Hard Edge - Tess Oliver

Chapter 1


Jeremy gripped the headboard to keep it from smacking the wall. “Sorry, baby,” he grunted as his body stiffened and he came.

He dropped onto the bed next to me. I sat up, plucked his shirt off the end of the bed and pulled it on.

“I said I’m sorry, Kenna.” His voice reminded me of a petulant little boy trying to apologize for purposely tripping a girl in the hallway.

I buttoned the shirt halfway. It was one of his good ones, the kind that only the best dry cleaners could handle properly. “Don’t worry, it’s me, not you.”

His angry laugh followed. “Shit, that’s a classic. It’s me, not you,” he mimicked. I clamped my teeth together at the sound of it. I couldn’t remember exactly when it had happened, when sex with Jeremy had become like eating dry crackers on a hot day with no water to chase the salty crumbs down. But I couldn’t seem to find my way back to loving him. And Jeremy knew it. He wasn’t ready to give up on us yet, but I’d surrendered months ago.

I walked over to the desk that I’d set up in the corner of the bedroom. Jeremy had insisted we rent an expensive apartment in the city. With him being newly hired at a law firm and me still plodding through law school, it was more than we could afford, but he’d wanted to impress his friends. He’d arranged himself a posh office in the spare bedroom and had allowed me to carve out my own cramped workspace in the corner of our bedroom.

I stared down at the stack of law books, the printed and bound monsters that haunted my daydreams and nightmares. It seemed I was doing more studying than breathing these days. Overwhelmed was a light, teasing word for how I was feeling about it all. Especially because when I wasn’t poring over textbooks and lecture notes, I was asking myself why the heck I was going into law. As noble and intellectual as the profession had first seemed, it was slowly disintegrating into a blur of paperwork, legal terms and precedents. The weight of it all had been plaguing me with anxiety and panic attacks. More than once, in the past month, I’d had to rush from a lecture hall because it seemed that the walls were squeezing in on me, keeping me from taking a decent breath.

I reached up and fingered the shell necklace that I’d dangled from the corner of my monitor. It was a reminder of the past, one of the few tokens I’d taken with me when I left Mayfair for college. I’d been living an entire country away, on the east coast, in a big city, for six years, but my small, quiet suburban hometown called out to me every once in awhile. Even more so lately.

Behind me, the bed creaked. I heard Jeremy pulling on his pants. He walked over and leaned down to kiss the top of my head. “Guess you’re thinking about Harrison’s test on Monday. Just relax, take deep breaths and you’ll do fine. I’m sure that’s why you’re having such a hard time—tough time reaching orgasm. You’ll see, once finals are over, you’ll feel your old self, and everything will be back to normal.”

There he was, trying again. If only he were right, but the hard knot in the pit of my stomach assured me he wasn’t.

My gaze fell on the necklace again. “Actually, I wasn’t thinking about the test at all.”

Jeremy swung around and braced his hands on the edge of my desk as he sat against it. “So, what are you thinking about?”

The necklace had tossed me back in time, headlong into the memories of those carefree days in Mayfair. It made me smile. “When I was nine, I wrote down an entire life’s plan.” I chuckled, thinking about it. “I called it Kenna’s Life Plan. Original, I know. I was going to be a marine biologist, and on my wedding day, the groom and I were going to arrive at the ceremony riding a pair of dolphins. And I was going to wear a pink bathing suit and a wreath of shells in my hair. After the ceremony, we were going to eat my mom’s macaroni and cheese and blueberry cobbler. Then, naturally, we were going to live happily ever after.”

“Sounds like a good, detailed plan. Did you already know who your husband would be?”

I could see another smile reflecting back at me