Burying His Desires - Book cover

Burying His Desires

Ophelia Bell

Age Rating


Some things fit together better after they’re broken.

A 3AM call from across the country is never good news, especially not when my stepfather is on the other end, relaying a tragedy that tears my entire world apart.

In the midst of our grief, we struggle to pick up the pieces, but the old pieces don’t quite fit together the way they used to. I’m no longer the little girl he helped my mother raise. He’s still my hero, but looks at me in a way that incites overwhelming desires for the only man who can keep me whole in the aftermath of my mother's death. What’s worse is that I might be the only person who can keep him whole, too.

But my mother had secrets that I’m barely prepared to unearth, and when I do, I discover a second man who is just as broken by the loss. Mom’s secret lover knew a darker side of her, and was left in the cold after her death. My stepfather and I might be the only ones who can bring him back from the brink of self-destruction.

But how far will we go to put the pieces back together?

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Chapter 1

The lurch of the landing plane jarred me out of sleep and I blinked, drawn out of the most bizarre dream. The residue of it lingered, leaving my skin tingling from the invisible touch of the faceless man and his urgent fingers. God, what an experience.

I closed my eyes again while the plane taxied, trying to hold onto that feeling before it slipped away, as it always did. Big hands sliding over every inch of my skin, kneading my soft flesh, slicking through my quivering wet folds, spreading me open for his imminent invasion. I shifted in my seat, the uncomfortable wetness letting me know that my body had been paying as much attention to the dream as my mind had. It was the same one I’d had for years, only in the aftermath of waking, my wayward thoughts gave a face to the man in my dream. A face that didn’t belong there and I shook my head to dispel the image.

Inappropriate faces or not, at least dream was an easier thing to confront than what I had to deal with after disembarking. I’d spent the last six and something hours trying to avoid thinking about what lay ahead.

The call had come at 3AM that morning, Michael’s gruff, anguished voice so alien from its normal irreverent tone that I loved so much.

“Brit… Oh, God.”

“Michael? What is it?”

“Your mother. It was a car accident. A drunk driver…they said—the doctors, I mean—they said they tried everything, but…”

The bottom dropped out of my belly. The icy cold of the realization had caused me to nearly drop my phone. I lurched up in my bed, ignoring the irritated complaint of my roommate in the dormitory bed on the opposite wall.

I sat up and pressed my forehead against the cool pane of the window, staring blindly at the lit quad outside. I had to force myself to take a breath so I could speak again, but somehow the sense of my stepfather’s pain overrode my own and all I could think of was how to comfort him in spite of the deep ache of loss that settled itself in my own belly. I knew what was coming, as much as I hated it.

“What? What happened?”

Michael’s anguished sob had hit my ear next, and in the midst of it when he could find breath for words, all I heard was, “She’s gone, Brit. Oh, God, she’s gone.”

The rest was a blur. A solid shift of necessity in the midst of grief. None of it registered as I made the calls and clicked the keys to secure a ticket back to New York. Some small part of me had considered Mom to be immortal. I failed at that prediction. How many more would I fail at?

Michael’s voice echoed in my mind now as I disembarked, its cadence a disturbing juxtaposition to the flash of his face in my mind after that erotic dream. She’s gone. I couldn’t reconcile his anguished words with the sound of his voice in my dream. Even if it hadn’t been his when I dreamed those things, that was all I heard when I recalled the images now.

My decade-long crush on the man was something I’d struggled to put behind me. He was married to my mother, after all. To him I’d always been a child, no matter how grown-up I’d considered myself when he came into our lives. Not only was I barely a teenager when we met, I was also Margaret Vale’s daughter.

Margaret Vale was the strongest, most beautiful woman I’d ever known. The figure I aspired to. Tears threatened to break through even as I wrestled my overstuffed carry-on down from the overhead. A large hand grabbed it and handed it to me. I was too choked up to even force out a simple thank you.

Mom had been a force to be reckoned with in the city. After a successful Broadway career when she was younger, she’d switched gears entirely. She’d been a city council member for the last two years, with what everyone said would be a dazzling political career to come. Women as driven as she was couldn’t just die. She had too much to live for. I was only twenty-two and I knew enough because she’d drilled it into me for the last ten years. The fact that she was drop-dead gorgeous didn’t hurt her prospects.

She didn’t need a man in her life, she’d said on so many occasions, yet she’d married Michael anyway, claiming he needed her, and who would she be if she didn’t help those in need?

Michael was a rebel, or at least that was his reputation in the society pages. He was just as rich as he was ruthless and calculating. I never really learned that side of him until I was thousands of miles away and read about him on the news. The most recent victory of his had resulted in the hostile takeovers of several mid-sized, failing companies. The news had painted him alternately as a thief and a saint. He’d made millions, but he’d saved hundreds of people’s jobs in the process.

To me he was still the handsome younger man Mom had taken under her wing for reasons that were still a mystery to me, considering how successful he already was at the time. He was only twenty-four—twice my age at the time—and was already famous in the city for being the youngest CEO of his corporation, having inherited the spot from his father who had unexpectedly died. Neither of them struck me as people who needed to lean on anyone, much less each other, and yet they became the city’s most popular power couple within weeks of Michael appearing in our lives.

When he and Mom got together I was old enough to have an opinion, but still too young for it to carry much weight with Mom. Twelve-year-olds aren’t the biggest experts on relationships, after all. He was never “Dad” to me after their wedding, even though my real dad was never in the picture.

I’m not sure I’d have called Michael a father figure, even. He was the kind of man who transcended such benign labels. A force of nature as much as my mother. But I did worship him in a way that evolved the older I got, until I grew uncomfortable with the thoughts I had about a man who belonged to someone else—someone I loved and cared about. He was Mom’s so could never be mine.

There were still the odd circumstances where I had a weird reflex to call him “Daddy,” as if saying it might help me banish those inappropriate thoughts. Like when I crashed my car at age 16 and was scared out of my mind that Mom would be pissed, so I called him first. Or earlier that morning when he’d called to let me know Mom had been hit by a drunk driver and hadn’t survived it.

I stepped off the escalator to baggage claim and wasn’t surprised to see the suited man with the sign declaring my name, “Britannia Vale.”

Wow, Michael had been together enough to send a man to meet me. Actually, that was unlikely. His secretary had probably been given the bare bones of his plans and done all the work. I didn’t even know the woman and she was already looking out for me. I knew Michael would undoubtedly be planning Mom’s funeral. There were always certain things he would insist on doing himself rather than delegate.

Sign-guy directed me toward the exit with a terse message that he’d deliver my luggage. There was no arguing with Michael’s directive. I knew that much. College had given me a pass for the last six weeks of the semester, and now that I was back in the bubble of Michael’s influence I had to expect compliance from his various lackeys.

I hated this part of him. When I was growing up he was a sporadically attentive man who had a weird compulsion to indulge my juvenile fantasies whenever he noticed me. During those brief periods, there had been no limit to the things he might do—everything from buying me front-row tickets to see my favorite band to bankrolling a trip to Paris with my best friends.

But the best, and most cherished, moments were the times we actually talked. He’d give me the briefest window into how his brilliant mind worked, and share his wisdom about the world and the machinations of the people around us. It felt like he was sharing secrets about himself, even though none of the details he divulged were about him. They were always about other people, but still managed to stoke my teenage obsession until I finally became self-aware enough to realize how very inappropriate my feelings were.

The limo surged into motion. I settled back, eyeing the tiny bar in the side of the limo, contemplating a drink. Mom was dead. Nobody would criticize me for it if I showed up shit-faced.

But that really wasn’t the kind of numb I needed.

I almost reached for the bottle at that resolution. The kind of numb I really needed was something only another human of the male persuasion could provide, and I knew the chances of that happening were close to nil. Old school friends were likely to show up at the funeral… Mom was the opposite of unpopular. I could have my pick of grief leaches if I wanted. But no… I needed more than a fuck.

I needed a man who actually understood the despair that lived like an irritating squatter in my belly. One who might know how to help me evict it. I might’ve found that in any of the rough bars near the university I just left, but it wouldn’t happen in this city with Michael’s eyes on my every action.

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