Roman Satisfying Her Darkest Fantasies chapitre Chapitre 2

She took a deep breath and forged ahead.

“I’ve found a place that specializes in . . . dominance. I need to know if it’s what I’m missing. If it’s always been what I’m missing. Maybe I’ll find the answer. Maybe I won’t. But I have to try. I have to know. And I couldn’t go without telling you. Without explaining that I never lacked for anything when we were married. I never doubted even for a moment that you loved me, and you would have given me the moon if I asked. But this . . . This I couldn’t ask you for. And right now I need something to fill the void. There’s a hole in my soul, Clement. One that I may never fill again. But right now I’d take even a bandage. Temporary solace, if you will. I just wanted you to know. I’ll be okay. I’m not going into a dangerous situation. I’ve made certain that I’ll be safe. And as painful as it is for me to say this, I’m finally letting you go. I’ve held on to you for too long now. I can’t do it anymore. Life is happening around me. Life goes on. That sounds so trite, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Karla and Ken worry for me. Sophia worries. And Derrick. God, I’m surprised he hasn’t washed his hands off me yet. I’ve been such a burden to him—to them all—these last three years and I don’t want to be that woman any longer.

“You gave me the confidence and independence to fly. I want that back again, Clement. You taught me so much. You gave me the world. The problem is when you left, you took my world with you. And I want it back again. I want to live and not be this hollow shell of myself that I’ve been since you died.”

She drew in a steadying breath, knowing what she said next was dumb. But she had to get it off her chest. Say it and then let go of the nagging emotion.

“I also want to tell you that I forgive you. I know that sounds so stupid. You don’t need my forgiveness. But I was so angry with you for so long for leaving me. I was so selfish. I’ve spent three years being angry and resentful, and starting today, I’m not going to be that person anymore.”

She let her hand drift down to glide across the sun-warmed marble of the headstone.

“I love you. I miss you. I’ll always love you. But good-bye, Clement. Wherever you are, I hope you’re at peace and I hope you know how very much I loved you. Thank you for loving me.”

She closed her eyes as tears gathered and she didn’t reopen them until she was certain she could return to the car where Derrick waited without looking like she’d fallen apart.

With one last glance at the grave and the flowers that had already lost a few petals to the wind, she turned, squared her shoulders and walked away. The wind picked up and the sun broke further through the clouds, shining down on her face. She turned her face upward, soaking in the warmth as peace enveloped her in its gentle embrace. It was as if Clement were sending her a message, or perhaps she only imagined him blessing her decision.

Derrick held the door open for her, his gaze fixed on her face as if he were trying to ascertain her mood. She was careful to keep herself from showing any outward emotion. Because what she would say next she was certain he would object to, and if he thought she was upset, he’d never leave her alone the rest of the day.

She waited until he was behind the wheel and they were driving away before she turned to him.

“I have lunch plans today, so you don’t have to stay with me. And I have plans for tonight as well,” she murmured, letting him make of that what he would.

Derrick’s brow furrowed, and he made no effort to hide his concern. He reached for her hand as they stopped at a light.

“What’s going on with you, honey?”

His tone was worried and his eyes were boring intently into hers.

She gave him a half smile. “I’m having lunch with Sophia and Karla. It’s time I stop with the grieving widow act every year on the same day. It’s been three years, Derrick. He’s gone and he’s not coming back.”

She halted a moment, the pain of her statement momentarily stealing her breath. But it had to be said. To be acknowledged. And perhaps saying it aloud made it that much more real.

She could swear she saw relief flash in his deep brown eyes, but it was gone so quickly she was sure she imagined it.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come over after you have lunch with the girls?”

She shook her head. “No. It’s not necessary, Derrick. You’ve babysat me for long enough. It’s time for me to stand on my own two feet. I’m sure it has to come as a relief to you that you don’t have to hover over me for fear I’ll lose it. I’m just sorry I’ve been such a burden to you for so long.”

This time a glint of anger flashed in those dark eyes. “You’re not a burden, damn it. Clement was my best friend, Sandra. He—and you—mean a hell of a lot to me.”

She squeezed his hand as he accelerated after a car behind them honked angrily when Derrick didn’t immediately go when the light turned green.

“And I appreciate that. I appreciate all you’ve done for me. But it’s time, Derrick. I have to do this. He’s gone. I have to accept that.”

Derrick didn’t respond. He directed his gaze forward, tension thick in the interior of the car. Had she angered him? She’d only been honest, and she’d sincerely thought he would be glad that he no longer had to treat her like a fragile piece of glass. That he could resume his own life without making her a priority in his.

When they arrived back at her house, she got out, as did him. He walked her to the door and she went in, turning back to tell him thank you and good-bye.

“This isn’t good-bye,” he said tightly. “Just because you think you no longer need me doesn’t mean I’m going to just disappear. Prepare yourself for that, Sandra.”

With that, he spun on his heel and strode back down the sidewalk, leaving her staring open-mouthed as he drove away.

Sandra zipped into the parking lot of the Lux Café on Westheimer and parked her BMW roadster next to Sophia’s silver Mercedes coupe. The car had been a gift to Sophia from Clement on her twenty-first birthday, just one year before he’d been in the fatal car accident that had taken him from both his wife and his sister.

Clement and Sophia had gone to Las Vegas frequently. He loved to gamble and he’d taught Sophia how to play all manner of casino games. He’d even sharpened her poker skills enough that she’d become a formidable opponent at the tables. Clement had always chuckled when her winnings topped his own, though she refused to play at the same table as him because his competitive streak was such that he didn’t like to lose. Even to his wife.

Their favorite place to stay was the Venetian, where Sandra had discovered the Lux Café and all the wonderful food on the menu. She’d been delighted when one had opened in Houston, and it had quickly become a favorite place for them and their friends to eat.

She hurried to the entrance, checking her watch with a grimace. Clement had always teased her about her lack of punctuality, and she was fifteen minutes late for her lunch date with Sophia and Karla.

The two women were waiting inside when Sandra rushed in. Her gaze immediately settled on her sister-in-law. The anniversary of Clement’s death was as hard for her as it was for Sandra because Clement was her only family. Sandra had made the effort to make sure she and Sophia remained close after his passing. They’d clung to one another, both grief stricken over their loss.

Shadows were evident in Sophia’s eyes, but they brightened when she saw Sandra and immediately went to hug her.

“How are you?” Sophia whispered.

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