Forbidden pleasure, p.22
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.22

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
Page 22


  Jethro watched the silent communication between husband and wife. That bond that allowed them to read each other. To see each other without words.

  “You should,” Keiley agreed softly, turning her head slowly to meet Jethro’s gaze.

  She didn’t say anything more. Instead she took his wrist, the sponge still held loosely in his hand, and pulled it to her shoulder.

  Jethro couldn’t speak. There was no need to speak. Aware of Mac behind him, he did what he had done many times in the past: he bathed the woman they had shared. Unlike those other times, he didn’t tease or joke. There was no teasing in him tonight. Nothing to joke about. This was more serious than he had ever imagined it could be.

  She had given him a gift that shook him to his soul, and he couldn’t even explain exactly what it was.

  He washed her thoroughly, even going so far as to ignore the blush that seemed to blaze across her enter body when he nudged the sponge between her thighs.

  As he cleaned her, Jethro watched the languorous pleasure that suffused her, the drowsy sensuality that began to bloom on her cheeks once again.

  After rinsing her, he stepped back, glancing at Mac as he leaned against the doorframe, staring at her with a gentle quirk of a smile and an expression that Jethro had never seen him use with anyone but Keiley.

  “Come on, princess. ” Mac grabbed the towel before Jethro could reach it and moved for the tub. “Let’s get you dressed before that pizza arrives. ”

  Jethro moved back, watching as Mac drew his wife from the tub and wrapped the towel around her body. He dried her slowly, peppering kisses over her shoulders as she leaned into him, clearly luxuriating in her husband’s touch.

  Her husband. She belonged to another man, and he couldn’t forget that. He didn’t want to change that, but he had to consciously force himself to remember it.

  Her soft laughter as Mac lifted her into his arms and carried her out of the bathroom stroked over his senses. It melted something hard and tight inside his heart and chipped away at the shield that guarded his soul.

  “Come on, Jethro, pizza will be here soon,” Mac called out. “I’d prefer we be dressed and at least pretending to be decent when they arrive. ”

  Hell. Small-town life. Mac should have kept his ass in Virginia. Now Jethro was going to have to get up close and personal with the demented and country-loving inhabitants of this small town to find out where the rumors against Keiley were originating. And he would find out.

  Something dark and vengeful flared within him then. He’d be damned if he would let some petty, jealous witch strike out at her in this way. Delia Staten wanted Mac; he had learned that much earlier in the day. Even now, fifteen years later, lust and hatred drove her.

  Mac had told him about her and various other members of this fine community. How they had stood aside and kept silent whenever old man McCoy had beat the shit out of his son and publicly humiliated his wife. How they had gossiped and made Mac’s mother’s life more of a hell than it already was.

  How Mac had found it within him to return here, to be sociable and polite to these damned people, amazed him.

  Shaking his head, he moved from the bathroom and through the bedroom. From the corner of his eye he could see Mac dressing Keiley. Drawing another pair of those loose pants over her legs, kissing her stomach as he pulled the elastic band just over her hip bones.

  The intimacy that connected the two had his teeth gritting in a hunger that had nothing to do with lust and everything to do with a threat to his soul.

  Naked, aroused, he moved through the hallway to his own room, coming to a hard, abrupt stop at a whisper of sound from below.

  Jethro eased back into the shadows of the hall, staring down the stairs with narrowed eyes. There it was again, almost not there, like the slide of displaced air over a sinister whisper.

  He eased back the way he had come, moving quickly back to the bedroom and giving Mac a hard, warning glance as his friend’s gaze jerked suddenly to him.

  Mac clamped his hand over Keiley’s lips as she began to utter a surprised question. Jethro was jerking a pair of pants from Mac’s closet, dragging them over his legs even as he gave Mac a quick hand motion for a weapon.

  “Stay silent!” Mac mouthed to Keiley, pointing to the corner of the room that would hide her from the doorway.

  She eased back, her eyes widening with fear as a tremor shook her frame. They had discussed this, how if trouble ever came, she would make certain Mac wasn’t hindered by her inexperience.

  Silently, he jerked a dresser drawer open as Jethro zipped up the jeans and pulled two Glocks free along with the extra clips. The third, a smaller version, he loaded quickly, and strode to where Keiley was hugging the wall. He pressed the weapon in her hand, pointed to the safety, then pointed to the floor. She flattened herself to the carpet.

  Rounding back, Mac caught Jethro’s attention and pointed to the door. They moved from the room quickly, weapons at their shoulders, bodies prepared.

  It had been three years since he had been with the Bureau, but Mac hadn’t forgotten the chill of danger that he felt racing up his spine.

  Following Jethro’s hand signals, they moved to the stairs, Mac covering him as he started down the stairs. He couldn’t hear whatever Jethro had heard, but he could feel it. Someone had invaded his home.

  Jethro held up a hand, a finger flicking to the living room where they had just given Keiley the pleasure he had dreamed of giving her.

  Mac listened carefully, but all he heard was the ticking of the clock just inside the room and the silence of the dim house.

  Jethro was tense, listening as he flattened himself against the wall. His finger curled toward the room, indicating he would go in low and fast. Bracing himself, Mac moved into place on the opposite side of the steps and nodded at Jethro’s quick glance.

  Jethro moved fast, throwing himself into the living room before Mac ducked and rolled into the opposite side of the doorway. His weapon came up, his senses alive with the silence that filled the room.

  There was nothing but silence. His gaze swept over the dimly lit room. At first, nothing seemed out of place until his gaze speared to the cushioned stool and chair where Keiley had lain.

  It had been moved. Her clothes were inches from where they had been, and her panties were missing. White lace that had been wet with her sexy juices.

  “Keiley,” he hissed, turning and racing back up the stairs.

  His chest tightened with sudden terror, fear pumping through his mind as adrenaline raced through his body. He tore into the bedroom, coming to a hard, furious stop as he glimpsed Keiley. She stood in the corner, her back flat against the wall as she stared at the French doors that led onto the balcony.

  She was out of line of a shot, but her weapon was held in a two-handed grip and pointing at the door latch. Ominously, with sinister intent, the brass door latch shifted.

  Mac didn’t think first. He fired.

  “Motherfucker!” he yelled, running to the shattered doors as Keiley screamed and Jethro threw himself through the glass.

  Following, Mac came to a crouch, weapon raised as he heard Pappy’s furious barking below.

  “Pappy, down!” he yelled as he gripped the railing and threw himself over the banister.

  He hit the ground in a roll, coming up behind the heavy cement fountain that sat feet away. He was aware of Jethro rolling to the opposite side, taking cover behind the aging dogwood that grew alongside the house and led to the balcony.

  A motorcycle roared to life from the front of the house, and even as Mac dug in his heels and raced for the front drive he knew he was too late.

  “Bastard! You fucking bastard!” he snarled as he caught the receding lights of the dirt bike in the distance.

  Aiming, he emptied the clip into the distance, rage beating through his blood as he heard Jethro cursing behind him.

  “Son of a bitch!” His fist slammed into the side of his pickup. “You bastard!”

  “Mac. ” Jethro rushed to his side. “He’s gone, man. ”

  “Keiley. ” Mac turned and rushed for the house, ready to kick in the front door rather than pausing to unlock it when it suddenly opened.

  His weapon came up, pointing straight into Keiley’s horrified face as Jethro cursed violently behind him.

  “God damn you! Damn you, I told you to stay put!” Mac yelled into her pale, tear-soaked face as he gripped her shoulders and pushed her into the house.

  Fear was an entity possessing him. Rage beat at his brain as he pressed her against the wall, glaring into her wide, horrified eyes as he restrained himself from shaking her.

  “What don’t you understand about staying put, Kei?” he yelled. “I could have blown your fucking head off!”

  “Let her go, Mac,” Jethro said in a dangerous voice, his hands locking on Mac’s wrists. “God damn it, you’re hurting her. Let her go. ”

  He was thrown back as Jethro moved between him and his wife.

  “Get the fuck out of my way. ” He went to push past his friend, to get to his wife, to make certain she was alive even if he was madder than hell.

  He had never been so furious in his life. Never so terrified as he was at the thought that that bastard had slipped upstairs and nearly caught her undefended.

  “Not until you calm down!” Jethro yelled back at him. “She’s fucking terrified. Don’t make it worse. ”

  “I nearly fucking killed her. ” He pushed Jethro back, then stared at Keiley’s crumpled form.

  “God. Kei. Baby. ”

  She was sobbing silently against the wall, her face pressed into it her hands, her shoulders hunched against the force of the violence raging through her room.

  Gripping her shoulders, he turned her to him gently. So gently. His hands touched her hair, her shoulders, his arms contracting around her as he closed his eyes against the moisture suddenly filling them.

  “Kei, baby,” he whispered at her ear. “I’m sorry. Ah, God. Sweetheart. I almost killed you, Kei. I would have died. Do you know that?” He pressed his lips to her brow as she shook in his arms, sobs tearing through her. “Keiley, I would have died. I couldn’t live, baby. I couldn’t live—” He couldn’t live without her.

  Her arms latched around his neck, holding tight as the sobs became louder, as the shaking became worse.

  “I have you. ” He bent over her, sheltering her, aware of Jethro moving closer, his hands touching her back, pressing her closer to Mac as he sheltered her from behind. She was surrounded. No one could touch her now. Nothing could touch her.

  But something, someone nearly had.

  “I’m sorry!” she cried out. “I heard the motor racing away. Heard the shots. I was scared, Mac. So scared—”

  “Never, ever again, Keiley,” he ordered, his voice rough, shaking with fear and pain. “Swear to me. Never again. You hide. You don’t face anything. Especially not me without warning. Never again, Keiley. ”

  “Never. ” Her head shook, her body trembled. “Oh God, Mac. What’s happening? What’s going on?”

  Lifting his head, he looked over her shoulder to Jethro. His friend lifted his hand, and between his fingers were the white lace panties that had been missing from the living room.

  Beneath the balcony, Jethro mouthed.

  “I don’t know yet, honey,” he answered Keiley, flicking Jethro a hard look as he tucked the material out of sight.

  Easing her back, he stared into her pale face, his gaze going over her quickly, searching for injuries.

  “Are you okay?”

  “I’m fine. ” She sniffed, her hands going over his shoulders, his chest, and his abdomen, obviously ascertaining that he was just as fine. “Just terrified. Mac, who would be that stupid?”

  “I don’t know yet. ” He drew her back into his arms, watching as Jethro moved back into the living room and stood staring around. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. ”
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