And then I see him.

Jackson.

He is on the ground, at least thirty stories below.

He holds out his arms. “Make the jump, Sylvia. Make the jump and I’ll catch you.”

I turn to see Bob coming closer. “Nobody can catch you,” he says. “You’re just going to crash and burn.”

“Dammit, Sylvia, trust me.” Jackson’s voice is crystal clear despite the distance between us.

And though it scares me to make the leap—though I am about to go flying out into the abyss with nothing but his arms to save me—I throw myself off the building and hurtle through the wild blue sky to the man waiting on the ground to save me.

twenty-two

I got Rachel to cover my desk Thursday afternoon because I just couldn’t be in the office any longer. Because I needed to apologize to Jackson, and because I knew exactly how I was going to do that.

But now that I’m here at the marina, all I’ve done for the last twenty minutes is stand on the dock looking at the Veronica.

Jackson’s in there—I’m sure of it. I saw his shadow pass through his office right as I arrived. And yet even though he’s the reason I came, I can’t quite make myself go in. I’m afraid that he’ll push me away—and I don’t think that I could stand that.

No. He won’t. He’s your knight. He’s the one who’s going to save you.

I nod, bolstered by my thoughts. Then I hitch my tote bag up more securely onto my shoulder and make my way onto the boat.

Nothing is locked. Not the gate to the boat nor any of the doors once I’m on board.

It’s not exactly safe, but I can’t deny that he’s made it easy.

I go first to his work area, but he’s not there, so I head down to the bedroom.

The shower is running, and I hesitate outside the bathroom door, tempted to join him. Then I glance back at the bed and decide that I have a better plan.

At least, it’s better if he doesn’t kick me out. But I’m running that risk either way, so best to just not worry about it.

I set my tote bag on the floor, then take out the things I’ve brought. I made a quick shopping stop on the way over, and I place each item on the bed, then bite my lip, afraid that maybe I’ve gone a little too far.

Then again, what’s that saying? Go big or go home? As far as I’m concerned, those are words to live by.

I hear the shower cut off, and know that he will be back here soon. I debate, but then make a last second decision. I peel myself out of my skirt and blouse, bra and panties. I leave on the black stilettos, though. And I grab a starched white button-down from Jackson’s closet and slide into it, buttoning all but the top three buttons.

It hangs to mid-thigh and from the small image in the mirror over the built-in dresser I think I look cute and sexy—and hopefully desirable and forgivable.

At any rate, it’s too late now, because the door is opening and Jackson is entering, and I suck in a breath when he steps fully into the room and I see him, lean and tan and perfect, with nothing but a thin towel slung low around his hips.

“Sylvia.”

I can’t read his reaction in his tone, and so I just clear my throat and manage a weak smile. “You should lock your boat if you’re going to be in the shower. You never know who might let themselves in.”

“I don’t usually shower during the afternoon. For some reason, I’ve been distracted.” His eyes skim over me, and though his voice is still flat, the towel does little to hide his arousal. And though I know that doesn’t necessarily mean he will forgive me, I am more than willing to be optimistic and take that as a good sign.

I’m about to launch into an apology, but Jackson speaks first.

“What’s all this?” he asks with a nod to the bed. And this time, there is no doubt that there is heat in his voice.

I clear my throat as he picks up a coil of nylon rope. “I, um, I stopped by Come Again,” I say, referring to a local sex toy shop. “I was trying to figure out how to say I’m sorry that I doubted you. That I didn’t trust you.”

He puts down the rope and picks up a vibrator. He cocks his head when he looks at me, and though my face heats so much that I’m afraid of burning the boat, I’m grateful that he looks not only amused but intrigued. “And you trust me now?”

“Yes.” The word is simple and entirely true.

He moves on to the small leather paddle, then whaps it lightly against his palm before looking at me with such wild and dangerous lust I am tempted to forgo my apology and beg him to just fuck me.

“What made you change your mind?”

I lick my lips. “I didn’t. I realized that I always trusted you. I just got caught up in the noise and the doubt. It’s a vile thing. It seeps into the cracks. It can destroy things.” I draw a deep breath. “Jackson, I’m so sorry.”


Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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