Forbidden pleasure, p.35
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.35

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
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Page 35

 

  Jethro, on the other hand, had never pretended to be anything other than exactly what he was. Dangerous to anyone who dared get in his way, an emotional risk to any woman who dared love him.

  Until now.

  Now, the cool purpose that had once been in his brilliant blue eyes was gone. In its place she could see the charisma he kept hidden, the emotions he tried to deny even to himself.

  She breathed in shakily before applying a coat of antibiotic salve to his arm and wrapping the gauze over a wide folded bandage. The white of the gauze glared against the sun-darkened flesh of his arm while the muscle beneath flexed experimentally.

  “Stay still,” she ordered quietly. “You’ll start bleeding again. ”

  “Who cares?” His other arm came around her hips, pulling her close as he suddenly buried his head against her breasts.

  Surprised, Keiley gripped his shoulders, staring down at the coarse black hair that fell down the back of his neck.

  “What do you want me to do?” he asked, his voice muffled by the cloth of her dress.

  “About what?”

  “About this. ” He pulled her forward, dragging her leg over his thighs and forcing her to straddle him as he lifted his head.

  “This” was the straining erection beneath his jeans and the hunger in his gaze.

  “You can’t love me,” she whispered. “You and Mac, you were too good as friends, as agents working together. That’s all it is. ”

  “I saw you first, Kei. Remember? The parties you were invited to the week you met Mac. I made sure you were there. I knew you. I wanted you. ”

  Keiley shook her head. She did remember those parties, and she remembered seeing him. Remembered those blue eyes following her, the feeling of feminine awareness, the knowledge that he was more than she could ever handle.

  She had no idea how right she had been.

  “I knew Mac would love you, too. ” His hands gripped her hips, jerking her closer, pressing his cock deeper into the cradle of her thighs. “I knew he would make you love him. I knew he would love you. I thought. ” He paused, staring back at her as he grimaced tightly. “I thought, a month or two, and he would invite me in. When the invitation didn’t come, I went on. Because I couldn’t risk hurting you. Or Mac. ”

  “Why would you do that, Jethro? Why would you give him what you wanted?”

  These two men confused her. There wasn’t even a hint of sexual frustration toward each other. All their sexual heat was centered on her alone. There was no feeling that bisexual urges tormented them, no feeling that they wanted or loved anything but her. Yet they knew each other so well.

  “One of these days, I’ll tell you a story. ” He laid his forehead against hers, his gaze darkening painfully. “A story about a boy without a home, without a family. About a kid tossed out like so much garbage and then shuffled through a system as cold and unfeeling as the streets. Then I’ll tell you about how a man, one with his own shadows, befriended that boy when he became a man. They had a lot of adventures together. But then man saw the woman he was going to love and he knew he could never love that woman without scaring the hell out of her. Without sharing her. Without pushing her too soon, too fast, because of his hungers.

  “I know you love Mac heart and soul. But I know you care about me. In time, I think, you could love me, Kei. And I would die for that love. ”

  “Love is possessive, Jethro,” she said desperately. “If I let this continue, I couldn’t share you. The day would come when you found someone you could really love. What happens to me then? If I love you just as deeply, just as possessively, as I love Mac?”

  His hands tightened on her hips as his expression turned feral with hunger. “You could love me like that, Kei?” He asked, his voice guttural. “Could you love me like that?”

  “What do you two think you are doing to me?” she cried, struggling from his lap. “One of you should be jealous. ”

  “Why? Mac wouldn’t have invited me here if there were a chance that he would regret your loving me. Both of us, Kei, we grew up alone, shadowed by the actions of others. We found a connection as friends, a bonding as we shared our lovers. I know the man he is, and he knows the man I am. It has nothing to do with sexual feelings for each other and everything to do with needing something more out of a relationship than other people do. Of knowing each other so well that there was never a chance that we would love separate women. ”

  And strangely, that made sense.

  “Mac’s controlled. He thinks before he acts. He never makes a move without knowing the consequences,” he continued. “He knew what he was doing. ”

  She closed her eyes and let her head rest on his shoulder, hiding the tear that fell from her eyes as her arms tightened around his neck.

  If one of them, just one of them, had acted jealous of her, if one of them had seemed hesitant about this relationship, she could have denied both of them.

  But they were two parts of a whole. Separate, yet complete when they were together. When they were with her. And she felt complete. That edge of darker eroticism that she had known rode inside her was sated with it.

  “I could love you, so easily, just as intensely as I love Mac. ”

  She felt him tighten to the breaking point, his arms contracting around her back.

  “But be certain of this, Jethro. ” Her eyes opened, snared instantly by Mac’s gaze as he stood in the doorway. “Be very certain this is what the two of you want. Because heartbreak isn’t something I deal with well. ”

  Mac’s lips tilted, his head inclining in acceptance as Jethro buried his head against her neck, a shudder racing through him.

  “Copter’s coming in,” Mac said then. “The director was in Raleigh and he came in with the two agents we requested. ”

  “Hell,” Jethro breathed against her neck, bestowing a kiss so gentle there that it brought tears to her eyes. “Come on, sweetness. It looks like I’m not going to get what I need right now. ”

  He lifted her easily from his lap, setting her back before dragging himself to his feet. His face was pale, his eyes standing out like gems behind his dark lashes.

  “You need to rest at least, Jethro,” she sighed. “That was a pretty bad wound. It needs stitches. ”

  “I don’t like stitches. ” He shook his head as he lifted his weapon from the table and tucked it in the back of his jeans.

  She turned to Mac for help, only to get a narrowed warning of his eyes and a subtle shake of his head.

  “Fine. Fall flat on your face. See if I care. ” She turned to the stove and surveyed the roast she had turned back on. “I’m canceling the meeting tonight. It’s too late to try to go anyway. We’ll have the soup for supper and see if we can’t get some sleep tonight. ”

  She could feel her system dragging, reminding her that the last few days had been filled with too much darkness, too much danger.

  “We’ll make the meeting,” Mac informed her. “You go get your shower and get ready. I’ll meet with the director and Jethro can stay upstairs with you. The only way to draw this bastard out is to go out. ”

  “And let him take potshots at us?” she asked angrily. She couldn’t believe he would dare suggest anything so dangerous.

  “The sheriff is on his way, too, Kei. There’s no way to keep this under wraps now. I’d rather answer the questions in town than to have everyone we know descend upon us like a pack of gossiping old women. Now go get dressed. ”

  “Don’t use that commanding tone of voice with me, Mac. I have supper on. I am not going out. ”

  Their gazes clashed.

  “Fine,” he said softly. “But think about this. Delia Staten will show up with her mother-in-law. Victoria, despite her daughter-in-law’s faults, always thought very well of me. If they arrive here, God only knows how long they’ll stay. We’ll have a steady stream of visitors for days. Is that what you want?”


  “Tell them to go home,” she gritted out.

  His brow arched. “Think that will work, do you?”

  “I hate it when you’re so damned logical. ” She felt like stomping her foot. “Don’t answer the damned door. Let Jethro answer it. ”

  Mac winced.

  “Yeah, I’ll just shoot them,” Jethro muttered. “What’s a little more bloodshed?”

  She turned back on him, beginning to feel defeated, closed in.

  “You would not. ”

  “No, but I don’t have a whole lot of tact,” he informed her. “I’ll tell them to get fucked quite succinctly without even thinking of the consequences. Is that what you want?”

  “I want you two to be sensible. ” She felt like pulling her hair. She contented herself with clenching her fists at her side.

  “We are being sensible. Now go shower. I’ll put the food up here while I talk to the director. Jethro can give his report when you come back down. And don’t take all day. We need to get out of here and get this done. ”

  “This is stupid,” she muttered.

  “The sooner we get it done and over with, the quicker we can get home and try to get some sleep. The extra agents will take up watch outside tonight and tomorrow and give us a chance to rest. Then, we go hunting. ”

  “How?” She didn’t like the sound of that.

  “Very discreetly,” he said firmly. “We’ll discuss it later. Now go. ”

  “Now go,” she muttered. “It’s occurring to me, Mac, that you have a streak of stubbornness that is starting to piss me off. ”

  She caught the surprised look Jethro gave Mac. Veiled, rife with male amusement and a hint of surprise.

  “She’s just figuring this out?” he asked Mac. “Hell, you’ve been spoiling her, Mac. ”

  “And I’ve done so with great joy. ” Mac’s expression became heavy with sensuality then, the effect of it tightening her womb despite the frustration and fear of the situation she found herself in.

  “So keep spoiling me and fix this. ”

  “I am fixing it. ” His expression assured her that it wasn’t going to be fixed her way. “Get ready for that meeting, because you’re not missing it. You have an hour and then you’re walking out of here, under your steam or mine, take your pick. ”

  Her eyes narrowed on him. “That marriage license didn’t make you my boss, Mac. ”

  “No, in this situation that marriage license makes me more than your boss, Keiley. And you will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. Do you understand me?”

  “This meeting has nothing to do with safety. ”

  “Do you understand me?” His voice hardened, as did his expression.

  She could argue all she wanted, but Keiley knew in that instant that if she wasn’t ready to go in an hour, Mac wouldn’t be above carrying her out of the house kicking and screaming.

  “You’re impossible,” she snapped. “When this is over, we’re having a talk about this sudden inclination to give orders, Mac. ”

  “As long as you wait until it’s over. ” His eyes gleamed with sudden male appreciation and approval. “I’ll be waiting down here for you. ” Mac turned to Jethro then. “The director will want to talk to you before we leave, so don’t delay up there to avoid it. ”

  In other words, no sex. Keiley rolled her eyes and gave both men a cool, firm look.

  “He’ll be available,” she promised her husband.

  Keiley stared back at Jethro’s suddenly closed expression and ached at what he had told her earlier. The boy that had been tossed out like so much garbage, shuffled through the system, and ignored until Mac befriended him.

  “Come on darlin’, let’s get you ready for that meeting. ” Jethro held his hand out to her as Mac watched his friend in concern.
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