Letting Go (Book 2, Sweet Lovers Series) – Erotic Romance
Sexy stock broker, Mike Foerster, was used to playing the field until he met Catherine Beckitt, the gorgeous business manager of the New York Empires’ baseball stadium.
Catherine is a successful, hardworking professional. She has kept her past a secret since the day she left her hometown nearly twelve years ago.
They were enjoying each other and taking their relationship slow when Mike received a phone call about his job changing. The confidentiality agreement would force him to lie to his loved ones and Catherine. He couldn’t do it and broke up with her on New Year’s.
Fast forward three months, Mike still couldn’t get her out of his mind. He spots her on opening day and she still took his breath away. Their chemistry was even hotter once he convinced her to see him again.
Will Mike’s job tear them apart or will Catherine’s haunted past come back to destroy her? Only trust and time will tell.
[Erotic Romance, Contemporary, light bondage, HEA]
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Sweet Lovers 2
Copyright © 2014
The first time Mike Foerster laid eyes on Catherine Beckitt was at his best friend’s wedding. But amidst the anticipation of a surprise wedding that Adam was putting on for Alayna, he didn’t get to introduce himself to the beautiful angel he spotted. He silently wished that she was single as his eyes roamed the room full of his friend’s loved ones. He couldn’t help himself. His eyes kept settling back in her direction, taking her in.
When the door of the ballroom opened, Mike’s best friend, Adam Bryant, was dressed in his tux on bended knee. The woman of his dreams was beautiful and shocked, to say the least. They had been engaged for a few weeks. Adam had told Mike about all the surprises he had done for Alayna. He loved surprising her. But this one, this surprise was completely over the top.
After the initial shock and realization of what Adam had planned, Alayna was all on board with the surprise wedding. Mike had not met Alayna and her boys yet since he lived in New York City. But after the conversations Mike had with Adam and his family, he felt like he already knew them. Mike smiled as he watched his oldest and dearest friend completely smitten over this phenomenal woman. Her two boys seemed so fun and loving. He could see how Adam easily fell into the role of being their dad. That’s what he had always wanted. To find the love of his life and have a family, even if it wasn’t necessarily the conventional way.
Wasn’t that what Mike wanted, too? Hell if he knew. He had been with plenty of women, but never in a serious relationship for a long period of time. It had never really fit. Perhaps it was work getting in the way or maybe he just hadn’t met the right woman.
After the beautiful ceremony, the reception began. Mike noticed Catherine sitting quietly at a table by herself. He smiled at her from across the room.
* * * *
Catherine always seemed to be in work mode. Even this wedding originated from work. As business manager of the New York Empire’s stadium, it was her job to get all the businesses up and running for baseball season. This included the new franchise, The Land of Sweets, which was Alayna’s candy shoppe. Alayna had become more than just a business associate. They clicked right away and became good friends. Catherine admired Alayna’s strength despite the tragedy that took her husband’s life. She pushed through and didn’t settle for anything less than what she wanted. Catherine never talked about her past, but hearing Alayna’s story gave her some hope and even a little bit of willpower.
Catherine gently smiled back at the gorgeous man that was staring at her from across the room. She found out over the past hour or so that his name was Mike Foerster, best man and best friend of the groom. Although Catherine was tough as nails in a work atmosphere, she found herself on the quiet side in social settings. It was a time for her to actually relax. She also enjoyed people watching and internally assessed their behaviors. The baseball stadium was a great place for that, but she rarely had a moment to breathe when she was working.
Mike came over and introduced himself. They talked and danced the rest of the night. Mike was fun, easygoing, and made Catherine laugh. He was a complete gentleman. Both of them were somewhat marveled in the way Adam and Alayna looked at each other. Catherine secretly wished she would find that same love and hopefully soon. She wasn’t getting any younger, but she had guarded her heart and body for quite some time now. It was difficult to open up and let someone in. The fear of getting hurt again constantly staggered her dating behaviors.
The day after the wedding, Mike invited Catherine out to dinner with his parents. She had met them at the wedding, and it was a kind gesture since she was from out of town. Before they both went back to New York City, they met Adam and Alayna at a wine bar. They had a wonderful evening and headed back to NYC the next day. Ironically, on the same flight.
* * * *
Things were going well between them, although technically they never defined their relationship. Mike took things slow with Catherine. He took her out on a number of dates, showed her a good time, and always remained a complete gentleman. It was different than how he approached other so called “relationships.” Of course, that was the thing, he had never been in a “real relationship” before. Past women in his life were for showcase or pleasure. Satisfying in some ways, but left him feeling unfulfilled in others.
Mike tried hard to treat Catherine well and romance her. He wanted to show her a good time with his mind and possibly even with his heart and not with his dick. They fooled around a bit, but still hadn’t had sex yet. He was determined to take this one slow, the right way, and not fuck it up like he had done with past women. Catherine was special. She was nothing like any of his past women. He wasn’t sure if it bothered her since she never brought it up. She seemed content just enjoying each other’s company. She was a kindhearted woman. Organized as all hell and damn good at her job. Mike hadn’t seen her in full force yet since the Empires were off-season. He could just tell her drive and dedication by the way she passionately spoke about her career. Catherine’s first job with the Empires was for an internship. She worked her way up to the management team. She was proud to be one of the two females running the place and held her own among a group of very competitive men.
Shortly before the holidays, Mike got a phone call for a business proposition that he could not refuse. It would take him away from New York City temporarily, from his normal duties as a stock broker, and away from Catherine. At first it would be for a few months, but it would also complicate his life, forcing some things to remain a secret. He didn’t like secrets. He didn’t want to keep them from his loved ones or from Catherine. He hated it. He didn’t want to do this to her, but he didn’t see any other way. She was too kind and genuine to deserve anything but an honest man.
Mike was set to leave after the holidays. He had a wonderful time back in Indiana visiting his parents and Adam and his family. Then it was time to tell Catherine. The timing absolutely sucked. Unfortunately, Mike felt he had no choice in the matter. He had to call things off with Catherine on New Year’s. He was set to leave on January second for three months of intense training. The worst part was that he couldn’t tell anyone about it other than he had to be gone for business. He couldn’t even tell Catherine about it.
He showed her a lovely evening with flowers, dinner, dancing, and fireworks. Then he told her that their relationship wasn’t going to work out with this new position and all the traveling that was involved. His chest tightened as the words came out of his mouth. He cared for her and didn’t want to upset her. Catherine’s reaction was much calmer than he expected. Mike didn’t know how to feel about that. He was relieved in one aspect that the news didn’t seem to upset her. But her cool as ice reaction caused a deep stabbing pain in his chest.
* * * *
“Happy New Year to me!” Catherine grumbled to herself as she threw her black Kate Spade handbag on the floor of her tiny New York City apartment. “Well, at least I didn’t sleep with him.” She stopped and looked out her window for a moment and let out a sigh. “And I really have to stop talking to myself.” She went into her kitchen and grabbed a glass of chardonnay and plopped down on her oversized chair.
Things weren’t always as they seemed, and people definitely changed. Catherine learned this a long time ago and guarded herself accordingly. She took things slow with the men she dated and for good reasons. Being caring and patient were two things that were extremely important to her. She surely thought Mike had those qualities. He was also educated, financially stable, gorgeous, had nice parents and great friends. Did she mention how gorgeous he was? Damn! She shook her head. It didn’t matter now. They had a wonderful time together while it lasted. She feared this one was going to take some time to get over.
It had been a long three months, but Mike was finally back to his normal routine and job. He walked in from work completely beat. It was a typical day for a stock broker. Thankfully the market did okay, but coming home with nothing or no one to look forward to always sucked. He threw his navy pinstriped suit coat over the chair. He loosened his gray silk tie as he sauntered over to his bar. Mike poured himself a glass of Crown, ignoring the Coke that usually accompanied his liquor. He took a sip and felt the burn down his throat. He sighed as he glanced into his wine fridge and saw the bottles of chardonnay he always kept on hand for Catherine.
It had been a little over three months since he had last seen her. Yet, he still remembered the first time he saw her like it was yesterday. Catherine Beckitt immediately took his breath away. She was petite with long, wavy, strawberry blonde hair. And God, those beautiful green eyes. Mike yearned for them to look into his eyes and touch his soul. He yearned to touch her creamy skin and kiss the light freckles that stretched across her cheeks and nose. He knew then that he cared about her, but never in a million years would he have thought that he would miss her this much. Not a single day went by without him thinking about her.
Catherine was different. Mike began falling for her before they were intimate. It scared the hell out of him. He had never felt this way about a woman before. He never actually cared not to fuck things up. Maybe he would have ended up running away like a dog with its tail between his legs. Maybe he would have ended up fucking things up with Catherine. But, it didn’t matter. He left her before things really got started. He had no choice. It was the right thing to do. The question was why couldn’t he stop thinking about her? He still felt so shitty about how he ended things.
* * * *
Catherine was extremely busy at work, easily clocking eighty hours this week. It was the week before the baseball team’s opening day. As the New York Empires’ stadium business manager, it was up to her and her staff to set up all the stores and stands, the vendors, and the events for the season. She was in charge of so much at the stadium that control and organization were two key elements in her life and in her personality. Ones that she forced herself to develop ever since she moved to New York. She swore to herself that she would never again get caught up in a situation that she couldn’t control or take care of and it showed.
Forgetting about the usual heels and business suits Catherine was so accustomed to wearing every day, she scurried around the stadium in sneakers, jeans, and a black team polo shirt. She did a quick inventory of all the shops and stands and glanced at the employee schedules at each spot. Content that things were indeed ready, Catherine took a few deep breaths on her way back to her office. She grabbed her belongings and headed home.
She walked into her apartment and threw her handbag, tote, and keys on the entry table by her door. She lived close to the stadium. Most days she walked to and from work, but took a cab if it was dark out. It was small place, as a lot of New York City apartments were, but it was quaint with lots of windows, even two in the kitchen. They gave her breathtaking views of the stadium and her neighborhood. Anytime the weather was decent, she found herself relaxing on her small balcony. It was so small she could only fit one chair and a tiny side table on it. Tonight was no different. She poured herself a glass of chardonnay and opened the sliding door. She closed the door and slid into her favorite lounge chair and pulled a blanket over her. Her thoughts drifted. Catherine thought about the small North Carolina town she left nearly twelve years ago at the age of twenty-two. So many wonderful memories of playing ball with all the neighborhood kids and hanging out at the local diner and ice cream joint. A creepy shiver ran down her spine to think about how all of those good memories could never outweigh why she left everything behind. Anger and tears filled her. All those years later, she was still experiencing the emotions of anger and shame.
Her cell phone rang, and she jumped. The sound startled her out of her thoughts. She took a deep breath to calm her racing heart and reached for her phone. She checked the caller I.D.
“Hey Alayna,” she answered. During The Land of Sweets franchise training last October, she and Alayna really hit it off and had become good friends.
“Hi Catherine. Just checking to see how you were doing. Are you all ready for opening day tomorrow?”
“Yes. All the Is are dotted and all the Ts are crossed. I am utterly exhausted, but that is how it goes every year at this time.”
“I can only imagine. Everything okay with the candy shop?”
“Absolutely. The candy with the team logo was already a hit among the employees. They are diehard fans, which is why most of them work there. I am sure all of the fans will love it, too.”
“Awesome. You will have to let me know how it goes.”
“I will. How are Emily and the boys doing?”
“Great! We just got back from spring break. We had a blast at the beach house. And Catherine, Adam and I wanted to let you know that if you ever need a break, you are welcome to use it.”
“Thanks, I may take you up on that. Are you all still planning on coming to the game in two weeks?”
“We are. We are flying out early that Friday morning.” The line was silent for a few moments. “Catherine, have you talked to Mike at all?”
Catherine sighed. “No, I haven’t.”
“I still don’t understand what happened with you two. I know he had some traveling and new work responsibilities, but I just don’t get it.”
“Neither do I. But it doesn’t matter. It is all in the past. It was fun while it lasted,” Catherine said, feeling a bit defeated, but still trying to convince herself that she had moved on.
“Catherine, do you honestly believe that?”
“I don’t have much choice in the matter, Alayna. We saw each other for a bit. We had fun. He was always a gentleman, but nothing else happened. Then he broke things off on New Year’s because of his job.”
“Well, if it was meant to be, it’s meant to be. But, I definitely wouldn’t write him off just yet. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways.”
“Perhaps.” Catherine thought about what Alayna was saying. Other than finally landing her dream job after working her way up the ladder, Catherine usually felt like the universe was against her.
“Well, you sound exhausted. We send you hugs. Get some rest for your big day tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Alayna. Talk to you soon.”
* * * *
“Well, good afternoon, Empire fans and welcome to opening day!” the announcer, Patrick, said in his most boisterous voice. His words echoed through the stadium speakers. That sentence always excited Catherine every year. It was showtime.
Catherine strolled through the stadium in her steel gray pencil skirt suit with a black blouse and black pumps. Despite the fact that she was wearing a suit at a ball game, she was still donning the team’s colors. She walked through the stadium a number of times today just to check on the stores and stands, always keeping an eye and ear on the game. Baseball really was her favorite sport. She grew up with it. She was surrounded by it. She loved playing it.
She was in The Land of Sweets, checking on the flow of customers and took a quick glance on the sales so far today.
Mike’s breath briefly halted when he spotted Catherine among the customers in the candy shop. Damn his body and heart for allowing so many feelings to rush back as his eyes soaked up her angelic presence. His mind knew this wasn’t a good idea. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy or feel right keeping secrets from her. But his heart and body overruled his mind. As much as he tried to forget her, given his current circumstances, he just couldn’t let her go. Not again. She was dressed so professionally and exuded control over her work and the entire stadium. You could tell she had her shit together just by watching the way she carried herself and worked with the other employees. He knew she was like that, and seeing her in action turned him on. He couldn’t deny it.
“Catherine,” he said to get her attention.
His voice sent Catherine’s body into a mix of emotions. She turned around and saw Mike standing there, all six-foot-one of that magnificent body with his charming smile. Part of her was excited to see him. Part of her was over him, or so she continuously told herself. He was wearing his Empires jersey and a pair of faded jeans. He had such a presence, a playboy presence, so she thought. It was bittersweet that she never saw that side of him, but it was for the best. His dirty blond hair was left naturally mussed up when he wasn’t at work. His eyes, oh my, those eyes of his were as blue as the ocean. She tried hard to focus on what happened on New Year’s and not drown in his gaze.
“Hey, Mike. How are you?”
He approached her and put his arm around her waist and leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I’ve missed you, Catherine,” he whispered cautiously. He didn’t know how she was going to react to him.
His words, warm breath, and masculine scent sent shivers down Catherine’s spine. Shivers she always tried to suppress and control when it came to him or any other man. He pulled away and looked at her.
She hesitated for a moment, wondering what to say. He was the one that walked away. He never even called her when he got back into town.
“I’ve missed you, too,” she ended up blurting out. Well, it was the damn truth. She had missed him a lot, no matter how hard she tried to push him from her mind.
He smiled again at her, but she had a hard time figuring out what to say to him. She didn’t know how to respond. She didn’t completely understand the situation or if it even mattered. But her damn body had a mind of its own. She immediately blamed it on the exhausting work week. She didn’t even have the energy to fight her body’s natural response to him. Thank God she was wearing long sleeves and Mike couldn’t see the goose bumps he gave her. But unlike the creepy shivers from the other night, these goose bumps were red hot, and her body was welcoming them for the first time in a really long time.
Mike had to say something. The moments of silence between them were awkward and left him feeling uneasy. “Opening day seems to be going really well. I was just stopping in to check on Alayna’s franchise.”
“Fans seem to be enjoying the sweets. I just checked on the sales so far today. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
“Good to hear, and I am sure Alayna will be happy as well.” Mike took a deep breath and reached for Catherine’s hand. He slowly rubbed his thumb over her knuckles, debating what to say next. He hated feeling awkward around her. “Catherine, I’m sorry I had to leave you like I did on New Year’s. I know with how things are now. It won’t be easy, but I would be a complete fool if I walked away again. Not a day has gone by that I didn’t think of you. I really want to see you again.”
Catherine tried to fight the sensations of his touch. She took the last few ounces of energy that she had to get her body somewhat under control. She had to think clearly and made a mental note to grab a coffee at the next vendor’s stand. “I don’t know, Mike,” she prudently responded.
Mike couldn’t blame her one bit. And honestly, he knew this wasn’t a good idea. He would still have to keep certain things from her. But hell, the moment he saw her again, he couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t give her up. He would just have to be extremely careful around her so she didn’t find out the secrets he had to hold. “Please, Catherine. Give me another chance,” he pleaded and gave her a few moments to contemplate his question. He smiled at her again, pulling out the most charming weapon he had in a stadium full of people. “So, what do you say? Will you let me take you out this weekend?”
Catherine took a deep breath. Did he have to keep smiling like that? The physical attraction between them was even more evident than the last time they saw each other. So much so that her girlie parts began to hum in response to the vision in front of her and his touch, scent, everything about him. Her senses were being overloaded. Of course, it could be because it felt like he left her high and dry. They hadn’t even slept together. It was her fault, too. She had been fine taking it slow. She wanted it that way even though she never told him. He seemed to be fine with it, too. But now, Catherine’s libido seemed to be smacking her right in the face because of her long dry spell. “Sure,” she finally replied.
“Great. I will pick you up Saturday at six.”
“Okay,” she confirmed with an unsure smile and a contradiction of feelings. Catherine’s mind and body didn’t seem to be anywhere near the same playing ground. It was more like roller coasters racing on two different tracks.
Mike was going to take what he could at this point. He could see the heat in her eyes one moment and the uncertainty the next. He was confident he would be able to wine and dine her and convince her that they were good together. He could do this, he repeated to encourage himself.
He leaned toward her again. She was expecting another kiss on the cheek. Instead, Mike kissed her lips and lingered for a bit, sending her body into a melting status. Before she knew it, her lips were parted and Mike’s velvety tongue was playing with hers.
Who was she trying to fool? She gave in to her body’s desire at that very moment. He literally kissed her stupid, and she didn’t fight it. Her body temp was sizzling.
Mike leaned toward her ear and whispered, “I can’t wait until Saturday, angel.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and walked away with an award winning sexy smile on his face.
Catherine was left standing there, still stunned. Angel? Her sex was wet and ached, all from a kiss, at work of all places. Her fingers touched her lips. The taste of Mike still lingered. Way to go, Catherine! Way to be professional at work!
Mike did all he could to make his legs move one in front of the other to get back to his seat. He spent so much time thinking about Catherine. He wanted to talk to her. He wanted to spend time with her. He still didn’t know how to approach this whole thing. Now he had until Saturday at six o’clock to figure it all out. He was extremely determined to make this work. Somehow. Some way.