She was too lost in her own emotions to be able to read his clearly. But he didn’t keep her guessing for long, not when his arms were around her by the time she took her next breath—which he promptly stole from her with a kiss that made her knees buckle. And just as he’d always been before, he was right there to catch her. He swept her up into his arms, his mouth never leaving hers, not for a single second, as he carried her into her bedroom and stripped away their clothes.
Their kisses never stopped as he sent her reeling first with his hands, and then came over her and drove her up so high she would have been gasping for oxygen if she hadn’t been able to take it straight from his lungs.
Never again would she know this pleasure.
Never again would she know the sweet sensation of his mouth on hers.
Never again would she feel his hands molding her curves as if he were sculpting them.
Never again would she look up to see him above her in bed, his eyes going darker and darker as he took them both higher and higher.
Never again would he tangle his fingers in her hair as he kissed her while fireworks exploded between them.
Never again would she fall asleep in his arms, warm and safe and impossibly happy.
Never, ever again...
* * *
Adam had heard every word Kerry had said before she told him she wanted one last time with him. But he couldn’t believe any of them. Wouldn’t let himself believe she meant them.
They couldn’t be ending everything right when they’d just begun. Even if she was utterly certain it had to be so. Even if she had a reason, an argument for everything. Not even if her reasons and arguments made sense.
Some things didn’t make sense, but that didn’t mean they weren’t right. It didn’t mean they weren’t meant to be.
And it didn’t mean they shouldn’t last forever and ever. Past that, even.
Adam had refused to let himself memorize her with his hands as they made love. He hadn’t let himself drink in her scent as if it were the very last time he’d ever be this close to her again. He’d fought the desperation to take her again and again so that she’d be left with the imprint of his body on hers, in hers.
Because this wasn’t the end, damn it.
Tonight he’d hoped—assumed—that he could convince her to change their arrangement. He’d thought that tonight would be the night when she’d officially become his girlfriend and he’d be her boyfriend. He’d thought that when he said the words I love you that he’d immediately hear her saying them back to him.
But he’d never been so off base, never miscalculated so badly before. And now he needed to regroup, needed to figure out what the hell to do next, so that she would come back to him. Come back and see just how much she meant to him.
See that she was absolutely everything that mattered.
In the aftermath of their wild yet sweet lovemaking, Kerry was warm and soft as he held her. It was tempting to use this moment when her defenses were down to try to convince her to change her mind again. But one of the things he loved so much about her was how well she knew her own mind. She was stubborn, just like him. It wasn’t easy to be rational right now, but he knew that if their positions had been reversed, the one sure way to make him run would be to push him.
So he wouldn’t push, at least not tonight. He’d force himself out of her arms. He’d make himself put his clothes back on. He’d order his legs and feet to walk out of her door as if their arrangement had actually ended tonight the way she’d told him she wanted it to.
But, damn it, he wasn’t giving up. Because he couldn’t give up on the biggest love he’d ever found in his life.
The biggest love he’d ever find.
Adam was the only one not paired off at his parents’ dinner table. His father—and his mother, who he could see had been filled in on the situation with Kerry—had clearly been disappointed that she wasn’t with him.
They hadn’t had to ask him how things had gone with declaring his love to her, not when he knew his haggard expression gave him away. He hadn’t slept a single second of the night after he’d left her bed. How could he, when he’d practically had to chain himself up to keep from heading right back to her?
As he watched Ian with Tatiana, Mia with Ford, Dylan with Grace and Mason, and his mother with his father, Adam saw even more clearly what he’d found in Kerry. Not just a beautiful woman. Not just an intelligent friend who always kept him on his toes. Not just a lover who rocked his world. But his other half. The person who made him whole.
None of the other women he’d dated had even a tenth of Kerry’s substance. Her strength. Or her capacity to love. No wonder he’d never believed he’d have forever. None of the women he’d dated had been forever women.
Not until Kerry.
During dinner, his family had been talking about Rafe and Brooke’s upcoming wedding and how good it would be to see everyone. Finally, he remembered to tell them, “I ran into Drake last night.”
“He’s already in Seattle?” Mia asked, clearly surprised.
“Not for the wedding. For a museum show. Sounds like they weren’t hanging or lighting his paintings to his satisfaction.”
“Artists,” Ian said with a grin. “They’re so picky about having everything just the way they want it.”
Tatiana grinned back at him. “And aren’t you lucky we never give up until we get exactly what we want?”
“So lucky,” he agreed, kissing her to back up his words.
Normally, this was where Adam would groan and roll his eyes and tell them to get a room. When he didn’t, even Mia looked worried.
Mason started fussing right then, and Adam decided he owed the kid one. “I’ll take him outside,” he said as he reached for Grace and Dylan’s son. “Want to count the stars with me, kid?” Mason stopped fussing and held out his little arms.
Adam and Mason had just made it out to the grass and had turned to look up at the sky when his father stepped up beside them and said, “Any chance you need another star counter?”
Little Mason loved his grandfather and gave Max Sullivan a happy smooch. For a long while, the three of them stood in silence beneath the bright lights dotting the dark blue above.
“If Kerry’s the one,” his father finally said to Adam, “fight for her.”
“I’m planning on fighting with everything I have.”
His father’s arm came strong and warm across his shoulders. With a squeeze, he took Mason from Adam’s arms and left him standing alone in the middle of the backyard that he’d grown up in. Alone with thoughts that grew clearer, more focused, and more determined by the second.
Just as he’d been totally focused on getting Kerry to see him again after the first time they’d met, now he had an even bigger purpose: He wasn’t just going to convince her to start dating him again—he was going to convince her to marry him, damn it, no matter what it took. And given that they were both going to be at the lake for his brother’s romantic wedding, the universe was clearly handing him the chance of a lifetime.
* * *
Everything at the wedding Kerry was putting on at the top of the Sky View Observatory was going like clockwork, thankfully. The newly married couple was very rich and very exacting, and she’d been working her tail off for months to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.