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Chapter 9: Night sweats

The evening was late, the air warm, humid, the room dusty. A half-empty bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and two wine glasses, both containing a small amount of wine, one stained with red lipstick along the rim, sat on a workbench in the main room of the mansion under renovation. Soft music filled the room—“Stay” by Rihanna.

Cassie struggled to catch her breath between Jacob’s kisses, each one longer, more intense than the last. He had her pinned against the wall, one hand bracing the wall, the other first caressing her neck, then along her chest, the gentle touch of his fingertips as sensual as his aggressive kisses.

“You are so beautiful,” he whispered in her ear, his breath warm on her neck.

Her dress clung tightly to her body. His denim jeans sat low on his hips, the top button open. His T-shirt lay crumpled on the floor.

When his hand found its way inside her dress, cupping and massaging her bare breasts, first one and then the other, she moaned. When his mouth continued to follow the path of his hand she continued to moan as she ran her fingers through his hair.

“I want you, Cassie. I always have,” he said, both hands now bracing the wall on each side of her, his eyes capturing hers. She traced the outlines of his ripped chest with the tips of her fingers as he spoke, her heart beating ever faster and faster.

“Tell me you want me, Cassie. Tell me you want me as well."

“I want you, Jacob. I want you,” she whispered, then gasped as he hiked her dress up, then pushed her closer to him.

“Oh my God!” Cassie exclaimed, waking in her bed, her body drenched in a cold sweat. “Not again!”

Breathing heavily, she sat up in the bed as she ran her hands over her face, and then through her damp hair. She glanced over at the digital clock on her bedside table as she tugged at the short, thin silk nightgown sticking to her wet body. The time read 3:17 AM.

Crawling out of bed, she made her way to the bathroom, where she flipped on a light. Turning on the cold water, she splashed her face several times. After drying her face with the hand towel, she wet a small section of the cloth and touched it to the back of her neck.

After hanging the towel back on the rack, she took several deep breaths, then spoke to the image looking back at her in the mirror.

“I’ve heard of women having night sweats in their early forties, but no one ever said the likes of Jacob Miller would accompany them. Why does this keep happening?”

Three weeks had passed since she had met with Jacob at the mansion once it had been cleared out. She had met with Beau the architect three times since, with Jacob present each time. And this was the third time she’d had this same dream, and each time she had woken at the same moment.

“If you’re going to keep having this same damn dream, at least let it finish before you wake up!” she demanded of the image in the mirror. “Then maybe it will stop!”

Stepping out of the damp nightgown, she retrieved an oversized cotton nightshirt from the closet and slipped it on as she headed to the kitchen. She hesitated for a moment along the way to get her bearings in the darkness of the hall, having just moved into the small rental home after closing on the sale of her Aunt Sissy’s Baton Rouge mansion.

She’d chosen to move into the small rental in Vacherie for many reasons. Planning to live full-time in the apartment already drawn into the downstairs’ plans of her mansion, she did not need to purchase a separate home. Renting in Vacherie put her closer to the plantation home, where she could keep a close watch on the renovation. And there was an added plus—the closer she lived to the mansion, the further she resided from Baton Rouge, Phillip, and Melanie, the less chance of running into one of them or hear about them. The two-bedroom rental home was small and simple, but it was all she needed for now, especially since neither Patricia or Paul had any plans of returning home other than short visits.

Inside the kitchen, she retrieved an ice cube from the freezer and rubbed it all along the back of her neck and then her chest before tossing in the sink. She grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator, then headed into the living room, where she plopped down on the sofa.

She needed more sleep but doubted the chance of getting it if she went back to bed. She had what she hoped would be her last meeting with Beau at ten this morning, providing his final draft of the renovation plans met her approval. She had enjoyed working with the gentleman, though—as Jacob had warned—had found it difficult at times to understand his thick Cajun accent. Most likely in his mid-fifties, he had been pleasant, but extremely professional. Jacob had been incredibly helpful, offering suggestions and tips gained from his own professional experience. She was glad he had participated in the meetings, but he had made her uncomfortable. Any closeness of him to her, any simple touch caused her to tense. It wasn’t that he repulsed her in any way. Quite the contrary. No matter how much she wanted to, she couldn't deny her attraction to Jacob Miller. She had no desire for any romantic involvement with him or anyone else, preferring to devote her full attention to her mansion and her dream of achieving something on her own.

She stretched out on the sofa, covering herself with the small afghan draped over the back of it. She needed more rest before her morning meeting with Beau and Jacob, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw Jacob in her dream, felt his warm lips on hers.

Why couldn’t Jacob Miller have been old, fat, and bald, married with six kids and ten grandkids. Why did he have to be so damn gorgeous, so charming, and so damn available!

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