“I’d wanted the fairy tale, and somewhere along the line I’d forgotten that everyone in a fairy tale paid a price.”
Jesse: Four months after Jessica walked away from me, I returned to find that she’d removed herself from my life as much as possible—even from her art studio and storefront on the first floor of the SAFE Security building. She couldn’t run far since she was carrying my child, and one night of playing nice landed me in her bed. While it didn’t repair the broken love between us, it renewed my determination to win her back.
Jessica: Ending up in the back of Jesse’s truck while he was on vacation wasn’t what I’d intended, but it gave us time to talk in a way we hadn’t before. Now that he understood I wasn’t a submissive, maybe we had a chance to be friends and co-parents? I just wish I could stop yearning for his touch.
Goodreads Reviewer: Michele Zurlo gives us an in-depth look at the characters and weaves a story that is compelling and page-turning.
Goodreads Reviewer: Just when I thought it was safe to continue Jesse and Jessica’s story. OMG, Ms. Zurlo has written a fabulous part two to their story… [that] will having you cheering for this couple and leave you gasping for air as well… This is an amazing storyline with lots of fun, tears and suspense.
Goodreads Reviewer: If I could give this book more [than 5] stars I would – I think [the Mercenary Hearts] Trilogy for Jesse and Jessica is beyond Outstanding. Michele Zurlo has touched my heart with these characters while reading this book. I could not put it down.
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Jessica came in and closed the door. I didn’t need light to recognize her shape or the uneven walk she affected when she was tired. Without looking in my direction, she hobbled toward the rear of the room. Next to a closed door that led into a private bathroom, she stopped. She set her palms against the wall next to the door and leaned forward. Then she lifted to the ball of her foot and lowered down slowly.
In the middle of a party, she was taking time to do the exercises she needed to maintain strength in the hip she’d badly injured in a car accident.
I frowned. “Jessica, are you okay?” I knew she wasn’t, but since she wasn’t aware I was in the room, I needed to reveal my presence.
She froze. “Fine.” Her tone was as crisp and rigid as her stance.
If we were on better terms, I would have called her on the lie. Instead I came closer. “Were you sitting for too long?”
“I came in here for privacy.” The undercurrent of her statement said that this room belonged to her and I had no right to be there.
I glanced around at the generic space. Sure, it had cozy touches, but it still managed to be austere. “I didn’t realize this was your room.”
“Because there’s not a glittery, wood-carved sign on the door that says, ‘Jessica’s Room?’”
“Yeah. That’d clear up any doubt.”
“I’ll make one after I finish the order I’m working on right now.” Though she tried to swallow it, a small gasp of pain leaked out. She pressed the heel of her hand into her hip.
We hadn’t called a truce, but I was determined not to be a dick. Plus, I hated when she was in pain. The part of me that was still head-over-heels in love with her wanted to take care of her. That need overrode the images of her making out with that guy in the art shop.
I touched her hip tentatively. “Let me help you.”
In the half-light, I watched her eyes close and her face scrunch up in a grimace. “It’s just a spasm. It’ll pass.”
She’d once said that I had magic hands. Apparently anger won out over pain, otherwise she wouldn’t be giving me the brush-off.
Of course, she also knew that I was a Dom and that sometimes I couldn’t help myself. It was likely that she wanted me to take control of the situation. If she didn’t, then she could say so. I lifted her in my arms and carried her to the bed.
The fact that she didn’t protest was telling.
She sat up as I came in, revealing that she wore my shirt. “You were gone a long time.” Her lips pressed together, probably quelling the urge to ask where I’d been.
“I called Dean.”
“Oh.” Her gaze flickered away. “I’m finished in the bathroom. I used one of your disposable razors for my legs. I hope you don’t mind.”
This woman was completely at odds with the portrait Dean had in his head. To reaffirm that idea, I took a chance on Dean’s question. If she wasn’t on SAFE Security’s insurance, I needed to know she was covered somewhere. If she wasn’t, I’d change that situation immediately.
“Jessica, Dean said that he tried to cut off your health care by firing you from SAFE Security.”
“Let’s not talk about any of that unpleasantness. I’ve landed on my feet, okay?” She rolled to her other side and pulled the covers up, signaling that she was finished with the conversation.
Nothing got to me faster than an uncooperative Jessica. I sat on the edge of her bed and eased the covers from over her face. “Who is paying for your insurance?”
Her chest heaved a sigh. “You are.” She didn’t meet my gaze.
I was meticulous about my bank accounts. I hadn’t seen an increase in money flowing to health insurance. Actually, my monthly premium cost had dropped a few dollars. “How?”
She chewed at her bottom lip in a rare show of nerves. “Maybe you should ask David? It was his idea.”
Now my curiosity was piqued. I peeled back the covers and lifted her until she sat up and faced me. “Darlin’, I’d like an explanation.”
Shock that she would marry anyone was superseded only by the fact of who she claimed to have married. How the fuck could she marry David? He was already married. “How? Did he divorce Brea and not tell anyone?”
She winced. “No, I’m married to you.”