Romance

Burning Desire

Renee Winget

Addie Jackson, a newly divorced single mother of two, soon to be three, moves across the country. She has no choice. She moves in with her younger sister, Melody, to avoid bumping into her cheating ex and hopes to build a new life for herself and her kids. Melody never told her sister about her neighbor. Nicholas was told that his friend’s sister would be moving in next door. However, his brother, Landon, failed to mention the two kids and the fact that Addie is seven months pregnant. When Nick sees Addie waddling around her truck, he’s done for. Her pretty green eyes seal the deal. As Addie learns to trust again, she is aware that she is very much a “package deal.” She will not allow anyone to let her kids down again. As their friendship develops, Addie questions whether Nicholas is the right man for her. Will she put her past behind her and allow herself to love again and be loved?

Age Rating: 18+ (Brief mention of stillbirth, Affair)

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Burning Desire - Book cover
Romance

Burning Desire

Renee Winget

Addie Jackson, a newly divorced single mother of two, soon to be three, moves across the country. She has no choice. She moves in with her younger sister, Melody, to avoid bumping into her cheating ex and hopes to build a new life for herself and her kids. Melody never told her sister about her neighbor. Nicholas was told that his friend’s sister would be moving in next door. However, his brother, Landon, failed to mention the two kids and the fact that Addie is seven months pregnant. When Nick sees Addie waddling around her truck, he’s done for. Her pretty green eyes seal the deal. As Addie learns to trust again, she is aware that she is very much a “package deal.” She will not allow anyone to let her kids down again. As their friendship develops, Addie questions whether Nicholas is the right man for her. Will she put her past behind her and allow herself to love again and be loved?

Age Rating: 18+ (Brief mention of stillbirth, Affair)

1: Chapter 1

Adeline

Adeline Jackson ran her numb, nimble fingers through her wavy caramel-blonde hair that came a few inches past her shoulders. Then her hands moved to her round seven-month pregnant belly.

She let out a sigh as she clicked the pen in her hand as she read her divorce “packet”—it seemed a more accurate description than just “papers.”

The forms put together were so huge and were taking so long to read, but she was going to read every last word.

How has my life come to this?

Her tired, strained eyes darted over to her soon-to-be legally ex-husband; he was a very powerful insurance agency owner.

She pulled her full bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled as she averted her gaze from the spineless man. He had cheated on her with his not-so-proper secretary and had gotten her pregnant.

Now Adeline was forced to sign this stupid divorce packet. She’d barely get anything, just enough to move far away from Middleton, Ohio, not that she wanted to stay anyway.

She could never look at this town again.

It was for the best. And it wasn’t like her soon-to-be legal ex, Martin Tanner, wanted anything to do with the kids either.

He had signed off all rights because she’d asked him to, or she would have gone after child support for them.

But since he was “going to have his hands full with his new family,” he didn’t see the point in keeping contact with her or their two sons Cade, four, and Dex, two, and soon-to-be newborn daughter, Isabelle.

She rubbed her hand along her bulging belly as a small cramp erupted through her. She pinched her eyes shut and took a couple of deep, calming breaths, and the pain subsided a little.

She had done too much over the last two months trying to get ready for this day.

She had gone through her things and the kids’ things. Anything they could use for their new life, she had packed up in boxes and loaded into the trailer that was hooked up to her truck.

Yeah, she never had been a woman for cars. She hated them. But she didn’t know how the truck was going to make it to Sparks Hollow, Texas, where her little sister, Melody Jackson, lived.

Pathetic, and she knew it. A twenty-nine-year-old single mom of two, soon-to-be three, having to move in with her twenty-five-year-old sister. All because her no-good“husband”couldn’t keep it in his pants.

The pain slowly subsided.

As if things couldn’t be bad enough, he had the woman he was now dedicated to sitting right beside him for “support.”

Adeline tried hard to keep her emerald-green gaze fastened to the thick packet in front of her. Hard to do.

The woman was five years younger than herself, was a bleach blonde, with a pair of breasts on her that were ridiculous; she could never have competed with her or tried.

She assumed the affair had started after the last secretary had left.

She had already been four months pregnant with Isabelle when Martin had come to her to tell her the news that he had another woman in his life, that he’d impregnated her and intended to marry her.

So, that would make the bleach-blonde support system about three months along. She was still a bit of a stick compared to her bulge but then again, Adeline had already had two kids.

It was no wonder Martin Tanner had strayed; their marriage had been on the rocks ever since they’d had Dex but every now and then, he would need some release and would come to her at night.

Back then, she had loved him, wanted him with such a burn she didn’t think a whole tsunami could douse her, but that was then, this was now.

The last time they had done anything, which was seven months ago, had resulted in Isabelle.

Then things had gotten even worse… So hell, for all she knew, he had cheated on her many times and was just now getting caught. But that information was far from the wanting-to-know list.

It was bad enough that she knew about bleachy over there sitting by him, digging her long, perfect pink manicure into his arm.

“Just sign the damn papers!” Martin’s harsh, cruel voice broke through her thoughts.

Adeline glared at the pitiful excuse of a man. “I’m sorry, I didn’t take anything from you, and I am going to sit here, read these documents to make sure you don’t even try to take my kids from me, Martin.

“We’ve waited two months for this day. A few more minutes will not kill you, although it looks like it may have.

“I don’t think it’s going to ruin anything if I make sure that you are really done with me and our children. You will not take them from me later on.”

“You know I don’t want the brats.” He glared his harsh brown gaze at her.

Adeline just glared back and continued to read everything.

The papers where he had given up his rights to the kids, along with documentation stating that he’d never try to take them or come into contact with them ever again, seemed to be in order.

She touched the pen to the divorce paper and signed in the correct spots. She looked at her best friend, who had her own law firm. “Can you handle the rest of this, Dani?”

Dani’s red-painted lips smiled, and sympathy was in her large mocha-brown eyes and written all over her tan face. “Sure. Are you okay, Addie?”

“Yeah, just feeling a little crampy, plus I have to get the boys ready for the long trip ahead.

“I just need to get some pressure off my stomach,” Addie mumbled as she scooted back and adjusted her blue-with-white-flowers maternity dress as she got up.

She grabbed her purse and headed toward the door in her soundless, flat, blue dress shoes. She walked out of the dark wooden door and closed it, shutting out her old life.

Twenty-nine years old, three kids, how hard could it be to start over?

Melody

“Landon Costello, you give me back my phone. Now! This isn’t funny. I’m expecting a very important phone call, you blundering idiot!”

Melody Jackson yelled at her very hot neighbor’s even hotter younger brother as she began to run after him.

She had just gotten home from the office and was checking her phone for a message or call from her sister when he had come up behind her and snatched her phone out of her small hands.

He was so immature for a twenty-six-year-old.

And that led her here—in three-inch black pumps, cream-colored jacket and matching pencil skirt, chasing after one hell of a sexy firefighter who was running away from her in beat-up sneakers and a pair of red basketball shorts.

This did, however, allow her to openly feast her eyes over his sweat-glistened, hard-toned back and, for a fleeting moment before he ran away, his just as toned, broad, lightly speckled chest and rippling abs.

“Oh, come on, Melody Jackson, what man is it this time?” his deep voice teased as he kept running from her.

She stopped chasing him and shot daggers at him; he really was an idiot.

She had been in Sparks Hollow for two years now and never had a date with a man because the idiot who was running around with her phone had caught her eye and no one else made her feel the heat like he did.

She had moved in next to his older brother at twenty-three when she had been offered an internship while she finished her two years of college in Austin to be a psychologist.

A couple of days after she moved in, her eyes landed on this man and, boy, did she fall and ache for him something fierce.

But for some reason, he never picked up on it.

She rolled her eyes and huffed. If she missed her big sister’s phone call because of this idiot, she was going to knock his block off along with that sexy grin of his.

Too bad she’d probably miss it too much and wouldn’t do anything of the sort to him. But he had been getting under her skin for the past two years, in a hot and bothersome and irritating way.

She glared more when Landon began to answer the phone.

“Don’t you dare answer that!” Melody yelled at him and went after him again.

“Hello?” Landon’s deep voice answered in that slow, sexy drawl of his that almost turned her knees to rubber.

As she reached for the phone to pull it from his ear, he must have hit the speaker button because they were met with the sound of an upset child, then her sister’s voice.

“Cade, don’t punch your brother, please. We’re heading to see Aunt Mel right now, so just be nice to him for a little while, please?

“Melody, it’s done, everything is done, the divorce. He even signed off his rights to the boys and Isabelle like he said he was going to, so we’re heading out now.”

Melody knew that tone. Addie was on her last thread, and that was close to breaking. “That’s good, Addie. That’s what you wanted, right?”

“I, I guess… You know what the snake did, though? He had her with him, sitting there right beside him, stupid bleachy, her manicured nails digging into his arms, which he probably paid for. He even called them all brats.”

She let out a shaky sigh.

“I was no competition to even sway him away from her. I’m such a failure and a loser and an idiot for believing anything he ever said.

“At one point, I really thought we loved each other. Now I know that I never did or, if I did, it was only for a short time after our marriage.”

Melody glared at Landon. This was such a private conversation, but when her eyes locked onto his soft-brown ones and saw they were filled with sympathy, the anger in her melted away a little.

“I’m honestly not surprised. He’s been throwing her in your face the last few months, but, Addie, you deserved better than him from the beginning, and you still do, sweetheart.

“So you’re leaving now? When do you think you’ll be here?”

“I honestly don’t know, Melody. I was shooting for late tonight, but between packing and the stress over the last couple of months, my back is killing me, I’ve been cramping some, and my feet are so swollen.

“Guess you’d think a woman in my condition would be used to this by now, but I never had to pack for three people by myself the last two pregnancies.”

“Then don’t make the trip in one day, sis, please? You still have two months to go. We don’t need her any earlier than we are already going to be having her, okay?

“Take care of yourself, Cade, Dex, and Belle. It’s going to be okay.” Melody was trying not to cry for her big sister; she would be so mad if she knew she felt sympathy for her.

She looked up when Landon wrapped his strong, muscular, corded arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him. She didn’t even mind that he was still a little bit sweaty and sticky.

“If you need me to, I can put you and the boys up in as many hotels as you need.”

“No, Melody, I got enough out of him for food and the trip there and, if I’m lucky, a little extra to help while I try to find a job.

“Then again, who the hell would want to hire a beached whale? If I decide to stop, I’ll let you know.”

“All right, I love you, Addie, and my nephews and niece. Everything here is ready, your room, the boys’ room, and the nursery.” She shook her head when she heard another cry.

“Cade Alexander, stop being mean to your brother. I’m sorry, Melody, I better go before they burn my truck down.”

“If you need anything, let me know.”

“Thanks, Melody, but you’re taking me, two boys, and soon a baby girl in; that’s more than enough. I’ll see you soon.”

Melody looked up at Landon as Addie hung up.

Great! Now he knows way more than he should.

Her cheeks heated up a little, and she turned away from the sexy firefighter.

She pulled her pumps off, letting the blades of her lush, green grass tickle between her toes. She dropped her pumps beside the steps as she fell to the concrete steps.

As she stared at the sidewalk, her gaze was filled with muscular legs, then the man who made her blood roar crouched in front of her.

Landon reached out and tilted her head up gently by her chin. “Sorry, Melody, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m not going through it—my sister is.” She sighed.

“So, what was that call about? I mean, I kind of got the gist of it, but maybe you could explain it to me in a little more detail.”

“What’s there to explain? My sister just signed her divorce papers today. She is officially a single mother of three with no support but me right now.

“She’s coming to live with me for however long she needs to, along with her four-year-old and two-year-old sons, and she’s seven months pregnant with a girl.

“She needs help, and that asshole husband of hers cheated on her, I don’t know how many times, but finally got caught when he got his bleach-blonde bimbo secretary pregnant.

“So I guess he now thinks the bimbo is more important than the family he already had, and now he wants nothing to do with the kids he already helped make with my sister.”

Melody’s eyes widened as she spilled everything.

Landon let out a low, long whistle. “Damn, that’s rough. So does she look anything like you?”

“Eh, same hair color, not sure how long it is; it’s been a while since I’ve seen her and the boys, but she has emerald-green eyes instead of my blue ones.”

“So, who are you fixing her up with?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“You must have someone in mind to eventually set her up with.”

“Really, Landon? She just got divorced today. It became final today. She still has to give birth to her daughter in two months and has two, as you heard, very rambunctious boys.

“Hooking her up with anyone right now is out of the question.”

“Darn.” He snapped his thumb and forefinger together.

“Come on, Landon, be serious right now!” Melody pleaded with him when a different yet very deep voice entered the conversation.

“You know this punk is never serious,” the deep voice rumbled.

Melody gazed up at the slightly older version of Landon.

“Hey, Nicholas.”

The differences between the two men were subtle but definitely there. Nicholas was about six three, at least, with very beautiful, deep-blue eyes, while Landon was six foot even, with soft-brown eyes.

They both had the same shorter-style dirty-blond hair but not completely cropped; there was enough for a girl to run her fingers through and mess up quite a bit during a very interesting hot night.

They were both ripped and toned. Nicholas was also a firefighter. He tended to always have a little bit of scruff along his chiseled face, while Landon was always clean-shaven.

Nicholas was the older of the two brothers by a few years; he’d been so nice to her when she first moved in, and they were still on a friendly level for the most part.

All three of them even had cookouts together when she was feeling cheery enough to join them. But the older brother did nothing for her. Landon was the most get your blood going man she had ever met.

“I know. I don’t know why I ever thought he could be.” She smiled at them both.

“So, what are you trying to get him to be serious about?” Nicholas Costello slid his hands into the back pockets of his faded blue jeans.

Landon leaned back, his elbows on the concrete steps now, since he had somehow managed to move beside her at some point, and stretched his legs out a little.

“Her newly divorced sister is coming to stay with her for a bit. I was trying to see who Melody had planned to set her up with.”

“Really, little bro? The poor woman just got divorced, and you’re thinking like that?”

“Hey, she’ll need someone to show her around.” Landon leaned forward. “She has pretty emerald-green eyes,” he said teasingly.

Nicholas rolled his eyes. “Landon, you are a piece of work. Mom and Dad raised you better than this. I mean, come on, they raised me for crying out loud, and look how I turned out.”

He turned to look at her. “So, why the sadness, Melody? You don’t want her here?”

“No, I want her here, I’m just worried how messed up she’ll be after all of this, and she does have a sixteen-hour drive ahead of her at least.”

“How long were they married?”

“Well, she was twenty-three, so six years, I think.” Melody froze. “Oh no, no, no, no, six years in three days.” She stood up quickly. “Give me my phone, Landon.”

He pulled it back out of her reach making her have to lean down in front of him, and she snatched it from his hand that was behind his back.

She hurriedly called Addie.

She let out a sigh when Addie answered. “Addie, are you sure you don’t want me to come get you?”

“No, I’m fine, we’re already moving, and the boys have just settled down.”

Melody nibbled on her lip. “How’s your back, the cramps too?” she asked as she headed into her one-story, five-bedroom, two-bath house.

Nicholas

Landon looked at his older brother. “This is going to be interesting.”

“Come on, bro, I’ve got the grill ready, and it’s calling your name. It is your turn to cook, you know.”

They headed out back behind Nicholas’s two-story red-brick house; there wasn’t anything super special about it, but it was decent.

Landon began to throw the steaks on the grill while Nicholas pulled two beers out of the cooler on the wooden deck.

Nicholas sat down in his laid-back blue lounge chair after handing his brother the other long neck, and his deep-blue gaze locked with Landon’s brown eyes.

“So, pretty emerald-green eyes, huh? As pretty as the blue eyes who live next to me?”

“You know a pretty blue-eyed girl that lives next to you, and you haven’t introduced me? That’s so wrong.” He placed his hand over his heart and staggered a little as if Nicholas had shot him.

Nicholas rolled his eyes. “So, you’re telling me you really haven’t noticed Melody?” he teased.

Landon turned back to the grill, quickly letting out a gruff grunt.

“Oh, come on, you’re always over there agitating her when you’re waiting for me to get home.”

“It wouldn’t work. She’d never go out with me.” He flipped the steaks as Nicholas leaned forward, his beer in his hand and his elbows propped on his knees.

“Because you don’t let her see any side besides the teasing idiot that you are around her.”

“Come off it, Nick, let it go. That’s why I don’t let her see any other side. She’s too classy for me.”

“I don’t know, she had no problem leaning down in front of you with that low-cut shirt of hers to get her phone. Maybe she is into you,” Nick teased.

Landon just grunted again, causing Nick to shake his head.

Little brothers, they never learn.

But he, on the other hand, couldn’t help but be interested in this new neighbor with pretty green eyes that he was going to be getting. He just might have to investigate that little tidbit for himself.

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