One thing that held constant in Shelby Donovan’s life was her career. As a world renowned artist, Shelby’s paintings traveled the globe, landing in museums and homes across the nation. But what she couldn’t seem to get under control was her love life. Why? She asked herself that question time and time again. Her mother thought it was because of her best friend, Sebastian Cartwright. They’ve known each other for years. Sebastian and Shelby shared everything; embarrassing moments, secrets, dating tips, affection, and even an explosive kiss during one tipsy night on Shelby’s birthday.
But, when Shelby’s current boyfriend asks for her hand in marriage she should be excited, dancing, ready… but she isn’t. In fact, Shelby can’t stop thinking about the kiss she shared with Sebastian. It had to be a fluke, right? A simple, delicious, fiery kiss that pulled at her loins and caused her heartbeat to slam against her ribcage. Honestly, it rocked her world and thoughts of what could be played like piano keys in her head. But their friendship was too important to mix with the uncertainty of a relationship. Even worse, what if Sebastian didn’t feel the same way? It could ruin everything. Should Shelby accept the marriage proposal, or shed her fears and open up to her best friend? Find out in Everything I Always Wanted.
It was 8:30 p.m. when I turned into the garage. These twelve-hour days seemed to give me more energy than I kept on reserve. I hit the alarm on my Mercedes and strolled to the elevator, stepping on with my duffle bag stuffed with cameras and equipment in my hand. My mind was in the clouds when I stepped inside my penthouse. I dropped the bag by the door and walked to the kitchen, pulling a bottle of water from the refrigerator. There was movement in the shadows. Someone was sitting in my living room chair.
“I have a gun,” I said, putting the water to my mouth for a drink.
“You won’t need it, unless you mean me harm.”
That choice of words was interesting since that was something I was on a mission not to do. She turned on a light. In a thin-strapped halter top, blue jeans and flip flops, Shelby crossed her legs. “We need to talk.”
Her hair sat on top of her head in a lose ponytail, strands hanging lightly out of place. She seemed disheveled in a way that only made her sexier. “So talk.” I sat the water down. My floor plan was open so although I was standing in the kitchen and she in the living room, we had clear line of sight of each other.
“You’re ignoring me.”
“Come here.” She got to her feet and found a spot on the couch, patting the cushion beside her. I strolled to her side and sat next to her getting comfortable, letting my arm hang languorously over the top. My head fell back with my sight focused on the ceiling.
“What’s up, Buttercup?”
Her movement brought her to my lap where she straddled me, forcing us to come face to face with one another. She had no idea the danger she was in; her presence alone sent a blaze of heat dragging through me. I resisted the urge to grab her and kiss her senseless.
“I miss you.” She pouted.
“I miss you, too.” I brought her forehead to my lips, placing a soft kiss there.
“Why are you ignoring me? I need to know. This is so unlike us.”
“I’m giving you the space you wanted.”
“I didn’t want this.” She continued to pout.
I swept my thumb across her bottom lip. “Stop that.”
“That’s how I feel.”
“Why, I’m the one losing a friend.” It slipped out before I had a chance to think about it.
A shocked gasp left her. “Don’t say that.”
“Do you love him?” I asked.
“Um, yes…I mean of course.”
“Is he the love of your life?” She didn’t respond right away.
“The thing is, when he asked me, I wasn’t remotely expecting it. My initial response wasn’t yes, which is what took me so long to reply. I’m having this tug of war inside me, and it’s driving me crazy. I need my friend to help me out. What should I do?”
“What do you feel here?” I reached out and touched her heart.
An exasperated sigh left her. “I don’t know.” She groaned.
“But you do know. Listen to it.”
Her watchful stare outlined the features of my face.
“You should love him to the point where living without him is impossible.”
Her body slid to the side, her bottom sinking into the cushion next to me with legs that arbitrarily clung to my lap. She attempted to crawl back on top, but this time it was I that denied her. I stood and moved away. She followed me to the kitchen where I replenished myself with another bottle of water before returning to the couch. She decided to lay on her back with her head in my lap. I glanced down at her. I’d never felt anything but relaxed by our closeness, but she was making it hard for me.
“You called me the night of your engagement," I said. "Why?”
She huffed. “You let my call go to voicemail, didn’t you?”
“You’d just got engaged. I wanted you to enjoy your night.”
“Maybe I would have if you’d have answered your phone.”
“Was there a problem?”
“I needed to talk to you and make sure you were okay.”
“What if I wasn’t?”
She sat up and turned to me. “Then I would’ve come to you.”
“Why?” I asked.
Her forehead crinkled. “Do you really have to ask me that?”
I studied her for a moment. “I don’t pretend to read your mind, Buttercup. Why did you come over here?”
“I told you I miss you.”
“Didn’t you know I would call you back? I know a few have gotten past me.”
“You missed three.” She held up three fingers, and I grinned.
“Okay you got me, like I said I was being a bit selfish. I’ve had you all to myself for so long I hadn’t thought about what it would be like without you around. That’s my fault.”
She found her way back on top of my lap and slid her arms around my neck. “Sebastian, you will never lose me. Nothing can separate the friendship that we’ve built, are you kidding me?”
My voice grew heavy and gruff now; any movement from her at this point was sending me into overdrive. I was almost sure she could feel my rigid erection. “Shelby, you should move.”
Instead of taking my advice she did the opposite. “No.”
I took a deep breath and willed myself to be strong. “Shelby.”
Her eyes blinked back at me, her persistence just as sturdy. My hands scooped her up by her waist and maneuvered her next to me. I sat forward to keep her from trying that move again. “I know I’ll never lose you, but I recognize that you’ll be married soon, and we can’t very well be as close as I’m used to. You’re not even married yet and already you’ve asked me to give you space. If it were up to me, you’d never marry.” I quirked a smile at her.
She fumbled with her fingers and twisted her lips like she wanted to say something but didn’t.
“Hey,” I said, lifting her chin, “it’s all good. I’m a big boy, I’ll get over it, right? I want you to be happy and have everything your heart desires.”
“What if I don’t want you to get over it?”
I frowned. “What do you mean, Buttercup?”
“What if it’s you I desire?” Her words took me by surprise but strengthened a surreptitious need that traveled like molten fire to my core.
She inched closer to me. “I’ve been thinking—" I cut her off, my hand gripping the back of her head as I pulled her in for a ferocious kiss. I was a man possessed, needing to taste the intricate curves of her mouth. She bellowed a moan down my throat. Her legs around my waist, I leaned into her, my mountainous frame covering her delicate one. Her hands clasped the back of my head, and our lips moved in sync. My hands trailed a path down her thighs, clutching the jeans she wore in my fists. I was on the verge of giving her all the pent up emotions, love, and sexual craving I had for her. Her bottom lifted, and she wiggled to remove the material that separated us. It was that split second that brought me back to my senses. I was about to make love to her. It would change the dynamic of our relationship forever, and she was engaged. I withdrew but not without remorse.
“What’s wrong?” The questionable arch of her eyes and frown on her face sent a pain through me.
I tried to compose myself. “We should chill out.” I rose and walked away from her once more.
She scurried to her feet and caught up to my long strides. “You’re doing it again,” she said. I didn’t respond, and she reached out and yanked the back of my shirt. “No, you can’t do this again!” she yelled. I whipped around on her with what I knew to be a deadly glare reminiscent of the one I shared on her twenty-first birthday.
“Shelby,” I growled.
“No!” she said pointing a finger at me. I attempted to walk away again, but she scurried around, blocking my escape with the palm of her hands before pushing me. I took a step back, wanting to avoid this line of questioning. “Why are you doing this, Sebastian?” She pushed me again.
“No!” Her hands turned to fists that padded my chest in a frustrated sequence. “Why are you doing this to me, why don’t you want me?”
Her words cut into me with a razor-sharp edge; her attack on my chest was never ending. I dipped down, sweeping her up in my arms, her legs holstered around my waist, her arms snaking around my neck. I took in her lips, the savory taste of her mouth waking the ravenous animal that lived within me. I took steps forward until we bumped into the center kitchen isle. She was breathless, and I was distributing every bit of untamed fervor. Surely when I finished ravaging her, she’d be unbalanced with bruised lips. But she never wavered, giving just as much as I gave. It turned me on even more. My body was the temperature of an incinerator, my hardness stretching the material of the boxer briefs I wore. I led a trail down the arch of her throat, placing a bite on her neck.
“Sebastian,” she purred.
I nibbled up to her ear. “Yes, Buttercup?” I whispered.
“Take me to your bedroom.” My nibbling slowed, and my forehead fell to her shoulder. My bated breath slowed, and I regained control of myself. I looked into her beautiful brown eyes. There was sexual desire built in the depths of them, along with hopefulness, trust, and love. I knew she was attracted to me, but I didn’t allow myself to think she wanted something serious, and there was no way a relationship like ours could only be physical. I hung my head again and shut my eyes briefly so I could think straight. “Please,” she begged.
“Don’t,” I said.
She pulled my face to hers. “Tell me what it is. Be honest and if it’s reasonable I’ll let it go.”
We had an intense stare down. “You’re not this person, Buttercup.”
She folded her arms. “What person would that be?”
I chose my words carefully. “The person who cheats on her fiancé.” She visibly flinched like the words had stung. “And…”
She watched me carefully. “And what?” She patted her forehead as if she’d remembered something, “You’re in love,” she added, looking ashamed. “I forgot.” She sighed. “How can I be so stupid?”
A moment passed before I realized what she was talking about. I didn’t dispel her revelation, so she took it and ran with it. “Sebastian, I’m so sorry, please forgive me. You must think I’m crazy.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. The hopefulness I’d seen just a moment ago was dashed and left to evaporate like a doused campfire. But my truth remained the same; breaking her heart was something I would never do, even if that meant I’d have to live the rest of my life never knowing what could’ve been.
Stephanie Nicole Norris is an author from Chattanooga Tennessee with a humble beginning. She was raised with six siblings by her mother Jessica Ward. Always being a lover of reading, during Stephanie's teenage years her joy was running to the book mobile to read stories by R. L. Stine.
After becoming a young adult her love for romance sparked leaving her captivated by hero's and heroines alike. With a big imagination and a creative heart Stephanie penned her first novel Trouble In Paradise and self published it in 2012. Her debut novel turned into a four book series full of romance, drama, and suspense. To date Stephanie has self published seven books which includes five full novels and two short stories. They can be found on most retailers sites. Stephanie is inspired by the likes of Donna Hill, Gwynne Forester, and more. She currently resides in Chattanooga Tennessee with her husband and one year old son.