. I like your hand.” Her thumb still moved over his palm while she maintained his gaze.
Her smile lit a tiny spark in her bottomless brown gaze. The flame radiated outward to turn her face into a captivating one from which he found it difficult to look away.
“I suppose you want it back.”
“But only when you’re finished with it,” he added.
“That might take a minute,” she said.
“Yes, but tell me. Do you believe in destiny?”
“I believe in many things.”
“Is destiny one of them?”
He shrugged, belatedly remembering Keely, who surely would not appreciate his behavior.
“I do,” she went on. “My grandmother used to say when you meet your destiny, embrace and enjoy it. She said to walk with destiny is to walk along the path the spirits have laid out for you.”
“The spirits? Is your grandmother Native American?”
“Unfortunately, she’s deceased.”
“Thanks. My grand was amazing in so many ways. However, she wasn’t Native American. But Cherokees raised her step-mom. That’s what she told my grandmother. I never knew great-grand, but she came alive in the many tales and truisms grand used to attribute to her.”
“They both sound like interesting women.”
“I bet your mom was, too.”
He nodded, uncertain how she knew his mother was deceased. “She had no peer.”
Her smile vanished, and she sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“I feel a sense of loss in you.”
“Thank you, but my mother has been dead for—”
“I didn’t just mean her death. I also sense a romantic loss.”
He inhaled slowly. Keely traveled often. So he hadn’t yet told any of his family or friends about their breakup. Yet she seemed to know. She must have what his mother called an ancient gift, as he and several of his siblings did.
So this was how it felt to have your thoughts invaded by another without your consent. Not a pleasurable experience. He withdrew his hand.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have commented on the well of unhappiness I sensed in you.”
“My apology for burdening you,” he said, annoyed at how easily she’d noticed his emotions.
She reached for his hand again, this time holding it between hers. “It’s not a burden.”
“Then what’s your point?”
“I sense a need in you and…” she rubbed her palm against his, creating yet another jolt of emotion he didn’t want to feel. At least not with her.
She shrugged. “And maybe I can help.”
“In what way?”
“Use your imagination.”
He frowned. “Are you coming onto me?”
“Of course not.” She bit her lip and then smiled. “Well, not you. Your palm? A little. I feel his unhappiness, and I’d like to help him.”
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