He’d been completely straightforward on her doorstep in telling her that one night wouldn’t be enough for him, and maybe it was sending the wrong message to let one night turn so quickly into more.
But how could any woman on the planet resist Jack Sullivan?
The lightest flick of his tongue over her neck sent a shiver running through her, head to toe. As her brain warred with her heart over what the right thing to do might be, her body gave the answer by arching just enough so that he could more easily nip the skin he’d kissed.
Shuddering with need just that quickly, when he shifted their hands on her chest so that they were both cupping one breast together, as his name fell from her lips she was shocked to find her throat slightly raw.
A dozen sensual visions from the night before came at her then. She’d never been one of those women who felt they had to put on a show in bed, but with Jack, she hadn’t been able to stop herself from calling out his name.
He was hot and hard against her bottom, and all it would have taken was the slightest shift of his legs and her hips for him to be inside her again. But where they’d rushed to have each other in the darkness the night before, this morning he was torturing her with slow, sweet caresses, as if he wanted to commit every inch of her to memory.
From breast to waist, then waist to hip, then hip to thigh, then front to back before starting all over again, Mary didn’t know whether to praise or curse Jack’s boundless patience as he lazily stroked her naked skin and curves. No man had ever taken so much time, so much care with her before. As she reveled in his caresses, her hunger for him was so strong that she had to turn and slide her hands into his hair for a deep, heated kiss.
Oh, but there was something wonderful about a man who knew when to give a woman what she wanted…and when to give her what she actually needed. Hard and fast would have been amazing, but as she realized he wouldn’t be rushed—and that all she could do was relax into the stroke of his hands, the kisses from his lips, the gentle scratch of his teeth against her skin—Mary finally stopped trying to fight, to lead…or to worry.
Gasps of pleasure were followed by moans of delight as he discovered her secret pleasures inch by inch. Kisses landed like butterflies across her skin until he was fluttering them across her lips again. Joy rose up inside her, bigger and brighter than any happiness she’d known before Jack.
And when he finally moved his fingers between her legs and Mary tumbled into ecstasy with his name on her lips, even then he didn’t rush to finish what he’d started. Instead, he rolled her onto her back and slid his hands over hers to keep her steady as he came into her so slowly and sweetly that her arousal heightened all over again from the delicious weight of his body over hers.
Jack’s heart beat hard against hers, his eyes dark and full of emotion as he loved her. And in that moment—when all of her walls fell down and she gave herself to him completely—Mary knew she loved him right back.* * *
In the minutes that followed the most extraordinary lovemaking of Mary’s life, Jack remained levered over her, his dark gaze not wavering as he stared into her eyes. What, she wondered, was he thinking as he looked at her the way he was now?
As if he was seeing her anew…
Reaching instinctively to smooth her hair, she realized it was knotted behind her head. She’d loved it when he’d slid his hands into her hair and tangled his fingers in it as he’d made wild love to her. But in the aftermath of that wildness, she knew she didn’t look anywhere near her best.
“I should probably go clean up. And then,” she said with an attempt at an easy smile, “I’ll make us some breakfast. Do you like eggs?”
“Breakfast can wait.” Jack draped an arm and a leg over her and held her where she was beneath him. “I’m not done looking yet.”
Mary tried not to grimace. “I’m sure I look like a mess.”
As if to confirm her statement, he reached out to run a finger through her hair, and it got caught on a tangle as he rolled the lock up around his finger. “You’ve always looked so perfect,” he murmured. “I’ve never seen you like this, rumpled, with lines from the pillow on your cheek.”
Her heart sank to her stomach as she realized her mistake. She’d been so comfortable with Jack, so head over heels for him and his kisses, that she’d forgotten to keep up the mystique of being Mary Ferrer.
Before Jack, she would have worked to glide over it with a laugh and a witty comment. But after the sweet intimacy of lovemaking, her emotions were close enough to the surface that she said, “It’s a good thing then that I have a big bag of model’s tricks to make myself perfect again.”
Surprise jumped into Jack’s eyes at her defensive tone. “What’s wrong? What did I say?”
Her looks had been her ticket to adventures all over the world and a glittering career that had exceeded any expectations she’d had as a girl full of dreams. Even so, sometimes she hated the fact that keeping that ticket valid meant she had to spend so much time on keeping up her appearance. She’d never owned a pair of sweatpants. She’d never gone out for a cup of coffee without at least some mascara and lipstick.
She would never take what she had for granted, but if she had known the price it would come with—not just losing her mother’s love but this endless focus on perfection—she might have walked more slowly through that childhood door into her adult life.
Despite everything they’d shared since last night, did Jack only want to see the perfect version of her? Mary had to close her eyes against a bolt of pain that hit her at the thought.