Released February 1, 2013
ISBN – 9780857990280
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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COPYRIGHT © RHIAN CAHILL 2013
Brent Coleman’s gut clenched when the doorbell echoed through the house, heralding the arrival of another of Valentine’s Dates. Watching from the window, he committed the licence plate to memory as the expensive car eased down the driveway and out of sight. His fingers tightened on the frame, his knuckles turning white with the effort to rein in his jealousy. The sequence of beeps behind him indicated the front gate had been passed and the following three longer and one short beep marked the activation of the perimeter alarm.
He let go of the window frame with exaggerated care and turned to check the control panel. The property was broken up into zones, each linked in an overall system that protected the premises of the sprawling three thousand-square-metre estate. It was overkill, but it was a valuable testing ground. Being able to work out the bugs in his latest programs on the harbour-side mansion meant real-life experience and he wasn’t stuck in the office twenty-four-seven. Luckily, Wade, his business partner and best friend, more than welcomed Brent’s need to regularly tweak the security systems their company built.
Satisfied the alarm was armed, he made his way back to his office. Working and living with Wade had never been a problem, even once his best friend married and had a baby. Vee moving back in, however, made him uncomfortable. The woman had been a thorn in his side since the day she turned eighteen and made it clear any attention he gave her would be willingly received. But he couldn’t bring himself to admit he’d fallen for his best friend’s little sister. Talk about a walking cliché.
Until that one slip up, where he’d fucked everything up royally. Brent dragged a hand down his face. Taking her virginity had been bad enough, but doing it the night they’d buried her parents? Christ. He was such a fucking arsehole. If Wade ever found out, he’d kill him. Not that Brent would blame him. Some days he felt his only option was to walk away, except he had no clue where he’d go or what he’d do. Besides, the sick, twisted side of him thought he deserved the torture of watching Vee find happiness with another man. Even if none of the guys she dated — and she dated plenty — were worthy of her.
There wasn’t a man on the planet that would treat her better or love her more than him. It was a shame she’d made it clear he was the last man she’d trust with her heart now. Trying to shake off his thoughts, he headed for the kitchen and the bottle of Jameson scotch he kept in the cupboard above the stove. The bottle wasn’t cracked and he had no intention of opening it anytime in the future, but he wasn’t above using it as a reminder of why he needed to stay in control. A reminder of what he’d lost.
Taking the bottle down, he placed it on the breakfast counter and pulled out a stool. For full minutes he stared at the deceptively innocuous fluid. He couldn’t blame his lack of control completely on the scotch he’d consumed during the day and night of the Johnsons’ funeral. Honesty compelled him to acknowledge he’d been close to breaking point before that gut-wrenching day. Add in alcohol, Wade’s emotional withdrawal, and Vee’s heartbreak, and Brent couldn’t stop himself from comforting Vee the only way he knew how.
With his love.
A love he’d taken back in the cold light of morning, under the heavy weight of guilt. He’d snuck away like a thief, not realising until Vee returned to university the mistake he’d made. By then it was too late to mend the rift his actions had caused.
The agony of watching her date all these years was a just payment for all the pain he’d caused her, and, until recently, he’d taken it as his due. But at some stage, probably when she’d moved back into her family home, his tolerance level had been reached. Brent knew he had to gain control of his turbulent emotions. With control came clear thinking and clear thinking would be the key to getting the one thing in his life he’d let slip through his fingers. The one thing he was determined to have.