Learning that her estranged husband has passed away is the biggest shock of Danielle Timberlake-Foster's life--until she learns that she wasn't his only wife. Though Danielle and Marc were separated, she believed they were about to reconcile and start a family. Rocked by betrayal, Danielle sees her dreams slipping away. Until her brother's best friend, Tristan Adams, offers support, comfort--and a chance to have the child she's always wanted. Danielle is drawn to Tristan's strong, sensual nature, but she wed Marc in haste and regretted it. Is she about to repeat her mistake? Or will a marriage of convenience turn into the soulful union she's always longed for?
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June 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Just Deserts by Brenda Jackson
If it had been left up to Tristan Adams, he would not have given Danielle Timmons-Foster the news. But it hadn't been left up to him. For the past two months her life had been one hellacious lie. A part of him wondered if one more lie wouldn't hurt. But for Danielle he knew it would.
And when she hurt, he hurt.
She had dropped onto the sofa and was staring at him as if he had totally lost his mind. He almost wished he had. Or, at least, that this episode had been one long nightmare they would finally wake up from--and find that not only was her husband not dead, but that he hadn't left three wives behind. Three wives who, until a couple of months ago, each assumed they were Mrs. Marc Foster. And now to add salt to the wound, he'd just told Danielle there might be a fourth woman out there with the title, as well.
"Tristan, please tell me you're joking," Danielle said, her voice soft, low and sounding utterly defeated. "It's a sick joke, but I'll accept it. I don't want to believe what you just said. I can't believe what you just said."
He nodded slowly, understanding. He had been with her when she'd gotten the call two months ago that her husband of five years was dead after having choked on--of all things-- his wedding ring. He'd also been with her at Marc's funeral in California when they'd discovered she wasn't the only Mrs. Foster. And he'd been by her side at the attorney's office when it had been declared that the second wife, Ren�e, was the legal Mrs. Foster and that Danielle, his first wife, and Alexandra, his third, had gotten duped with phony marriage licenses.
He released a long sigh and crossed the living room's hardwood floor to sit beside Danielle on the sofa. He took her hand in his and tried to smile. "Dani, I stopped teasing you the day you began wearing your first training bra, remember?"
He knew that would get a smile out of her. She would remember that day. It would remind her of happier times when her brother had been alive. Tristan couldn't help but smile himself whenever he thought of Paul Timmons, his best friend since kindergarten. They'd lived in the same neighborhood and had gone to school together, had played peewee football and gone off to college together--roommates at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a long way from their hometown of Port St. Lucie, Florida. And then when they'd finished college, they'd returned home to go into business together. They started A&T Shipping Company, making it into a very successful corporation. Then the Iraq war started and Paul's reserve unit was shipped out for duty. Paul never made it back home alive.
"When will it end?" Danielle asked, her words intruding into his thoughts. "How could I have been married to a man and not know him the way I thought I did?"
Tristan's grip on her hand tightened. They had covered this ground before and he felt partly to blame. Danielle had been a well-known international model when she had been contacted about Paul's death. Since their parents had gotten killed in a plane crash her first year in college, Paul had been all the family she'd had. Losing him had taken a toll on her. Claiming she was tired of the glitz and glamour of life as a successful fashion model, she had returned to Port St. Lucie to take over Paul's role as Tristan's partner.
Barely two months after Paul's death, Marc Foster had opened a business account, and since Danielle's role was to wine and dine new clients, she had taken on Marc. If Tristan hadn't been so torn up with grief himself over losing his best friend, he would have seen Marc for the conniving snake he was. Marc had set his sights on Danielle and less than a month later, Danielle had called to say she and Marc had eloped to Atlanta.
The reason Tristan blamed himself was that he had promised Paul the day he'd left for Iraq that if anything were to happen to Paul, he would look after Danielle. Apparently he'd done a piss-poor job of it.
Danielle pulled her hand from his, stood up and began pacing the floor. It wasn't hard to realize she was madder than hell. He would be, too, if he were in her shoes.
She had dropped by last night for dinner and he had talked her into spending the night, since the guest room practically had her name on it, anyway. He knew she thought of him as nothing more than her best friend and confidant. He was hoping that one day she would begin to see him as more.
He leaned back in the sofa trying to recall when he had finally broken down and admitted to himself that he was in love with her. Had it been that day she'd called to say she'd eloped? That was probably the reason he had taken off a couple of days and drank himself into a stupor.
He had called himself all kinds of fool for letting Marc into her life, but not once had Tristan gotten out of line or tried convincing her to divorce the guy. He'd respected her marriage. He'd even tried to like Marc. When he saw that he couldn't, he'd gone five years and pretended he did.