“Same goes.” She fingered the wet tips of his hair. “I love that you wear it a little long. It’s very bad boy sexy for such a suit and tie wearing professional.”
“Then long it stays.” His hungry lips slipped down her wet neck as he sipped the water from her skin.
“Keely. I need you. I needed you last night, but I…”
“I’d never say no to you, Jack.”
“I know that. You don’t say no to me even when you should.” More sweet kisses. More scorching kisses. More sweeping touches. More urgency. Jack said, “Lift up.”
Keely gripped the edges of the tub and raised her body. She lowered onto his shaft bit by bit, dragging out the mutual pleasure until his male hardness filled her. When they were locked together, body to body, soul to soul, breathing the same humid air, everything seemed right.
It was rare for her to gaze into Jack’s face from a higher vantage point. She couldn’t stop the awed,
“Damn, GQ. You are one beautiful man.”
His hand shook as he pushed damp tendrils from her cheek. “Not like you, Keely. You undo me.
Every time I look at you.”
“Show me.” She smoothed her hands over his neck and strong shoulders as she moved on him. Held him. Watched him. Wished he felt as…completed with her as she did with him.
Water sloshed everywhere as they rocked together. Came together.
After they’d dried off and slipped between the sheets, Keely understood this really was the end.
Early the next morning, they were subdued as their parting of ways loomed.
Jack helped Keely load her packages and luggage into her truck. Saying goodbye in the parking garage seemed anticlimactic after all they’d been through. Especially since they’d reached for each other twice during the night, not knowing who’d made the first move, not caring, just rejoicing in every touch.
“Come here,” Jack said gruffly.
Keely walked straight into his arms without hesitation.
“Good.” Jack kissed the top of her head. “I’ll call you after I get to—”
She shook her head and buried her face in his neck, inhaling the dark, familiar scent, wondering if it’d be the last time she’d ever be this close to him. “Don’t call me.”
“Why not? You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do.”
“I need to wean myself from you, Jack.”
A bewildered pause. “Why?”
“I’ve gotten too used to having you around. In my bed. In my life. We knew this wasn’t permanent.
Dragging this out will just be harder for both of us.”
“I’m just supposed to do what? Walk away from you?”
“Think about what you’re saying, buttercup.”
“I have. I am. Go back to thinking of me as a client. Better yet, don’t think of me at all. Just…go back to hating me.”
Jack was silent as his hand stroked the back of her head, over and over, with such gentleness she couldn’t stop from melting into him.
Keely whispered, “Be safe. I’ll see you on the jobsite in a couple of weeks.” She kissed the hollow of his throat and turned away without meeting his gaze.
Or without looking back in her rearview mirror as she headed home to Wyoming where she belonged.
Three weeks later…
“Aunt Keely, how come you’re so sad?”
She forced herself to answer Liesl with a half-truth. “I’m not sad. Just tired. And thinking about—”
Keely froze. Uncle Jack. Man. That sounded weird. And yet, not weird at all. She managed a smile for her inquisitive niece. “No. I’m thinking about how long it’s been since we’ve had a girl’s night. You, Eliza and me. We could paint our fingernails, watch Hannah Montana now that I have cable. Eat Oreos and have burping contests. Whaddya say?”
“All right! But I still think you’re sad. I think Uncle Jack needs to come home and kiss you because that always makes you happy.”
“Liesl. Leave Aunt Keely alone,” Domini said. “Take Oxsana outside with you and go play with your brothers.”
“But I don’t wanna go—”
Domini pointed to the sliding glass door. “Fresh air, girls. Now.”
Liesl sighed and grabbed Oxsana’s hand. “Mommy said we should make mud pies.”
As soon as the door closed, Keely grinned. “She’s gonna give you guys fits when she hits her teens.”
“I know. Cam is already nervous.” Liesl smacked her floured hands into a glob of dough on the counter. “But is my intuitive daughter right? Are you sad because you’re missing Jack?”
“I do miss him. What sucks is that’s part of his job and he’ll always be gone.” She scowled. “Or I’ll have to go with him, which will be damn near impossible once the clinic is up and running.”
Jack had called from wherever the hell he was late last night. She’d fumbled with the phone and cursed at the dead air, until Jack’s voice, barely audible, rasped, “Can’t believe I missed you swearing at me, cowgirl.” Then he’d hung up. Or maybe she’d dreamed the whole damn thing.
Domini’s hands stopped kneading. “Are you rethinking your relationship with him?”
“Yes. No. Who knows? I’m just tired. Although I love the work and the people in Cheyenne, the drive is getting old.”
“How much longer will you be working at the VA?”
“A month or two. Depending on my cash flow situation with the building.” Depending on if Jack kicked her out of the apartment after they officially called it quits.
“I recognize that ‘back off’ look, as your brother often wears the same one. But if you need to talk, Keely, I’m always here for you.”
“Same goes.” Keely snatched a cookie. “Speaking of talking…any luck convincing Cam into letting you adopt all the needy children in the world so you two can be nominated for sainthood?”
Domini flicked flour at her. “Smarty. He’s considering it.”
“No.” Domini sighed. “I get what Cam’s saying about us having enough kids.”
“But when the woman running the orphanage in Romania called me and emailed me the videos with those two poor darlings…” Domini bit her lip and looked away, struggling to keep her tears from splashing in the bread dough. “Sorry.”
“Cam will come around, Domini. He’s a softie. You guys are great, loving parents, what difference would two more kiddos make? It’s not like you don’t have family around to help you out.”
“True. I think the fact Markus is only six months old freaks Cam out more than that the poor baby needs eye surgery.” She sighed. “Plus, Markus’s older sister, Sasha, is eighteen months old and if we do this, we’d have two kids in diapers again…”
“Investing in Huggies for the next three years isn’t the issue, is it?” Keely said softly.
“No.” Domini slammed her fist into the dough.
A bad feeling surfaced at seeing her normally docile sister in law so angry. “Domini. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong with me, but what is wrong with other people? They can’t have children so they decide to adopt and then they only want perfect children? Or just one cute infant?”
“Is there another couple interested in adopting Markus?”
“Yes. But just him. Not Sasha. And the director wants to keep the siblings together if possible, but if not, she’ll have to split them up. I would never demand to separate siblings and that’s what will happen if we don’t act on this soon.”
“Hey.” Keely’s eyes filled with tears when she saw the hopelessness in Domini’s face. “Talk to Cam tonight. If you need me to watch the kids so you two can have alone time, I will. And when you decide to jet off to Romania to bring home your new additions, I will stay here and crack the whip on your four hooligans for as long as you need me to.”
“You would do that for us?”
“Without hesitation. You’re my family. It’s the least I could do.”
“What about Jack?”
Keely frowned. “What about him?”
“Don’t you think he might have an issue with you living here for a few weeks?”
I may not have any other place to go. “I don’t care if he has an issue with it.” She briefly closed her eyes. “I’m afraid it won’t be an issue at all, to be real honest, Domini. Please don’t tell anyone, especially not Cam, but things aren’t going well with me and Jack.”
Domini placed a floury hand over hers. “Oh, I’m sorry. I wondered if that wasn’t the case.”
“Because Liesl is right; you do seem sad since you got back from Denver. And you also seem to be filling all your free time with McKay family activities. While we’re grateful, we love you and we all love spending time with you, you deserve happiness of your own, Keely, in your own life. Whether it’s here or in Denver, whether it’s with Jack or someone else.”
Keely looked out the door at the kids playing in the backyard. “I know. I just…” Love him and he doesn’t know it. And none of this was ever real. And even if it was, I don’t think I could choose living with him over living around family, “…wish Jack and I wanted the same things.”
“Maybe it’ll work out.”
Fat chance. “Maybe. Thanks.” Keely hopped off the stool. “Have fun hosing off your kids. Liesl and Anton are having a mud fight. Ooh, and look! Now the twins are slinging slop.”