Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights

By: Alicia Roberts

"Roger's right, my mother was a drug-addict and a hooker, and I lived with her till I was six. And I'm sorry to say this, but I'm glad she died. I spent a year in foster care, where I learned that the world rewards the tough. There were two types of kids there, the bullies and the bullied. I knew which type I had to be, and I became controlling and mean. Until a kind couple adopted me."

"The army lieutenant and his wife."

Colin nodded. "Yes, Roger got that bit straight. The lieutenant retired and we all moved to a farm, where we lived happily till my Dad was killed in a freak machinery accident. I was fifteen at the time. My Mom went a bit crazy about it all. I guess I wasn't enough for her, and I came home from school one day to find out she'd OD'ed on sleeping pills."

He went silent and I squeezed his arm. "It wasn't your fault."

Colin sighed. "I know that now. I've been to enough therapists to know that. But I didn't know it at the time. Living in a happy family made me go soft, and when my uncle moved in, I didn't protest. The land had been willed to me, but he made me sign a document. Later I realized that it said I'd sold him the farm."

My heart broke as I understood how Colin had been taken advantage of. It would be all too easy for an outsider to misunderstand what had happened, and I now knew why Colin kept his past a secret. Something told me that all the therapy hadn't really made him understand it wasn't his fault - his voice was hollow when he said that, and he didn't seem to believe it.

I moved closer to him and wrapped my arms around him. "You can't undo the past. You know your parents loved you - death affects people in different ways."

Colin nodded and hugged me back. "I don't know why I'm telling you all this. But I guess I really needed to tell someone. And I haven't met somebody I trust in such a long time."

He nestled his face against my neck and I stroked his hair, wishing I could brush away his sadness. We stayed silent for a few minutes. I wanted to cheer him up, but I didn't know what to say. When my mother died, I'd had a hard time moving on, but it was nothing compared to what had happened to Colin.

After a few minutes, Colin went on. "I was sixteen when my mom died, and I got papers saying I was an emancipated adult. I changed my name, moved to New York and got a job waiting tables. A lot of real estate types used to hang out at our cafe, and one of them became an investor. I started out working for him on the side as a bird-dog, finding him properties to buy."

I smiled and said, "So you're a business hero, a rags to riches guy?"

Colin winced. "No, I'm not. I've done some things I'm not proud of to get ahead, but hurting my parents isn't one of them. I lost their farm and my old life because I was careless. But I learned a lot from my sleazebag uncle - I learned that nobody else cares about you, and that you always need to be the one in control."

I felt sad and stroked my fingers along Colin's arm. "That's not true, you know. You can't live like that. You can't mistrust everyone. There are actually people out there who care about you."

"Like who?"

Colin held my face in his hands and gazed into my eyes. I felt time stop. The answer to his question was written all over my face, and I let him lean down and brush his lips against mine.

"I don't know why I care about you, Colin, but I do."

I let him untie the robe and push me down against the bed. I pulled off his t-shirt and he climbed in beside me.

His eyes were wary and he brought his lips down on mine again. His tongue was insistent, and I gasped when he moved away.

Colin stroked a finger down my cheek, and down the side of my neck. "I care about you too, Lisa. You remind me of who I could've been, and you're so different from everyone else around me, all these folks who want to hang me out to dry. They're all after either a scandal or my money."

"You know I'm after neither. I'm happy to walk away after this week is over."

"I don't think I can let you do that. I think I'd like to take care of you, I just want you to be near me."

I felt myself melting at his words. I wasn't sure if I could believe him, if he was saying all that just to sleep with me, but I didn't care. Maybe he was just making it up. But I meant what I'd said, and I wanted to believe what he said.

Colin pulled the negligee off me, freeing my breasts. He brought his mouth down and licked circles around my nipple, nibbling and teasing before finally taking it into his mouth and sucking and tugging with his mouth. I felt myself burning up inside, and groaned and ran my hands down his back, sliding his pajamas down and freeing his erection. I felt it with my hands, stroking it up and admiring its girth and size, and Colin moved away to slide off my panties.

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