BOUND BY YOU - Chapter 1

Since having three children, nothing has been the same. Life revolved around the little people and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I missed my husband.

Brett MacLean spent day in and day out at work. Managing our ever-growing line of night clubs took most of his time. He always made time for our kids. With Miracle being ten, she had the attitude that I grew up with. I didn’t know how my father did it. Living with a snobby daughter who thought she was turning twenty was enough to drive me insane. But she was daddy’s little girl, just like I was. And our sons, Eddie and Patrick were mama’s boys. God I loved them more and more each day. The lives that I created with another human being was surreal since it was never meant to be.

Although I had lived with Brett and have been married to the man for over ten years, I missed him. Was it possible to be with someone and feel like you didn’t know a damn thing about them? I could feel us drifting apart. I could feel our love slipping between my fingers.

“Are we okay?” I had asked him on the phone a couple of nights before.

“Of course.” He paused. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

I bit back a scoff and chose my next words carefully. “I’m just asking.”

“Evvie,” he said, his voice low and gravelly. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” I mumbled. I loved him more than life itself but lately he had become so damn oblivious. Work took over since I was now staying at home to take care of the house and our children. With all of them being in school, I could go back but he was adamant that I didn’t. Brett had assistants and the such but Brett MacLean was controlling and needed his hands on everything. I was living proof of that.

“If you’re sure that nothing is going on, then I have to go.” His tone was clipped, short and to the point and it broke my heart.

I could feel a piece of me shatter every time that I talked to him. Was this how marriage worked? After so many years, you just lose sight of things and fall out of love?

I sighed. “Fine,” I said and hung up the phone.

Since then, Brett had hardly talked to me. A kiss here. A hug there. But it was different. Something had switched, turned off between us and I couldn’t figure out what it was. The spark that had brought us together was simmering into a dull heat, practically disappearing before my very eyes. The attraction was still there, but the intensity wasn’t and I didn’t know how to get it back.

Grumbling to myself, I continued cleaning our house while I waited until it was time to pick up the kids from school. The loud bass of the dance music pounded through the living room making my hips move of their own accord. Dancing and cleaning were one in the same in my world. I couldn’t do one without the other.

When the doorbell rang suddenly, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Focused on getting the house spotless, I had forgotten that I was expecting Anna Brinson, a bombshell beauty from England, over for brunch.

Being in love with my husband before we ever got married, Anna and I had clashed in the beginning. I had trust issues when Brett had a reputation and I assumed that she was trying to steal him from me. Years later, we were now friends and we couldn’t be closer. I loved her like a sister that I was never blessed with. I loved my brothers but sometimes a girl needed a little estrogen in her life.

Turning off the music, I greeted her at the door.

“Hey, Evvie.” She smiled and pulled me in for a tight hug. “How are you?”

I returned the embrace and let out an aggravated sigh. “Oh, I’m just fantastic. How are you?”

She leaned back, her perfect dark brows narrowing. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Why would you think something’s wrong?” I asked, walking past her and into the kitchen.

“Because you sighed,” she said, following me. “You only sigh when you’re upset about something.”

Damn woman who knew me too well. “I’m fine,” I muttered.

“What did Brett do?” Anna grabbed a beer from the fridge and rested her hip against the counter.

“It’s not even five in the afternoon and you’re having a beer?” I teased, trying to get the topic of my mood off the table.

She pointed the bottle in my direction. “I’m British, remember? Besides,” she winked. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

I laughed, shaking my head.

“So, talk to me, honey,” her voice softened. “What’s going on?”

“That’s just it. I have no idea. Since I started staying home, Brett has been working overtime. I’m concerned he’s going to work himself into the ground.” A heavy weight lifted off of my shoulders as the words escaped my lips. If only I could tell Brett how I had felt.

“He’s definitely a hard worker. What else is going on?”

I distracted myself and pretended not to hear her question while I finished up the dishes. There was no way that I would tell her that I hadn’t made love to my husband in over a week. And that I hadn’t felt that connection, that undying want in months. Maybe even longer.

“Evvie?” Anna stood beside me and placed a hand gently on my arm.

I swallowed hard and shook my head. I needed to talk to Brett first. He was the type of man that would lose his shit if I told someone else our problems before going to him. But I, of course, played it off like everything was fine. That little fantasy bubble popped when he came home in a foul mood.

The door slammed shut, the tension thick and I could only imagine the deep scowl he had on his handsome face.

“Is he okay?” Anna whispered before taking a swig of her beer.

“I have no idea.” I stepped out into the hallway, watching him.

He didn’t looked my way as he removed his jacket and hung it up in the closet. The muscles of his strong back rippled and moved over his bones, hidden by the white dress shirt that he was wearing. But I knew without even looking, exactly what he looked like. Every freckle. Every inch. Every hard part of him. He made my mouth water in the beginning but now, he made every fiber of my very being come alive. Even though something had been off for weeks, I was still attracted to him. More so now than ever.

Brett stood in the entry way and rolled up his sleeves to his forearms. Thick veins protruded under his tanned skin. Muscles hard and inviting, holding me for so many years.

“Did you want to postpone our brunch?” Anna asked, grabbing her bag off of the table.

“No.” I took a breath as he walked by us without so much as a word. “Just give me a few.”

She nodded and squeezed my hand reassuringly.

I followed Brett as he made his way to his office, my heart jumping hard against my ribcage. I hadn’t been nervous to talk to him since the beginning when we were just getting to know each other. When he completely consumed me with every waking breath. But now, it was like I was married to a shell of the man that I fell in love with.

I had been battling insecurities since giving birth to Miracle, our oldest. Was I fat? Did he not find me attractive anymore? Was he cheating on me? I gasped at that. I could never…I would…God, it would kill me if that were the reason why he was so closed off. These were questions that I needed to ask him but every time that I tried, the words would never leave my mouth.

“Brett?” I said finally, closing his office door behind me.

He sat in the large leather chair behind his dark wooden desk and slowly turned towards me. His blue gaze met mine, his eyes sparkling with something I hadn’t seen in a while. But when he looked away, that sparkle disappeared and my stomach twisted with unease.

“Something you need, Evvie?” he asked, rubbing his strong jaw. The dark scruff had grown in some and my body vibrated with the need to feel it scratch against my skin. His tone was cold, almost bored even but his words hinted at something more. He was waiting for me to tell him what I wanted. And as much as I wanted to, I found that I couldn’t.

“I…I just wanted to ask how your day was.” I chewed my bottom lip. “But I see that you’re busy so I’ll leave you alone.” I quickly left the office but not before I saw the dark shadow pass over his face.

Making my way back to the kitchen, I found Anna holding a tray of sandwiches.

“Tuna, egg salad and ham. Take your pick.” She smiled.

At that point, I broke. Sobs unexpectedly shook through me and I couldn’t stop them.

“Oh God. I’m so sorry.” Anna placed the tray on the counter and quickly wrapped her arms around me. She didn’t ask me what was wrong. She didn’t push me for answers. She only held me like a friend should. Like I needed.

“He doesn’t want me anymore,” I blurted through my cries.

“Of course he wants you.” She squeezed me tighter. “I’ve never seen a man want someone as bad as he wants you. He loves you.”

I scoffed and stepped out of her embrace. “He doesn’t touch me. He hardly talks to me anymore. If he does, it usually ends in us fighting. I feel like since we’ve had Patrick, we’ve been in a funk.” I let out a heavy sigh. “I miss him. I miss him so much it hurts.”

Anna’s eyes saddened before she glanced over my head.

The back of my neck tingled. Slowly turning around, I swallowed hard when I met my husband’s cold gaze.

“I’m going to go,” Anna said. “I’ll see you later.”

I nodded as she slid past us.

When the door closed with a soft thump, Brett took a step towards me. “What’s going on, Evvie?” His deep rumbly voice vibrated down my spine, his beautiful baby blues holding me in place. Much like they used to years before. “You don’t feel comfortable talking to your husband anymore?”

“You’ve been busy,” I croaked. “I didn’t want to bother you.” I lifted my chin defiantly, knowing full well he wasn’t believing my bull shit strength. He had ruined me. Years ago. One smoldering look from him and I was done. Finished. And I couldn’t get enough.

Brett’s jaw clenched. “You’re worried that you would bother me? How could you think that?”

“What do you expect me to think?” I snapped. “Every time I call you, you’re short with me. You’re working too damn hard. God, it’s turning you into a different person.” I inhaled a shaky breath. “I miss my husband.”

“I’m still the same man that you married,” he bit out.

“Fine.” I spun on my heel and moved around the kitchen, getting things ready for supper. “You believe whatever you want, Brett.” I started boiling water and went to prepare the salad when a warm body stepped up behind me.

Rough calloused fingers gently pushed the hair off my nape.

“Brett,” I breathed, gripping the edge of the counter.

“Nothing has changed.” His hands slid down the length of my arms.

“Everything has changed.” Tears welled in my eyes. “I miss you.”

“I’m right here.” Soft lips traveled up the side of my neck, kissing a path in their wake.

“You’re not here.” I pushed out of his hold and wrapped my arms around his tight middle. Breathing in the scent of leather and man, I inhaled deep.

“Evvie.” He cupped my nape.

“You’re not. You’re in front of me. I can see you. Touch you. But you’re still not here.”

“I don’t know what you want from me,” he said roughly.

“You!” I cried. “That’s it. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I want you.” I gripped his shirt and took another deep breath, memorizing his scent. God, I missed him.

“I’ve been busy.” He pulled away and headed to the hallway. “I love you, Evvie. I hope you know that.”

“I do,” I whispered. But telling me and showing me were two very different things.

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