In twenty-second century America, war and disease have wiped out three-quarters the earth’s population and left most women sterile. Scientists are battling the specter of human extinction. Now they’ve devised a DNA test and built a database to help each of the remaining fertile females find her perfect genetic counterpart, thereby ensuring healthy, hardy offspring.
For Hannah Jenkins, this means accepting a stranger as a potential mate. Unfortunately, the handsome Dr. David Cabot isn’t everything she’d expected. Distant and humorless, he spends all his time in the makeshift laboratory he’s set up in the family barn. He and Hannah use more energy sniping at each other than communicating their wants and desires. After four months of passionless monthly encounters with no pregnancy to show for it, Hannah is certain David will abandon her at the end of their trial marriage.
Then a drifter saves Hannah from robbery at gunpoint, and Hannah hires him to work as a farmhand. The mysterious Trey intrigues both Hannah and David, but can he show them how to make love without making war?
“Hannah, I don’t want to come between you and your husband. That’s not my intention.”
“What do you want, Trey?”
“I want to help you. Do you believe that?”
Hannah drew a long breath and let it out on a sigh. All at once, she felt bone-weary and a thousand years old.
“Yes, I believe it.”
“What if I told you it might take something…” He paused, seeming to search for the right word. “Something unconventional to help your marriage.”
She shook her head. “I’m not following you.”
He smiled and his gaze traveled over her, making her feel wanton and next-to-naked in the middle of her own damned kitchen. “What would a woman like you consider unconventional?”
His eyes held hers from across the room, plainly trying to communicate his meaning without resorting to clumsy words. Again she heard the echo of that faraway wind and the brokenhearted woman who called his name for long years, waiting for the return of the man she loved more than life, the man she trusted with the fate of her soul.
Hannah scrubbed a hand over her face. “I’m too tired for riddles, Trey.”
“Fair enough. But will you think about it?”
As if she had any choice now that he’d put the idea in her head. She nodded, looking away from those sad, dangerous eyes to the cracked tile beneath her feet.
“Good.” He let the screen door close quietly behind him on his way out.
When he was gone, Hannah climbed the stairs and headed for the bathroom. The house was quiet. Her brothers had proven yet again how soundly they slept, so she let the door stand open to catch the breeze from the window in the hall. From the top shelf of the linen closet she took three beeswax candles, lit them and set them on the floor near the ancient, claw-footed tub. Then she opened the tap and let it run for a scant minute. She filled the tub only a quarter of the way, her concession to the recent lack of rain. Her body felt lazy and stupid as she stripped out of her clothes and slid into the water.
Unconventional. It could’ve meant a few different things, but when she closed her eyes, all that came to mind was the three of them—Trey, David and herself—lying together in a shameless sprawl. Both men, at the same time. Their hands, their mouths, their manly parts, touching her, inside and out. Using her for their own pleasure, and letting her make use of them.
She shouldn’t have wanted it. Even if he didn’t act like it, David was her husband. It was her duty to want only him. But like as not, both he and Trey would be gone by the time the wind blew snow like a tattered bridal veil over the landscape. Then she’d be left with only memories until the next candidate showed up, assuming he ever did.
Of course, Trey might’ve meant something entirely different. She couldn’t be sure without asking, which she intended to do first chance she got.
But if she was right? And if Trey somehow managed to talk the supremely stubborn Dr. David Cabot into allowing such a huge breach of his precious Commission protocols?
Hannah wouldn’t say no.