If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1) (14 page)

BOOK: If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1)
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He blinked, seeming to come out of his daze. “Right,” he said. “Dinner.”

Mari smiled as she followed him. He was usually so confident. It did something to her to see him off balance, even if it had lasted for all of two seconds.

Marc had ordered multiple items, so they opened all the cartons and spooned small portions from each onto their plates. The food was some of the best she’d ever eaten, and Mari didn’t think it was just because of the company. There was steamed Chilean sea bass
with cellophane noodles and oyster mushrooms; jumbo shrimp, asparagus and scallions; diced filet mignon and yams in a light sate sauce and a lovely salad made with lotus root, cucumber, tomatoes and a tamarind dressing.

Just as Mari picked up her fork to begin, Marc hopped up from his seat. “Hold on… I forgot.”

He came back into the dining room carrying a candlestick and brand new taper. Grinning, he lit the candle and sat down across from Mari.

“So proud of yourself, aren’t you?” she teased as she forked a succulent shrimp.

“Well, you’ve got to admit, when you get a caveman to serve you fine cuisine by candlelight, it’s a small miracle, right?”

Mari gave a small moan as she chewed the shrimp. “You did
very
well, Caveman.”

A while later she leaned back in her chair and sighed as she stared out at the dark blue lake and muted lavender sky. The flickering candle was starting to cast shadows on the ceiling. It would be dark soon. She lazily forked her last bite of salad and chewed it slowly, appreciating the subtle blend of flavors on her tongue.

“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” she murmured.

“I’m glad you liked it.” He nodded at her full wine glass. “Wine not to your liking?”

“Oh… No, it’s fine,” she said hastily. “The food was so delicious I didn’t have a thought for it, that’s all.”

“You can take it into the living room, if you like,” he suggested. “I got dessert, but maybe we should wait a bit?”

“Definitely,” Mari agreed.

He stood and began to clear their dishes. When Mari started to help him, he shooed her off, insisting she take
her wine and relax in the living room. Mari obligingly took her full glass of wine, but felt a little awkward since she had no intention of drinking it. She kicked off the sandals she was wearing, perched in the corner of the L-shaped couch and drew up her feet. When Marc joined her a few minutes later, he carried a mug and handed it to her.

“Figured you’d probably prefer tea. It’s herbal,” he said as he handed it to her.

“Thank you,” she murmured, scooting her feet back a few inches to make room for him to sit.

“I was just thinking while I was cleaning up in the kitchen—I’m not used to being around you as an adult. I shouldn’t have assumed you drink alcohol.” He continued when she stared at him in blankly, “I’ve never seen you drink since I met up with you at the Palmer House. It wouldn’t surprise me if you abstained.”

“I have a glass of wine once in a while,” she said as understanding dawned. He’d assumed she hadn’t drank her glass of wine for reasons related to their past. In truth, she hadn’t drank it because of her pregnancy. “What I said was true. It just didn’t appeal tonight.”

Marc nodded, but his expression was somber. “I mentioned it the other night, but I’ll say it again. I’m not much of a drinker, either. I just thought some wine with the food—”

“Marc,” she interrupted. “I didn’t think twice about you having a glass of wine. You didn’t even finish it. Do you really think I’m worried that you’re some kind of alcoholic because your father had a drinking problem?”

He shrugged and glanced away. “It’s not as if I haven’t heard something similar before. My brother and sisters have, at one time or another. All of us were stained by my dad’s actions.”

Mari opened her mouth to demand the details—who
had dared to insinuate something so ridiculous? How could they possibly justify their allegations, when the Kavanaugh children were practically paragons of virtue, dedication and hard work?—but she closed her mouth when she noticed Marc’s rigid profile.

“It’s so unfair. I’m sorry,” she murmured.

His gaze returned to her face. “It meant a lot, to discover you weren’t one of those people judging me for someone else’s actions,” he said quietly.

She shook her head, her throat suddenly tight with emotion. She cradled his jaw with her hand and moved her fingers, absorbing the sensation of his warm skin, both overwhelmed by his vibrant presence and hungry to experience more of him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked her as he studied her through narrowed eyelids.

“Life is so uncertain. I wish…I wish I could always have you like this.”

“Like this?” His mouth quirked, and Mari brushed her thumb against his lips. He went still at her touch.

“Just us,” she whispered as she moved her finger, studying his texture like her thumb was her only source of sensation. “No one else.”

“It is just us. And the future,” he said.

“There’s the past.”

His hand came up and cradled her shoulder. “There’s the present, Mari.”

The present.

Staring into Marc’s eyes, she felt the present moment stretching out to eternity. He didn’t move or speak when she leaned over and placed her mug of tea on the coffee table, but she sensed the tension that had leaped into his muscles. She lifted her knee and straddled his thighs, her head lowered. The need she felt couldn’t be denied any longer.

She unfastened the first three buttons of his shirt and pressed her face into the opening.

She did what she’d been holding back from doing for weeks now…for years.

She drowned herself in him.

Chapter Twelve

T
he skin on his chest felt thick and warm pressed against her seeking lips. He didn’t have an abundant amount of hair there, but what she encountered delighted her as she rubbed her cheek and lips against it, experiencing the springy, soft sensation. His scent filled her, intoxicated her. She moved her hands, cradling his waist and then sliding up the taper to his ribs, caressing him with gentle, molding palms and eager fingers.

It took her a few seconds to realize he was holding his breath. That changed when she gently pulled aside the fabric of his shirt and kissed a dark copper-colored nipple.

He gasped her name raggedly and tangled his fingers in her loose hair.

He was so hard, so male. Her lips and fingertips couldn’t seem to get enough of him. She rubbed her mouth across his nipple, testing the texture with her tongue, thrilling to the sensation of the flesh beading beneath her caress. Her hands moved fleetly, unbuttoning
the remainder of his shirt. His abdomen and ribs rose and fell as she explored his naked torso and tasted his skin.

He said something in a low, rough tone when she moved her mouth, raining light, quick kisses on his chest. She couldn’t hear him, but interpreted the words to mean desire. He hissed her name when she greedily sampled another small, flat nipple and felt it grow stiff below her tongue and lips.

He cursed and grasped her shoulders, lifting her. He pulled her down to him and seized her mouth, and their separate fires leaped into a single inferno.

He joined her in her quest to explore, to touch…to thrill. His hands molded her back muscles and encircled her waist. She loved how big he was, how much of her he could hold in his grasp. He shifted her slightly on top of him, bringing her closer against him, matching the core of her heat to his.

They groaned into each other’s mouths, burning separately…burning as one.

Mari felt liberated. Before, she’d allowed herself to touch Marc’s fires, to be consumed by them, even. This was the first time she’d let her own flames run free. Before, there had always been the nagging restraint, the hovering caution.

Not now, though. Not in this eternal moment.

He shifted his hands to her hips, his fingers delving into the soft flesh of her buttocks. They continued to devour each other as he rocked her against him, both of them so hungry, so starved for one another. He moved one hand to the back of her head and held her while he ravished her mouth. His lips lowered, feeling hot and voracious on the skin of her neck. She tilted back her chin and arched her back, offering herself to him, lost in a sea of sensation. His hands moved rapidly as he
pressed kisses against her neck and shoulders, sweeping aside the fabric of her dress and the straps of her bra. He peeled cloth off her breasts. Mari cried out in abrupt loss when suddenly his mouth was gone, then gasped as his mouth closed over a nipple. She furrowed her fingers through his short hair and held him to her as she whimpered in sublime pleasure. An unbearable ache swelled inside her, a pain she knew would only be silenced by their joining. He continued to tease her flesh with his mouth and tongue until Mari grew desperate. She reached between them, wild to remove the barrier of their clothing. His head rose when he realized what she was doing. His breath came in short, jagged pants against her damp breasts as they fumbled, united in a fury of need.

Her head fell back and she gasped at the sensation of him entering her.

“Look at me.”

She complied with his command. It felt as if she’d explode from the strength of her combined emotion and arousal when she met his fierce gaze. She rested in his lap, quivering. She felt so full…so inundated with him.

They began to move at the same moment as if by some unspoken agreement. He closed his eyes. A muscle twitched in his cheek. She understood the sweet agony. She experienced it with him.

“You’ve been holding yourself back from me,” he whispered hoarsely, his eyes open now, pinning her as she moved over him.

She didn’t reply. Her body spoke for her. It was true, but she wasn’t holding back from him now.

And she made sure he knew it.

She leaned down and scraped her parted lips against his, caressing rather than kissing. She tasted his sweat.
Their breaths mingled and the inferno inside her grew. His hold on her hips and buttocks tightened and they both became more demanding, both of the other and themselves.

She wanted to hold onto these seconds forever…never wanted it to end.

If it didn’t end this moment, she would die.

She held on tight to his shoulders and cried out in pleasure as she succumbed. She heard his low, rough growl as he held her down to him, felt his muscles grow rock hard beneath her clutching fingers. Her name was a fierce prayer on his tongue.

The seconds unfolded into minutes as time resumed its normal cadence. Mari pressed her lips against Marc’s pulse as she tried to catch her breath. She felt his leaping heart slow to a steady throb.

Something had happened.

She had the amazingly clear thought through her hazy satiation: She
had
to tell Marc about the baby, and not just because she was obligated. In that moment she wanted to tell him,
longed
to complete the link between herself, this vibrant man she held and their growing child with every living cell in her being.

She whimpered in protest when he lifted her, separating them. He groped for his jeans, roughly pulling them up around his hips.

“No. I don’t want it to end,” she murmured.

“It’s not going to end.”

She blinked when she heard the hard edge to his voice. Then he was gathering her to him and standing.

The master bedroom was dim and shadowed. The duvet felt cool against her heated skin when he laid her on his bed. He came down over her.

“It’s only the beginning,” he said in a gruff whisper and his mouth settled on hers.

 

Mari quickly learned he was right. They made love again and then held each other.

She considered how she would tell him about the baby. Now, perhaps, when they held each other and their desire for one another still lingered around them like a comforting cocoon? Her heart felt so full at the moment, though. She didn’t want to tell him in a rushing torrent of emotion and end up crying on his chest, feeling like a fool.

Perhaps tomorrow while they were out at dinner would be a safer choice, she thought nervously.

“What are you concentrating on so hard?” Marc interrupted her thoughts.

She glanced up at his face, surprised. “Was I?”

He gave her the slow grin that always caused a funny sensation in her belly and brushed a tendril of hair off her brow. “You looked like you were plotting how to break some terrible news. I have a feeling I know what it is.”

She sat up slightly, alarmed. “You do?”

He nodded, suddenly sober.

“I made the criminal offense of not giving you your dessert.”

Mari rolled her eyes. He laughed and clambered out of bed, telling her to sit still. When he returned, Mari smiled at the vision of him, naked and magnificent and carrying a tray which he set on the bedside table.

“Dessert is served,” he told her, coming down next to her on the bed. He flipped the bedside lamp to a dim setting. He turned and dipped a spoon into a small carton and then a dish.

“What’s this?” she murmured when he held the spoon to her mouth.

“Fresh pineapple and homemade coconut ice cream.”

Mari opened her lips and sweet, rich flavor burst on her tongue.

“Oh…you’re going to spoil me,” she groaned.

His teeth flashed white against his tan skin when he grinned. He removed the spoon from her mouth, but pressed the cold, smooth metal against her lower lip, massaging the flesh in a small circle.

“That’s the plan,” he murmured, his tone a gentle, sensual threat.

He gathered more ice cream and fruit and pressed it once again to her mouth. She laughed.

“You don’t have to feed me, Marc.”

“We should try and get some of it into your stomach.”

“So you can get the rest of it in yours?” she joked as the confection melted on her tongue.

“I’ll end up eating plenty, don’t worry.”

He turned from gathering more ice cream on the spoon. Instead of pressing it to her mouth, however, he placed a dollop on the tip of her breast. Mari barely had time to gasp at the unexpected chill when his mouth was there, hot and agitating. Her eyes went wide at the erotic sensation of bitter cold on her nipple transforming so quickly to delicious heat. She grabbed onto his head and sighed. Did he somehow sense how sensitive her breasts were? How much pleasure he gave her with his fingers and mouth? He seemed so focused on them…as if he somehow knew.

Or perhaps it had nothing to do with her body burgeoning with new life. Maybe her flesh would always react this way to Marc’s touch?

The idea was a little disorienting.

He drew on her nipple and her thoughts splintered in a thousand directions. Her eyelids flickered closed as she gave into yet another wave of delicious pleasure.

 

Drowning.

He felt like he was drowning in her. Marc had told her last night he drank sparingly, if at all, and that had been the truth, but he could easily become addicted to Mari…to the vision of her smile, the way her muscles quivered in anticipation when he kissed the side of her ribs or her belly, the sweet sounds that came from her throat when he was deep, deep inside her.

After a night and most of the following day, Marc started to feel like a heel for keeping her captive in bed for all that time. Not that Mari seemed to mind, but still. It was another gorgeous sunny day, surely they should try and get out and enjoy it some? They were too enraptured with each other to notice much of anything else.

Nevertheless, they showered and ate a late lunch at the café around the corner. Afterward, they went back up to the pool where they were glad to see they were the only ones present. They took a quick swim and returned to their recliners, the hot sun on his skin feeling more like a sensual caress than usual because Mari was lying next to him.

“Marc.”

He blinked when she said his name. He hadn’t realized he’d been staring at the sight of her belly and hips sparkling with droplets of water.

“Hmm?” he asked.

She shook her head and laughed. “You’re a lecher, you know that?”

“If I am, it’s with good reason,” he muttered as he reached into Mari’s bag. “I’ve waited a hell of a long time.” He regretted his words when he saw her expression go solemn. He held up the infamous bottle of suntan lotion from the day before. “Time to oil up.”

Her serious look disappeared as she collapsed into giggles. When he started to smooth the lotion onto her soft, warm skin, though, all the tension he’d felt yesterday returned. His smile faded and Mari’s laughter quieted.

He managed to cover her upper arm and right shoulder with lotion before their stares met and held. They both stood by silent mutual agreement and grabbed their things. He took her hand and led her back to his condo.

The fact that they’d held themselves on such tight leashes the previous day added to their sense of haste. Perhaps it was half a lifetime spent apart that heightened their sense of need.

Maybe it was the dark worry that these were stolen days with Mari that added to Marc’s desperate hunger for her.

“We have to go back to Harbor Town tomorrow,” Mari whispered wistfully next to his chest a while later. They lay entangled on his bed, their hearts still thumping rapidly from their latest explosive joining.

He ran his fingers through her long hair and marveled once again at its softness. “That’s a long time away still. I’m taking you out to dinner tonight. We have more than twenty-four hours together,” he murmured. “That’s plenty of time.”

“Plenty of time for what?” she asked, pressing her lips to his chest.

“Plenty of time for me to convince you to spend the rest of your life with me.”

He’d said it lightly enough, but she must have caught the thread of seriousness in his tone, because she lifted her head. Her eyes looked dark, soft and velvety in the shadowed room.

“How can you be so certain that’s what you want?” she whispered.

“You know me. I’m a decisive guy,” he said, smiling in order to lighten the moment. He didn’t like the anxiety in Mari’s eyes.

“But…but you and Sandra divorced only a year and a half ago, and what about—”

“Are you implying it’s a complete impossibility?” he asked as he stroked the nape of her neck.

“Well…no.”

He met her stare. “There’s still time, then.” He pressed gently with his fingertips and she put her head back on his chest. “I think there might be time for a little nap, too. You wear me out, Mari.”

He smiled when he felt the vibrations of her small chuckle.

 

She lay awake and watched Marc sleeping, detailing every line of his face. It was true she had an ocean of doubt about their being together, but she had faith in Marc.

She tried to imagine his expression tonight at dinner when she told him about the baby. She drowsily pictured his look of incredulity slowly morphing to one of amazement and excitement.

And love?

Her eyelids opened heavily a while later. The sound of a cell phone ringing insistently had finally penetrated her deep sleep. She lifted her head.

“Marc. That’s yours. They’ve called back several times now, I think. It must be important.”

His eyes popped open. He scowled as he rolled over to the far side of the bed and reached for the phone on the bedside table. He glanced at the caller identification before he answered.

“Yeah?” he asked in a deep, sleep-roughened voice.

A long silence ensued. Mari glanced over at him. His profile was rigid with concentration as he listened to the caller. A sense of unease stole over her lassitude.

“How long has it been since she admitted her to the hospital?”

Mari gathered the loose sheet around her and sat up in the bed, her heart starting to hammer rapidly in her chest.

“Uh-huh. Okay. Yeah. We can be in Harbor Town in a few hours. Traffic should be nothing right now…I know, I understand…I still want to come… Yeah, okay. See you soon.”

BOOK: If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1)
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