Second Chances Ch. 09byharemgirl©
She woke up to the exquisitely pleasant sensation of warm, manly lips trailing kisses along her neck and a strong, firm hand kneading her breast. She knew instantly that it was Brian, even without opening her eyes. She knew it was him, because she instantly felt the same way he had made her feel that morning – beautiful, feminine, desired, cherished.
"Wake up, my love. I need you," Brian whispered, in his wickedly tempting voice.
She smiled, turning onto her back to face him. She opened her eyes and found him watching her intently. The visions that she had seen of possible memories from her past flitted through her mind, but she pushed them away. Even if it was incredibly wrong, she wanted to enjoy what time she had with Brian. She wanted to experience being 'his love'.
"You're back," she whispered. "I missed you."
"I haven't been gone long," Brian said with a smile. "Only a couple of hours."
"Still, I missed you."
She pulled him down for a kiss, opening her mouth under his so that he could surge inside. Her lips were moist and succulent, clinging to his as she followed where he led. He craved her, needed her, wanted her, with a desperation that scared him. But he knew he couldn't appease his own needs if it meant hurting her. He ended the kiss with a shuddering sigh and searched her eyes. The huge brown pools were full of trust as she smiled at him. He couldn't betray that trust.
"Angel, there is something I have to tell you."
"Not now," she insisted, kissing his neck above his collar. "Make love to me again. It feels so wonderful."
Brian closed his eyes, savoring the sensation of her lips trailing down his neck. "I went back to where I found you yesterday. I think I found some of your things."
"I'll look at them later," she murmured, unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt.
Her fingers were a soft delight as she explored his chest. Brian really didn't want her to stop, but neither did he want her to hate him if she found out that she had a husband or fiancé waiting for her.
"Sarah, listen. We really need to discuss this now."
When she heard the name Sarah, she stilled. She drew back to look at him with a worried frown.
"Why did you call me that?" she whispered.
"I found some things that might belong to you. The name 'Sarah' is written in a book. I assumed that it was your name."
"Oh no," she groaned miserably.
She covered her face with her hands and shook her head as if in denial. She slid her hands up through her hair, giving Brian a pained look.
"I think you're right. We should have a look at those things now."
Brian nodded and retrieved a cloth suitcase from the floor by the door. She opened it and began removing items, while he sat on the edge of the bed. There were several pretty dresses. She looked them over carefully, but they didn't stir any memories. She fingered a wooden hairbrush. There were a few strands of long blonde hair, just like hers, wound through the bristles. A small purse contained some money, she guessed about twenty dollars, although she didn't count it. Finally, she came to the books.
"This is where I found the name 'Sarah'," Brian said quietly. He had been watching her reactions closely. "Do any of the items seem familiar to you?"
"No," she whispered. "I don't recognize any of them."
He pulled out the book of sonnets and handed it to her. "Look inside," he said. "There's a photo and an inscription."
Just like Brian had done, she looked at the photo first. Her brow furrowed as she studied the face. She tried to tell if it was the same man she had seen in her memories, but she couldn't decide. Both the man in the photo and the man in her visions had dark hair and a mustache, but that didn't mean it was the same man. She didn't recognize the man in the photo, but something about his face seemed familiar. She looked for a long time, but couldn't pinpoint what it was.
"I don't know who he is," she said softly, "but somehow, I think I've met him before."
Brian swallowed hard. "Read the inscription. See what you think."
She read the words several times, but they stirred no memories. Shaking her head, she looked at Brian and sighed. "I don't recognize the handwriting or the name that he signed. And what does Y.L.F.mean?" she mused.
"I was hoping you could tell me," Brian murmured. "What about the name 'Sarah'? Do you think that is your name?"
She nodded her head. "There's something I haven't told you. I had two memories today, just brief flashes really. They were sort of like visions, but I feel certain they were memories of things that have happened to me." She met his eye briefly. "In the visions, there was a man. I couldn't see his face clearly, but he had dark hair and a mustache."
"Was he this man?" Brian asked, fingering the photo.
"I don't know," she said with a shrug. "I was trying to decide that before, but I can't be certain. Anyway, this man called me Sarah in both of the visions."
"So that must be your name," Brian said, looking anything but pleased by the discovery.
"What's wrong? Why are you looking like that?"
He blew out a frustrated breath and ran a hand through his hair. "Because if you are Sarah, it looks as if you have a fiancé, maybe even a husband."
"There's something else, Brian." She waited until he met her eye before continuing. "In my visions, the man was very...," she waved her hand in the air, trying to find the right way to phrase it, "he was very intimate with me." She went on despite Brian's scowl. "He grabbed me and kissed me. He even opened my dress and kissed me on my breast."
Brian didn't anticipate the depth of the jealousy he felt over hearing her statement. He growled low in his throat and rose, going to stare out the window. The thought of another man's mouth on his angel's breast was tormenting, and he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the image.
After a long minute of silence, she came to stand beside him. "What should we do?" she asked, tugging his arm until he turned to look at her.
"I don't know," he said quietly. "I know what I want to do. What I want is to forget about all this and pretend we never knew it existed, but I know that's wrong." He took a deep breath and blew it out. "Do you remember any feelings about the man in your vision? He must be your husband if he's been that intimate with you."
She blushed, but she continued to meet his eye. "You're not my husband, and you've been even more intimate with me." Seeing him wince, she sighed and took his large hand in her much smaller one. "Don't look like that. No matter what we find out about who I am or where I came from, I refuse to think that what we've done together is wrong. At the worst, it was an innocent mistake."
"It may have been innocent before, but the feelings I'm having now are far from innocent. Even knowing what I know, I want to make love to you." Brian brushed her cheek with his thumb. "Do you think you love the man from your vision?"
She frowned, remembering how she had felt after her flashes of memory. "I don't know. It's odd, but both times, I felt quite distressed after the memory passed. I can't figure out whether I was distressed by what I was seeing or whether the act of remembering was upsetting me." She looked at Brian searchingly. "What should we do?"
He tucked a stray lock of her hair behind her ear and sighed heavily. "I think we should give it a few days. Your memory may come back on its own. You've already had a couple of recollections. In the meantime, maybe I should go into town tomorrow and ask around casually. I don't want to alert anyone to the fact that you are here just yet." He gave her a sheepish grin. "It would ruin your reputation if people found out you were living here with two men."
She nodded, accepting his logic. "Brian?" she ventured.
"Yes." Her voice, so sweet and trusting, made his heart ache.
"Whatever we find out, whatever I remember about my past," she paused to squeeze his hand, "I want you to know that I'm glad you brought me here. I'll always be glad that I met you."
"I am too, angel. I am too."
He pulled her into his arms, tucking her head beneath his chin as he hugged her. Looking out through the window, his heart felt tight in his chest. If he lost her, he knew it would hurt like hell.
Brian went to help Liam with the cabin. It was already late morning, and Liam cast him a jaundiced glance.
"I was wondering whether you planned to do any work today."
"Ha, ha. Very funny," Brian grumbled as he picked up a hammer. "You know very well that I've been busy with our mystery guest."
"Did you have any luck finding out who she is?"
Brian told him about the suitcase and books and about the visions she had experienced. He left out any mention of their amorous activities.
"So, her name is Sarah?" Liam asked, nailing a board in place.
"We believe it is," Brian grumbled.
Liam noticed his brother's foul mood, but he didn't comment. Brian would confide in him when he was good and ready, and not a moment before. They worked steadily for the rest of the morning. When they returned to the cabin for lunch, a wonderful aroma greeted them at the door.
Sarah was in the kitchen, and she had cooked a large pot of stew. She smiled hesitantly at Liam and gave a much warmer smile of welcome to Brian.
"I thought you might enjoy some hot stew on a cold day like today."
Brian returned her smile. "That sounds perfect. Sarah, this is my brother. Liam, this is Sarah."
It was still difficult for Brian to call her by name, but Liam didn't seem to notice anything amiss as he exchanged greetings with their guest.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sarah." Liam grinned, seeing her up close for the first time. "We don't often have a woman as pretty as you around the place."
Sarah blushed from the compliment. "Thank you, Mr. McKenzie. If I didn't know better, I would swear you are trying to charm me just to get a taste of my stew."
Brian laughed, glad to see that she could hold her own with his brother. "You'd better watch it, Liam. She's got you figured out already."
They washed their hands and sat down to eat. Sarah ladled generous portions of the thick, hearty stew onto their plates. She had made hot rolls, and she brought them to the table, still steaming from the oven. They tasted the food, and the two brothers were effusive with their praise as they polished off their plates and asked for more.
"These hot rolls are the lightest, most delicious rolls I've ever had," Brian said, spreading his with a generous amount of soft butter before he bit off a piece. "Mmmm, heavenly." He shot Sarah a grin as he chewed.
She was pleased, and she watched with delight as he reached for another roll. "I'm glad you like them. It's an old family recipe." As soon as she had said the words, she stopped, frowning in confusion. "How did I know that?" she mused aloud. "I made the rolls from scratch, without a recipe. It didn't occur to me until now, but I wonder how I knew how to make them."
Seeing her discomfort, Liam interrupted her thoughts. "I'm sure you'll figure it out eventually. In the meantime, I want to know the recipe for this stew. It's the best stew I've eaten since I left Kentucky," Liam declared with a satisfied sigh. He looked at Sarah and grinned, and she forgot her moment of uncertainty. "We might just keep you around."
Sarah laughed, nibbling her roll. "That was my plan. I thought if I could just please your tastebuds, you would let me stay the night."
"You can stay forever, as far as I'm concerned," Brian said.
Sarah met his eye across the table, and her heart hammered against her ribs. He had made the comment sound light hearted and teasing, but the depth of feeling she glimpsed in his luminous green eyes awed her. Even though their circumstances were uncertain, it thrilled her to know Brian cared so much for her. She glanced nervously at Liam and was relieved to see that he had missed the exchange.
They finished the meal, and the men returned to work. Sarah cleaned up the dishes, and then wandered through the cabin, wondering how she could occupy her time. She remembered the clothes in the suitcase, and she went to inspect them.
She laid the dresses on the bed, looking at them closely. They were finely made, with neat stitches applied to all the seams. They didn't look overly expensive, but they were fashionable and feminine. She quickly undressed and donned one of the dresses, looking at the result in the mirror. The garment hugged her body perfectly, conforming to every curve of her hips, waist and bosom. Even the length of the skirt was appropriate for her height. There was no question that the clothes belonged to her.
Once again, she picked up the book of sonnets, running her hand over the cover. A flashing image passed through her mind, and she lay down on the bed, closing her eyes in concentration. The image returned, stronger the second time.
She saw the man in the photo, only he looked older. He was sitting on the bench of a wagon, and she was sitting beside him, reading to him from the book of sonnets. Although the poem she was reading was a love sonnet, she didn't have the feeling that the man was her lover. Instead, they were discussing the poem, and the man had a sad, faraway look in his eye as she read a particular passage to him.
As quickly as it had appeared, the vision vanished. She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. She was surprised to realize that she was breathing normally, and instead of feeling distressed, she felt happy, peaceful, safe. She sat up and studied the photo again, looking for anything that might stir a memory. She sighed when she was unable to remember anything else.
She packed her things away and sighed. She was bored, and she decided to go see what Brian and Liam were doing. She could hear them hammering, and she saw a new cabin nearby. She admired the structure as she approached. It had been neatly built, and she could see that the two brothers were nearly finished with the construction. They had completed the walls, roof, floor, fireplace, and porch. All that remained were the finishing touches. They had to install windows and doors, and it would be ready to move in.
Brian spotted her and waved her over. "What do you think?"
"I think it's wonderful," she said with enthusiasm. "But do you and Liam need separate cabins?"
The two brothers laughed before Brian answered her with a grin. "We're building this cabin as a wedding present for our older brother, Aidan. He and Naomi are on their honeymoon. We expect them home in a few days, and we want to surprise them."
"Brian, that's so thoughtful," she said, admiring the interior. The new cabin was almost identical to their existing home. "I'm sure they will be very pleased."
Sarah watched as Brian and Liam carefully installed a pane of glass in a wooden frame. She frowned, remembering her impressions of their cabin. It had lacked the coziness that came from the finishing touches, the things that only a woman could bring to turn a house into a home. Suddenly, she had an idea. Maybe there was something she could do to repay Brian for his kindness.
"Brian, why don't I make some curtains for the new cabin? It would be so much more homey and welcoming when the newlyweds arrive."
Brian glanced at her thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought of that, but it would be a nice touch. I could pick up some fabric tomorrow when I go into town."
Sarah was suddenly excited about the prospect of having a project to keep her busy, and her eyes were shining as she smiled at him. "I'll make a list for you of what I need. I love to sew. This will be fun!"
Her smile abruptly faded, and her brow knitted as she looked away. Brian frowned, wondering about her change of mood.
"What's the matter? You look like something is bothering you."
Sarah chewed on her bottom lip. "I'm just wondering how I know that I love to sew. I don't have any memories of sewing, but somehow, I just know that I love it. I have the impression that I'm quite an accomplished seamstress, even though I can't recall ever making a single thing. Isn't that strange?"
Brian and Liam exchanged glances. After lunch, they had been discussing what a good cook Sarah was. They wondered how she had remembered the recipe for the hot rolls when she couldn't seem to remember anything about her past. It was puzzling.
"I wouldn't worry about it," Brian assured her with a smile. "Sooner or later, the pieces of your memory will come together."
She returned his smile, grateful for his understanding. "You're right, of course. There seems to be no rhyme or reason about which things I remember. Things just seem to pop into my head." She squeezed his shoulder before she turned to leave. "I'll make a list for you right now. Then, I can start on the curtains tomorrow."
Brian watched her go with longing in his eyes. The reasonable side of him realized that when her memory returned, she might be in love with another man. The barbarian side of him didn't care. It was urging him to take her, make her his own, keep her beside him regardless of what she wanted. The only problem was, he knew he would never force Sarah to stay.
Realizing that Liam was watching him closely, Brian raised an imperious brow. "Well, don't just sit there staring at me. Let's get this window installed."
That night, Sarah lay in Brian's bed for the longest time, trying to get to sleep. Brian had been a perfect gentleman as he bid her goodnight and walked to his brother's room. But she had seen the yearning in his clear, green eyes. She knew that he wanted her, and she wanted him just as badly.
Snuggled in his bed, she remembered the two times he had lain with her. She recalled in vivid detail every steamy kiss, every delightfully intimate caress. Brian had made her body thrum with pleasure. Just thinking about his lovemaking made her nipples tingle and her pussy ache. She wondered how he must feel. She knew he had foregone his own pleasure, while he had pleasured her so generously. His desire to claim her body, to make her his, was there in his eyes when he had said goodnight to her. She knew that he could pleasure her even more completely, if she asked him.
The temptation to go to him, to ask him to claim her body completely, was strong. It would be a simple matter to join him in his brother's bedroom. She felt certain that he would welcome her, even though she knew he was battling with himself, trying to do the right thing.
She tossed and turned, trying to quash her desires so that she could sleep. Finally, she managed to doze. Her sleep was restless, filled with wispy dreams. The images swirled in her head, and she frowned in her sleep, trying to understand the meaning of the snatches she was seeing. Eventually, her dreams settled.
She saw herself once more, leaning over a large bed as she fluffed the pillows. Strong hands gripped her waist and tossed her onto her back on the mattress. She gasped with surprise, looking up to see Brian's laughing green eyes as he smiled down at her. She relaxed, pulling him down for a kiss.
His lips were firm and warm as they explored her mouth, and then her neck. He unbuttoned her dress and chemise, baring her breasts to his hungry gaze.
"Sarah," he murmured. "My sweet Sarah. I've been waiting all day for this."
She moaned and arched her back, rising to meet his mouth as it descended to her breast. He suckled hard, and she felt moisture beginning to pool between her thighs. She clutched his head to her, never wanting him to stop the sweet torment he was inflicting on her nipple.
He released her nipple and raised his head, giving her a leering grin. Only, it wasn't Brian. It was the man from her visions.
Sarah awoke with a gasp, bolting upright in the bed. She searched the room with panicked eyes, her heart pounding and her palms sweating. She had never felt more troubled. She didn't know how much of what she had seen was a dream and how much was a memory. All she knew for certain was that she was frightened.