Taggart's BrideShe became pregnant by one brother, and married the other. Now her first love is back — who will Jolie choose?
Seven years ago Drew Taggart married the young and pregnant Jolie Stewart when his brother had abandoned her. But now Darian Taggart is back in town and the two brothers are competing for the same woman. Who will Jolie choose?
by Allison Leigh
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"His fiancée." Drew repeated the words, unable to quite believe them.
"Yes," Jolie assured. "His fiancée. He told you of his plans but obviously neglected to tell you the name of his intended. I suppose he thought it was one more thing that Helen would have told you. Do you think I’d make it up?"
He shoved his hand through his hair, even as he cursed his half-brother all over again. "I’m sorry."
Jolie looked up at him, her expression sad. "For what? That you’ve lost your easy excuse to call it quits with me?"
"Dammit, Jolie — "
She popped up to her feet, slashing her hand in the air. "Just stop. I don’t have the stomach for this right now." She walked into the living room. "Where’s Evan, anyway?"
"Still at Tristan and Hope’s." He followed her, catching her arm in his hand. Feeling her go stiff as a board. He ignored it and turned her inexorably around to face him. "I’m sorry that he hurt you again." Admitting it didn’t come easy.
"Who, Darian?" She stared at him with that same look she’d been wearing for the past few days. The one that silently asked if he’d lost his mind. "The only thing that Darian’s return proved was that our marriage is a sham." Her throat worked. "I’d thought...hoped — "
Something hard and tight lodged in Drew’s chest. A sham? He’d devoted his life to Jolie and their son even though he’d known they weren’t truly his. It was a hard truth to face. "Hoped what?"
Her lashes swept down, hiding her tawny eyes. "We’ve been...married...a while, Drew. But I don’t think we’ve ever talked about what’s in our hearts. Not really. We talk about Evan, we talk about our friends and what’s going on around Weaver. We talk about the horses you train and about my job at the post office. But that’s about it."
"I know what’s in your heart."
"Do you?" Her lips twisted. "You’ve got one up on me, then. All I know is that you don’t want me, anymore."
"Dammit, I’ll always want you." The admission came out, low and fierce. "But I want you to be happy, more. And if that means Darian, then that’s something I’ve gotta live with."
"When have I ever suggested that I would only be happy with him? I don’t love your half-brother!"
"You used to cry out his name in your sleep. Every damned night, Jolie."
Her lips parted. "Used to, Drew. Did you ever ask me about the dreams? Of course not! You’re Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent. The man who sacrificed his future for the poor little pregnant girl who couldn’t take care of her life. The man who gave up everything just to ensure his nephew didn’t get raised by strangers!"
"I got everything," he growled. "But I knew it wasn’t mine to keep. You were Darian’s."
"I wasn’t. And I’m not." She swiped her fingers over her cheeks. "I was 18 and infatuated with a handsome college boy who was home on summer vacation. But I got over that infatuation pretty darned quickly when it became clear he’d only been out for some summer’s entertainment."
"Your dreams — "
"Nightmares!" Her arms lifted. "Nightmares, Drew. When I’d find him stealing Evan away from us. And they went away, didn’t they? Because I knew that you and I would never let anything happen to our — " her voice broke " — to our child."
Each tear that he saw slide down her cheek felt like acid burning in his soul. He could no more resist her pain than he could swing from the moon. "Ahh, curly cue," he murmured, brushing his thumb over that trail of tears. "You deserve so much more than I can ever give you..."
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