Love with an Imperfect Bride by Ann Major

He left me.

There’s no way I’ll go back to East Lewis, my husband of thirty years.

He can keep his irresistible charm, his sexiness, and his fame. I don’t care if I feel comforted in his arms or if I crave him in bed even though I despise myself for the things I ask him to do.

Then a family crisis causes me to have nightmarish flashbacks, and a younger woman makes a play for him. My world falls apart. Suddenly I know he’s not the only one who’s made mistakes in our marriage, and I’ll do anything to win him back. But is it too late?

“WOW! Was I surprised with this book. It was riveting. A definite page turner that I couldn’t put down.” Amazon Reviewer

Read an Excerpt:

Manhattan, New York

Nobody will ever love you.

Audrey’s skin tightened as the words floated in the back of her brain like darkly remembered fragments from a destroying dream.

Don’t feel. Don’t care. And you’ll be safe.

A tiny hammer began to pound inside her temples as she forced herself to push aside her unsettling sense of loss. So what if East wanted a divorce?

Her fingers clenched. I don’t care. I’m fine, happier, like he said. This is what I want, what I’ve always wanted.

Still, the funereal sweetness of a thousand, hothouse roses had Audrey Lewis flinching on her green marble landing as she eyed her rosily lit foyer. Without East at her side, his strong fingers reassuringly touching her waist, she felt disoriented.

The smothering scent slammed her back into that awful beige hospital room where she’d felt imprisoned during her recuperation after the car accident when she’d been thirteen. Flowers had been crammed onto every flat surface, expensive blossoms bursting from every niche. They hadn’t really been for her. She’d only received them because of her famous and all-powerful father—Senator Marshall Warner.

The last thing she wanted to think about was her father or her childhood. Determined to regain her focus, she forced a radiant smile.

The co-op had to be perfect. She’d spent a week with teams of professionals getting her home ready so she could host her annual fundraiser for Healing Hearts, the foundation she’d created ten years ago to help victims of sexual abuse.

“Victims,” her father, had scoffed in a sharp tone when he’d dropped by earlier with his check. “Sexual abuse?” He’d taken an impatient breath as he’d placed the envelope that held his donation in her hand. “Whiners. Losers. Why do you bother? That lot has gotten way too much power. Lately, it’s men who are at risk of being falsely accused.”

“Women’s rights, remember? It’s a cause you embrace publicly as a senator,” Audrey had purred as she took the envelope and then instinctively backed away.

His mouth thinned. When he’d moved nearer, she’d edged even further away. He was over six foot three. She was barely five-five. For as long as she could remember, his size had intimidated her. Why? And why must she always put on a show of false bravado and goad him whenever she was around him?

Frowning, her mother, who was thin and elegant, had rushed to close the gap between them. “Your father is so strong, it’s difficult for him to imagine weakness in others.”

Her mother, a cancer survivor, spoke from experience. As a child Audrey had been terrified of losing her.

“As always, you are his fiercest champion,” she said smoothly although the compliment had her heart beating too fast.

“I should hope. I’m his wife. He’s not always tough, you know.” Her mother’s smile was tremulous.

Thankful her parents had a prior political engagement and couldn’t come, Audrey sighed, hating that she couldn’t ever relax when she was with them.

Anxious that this evening’s event go smoothly, Audrey had a dozen checklists in a kitchen drawer. Not only was Healing Hearts a cause dear to her heart, but tonight would be her first appearance as a single woman. She was determined to appear confident and at ease.

Not wanting to think about East, she tightened her grip on the railing and resumed her descent down the curving staircase that led to the sparkling vestibule and grand ballroom of her magnificent Park Avenue residence.

At the sound of distant laughter, fresh loneliness and feelings of inadequacy welled up inside her. She’d been depressed ever since she’d left dear pregnant Hannah in South Texas and returned alone to the city. Without her precious daughter and the constant buzz of excitement living with a celebrity doc, who had his own show, she'd been lonely.

When East was home the phone rang constantly. The calls were always for him or because of him. All their friends were his really. Losing him was like losing a club. Without him, nights in the co-op were as silent as a tomb.

Chin up. Smile. Daughters were supposed to grow up. And weren’t most husbands unreliable? Except for those few brief, shining months at the beginning of her marriage before East had confessed his betrayal, their marriage had been a chilly affair.

If you didn’t count the sex…and the dirty, damning things she begged him to do to her when she crept to his room in the dead of the night.

And yet, true to his word, her popular, famous husband had stayed with her, a constant fixture in her life through the good times and the bad. The social duties she’d had to perform as his wife had steadied her.

Until he’d told her he wanted out, she’d been clueless as to how much she relied on him or what a comfort his presence and the presence of all those who adored him in her life had been. She realized now she’d found satisfaction in feeling like he and she were a team, even if they didn’t love each other.

“Deep breath,” Audrey murmured as she backed into the shadows.

The door buzzed. At the bottom of her dazzling, green marble staircase Clayton, her elderly, rail-thin butler, threw back the door with his white-gloved hand and announced East’s name in a booming, English accent.

“Easton Lewis.”

As always the co-op buzzed with excitement at his arrival.

East? Here? Tonight?

Stunned, she gasped when her husband, as tall and darkly handsome as ever, despite his fifty-odd years and the wings of gray lighting his temples, strode inside with the confidence of a man who believed himself master of their palatial residence and beloved by all inside, the one exception being his wife.

As always, he wore an impeccably cut black suit and his signature red tie.

She let out a little cry, and then fearful he’d heard her, cupped her mouth with her fingers and backed even further into the shadows.

One glimpse of his straight, broad shoulders was like a stake plunged into her heart.

Oh, God… How could she still find this man, this most unsatisfactory of husbands, this man who’d betrayed her and had broken her heart into a million pieces when she’d been a young bride, so devastatingly attractive? It wasn’t fair that he’d aged so well or that he had so much confidence when she had none.

When her gaze riveted to the knot of his tie, she remembered how hungrily she, elegant, cool Audrey Warner Lewis, had ripped it loose the last time she’d seen him.

Keep smiling. Pretend you don’t remember that night or care.

Beads of perspiration broke out above her upper lip as she recalled placing it in his hands and begging him to do all those unspeakable things to her. Tie me…please…

She felt cold and hot and filled with shame when she remembered how fierce her needs had been that final night.

He was usually so thoughtful. Why hadn’t he called to warn her he was coming?

Even as she fought to regain her bearings, he sensed her and looked up.

When their gazes locked, fresh shock rippled through her. It was as if he’d reached out and caressed her naked skin in intimate possession with a brazen fingertip and defied her not to care for him. Her breath stopped.

His white smile grew bold and so disturbingly warm, her blood heated like lava in a subterranean tunnel.

A man who wanted a divorce shouldn’t look at his estranged wife like that.

A wife who’d never loved her soon-to-be-ex-husband shouldn’t feel such visceral excitement that he was here, devouring her with his eyes, or such desolate loss because he wanted to be rid of her.

Was he remembering how she’d tasted that last time when he’d cupped her breasts and licked her nipples? How her skin had grown hot beneath his palms as he’d slid them over her body?

She closed her eyes, willing the memories of the feral tingling in her body to stop. She couldn’t still want him. She had to stay strong.

“Punish me,” she’d begged after he’d tied her.

He hadn’t wanted to. He never wanted to hurt or punish her. He wanted a normal relationship. Whatever that was.

“Do it,” she’d insisted in a shameful frenzy.

Some insane part of her was so glad to see him she wanted to fly down the stairs into his arms.

But she couldn’t. She wouldn’t humiliate herself.

If six months without him had seemed like an eternity what would the rest of her life without him feel like?