If she could barely keep it together just looking at his car, how the heck was she going to deal with actually seeing him again? But she knew she had to figure out a way to do just that, and quickly, because she had an amazing wedding to put on.
Friends, she reminded herself. She and Adam were just going to be friends now. Friends who might not actually have talked to one another for nearly a week, but still—she hoped and prayed—friends.
The sun was setting as Kerry stepped out of her car. Since she would be staying at an inn a short distance away from Rafe and Brooke’s cottage, she left her things in the trunk. Taking a deep breath of the wonderfully clean lake air, she headed toward the beach where both the wedding and the reception would be set.
The first thing she saw was the most incredible gazebo ever made, one so beautiful that her jaw actually dropped. Adam Sullivan wasn’t only a brilliant architect, he was also an artisan of the first order. She’d seen his plans, of course, but seeing the structure brought to life simply took her breath away.
Her eyes grew wet as she thought about Rafe and Brooke standing in the center of the gazebo saying their vows to each other. Perfect. It was absolutely perfect, and her emotions tore more deeply into her.
So deeply that when the sun momentarily shifted behind a cloud and she realized Adam was standing on the beach looking straight at her, she didn’t have even the barest chance of giving herself another of her many reminder lectures about why keeping the boundaries clean and clear between them was the smart thing to do.
Kerry couldn’t think straight anymore. Couldn’t figure out how to do anything but want as she kicked off her heels and ran toward him.
And, of course, his arms were open for her when she threw herself into them—just as open as they’d always been.
She couldn’t press her lips against his soon enough. Couldn’t wrap herself around him nearly close enough. Again and again, she kissed him, and he kissed her back with just as much need. Just as much desperation.
“Too long.” She kissed him again, running her hands over his bare back. “It’s been so long, too long. I missed you so much.”
“I missed you, too.” His kisses were hard and deep, and still she wanted more. So much more. “Never again.”
“Never,” she echoed.
But then, instead of taking more, he drew back from her. “I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. That I wouldn’t let sex make us forget everything else. We need to talk, Kerry. Need to figure things out.”
“We will. I promise we will.” And even though she knew he was right, she couldn’t keep her hands or her mouth off him. “Later. We’ll talk later. About everything.”
He took her mouth again, rough and sweet and wonderful, before pulling back once more. “Promise me, Kerry. Promise me that you won’t run, won’t shut us down. Promise me you’ll talk to me. Really talk, even if it’s hard.”
“I promise. Just please, please, make love to me. In the water, on the sand, in a bed. I don’t care where, just as long as I’m with you.”
Thank God, her pleas and promise finally convinced him to give up the last vestiges of his control as he said, “Hold on to me.” He lifted her up so that she could wrap her arms and legs around him. “I need you everywhere, sweetheart. Every last one of those places. Tonight.”
“Yes.” His kiss warmed her everywhere that the lake cooled her as he took them into the water. “Everywhere. Anywhere.”
Adam was wearing only shorts, but her lightweight dress immediately stuck to her skin, becoming transparent as it soaked up the water. When she heard ripping as he tore the dress off her, no sound had ever been sweeter. He covered her breasts with his mouth, first one, then the other, making both of them moan from the shocking pleasure of being together again.
Nothing else existed for them as they rediscovered each other with lips and hands, with gasps and sighs, with water sloshing between and all around them. Adam’s shorts were thrown on top of her clothes in a nearby rowboat, and with the water buoying her weight, it was so easy to cling to him and nearly take him inside the way they’d both wanted to so badly before. No protection, nothing between them at all.
“There’s no one else for me, Kerry. I swear I’m clean and safe.”
“I am, too,” she told him even though she knew he could already have guessed it, since she hadn’t been at all promiscuous before they’d met. “Take me like this. Just like this.”
“No. I’m on the Pill.”
The sun had nearly set all the way by then, but there was just enough light for her to see the ecstasy in his expression as he moved into her at the same moment that she brought her weight all the way down onto him.
“You feel so good.” He kissed and licked and bit at her mouth, at her chin, at the curve of her shoulder as he pushed up into her. “So damned good.”
But she couldn’t speak at all anymore, couldn’t do anything but try to take him even deeper, even closer, with the water cradling them and the sun setting behind them. He held her hips in his big hands, rocking her down over him again and again until her breath was coming out in panting sobs and the water was rippling in a perfect circle all around them.
She felt utterly raw and exposed, but when he was loving her like this, it didn’t feel wrong to let her walls all fall away. Not when she knew he’d already dropped all of his.
“I love you.”
He’d said the words to her last week, but her heart had been locked up tight that night. Now, with the locks stripped away by longing, she finally heard him. Finally understood that he wasn’t just saying what he thought she wanted to hear.
“I love you.”
Every time he said it, the three little words went deeper into her, straight into the center of the heart she’d so carefully guarded her whole life.
“I love you.”
His mouth was barely a breath from hers, and where he would usually have been kissing her as she came apart in his arms, tonight he whispered the words over and over again—IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyou—in a kiss made entirely of love.
Kerry went tumbling into a release so powerful, so astonishingly wonderful, that she could have sworn fireworks were shooting out over the lake. But tonight, every beautiful explosion, every dazzling detonation was inside of her as Adam’s lips finally crashed into hers again, and he kissed her through his own release.
The surface of the water around them calmed long before her own heart rate steadied. As she laid her head on his shoulder, the truth was that Kerry never wanted to let go. Never wanted to have to think past the beauty of their physical connection. Never wanted to have to dissect anything more than the fact that Adam made her feel safe and warm.
And loved. So loved that she reeled from it. She couldn’t quite believe that anyone could feel so deeply for her, deeply enough that he would say the words to her again and again and again the way Adam had.
He stroked her back. “I should take you inside and dry you off before you get cold.”
“I’m not cold,” she protested, but she knew her body temperature would soon drop. It was just that as soon as they got out of the water and got dressed and weren’t making love anymore, she’d have to make good on her promise. Her promise not to run, but to talk. Really talk to him about the two of them.