By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01

  Dawn filtered through the window, warming the shadows, silently telling us that morning had arrived. Her body lay snuggled against mine, the tiny frame of her spine sheltered within my arms, the cascade of her hair forming a softer cushion for my face, its scent intoxicating like the woman to which it belonged.



I hear her gentle breaths telling me that she was still deep in dreams. Was she dreaming about me? I wondered. I feel her shift against me and giving me the answer I seek. My hand, gentle but afraid of waking her, but still unable to resist the temptation, begins a path along her satiny thigh.

Then higher.

And higher still.

I hear her breath falter a little and I know that she's dreaming about the last time that I did this. Was it only a few scant hours ago? But she sleeps on even though I have felt the gentle brush of desire from somewhere deep within.

My fingers dare to touch places that only a husband would dare - or a lover, but never a friend. Which was I? I don't care. In her arms I am everything that she needs me to be. I only wish that there were more hours in a night. I only wish that time didn't belong to others.

I only wish....

My trembling and now hungry palm slowly strokes lower across her taut belly finally coming to rest just where it belongs. I feel her shift again, but not only her body, her mind, too responds to the call of neediness that's slowly consuming me.

She's waking.

Her tiny hand comes to settle upon mine and her fingers slip in between mine, comforting, sensual and loving, and I do love her, with all of my heart and soul, and she loves me, that I do know. That I'm certain of.

I shift closer still, aching to merge my body with hers. The hand that held mine shifts but I don't want her to let go so I change places, grasping her tiny fingers beneath mine, gripping them tight, so, so tight as my heart begins to pound along with hers for what is about to happen.

To us.


And then I feel it.

The ring.

Her ring.

The ornate wedding band placed there not so very long ago.

And then I remember that it is not my ring; that she is not my wife.

She's Will's.

My brothers.

The man that she calls Imzadi.

Deanna's husband.

She turns within my arms, her black eyes already looking deep into my soul, seeing, feeling what now shadows my thoughts.

My name slips tormented from between her lips, dangling there. Hoping, wanting. What? I wonder.


At least she doesn't call me Imzadi, that I could not take. That I could not stand.

Slowly our entwined fingers surface from beneath the coverlet and we both turn our gaze to stare with an overwhelming sense of betrayal at the piece of gold glinting in the streaming sunlight as it pours through the window upon it, reminding us that I am the lover but not the husband.

And that I was too late

Way too late.

Our eyes find one another's again and I move her hand against my chest, the ring forgotten, just for a little while longer.

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