Marissa French, now calling herself Marissa Alden, stood in the foyer of her plush Santa Barbara home. California was as far away from the memories of Toffer and Toby as she could get. She had long since begun healing, havin found someone who cared for her despite her past. She had purposely vanished shortly before Toffer’s death.
But then, Toffer had found out about her deposition to the sheriff and had threatened to kill her. But by that time, he no longer had hit men at his disposal and had no more money to throw at people to disprove what she had told the police. He had even lost control of the police, city government, and the state government. funny how when one’s money ran out, their friends tended to leave.
Mark Alden was a brilliant producer in Hollywood, yet separated himself from the majority. He had spotted Marissa right away. such beauty was hard to find, even in Hollywood. She was so wonderful. Sweet and humble, it made her the best woman in California. At the same time, he knew she wasn’t really a California woman.
She had been homeless and alone when they met, but that had not stopped him from taking her in and showing her true love. It had been a dream come true for her. A welcome change from the hellish nightmare that had been Toffer French. Now, she was in heaven.
What had relieved her the most was when she learned that Tobias and Toffer had both been killed. She had left days before news of Toby had reached Des Moines. it had taken weeks for it to reach her. And even though she knew that she should have cried, she rejoiced at the news. She no longer had to worry about her nightmares returning. No blackmail. No extortion. No death threats.
Most of all, there would be no more reminders of those days. No more House of French. Toffer had been an only child. So had Tobias. Well, the only child she knew of, though she knew that Toffer had raped quite a few women in his youth, just like Toby had. Like father, like son. Toby had been the demon-seed. Hell on earth.
But, within a year, both had been eliminated. Justice had finally been done, ridding the earth of two of the most evil men she had ever known. She had requested that both bodies be burned and buried in the landfill. But she had no idea if they’d taken her serious or not. She felt that, if they had, they would have investigated her for Toffer’s death. And they hadn’t investigated her.
She smiled. She just hoped they buried the fat toad and his demon seed. Most of all, she hoped that the reports of their deaths had been factual. She hadn’t asked for proof.
Now, the only person she found herself thinking of from that time and place was Natalia Morrow. Poor Natalia. She had been raped by Toby. and though Marissa had tried to comfort her, she felt guilty for Nattie’s decision to run. All she had done, though, was tell Nattie to get as far away from Toby and Toffer as possible because they would do anything to destroy her. But at the time, she was afraid that they would force her to marry Toby…or worse, commit suicide. She’d had no idea that Nattie would feel threatened by her warning. Or disappear like she did.
She had gone in search of her, hoping that she could find her and apologize. But she couldn’t and the guilt still clinged to her conscience like spider webs or cobwebs. They sat nagging at her in the dark. She only hoped that when the day came, Nattie would find it in her heart to forgive her for not saying what she had needed to say at the time she had needed to say it.
Natalia curled up in Trent’s arms. It was safe and warm there, just as it was in his bed. Never had she thought that she would ever trust another man. Yet here she was, now willing to give herself completely over to her new found lover.
and the way he kissed! It was like a bolt of lightning went through her every time! It made her want him. Bad.
He had returned home from work, ready to sit and cuddle with her. But she wanted to do more than cuddle. She’d had all day to think. All day to allow her desire for him to grow.
She had not gone to work. Not that he’d requested that she not work anymore. He really didn’t care. But she felt as if she didn’t need to now. She had a home now, and a wonderful boyfriend. Why did she need to work?
She looked at him. “Would you think less of me if I quit working and stayed home?”
He smiled. “No, Baby. That is completely up to you. I just want to be able to come home and hold you.”
She smiled nervously. “I want to be a dutiful wife.”
He looked at her in surprise and smiled. “But I haven’t asked you to marry me yet.”
She sat up with a start, shocked by his admission. “But you are aren’t you?” she was now unsure of it all.
He pulled her back to him gently and chuckled softly. “Well, yes, I had all intentions of doing so. But I wanted it to be a surprise. But staying home won’t necessarily make you a dutiful wife, Hon. After all, I don’t expect you to give up anything. I am not a throwback from the 50s and we aren’t living the idyllic life that I Love Lucy gives us to dream about. It just isn’t possible. But if you want to stay home with Matthew, that is perfectly fine with me. I can take care of our needs.”
She cuddled up to him again and smiled mischievously. “So when, exactly, were you going to ask me to marry you?”
He chuckled even louder. “Well, I was thinking possibly a couple months from now. I wanted to give you time to settle in and get comfortable with our relationship. I didn’t want to rush you.”
She nuzzled him. “What if I want to rush into it?”
He kissed the top of her head. “Then I will plan around when you are ready.”