Bliss – Chapter Three

Tensions continue to rise at the dreaded family dinner, and it’s only a matter of time before Dakota’s fury gets the better of her…

BOOK: Born Again



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It was always a source of amusement watching my children try, and fail, to fight off the sleep that was creeping up on them. They must have sensed something in the air, must have known they were going to miss out on some “fun”. Little did they know that I would’ve happily traded places with them, slept right through the dinner from hell, a rendezvous that had had me feeling queasy all the days leading up to it.

Putting them to bed an hour early was my idea, one that I’d been completely adamant about, and that Naomi had tried to talk me out of. But that wasn’t up for negotiation. I didn’t want my children anywhere near that man. After this evening, none of us would see him again anyway.

The twins were curled up in Gabriel’s bed with me, their eyelids growing heavy as they listened to me read their favorite book, and do the voices. They liked sleeping together, which reminded me so much of me and Dove when we were younger. His room and bed were where I’d felt most safe.

“I love you so much,” I whispered as I tucked them in, once sleep had finally claimed them. I kissed them both, and snuck out of the room.

The scent that hit my nostrils made my mouth water and my stomach growl. I followed it to the kitchen, where I found Naomi hard at work on the evening’s meal. I stood in the doorway watching her, feeling so many emotions, but mostly just love and gratitude. Her dark hair was in a loose, messy bun that she’d hastily tied up. She must have sensed my presence, because she turned around. I noticed the specks of flour in her hair and on her cheek.

She rubbed her hands on her apron, came to me, took my face in her hands and stole a kiss that I desperately needed.

“Hey, beautiful,” she whispered against my lips.

I wanted to smile, but I couldn’t. Not even for her. Not in that moment.

“We should have just ordered pizzas,” I said, casting a disgruntled look past her and to the mountain of delicious food she’d already prepared. She’d even made a caramel-pecan cheesecake from scratch, a family recipe. I hated that she’d expended so much effort on this man and his family. “From that really cheap, horrible place that got temporarily shut down for being overrun with rats!”

She laughed. “I don’t think that would have been very nice.”

“That’s kinda the point.”

She kissed me again; whenever I was being mean, this was her way of getting me in line. Sometimes I did it just to get this reaction from her, because one kiss was never enough.

“Honey, you said you’d be civil tonight,” she said in her wife tone — we both had one and knew when to use it.

“I said I’d try.”

She returned to the food prep, and I took a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator, poured myself half a glass, and sat down at the kitchen table. She’d even managed to borrow a spare from our neighbor, so we could seat seven, as ours could only seat four. All this fuss over him… it sickened me.

Bliss – Chapter Two

The arrival of the unwanted visitor begins to take its toll on Dakota’s mental state and her relationship with the people she loves…

BOOK: Born Again



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My heart was pounding so fast, so violently, I feared it would thump right out of my chest. There was a sudden tightness around my throat, a dryness in my mouth. I could hear my pulse throbbing in my ear. The corridor had become so tiny, the walls so close, like they were about to crush me.

“No,” I mouthed again, the sound caught somewhere in my throat.

“Hello Dakota.”

I blinked at him, trying to make out if he was really there and not a figment of my imagination, not a thing of my nightmares. I’d dreamed of him many times since he’d walked out. In my nightmares he was always the same — wearing his weathered leather jacket with the patches on the arms, and ripped jeans that were too tight for him. He always had the ponytail — the long, sleek, orange-gold mane that he adored more than his children — the beautiful hair I’d inherited. The only good thing he’d given me.

Well, that was gone now. Cut short. And the orange hair, whilst still there, had turned pale with age.

Even though his crisp, navy blue shirt covered his arms, I still searched for a hint of the colorful, garish tattoo sleeves that he’d been so proud of, and that I’d despised. I wanted to see them, just so something looked right again; just so I knew it was really him. Those tattoos of beautiful, half-naked women, majestic animals, hearts with names on them. Oh how I hated those tattoos. I remember thinking as a child that a man so cruel should never have such beautiful things painted on his flesh, because maybe the world would see them and think he was a nice person.

It took me a moment to realize I was trembling, and that my hands had curled into fists like they used to whenever I decided to fight back. Even back then I’d been stubborn, always ready to make a futile attempt to defend myself against a six-foot, two-hundred pound man determined to “knock some sense” into me.

For a second I’d forgotten that I wasn’t a helpless little girl anymore, and that, though he was still bigger than me, age and weight loss had shrunk him.

Dove must have sensed where this was going, because he stepped in front of the man who’d terrorized us throughout our childhood, his hands raised slightly, as though trying to steady a wild horse — a wild me.

Bliss – Chapter One

Dakota Pierre, now a devoted wife and mother, is living the life she always wanted. But how long will it be before that happiness is disrupted?

BOOK: Born Again



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The rush of lukewarm water against my skin felt amazing. I closed my eyes and let the water consume me, knowing it was only a matter of time before it all came to an end. Because it always did, around the five minute mark. I could almost set my watch by it.

Bang, bang, bang!

Ah, there it was. Right on cue.

Eyes still shut, I felt blindly for the shower valve, then twisted it, bidding farewell to my rare moment of freedom.

“Mommy, I hungry,” came the whines from the other side of the bathroom door. Two small voices, not yet able to get the words out properly.

I just had enough time to wrap towels around my body and my hair before I pulled the door open.

“I hungry,” the twins declared in unison, looking up at me with big, puppy dog eyes, brown just like their mother’s. They had much of her features — from the dark hair to the thick eyebrows — as though, by some miracle, we’d conceived them together. One of the benefits of choosing Naomi’s relative as a donor. Naomi had been apprehensive at first; but when her cousin, a gay playboy who had no intentions of settling down, said he’d happily help us start our family, we’d both decided on him. She would have loved them no matter what, I was sure of it, but the genetic connection just made our family that much more whole.

I shook my head, beaming from ear to ear as I looked down at my children — my twin blessings, who had been cutting my showers short for the two and a half years since their birth. Five minutes was about as much time as they granted me before they came looking for me, abandoning their favorite children’s TV show.

“Can Mommy put some clothes on first?”

My query received resounding, petulant “nos” from the twins, who always seemed to be in-sync with each other, from the things they said to the things they did. I’d read up on twin telepathy whilst pregnant, and had been expecting it, but not at such a young age.

I chuckled to myself, then led the way to the kitchen. They followed at my heel.

“What would you like to eat?” I placed them in their matching high chairs in what had become a very small kitchen, now that our family had expanded. The apartment was up for sale, but we’d chosen a terrible time to sell; the financial climate meant that there had been no offers, none that could be taken seriously, anyway. So we were stuck for the time being. Not a major setback, as the twins were still young enough to share a room. But eventually we would need to find a house.

“How does oatmeal sound, huh?”

They nodded.

“With banana and raisins for you, Skye; just banana for you, Gabe,” I said, mostly for my own benefit as opposed to theirs. I’d committed to memory that Gabriel was, under no circumstances, ever to be given raisins again. I’d learned my lesson the first time, after Naomi and I were finding squashed raisins all over the apartment for weeks! He must have picked them out and slipped them into his pocket before liberally discarding them.

Erica’s Dream

Erica keeps having a steamy recurring dream involving one of her old clients. Foolishly, she records everything in her journal, only for Dana to find it…

BOOK: Service Girl Chronicles



As the light of a new day permeated through my closed eyes, slowly dragging me from my slumber, I let out a low, choked moan. I was still in that limbo between sleep and consciousness.

When my eyes finally sprang open, I was aware of the contented smile on my lips, the tingling, warm sensation all over my body; the slight throbbing between my legs. My heartbeat raced. For a few brief seconds I lay in bed, blissfully sated.

Then reality hit me. The smile vanished. I sat up with a start.

“Oh no, not again!”

I could hear the shower running in the en-suite. I yanked open my bedside table drawer, retrieved my journal and pen, then promptly scribbled down a new entry, shaking my head furiously as I wrote.

The images of the dream were so vivid, every detail clear, as though it has happened before and was a mere memory. But the absurdity of it made me certain it could never have happened, not in this lifetime.

“This is bad,” I mumbled, over and over.

I was so engrossed in the writing, frantically trying to get it all down, that I didn’t hear the shower stop and Dana enter the room.

“What’s bad, sweetie?”


The journal almost flew out of my hands from the shock. I looked up to see my fiancée, one towel wrapped around her glistening wet body, while she rubbed at her damp brunette locks with another. God, she was beautiful. She seemed to grow more beautiful every day. In her most natural state, sans makeup, I didn’t know how she pulled it off. Forty-five and still the most beautiful woman in the world. And when she smiled at me, her eyes glimmering with love and affection, my heart melted.

It killed me to lie to her.

“Uh, my handwriting,” I managed, thinking fast. “It’s really bad.”

Her frown was playful. “I think your handwriting’s lovely.”

I laughed nervously. “Not first thing in the morning.” I snapped the journal shut and returned it to the drawer. “It’s like my motor functions don’t work.”

She laughed, then glided over to me, caught my face with one hand, puckering my lips, then kissed me.

“Good morning,” she purred.