A passion that won't be denied despite the circumstances. Though Leigh cared deeply for Jim, it was his fiery older brother Tre who held the key to her heart. For the past ten years she's lived with the daily pain of knowing that Tre turned his back on the passion that had flared hot and bright between them.
A second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love. Tre knew from the moment that he first saw Leigh stroking his half-wild horse that her elegant, delicate appearance belied the depth and strength of her spirit. He'd dared to make Leigh his own, showing loyalty to nothing and no one beyond the laws of nature that clearly decreed that she was his. When Leigh denied what should have been undeniable, he knew the bitter taste of betrayal.
Now a family tragedy has forced Tre and Leigh together once again. Guilt, anger and betrayal rage between them, but so does a desire hot enough to incinerate all else in its wake.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Come To Me Freely by Beth Kery
When she saw the older model, dented sports car in Tre's driveway, some of her tension eased. Tre wasn't alone. She knew instinctively that it wasn't one of his vehicles. Tre was meticulous about the upkeep of his personal cars, just as he was about his horses, his home, his trucks and his farm equipment. When Leigh had first met him she'd assumed that his neatness was a result of his military training. But Sarah, Jeff and Jim had since told her that Tre had always been fastidious, even as a child. With his belongings and work habits anyway. When it came to his person Tre was insouciant.
Not that he needed to be concerned about his looks. Little imperfections like a long overdue haircut, a five o'clock shadow or dirty work boots and jeans only maximized his masculine appeal, never detracted from it.
As Leigh slid a casserole dish out of the bed of the truck she realized that Tre had made vast improvements on the old farmhouse since the last time she'd seen it. The dark green shutters on every window were freshly painted, as was the white wood siding. He'd even restored and painted the huge porch swing on the wraparound veranda. Leigh acknowledged for the first time that it was a beautiful old home, a genuine slice of Americana.
Even though she stood at the forest green front door for a full twenty seconds when she did finally knock it was with a firm briskness. After almost two minutes and several attempts she finally heard an inside deadbolt sliding open.
She took an unsteady breath and braced herself to see Tre.
Instead she found herself facing a half-naked young woman. Leigh blinked. Her brain scrambled to interpret the image of this attractively mussed stranger who appeared to be dressed only in one of Tre's shirts. It fell on her somewhere in the middle of bare, firm thighs. Her breasts swelled generously above the mere three buttons that had been fastened.
"Oh...good morning," Leigh finally managed when she realized that the woman was eyeing her with sleepy, suspicious brown eyes.
"Yeah, I guess so. What time is it anyway?"
"It's about seven. Is Tre around?"
"Sure. He's in bed." The look that the woman gave Leigh let her know that Tre was where most sane people were at this hour of the morning.
"Oh, I'm sorry. He's usually an early riser. His mother and I just assumed--"
"Most nights he probably doesn't put away close to a full bottle of bourbon," the woman interrupted with a harsh bark of laughter.
"Who is it?"
Leigh stilled at the sound of the deep, sleep-roughened voice. The woman who had answered the door glanced over to the right and shrugged.
"Hell if I know, Tre."
Leigh noticed that her voice had gone from bordering on rudeness to a sultry drawl in a split second. Her spine straightened indignantly.
"Sarah asked me bring some things over, Tre," Leigh stated with a matter-of-factness she was far from feeling. She didn't hear him approach but abruptly the dark green door swung back.
She held up her chin as she stared into Tre McNeal's piercing blue eyes.
"What are you doing here?"
"Well good morning to you too. Didn't your mother tell you I was coming for the funeral?"
"Yeah. I never expected that you'd be coming over here though."
Leigh swallowed. His face had been cold and expressionless when he said it. Still Leigh knew. He was referring to the last time she'd been to the farmhouse. He was subtly telling her that he knew how she'd been carefully avoiding him since then.
"Sarah asked me to bring over food to put in your refrigerator. Hers is packed and she needs the food for after the funeral," she explained evenly. For a few seconds Tre just stared at her, unmoving. "Tre, can I please come in? It's freezing out here."
He moved back slightly, signaling permission if not a welcome. Leigh rushed past him. The sooner she got this over with the better. She noticed that Tre's formerly sleepy bedmate looked alert now and completely irritated by Leigh's intrusion. Leigh met her stare, daring her to say something, especially when Leigh was on such a righteous mission.
She didn't need to look up to know that Tre had followed her into the kitchen. Leigh didn't want to admit that she was afraid to look at him. His sole concession to clothing consisted of a pair of faded, partially fastened jeans. Leigh knew for a fact that he'd just pulled them on before he came to the door and that he wasn't wearing a damn thing beneath them but warm, smooth male skin.
It was bad enough that she avoided his person. She couldn't refuse to look at him indefinitely as well. Her voice sounded brisk and matter-of-fact when she spoke.
"Are you going to help me or not?"
Leigh's heart drummed uncomfortably in her ears in the ensuing silence. Her eyes were drawn to him against her will.
She went completely still. Maybe she should consider not looking at him indefinitely. Especially now...in his present state of undress.
Leigh had never understood how God had seen fit to gift Tre with such a disproportionate amount of pure male sexuality. Technically Jim had been the more classically handsome of the two brothers. Her husband's features had been more regular, more harmonious in their arrangement. Tre's face was harder than Jim's. And the last word that came to Leigh's mind when she sought to define Tre's expression as he studied her from beneath raven black brows was "harmonious".
"Is there a lot more?"
"Yes, the bed is full of food that people have been bringing over."
Despite her request, the only movement Tre made as he leaned indifferently against the countertop was the stirring of his thumb. The idle gesture brought Leigh's eyes downward. His arms were crossed loosely over his chest and his right hand circled a steely, work-hewn biceps. The thumb fluttered less than an inch away from an erect dark brown nipple.
"Just forget it," she muttered as fury unexpectedly bubbled to the surface. "I can see that you're otherwise occupied." Her eyes sliced over to the woman who had just entered the kitchen. She stormed past him toward the front door.
Tre's arm snaked out and grabbed her wrist with lightening speed. He jerked her body against him.
"I know the horse is damn high but do you think you could manage to get off it without breaking your pretty ass, Leigh?"