Forbidden pleasure, p.8
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.8

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

 

  Shaking his head, he straightened before rising from the chair and moved through the apartment to the bedroom. Janet was still asleep, and she slept deeply. Sliding back into his bed wasn’t a problem, and if he was aware of the fact that he made certain he didn’t touch her as he settled down to sleep, then he didn’t give it much thought.

  Things had been odd for him for a while now. He was tired of the Bureau, tired of chasing damned perverts, and tired of being aimless. Maybe after this vacation he would follow Mac’s example and just turn in his resignation. His cousin had a nice little investigation company that he had been begging Jethro to join. He was thinking about it. Some nights, he was thinking too damned hard about it.

  He could pick his own jobs. Pick the deranged individuals he wanted to deal with, and maybe take a decent vacation rather than a forced suspension. Usually without pay. And he could kick some ass without getting written up over it later. He’d stopped a rapist, for God’s sake. It wasn’t like he had pulled a piddling teenager off a giggling girlfriend and beaten the shit out of him. Not that the director saw it that way. Hell, now, Director Scarborough was madder than hell that he had to deal with the fallout instead.

  And maybe it was him. He knew he had been riding a fine line lately. The cruelty and horror men could inflict upon women were starting to really piss him off. He loved women. Cherished them. Thought there was nothing finer than the female mind and softly scented feminine flesh. They were a wonder. Treasures. They should be worshipped by a male hand for the pleasure they gave, never beaten, raped, or terrorized by diseased minds.

  Yeah. Maybe it was time to resign. Before he did the world a favor and killed a few of them.

  But first, he would go to North Carolina. Hopefully some of the restlessness would ease there, some of the darkness would find a shimmer of light in Keiley’s presence. At least, that was his hope.

  He stared at the darkened ceiling, the image of her flitting through his mind with a smile hot enough to heat the sun a few degrees hotter, and warm enough to ease the ice in his soul whenever he was around her.

  She scared the shit out him.

  His lips kicked up at the corner at the thought.

  Keiley was the one woman he had dared go after, because he knew he could love her. Hell, he did love her. So he had given her to Mac, because he knew Mac would do more than love her.

  His past had struck again. The moment he had met Keiley he heard his own screams as his uncle dragged him away from his mother’s dead body. His father lay beside her in his own blood, a suicide-murder that had ended in Jethro losing the only stability in his life. His beautiful, adoring mother.

  A week later he had entered his first foster home. His uncle had wiped his hands of him, sneering at the thought of raising his brother and sister-in-law’s child. A child that came with nothing but the ragged clothes on his back.

  And then hell had begun. One foster home after another because the angry child he had become was too much for the harried families to handle.

  As he grew older, he grew colder. He pushed back that pain and let the ice build. Until Mac.

  Hell, it wasn’t even Mac. It was the fact that Mac had dared him to care about the women they shared. He had pushed Jethro, chided him, made him see the joy in sharing a part of himself with those women.

  Mac wasn’t a man that ever went into anything half-heartedly. And he hadn’t let Jethro do it, either.

  And then Jethro had seen Keiley.

  God, he remembered her smile that night. Remembered her eyes. Remembered feeling his heart ache as he gently steered her and Mac toward each other.

  Because he knew Mac would love her. He had known beyond a shadow of a doubt that the wild child Keiley kept carefully restrained inside her would call to Mac. That he would cherish her, marry her, and one day perhaps, allow Jethro to share a stolen moment or two within that warmth.

  Because Mac knew all the things Jethro had never learned, despite the other man’s attempts to show him how. Mac knew how to capture a woman’s heart. Jethro made them wary.

  Mac knew how to show the gentleness inside him, whereas Jethro had never been able to temper the darkness enough to soften his dominance. Mac knew how to soften his dominance, and Jethro only knew how to pull away to hide his.

  Mac had learned how to release the gentler emotions that filled him, whereas Jethro feared ever letting them go. At least, alone. Not without something he had come to rely on way too much. He had come to rely on Mac’s ability to soften the fierce adoration he felt for his woman. It wasn’t that Jethro didn’t know how to care. He knew how to care. And he knew how to fear it. Just as he knew how to drive away the women he cared for if Mac didn’t temper that ferocity inside him.

  What a pair they had made. Mac indulged his lovers, sometimes to the point that Jethro’s dominance had kept them from walking all over him. And through it all, Mac had watched it with humor and with knowledge.

  They had complemented each other, but would they do so again? For a moment, Jethro felt his guts cramp with the hunger and need that tore inside him. A hunger that went deeper and hotter than any he had ever known.

  Keiley was his weakness. And hiding that from Mac was going to be hell. If the other man ever learned how much Jethro loved his wife, then there would never be a chance of Jethro touching her. Intimacy was one thing, but he was afraid that if it came to sharing his wife’s emotions, then Mac just might become the selfish, possessive bastard he should have been to begin with.

  4

  “You snuck out of bed last night,” Keiley said as she set his breakfast and coffee in front of him, her voice questioning.

  He should have known that she would wake up when he left the bed; she usually did. Just as he did when she was restless. Sometimes, Mac thought, they were too attuned to each other. Knew each other too well.

  It was one of the reasons she was suddenly pushing him, asking questions, her curiosity blooming beneath the sexual needs beginning to rise inside him. Needs he could suppress but couldn’t totally hide.

  “I was restless. ”

  “You were smoking again. ”

  She sat down across from him, sipping at her coffee as Mac lifted his gaze and met her eyes. Damn, he could use a cigarette now.

  “Is there a point to this line of questioning, Kei?”

  She crossed her legs and leaned forward, another of those damned strappy too-snug shirts stretching across her breasts.

  “I don’t know, Mac, would I be asking if there weren’t?” she asked dryly, her eyes widened with teasing laughter.

  Mac inhaled quickly, drawing in the scent of her, the herbal shampoo, the light fragrance she wore. It was nearly too much for a hungry man to endure.

  He leaned forward himself, his gaze narrowing on her.

  “Keep it up, and you’re going to get more than you’re bargaining for,” he told her softly. “Is that what you want?”

  She settled back with a huff, a flicker of irritation crossing her expression as he lifted his coffee cup to his lips.

  “How do you know what I’m bargaining for anyway?” she asked as he sipped the coffee, causing him to nearly burn blisters on his tongue as he took too much of the liquid.

  “Because you’re determined to torment the hell out of me,” he growled, setting the coffee down as he glowered over at her. “I’m warning you to stop pushing me like this, Keiley. ”

  “What am I doing?” Her voice was filled with offended pride, her gaze narrowing on him with a flare of irritation.

  “Tempting me. ” And doing a damned good job of it.

  “Tempting you? Me?” Innocent offense shaped her expression now. And it would have been believable if those hazel eyes weren’t gleaming with satisfaction. “I’m your wife, Mac. It’s not like you’re some priest that I’m tempting with my wicked lusts, you know. How am I tempting you?”

  “By
being you, damn it,” he growled. “I was restless last night. I got up, smoked a cigarette, and enjoyed the peace for a while. Why should I have to excuse it?”

  “Did I ask you to excuse it?”

  “That’s exactly what you’re doing. ”

  “So why were you out there smoking when you could have been cuddling and having hot, sweaty sex with me? And why is sex in our bed suddenly so abhorrent to you, anyway?”

  He knew it. He knew that was what she had in that sharp little mind of hers.

  Mac sat back in his chair and regarded her silently for long moments, considering how far he wanted to let this conversation go right now.

  “I don’t consider having sex in our bed abhorrent,” he finally answered her. “I thought you were upset over the incident in the barnyard the other day. I thought you needed time to get over it. ”

  “To get over having sex with my husband in our barnyard?”

  Okay, when put like that, it sounded ridiculous, but he knew what he had seen in her eyes after the passion had receded.

  “Deny the fact that you were upset when you realized you were naked in the barnyard and had just finished screaming out your orgasm to the sky,” he accused her. “Deny that you were suddenly terrified that we were seen. That someone would gossip about it. ”

  Her eyes flickered with guilt. “It’s not like we have neighbors. ” She tried to blow off the accusation. “No one could have seen us. ”

  “And if they had?” He wasn’t willing to let her off the hook now. She was pushing him, daring him too often.

  She shrugged. “They didn’t. ”

  “No, Keiley, that wasn’t what I asked you. I asked you, what if we had been seen? What if someone was watching?”

  He had asked her that as he fucked her. He remembered the arousal that burned hotter inside her, the response that had nearly burned him alive as she climaxed in his arms.

  “Well. ” She cleared her throat. “It’s not like we were cheating or something. ”

  “And if our neighbors had seen? What would Becky and Bruce Halloway do? Becky would call her sister, who would call her sister-in-law—”

  “Oh, shut up. ” She glared back at him. “So what if they told?”

  “Gossip,” he pointed out.

  Her lips flattened. “As I said, we’re married. ”

  Mac allowed his lips to quirk into a smile as he decided to let the subject shift. He had planted the idea, planted the consequences. She could consider it from there. “Yes, we’re married. And speaking of gossip, I invited Jethro to come out and visit for a while. He’s been suspended again. I think he needs the break. If anyone gets curious about our houseguest, then he’s just a friend from Virginia. Don’t mention the fact that he was with the Bureau. I get too many damned questions about being an agent as it is. I can’t believe Dad actually told everyone what the hell I was doing. ”

  The last thing he needed was that the small-town suspicions would soon turn a visit into some kind of rumored cover-up investigation that wasn’t real. It had taken nearly a year for him to convince the damned sheriff that he had indeed resigned from the Bureau and wasn’t working on a secret investigation.

  He picked up his coffee and sipped as he watched her closely now. She knew Jethro, not well, perhaps. He had been Mac’s best man at their wedding. He had also been part of the gossip about the club that she had heard before they had left Virginia.

  He saw her tense as she made the connection.

  “Where is he staying?”

  “I offered him the guest room. ” Mac picked up his fork and dug into his scrambled eggs. “He should be here a week or so. Are you okay with that?”

  He watched the question form on her lips before she bit it back, and he knew what was on her mind. Was Jethro visiting with sexual intent or only for friendship?

  He gave her credit that she didn’t actually ask the question. He hadn’t expected her to have the self-control. Keiley was a curious little cat at times, so her restraint surprised him.
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