Forbidden pleasure, p.46
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.46

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
Page 46

 

  Her friends were gathering around her, though. The phone had rang unceasingly throughout the day. Many of the men who had received the picture were calling Mac. They were smart enough to throw their support behind the men with the FBI rather than the witch with the pictures.

  Smart of them, Keiley thought.

  “Heinagen and Sheffield are watching the house tonight,” Mac told her as the truck doors closed behind them and he put the truck in gear. “We caught a transmission from inside the house. We think he’s using a remote-activated electronic bug. Those are harder to pick up. It has to actually be activated to be detected. They’re working on it while we’re out. If they don’t find it before we return home, remember, anything you say could be heard. ”

  “What about the truck?” Keiley asked nervously.

  “You can hide them in the house because the wires are easier to conceal. I pulled the truck into the garage earlier and went over it top to bottom. There’s nothing on it or in it. It’s safe. Going through the house would be a hell of a lot harder and damned near impossible to find without the right equipment. Director Williams is having that equipment flown in tomorrow afternoon. It’s the quickest we could get it. ”

  Keiley inhaled roughly.

  “It will be over soon, Kei,” Jethro assured her as he leaned back against the door and watched her with narrowed eyes.

  He was doing that a lot, just watching her, as though he were drawing her into himself somehow. It was disconcerting to be probed in such a way. He was quieter than Mac in a lot of ways, still the bad boy, but the wildness she had glimpsed in his gaze when he first came to the farm wasn’t there any longer.

  “How much of it will be over, Jethro?” she finally asked. “Are you going back to D. C. or staying here?”

  Could she handle it if he returned to the Bureau? She had had nightmares while Mac was still an agent. The day he announced his intention to resign, she had cried for hours in relief.

  “Mac and I are discussing it,” he finally said.

  “You are?” She glanced back at Mac, seeing the small curl of his lips at the tone of her voice. “Interesting that you two didn’t think to discuss it with me. ”

  She stared back at Jethro coolly. “None of my business?”

  “All your business, beautiful. But some things men have to settle between themselves first. Get used to that. Where you’re concerned, I have a feeling, we’ll have a lot to discuss. ”

  That part, she didn’t like. She bit her lip as she considered the two men who were filling every part of her heart and soul and wondered about the whole outnumbered thing.

  “Two men against one defenseless woman seems like lousy odds for me. ” She pursed her lips in disapproval. “I may have to reconsider my own battle plans here. ”

  Jethro looked at her warily. “How so?”

  “That,” she whispered as she leaned to him and placed a butterfly kiss on his lips. “Is for me to know. ”

  “And for you to worry about, Jethro. ” Mac suddenly laughed. “Damn, I won’t be tortured alone. At least I’ll have an ally now. ”

  “You are so wrong, John McCoy,” she snorted. “Just so wrong. Give me a month, he’ll be all about being on my side,” she teased.

  At that, pleasure tilted Jethro’s lips. “Oh, sweetheart, I’m already all about being on your side. Your back. Your front. Whichever way I can get you. I promise you that most sincerely. ”

  “Perv,” she accused him as he pulled her closer, kissing her soundly before smiling back at her with devilish humor.

  The drive to Casey’s was completed in the same vein, but it didn’t stop the nerves from building in her stomach. As Mac pulled the truck into the crowded parking lot, she almost demanded to go back home.

  Damned near the whole county seemed to be there. She could safely say she had never seen Casey’s so packed.

  “Maybe I shouldn’t have called Maxine. ” She swallowed tightly. “I think she’s told everyone I would be here. ”

  Her stomach was pitching tightly as fear suddenly began to fill her. The fear of facing condemnation, of hearing the whispers behind her back.

  “Too late to turn back now, darlin’. ” Mac’s voice was firm as he opened the door and stepped from the truck. “Come on. Let’s go show them how hot you are. Hot enough that it takes two of us hard cocks to keep you satisfied. ”

  Heat blazed through her as shock had her lips trembling with laughter.

  “You are so bad,” she accused as he lifted her from the truck and Jethro’s laughter joined Mac’s. “What am I going to do with you?”

  “I have suggestions, but this might not be the place for them. ”

  It was a place for hilarity. For over a dozen men and women crowded around Mac, Keiley, and Jethro. They were the friends she and Mac had been drawn to when they first arrived, couples they were comfortable with, whose interests and sense of humor seemed to align with theirs.

  Now they were friends who drew around them in support and extended their hand in friendship to Jethro as well. Through dinner and drinks, Keiley watched him. He was quiet but friendly, laughing in genuine amusement at some of the women’s antics with their husbands but saying no more than he had to. As though he were watching for enemies amidst friends and categorizing strengths and weaknesses.

  As plates were carried away by the waitresses and more drinks arrived, Keiley noticed the subtle tension invading him. His demeanor hadn’t changed, but she could feel it, just as she sometimes felt it with Mac.

  On the stage across from them the band was gearing up, swinging into a slow, sensual love song. It was couples night, which meant lots of slow songs.

  She turned to Jethro slowly, meeting his eyes, and whispered, “Dance with me. ”

  Hooded, his deep blue eyes wary, he watched her for long seconds before pushing his chair back and holding his hand out to her. Talk ceased behind them, every eye at the table turning to them as she took his hand and let him lead her to the dance floor.

  Mac sat back in his chair as several of the other couples followed behind Keiley and Jethro, leaving him at the table with Joseph, his wife, Maxine, and her sister and brother-in-law.

  “Ladies’ room trip,” Maxine announced as she grabbed her sister’s arm. “Come on, Fayrene. ”

  Fayrene rolled her pretty brown eyes before kissing her husband’s cheek quickly and following after Maxine.

  “She hasn’t shut up since that damned picture hit her e-mail box,” Joseph sighed, watching as his petite wife made her way along the side of the room toward the restrooms. “I had to take the phone out of her hand before she called Delia Staten herself. ”

  “Delia’s not living peaceable. ” Chase Sinclair, Fayrene’s husband, told him somberly. “I talked to her husband, Robert, today. He’s furious, Mac. He wanted to call you himself, but Victoria asked him to wait. ”

  Mac nodded. He hadn’t expected Victoria to take his side in this. She had her opinions on things, and her beliefs. She was more likely to toss Keiley from the charity committee than she was not to. If she felt Keiley had disgraced the rules of decency that she lived by, then she would cold-shoulder her until hell froze over. And the same went for Mac. Mac had no doubt it would snow in hell before she extended her hand in friendship again.

  She lived by her own rules, she upheld them. She wasn’t a cruel woman, but she could be a strict one.

  “Robert called the bank today and had Delia’s name taken off their account and canceled her bank cards,” Joseph muttered.

  “I heard computers have crashed left and right across the county as well,” Chase commented. “Everyone who forwarded that e-mail that I know of has found themselves with the hefty expense of replacing them. The hard drives were totally ripped. ”

  Mac’s lips quirked. Gladsteen had a way about her, he had to admit.

  “I have to admit, I was worried when Maxine start
ed screeching like a banshee this morning,” Joseph said. “She was torn between laughing in amazement at your and Keiley’s daring and crying in rage at what Delia had done. She’s worried about the three of you as well. ”

  Mac’s gaze flicked to Chase.

  “I saw the helicopter land at your farm, Mac, I’m not a fool. I don’t know what your problems are, but I’m betting they’re not easy. If you need us”—he nodded to Joseph—“we’re here. ”

  “He would be better off with the information,” Joseph muttered. “Chase is handy as hell in a fight, Mac. ”

  Mac explained about the stalker quickly to Chase, keeping his voice low, his gaze on the tables around them to make certain nothing was overheard. As he finished, he watched Chase’s blue-gray eyes narrow dangerously.

  The Ranger was home on medical leave for a gunshot wound to his leg, taken in action. Rumor was he would never return to his unit, but that didn’t cancel him out of a fight.

  “You have the house covered?” Chase asked when he finished.

  “I have help. ” Mac nodded. “We’ll catch him. Right now, I’d prefer to keep you and Joe out of the line of sight. I don’t want to give him someone else to target. ”

  “We catch him here, and he’ll never target anyone else,” Joe suggested softly, the lowered tone of his voice doing nothing to disguise his fury.

  Joseph Bright hadn’t always been a banker. He had been a cop first, wounded in the line of duty just after his marriage to Maxine. It was then that he allowed his father to convince him to join him at the bank. He was the best damned bank president Mac had ever known.

  “If I need you, I won’t hesitate to call,” Mac assured him. “Right now, I’d rather keep this on the farm, though. ”

  The other two men nodded before their gazes flickered to the dance floor, then back to Mac. It was well known that no other man ever slow-danced with his wife. But there he sat, relaxed, at ease, and on the dance floor Jethro Riggs was wrapped around Keiley like a winter blanket.

  “You surprised me,” Joseph told him without censure. “He’s a lot like you were, though, when you first came home. Wary. Kind of dark. She fixed you. ”

  “And she’ll fix him. ” Mac nodded.

  The question Joe didn’t want to voice was in his and Chase’s eyes, though. They were his best friends, his only true friends from the years before he left town. Two of only a few men who knew the truth of the life he had led before his mother died.

  “You know why, Joe,” he finally said. “I was never just like everyone else. This is just a part of it. ”

  Joe grinned at that. “Keiley’s living every woman’s sexual fantasy, you know that, don’t you? The rest of us are going to catch hell now. ”

  Mac looked back at him in surprise.

  “No kidding,” Chase grumped. “Fayrene’s already wondering why the hell none of my Army buddies can’t visit for the summer. You have those women frothing in fantasy. Man, we should kill you for that alone. ”

  Mac looked out at the dance floor. Jethro was indeed wrapped around Keiley like a winter blanket, dancing slow and easy, his head bent to hers, and laying against hers. Like Mac danced with her. And there was no jealousy, just a sense of comfort.

  There would always be someone to protect her, and Jethro would heal. The bleak shadows of his past would go away, and beneath Keiley’s influence and her love, he would soften. She had that effect on people. Her love had that effect on men. He didn’t expect it to be easy. Jethro had been rejected from hell and back during his childhood. It would take a while. A year. Maybe two. But he would realize he was where he was meant to be.

  All three of them. They were exactly where they were meant to be.

  26

  “Come on, sweetheart. ” Jethro eased Keiley from Mac’s hold as he opened the door, careful to keep her body shielded with his as Mac tucked his weapon behind his back and eased from the vehicle.
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