With that, she kissed Kerry’s cheeks again, said how lovely it was to meet him, and went to mingle.
“Thanks for the dance,” Kerry said, but she sounded distracted, her eyes following her mother’s movement across the lawn beneath the fairy lights.
Kerry’s hand was far too cold, and he covered it with both of his to try to warm her up. “Your mom is one seriously elegant lady. I’m glad I finally got to meet her. I see where you get your strength from. And your beauty.”
Finally, Kerry’s eyes met his again. “She’s amazing. And,” she said with an upturn of her lips that didn’t quite reach her eyes, “probably worried that I’m dropping the ball big-time by goofing off with one of the guests. I really should get back to work now to make sure everything’s beyond perfect.”
She tried to slide her hands from his, but he wasn’t ready to let go just yet. “I want to dance with you again. Not tonight,” he said before she protested that she couldn’t goof off with him twice in one night, “but soon.” He lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to the back of it before handing her back her iPad. “Time to let you go back to showing everyone why you’re the best wedding planner on any coast.”
And though she smiled as she took the device from him, he didn’t like the worry that was barely a layer down. Nor did he care for the way she ran herself off her feet the rest of the night to make up for a dance that she clearly thought had been a terrible transgression.
He finally understood why she’d been utterly adamant that no one learn of their nights together. Not only because she didn’t want Rafe and Brooke to question her professionalism, but also because she was terrified of disappointing her mother.
The thing was, Ms. Dromoland clearly adored Kerry, and despite the fact that she obviously had high expectations, he wasn’t convinced that her mother was quite as full of demands and expectations as she thought.
There must be something more to the way Kerry bent over backward for her mother and sister, another reason why she felt she always had to look and behave so perfectly. Something that ran deeper than he had a handle on yet.
Then again, the truth was that there was plenty about Kerry he couldn’t get a handle on. The way he couldn’t stop thinking about her, for one. Or wanting her.
Or just plain smiling every time he thought about her.
The following Thursday night, as Kerry walked from her office toward the hotel, she was glad for the fresh air and a few minutes alone to clear her head before she met up with Adam.
Again and again over the week she’d replayed her dance with him—and the subsequent conversation with her mother—in her head.
The dance had been unlike any other Kerry had ever experienced. Throughout her teens, both Kerry and her sister had taken ballroom-dancing classes, and that knowledge had helped Kerry a great deal as she worked with brides and grooms who were nervous about their wedding dance. But though Adam was incredibly skilled on his feet, it wasn’t skill that’d had her heart leaping around in her chest or her soul feeling as though it was taking flight in his arms. She’d wished the dance could have gone on forever, that she’d never have to let him go.
Regret washed over her again at the way she’d all but jumped out of his arms when her mother had said her name. Of course, he’d been sweet about it, and nothing but gracious with her mother. After that, Kerry had been swept back into the myriad details of her job, being pulled in so many directions by her wedding staff and the guests that when Adam came to say good-bye, she’d barely had a chance to say good-bye herself.
By the time she’d finally left the wedding site, she was stunned to realize how lonely the thought of going home alone was. Especially now that she knew how warm and wonderful it was to share Adam’s bed.
But that wasn’t their deal. Wasn’t what they’d agreed on. Wasn’t the plan that she’d reminded them they needed to stick to.
Not allowing herself to be a coward, Kerry had called her mother Monday morning to see if she enjoyed the wedding and had any suggestions. Where Kerry was good with details and organization, her mother’s gift had been in the tiny things that ended up making all the difference. Kerry had been touched to hear her mother tell Adam that she was the best wedding planner on any coast, but she also wanted Aileen to be honest about where she still had room for improvement.
“The wedding was perfect, darling, although I’m sure it wasn’t easy to keep your focus on work when Adam Sullivan couldn’t keep his eyes off you.”
Kerry had been glad her mother couldn’t see her mouth drop open, or the flush of pleasure that she couldn’t stop from moving over her from knowing how much Adam wanted her.
Trying not to betray either reaction, she’d replied, “If you do think of anything at the wedding that needed improvement, please don’t hesitate to tell me. And as for Adam...” She hadn’t wanted to lie to her mother—she’d never get away with it anyway. “We became friends while working together on his brother’s wedding. He’s a very nice man.”
Her mother had let the silence ride just long enough that Kerry knew they weren’t yet done discussing him. “Yes, I’ve heard he’s a very nice man. Especially when he’s around beautiful women.”
Kerry hadn’t been able to keep from defending him—and, she supposed, herself at the same time. “He’s been nothing but kind and generous. A true friend.” Surely, her mother had to know that Kerry wasn’t foolish enough to fall in love with an utterly unsuitable man, not after having done such a good job of steering clear of bad love her entire life.
“I’m not sure friends look at each other the way you both were during your dance, darling—or that men and women are ever very good at being friends without complications ensuing. But I’ve never had any reason to doubt you before, so I won’t begin now.”
Her mother’s warning to stay away from romantic entanglement with Adam hadn’t needed to be explicitly said to be perfectly clear. Of course, Kerry couldn’t possibly have told her mother that both she and Adam knew the rules and had a strict arrangement where the nights they spent together couldn’t possibly become more than hot sex between friends. If her mother ever found out about Kerry and Adam’s hotel hookups, she would be beside herself with worry.
And yet, even knowing how deeply her mother disapproved of even the idea of Kerry spending time with Adam wasn’t enough to convince Kerry to cancel her night with him. Not when she was really looking forward to seeing him tonight at the hotel.
Not just for sex—although she was definitely looking forward to that—but because she wanted to hear about everything in his life. Things like the projects he was working on and whether he’d spent time with his family this week. She wanted to hear about the good parts, and the frustrating ones, too. And then she wanted to tell him all the little things she knew he’d appreciate, like the incredible historic house of one of her new clients and the little boy who had given the funniest wedding toast she’d ever heard.
Kerry was halfway to the hotel when her phone dinged from inside her purse. Though ignoring a ringing phone was strictly against the rules of all wedding planners—even higher than dancing with one of the wedding guests—she was tempted to turn it off. The last thing she wanted was for work to derail her night with Adam. They’d both been so busy this week that the only contact they’d had with each other since Sunday’s wedding were a few emails and text messages about the house she was in the process of trying to buy.