Seduced Online - Melody Anne Page 0,2

be over Ari before he knew it!

Chapter One

Two Years Later

Ari

“All right, class, I want you to take out your books and turn to page one hundred and four.” Ari took a deep breath as she looked out at the sea of students before her. Don’t let them see your fear. They will eat you alive.

No matter how many times she chanted this in her head, she could feel the sweat beading on her brow, and what felt like ten-pound weights sitting on her chest. What if she messed up? What if she threw up? What if everything just went black and she face-planted in front of the entire room?

You will not psych yourself out! You are Arianna Harlow, a strong, independent woman who just completed a master’s degree. That takes guts, determination, and stamina. Not everyone is cut out for a higher education, but you did it in the face of everything you’d gone through. This is nothing in comparison. A class of fifty students will not intimidate you.

OK, she was feeling a bit less faint as she dimmed the lights and turned on the screen projector. This was her first job and she was grateful to be teaching.

The last two years hadn’t been easy for Ari, but she’d worked hard, studying longer, jogging for miles upon miles to try to relieve the constant ache in her body, and spending what little free time she allowed for herself with her mother and friends.

The most difficult of times was being with Lia and Rachel. She loved them both so much, but they were a reminder of what she’d never again have.

Rafe.

It seemed that not a single day could pass without a thought of him fluttering through her mind. Time had lessened the ache but hadn’t removed it altogether. Love for a man like Rafe didn’t disappear overnight — apparently, not even after two years. She didn’t regret her decision to walk away — it was what she’d had to do — but still, she missed him. Missed his smile and his laughter, missed the way his hands had caressed her body.

The few dates she’d attempted since leaving him had been a joke. No man could measure up to Rafe Palazzo. Yes, he’d been controlling and had pushed her in ways she still couldn’t believe — he’d had her doing things she’d never thought she’d enjoy — but he’d also changed her forever.

She could never go back to that innocent girl she’d been. Rafe had opened her eyes to a new world, and it was a place she’d enjoyed. She would never settle for less than love, but she did miss the excitement the man provided. Missed the hunger that swelled into desire from deep within whenever he touched her.

Rafe was many things, but boring wasn’t one of them. No man had stirred her the way he had, and she missed him desperately, though she never admitted that — not even to herself. What good would it do her?

Shaking off the melancholy thoughts, Ari focused on the meticulously written out notes in front of her as she began her carefully planned-out lecture. Too nervous to focus on the students, she was relieved when class was nearly over and it came time for them to ask questions.

Please, someone have something to ask was her only hope in that moment. The next few minutes passed with several questions, and the stiffness eased from her body. Only a couple of minutes more to go and she could call her first class a success.

“Are there any more questions?” This she would soon regret asking.

“Yes. Will you join me for dinner tonight?”

Ari’s body stiffened and her face flushed. She would never, ever forget that voice — it haunted her in her dreams, making her wake up aching and empty. It trailed her as she walked the streets and heard a man’s laughter. It caressed her body when she lay in bed at night and ran through the various conversations they’d had.

Ari’s ears were ringing too loudly for her to hear the chuckling in her classroom as she lifted her head and her eyes locked with Rafe’s purple-and-blue gaze.

Sitting comfortably in the back of the classroom, he took her breath away with his confident grin. Two years since she’d last laid eyes on him, and he still looked deliciously perfect. Several students turned his way, the girls batting their eyelashes, the guys wanting to be him. It was obvious to anyone present that he was a man who