“They were all good. All three couples are obviously very much in love, and I think things will last.”
She shouldn’t be surprised anymore by the way he always heard the things she wasn’t saying, but it was such a rare gift that she still never expected it. “Well, they were different from Jodi and Paul’s wedding.”
Normally, Kerry wouldn’t discuss her clients with anyone. But Adam wasn’t just anyone. He was the one person who always seemed to understand her. “Jodi and Paul are best friends in a way that I’m not sure any of the three couples from this weekend are. I just feel like that makes such a difference.”
“From what I can see with my siblings and cousins who are married, I think you’re right on the money. Same goes for my parents. Mom and Dad always turn to each other first because they aren’t just husband and wife, they’re also best friends, which I think has made a difference for them over the years. In fact, this weekend, when I saw my cousin Ryan and his fiancée, Vicki, at the baseball game, they were more gushy over each other than ever—and they’ve been best friends since they were in high school.”
“Did you have a good time at the game?”
“It was great. You would have had fun with us.”
“At a baseball game?” She was surprised that he seemed to mean it. “Do you really think I’d like it?”
“Sure,” he said easily. “Granted, the idea of you in tight jeans and a T-shirt with a beer in your hand is one of the sexiest visions I’ve had in a long time. But,” he added while she blushed, “you’re also competitive enough to really get behind your team. Which is usually the Mariners, by the way. Only when Ryan’s in town do we root for the San Francisco Hawks.”
She’d never had any interest in baseball, but she’d learned not to doubt Adam’s instincts about things. If he thought she was going to love it, odds were good that she actually would.
“Next game,” he told her, “you’ll see for yourself when I drag you there with me. And hopefully the whole crew will be there the way they were this weekend. Although when everyone’s there, it can get a little crazy.”
“Why? Just because there are so many of you?”
“Partly. But mostly because everyone is so damned famous.” He laughed. “Ford is a great guy, and he and my sister are perfect together, but it sure isn’t always easy going places with a rock star. And then when you throw my billionaire brother and his movie-star wife into the mix...” Laughing again, he said, “It can take a while each time to get used to the bodyguards the stadium insists on sending over.”
“Bodyguards?” It suddenly hit her. “Oh, no. I didn’t even think of hiring bodyguards for Rafe and Brooke’s wedding! How could I have overlooked that?”
He put his hand on hers. “You don’t need them. Not for a lake wedding.”
But she was still panicking. “Aren’t some of your cousins famous, too? In addition to Ryan?”
“Doesn’t matter how famous any of them are. No one is going to bother us at the lake. It’s the perfect private spot for our whole family to get together. You have to trust me on this, Kerry. No bodyguards.”
She made herself take a few deep breaths, but it was looking into his eyes that finally convinced her to stop panicking. “I do trust you.” She let another big breath go before saying, “And what I meant to say before I started freaking out about bodyguards, was how great it is that you guys are all so close. It seems like you spend a lot of time together.”
“We always have. They’re a great group to hang out with. Do you have any cousins?”
“My mother was an only child, and my father’s family didn’t stick around any longer than he did.”
“Regardless of whatever went wrong between your father and your mom, he never should have left his children.” Adam looked disgusted. “Something similar happened with my cousins in New York. Their mom walked out one day on the four of them and my uncle.”
“Oh, that’s horrible.” And she should know. “But you just have to move on and try not to let it affect you.”
As she lifted her arm to swat away a fly, she caught a flash of her watch face and realized with no small amount of disappointment that it was later than she’d thought. “I wish I didn’t have to leave for my meeting.” She helped him put away the food and then brushed crumbs off her lap as she stood.
“I’m just glad you were able to squeeze me in,” he said as he also stood. “We’ll celebrate more tomorrow night, okay?” He lowered his voice and said, “Naked celebrating. And this time I’ll be sure to have champagne to drink off your skin.”
Tingles ran through her at both the good-bye kiss he gave her and the delicious thought of celebrating in bed with him. “I can’t wait.”
And she truly couldn’t.
* * *
After Kerry left, Adam spent some time walking around the house and property and taking notes. All the while, he thought about the way Kerry had said she’d done her best to move on from her father’s desertion without letting it affect her. But even though he knew how strong, how resilient, she was, he also knew from experience that all the things you tried not to let affect you, still usually did.
Take him, for instance. When he’d been a teenager and his father had lost his job, they’d nearly lost everything. Home—and doing whatever he could to help save it—had never been more important to Adam. To all of them. Adam had been too young back then to actually support the family financially, the way his oldest brother, Ian, had, but he’d still gone out of his way to mow as many lawns as he could. He’d hauled and stacked wood and cleaned swimming pools—anything someone in the neighborhood would hire him for. And going into all those people’s houses had shown him, even more, just how important homes were for families.
Based on what had happened to his family, Adam knew it was no accident that he was fascinated with architecture, specifically reviving old buildings. Second chances were hugely important to him, too, which was why he very rarely built new.
And if he looked at what had happened to Kerry’s family, it was no accident that she was in love with happy-ever-afters and was willing to do whatever she could to help people have the best possible start to their perfect forever.
Adam was so lost in his thoughts that he nearly tripped over a spindle from the railing lying in the middle of the porch. Bending down, he picked it up and was surprised once again by the level of craftsmanship that the original owners had put into this house. They hadn’t cut any corners, not in the design or in the crafting of the house. The only reason it was on the verge of falling down was because of the neglect of some distant grand-nieces and -nephews. Thank God someone like Kerry, someone who loved the house so much, had taken it over.
And, he thought with a grin that he knew bordered on egotistical, thank God she had him on her team. The two of them were damned effective solo—together they were going to be unstoppable.
As he took the spindle with him to his car, along with the picnic basket and blanket, he knew Kerry was right about the pull this place had. Something slightly magical. It wasn’t hard for him to imagine living in this house, on this street, in this neighborhood. Not hard at all, actually, especially if Kerry was there with him.