Claire rolled over and peered at the old clock radio next to her bed. She blinked several times trying to make some sense of the red numbers glaring back at her, but couldn’t.
The red numbers weren’t there.
She glanced out the window and then bolted upright. It was too dark outside, an eerie sort of dark.
The storm. No electricity.
Reaching for her watch on the stand, she squinted. Ten thirty! Late. Checkout time was ten o’clock this morning, and in Kill Devil Hills sixty miles north!
Not going to make it, obviously.
Then she heard the wind pummeling the cottage and noticed the sand sifting in around the windowsills.
The shutters. She didn’t do the shutters.
Scrambling across the bed, she winced and fell back naked across the foot. Why was she so damn...sore?
She stared at the ceiling in disbelief.
It was only a dream. She closed her eyes.
It was only a dream.
Only a dream. Had to be. Nothing but a dream.
Sitting up, she glanced around. Nothing was amiss.
Where is he? When did he leave? Was he really even here?
The room looked just as she’d left it the night before. Her gaze dropped to the wooden plank floor—except for her nightgown pooled at the foot of the bed. It wasn’t her usual habit to strip during the night unless...unless she was having sex.
Oh my God! We made love.
She covered her face with her hands.
Time to leave. Now. Go!
Claire gazed out the window in front of her. The sea oats were flat against the dunes behind the cottage. The air was brown with swirling sand. The surf was strong. Too strong. It frightened her. This frightened her. This thing that was happening to her.
Shaking her head from side to side, her eyes filled with tears. Her mind chased away random thoughts.
Not understanding what was happening.
Not like her.
Not the kind of woman who sleeps around.
Has to be a dream. A very erotic, very satisfying, sexy dream.
Yes. A dream.
Dammit! You are a dream!
Lowering her gaze, she sucked in a breath and watched fat tears fall onto the backs of her hands.
Her eyes widened in horror. Her heart leapt.
Hastily, she swiped away tears with the palm of her right hand and blinked. Lifting her left hand closer to her face, she stared again at her fingers through a blurry veil.
It was still there.
A wedding band.
A very old, very simple band of gold encircled the third finger of Hannah Claire Winslow’s left hand.
No, my dear Hannah.’Tisn’t a dream. ‘Tis very, very real.