My life with Damien has never been fuller. Every day is a miracle, and every night I lose myself in the oasis of his arms.
But there are new challenges, too. Our families. Our careers. And new responsibilities that test us with unrelenting, unexpected trials.
I know we will survive—we have to. Because I cannot live without Damien by my side. But sometimes the darkness seems overwhelming, and I am terrified that the day will come when Damien cannot bring the light. And I will have to find the strength inside myself to find my way back into his arms.
I already know that Damien is running later than I am, because he’d called while I was stuck in traffic. Now I dismiss Bree for the night, then go peek in on both my girls. I want to wake them, to cuddle them close, but I let them sleep, contenting myself with watching the steady rise and fall of their little chests.
Then I take a quick shower, change into yoga pants and a T-shirt, and stretch out on our lovely iron bed, surrounded by paperwork.
That’s where I am when Damien finds me—although I’m asleep instead of busily working.
“Hey,” he says, brushing a kiss on my shoulder. “Long day?”
As I claw my way back to consciousness, he gathers my papers and sets them on the bedside table. There’s a glass of wine, too, and he hands it to me. I try to avoid alcohol since I’m breastfeeding, but I also did the research and know that a little bit isn’t a problem so long as I wait to pump or feed Anne.
“The longest,” I say, then take a grateful sip. I lean sideways against him, my back supported by the pile of pillows that rest against the wall. I give him the full rundown, the highlight of which is Eric’s surprising departure.
“You can handle continued growth,” he says, his loyalty giving me a nice warm boost of confidence. “But you’re also well-positioned to simply hold the line if that’s what you want to do. Even to downsize if it works out that way.”
I push away from him, frowning as my chest tightens uncomfortably. “What?”
“I’m just saying that you don’t have to go back to work full-throttle.”
I sit up straight. “Excuse me? Why? Because you can support us?”
“I can support us. But what I’m—”
“So I’m supposed to feel guilty about wanting to work just because you bring in billions?” Dammit, he knows how important my job is to me. How hard I’ve worked to build my business on my own, not relying on money that comes from Stark International.
He stares at me like someone might stare at a wild hyena. “That’s not what I’m saying at all.”
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Hold Me: A Stark Ever After Novella by J. Kenner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Title: Hold Me
Author: J Kenner
Anyone who has followed Damien and Nikki's story loves them - they love the obstacles they've gone through, the many unwanted surprises they've faced together, but most of all, they've fallen in love with their love story. I for one, have been a Stark and Stark International fan ever since the first book and could never get my hands on the books fast enough. Each new books brought me back into their lives and reminded me why they are perfect for one another.
Compared to all the previous books, Hold Me felt like a bridge - the in-between two novels or maybe the conclusion of a long standing journey as we finally get to meet the full family, reuniting both the Stark and Stark International series. It still held all the elements that I love about this couple - the chemistry, the dominance and even the daily struggles they go through, only without the exterior obstacles of people trying to tear them apart. Will there be any other addition to this series? I'm not certain, but if it is, my curiosity about what happens to this couple and family had been at least satisfied.
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