(Lesbian Romantic Thriller. Formerly titled Sleeping with the Frenemy from 2011. **Revised and re-edted**)
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Deborah Murnay has a life most women would die for. She has a loving wife of four years who gives her anything she wants. But, she hides a dark secret. Her wife Genevieve not only enjoys kinky, dangerous sex, but is insanely jealous and possessive. When a violent argument between the two leaves Deborah bruised and battered, she has no other choice but to run away.
Through some intricate planning, she’s able to trick Genevieve into thinking she’s dead. Deborah ends up hundreds of miles away in the small town of Woodberry Creek where she can start over again, even though she lives in fear Genevieve will find her and kill her.
When grade school teacher Bridgette Woodberry notices her new neighbor, she quickly figures out Woodberry Creek’s new resident is hiding something. Deborah knows she can’t have a future with Bridgette, but finds herself attractive to the kindhearted redhead whose kisses and warm embrace makes her feel protected.
As Deborah turns to Bridgette to help heal her scars, Genevieve is waiting for the right moment to take back her wife and make her pay for deceiving her.
Less than five feet in front of her, a black Rottweiler, with its ears back and nostrils flaring, snarled at her. She stepped away with her hands out in front as the rabid-looking dog stalked her. When she landed into the garage door, a whimper left her mouth.
“Ni-nice doggy. Where’d you come from?” she asked the creature in a soothing voice to not upset it any more.
The dog let out a sharp bark and scurried over to her. Its nose brushed the top of her thighs, venturing toward her crotch.
“Hey!” She yelped as the dog molested her. She was ready to make a run for it, but the fear of being mauled and having her head torn off froze her in her tracks.
The dog barked again, and when it landed back on its haunches, it released a low rumble from deep within in its mouth.
“Help me.” Her throat closed up and she shut her eyes, praying the demon dog would get bored and leave.
“Rotquel! Get over here now!”
Rotquel? What the… She opened one eye as the dog lifted its head upon hearing the voice. Its tongue flapped out of its mouth as it trotted to a woman in the middle of the driveway.
Her legs trembled, and she slid down on her butt as she waited for her racing heart to calm down. Not only was she completely covered in sweat, but her bladder was begging her to empty it.
“Good girl.” The redheaded woman Deborah met days ago in the drugstore, knelt and hugged the evil dog. Her hair, Deborah noticed, was now in a more subdued braid.
When she finally caught her breath, she rested her arms on her knees and glared at the duo, who continued to ignore her. “I thought dogs like that had to be on a leash. It gave me the scare of my life.”
The woman—Bridgette rose and patted her demon dog on the head. The creature raised her leg and licked a spot under her leg that made Deborah turn away from in disgust.
“I’m sorry about Rotquel frightening you. She got away from me, a first for her since she’s always by my side when we go for our midday run.” Bridgette came up to Deborah and blocked the sun, holding out her hand for her to take. “I guess she wanted to meet our new neighbor.”
She stood without her help. She wiped off her butt and did a quick scan of Bridgette, who wore running sneakers, gray cotton shorts, and a well-worn T-shirt. Her face was red, a healthy glow. She bit her tongue, surprised her neighbor ran, seeing as she had too many curves to be considered athletically fit—
Wait. They were neighbors?
“Did I hear you right? You’re my neighbor?” She eyed the dog called Rotquel. I must be hearing things. It has to be the heat.
“Yup.” Bridgette smiled broadly and finally lowered her hand, not looking annoyed at Deborah for not taking it. “I live in the house right across from yours. My aunt found you your new place.” She motioned around them.
“Are you kidding me? You two are related?”
“Yup again. You’ll be tripping over Woodberrys soon enough. You’ll eventually meet my brothers, parents, and rest of the clan,” Bridgette said proudly, jutting out her chest.
She quickly peeked at Bridgette’s chest then back up at her face. Bridgette’s smile widened, and she glanced at her T-shirt, much the same as Deborah did to her. Her cheeks warmed and, when she crossed her arms, her nipples poked out.
“Must be nice to have such a…big family.” She brushed her damp head. “Listen, I’m pretty busy right now—”
She backed away when Bridgette’s dog from hell tried moving in between them.
“Rotquel, heel,” Bridgette ordered and the dog did as she was told.
“What did you call her? Rockette, like the dancers in Manhattan?”
Bridgette placed her hands on her hips and chuckled. “It’s Rotquel. I’ve had her for five years. At first, she was named Raquel, but then my brother Bryan thought he’d be funny and started calling her Rotquel because she’s a Rottweiler. It stuck. She hasn’t answered to anything else in years. Right, girl?” She patted the top of Rotquel’s head and was rewarded with a loud bark and a swipe on her hand with a tongue.
“I’m surprised you don’t keep hand sanitizer with you at all times, seeing as your dog has the unsanitary habit of licking your flesh—I mean skin.” She swiftly corrected. Bridgette had more than enough abundant flesh she couldn’t stop eyeing.
Bridgette released a girlish laugh and tilted her head. “That’s quite a sense of humor you got there.”
“Glad you think I’m funny. I can’t crack a joke to save my life,” she admitted.
“Who told you that?” Bridgette’s expression changed to a more inquisitive one.
Not going there. “There are too many people to list,” she said lightly, although only one had ever criticized her.
“If you say so.”
She wiped her arm on her forehead, feeling like she had been in a sauna, while Bridgette acted as if she wasn’t bothered by the humidity in the least.
“Before I forget, I should apologize for what I did to you at the drugstore the other day. It was rude of me and I didn’t think before I spoke. That’s one of the quirks I have,” Bridgette confessed as she tucked a few stray hairs behind her ears.
“There’s no need for you to feel bad. I was cranky because of, well, you know. And where I moved from, not too many people go out of their way to be as helpful as you were.” She lowered her arms to her sides and glanced at her feet as Bridgette stared closely at her.
“That’s a relief! I’d hate to think you would be upset with me.” Bridgette lowered her voice. “I just admitted another unfortunate quirk about me.”
What is with her and her quirks? She moved in closer, and when Bridgette’s tongue came out and swiped her bottom lip, her nipples twitched. She moved back and shook her head. “I take it when you mean quirk, you mean a fault?”
Bridgette nodded her head. “Exactly. I hate saying someone has a fault. It sounds too harsh. Saying I have a quirk sounds kinder, don’t you think?”
She found herself speechless. Bridgette’s seemingly sunny disposition and naivete was both refreshing and, in a way, disturbing. When was the last time she’d met someone so open and honest who wanted nothing in return?
“Either you don’t know what to make of me, or the heat has stolen your speech. I’d like to think it’s the humidity and not my quaint personality.” Bridgette tapped her chin as she scrutinized her.
She opened her mouth to ask what Bridgette’s deal was with her constant staring when Bridgette tugged on the collar of her shirt and fanned her face with her hand. “Jeez, it sure is hot today. I bet you don’t even have a fan or air conditioner hooked up yet. My house is nice and cool. Why don’t you take a break from moving in and come to my house for some homemade lemon meringue pie and lemonade? I used the lemons straight from the tree in my backyard,” Bridge whispered, as if sharing a secret. “I’ll have you know my pie has won the country fair three years straight.”
When Rotquel whimpered, she got down on one knee and laid her cheek on the side of her dog, giving Deborah a pout. “See, even Rotquel wants you to see her home. I promise you she won’t attack you again or give you unhygienic doggy kisses. She might try to swipe the slice of pie off your plate, but I have treats available to keep her happy.”
She blinked as Bridgette finally took in a deep breath at the end of her long dialogue. Rubbing the back of her head, she shifted from one foot to the other. I really shouldn’t—but what would be the harm in sharing lemonade and pie with this exceedingly kindhearted woman?
“I suppose I can take a short break. It wouldn’t help if I passed out from the heat since I’ve been so busy cleaning.”
Bridgette got to her feet and lightly clapped. “Great. Follow me.”
“Wait a minute,” she said to Bridgette’s back as she started to walk away.
“Yes?” Bridgette stopped and twisted to look at her.
“I must smell rank and should wash up first. Plus I need to lock up the house.”
“I just ran for forty minutes, so you can imagine what I must smell like. Also, there’s no need for you to lock up anything. We’re going across the street.”
“Um, where I come from—”
“Sharon, you’re in Woodberry Creek now. There’s no need to worry someone might sneak into your house and steal your things. It’s okay. Trust me.”
“All right,” she conceded. As they walked to the end of the driveway, she almost tripped when she came to the unpleasant conclusion about something. A nervous fluttering in her stomach grew, and she almost ran into her house regardless if she was overheated or not. “I never told you my name.”
Bridgette’s lips twitched and she winked. “Let’s just say I have my ways. I’m too nosy for my own good sometimes.”