Letting Go

By: Maya Banks

ONE





JOSSLYN Breckenridge surveyed her appearance in the mirror, nervous even though no one would see her. Except Dash. She knew without confirming that he’d be here, just as he’d been here on this day for the previous two years, waiting to take her to the cemetery to visit and put fresh flowers on her husband’s grave.

The flowers were on the counter beside her, just waiting for her to pick up and carry out of the house. But she hesitated, because this year . . . This year was different. She was apprehensive and yet resolved.

She had to move on with her life. She had to let go. It hurt, and yet at the same time, it brought her a measure of relief, as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. It was time. All she had left to do was visit Carson’s grave and make peace with her decision.

She smoothed her shirt and ran her hands down the legs of her jeans. Not what she normally wore to the cemetery on the anniversary of her husband’s burial. In the last two years, she’d worn black. It hadn’t seemed respectful to go casual, as if the visit wasn’t that important.

But she also knew that Carson wouldn’t want her to live like this. He’d want her to be happy. And it wouldn’t have made him happy to know she still mourned him so deeply.

With a sigh, she applied a light gloss to her lips and quickly fastened her long hair into a ponytail, leaving part of it loose in a messy bun.

This was the real Joss. Not fussy. More comfortable in jeans and a casual shirt than the expensive dresses and jewelry her husband had loved to spoil her with. Only underneath her clothing did she wear the sexy lingerie her husband had so loved to see her in.

She closed her eyes, refusing to look back, to remember how it felt when he touched her. How his hands moved over her body, knowing it better than she knew it herself. He knew exactly how to please her, how to touch her, kiss her, make love to her.

He’d given her everything she could have ever wanted. His love. His respect. Everything but the one thing she needed most, and it was something she could have never asked him for. She’d loved him too much to ever demand of him something he couldn’t give her.

She shook away the heavy veil of sadness, determined to get through the day and on with her life. Her new life.

She picked up the flowers, her favorite, and brought them to her nose, closing her eyes as she inhaled. They were what Carson always gave her. Every birthday. Every anniversary. Or any time just because. Today she’d place them on his grave and walk away. This time for good.

She didn’t need to see the cold slab of marble that marked his life and death to remind her of her husband. That wasn’t the way she wanted to remember him. She was through torturing herself by standing over his grave, missing him with her every breath.

He’d live in her heart and soul always. That was where she’d visit him in the future. Not on the grassy knoll that covered the casket underneath.

She walked briskly to the front door, letting herself out and blinking against the sudden wash of sun. Though it was spring, the Houston weather was already warm and she was glad she’d worn the short-sleeved T-shirt instead of the black dress she always wore.

And there was Dash, leaning against his car, waiting for her as she knew he would be. He straightened when he saw her, and she saw a brief flicker of surprise before he schooled his features and extended a hand to her.

She slid her fingers over his and he gave her hand a light squeeze. No words were necessary. They both grieved the loss of her husband and his best friend.

“You look lovely, Joss,” Dash said as he walked her around to the passenger side.

She smiled, knowing she didn’t look particularly lovely today. And he was likely surprised by her casual appearance, but he didn’t remark on it. He took the flowers and carefully positioned them in the back so they wouldn’t fall over, and then closed her door after ensuring she was fully inside.

She watched him stride around the front of the car, his long legs eating up the distance in a matter of seconds. Then he slid into the driver’s seat and his scent wafted through her nostrils.

Dash always smelled the same. Utterly masculine, though she knew he never wore cologne or aftershave. He was a no-frills kind of guy, much like Carson had been, though her husband had worn expensive clothing and even his casual wear was tailored to fit his personality.

Even Dash’s car fit his personality. A sleek black Jaguar. How appropriate he drove a vehicle named for a predator. He fit the part well.

They’d been partners in business, but Carson had always been the front man. The one who wined and dined clients, the polished spokesman, the one who sealed the deals, attended all the social events while Dash worked behind the scenes. The closer. The one who always did most of the legwork and fixed the problems.

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