Take a Breath (Take #1) - Jaimie Roberts


She’s staring at him again.

The woman with zero compunction and fingers like talons.

It’s seriously nauseating, the way she gazes at him so longingly like he’s the center of her universe. I should be the only one allowed to gaze at him like that.

Horrified, I snap my head away. These thoughts shouldn’t be filling my head. I wish they would all just go away, but I crave this man. He is the only man I have ever yearned for, and I’ve adored since the very first day I met him. Although I’ve always wanted him with a passion, he’s done his level best to ignore me. He has been the center of my universe for far too long, but I can’t seem to shake him—no matter how hard I try. I know I can’t have him, so I wish I could just rid myself of this obsession. Oh, and for one other major reason: Jake is getting married to my mother.

The sickest part about it all is that she doesn’t deserve him. She’s just using him like she used all the others. She targets men and seduces them in to falling for her both physically and romantically. Then, once she has what she wants, she leaves, dragging me along with her only to repeat the same cycle all over again. Unfortunately, it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Jake is Mum’s latest target and her boytoy since he’s only thirty-three against her forty-one years.

Despite the odds, I really hope that she will stand by Jake and settle down this time. It kills me to think of him being with anyone else, but I just want him to be happy—even if that means being with my own mother.

I stare out the window from my seat at the breakfast island, trying not to look as sick as I feel. It’s a beautiful day outside, and the garden and pool are glistening in the sun. We live in a “picture perfect” family home. It has five bedrooms—all en-suite—a gym, a basement, which has been converted into an awesome game room, and last but certainly not least is my personal favorite: a very well-stocked bar in the dining area.

The only unfortunate part about this house is Jake’s bedroom is the first room off the landing, so I have no choice but to pass it every time I go to mine. Naturally, I think of him every time I walk by. It only aids fuel to the fire of my already jumbled mess of hormones. To add insult to injury, I’m painfully aware that my mum spends some time in that room as well. Thankfully, she’s taken to sleeping in one of the other bedrooms down the hall more often than not lately. She says it’s because Jake snores too loudly, but I’m not convinced. I have never heard any noises of that sort coming from his room. Although their sleeping arrangements don’t exactly bode well, at least I’ve been spared imagining what is going on at night when his door is closed.

As for me, I seem to finally be coming out ahead as a result of my mum’s love life. She and Jake were starting to get pretty serious around the time I acquired my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Before an education can yield financial independence, it first has to be paired with a career and then given some time to allow experience to develop. At least, that’s what Jake told me when he extended my mum’s invitation to move in with him to me as well. That was nearly eight months ago, and taking him up on his offer is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made—even with that pesky, nonstop-longing-for-a-guy-I-can’t-have thing. For the first time in my life, I finally feel like I’m home.

And as for Jake, he inherited his parents’ estate, including this house, his family’s entire fortune, and their accumulated assets when his parents died in a tragic accident three years ago. Due to his wealthy status, there is obviously no real need for him to work. Even so, he continues to go in day after day because he truly loves his job. He works in law enforcement, and I think doing so gives him a sense of purpose. He says he’s always known that it is what he was meant to do with his life.

“Are you ready, Ana?” I shiver at the sound of his voice. Just hearing him call out my name gives