If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1) (8 page)

BOOK: If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1)
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“Ryan introduced me to him, years back. We’ve kept in contact, mostly by email over the years,” Mari explained.

“Ryan must have met him during the lawsuit hearings.”

“Yeah.” A gust of wind caused the porch swing to shudder, despite Marc’s firmly planted feet. She inhaled for courage. “I saw your mother downtown today.”

“You did?”

“She didn’t mention it?”

“No, she didn’t. How did it go?”

“Not well,” Mari replied with a mirthless chuckle. “When she realized it was me who’d bumped into her, she gave me the cold shoulder. Walked away without a word.”

Marc cursed under his breath. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” she said.

He didn’t speak for a moment. Mari almost felt him examining her in the darkness.

“Is this your way of saying I told you so?” he finally asked with grim amusement.

She sighed and wiped the perspiration off her brow. “Maybe,” she conceded. She fervently hoped to avoid another confrontation with him on the subject, but she wasn’t going to apologize for what she’d said last night, either.

“Do you want me to take a look at the air conditioning?”

“Do you think you could actually fix it?” she asked, sitting up straighter.

“I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I can have a look. Let’s start with the furnace, since it’s inside, and
it’s about to start pouring. It might be the blower or a belt.”

A thought struck Mari as she flipped on the hall light and led Marc to the closed doorway on the right.

“What’s wrong?” he asked from behind her.

She glanced down at her skimpy dress and folded her arms over her breasts. In the darkness, she’d forgotten to think about how thin the fabric was. She turned her head warily. Her heart bumped against her breastbone at the vision of Marc in full light. He was wearing his customary beachwear—long cargo shorts that showed off his muscular, tanned calves and a blue T-shirt that picked up the color of his eyes. His dark blond hair had been sexily mussed by the whipping wind.

“Nothing is wrong.” She waved at the shut door down the hallway. “The furnace is in the basement.”

Her gaze shot away when she saw something flicker in Marc’s eyes.

“Yeah. I remember that, strangely.” His mouth quirked. “Lead the way.”

Mari closed her eyelids briefly when she turned. She’d been so eager to have her AC fixed, she hadn’t been thinking…

She flipped on the light over the basement stairs and took the squeaky steps at a brisk pace. She was proud that she didn’t blush when she nodded at the furnace situated in a cubbyhole of the unfinished basement. Marc didn’t say anything, just went over to it and opened the door that accessed the machinery. Mari stood back, admiring the flex and play of his muscles beneath the blue cotton.

Her heart seemed to skip a beat when he suddenly paused in his poking and walked into the narrow space between the furnace and wall. He opened up the breaker
box and flipped a switch. When he returned, he saw humor dancing in his eyes.

“I used to kiss you back in that cubbyhole until my lips were chapped for days.”

For a second, Mari’s mouth just hung open. She was sure she must have imagined him saying it. She’d been a little embarrassed up in the hallway when she realized two things: one, she was wearing a thin, translucent dress with barely anything on beneath it, and two, she was about to take Marc to their first make-out hideaway. She’d thought he was tacitly agreeing to not make mention of the subject when he saw her discomfort. But here he’d just bluntly pointed out the elephant in the room.

Laughter burst from her throat. Her eyes sprung wide at the strength of her response, and she covered her mouth. She couldn’t help it. It must be hysteria. When she saw Marc’s grin widen, though, she wondered. How could the sound of Marc Kavanaugh’s deep chuckle be anything but right?

“Remember that time when my mom came downstairs to put in a load of laundry while we were back there?” she asked between jags of laughter.

“Yeah,” Marc replied as he opened the box he held. “We froze up for about two seconds and then got right back to the thick of things. I don’t even remember when your mother went back upstairs again.”

“Neither do I.”

When she registered his altered expression and fading grin, the unexpected, swelling wave of amusement waned. Heat rose beneath her skin. Marc’s gaze lowered to her breasts, which she’d exposed as she tried to cover her erupting laughter. He went still, masculine appreciation gleaming in his eyes.

Mari was a little surprised she couldn’t hear the electricity popping in the air between them.

She cleared her throat and looped her arms beneath her breasts. When he met her gaze, she shook her head and rolled her eyes, attempting to package the poignant moment in the convenient mental container of silly childhood nostalgia.

But the moment
hadn’t
evoked anything silly inside her. Far from it.

“You just threw a breaker. I reset it. The AC should work now,” he said as he shut the door to the furnace.

“That’s it?” Mari asked in amazement.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to go upstairs and see if the AC turns on or not.”

She nodded, but neither of them moved. Instead they remained motionless, facing each other.

It felt like she was keeping a volcano of emotion from erupting from her chest. Her inhalation sounded ragged and raw in her own ears. It was really too damn much. Too much history. Too much
feeling.

“Come here,” Marc said, his voice quiet, but firm.

She flew across the room and into his open arms. A convulsion of emotion shuddered through her body and she gasped.

“Why do you fight it so much, Mari?” he asked gruffly as he stroked her back, trying to soothe her.

“I know it’ll never work out.” Tears shot out of her eyes with the same pressured intensity as her words. “But I can’t seem to stop wanting you. Especially…”

His hand, spread on her lower back above her buttocks, paused. “What?”

“Especially tonight,” she said, her face pressed against his chest. “You probably didn’t notice, but the storm…the night…it’s like—”

“The night of the crash,” Marc whispered hoarsely.

Her heart seemed to swell at his words. So, he
had
noticed the similarity of tonight to the one where their lives had been cleaved apart.

He put his fingers beneath her chin. He lifted her head until she looked up at him. She saw her own raw need reflected in his eyes.

He leaned down and caught a tear with firm, grazing lips. His eyes were open, watching…gauging her reaction as he rained kisses on her cheek and jaw, drying her tears, wetting his mouth with her sorrow. When he brushed his lips near the corner of her mouth, she turned to meet him.

She felt him stiffen as though an electric shock had gone through him when their lips touched. She sensed the steel edge of male desire that had leaped into his muscles. He softly sandwiched her lower lip between both of his own, parting her mouth, molding their lips together in a delicious kiss. Mari’s eyes fluttered closed as a sensual languor weighted her limbs and heat expanded at her core.

She hungrily slicked the tip of her tongue along the seam of his mouth. A wild satisfaction tore through her when he groaned, deep and rough, and pulled her closer, pressing her tight to his body, taking her mouth in a possessive kiss.

Why was she doing this? She’d told him she wanted to be cautious. Yet here, in this moment, she felt nothing but glorious triumph that she’d inspired such a wholehearted, total response from Marc.

All his former tentativeness evaporated as he boldly explored her. Their flavors mingled, acting like an intoxicant on her brain. One hand clenched mindlessly at his T-shirt, while the other reached and knotted in the thick hair at the base of his skull. Her back arched as he leaned down over her and completely claimed her.
Both of his hands coasted up her back, simultaneously mapping her shape and stroking her.

He paused, both of his large hands spread across her ribs as though he held her heart in his hands. She moaned in rising need. He answered her call and caressed a breast. She moved back slightly, granting him more access. He sealed their wild kiss and lifted his head, watching her with blazing eyes, his nostrils slightly flared. He pressed an aching nipple to the center of his palm and closed his hand over her, gently kneading.

She felt his body tighten and harden in response to that intimate caress. It only fueled her mounting need. When he transferred his fingertips to the erect crest and gently charted the topography of her nipple through the thin fabric, desire ripped through her. She found herself jerking up his T-shirt, desperate for the sensation of his bare skin.

He made a rough sound in his throat. The next thing she knew he was lifting her in his arms. Lightning flashed in the dark, old house, and thunder answered in a ferocious roar. Neither of them spoke as he carried her up first one flight of stairs and then another. Words couldn’t contain the fullness of that taut, burning anticipation, a powerful tension that demanded release.

Mari waved at the second door on the left—her old bedroom—her gaze never leaving Marc’s.

Buffeted by the wind, the sheer curtains billowed inward when they entered the room. Marc laid her on the bed. When he straightened, Mari’s hands flew to the buttons on her dress. He moved quickly, grabbing her wrists and halting her.

“No. I’m going to do it.” His low, rough voice made goose bumps rise on her arms and her nipples tighten. “Just give me a second.”

He began to undress. The light leaked in from the
downstairs hallway and allowed her to admire the sight of him as he went about his business with rapid efficiency. She was glad; she wanted him to hurry.

She didn’t want logic to wriggle into her awareness. Not at this moment.

She knew Marc had shared her desire for haste when he began to strip out of his shoes and cargo shorts like he though his life depended on being naked. Her breath stuck in her lungs at the site of him standing and whipping his T-shirt off with a flex of lean, dense muscle. She eyed the shadow of light brown hair on his chest, following its trail to where it disappeared in his white boxer briefs.

“You’re so beautiful.”

He glanced up at her shaky whisper.

“No. You’re the beautiful one,” he said.

The dim light allowed her to see the feral glint in his eyes as his gaze traveled over the length of her. His haste seemed to mount, given the rapid manner in which he finished stripping. Mari glanced down when he stood before her. It hurt a little to look at him; he was so beautiful—proud and elementally male. The room flashed with brilliant white light, and thunder seemed to rattle the very air they breathed.

He sat on the bed next to her. Spellbound, Mari watched him. She couldn’t draw breath as he unfastened her dress to the waist. He carefully peeled back the sides of the fabric, exposing her breasts. She convulsed with raw emotion when he just stared at her, his face intent, as though he wanted to take the image to his grave.


Hurry,
Marc,” she whispered hoarsely.

His gaze leaped to hers, as if he’d caught her meaning. Who better to understand her desperation at that moment? Their joining had been interrupted fifteen years ago by news of mind-numbing loss.

But that was another night. Not this one.

His fingers moved fleetly at her plea. He drew the dress down over her legs then skimmed one hand down her buttock and thigh before reaching for her panties.

“I could never get over how soft you were,” he muttered as he rid her of her underwear. She saw how rigid his face was as bent over her. “I always knew you were mine from the first time I touched you.”

“Marc,” she murmured desperately. Her desire almost hurt it was so strong. The night in Chicago had been wild, but this was a fiercer need that tore at her.

She cried out in protest when he didn’t immediately press his weight against her but instead leaned over the side of the bed. He rustled for something in his shorts. She realized he was searching for a condom and experienced a brief moment of combined relief and guilt.

She hadn’t even considered protection in the midst of her mindless need.

She watched, mesmerized as he sheathed himself. When he was done, she held up her arms, beckoning him.

He lowered himself. She sighed in relief at his weight pressing against her. His dense muscles were a sensual blessing pressed to her soft breasts, his arousal brushing against her belly and the juncture of her thighs.

She ran her hands over smooth skin encasing dense muscle and bone and opened herself to him. His mouth covered hers possessively as he entered her, her ecstatic cry muffled by thunder.

Rain began to pound on the roof and earth. The elm tree outside her bedroom window thrashed against the side of the house. But that storm was nothing compared to the one happening in Mari’s body as Marc slowly staked his claim.

When he was fully sheathed in her, he dropped his
forehead on the pillow next to her cheek, his rib cage heaving. A great tenderness penetrated her arousal. He was the strongest man she knew—male virility personified—but in that moment, he was as helpless with his desire as she was. She caressed his shoulder and ran her fingers in into his hair.

“It’s okay, Marc. It’s okay.”

He rose over her, his facial muscles tight and straining. “I don’t know if I can control it,” he warned in a choked voice.

“Then don’t try.”

He started to move.

She understood him perfectly. She existed at the eye of this storm with him. She clenched her teeth tight as her nerve endings began to fire madly with signals of sensual friction, making her want to purr and scream at once. He slaked himself—demanding and forceful— but she met him for every deep, driving thrust, an equal partner in this greedy consumption, both of them seemingly rushing toward the finish line to assure themselves the moment wouldn’t be ripped away from them as it had in the past.

The headboard began to clack rhythmically against the wall. Their bodies became glazed with sweat as they both raced for that treasure, grasping blindly for it, requiring it like they required that next gasp for air. Marc reached it first. She held him at her core, knowing she’d forever remember him throbbing deep within her and the poignancy of his rough groan as ecstasy ripped through him. Still in the midst of his climax, he reached between their bodies, finding her most sensitive flesh…demanding she join him in that sweet conflagration.

BOOK: If You Come Back To Me (If You Come Back To Me #1)
6.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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