Normally, when he was at the lake he liked to spend as much time with his family as possible. But since he wasn’t good company right now, he’d tried to steer clear of the happy couple.
There’d been no getting out of the bonfire the three of them were sitting in front of tonight, though. Just as there was no getting away from the concern in Brooke’s eyes as she watched him from across the fire and asked, “Is everything okay, Adam?”
Rafe handed him a beer. “Is one of your projects at work giving you trouble? You mentioned that building last week that was practically falling down when you took it over.”
Adam took a long pull from the bottle, feeling a tug of guilt about not confiding in his brother and Brooke about Kerry. But he’d promised her that it would stay only between them—with his father as the only exception. Adam couldn’t betray Kerry’s trust by telling everyone in his family about them. One day soon, he hoped she’d be here with him, and they’d tell everyone together.
But for now, all he could say was, “I’m trying to work out something in my head and hoping it will come out right.”
In the firelight, he could easily read the shock on their faces. “When have you ever not been sure about something?” Brooke sounded as surprised as she looked.
“Guess there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?” Even the one Sullivan who’d never planned to fall in love losing his mind over it. Knowing there was no point in continuing to spread his dark cloud over the two lovebirds, he stood up. “I’m going to head in. Enjoy the fire.”
Thankfully, they didn’t ask him to stay.
* * *
“Rafe, I think your brother...” Brooke was still staring after Adam, though he’d already gone into the house next door to theirs, which Max and Claudia Sullivan owned. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I think Adam’s in love.”
“Since I can’t think of anything else that could possibly mess with him like this, I’m going to guess you’re right on the money.”
“Adam Sullivan in love. I can hardly believe it.” Brooke shook her head in wonder. “But who could possibly have stolen your brother’s locked-up heart?” Rafe gave her a huge grin, one that tuned right into her almost-married-couple ESP. “Oh, my God.” She grabbed her fiancé’s hands. “Kerry!”
He nodded. “Of all the people in the world to end up falling for a wedding planner, Adam’s got to be the best.”
Suddenly, Brooke’s smile fell away. “Wait, he was talking about hoping things would work out. Do you think that means she doesn’t love him back?”
Rafe also frowned. “My brother definitely has his faults, but he’s also one of the best men I’ve ever known.”
“Surely she’s got to see that,” Brooke agreed.
But as they held on to each other in front of the fire on the beach, both of them were silently hoping for the same thing: that Adam would end up getting his happily ever after. One as wonderful as the love that Rafe and Brooke were about to seal with vows and wedding rings in only a few short days.
* * *
Kerry was getting desperate. She’d try anything to get to sleep at this point. Warm milk. Chamomile tea. Even a hot rum toddy. Today, she prayed a long walk up and down the downtown Seattle streets between meetings would wear her out by evening.
She’d walked past plenty of construction sites over the years, but none of them made her heart race until she’d met Adam. Suddenly, she found herself looking at all the crews a little more closely, searching for that familiar swagger, for that cocky smile that made it impossible not to smile back.
And then—she swore she saw him. Tall, dark, broad shoulders, moving through the job site like he owned the world. Kerry’s heart raced, her palms got sweaty, and she had already turned in from the sidewalk to head his way when the guy turned around.
It wasn’t Adam.
Her heart fell so hard, so long, so painfully, that she had to put a hand on a metal rail to steady herself. Of course Adam wasn’t here in Seattle. He’d been planning to head up to the lake that weekend to build the gazebo.
He hadn’t texted, hadn’t emailed, hadn’t called since Thursday night, and neither had she. It was going to take them a little while to reset their boundaries to just friends, she knew that. But even if she was never going to kiss him again or make love with him again, she missed him. Missed her friend, the best one she’d ever had. She missed his teasing, missed his laughter, missed being able to talk with him about anything at all.
Kerry was nearly back at her office when she stopped and turned around. She hadn’t planned to head up to the lake to set up for Rafe and Brooke’s wedding until tomorrow morning. But she couldn’t stand it anymore.
Even if it was too soon, even if she and Adam were both still too close to the end of one phase of their relationship, missing him was a deep ache that came from way down inside. And as far as she could tell, there was nothing that she could do here in Seattle to make the ache go away—not wine or food or TV or burying herself in work.
Only Adam could make her happier.
* * *
Adam put the final touches on the lattice on the gazebo and stepped back to look it over. It was as perfect as anything he’d ever built. Rafe and Brooke had come out earlier before leaving for their overnight trip into Seattle and exclaimed over how great it was. The hug Brooke had given him had been big enough, and gone on for long enough, that he’d shot his brother a questioning look over her shoulder. But his brother had just shrugged, so Adam figured it was probably wedding nerves.
Either that, or the two of them were worried about him big-time, given the way he’d brooded over the bonfire for the full five minutes he’d joined them last night.
Hell, he thought as he stripped off his shirt and shoes so that he could toss himself off the end of the dock in his shorts, he was almost starting to worry about himself, too. All night, and every minute that had ticked by today, he’d had to practically nail his fingers to the gazebo to keep from getting in his car to go get Kerry.
How was he going to make it until she showed up tomorrow? At this rate, one more day was going to kill him when each hour, each second, had never gone so slowly.
Damn it, he was going to her. Now.
Adam was halfway up the beach, planning to grab his car keys and drive into Seattle, when he heard a car pull up behind Rafe and Brooke’s house.
And saw the most beautiful woman in the world step out of it.
Kerry hadn’t been surprised to find Rafe and Brooke’s driveway empty when she’d pulled in behind their lake house. They’d told her they weren’t going to be back until late that night, but since everything was unlocked, she should let herself in and use anything she needed. They’d also told her that if she needed help with anything, Adam would be there working on the gazebo and staying next door at their parents’ lake house. Everyone else in the family would be arriving the following evening, while guests who weren’t related would come a day later for the actual wedding.
Adam’s car was parked next door, and just seeing the vehicle that they’d once nearly made love in made her heart beat so hard that she could hardly breathe.