You can read the first chapter of Love’s Forbidden Flower below. The complete stand-alone novel and its sequel, Time’s Forbidden Flower, are available in paperback, ebook, and (author narrated) audiobook formats.
Today, somewhere among the roses and petunias, my sanity squirted out of my brain and fertilized the backyard. Why couldn’t those heart-seizing moments be experienced with anyone else? Why did they have to be with the man who is the ghastliest of all possibilities?
Obviously I have hit my head and become delusional, or I have had so many Thanksgiving leftovers that I’ve slipped into a coma. Volunteering to play catch with Donovan to help keep his arm loose seemed valiant. But he chuckled before rolling his eyes and shaking his head in mock shame. He then cracked a joke about needing to teach me not to be such a klutz on the field. He’s right. I’m truly female when it comes to sports.
After suffering several minutes of desperation, utter humiliation, and ruthless teasing, I surrendered.
He looked to the sky, arms outstretched, shaking his head in disbelief before sauntering toward me while plotting how to finally teach me the basics of throwing a football. At this point, everything still seemed normal.
After tossing me the ball he stood with his back facing me. Upon raising his right hand he said, “Hold the ball like this.”
Apparently I failed miserably.
“No. More like this.” He made a gesture that reflected my grip precisely. He then gave me his snicker that could charm a nun out of her habit. “You’re such a sorry case.”
Donovan strolled behind me, put his left arm around my waist, and pulled me close while twisting my hips. It was nothing. We’ve done it a million times before.
“First, situate your body. Make sure you have a solid grip. Now pull back, like so.”
That’s when I clumsily bonked him in the face.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” I laughed. He had it coming for that klutz remark.
“Suuuure you are. Now stay in position.” Again he pulled me next to him, but this time he placed his cheek against mine. Hesitation flowed over us as our bodies reacted to the sensuality of the touch. In his racing pulse, his breath, and every cell in his body, it seemed that Donovan desired exploring my mouth with his own. Thoughts of how he must taste wandered over me. Would he be sweet like the cookies I bake that he loves so much? Or creamy and delicious like an expensive piece of chocolate? The kind where even the tiniest morsel could satisfy a craving, yet would leave you desiring more for days to come?
Just as our cheeks glided together, as if in surrender to the intoxication, he gripped my hand tighter and yelled, “Now throw!” He lunged into the toss and forced me to follow along. It was incredibly beautiful—both the moment and the pass.
“I knew you could do it. You just needed the right touch,” Donovan yelled while running after the ball.
The “right touch?” How does that translate? Was he messing with me so I’d relax, or didn’t he realize what had transpired? Dear God, please let that interlude have been in my head.
He tossed me the ball. “Try it again.”
While my body resumed the position, my mind tried to lift its cloudy haze. “One. Two,” I released the ball. “Three!” The lopsided pass was far better than I’d ever managed before.
Donovan tossed the ball back to me. “Oh, yes! Lily goes aggro! Almost perfect. Try it again.”
The next time, it sailed right into his hands. His expression flipped from wide-eyed to a devious turn of the lips. He ran toward my end of the yard to go for a touchdown. My pride kicked in. There was no way I’d let him get away with that. In the spirit of the game I pounced on him, taking him down to the ground. His head almost landed in a rose bush.
“What the hell? Where did you learn to do that?”
“A woman has her ways,” I said playfully. What was I thinking? Clearly I wasn’t.
His eyes, with their composition of deep and complicated blues like the waves of the ocean, were magnetizing. Their depth was intensified by his fair complexion and layered, obsidian hair that is reminiscent of the feathers of a raven. My breathing ceased as his eyes drew me in, transfixed.
“Hey, Lil. I’m kind of pinned here.”
At least that’s what I think he said. That pesky haze still cluttered my brain like murky pea soup. He must have sat up because his hand caressed my face like a whisper while those incredible eyes came closer. “Hey, you all right?”
My head rattled away the clouds. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“We’d better call it quits before one of us breaks the other.”
As if nothing extraordinary happened, he aided me to my feet, and we went inside, wordlessly.
For the remainder of the evening, we tried to act like all was normal, but it was obvious something was amiss. Our usual dinner banter was strained to the point where Mom joked that we might turn into normal siblings—ones who often don’t get along. But that will never happen; we’re too connected. How we can often say so much to each other without a word only fazes others. To us it’s a simple skill we possess, like writing in cursive. How have I never noticed how freakish that is?
But dinner was middling. It was after that I made a fool of myself.
“Hey, thanks a lot.” Donovan said as he slipped into my room. “You almost got me in massive trouble.” He appeared slightly indignant, and a little uncomfortable, as he leaned casually against the doorframe with his arms crossed.
“What?” I dropped my pencil onto my math book and mocked his characteristic eye roll. “Okay, how?”
“You had to tell Dad you tackled me.” Donovan plopped onto the foot of my bed so heavily that my book bounced and my pencil flew onto the floor. Attempting to look scornful, I lowered and pinched my brow, then motioned for him to pick up the pencil.
“I did, fair and square. Did he really give you a bad time over that?” I swiped the pencil from his hand while hoping Dad was kind, yet knowing the truth. He’s always far too hard on Donovan and expects him to be the quintessential manly son at all times. Also, I should have known better. At five foot eleven, Donovan’s got a good seven inches on me, so of course Dad was upset. No excuses, even when it comes to his sister.
“Just a little. He did that voice again. The one where he’s all, ‘I am trying to sound like I’m kidding, but I also want you to know that I am serious.’ I think he’s afraid I’m going soft right before the big game, and I’ll disappoint him.”
It was then that the stupidest thing I’ll ever utter sprang from my mouth. “That’s silly, Donovan. I bet you’ll never go soft, and if you don’t watch your moves, the next time I pin you, I may do more than damage your ego.”
My insides clamped. Maybe he heard it the way I hope I intended it.
His eyes sparkled as he absorbed my words. Since this afternoon those eyes have become my obsession. “Goodnight, Lilyanna,” he practically sang. He left with a grin that said it all. Donovan knew exactly how I feared I meant it. I might as well have written it on the bathroom mirror and taped his toothbrush next to it. I’m seriously screwed!
It’s nonsensical. There’ll be no enchanted moment where one of us discovers the other was adopted or abandoned by aliens. Though my thoughts should sicken me, all I want is to sneak into his room like I did when I was little, put my head on his shoulder, and have him tell me it’s just a bad dream. But this is reality, and nothing about the glow burning inside me since being captured by his eyes feels nefarious.
But how illogical is it really? Aren’t you supposed to fall for your best friend? The one who listens to you with undivided attention, no matter how ridiculous you’re being? The person who will instinctively drop everything to put his arms around you when you’re hurt, even if you’ve yet to utter a word? Donovan is all those things and countless more.
I’ve got to stop reading Mom’s romance novels. They’re making me delusional.