Secret Obsession - Feb 4, 2008
Running from his bed might save her sanity, but he won’t let her go without a fight.
Three years ago, Clemant Taylor left Blue Island to escape her secret obsession with Wade Tawes, the son of her clan’s greatest enemy. But when the head of her family becomes ill, she is forced to return to Blue—at the risk of succumbing once more to Wade’s irresistible sexual lure.
Promising herself she won’t be enticed again into having mind-blowing sex with him, she vows to focus only on stopping the escalating violence between their clans and the collapse of the island’s way of life.
Wade Tawes, now the head of a family that has long sworn to seek retribution against the Taylors, is stuck between loyalty to his clan and his love for Clemant. He doesn’t know how he’ll do it, but he plans to force his family to accept his choice, after he finds out who’s really behind the vandalism that is ripping the island apart. And after he convinces Clemant that she really does love him.
But the feud heats up, blood is spilled, and pressure for revenge mounts on both sides. Wade and Clemant must find a way to heal the rift between their clans—or their world will implode, leaving them both empty and alone.
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Read Reviews | Read Excerpt
4 Blue Ribbons! "Chesapeake Bay and the taste of the sea come to vivid life through the pen of Leigh Wyndfield. Red hot passion, danger and small town politics and prejudices all combine to make a story you will want to read again." Scarlet ~ Romance Junkies
5 Stars, O! "Secret Obsession is everything I want in an erotic romance, plus a bit of suspense." Stefani Clayton ~ Just Erotic Romance Reviews
5 Hearts and Sweetheart Pick! "The love scenes sizzle, the emotions thicken the plot and make for tense reading, and the array of sly characters makes for even more mystery. Clem and Wade stole my heart in this story. Their happily ever after seemed impossible but fortunately, there are plenty of surprises that make the impossible truly possible." Sarah W. ~ The Romance Studio
Clemant Taylor thought for the millionth time how nice it would be to engage in a hot, blazing affair. She longed to run her fingers down a man’s skin, smell the masculine scent of his body, have him fill her up and relieve the growing tension in her belly.
Instead, she was on her way to her boss’s office, summoned from a meeting where she’d been trying to solve a snag in a multimillion dollar computer rollout.
Her cell phone, which had been ringing all day, buzzed at her hip, but she hit the key to send the call to voicemail. This project would tank if she didn’t keep her hands firmly at the controls. She needed to deal with her boss and get back to her meeting, instead of letting her mind wander to sex yet again. Lately that seemed to be all she thought about.
Maybe she should break down and have an affair with her lead developer, Steve Hurt. Just a brief fling. They were compatible, she knew. Opposites, but not so far in the extremes that they had nothing in common. Unfortunately, it would be unfair for her to use him for one or two nights of relief from the dull ache riding inside her. He wasn’t Wade Tawes and never would be. She’d given up on finding a replacement.
At the thought of Wade, a memory of him hit her so strongly, she sagged against the wall outside of Randy’s office. Flashes of Wade’s scent, sea salt and the spicy mix of pure male that rode on his skin at the hollow between his neck and shoulder, invaded her nostrils as if he stood before her. She could feel the shadow of his calloused palm pass down her stomach, feel the sharp stab of the grass on her bare back as he lowered her onto the ground up on Tompkin’s Bluff. It had been years since she’d last been there with him, but the intense sensory-rich memory hit her like a freight train, leaving her gasping.
Her mind whirled with memories that cut into her like intimate shards of glass.
Running a trembling hand through her bob-length hair, she realized it had been a long time since she’d had a physical remembrance of him like this. She hadn’t notice the absence of them as she concentrated on moving forward with her life.
Pushing off the wall, she straightened her shoulders and banished the memory.
She’d become convinced her dealings with Wade had ruined her for all time. Her ex-husband’s parting shot a year ago outside the divorce attorney’s office skittered through her mind. John had told her she cared more about her career than she had him, but that hadn’t been true. Her career wasn’t the issue.
The secret pact she’d made with Wade had sat in her stomach like a weight between them, turning her into a liar by its very presence. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t seen Wade since the day she’d met John. Wade had been living inside her, constantly draining her energy as she fought to forget him. Maybe telling John about her affair with Wade before they’d married would have solved it all. Her gut had warned her it would eventually destroy them, but they’d crashed and burned before their first wedding anniversary anyway.
She pushed away her failures and desires, rounding the corner into Randy’s office. “What’s up?”
Randy wasn’t the best boss she’d ever had, but he wasn’t a total asshole either.
Looking up from the one document on his desk, Randy put on what she called his sympathetic face. “We had a call from your cousin.”
“My cousin?” she asked. She had at least seventeen cousins, probably more since she last talked to her clan. From the time she’d met John three years ago, she hadn’t been back to Blue Island and had lost touch with their daily lives.
“Your cousin Tabitha?” Randy glanced down at a pink phone message slip. “She said your great-aunt had a heart attack and you need to call her immediately.”
Clem ripped the slip from his hand, forgetting her project with the news that the most influential person in her life could be dying. “Oh God. No.”
Aunt Liv, the guiding light, the matriarch of her family, had had a heart attack. Without even thinking about Randy or the rollout again, she pivoted and left his office at a run.
“I’m sorry to have called you at work, but you didn’t answer at home or on your cell,” Tabitha said.
“I’ve been in the middle of a system rollout. How is she?” Clem could hear the strain threading through the words. Aunt Liv was her grandmother’s sister. Of the five Taylor women born to Xavier Taylor, only Aunt Liv remained alive. She’d been a spinster, too busy running the clan to have children of her own, although she always had Taylor family members living in her home. It never occurred to Clem that she wouldn’t live forever, but she was eighty-six years old and people had to die sometime. The thought shook her.
“As fine as anyone who had a heart attack can be. You know not much keeps her down. She’s still in the hospital.” Her cousin’s voice held a hesitancy, as if she had more bad news she was reluctant to share.
Clem paused, trying to read Tabitha’s strange vibes over the phone. “Does she want me to come there?”
“No.” Tabby took a deep breath. “She wants you here, on Blue Island, by seven o’clock tonight.”
“What? Tabby, I’m running a huge project. I can’t just leave.” But she would have, actually, if Aunt Liv had needed her at the hospital.
“Aunt Liv said you have to come tonight.” Tabby sounded exasperated and a bit panicked. She had a good head on her shoulders, though, like the rest of the females in the Taylor clan. “She wants you to represent her in the Heads meeting.” The Heads were the four leaders of the main clans that inhabited Blue Island—Taylor, Marshal, Tawes and Evans.
“Tabby, that makes absolutely no sense. I haven’t been back on the island in three years. I wasn’t even born there.”
For a reason Clem had never fully understood, her grandmother had left the island before the outbreak of World War II and had never returned. Clem had been born in Raleigh, North Carolina, although she’d spent every summer of her childhood in Aunt Liv’s home. Even now, she would spend all her vacation on Blue if she could return without starting the whole thing over with Wade.
But she knew even stepping foot upon the sandy soil of the island would bring about her downfall. If she was within a square mile of Wade Tawes, she’d break every promise she’d made to herself, give up every bit of pride she had, beg, borrow or steal if it meant she would be in his arms again. The only thing that made her feel remotely better about it was that he suffered from the same insanity she did.
One summer day when they were both seventeen years old, they’d given each other their virginity and sworn an oath to keep secret what had rapidly turned into a sexual obsession. Since that day, she hadn’t been on the island without having him, which is why she’d stopped going. She’d met John and had seen a way to escape.
The whole thing disgusted her, because she and Wade were completely incompatible. Not only was he a Tawes, the sworn enemy of the Taylor clan, but he was chosen to replace his father as Head. Besides adding to the impossible situation, it meant he would never be able to leave Blue Island. She didn’t plan to give up her career aspirations and live on an island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.
Maybe, just maybe they could have gotten around all of that, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Wade Tawes was the biggest overbearing, egotistical asshole she’d ever met. He didn’t even try to end this madness between them. Oh no. He knew her weaknesses and exploited them. But the thing that pissed her off most, shooting her blood pressure through the roof, was his attitude. He never asked, he demanded, embroiling them in battles for control like two captains at the helm of a ship. She couldn’t stop her body’s need when she was near him, so she’d finally insisted that he just shut up. It was silence or murder. Or escape. She’d tried the first, but ended up taking the last.
Tabby interrupted her trip down memory lane. “I’m telling you, Clemant, she wants you here tonight. Mike will pick you up at the dock in Crisfield. You’d better leave now or you won’t make it.”
“Tabby, think. Please. I can’t represent Aunt Liv if I don’t even know the basics of what’s been happening on the island for the last few years.”
“She’s sending Jenny with you to help you make the right decisions.”
Jenny was Aunt Liv’s chosen successor. They were the only matriarch on an island populated with testosterone-filled males.
“Jenny is just sixteen,” Clem said, but knew she’d lost. What Aunt Liv wanted, Aunt Liv got.
“She’s smart, though. She’ll keep you from making a mistake.” Tabitha paused. “Clemant, come home. We need you.”
And with that, her fate was sealed.