My life with Damien has never been fuller. Every day is a miracle, and every night I lose myself in the oasis of his arms.
But there are new challenges, too. Our families. Our careers. And new responsibilities that test us with unrelenting, unexpected trials.
I know we will survive—we have to. Because I cannot live without Damien by my side. But sometimes the darkness seems overwhelming, and I am terrified that the day will come when Damien cannot bring the light. And I will have to find the strength inside myself to find my way back into his arms.
I already know that Damien is running later than I am, because he’d called while I was stuck in traffic. Now I dismiss Bree for the night, then go peek in on both my girls. I want to wake them, to cuddle them close, but I let them sleep, contenting myself with watching the steady rise and fall of their little chests.
Then I take a quick shower, change into yoga pants and a T-shirt, and stretch out on our lovely iron bed, surrounded by paperwork.
That’s where I am when Damien finds me—although I’m asleep instead of busily working.
“Hey,” he says, brushing a kiss on my shoulder. “Long day?”
As I claw my way back to consciousness, he gathers my papers and sets them on the bedside table. There’s a glass of wine, too, and he hands it to me. I try to avoid alcohol since I’m breastfeeding, but I also did the research and know that a little bit isn’t a problem so long as I wait to pump or feed Anne.
“The longest,” I say, then take a grateful sip. I lean sideways against him, my back supported by the pile of pillows that rest against the wall. I give him the full rundown, the highlight of which is Eric’s surprising departure.
“You can handle continued growth,” he says, his loyalty giving me a nice warm boost of confidence. “But you’re also well-positioned to simply hold the line if that’s what you want to do. Even to downsize if it works out that way.”
I push away from him, frowning as my chest tightens uncomfortably. “What?”
“I’m just saying that you don’t have to go back to work full-throttle.”
I sit up straight. “Excuse me? Why? Because you can support us?”
“I can support us. But what I’m—”
“So I’m supposed to feel guilty about wanting to work just because you bring in billions?” Dammit, he knows how important my job is to me. How hard I’ve worked to build my business on my own, not relying on money that comes from Stark International.
He stares at me like someone might stare at a wild hyena. “That’s not what I’m saying at all.”
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.