Forbidden pleasure, p.4
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.4

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
Page 4

 

  He could be amazingly ruthless. Mac lived by his own set of rules, and over the past three and a half years they had learned how to adjust, how to compromise with each other, and keep their marriage alive and growing. But she had always known he was holding something back. Had known and feared it.

  “But you didn’t love them,” she said hopefully. “Not like you love me. ”

  His lips quirked. “I’ve never loved anyone or anything like I love you, Keiley,” he admitted. “You know that. ”

  “Then you’re not missing your friends? You’re not missing the club?”

  His gaze flickered with arousal and anticipation. “That wasn’t what I said. That’s what you said. And a word of warning, sweetheart. If you don’t want to wake the monster, then don’t poke at him. And right now, you’re definitely poking. ”

  Keiley felt her lips part, felt her mouth go dry, felt the tension shimmering in the air suddenly thicken, nearly choking her with the heavy undercurrents suddenly whipping through it.

  She could see it in his face now, in his eyes, a desire that he kept leashed, a fantasy, a hunger, perhaps a need, she couldn’t have fully anticipated. Then, just as quickly, it was gone. He picked up his fork, resumed eating, and let the subject drop while Keiley began wrestling with the implications he left in his silence.

  “Stop worrying, Keiley,” he stated, his voice still too dark, still too rough, moments later. “My membership in the club in Virginia isn’t going to follow us here. No one knew for certain what Sinclair’s Club was for. ”

  “I don’t care about the damned talk or how it follows us, Mac. I care about the fact that you’re refusing to talk about it when I know damned good and well it’s what you’re thinking about. ”

  She didn’t give a damn what people thought about it. She had grown out of caring about gossip about six months after their move here and her realization that Delia Staten, one of the county’s leading figures, intended to make her life hell. Because Keiley had Mac and she didn’t. Delia had never forgotten that Mac had rejected her.

  It was childish and stupid. Keiley had learned from the best exactly how to weather gossip. Whether or not anyone thought she was involved in one of the many ménage relationships in this damned county didn’t really faze her.

  The fact that Mac’s lips had thinned warningly did faze her. It pissed her off that he was continuing to ignore the subject.

  “It wasn’t a whorehouse, Kei. It was simply a men’s club. A place to relax, share a drink, and unwind. ”

  “And find a friend to share your women with,” she inserted.

  “That was an added benefit. ” The tight, controlled curve of his lips held back the lush sensuality that could fill them. “Now, I have to get to work. I have to make a trip into town later, though. Do you need anything?”

  “Just answers,” she sighed. “We need to talk about this some more, Mac. ”

  “Talking about this is the worst thing we can do at this point,” he told her. “What you need to do is drop it. Let it go away, Keiley, just as you did before we moved here. It doesn’t apply to our life or what we have here. That’s all that matters. ”

  Oh yeah, she was just going to obey him like a good little girl.

  With that, he finished his coffee and rose from the table before bending to brush a kiss over her cheek and move to the back door.

  “I love you, Kei,” he said behind her.

  “I love you, Mac. ” She returned the words and the emotion.

  “I’ll be up for lunch if you take a break, then,” he told her. “I’ll talk to you later. ”

  About anything but what she could feel pulsing in the air now. As he left, Keiley grit her teeth in frustration.

  When she had first heard the rumors of Mac’s sexual history, she admitted a fear that had nearly ended their relationship. She had been terrified of the darkness of such a sexual act, and the darkness in the man she was falling in love with.

  She had been a virgin. Uncertain. Still wary of gossip and still wary of the strength of her desire for Mac. And the strength of her interest in his best friend and known third in his sexual relationships. She had first met Jethro at an office party. A few weeks after that he had introduced Mac to her. Mac had stolen her heart within days.

  She didn’t know how to handle Mac, let alone another man. Especially a man as hard and as shadowed as Jethro.

  She wasn’t that frightened little girl anymore. But she wasn’t certain she wanted fantasy to become reality, either. What she wanted, what she needed, were answers. And the only person she could get those answers from didn’t seem willing to talk.

  She stared at the backdoor and felt her resolve harden. That was just too damned bad. That was her husband. Her life. He could talk or he could deal with the consequences. Namely, she damned well wouldn’t leave him alone until he did.

  2

  Mac didn’t show up for lunch.

  When Keiley realized the time, she closed out the program she was working on before standing from her desk and pacing to the wide patio doors that looked out on the barnyard in the back.

  He was there, doing exactly what she had suspected he was doing, tinkering with the old tractor his grandfather had owned before his death. Bare-shouldered, sweat-dampened, his jeans hanging low on his hips as he worked.

  Hard muscles flexed beneath the golden flesh, rippled and made her hands itch with the need to touch them, to feel them working beneath her fingers, tensing and flexing in pleasure from her touch rather than in tension from whatever was now brewing in his mind.

  He was thinking. Deliberating. Working something in his mind. That was what he did when he worked on the old piece of farm machinery.

  His thick black hair hung low on his neck, a bit shaggier than he usually kept it, but giving him a sexy, dangerous look. The look of an unconquered male. Exactly what he was. A man who would be very hard to fool and even harder to get to reveal his secrets, if he didn’t want to reveal them.

  Keiley had no intention of forgetting the fact that her husband had been an undercover FBI agent before his resignation. How could she forget it? It was one of the reasons so much of the man she had married was a mystery to her. He knew how to keep his innermost secrets while still loving her with a depth that amazed her.

  She had tried to tell herself that she knew everything she needed to about the man she had married. That of course there were, would be dark places inside him, that he had seen the worse of humanity in many cases, that it would always mark his soul.

  But over the past three years, Keiley was beginning to wonder if Mac hadn’t gone into a career where he was dealing with something he had already understood. Something that had given him a chance to fight back against the demons of the past. A past he could never bring back or change.

  And this was what had drawn her to Mac so strongly. This was the reason why she hadn’t drawn back from him despite the gossip that surrounded him and Jethro.

  Like her, Mac knew what it was to hurt, but he hadn’t closed himself off from the possibility of love. Unlike his friend, Mac embraced life and he embraced emotion. Like Keiley, he had just been waiting for the right person to embrace it fully.

  A soft smile tugged at her lips at the thought of those first weeks. How wary she had been, so uncertain, trying to figure out why he wanted her when he could have dozens of women who would have eagerly allowed Jethro into their relationship.

  Those women hadn’t known him, though. Before the end of that first dinner date with him, Keiley had known parts of him that she knew other women never would. She knew that dominant sexuality of his wasn’t a game, it was a part of him. She had sensed that from the first.

  As their relationship had developed, she had worried that he couldn’t let go of the ménages, though he had promised her, assured her, that it wasn’t something he couldn’t live without.

  She knew now.
He could live without it. He could love without it. What he had neglected to mention was that eventually, he would be denying not just a desire but a part of himself in letting it go.

  That was the undefined something about Mac that had nearly frightened her off then. And during those first months of their marriage, she had wondered why he had been so insistent on moving back to his hometown so soon. It was to take himself out of the area of temptation. Away from the Club, his friends, and Jethro.

  Had he been hoping he wouldn’t miss what he never saw?

  Had she known this was coming?

  That question had tormented her more often in the past year or two. Had she been drawn to Mac because he personified everything she had been too frightened to reach out for? A sexual and personal freedom that had been so restrained within her? Had she let Mac steal her heart because she knew he would challenge more than just her intellect?

  She snorted in disgust. This was insane. She didn’t want a ménage. She liked fantasizing about it. She enjoyed daydreaming about it. But the reality of it raised problems within her mind that she couldn’t solve.

  Not the gossip, but emotions and feelings she had no business contemplating. If Jethro ever came back into their lives, she knew she would be torn. Knew that the past infatuation she had felt for him would raise its ugly head and risk everything she had with the man who owned her soul.

  She couldn’t allow that.

  But that didn’t mean Mac could get away with not discussing this forever. The longer it remained between them like this, the worse it was going to get.

  Sitting in her office, Keiley had a clear view of the back farmyard. The tall red barn with its white trim surrounded by white fences and greener-than-green grass. And moving outside the wide double doors of the barn was her husband. Working once again on a tractor that was older than dirt and a hell of a lot less useful.

  He had new tractors, but he continually worked on that old one, tinkering with it when he was worried or thinking. He had been tinkering with it a lot lately. Much more than often.

  She leaned against the window, narrowing her eyes against the sunlight spearing into the room, realizing that her husband was tinkering with that tractor rather than talking to her.

  He used to talk to her.

  He wasn’t talking anymore, and she was getting tired of it.

  Crossing her arms over her breasts, she tapped her fingers against her arm and glared at her husband. Three nights he had come in late, long after she had gone to sleep. And before that? Before that, sex had been hurried. Quickies. In the shower or afterward. While he was in control. That was something she had markedly noticed. He had only touched her when he was in complete control of himself and his sexuality.

  She wanted all of her husband. She especially wanted the parts of him that he thought he should hide from her.

  His sexuality. Because his sexuality was tied into so much of who and what he was.

  From the information she had about his investigative work, she knew that many of the cases he had worked had involved sexual crimes.

  Sexual deviants were his specialty. Had that talent grown from an understanding of them before he came into the agency? Had his own sexuality been influenced by something more than an excessive sex drive?

  The questions were driving her crazy. As were the suspicions and her fears that this would end up affecting her marriage in ways that it couldn’t be repaired.

  Inhaling deeply, Keiley straightened from the edge of the patio door and moved into the warmth of the summer afternoon, heading for the barn and her husband.

  The workhands had the day off; Mac normally didn’t work all day Sunday. By all appearances, he intended to work today on that old tractor, though.

  The tractor was his psychiatrist, she often mused. It had been his grandfather’s. It hadn’t actually worked since his grandfather’s death twenty years before. But Mac still tinkered with it when he needed to think. She wondered if he would work out the problems that had that frown brewing between his eyes by the time he managed to fix the tractor.
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