Smiling, she said, “I like you, too.” Needing to touch him again, she gently ran her fingertip over his left cheekbone. “Where did you get this scar?”
“My brother Max and I were playing hockey. He ended up switching to tennis after this.”
“Is he the one who broke your nose, too?”
On a laugh that easily could have warmed her on the coldest night, he shook his head. “That was all me. You have to promise me you won’t laugh before I tell you how it happened.”
She made a cross over her heart. “I promise.”
“I walked into a wall.”
She had to bite her lip to stop the laughter from bubbling out. When she was fairly sure she could speak without giggling, she asked, “How?”
One eyebrow raised, humor in his eyes, he said, “I was in college and had my first breakthrough with understanding how the Shockley Diode worked. I’d been up all night, and when I went to brag to Howie about my amazing accomplishment, I somehow missed the doorway.”
It was either laugh or kiss him, and since she’d made a promise not to do the first, she happily gave in to the second. But before their kiss could turn to more, she made herself take a step back.
“Pictures.” The word came out of Mary’s mouth slightly high-pitched and breathless. “I should show you the photos. Especially since Howie and Jack will probably be here soon, and I—” Oh, how she hated the way the words would sound, even though she knew she had to say them “—I wouldn’t want them to catch us kissing the way Gerry did.”
When, she asked herself again, would all those broken pieces inside her finally begin to heal?
She also hated seeing the flash of hurt that moved across Jack’s face before he quickly erased it and said, “Right, we should look at the pictures. How do you feel about pepperoni and black olives on your pizza?”
Her stomach growled before she’d so much as opened her mouth to tell him she’d love that. Larry and Howie pulled up outside a few minutes later, and as the four of them ate pizza and drank beer straight from the bottles, they began making decisions about which pictures to use in the ad campaign. With Jack’s passionate kisses tingling on her lips all the while, Mary didn’t envy the three of them their easy camaraderie…because they made her feel she was one of them.And she loved every second of being part of their team.
Jack had nearly walked into half-a-dozen walls after Mary left his house last night. He’d simply been too preoccupied thinking about her to pay attention to anything around him. The kiss they’d shared in his garage had blown his mind, but so had the cute way she’d valiantly tried not to laugh at him when he’d confessed how his nose had been broken. And then she’d amazed him all over again when she’d settled into pizza and beer with his partners as if she’d been hanging out with them since college.
At the same time, his chest ached a little bit when he thought about the way she was so intent on hiding their budding relationship. He understood why she was still wary of being with him, especially publicly, and why she continued to ask him to be patient with her. But all that didn’t stop him from wishing for more.
Today they were back in the studio to film a TV commercial for the campaign. The moment he walked in the door, Jack did a quick scan of the studio looking for Mary and saw her in conversation with a tall woman wearing all black, with thick, black-framed glasses.
My God, Mary was beautiful in the casual jeans and green sweater they’d all agreed she’d wear for the shoot, but not in any kind of artificial way. Her hair was loose and glossy, her mouth was the same shade of rose as when he’d kissed her, and her laughter could have easily fueled him through another week of sleepless nights.
Mary moved to go to her dressing room, and that’s when she saw him. She paused at the doorway and blinked hard several times, as if she was working to get her bearings again. Jack was glad to know he wasn’t the only one who got knocked off balance simply from being in the same room. Giving him a slightly flustered smile, she disappeared into her dressing room.
Although he wanted to go straight to Mary, Jack headed toward the director to introduce himself. “Thanks so much for working with us.” He held out his hand. “I’m Jack Sullivan, one of the engineers who created the Pocket Planner.”
“Georgina Callem.” The director had a firm handshake and a serious face as she took her time studying him. “I’ve known Mary for almost a decade. I would do anything for her.”
Jack didn’t check himself before saying, “So would I.”
The woman’s stern mouth cracked just the slightest bit. “Good. Now stay out of my way today, and I think we’ll get along just fine.”
No wonder Mary appreciated Georgina so much. He imagined that as a very successful model, she would have quickly grown tired of having people pandering to her. Clearly, she liked straight shooters.
Finally, Jack went to see the woman he couldn’t stop thinking about. “Good morning.”
She was standing in the middle of the room looking as if she’d forgotten why she’d come in here in the first place. But the light in her eyes as she turned to face him told him that she was as happy to see him as he was to see her.
The air around her shimmered differently today, and as he searched her face for clues, his heart leaped as he realized what it was: Much of the wariness she sometimes had around him seemed to be gone.