And as he reluctantly started his car’s engine to head back to work, his father’s words from the day they’d looked over the property suddenly came to him: “It’s always hard to walk away from something beautiful, isn’t it? Especially when you can sense that giving her your full attention will make both of you happy.”
And it was true that, since the moment he’d met Kerry, she’d completely stolen his attention. There had rarely been a day, rarely been an hour, that he wasn’t thinking of her. That he wasn’t wishing he could see her. Or that he wasn’t longing to hold her in his arms.
And yet, he’d still tried to hold back. Still tried to stick to their arrangement. Still tried to keep from crossing over into what had always been a relationship no-fly zone, thinking that was the only way to be happy. Still believed he couldn’t ever let one little four-letter word catch him in its grip without regretting it.
But what if his father was right?
What if giving Kerry—and their relationship—his full attention made both of them even happier than they had ever been without each other?
When Adam was a kid, his father’s wood shop was where he always could go when there was something he needed to talk about. Fortunately, things hadn’t changed much after they’d grown up, and odds were pretty good on any given afternoon that Max Sullivan would be back there refinishing an old end table or sanding a length of crown molding. Which was why Adam had decided to take a detour to his parents’ house instead of heading straight back to the office.
Of course, his mother would kill him if he didn’t check in with her first. He found her at her writing table by a window in the living room.
“Adam, honey, what a nice surprise this is! I didn’t think we were going to see you until dinner on Friday night.”
He gave her a kiss on her cheek. “How’s your writing coming along?”
She glanced down at the notebook in front of her and frowned. “Why didn’t anyone tell me writing a book was so hard?”
“I’m sure it’s great. Do you want me to read what you’ve come up with so far?”
She looked horrified. “No!” She laughed at herself. “Not yet, anyway, though it’s a lovely offer.” She noticed the spindle in his hand. “I’m assuming you want to see your father about whatever it is you’re holding?”
Nodding, he asked, “Is he out back?”
“He is, and I know he’ll be thrilled to see you. Especially since I’m pretty sure I heard cursing coming from that direction earlier.”
Adam grinned as he headed into the backyard. His father had tackled some pretty difficult projects over the years, such as the armoire he’d built entirely from scratch. According to what his mother had just said, it sounded like a new project was in the works.
At the threshold of the wood shop, Adam poked his head in to make sure his father wasn’t using power tools or anything that could cut off a finger, before he knocked on the door.
“Adam, it’s good to see you.” His mother was right—his father looked immensely relieved by the interruption as he moved away from his lathe. “I could use a beer. Do you want one?”
Opting not to point out that it was only early afternoon, Adam said, “Sure.”
“What have you got there?” His father handed him the beer from the mini-fridge and took the spindle.
“It’s from the big old house that you and I were looking at last week.”
“I keep thinking about that place,” his father said. “You don’t see craftsmanship like this much anymore.”
“How hard do you think it would be to find someone to do this kind of work that wouldn’t break the bank? And is there even anyone out there who can handle doing it for an entire house?”
“I don’t know for sure, but I can ask some guys who are much deeper into this kind of finish work than I am and get back to you.” His father handed back the spindle. “Have you decided to buy the place, then?”
“Actually, a friend of mine bought the house.”
“Is he thinking of keeping it?”
“She wouldn’t dream of tearing it down.”
Adam could see his father note with some surprise that the friend who’d bought the house was a woman. “Must be a woman who has a lot of vision, if she’s not planning to tear it down the way most people would.”
“She’s got a ton of vision. More vision than anyone I’ve ever known.” His father was now looking at him as if he’d grown a second head. His parents knew Adam had female friends, but they’d never heard him talk about one of them so passionately. “She’s Rafe and Brooke’s wedding planner. Kerry Dromoland.”
Another flash of surprise flickered across his father’s face. “I’ve heard great things about Ms. Dromoland.”
“Everything you’ve heard is true. She’s an exceptional wedding planner.” Adam had promised Kerry that they’d keep their relationship a secret, but he trusted his father implicitly. “She’s also the woman I mentioned to you the other day when we were looking at the house.”
“If I recall correctly, you weren’t sure the two of you were even friends yet.”
“We are now.” Adam struggled for a moment with how much to divulge, even to his father. “More than friends, actually. A hell of a lot more.”
Adam hadn’t been planning to come see his father today, hadn’t been planning to tell him all about Kerry either. But now that he was here, he realized just how much he needed to discuss the situation with the man he respected most in the world.
“Rafe and Brooke asked me to meet with her a few weeks ago. They both had scheduling conflicts, but I’m pretty sure it was also a matchmaking attempt on their part, since they could have sent Mia or Mom instead of me. Anyway, during our first meeting, Kerry got to talking about a gazebo she wanted to have built on the beach for the wedding, and I offered to build it for her. Before I left the meeting, I asked her out, but she said no.”
“She turned you down?” His father was grinning now, knowing how rarely a woman ever said no to Adam.
“Without a moment’s hesitation. But I couldn’t shake the sense that she was special, so I didn’t give up. One thing led to another and—” No, he couldn’t go any further with his explanations. Couldn’t betray his intimate secrets with Kerry, not even to his father. “We’re not officially dating, but we do see each other quite often.”
His father nodded. “I see.” And Adam could tell that he did, even though he didn’t ask any clarifying questions about the whole not-dating-but-still-seeing-each-other thing.
“We both thought it would be easy to keep things clearly delineated. No complications, just two friends having a good time. After all, that’s what we both wanted.”
“Both of you?” His father looked more than a little doubtful. “We all love you, Adam, but you know we’re not always crazy about the way you approach women and relationships.”
“I know you’re not, but there’s never been anyone I wanted to have a real relationship with before. And Kerry, she’s been waiting her whole life for the perfect guy, for someone she can count on no matter what. I know on paper that might not look like me, but—”