“I’m glad you said yes. I’ll be there, too.”
“Rafe said they want to have dinner together so that the four of us can talk more about the gazebo plans.”
“I’m pretty sure they’re trying to set us up.”
Kerry was always eloquent and poised. The fact that she was barely able to string words together right then meant that she was surprised and more than a little flustered.
“My entire family is hell-bent on marrying me off.” Adam glanced over to his brother, on the phone with his fiancée, almost certain that Rafe and Brooke were working on taking their scheming up a level now that they knew both Kerry and Adam would be at dinner. “If I had to guess, I’d say they’ve decided you’d be a perfect addition to the family.”
Her horrified silence said more than words ever could. Finally, she said, “You’re joking, aren’t you?”
“I’m sure Brooke will be calling you back any minute now to let you know that I’m coming, too. And if you listen real close, you’ll hear the sound of gleeful matchmaking behind every word.” Literally five seconds later, he heard the familiar click on the line that meant Kerry was getting another call.
“That’s her now,” Kerry confirmed.
“I’ll see you tonight. Both during—and after—dinner.”
“After?” Her earlier horror quickly turned to breathlessness. “You still want to meet after dinner?”
He could hear every one of the second thoughts she’d been having in her question. “I do, but that decision is still entirely up to you.”
Because even though he’d never wanted a night more, he wouldn’t let himself push her into anything she didn’t want to do—he’d never forgive himself for taking something she wasn’t ready to give.
He expected her to hang up to take Brooke’s call, but she surprised him by saying instead, “I told you I wouldn’t back out.”
That should have been good enough for him. Any other fool would have taken her promise and run with it. But Adam wanted more from Kerry tonight than a promise to show up.
“I don’t want you to meet me upstairs in the hotel suite after dinner because you gave your word. I want you to meet me because—”
“I want it.” He could hear her breath catch slightly before she added, “And I want you.”
“Rafe, Brooke, it’s lovely to see both of you!”
Kerry didn’t hug all of her clients—her mother had been adamant that it wasn’t professional behavior—but she’d always been so comfortable with Rafe and Brooke that moving beyond handshakes had happened quickly.
“You’re always so gorgeous,” Brooke said as she admired Kerry’s wrap dress.
“So are you,” Kerry said, wishing, not for the first time, that she had even a tenth of Brooke’s curves.
“Thank you so much for meeting us on such short notice. I hope you like this restaurant. Adam chose it, and he’s usually spot-on when it comes to good food.”
Tonight they would be dining at the five-star restaurant in the hotel where Adam had reserved the penthouse suite for the night. Which meant that the whole time they were having dinner with his brother and future sister-in-law, Kerry wouldn’t be able to forget that they’d be taking the elevator up a little while later.
Her brain came to an abrupt halt as her entire body suddenly came alive at the sight of Adam moving across the hotel lobby straight toward them. Her pale Irish skin meant she’d long ago had to learn how to keep her blushing to a minimum. But tonight, her self-control was just shaky enough that she felt the heat Adam always made her feel move across her cheeks.
“Kerry. It’s good to see you again.”
How did he manage to be better and better looking every time she saw him?
Instead of shaking her hand, he bent down to give her a soft kiss on the cheek, and she couldn’t keep from breathing him in. He smelled like he’d just come out of a shower. It was all her brain needed to immediately run away with naughty visions of what he’d look like with warm water running down his naked muscles. That would have been enough to fluster her, but when she added the knowledge that, in a matter of hours, she was going to find out just how good he looked naked…
How was she ever going to make it through dinner in one piece? Especially when she needed to keep her nearly exploding lust for Adam a complete and total secret from his brother and his brother’s fiancée?
Fortunately, she had a little time to compose herself while he pulled Brooke into a bear hug and swung her around. Brooke’s laughter rang through the otherwise hushed lobby, especially when Rafe growled, “Move your hands any lower and even being my brother won’t save you.”
“You know I love it when he gets all possessive like this,” Brooke teased. “Say something totally inappropriate, Adam.”
But before Adam could open his mouth, Rafe took his fiancée back into his arms and kissed her.
“Everyone in my family is like this,” Adam told Kerry in a low voice. “Even my parents.”
Though she knew her cheeks were hotter than ever at the way Brooke was clearly melting in Rafe’s arms, Kerry resisted the urge to cover them with her hands. “It’s very romantic.”
When Adam made a sound that bordered on disgust, she was surprised to find herself smiling. Honestly, there was something incredibly refreshing about a man who didn’t try to pretend about anything. Adam was quite obviously a man who wasn’t trying to pull anything over on anyone. He believed what he believed and didn’t care what anyone thought about those beliefs.
Even better, that knowledge that what she saw was what she’d get with Adam made her feel like she could breathe again.
At least, until they sat down and she realized he hadn’t been kidding about the matchmaking. Because after barely ten minutes of wedding talk, it seemed all Brooke and Rafe wanted to do was prove to Kerry just how compatible she and Adam were.
It didn’t help, of course, when she and Adam ordered the exact same meal, down to the wine they preferred.
“Kerry, last time we met,” Brooke said, “you were telling us about that hike you found just outside of the city. Adam loves to hike, and I’m sure he’d love to know about it, too.”
“I sure would,” he said, looking perfectly relaxed about the setup in progress. “Tell me all about it.”
Clearly, he’d been down this matchmaking road many times before. And just as clearly, she could see that grinning and bearing it was the path of least resistance.
Deciding to take a page out of his book, she smiled at him and said, “It’s straight uphill for four miles, but if you don’t care about being able to breathe, the views are absolutely heavenly.”
His eyebrows went up. “Are you talking about Mount Dickerman?”
“You know it?”
“It nearly killed me the last time I did it.” He looked more than a little impressed. “One surprise after another, aren’t you?”
For a moment, as he looked at her with a mixture of respect—and desire—she forgot there was anyone in the room but the two of them. Thank God the waiter came to remove their starters just then.