The perfect match, p.38
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       The Perfect Match, p.38

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 38

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  And another shit. Let’s see, there was the sex-addicted sister, who looked older but acted younger, the sister whose husband was the cop. . . younger, he thought, but what about the brother? “She acts like the oldest, don’t you, sweetheart? Everyone goes to her with their problems. And she’s quite bossy. ” He smiled. She still looked ready to puke. “She’s in the middle. ”

  “Correct,” Bethany said, not noticing that he’d fudged the answer a bit. “Her favorite TV show?”

  He grimaced. “Those dreadful medical dramas about tumors and the like. Horrible. ”

  Bethany smiled at him. “I have to agree. Okay, next question. What would Honor say is your biggest vice?”

  He cocked an eyebrow. Honor closed her eyes. “Drinking. Wait till she meets some of my mates back home. ”

  “Drinking is correct, Tom. ” Bethany gave him another high five. “And what contraception do you use?”

  He choked on his water. “Right. ” Took a second to answer. “We’re hoping to start a family very soon. So none. ”

  “That’s not what she said. ”

  He looked at his bride-to-be. “Darling? I thought we’d talked about this. ”

  “I, uh, yes. Just, you know. ” She was sweating, her forehead shiny with it.

  He took her hand and tugged her onto his lap, where she sat like a brick. “I thought you wanted babies right away, sweetheart,” he said, squeezing her knee to hopefully clue her in.

  “Yeah, well, I don’t. . . um. Definitely. Soon. But maybe we could be married for a few months before we toss the, um, pills. ”

  “I can’t wait,” Tom said. He tried to pull her in for a kiss, but she was clenched. He leaned his head against her shoulder instead and smiled at Bethany. “Any other questions?”

  “Nah,” Bethany said. “I think you guys are really cute. Where’s Spikey? Aren’t they cute? They’re cute!”

  Thank the Christ child. In about five minutes, then, he was going to pour a very generous glass of whiskey. Just one, mind you, but generous.

  He stood up, having to push Honor off his lap, then gripped her hand in his. “Well, this was lovely, meeting you. Thank you, Bethany. ”

  “Thanks for dinner!” she said, pulling on her coat. “This was really nice. Most people can’t wait for me to leave. ”

  “Really?” Tom said. “Can’t imagine why. ”

  “Good luck to you both. ” Bethany shook their hands hard, smiling at them.

  “Thanks,” Honor said, letting out a massive breath. He gave her a quick glare, then turned back to Bethany. Walked her to the door, dragging Honor behind him, and opened it.

  Bugger.

  A foot of snow had piled up.

  “Oh, crud,” Bethany said. “I don’t know if I can drive home in this. My tires are completely bald, and it’s an hour and a half to my house in good weather. ”

  Tom closed his eyes for a second. “Not to worry,” he said. “You can stay here for the night. Right, darling?”

  * * *

  HONOR FELT LIKE her head was about to explode. She stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her face looked wind-burned, she’d been blushing so long.

  That woman had been here for four hours. Four hours of Tom kissing her ass, playing Devoted Fiancé, four hours of Honor trying to lie when all she could hear was ten years in prison. Which, yes, she already knew, but it had a different ring to it when said by a federal agent!

  Finally, Bethany had yawned (hugely) and said a fond good-night to Tom, who looked like he was going to hug her.

  “See you kids in the morning,” she said. “Don’t make too much noise, okay?” A gruesome wink that made Honor die a little inside.

  And now she had to sleep with Tom.

  Got to sleep with Tom.

  Under normal circumstances—normal for them—the idea would have made her nervous enough, if rather thrilled. With a federal agent across the hall, she was close to losing control of her bowels.

  How had Tom known her favorite color was navy blue? And that thing about how she acted like the oldest. . . was he right?

  “Is the bathroom free?” Bethany asked.

  “Um, just a sec,” Honor said. Too bad she didn’t have sleeping pills. She could drug all three of them.

  She opened the door, smiled at Bethany and went into Tom’s room and closed the door.

  “Do you think you could possibly act a little less like a piece of wood?” he whispered.

  “What?”

  “You sat there like a lump, Honor. ”

  Four hours of stress had taken their toll. “It’s better than stripping down to distract her,” she hissed. “Think I didn’t notice that? Were you going to do a little Magic Mike number if she kept asking questions?” The water turned on in the bathroom.

  “One of us had to talk, Pooky. ”

  “Do you think it’s going to help our case if she says, ‘Groom seems like a man-whore’?”

  “I didn’t strip. I took off my sweater. And since you seemed to be struck mute, someone had to keep her occupied. ”

  “Look,” she whispered. “I’m sorry I got hung up on the fact that there was a federal agent in my house who got invited to dinner and a sleepover!”

  “Lower your voice, she’s coming out. ”

  “Good night!” Bethany called.

  “Good night!” they chorused merrily back, then resumed glaring. Spike, at least, was comfortable; she jumped onto the bed and curled up on a pillow, yawned and closed her eyes.

  The radiator ticked on. “Bedtime, darling,” Tom said.

  She was starting to hate that particular endearment, as he had never once used it with sincerity. That being said, he had a point. “Sure. ” But she had to change into her pj’s. “Um, can you close your eyes?” she whispered.

  “I have seen you naked, you realize. ”

  “Yeah, well, you’re not going to tonight. ”

  “Fine. ” He pulled his shirt over his head, all predatory male grace, tossed it in the corner, then unbuttoned his pants.

  Right. She should probably turn around.

  And she would. Soon. Anytime now. Definitely by tomorrow.

  That was quite a beautiful male body. A boxer’s body, arms curved with heavy muscle, broad chest lightly covered in hair, the hypnotic washboard abs. She remembered how it had felt to trail her fingers over that part of his anatomy, that night when she’d been a sex kitten, when she’d been so unlike herself.

  Tom cocked an eyebrow, and she turned away, feeling her face ache with heat once more this night.

  A second later, she heard the bedsprings creak. “Okay, close your eyes,” she whispered.

  “Done. ”

  “Really?”

  “Honor, for the love of God, would you just get into bed, please?”

  She glanced back. He was sitting in bed, eyes closed, that beautiful, rippling torso begging for a thorough examination. His bruised eye and tattoos gave him an unbearably appealing bad-boy look, and his Saint Christopher medal somehow underscored his ridiculous sex appeal. Who would’ve thunk Honor Holland would have such a guy ordering her into bed, regardless of the circumstances?

  She turned back and undressed, jacket, skirt and sweaty blouse going over the back of the chair. At least she wore nice underwear. Not that Tom would see, since he’d closed his eyes like a good boy. She unhooked her bra, pulling on her flannel pj’s as fast as she could.

  When she turned around, Tom’s eyes were open, and he was looking steadily at her. No smile.

  The air seemed to thicken, and Honor’s heart banged against her ribs.

  Would that she was closer and could read the expression in his eyes. Or just kiss him.

  “Come on, then,” he said, pulling back the covers.

  She was never going to sleep tonight.

  And she hadn’t been sleeping
well since she moved in here. But now, she was vibrating with nervousness, tingling with awareness, tightening with lust and utterly terrified of being sent to jail, all at the same time.

  About that lust, the eggs said, adjusting their binoculars to get a better look at Tom.

  She went to the unoccupied side of the bed and slid in. “Good night,” she said, turning away from him.

  Tom turned off the light and lay down on his back.

  “We’ll have to offer her breakfast,” he murmured. “Think it’d kill you to be hospitable?”

  Honor rolled over to face him, the light from the street allowing her to see his face in profile. “Tom,” she whispered, “what if we get caught?”

  “We won’t, so long as you stop acting like a criminal, darling. ”

  “I can’t help it!”

  “You said you knew all this before,” he pointed out, his voice quiet. “You’re the one who told me you were fine with the risks. ”

  “I know, but—”

  A knock came on the door, and Honor jolted closer to Tom. “Yes?” they called in unison, his arms going around her.

  Bethany opened the door. “I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she said unconvincingly. “Oh, hi, Spikey-snooks! Are you all comfy there?”

  Honor’s face was right up against Tom’s neck. It was a nice place to be. Or it would be, if she wasn’t in ventricular tachycardia. Thank you, Death in the E. R.

  “Do you need anything, Bethany?” Tom asked.

  “Um, I just wondered if I could get a glass of water. ”

  For God’s sake.

  “Absolutely,” Tom said, starting to get out of bed, but Honor pulled him back.

  “Help yourself,” she said. “Glasses are next to the sink. ”

  Bethany paused, then sighed. “Great. Sleep well. ”

  The door closed. “Water, my ass,” Honor whispered. “She just wanted to see you without your shirt. ”

  “At least someone does,” he grumbled.

  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

  “Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard for you to fake a little affection if we were sleeping together. ”

  It dawned on her that she was still pressed against Tom. Intimately. In fact, if she weren’t swathed in flannel, the eggs would be quite happy, let’s put it that way.

  “I thought we were waiting till we got married,” she whispered.

  “I find that very hypocritical,” he muttered. “Since you’ve already boffed me three times. ”

  “One night. With three, um, sessions. ”

  He didn’t answer.

  If he kissed her now, she’d offer no resistance. She was exhausted from stress, not to mention weak-willed and lustful. And the years were precious. Besides, the memory of his weight on top of her, the hard, thick slide of—

  “Tell me about being mugged. ” His voice was quiet.

  “What? Oh. Um, why?”

  “Because I want to know. ”

  She swallowed. “I already told you. ”

  “Yes. But I was busy yelling. ” He pulled her closer, so that her head was on his hard and utterly wonderful shoulder. Her hand had nowhere to go other than his chest, and she felt his heart thudding, such a lovely, secret pleasure, that feeling, the marvel of the human body.

  Bethany’s footsteps sounded on the stairs. The door to the other room opened and closed.

  “I was walking home from the library,” Honor whispered. “My roomie and I had a little apartment about three blocks off campus, and it was only about ten, so I figured it was safe. ” Wrong on that count. How many times had her father fussed over the fact that she was in a big city? Warned her about walking home alone?

  “All of a sudden, some guy had me by the arm, and he shoved me into this doorway and told me to give him my purse. He had a gun, and I remember looking at him and thinking I had to remember his face, but I couldn’t. The details kept sliding away, like my brain couldn’t quite grab on to what was happening. ” She paused, remembered fear making her knees tingle. “So he asked for my money, and I threw my purse over his head and ran. To a police station. ”
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