There was nothing like a good full-body stretch when waking up. Emma always found that a great way to start her day. The feel of a very warm, hard male pressed up against her back as she stretched, she decided, was an added perk.
Peeking over her shoulder, she met Lucas’s slumberous eyes. “Good morning,” she said softly, and when he chose to say nothing Emma felt the first pangs of panic. She had essentially said last night would be a one-time thing—well, not one time, but one night. No, they had gone beyond one time multiple times over. Was he regretting their night? Was he angry at her for provoking him until he couldn’t say no?
Even now, Emma could not believe how brazen she’d been. Never in her life had she been so turned on and so determined to have exactly what she wanted. From the way Lucas was staring at her right now, she was beginning to regret being so bold.
She turned her gaze away from him and glanced at the clock. It was after ten. No surprise there, they had finally fallen asleep some time right before dawn. Giving up on Lucas having something to say, Emma made to move from the bed.
Lucas’s arm banded around her waist and pulled her back against him.
Emma turned her face slightly toward her pillow and smiled. So he wasn’t as unaffected by their night as he was trying to make her believe. The feel of him pressed up against her back had that boldness coming to the surface again. “Something I can do for you, Lucas?” she asked sweetly and she heard him chuckle.
It was well after noon before he breathlessly turned to her and said, “Any chance you’d be willing to throw together some more of those grilled cheese sandwiches?”
Emma laughed out loud.
Later in the afternoon, Emma was sitting on the sofa reading a magazine she’d brought with her when Lucas came in from outside. She looked at him expectantly. “Well, how goes the big thaw?”
“I can’t speak for everywhere but it looks as if the plows have come through around here. It’s still below freezing out so I’m sure that if anything thaws, it’s going to freeze up again quickly. Have you watched any of the weather reports on the TV?”
She shook her head. “Sorry, I got caught up in my reading.”
Lucas stepped forward and before she realized his intent, he’d grabbed the magazine from her hands. “Ten positions to make him crazy in bed?” He looked at her incredulously, reading the rest of the headlines on the cover of Cosmo. With a chuckle, he handed it back to her, then leaned down and placed a searing kiss on her lips. “Trust me, Emma, there’s nothing that article can teach you.” Without another word, he headed into the mudroom to hang up his coat.
Emma merely sat there and fanned herself with the magazine. “Well,” she said quietly to herself, “I guess that answers that.” Tossing the magazine aside, she reached for the remote and turned on the TV to try and find the local weather. Lucas came and sat beside her and together they listened as the forecaster predicted nothing but warming temperatures.
Inwardly, Emma knew this was good news. She could go home safely and get back to her everyday routine. Unfortunately, doing so meant leaving all of this behind. She wasn’t stupid enough to think that what she and Lucas had shared was going to carry over into their lives once she got home. No, they’d go back to the same awkward, quiet relationship they’d always had when he came to the office, kicking and screaming, once a month. That thought made her sad and a sigh escaped before she could stop it.
“What’s the matter?” Lucas asked, concern lacing his voice.
“What? Oh, nothing,” she stammered. “I was just thinking about all that’s waiting for me. I have to call my insurance company and then talk to the repair shop about my car and deal with the rental…”
“I already told you that we’re handling all of that.”
“I know, I know, but eventually, I am going to have to handle it. It’s still my car and I’ll have to get back up here to get it and I hate driving a rental and…”
“You’re rambling, Emma. What’s really going on?” His tone was quiet, serious, and when Emma looked at him, her heart stopped.
“I’m not ready to go home yet,” she said honestly.
A small smile tugged at Lucas’s lips. “I don’t recall kicking you out.”
She relaxed a bit and chuckled. “There’s no reason for me to stay. It’s already Saturday, the roads are clear…it’s time to go home.”
Lucas leaned forward and skimmed a hand down the side of her face. “You can’t leave if you don’t have a ride.”
Her eyes met his. “You said you’d drive me home when the roads were clear,” she reminded him.
“That’s true. I did say that. But I’m not comfortable driving in these road conditions,” he said lightly as he slowly began to lean toward her.
Emma thought that she could really get used to this playful side of him. This must have been what he was like before he got hurt. “There is the possibility of ice,” she said with a dramatic sigh. “I would hate myself if something were to happen to your truck.”
“Exactly,” he said as he lowered his head to her throat and began taking light nips of her skin. “I appreciate your understanding. I would be really upset if something happened to…my truck.”
“I’m a considerate person,” she purred as she let her head fall back to give him better access.
“Very,” he agreed before lifting his mouth to hers and claiming it. He couldn’t get enough. Lucas had been sure that after last night he’d be just fine with packing Emma up and taking her home today. The roads were fine, the temps were climbing, and at this time of day, it was the perfect time to drive without it being hazardous.
Selfishly, however, he wasn’t ready to let her go. Once they left his home, it was over. There would be no repeat performance, no continuing with an affair; once he had her home safely, there was no going back.
So he had to keep her here with him for one more night. Tomorrow. Tomorrow he’d be fine with walking away.
As Emma slid her body beneath his on the couch and wrapped herself around him, Lucas let all thoughts of tomorrow fade away so that he could fully embrace and enjoy the present.
By Sunday afternoon, they were on the road. Neither felt much like talking, so most of the drive was spent in silence. Emma knew that this time was going to come; there had been no way to avoid it, and yet she wanted very much to. How was she supposed to see him at the office and pretend this weekend had never happened?
True, he only came in once a month, and if she had enough advance warning, she could keep herself busy to the point of not having to really be around him. Chancing a quick look at Lucas from the corner of her eye, Emma gave herself a mental kick. Who was she kidding? When Lucas came to the office, she was going to do as she’d always done: she would smile and bring him his coffee just in hopes of him giving her one of those slow, soft smiles that she loved.
She was pathetic. If Lucas wasn’t sitting right beside her, she’d be berating herself profusely out loud. Instead, she turned her attention to the passing scenery and just hoped that when they got to her home, she wouldn’t do something completely foolish like beg him to stay.
Lucas wished he could figure out what was going on inside Emma’s head. She’d been sitting there like a damn statue since they’d pulled out of his driveway and she was making him crazy. He expected some sort of scene, expected her to try and reason with him on all of the ways they could continue their relationship once she was back at home. But she hadn’t said a damn word.
He thought maybe she’d have regrets and want to tell him how he should have had more self-control. But she never said a word.
Dammit, the woman had been a chatterbox all weekend and now that he really wanted her to talk, to tell him what was going on in her mind, she had clammed up! Women! Gripping the steering wheel until his knuckles were white, he drove on. The faster he got her home, the better. They’d had their time, their fun, and now it was over. She didn’t want to talk about it? Fine.
No, he was lying to himself. It was anything but fine. Lucas thought back to just this morning when he’d found her in the kitchen dressed in one of his T-shirts and making pancakes. She’d looked so damn perfect standing there in his home and after he’d caused her to burn the first batch, he’d helped her make the second.
That batch had gone cold before they even got to it.
By the third batch, Emma had wielded the spatula like a weapon to keep him away. He smiled at that picture. They’d finally sat down to eat and then had showered together, but once he’d left her alone so she could pack it was as if a switch had been flipped. There had been no more silly bantering; they both had gone somber. He’d loaded her stuff into his truck and silently climbed in. Emma had programmed her address into his GPS so they didn’t even have to talk about where to go.
For a man who had thrived on silence for almost two years, it was killing him now.
To break up the monotony, Lucas switched on the radio. It didn’t take long to realize that every song had a message of loving and losing, and it irritated the crap out of him. He slapped the system off. His action must have shocked Emma out of her own reverie because she gasped and turned toward him.
It was the first sound she’d made in almost an hour.
“Why’d you turn the music off?” she asked quietly.
“Nothing on that I wanted to hear.”
And then the silence was back. How was it that they had talked all weekend and now there was nothing to say? How was he supposed to just drop her off at her place without having spoken a word to her?
He suppressed a groan. This was why he shouldn’t have gotten involved. This whole thing had him looking like some sort of stereotypical player: he’d had his fun with her, his dirty weekend, and then he was done with her. Was that how she was going to remember him? No, he had to do something, say something to clear his conscience.
“So,” he began awkwardly, “those papers that Dad had wanted, did he mention anything about them when you talked to him on Friday?”
Work. A safe topic. He felt dumb asking, as they had already had this conversation, but he couldn’t think of anything else. “Actually, no. We talked more about how I was feeling and he apologized for all of the confusion with the directions. I know he said it was a simple mistake, but that was still kind of odd for him, wasn’t it?”
Lucas agreed but didn’t share his thoughts on his father’s motives. “Yeah. He’s not usually that careless. And it’s still bizarre to me that he never mentioned needing them before leaving to come up here.”
Emma nodded. “I thought so, too. Your father is very organized and meticulous in his planning; to just sort of throw something like that out there was a little weird.”
“Well, clearly he was able to do without whatever it was, since he didn’t call back and ask you to go over it on the phone with him.”
“I don’t think it was something he wanted to discuss.”
“Why would you say that?”
Emma could have bitten off her own tongue. William had specifically said that he didn’t want his sons to know about this, but how could she possibly say that to Lucas? “Oh, um, you know, he was feeling bad about my accident so he probably didn’t want to bother me with work stuff.”
Lucan made a noncommittal sound and put his full attention back on the road. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
“Will you be at the office tomorrow?” he asked suddenly.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“I just thought maybe you would want to go to a doctor and get checked out to make sure that your head and ankle are healing okay.”
“Oh,” she sighed, secretly hoping that he had been leading up to asking her to lunch or something. “My ankle is just fine and other than an ugly bruise, my head is fine too. My hair hides it so no one has to see it.”
Lucas had seen it plenty all weekend and it broke his heart a little every time. He thought of the many times her hair and been fanned out on his pillows and he’d wanted to kiss the injury away.
“I still think you should see your doctor,” he murmured.
“Please don’t start with that again, Lucas,” she replied wearily. “We’ve been over this like a hundred times and I am fine. Please just leave it alone.”
Lucas felt confident that this was the better way for them to leave things, with Emma being angry and irritated with him for nagging her. He could live with that. He shot one last glance at her, but Emma’s attention was back to the passing scenery and so he let it be.
He’d lived with the silence for two years. What was another thirty minutes?
Monday morning, Emma woke up and went about her usual routine. She had spoken to Mr. Montgomery the night before and he promised her that a car would be there for her this morning to get her to work. She had showered and dressed and was pouring herself a glass of juice when she heard car doors slamming in her driveway. A quick peek out the window had her
There in her driveway were Lucas and Jason. They had dropped off a car for her to use and were getting back into Lucas’s truck. She hadn’t expected the Montgomerys to lend her one of the company cars; she thought a rental car company would meet her here this morning to drop something off. She’d have to talk to Mr. Montgomery when she got in, because she didn’t feel right about driving one of their luxury cars.
Before she could open up her front door to say thank you, the men were gone. What had she expected? Lucas had barely said two words to her when he’d dropped her off last night. He’d helped her bring her things into her house and then said a very quiet good-bye before simply walking out and closing the door behind him.
She wanted to strangle him.
If she were honest, Emma had thought that Lucas would simply turn around last night and go back to his place. Knowing that he was here and he had Jason in the car with him, she figured she’d have to face him at the office this morning.
Not something she was looking forward to at all.
Walking back to her kitchen, she dumped her untouched juice down the drain and placed the glass in the sink. The thought of eating or drinking anything right now only made Emma nauseous. She walked back toward her bedroom to finish getting ready, and when she couldn’t put it off any longer, she walked out the door, toward a car she didn’t want to drive, to a place she didn’t want to be, to see a man she wanted to avoid.