What Lies In Shadow
St. Martins Press (February 5, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780312941642 ♦ ISBN-10: 0312941641
A SECRET IDENTITY.
Her blog is one of the hottest on the Web—a place where she can be herself and talk anonymously about her most private needs and desires. Not even her wealthy new husband knows about her online persona. And when Jonna Karakosta learns that he may be cheating on her, she needs her online community more than ever…
A TEMPTING LIAISON.
Enter “Dominic,” a frequent guest on Jonna’s blog who seems to understand her like no one else. She finally agrees to meet him face-to-face, and he turns out to be better—and more attractive—than she could have imagined. But when Jonna has a change of heart and decides to fight to save her marriage, Dominic refuses to take “no” for an answer.
A DANGEROUS OBSESSION…
Now Dominic will do anything not to lose Jonna—even if it means bringing her deepest, darkest fears to light…and taking her world apart piece by piece.
Read an Excerpt
I hoisted up the steel door and began unloading the pink surfboard from the top of the stack in the back of my car. It was hard to get into the spirit of setting up a beach-themed party when my breath froze in the frigid Boston air.
“Let me help,” I heard a voice say from beside me, nearly startling me into dropping the board.
I actually did when I turned to see who had spoken: Dominic.
He caught it, leaning close as he did so, leaving a whiff of cinnamon in the air. Once he had a handle on it, he said, “Where does it go?” just as casually as though he were one of my neighbors—as though he were someone who should be there.
But he shouldn’t be there. Because we didn’t know each other’s real names. He only knew me as Montene, the lonely housewife who anonymously shared her hopes, fears and dreams on her blog. Who had met this intriguing man through that blog but had never revealed anything about her real identity. This wasn’t where Montene would be. This was where Jonna Karakosta would be, and Dominic didn’t know Jonna Karakosta. He only knew Montene, who had no last name at all.
He waited with a patient smile, the surfboard in his arms. As though he were expected there and not a shock at all. It was such a shock I couldn’t find words, much less my voice. Finally I said, “What are you doing here?”
He glanced at the surfboard. “Trying to help.” He walked toward the shop.
I followed him inside, where he placed the board on one of the two large worktables. The space had enormous ceilings and no heat other than some portable units that weren’t on yet. I hadn’t turned the lights on either, so it was still dim inside.
He spun around as I neared him and made to return to the car for another surfboard.
I grabbed his arm and enunciated word by word, “What are you doing here?”
He placed his hand over mine. “I thought it would be better to meet here than at your apartment.”
“I saw your husband leaving, but who knows, he could forget something and come back.”
Fear skittered up my spine. “You were at our building this morning?”
He sauntered to the car and pulled out the blue surfboard. “I drove by, yes, but thought better of popping in. So I came here. Hey, you going to let me do all the work?” he said with a laugh.
I jerked the surfboard away from him. “How do you know where I live? And work, for that matter? How did you find out who I am?”
He took the surfboard back, kissed me on the mouth, and walked back into the shop. The moment became even more surreal when he casually said, “I looked at your wallet. That first day we had lunch.”
“You looked at my wallet? You went into my purse?”
He turned around to face me after setting that board on the table. “You can’t blame me for being curious. I wanted to know who you were. Come on, Jonna, I’m mad for you. A man deserves to know the woman he’s mad for, don’t you think?”
I followed him to the car where he hoisted another board. “Yes, I can blame you. That was completely, totally wrong. We agreed to keep our identities secret.”
“That was before I saw you and knew you were the one for me.”
Fear prickled my skin into goosebumps that actually hurt. He wasn’t getting it. “Then who are you?”
He tilted his head as he set the third board on the table. “Ah, not yet, doll.”
I had the sense to tread carefully. His logic wasn’t on the same plane as mine. You’re good at staying calm. It really counts now. “Why not?”
He cupped my face with his cold hands. “Because you’re not mad for me yet. But you will be. Then we’ll know each other in every way.” He kissed me again and went for another board. “Besides, I know that you like a man with a mysterious aura about him. I remember you writing that there was something oddly exciting about being married to a man who seems more like a stranger, that it gave a—I think you said—one-night-stand quality to your lovemaking.”
My damned blog! I raced to the car and blocked his access. “Did you get my email?”
“I save each and every one.”
“Did you read it?”
“You’re confused about what to do with your marriage. But there’s no confusion, really. I know how you feel about your husband. Or rather, how you don’t feel about him. You feel a sense of loyalty, naturally, but what you need is a shove to knock you off that fence you’ve been on for so long.” He pulled me close. “And I’m going to be that shove, doll.”
“Please don’t call me that.” I looked around to see if anyone was around. The building to my right was mid-renovation but was apparently stalled. Beyond the sounds of the interstate I heard a clanging in the distance but saw no one. My heart slammed against my ribcage now. I hadn’t been clear enough, firm enough. I moved out of his embrace, feeling his arms reluctantly let me go.
“Dom. I like when you call me Dom.”
“Dominic, you’re wrong about what I feel for my husband. I do love him.” After very nearly becoming a cheat, and the ugly way my change of heart had affected Dominic, I’d had an epiphany. As I’d sunk into guilt the night before, Rush had come home early. Cold air had clung to him. He slipped his hands beneath my hair and massaged my neck. His fingers were cold, too, but my body relaxed under his touch. I leaned back until I felt the cool of his coat and hardness of his body. In that moment I realized that I didn’t want to lose him. And I knew what was wrong with our marriage. I came back to the present. “I’m not on the fence about staying with him. Maybe I was at one time, but the thought of losing him made me realize I want to make it work.”
I saw anger flare in his eyes. “But he’s cheating on you! How can you think of staying with a man who would break your heart? Disgrace you?”
He’d hit a nerve, but I kept my face passive. “Because he’s my husband.”
“Once a cheat, always a cheat. You can’t change him. But you can have me, someone devoted to your every need and desire.”
He gave me a peck on the mouth as easily as my husband, Rush, had done that morning, and reached around me to grab another board.
“You shouldn’t have to do this kind of lifting,” he said, looking around at the shop as he sauntered back in.
I showed him that I didn’t need help by grabbing the last board. “I have two employees.” I angled my head so I could see my watch. “They should be here anytime now.”
“Then why not wait until they show up? You’re the boss.”
I hated that he knew that much about me. He must have Googled my name. I returned to my car and closed the back door. “Dominic, I want you to leave. Don’t come back. Ever.”
“You’re afraid you’re wasting my time,” he said, repeating my emailed words. “But I’ve got all the time in the world, Jonna. All the time in the world for you. You’ll see that your husband is wrong for you and that I’m right. But I won’t push. I’ll be your friend, just kind of hanging around, and when you’re ready, I’ll be here with open arms.”
My hands balled into fists. “You’re not listening to me. I don’t want to see you again. Not here, not on the blog, nowhere. Now please leave.”
I pulled the metal door down and locked it, walked around to my car, and got inside. I didn’t look at him as I started the engine and pulled around to the parking area. I screamed, stomped my feet on the floorboard, and tried to release the frustration at his stubbornness. I took a deep breath. I’d been clear now. He couldn’t misinterpret that.
I waited a few more minutes before getting out again. I walked inside the door and locked it behind me. I rubbed my gloved hands together and flicked on the lights. It didn’t occur to me until just then that Dominic could be inside. A violent chill assailed me as I looked around. He wouldn’t be hiding, I assured myself. He was so infuriatingly obtuse about what I was trying to tell him that he would be standing right there asking what he could do with the palm-frond beach hats on the second table.
Still, I scanned the shelves that lined the two walls, checking between the props and boxes of silk flowers. I even opened the heavy steel door and looked inside the refrigerated storage area. Okay, it was really over. He got the message, finally, and had gone home. With a breath of relief, I walked over to the table with the surfboards—and stopped dead. A yellow rose sat on top of the stack.