the way you look tonight - Page 39

And nothing could possibly have prepared her for the way the heart she’d been so careful with had opened wide with reckless abandon.

Fortunately, looking at their entwined fingers resting over his chest helped to calm her racing heart. As if he could read her mind, he lifted their hands to his lips and softly, slowly, kissed each of her fingers.

Raising her gaze to meet his, she was hit with yet another shock: Jack wasn’t hiding a single emotion from her. And—oh God—what she saw in his eyes echoed what she felt in the deep, secret part of her heart she thought she had locked down, sure it was the only way to prevent ever being hurt again.

Through the haze of her post-pleasure brain, Mary couldn’t lie to herself: From that very first moment he’d spoken to her, from the very first press of his lips against hers under the mistletoe, had she ever had a choice about falling for Jack Sullivan?

Suddenly finding it difficult to breathe, Mary tried to move from his arms, but he wouldn’t let her go.

“I promised you I’d be patient,” he reminded her softly. “I’m not going to break my promise.”

Didn’t he see that just because he hadn’t said the word love aloud, it didn’t mean his body, his expression, his heart beating steadily and hard against hers, weren’t saying it to her even now?

Mary had been on her own for all of her adult life and had carved out a successful career in a supremely difficult field. Yet, as Jack held her on her bed, she finally had to face her own weaknesses…and accept just how far and deep her fears ran. Fears that had plagued her since the day she’d walked away from everything she’d known as a teenager.

One night. Couldn’t she have one night to take a break from the confusion, from the doubts?

Maybe it wasn’t fair to ask Jack to give her that when he was already giving her everything else, but Mary had never felt this safe, this cherished, with anyone else.

Letting the sheets fall away, she put her hand on his chest, his pectoral muscles jumping beneath her palm and fingertips as she slid them up to caress the beautifully masculine planes of his jaw and chin. Desire had been sated just minutes ago and, still, as she leaned forward to press her mouth to his, the sparks flew again, even hotter and higher this time.

Because she now knew exactly how good making love with Jack was, it sent her hunger for him spiking once more. But even as she tried to focus on the physical, she knew there was one important reason she so desperately needed to make love with him again.

Mary had been called beautiful a thousand times in her life, but no one had ever actually treated her as if she was special and beautiful. With every brush of his skin against hers, with the heat from his dark eyes that watched her so carefully every single moment to make sure she was happy, Jack only cared about her.

And she knew in her heart of hearts that he would never do anything to hurt her. Both of them rose to their knees on the bed, and as he moved his hands to her hips to pull her flush against him, she loved how hard every inch of him was. Already, she was addicted to the delicious scratch of hair from his chest and legs against her smooth skin, the burn from the dark shadow on his jaw as he ran kisses all across her face and neck and shoulders and br**sts.

She’d been amazed by the way he’d held on to his patience as he’d stripped her earlier, taking her from peak to peak while keeping the reins on his own needs. She’d never, ever forget the beauty he’d shown her, how gentle he’d been even as he drove her toward utter madness.

But as renewed passion wrapped around them like a velvet ribbon tying them together, the ravenous need that grew bigger and stronger with every moment they spent in each other’s arms took the place of patience and self-control. And as they fell back onto the bed, tangled in each other, Mary didn’t have a prayer of keeping up with Jack’s hands, with his mouth, with the demands he made of her pleasure.

Breathless as he found her sweetest spots again, needing to give him just as much, they tumbled so that she could rove her own hands and mouth across his hard, heated body.

And then he was gripping her by the waist and pulling her up over him, coming into her again in one hard thrust. Capturing her mouth with his, with low growls of pleasure rumbling from his chest to hers, from one heartbeat to the next, they drove each other higher.

Giving. Taking. Sharing.

Loving.

And as Mary shattered into a thousand beautiful pieces in Jack’s arms, everything she’d tried to trap inside for so long, all of the emotions she’d been so afraid to feel, finally burst free.

Chapter Thirteen

Mary woke to the warmth of sunlight streaming over her skin. Surprisingly bright winters were one of the things she loved about San Francisco, especially when she could easily find snow within hours of the city by heading to the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe.

This morning, however, the sunlight wasn’t the only reason she was warm. Jack was wrapped around her, his front pressed to her back, his legs curled into hers.

A sudden flash of terror at just how much of herself she’d given him the night before threatened to send her heart racing. And yet, nothing felt the slightest bit wrong about the way she was holding one of Jack’s hands to her chest, his other hand tangled in her hair, while the warmth of his breath tickled the sensitive skin on the back of her neck. In fact, it was true that nothing had ever felt so right as waking up in bed wrapped in Jack’s arms as if she were a precious gift he couldn’t bear to part with.

His breathing remained even, but his fingers began to slide, feather-light, over her skin. Had he been waiting for her to wake so that they could continue their sensual adventure into a new day?