the way you look tonight - Page 51

Need fed need, desire stoked desire, and love fueled love as they fell back onto the bed into each other’s arms.

* * *

A long while later, Mary lay on Jack’s chest, working to catch her breath, while he stroked his hand over her hair, soothing her even as he inflamed her again.

“I love you.”

She nestled in closer to him, loving the way his voice rumbled through his chest to hers when they were this close. “I love you, too.”

The ring glinted in her peripheral vision, and happiness swelled inside her. Everything was so great, almost perfect, as long as she didn’t think about…

As if he could read her mind, Jack suddenly said, “I think you should call your mother and father to tell them about us. They’ve got to want to know how happy you are.”

Mary was tempted, so tempted to pick up the phone and share her joy with the two people who had been the center of her world for nineteen years. Her heart raced just thinking of it.

“No,” she finally said, shaking her head against his chest. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Her parents had always expected her to be the perfect little girl and to only dream the dreams they’d allowed her. Clients and photographers had always expected her to be flawless and poised.

Only Jack, Mary believed, loved her for who she really was.

“Because if I call and they aren’t happy for me, it will ruin our perfect night. And I don’t want anything to touch us tonight.” Mary lifted her head and shifted her weight over his so that her thighs were on either side of his, her br**sts pressed to the dark hair on his chest. She lowered her mouth to his and whispered, “Tonight is only for us. Only for love.” And then she let passion—and the joy of knowing she was with the one person on earth who loved her for herself—sweep her up all over again.

Chapter Eighteen

Mary felt as though she were floating the next morning as she and Jack got out of the taxi hand in hand in front of the studio where they were going to shoot the final photos for the campaign. She thought she’d been in love before, but now she knew she’d never been anywhere close to it. Just being near Jack sent her heart racing and every inch of her skin heating up. And though it had been an hour since they’d made love that morning, when he took her hand in his and gently rubbed his thumb across her palm, she felt as if he was still holding her in the warm, strong, safe circle of arms, naked and sated.

And loved.

Mary was known for her prompt appearance at every booking, unlike many of the models who rolled into the studio when it suited them. Today, however, she and Jack had arrived a good fifteen minutes after everyone else, and she didn’t care that they were late. Not when every extra moment in Jack’s arms had been utterly precious.

Jack gently brushed a lock of hair away from her forehead. “I love you.” His voice was soft but oh so steady as he brought his lips nearly to hers. “I can’t wait to let everyone know that you’ve agreed to be my wife. Are you ready?”

She absolutely refused to acknowledge the nerves jumping inside of her as she said, “Yes.”

It was so easy to get lost in him, she thought as he kissed her. But before she could get more than one too-short taste, the door opened…and Howie discovered their big secret before they made their big announcement.

Mary was glad to see more delight than shock on Jack’s partner’s face as he happily ushered them inside the building. The beautiful diamond ring on her left hand was hard to miss, and before Mary knew it, Howie was giving her a congratulatory kiss on the cheek and clapping Jack on the back.

“Everyone,” he called out, “I believe Jack and Mary have a very exciting announcement to make!”

It had all happened so fast, a whirlwind from having pie and ice cream with Jack to swearing she wouldn’t mix business with pleasure, and then not being able to stop herself from doing just that as she fell head over heels in love. More than once she’d worried that she was in too deep and that it had happened too fast, but each time Jack’s constancy had reassured her. Every step of the way, he’d been so sweet, so patient with her, even when they’d both been driven to the edge of madness with desire.

How, she wondered as they stood on the precipice of announcing not only their relationship but also their engagement, could those long-held fears rear up again?

Love, in her experience, had always been conditional. But Jack wasn’t like that, he could never treat her that way…could he?

“Mary?”

Though everyone was waiting for their big announcement, Jack was looking at her as if they were the only two people in the room.

She remembered the way she’d felt in Union Square that first time she’d seen him in the crowd of strangers. From that first moment she’d felt as if she knew him…and she had known that he was special.

Just because other people in her past had disappointed her didn’t mean that he would, too. Plus, she’d seen him with his family, the way he and his brothers had always been there for one another, no matter what.

Telling herself that trusting Jack couldn’t possibly be the wrong decision, Mary squeezed his hand and let his steady warmth settle her nerves. “Let’s tell them, Jack.”

In all her dreams of love, she’d never envisioned a man like him could exist, one who was completely open every single moment about his feelings for her. She’d never been one for public displays of affection—in the entertainment business they were almost always false—but now she couldn’t resist leaning in to kiss him.