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The newest Friessens title will be here tomorrow, but you can read Chapter 4 of HOW TO HEAL A HEART today!
Gabriel Friessen can’t shake his growing unrest at the idea that his seemingly perfect life is nothing but a lie he’s spent a lifetime running away from.
Even though he loves his wife and step-daughter and has a family who loves him, he suspects that to move forward, he needs to close the door on his past—namely, on the man who is his father, his real father, who turned his back on his mother and left her alone and pregnant in what seemed to be another lifetime, before he was born.
Just getting on with things is no longer as easy as it has been all his life. Andy Friessen adopted him, gave him his name, raised him, and loved him, but part of Gabriel needs to face the man who turned his mother away. His mother has moved on, and his brothers and sisters would never understand, but Gabriel knows that to find the peace he needs, he must confront his biological father before he spirals any further into guilt and anger.
HOW TO HEAL A HEART (The Friessens, Book 32) is available for pre-sale at:
Seriously, Elizabeth, you should do it.
Her sister had always been so over the top, but at the same time, Ruby had always had her back. Now here she was in her car, the older Mazda Gabriel had bought her, driving to the job site, feeling absolutely foolish as she thought about what she was going to do.
It was dark, but the lights inside the house were blazing, and there was his pickup. Oh, she hoped no one else was there.
She took in her image in the rear-view mirror: the makeup, the smoky eyes, the lipstick, the soft waves in her long, loose dark hair. She found herself looking around at the suburban street, seeing houses, lights on, but no one around. Good! All she could think was how scandalous this was for suburbia, and she welcomed the darkness.
She tucked her keys into her purse and stepped out of the vehicle in her black stilettos. It was cold on her bare legs as she closed the door, clutching her long black fall coat, and she looked down, walking where there was no ice. The places where it had been shoveled were unusually slick, and she stepped as carefully as she could, trying not to fall on her ass.
She reached the concrete steps, which appeared dry and clear, and she stepped up, hearing a radio playing some top forties tune. As she stepped on the top cement step, her foot nearly went out from under her from a patch of ice she hadn’t seen, and her hand slapped the door, the other gripping the doorknob.
She looked back to her car, the other houses, the street. Thankfully, they were empty, and she was really, really glad no one had seen her. She turned the knob and stepped inside, feeling the warmth, the light, the hardwood floor that was half down in the living room. Tools, equipment, and flooring were scattered everywhere, and she could hear what sounded like a nail gun echoing in the empty house.
She followed the noise, not seeing anyone else there, but then, it was late, and that was why she was there now. Her heels clicked on the floor, and she pulled at the belt of her coat as she walked down the hall and spotted Gabriel in a bedroom, on his knees, putting on the baseboards.
He wore blue jeans, work boots, and a gray hoodie, and everything about him was magnificent, sexy, strong, charismatic. He was hers. She just stood in the doorway, wondering how long it had been since he’d touched her. Too long.
He was so damn focused on what he was doing. He had his back to her, so she took a step inside, her hand on the wall, knowing he had no idea she was there. The element of surprise was on her side, and she imagined the expression that would be on his face in seconds. She wanted to high-five her sister now for encouraging her in this boldness. She untied her belt, unbuttoned her coat, and took another step in those ridiculously high fuck-me heels, then slipped off the coat and let it drop to the floor.
Gabriel set the gun down and turned his head. “You almost done there, Kip?”
Around the corner, there was another man in the closet.
Elizabeth shrieked, taking in the shock on both men’s faces as she covered her indecent black lace bra and barely there matching underwear, scrambling back and nearly twisting her ankle as she reached for the coat on the floor.
“Oh, shit!” Gabriel shouted. “Seriously, Elizabeth…”
The moment of possibilities had changed to her worst nightmare. Something banged, likely from the other guy dropping his tools. She grabbed the trench coat and held it up, freaking out, and Gabriel was suddenly there, standing in front of her, moving her against the wall as if to hide her.
“Out,” he yelled, and it took her only a second to see Kip, one of the workers, whom she’d met only half a dozen times, hurrying by. His face was bright red, and he was trying not to laugh, and she was horrified. How had she not realized someone else was there?
“Oh, I can’t believe this…” she muttered.
Gabriel took two steps over and kicked the door closed, and she thought she heard another door close, maybe the front door. She lowered her head, embarrassed, wanting to bury her face into Gabriel’s chest and hide as he moved right in front of her again.
“What the hell are you doing?” he said. Then he stepped back, and she held up the coat to pull it on, still letting Gabriel have an eyeful of her breasts, which were nearly spilling out of the low-cut push-up bra. She felt the chill in the air, which was only passably warm for someone fully clothed.
“What does it look like?” she said. “Oh my God, I cannot believe I just walked in here and one of the trades got an eyeful. I am mortified, embarrassed. I’m never going to be able to face him again. You’re never allowed to bring Kip home with you or let him drop by or anything.”
Gabriel was right in front of her, one hand on the coat, his other resting against the wall she was now leaning against. He let his eyes dip, taking in her breasts. “‘Wow’ is all I can say—and I’m sure you made Kip’s night.” He flicked his intense eyes up to her. They had been filled with such uncertainty and angst that he had kept her completely off kilter as of late, but at least she had his attention now.
She pulled in a breath, feeling all his hardness pressed against her. His hand touched hers to pull the coat away, and it fell to the floor, but she couldn’t pull her gaze from his as she allowed him to shamelessly step back and take in how little she was wearing. “Not too much, I hope,” she said. “I wanted to surprise you, and now I just feel foolish.”
He didn’t smile, but she detected a hint of amusement. He glanced to the door. “I’m dirty, covered in sawdust and construction debris, and here you are, all clean and…” He leaned in and kissed her. It was just a soft kiss, tender, and then he pulled back, but at least he didn’t say anything else.
She lifted her hands, touched his cheeks, feeling the soft short whiskers of his beard. She lowered her gaze to his lips, full and pink. How she missed them. She moved closer, pulling his head down and kissing him, and he deepened the kiss, tasting her, pulling her right against him. She felt his toolbelt as his hands ran over the bare skin of her back and down over her ass, then back up, his hands tracing the dip and curve of her waist and her breasts.
He stepped back and unfastened his toolbelt, then dropped it to the floor. He unclipped her bra as she reached between them and unbuttoned his jeans, and his hands slipped into her underwear to pull them down, but with one hard yank, he ripped them off instead and lifting her legs around his waist.
He pressed her against the wall, naked, her shoes still on. She felt his jeans loosen, the denim scraping her thighs, and he slid inside her hard and fast, with one thrust and another, his gaze locked on her, her arms around his shoulders. He moved again and again, letting her feel all that rough cloth against her naked body as he took what she was offering.
It wasn’t soft and loving and gentle. It was her giving him what she could of herself, rough, hard, fast—but that was what she’d wanted, what she knew he needed, just her and him and the outside world be damned. She didn’t care as she felt him inside her, pressing her into that wall, his hands pinning her thighs to him, feeling him in a way she hadn’t in so long, over and over until he sagged against her.
Her legs were still wrapped around his waist, and she could feel all of him inside her, holding her up and breathing hard and fast with her. Then he pulled his callused hands over her thighs as she slid her legs down, and he held her until she stood on shaky legs in those black heels. He pulled her against him, his hand around her, holding her, and pressed a kiss to her dark tousled hair.
“Wow, that was quite the surprise booty call,” he said as he stepped back and righted himself, then zipped up his fly. She didn’t miss his appreciation for her naked body, and she took in her ripped underwear on the floor, her bra. Gabriel reached for her coat and held it up.
“I planned more, but I didn’t expect to flash another guy here with you,” Elizabeth said. “Kind of killed the mood.”
Right, she had anticipated being on her knees, teasing, but a shag against the wall was as good as it was going to get. She slipped on the coat, and Gabriel reached for her torn underwear and shoved it in his pocket, then held up her bra, his expression amused.
“Quite the outfit,” he said. “Definitely not worksite approved.”
She reached for it and snatched it from his hand, then shoved it in her coat pocket. “No, but I hope it was to your liking. I had to do something, considering your distance as of late.”
Gabriel was buttoning up her coat for her, and she leaned against the wall. He seemed not quite so tense now, and his hand slid over her cheek, in her hair, so she was forced to look up at him. He was taller than her even in her stiletto heels, strong. She could feel his strength.
“Always,” he said. “Yeah, this visit was a surprising treat, but if you’re here, where’s Shaunty?”
She pulled at the belt to the trench coat, feeling her nakedness. “Ruby’s watching her.”
He didn’t pull his gaze from her, and then he frowned. “They saw you leave, dressed like this?”
She tapped her hand to his chest, feeling him tense again. “Shaunty was in the bath, getting ready for bed. Of course she didn’t see me dressed in this getup. Ruby, though…she knows why I’m here, what I planned. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is a sex call—a much-needed sex call, considering you barely share a bed with me and haven’t touched me in how long? At least now I know why, but, Gabriel, I’m your wife, and this distance isn’t healthy.”
He said nothing, and she took in the hard set of his jaw, the pissed-off expression that suddenly seemed to come back as he glanced away. “You know, I listened to you today,” he said. “You were so sure I needed to vocalize what I’d been holding in, and when Sara started in on me, I told her what I was feeling. Then my dad walked in. I should have expected it. He just has this way of showing up all the time, overhearing things I never want him to hear. I honestly think that’s why he does it, to catch everyone off guard.”
He gave her everything and sighed, and she could see there was more. “So were you talking about your birth father?” she said.
“Yeah, about Tyler, and my dad heard my rant and did exactly what I expected. He didn’t understand, he was hurt, and then, to make it worse, he said I should find him. I know he doesn’t mean it. He pulled up the drawbridge, laying down the law and dictating to me that my mom isn’t to know. I swear he’d keep her in the dark about everything if he could.”
The way he said it, she picked up on some lingering tension between him and his dad, and she didn’t know what to say. That wasn’t what their relationship had been like, ever.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Maybe it’s for the best…” Her voice squeaked at the way his gaze darkened and his jaw tightened. That was exactly what he didn’t want to hear.
“How’s it for the best?” He shook his head, hard, determined, and she again felt as if she’d been slapped. “No, I’ll tell you what. My dad has decided everything about everyone for so long, but this time he’s wrong. My mom is a lot stronger than he thinks, and besides, I disagree with him. She should know, and for that matter, she has some of the answers I need. So no, I’m not keeping it from my mom, and if my dad doesn’t like it, then too bad. I’m done with him telling me what to do as if he thinks he knows better than everyone.”
Gabriel was pacing, and listening to the way he talked about Andy, Laura, his family, with whom he was so close, she felt as if she were watching a driver about to lose control, and the wreck he was about to cause would be catastrophic.
“You know, Gabriel, I think after a good night’s sleep, you might feel differently,” she said, but he wasn’t listening. She always knew by the way he pulled away, looked away, just like he did now.
He stared at the closed door and then pulled his gaze back to her. “There’s no better time than now,” he said. “Yeah, I’ve held on to all of this far too long. You’re right. I need to deal with this right now.”
“Sometimes not rushing into something is the wiser choice,” she said, and she went to grip his hoodie, but he was shaking his head, already walking to the door and pulling it open.
“No, I’m done waiting, done swallowing it and then lying awake for hours. All this shit has been plaguing me, the anger, the resentment. No, I’ll drive out to the ranch, have a sit-down with my mom. I’ll clear the air.”
She stared in horror, seeing how she might be responsible for this. It had been her idea, her pushing. “What? No!” she said, but he was already out the door, and she knew this could be the one thing that divided him and his family.
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