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“May I ask you something, Vickie?”

She nodded.

His voice broke as he whispered, “May I just hold you for a moment? It’s been so long since I . . . since I’ve held anyone.”

His question tore her apart, and with a low cry, she nodded. She didn’t know why she instinctively trusted him. She only knew she felt a strong bond between them, a sense of communication that went beyond words.

Adrian led her to the easy chair beside the window and pulled her down onto his lap. She sighed as she felt his strength and heat envelop her, his male scent fill her senses. She shivered as his lips slowly brushed her brow, her cheek. She slipped her fingers into his; his warm hand tightly grasped hers. For long moments they just clung to each other, taking comfort from the intimacy, amid the sounds of the street drifting in—dogs barking, cars rattling past.

“How do you bear it, Vickie?” he asked at last. “How do you live from day to day?”

“I don’t. I just endure somehow.”

She lifted her face to his and again their gazes locked in a moment of poignant communication. Adrian leaned over and claimed Vickie’s lips with unbearable tenderness. With a soft whimper she kissed him back.

Such passion, such bliss he stirred in her! The sense of connecting with another soul in need was so intense that it filled her with a keenly physical aching. Adrian’s kiss was like a touch of heaven, a ray of warm, beautiful sunshine penetrating the clouds of her grief, a merciful respite for them both. She realized she had needed this desperately, had needed to feel right and sane and loved and wanted—if only for a moment.

Their lips parted on a sigh, a smile.

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