Authors: Mia Sheridan
A Sign of Love Novel
A Sign of Love Novel
Copyright © 2016 by Mia Sheridan.
All Rights Reserved.
Permission by the author must be granted before any part of this book can be used for advertising purposes. This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Table of Contents
This book is dedicated to Angie, Addie, Lucie, and Callie. I'm glad to call you sisters, but even happier to call you friends.
The myth of Aries tells of two children, a brother and sister, who are sacrificed to the Gods. At the last minute, they are saved by a mighty, winged ram. For his strength and heroism, Zeus places the ram among the stars and his golden fleece, sought by many, becomes a symbol for that which is most precious.
She was waiting for me.
My feet moved softly but swiftly over the grass I'd mowed that afternoon, driving the mower so the result was a wide expanse of grass striped in alternating light and dark green. Sometimes I did a checkerboard pattern, and other times I chose diamonds. My dad always shook his head in disbelief when I told him I created the patterns without mapping them out on paper first, or without using string, even on the first line of my design.
When he was sober enough to notice anyway.
It was true, though. I just saw it in my head and computed where the turns needed to be, instinctively knew where I needed to move to ensure each line was straight. I couldn't say how, I just did.
The spice of the cut grass mingled with the tanginess of the potted key lime trees lining the garden and the sweet headiness of the honeysuckle growing nearby. My mind blanked to everything else as it attempted to separate the myriad of scents. My skin prickled, and I walked more quickly. The smells weren't unpleasant to me, but I couldn't think clearly when I was around something overly fragrant, and I
to think. I wanted to think about
"Lydia," I whispered, loving the way her name rolled off my tongue, the way the hard
smoothed into the soft sound of the
at the end, leaving off like a sigh. I wanted to picture the delicate lines of her face, I wanted to imagine her hair—a cascade of summer sunshine falling down her back—and her eyes, a shade of blue and green so perfectly mixed I never could quite figure out their actual color. And I wanted my mind's eye to see the sweet curves of her body, the way the fullness of her breasts pressed against her tank tops and spilled out of her swimsuits, the way her waist flared in slightly and then curved out again to the feminine roundness of her hips and arse. I felt myself swell in my jeans and frowned. Just the image of her made me hard. But even so, I
myself imagine my eyes moving down Lydia's slim legs all the way to her perfectly formed feet. Even her toes were sweet.
I wanted to take a few minutes to picture all of her so when I saw her in person, it wouldn't be obvious how arrested I was by her beauty. Picturing her always helped soften the impact—ever so slightly—of the reality of her right in front of me. Still, she knew how she affected me. I could see it in the way she held her shoulders when I was around, as if she knew very well she was being watched and liked it. I could see in the self-conscious tilt of her head and the way she glanced at me to make sure my eyes hadn't left her, the way she gave her hips an extra sway for my benefit.
Lydia was a princess, the only daughter of Edward De Havilland and his new wife—Lydia's stepmother—Ginny, multi-millionaires and owners of one of the largest privately held construction and real estate firms in the industry. Plus, she had a protective older brother. She was spoiled, pampered, self-indulgent, an incorrigible flirt, and I very well knew it. And yet I couldn't manage to stay away from her.
"Bloody eejit," I muttered to myself.
I was the son of Lydia's family's gardener.
, who had taken my sister and me from a small county in the mid-east region of Ireland to America three years ago for a supposed "better life" after our mam died. The gardener, who had promised things would look up for us here, and instead was grappling with the bottle as much or more so than he'd been doing back home.
Sean Ramsay, a piss artist and useless prick. And so I picked up the slack for him so
wouldn't get fired, because we were desperate for the salary, desperate for the healthcare the job provided. The doctors' visits my little sister, Eileen, needed were endless. Endless and expensive.
He kept promising he would quit, and I kept hoping. Some days he did better than others, but today wasn't one of them.
I was seventeen, but some days I felt seventy.
When my dad still managed a good handle on his drinking, he had Mr. De Havilland hire me to work part-time after school as one of his assistants. So now, if anyone saw me, they believed I worked in that capacity. Or at least that's what I hoped. What they
know was I often worked late into the night on the De Havilland grounds, ensuring no one realized my dad had already abandoned most of his duties.
Lydia's father had also noticed the patterns I mowed into the grass, and when he asked me what my math grades were like, I'd told him I had been taking advanced college level courses since ninth grade. He'd looked impressed and asked me if I might be interested in working for his company during the summer. Excitement and pride had filled me, and I'd readily agreed. It might mean we could finally afford some of the treatments the doctors recommended for Eileen. And maybe, just maybe, someday I'd earn enough to date Lydia.
Yes, Lydia was a princess, but when she smiled at me, my heart did somersaults in my chest. When she laughed, it sounded like the sweetest music, soft and pitched in a way that was nothing except pleasing to my ears, not in the garish way some people had of laughing—laughter that made me grimace and want to stick my fingers in my ears. She was everything soft and beautiful and feminine, and she made me want in a way I both loved and hated. And despite her princess status, she never looked at me in the way her friends did—a mixture of disdain and lust—when they came over to swim or attend parties at her house, as if they were interested but ashamed they were. No, Lydia was a practiced flirt, but there was something more about her that drew me in—not just her stunning beauty, but a depth the other girls her age didn't have.
I loved it when she'd seek me out and chat with me while I worked. I lived for those moments. I loved the way she teased me, but never in a way that felt mean or condescending. And no one else made me laugh the way Lydia did—often surprising me with her wit.
I spotted Lydia standing under a sycamore tree next to the stables before she'd turned around, but by the way her shoulders straightened, I knew she had sensed me. She took her time turning, flipping her hair over her shoulder and inclining her head and smiling her dazzling smile.
"Mo Chroí," I said, approaching her slowly.
"I told you not to call me that, Brogan. I'm
a princess," she said, cocking her head and letting her eyes run down my body. I fisted my hands to remain still, to keep my blood cool enough that I didn't harden under her slow perusal, giving her immediate proof of her power over me. "Thanks for meeting me." She licked her lips once, her eyes holding nervousness I hadn't seen before.
What was she up to?
I narrowed my eyes slightly, putting my hands in my pockets and leaning one shoulder against the trunk of the tree. The sun had begun to set, the sky behind Lydia painted in bright shades of pink and orange.
"I—" She licked her lips again, crossing her arms over her chest, plumping her breasts. "Well, here's the thing, Brogan. I've never . . . well, I've never been kissed before."
Shock momentarily rendered me mute, and my mouth went dry. I wasn't sure where this was going, but the subject matter was shooting off warning sirens. I willed my expression to go blank and took my time answering. "I find that hard to believe. You've got every fella within ten miles interested in ya." She was only a grade behind me, and although we didn't attend the same school, I'd heard plenty of guys talking about her, even though they only knew her by sight. Greenwich, Connecticut was a small enough town.
"Ya could put out a casting call," I joked cautiously. "I'm sure there'd be a line of lads around the block."
And I'd line up, too, because I wouldn't be able to bloody help myself.
"I imagine Myles Landry would be the first one to arrive." Myles was a neighbor and he was always over sniffing around Lydia. I'd watched her flirt and dazzle him more than I'd cared to. But that's what Lydia did. She flirted and dazzled and played her little games. And all the while my stupid heart yearned for her, wishing I was enough.
"Ha ha," she said. "The thing is, Brogan, I want
to be the one to kiss me." She took a step closer, and I took a step back.
"Why?" I demanded. Why was she doing this to me? Making me hope for things I could never have? Didn't she know she was driving me crazy?
"Why?" she repeated, tilting her head, her expression perplexed, her blue-green eyes blinking. As if she should have to give me a reason.
"Yes, why would ya want
to kiss ya? I'm the gardener's son, not exactly in your social circle. It's not like anythin' could come of it." I didn't have the money to date someone like Lydia right now. She'd want to be taken to the movies, out to eat, expect flowers and gifts, and who knew what else. We could barely afford to put food on the table at home, and I had a voracious appetite that never, ever seemed to be satisfied. I was wearing shoes too small because my feet had grown four sizes in the last year and our budget couldn't keep up.
She laughed softly and shook her head. "You always
something like that, Brogan. I don't care about any of that."
I let my eyes roam her face, trying to detect deception in her expression. I didn't think I saw any. But of course, she hardly knew what she was talking about. She had no idea the extent of our financial straits.
Oh you would, Lydia. If you really knew my situation, you would.
"Anyway, ya didn't answer me question."
Lydia looked up at me through her lashes, causing my heart to race. "I want you to kiss me because you're one of the most handsome boys in Greenwich, and you don't even know it. Because I like the way you look at me, the way you watch me. But even more, I like to watch you, too." She stepped closer, and I held my breath. "I like how your accent gets a little thicker when you talk to me. I like how serious you are, so different from the other boys. I like the look you get on your face when you dig your hands into the soil, as if . . . as if you're feeling it with your whole body. I want to know if you get that same look on your face when you touch
. I want to know what you're always thinking so hard about. And I want you to kiss me because I want to know what your lips feel like on mine." The last word came out breathlessly, and my heart started pounding harshly in my chest. She'd thought all those things about me? I hadn't even known she thought anything about me at all when I wasn't right in front of her.
She leaned closer and I caught her fragrance, feminine and delicate like her—warm and clean with just the barest hint of . . . vanilla maybe? I wanted to put my nose against the perfume of her bare skin and close my eyes. I wanted to see what else I could detect in her subtle scent. She tilted her head up higher, looking at me, asking me with her eyes to kiss her.
"Aye, Lydia, I'll kiss ya, but I'll not do more," I said. She was right, my accent was thicker when I talked to her, and my voice sounded hoarse, shaky. I couldn't help it. I didn't seem to have any control around her—not with anything, not my body, not my voice, not my thoughts. She must know how desperately I wanted to kiss her—how I'd been dreaming of kissing her since the first day I'd seen her.
Lydia smiled and then held her hand out to me. "But not here. Let's go inside where we can be alone."
I removed my hands from my pockets and took her hand in mine, following behind her. Her hand was so soft, so warm, and before I even realized what I was doing, my thumb began making slow circles on her skin, attempting to learn the texture. With difficulty, I forced my thumb to still.
She led me to the back door of the stable and shut the door behind us once we were inside. The smell of hay and horses overwhelmed me and for a moment, my mind went fuzzy. But when Lydia led me to a decently sized room, where there was a cot that the men who worked in the stable could use if there was any cause, like one of the mare's birthing a foal, and closed the door, the smells lost their pungent quality and I was able to focus again.
Feeling some apprehension about being totally alone with Lydia in such a private location, I pulled her hand, halting her. She turned, staring up at me again. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothin'. This is good, right here," I said. She'd been leading me toward the cot and I knew
was a bad idea. I'd kiss her once and then I'd leave. Some small alarm still rang inside me, but I ignored it, knowing I was helpless to resist her. In the end, I'd do as she wanted me to do whether it seemed like a good idea or not. I knew it, and she bloody well knew it, too.
Lydia stepped closer to me until our bodies were barely touching, and she leaned up on her tiptoes and gently pressed her mouth to mine. I felt the soft press of her lips as if every nerve ending was focused right there where we were joined. Hot desire raced through my veins, and I made a small choking sound. Her eyes opened and something soft and understanding appeared in her gaze. She moved slowly and sensually as one hand came up to the back of my head, her fingers weaving through my hair, the soft scratch of her nails over my scalp causing my skin to prickle. Lydia's other hand went around my waist, resting there like a warm weight. I put my trembling hands on her hips, bracing myself, and closed my eyes, focusing on the feather-light brush of her lips.