But just as she hadn’t been able to resist letting him hold her on the couch while they’d watched the movie, she couldn’t resist the thought of seeing him again tomorrow. Especially when it would be the perfect thing to look forward to while dealing with her sister’s Saturday morning hangover.

“I’ll text you after my midday wedding.”

She wasn’t surprised when he kissed her good-bye. At least, not by the kiss itself. But she was surprised by how gentle his kiss was.

And by how much she missed him after she shut the door behind him and he drove away.


Three nights in a row.

Adam couldn’t think of the last time he’d seen a woman he wasn’t related to that many consecutive nights. Sure, he’d dated plenty of women. And had enjoyed being with most of them in one way or another. But there’d never been anyone serious for him, no one he’d wanted to see more than once a week. It had always been easy to come up with excuses as to why he couldn’t be available more often, why they both should keep their personal space wide and open. And any woman who had pushed for more than that had been cut loose.

Only, Kerry wasn’t the one pushing for more. It was all him, over and over again.

He was the one who had texted her last night to check on how things were going with her sister. And he was the one who had made sure they were still going to meet here at the crumbling house in her old neighborhood.

The craziest thing of all? It wasn’t suffocating. It wasn’t boring. And he wasn’t regretting it. Probably, he figured, because none of their meet-ups had been dates. It was amazing how that took all the pressure off and made it so that he could actually be friends with a woman while having great sex, too.

And Lord knew he really wasn’t regretting getting a nice eyeful of Kerry stepping out of a taxi and walking toward him in another one of those super-sexy wrap dresses. Especially when the sun behind her was making it just see-through enough that he could drink in her gorgeous curves without even taking off her clothes.

His mouth watered and his hands fairly itched to grab her and pin her to the trunk of the oak tree she loved so much so that he could ravage her mouth, just so that he could finally feel at least the slightest bit sated. Because sated sure as hell hadn’t happened yet. On the contrary, the more he had of her, the more he wanted.

“Sorry I’m late again.”

He didn’t pin her against the tree, but he did tangle up her perfect hairstyle with his hands when he threaded his fingers into the silky strands and kissed her. “I forgive you,” he said when he finally let her up for air. “After all, everyone has to have a fault.”

“It’s not a fault,” she protested. “It’s the traffic in this town. They should really do something about it, like put in better public transportation or make the freeways wider.” But when he simply raised an eyebrow in response, she sighed. “Okay, maybe it’s one of my faults.”

“Wait, you have more than one?”

He loved the sound of her laughter. “You’re the last person I should be saying this to, but yes, I definitely have more than one. Count yourself lucky if the only one you ever have to deal with is my tiny little problem getting to anything outside of work obligations on time. If you saw more of me, I’m sure you’d be overwhelmed by the need to point out all the things I should be working on.”

Normally he would have counted himself lucky that he wouldn’t have to learn too much about the woman he was sleeping with. He’d never been interested in drama. Never looked for someone to fix. And he still wasn’t looking for drama or to change anyone.

But though he’d helped Kerry out a couple of times with her sister and knew that her family situation wasn’t going to get any simpler anytime soon, he still wasn’t itching to ditch. If anything, he’d been racking his brain trying to figure out how to help her. Hell, he’d nearly called his mother to ask for advice.

Fortunately, he’d had a good enough hold on his rational brain to put down the phone before he got Claudia Sullivan all in a tizzy over her hold-out-on-love son calling with a question about how to help a woman with a family problem. His mom was an insightful woman, but Adam knew she was far too focused on getting her last kid happily married to be able to see that Kerry was just a friend. One who rocked his world in the sack, but who was still not ever going to be more than just a friend.

A good enough friend, already, that he knew he needed to force himself to stop mentally undressing her and turn his focus back to the house that she had loved so much once upon a time.

She was still holding his hand as she stared at the house, and he used their connection to take her closer to the oak tree that he hoped could help anchor her in happy memories rather than sadness over what had happened to the property.

Especially because he couldn’t read her expression.

“Oh, Adam.” He couldn’t read her tone, either, and he was just about to jump in to say something soothing when she continued, “I still love it just as much as I always did.”

She’d surprised him a dozen times before now, but never as much as she did just then, when she managed to see beauty amidst the dirt and rubble, neglect and overgrowth.

He was speechless as she drew him closer to the house and ran her hand over the curved porch columns, just as his father had earlier that week. “I want to live here. In this house. On this property.” Her eyes were bright with excitement as she turned to him. “Will you help me restore it to its former glory?”

He could have said a half-dozen things right then. Could have warned her about all the problems she was bound to encounter. Could have rattled off dollar figures that would have made her head spin. Could have explained how difficult the county was likely to be about the property if they did, in fact, deem it to be historic.

He’d come here today planning to tell her not to get her hopes up too high, because renovating this place was going to be a positively enormous project that would test even the steadiest nerves.

But now that she was all rose-colored glasses and memories of love, he didn’t want to do one damned thing to dim her light, her pleasure, or her excitement.

“Yes, I’ll help you.”

She threw her arms around his neck, and he twirled her around, not caring if they looked like they were straight out of a sappy rom-com.

“Every step of the way, Kerry, I’ll be here.”

This time she was the one kissing him, dragging him under, fast and hot, with her passion.

Her joy.

“I want you.” He’d never tasted anything so sweet. Never wanted anyone as much as he wanted her. “Now.”

She echoed the now against his lips, and the only way he could stop himself from taking her right there and then on the front porch was to forcefully remind himself that they were standing outside in a neighborhood filled with families and kids who could walk past at any second. The inside of the house was out, too, because it would start falling down around them if they got too crazy.

“My house.” He could barely fit the words in between kisses. “Come to my house. It’s close. Closer than a hotel.”

It should have been lust that drove him to make the suggestion, but the truth was that it was more than that. He wanted to test her will to resist him, test her belief that walking away from him one day would be so easy. Maybe it wasn’t fair, maybe it wasn’t even entirely rational, but the way he needed her right now—he needed to know that she needed him that badly, too. Badly enough to throw away their rules for one night and come to his house instead of a hotel.

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