Haunted CastleThe dawn broke through the window as Lauren snuggled into Simon’s chest. Simon had been a fixture in her life since college. At the age of twenty, while vacationing in Florida with her aunt and uncle, she had met Simon.

Originally from Australia, he relocated with his mother to Florida when he was fourteen. Each summer after that, Lauren went with her aunt and uncle for the sole purpose of meeting up with Simon.

Although his stature was shorter than she preferred, his deep blue eyes and curly blond hair made up for any imperfections. His winning personality had been an added bonus. Through the years, the relationship between Lauren and Simon had gone from an emotional one to a physical one.

Now Simon traveled all over the world as a published author. He wrote nonfiction, mostly about wars and Australian history. It had been Simon who introduced Lauren’s writing to a publisher. Her fictional short stories engaged the acquisitions editor, so Simon encouraged Lauren to write a novel.

With Simon’s success, an agent eventually picked his work up. Lauren hoped this would happen for her, too.

Simon sighed as he took Lauren into his arms and kissed her forehead gently.

“Mmm, I’ve missed you, love,” he said softly in his thick Australian accent.

Lauren exhaled. Although they put their emotional connection to rest years ago, she still feared Simon wanted more from her. He fulfilled her physical needs for intimacy without strings attached.

“Where will you be going next?” she asked.

“I’m booked in London and then it’s to Tokyo for public speaking forums. How are you coming along with your book?”

“Good; almost finished. Rhonda said she needed the last few chapters for the editing team.”

“Rhonda is a sweetheart,” he said.

“I know you’re sleeping with her,” Lauren said.

“You’ve known that for years. How else could I get my work published? I have to perform well,” he joked.

Sharing Simon didn’t bother her in the least.

“So, how’s the new partnership coming along? You know, the FBI agent?” Simon inquired.

“He’s a jerk.”

“Have you even given him a chance? He might be a nice guy and maybe you’re just being pigheaded.”

“I’m not pigheaded.”

He laughed loudly. “Lauren, you don’t even know yourself, do you?”

“I do too!” she protested as she looked up at him.

Simon examined her gaze intensely. “Deep down, lover, you like this bloke. He gives you something you need. I’m not sure what, but you won’t even admit it to yourself yet.”

“You’re insane. He is a complete idiot, and he’s utterly disrespected me.”

“Well, look how long it took me to earn even a fraction of your respect. God help the man, I don’t know how he tolerates you.”

She gave Simon a playful slap on the stomach. “You keep it up and the next time you visit, things won’t be so friendly.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want that,” he said as he brushed the hair from Lauren’s face. He leaned down and kissed her lips gently. The burning inside of her grew until she quenched the heat with his touch, his embrace, and finally his body.



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