Authors: Teresa Hill
"And I'm the man who yelled at his angel-girl for not taking her clothes off fast enough. Shit."
"I'm sorry." She laughed again. "He was walking out the door when you called, but he forgot something and came back, and then I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. I was trying to get him out the front door, before you came in the back, but he never uses the front door of my house, and he knew something was up."
"He is going to hate me for the rest of his life."
"No, he's not."
"I'm the guy who's also been sneaking around with his daughter in secret all these months," Aidan pointed out.
"Well, yes. But he'll get over that."
"I'm going to need my uniform when I meet them. Him, again, and your mother for the first time. God," Aidan said. "Maybe even the damned choker—"
"Full dress whites. The collar's a bitch, so we call it the choker. I think I'll need that and every medal I've ever been awarded. Do you think that would impress him? I have three purple hearts—"
"It'll be fine, I promise. Once he gets to know you—"
"Baby, he doesn't want to know me. He wants me to drop dead, right now, before I can ever lay a hand on you again."
"Which you still haven't done since you got here," she said, walking over to him and pulling him to his feet.
She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him soundly.
"Hi," she said, sweet as could be. "So, what is my surprise?"
"Oh, that's gone. Probably scarred for life by that little meeting with your father and never coming back."
"I woke up with a hard-on this morning. And the morning before that," he said.
"Oh!" Her whole face lit up at that, and then she laid a hand over the zipper of his pants, which was flat as could be, no signs of life at all, just as he predicted.
"Really. It's gone. I may never get it back."
She made a dismissive sound, looking supremely confident. "I'll fix that."
"I don't know, Grace. I've been traumatized."
"Right now, we're going to think about something else." Her hand was still delicately cupping him through his pants, while she smiled at him with that gorgeous mouth of hers, her eyes sparkling with amusement and maybe pure joy.
He kissed her once, then again, and finally started to remember exactly why he'd surprised her with this visit.
"God, I've waited so long for this," he said.
"Did you lock the back door, when you came in?" she asked.
She took him by the hand as she locked the front door and led him down the hall toward her bedroom, stopping along the way to tell the dog to get on his bed in the family room. He pouted and cried a bit, knowing he was about to be left out and not happy about it.
Once inside her room, Aidan took his good, sweet time undressing her. Standing with her in his arms by the bed kissing her, slowly and with as much patience as he could muster, taking off one piece of clothing and then kissing her again.
He could feel the smile across her lips as they kissed, pure joy surrounding them.
She had one hand on his side, low on his hip, and one delicately cupping him through his jeans, softly raking her nails along the fabric at times, lightly pressing against his cock a moment later, and hallelujah, this was going to work, finally! He could feel his body doing exactly what it was supposed to do.
She turned her attention to undressing him, got his shirt off, pushed him to sit on the side of the bed so she could take off his shoes and socks, then pulled him to his feet to undo his jeans. She pulled down the zipper and in one motion, got rid of his jeans and briefs.
He was planning on pulling her with him to the bed, but before he could, she sank down to her knees in front of him and went to work on him with her mouth.
"Ahh, Grace." He sucked in air, his head spinning as all the blood in his body rushed to his cock. "I'm not sure this is a good idea right now, much as I love it."
"Please? I've been waiting for this, too."
He let a hand rest against her head, needing to touch her, trying to let her know how much he loved this, trying not to look down at her. Because the sight of Grace, his beautiful, very good girl, on her knees, loving him this way, was almost more than he could stand.
He started to shake with the effort it took to hold back, and she must have felt that, because she stood up, peeled off her pretty lace panties—flesh-colored, from him, and just amazing on her, although truly, every pair she wore was.
Then she pushed him back onto the bed and climbed in beside him.
"So," she said, smiling, "Tell me what you want."
"You. Just you."
"And how do you want me this first time? I assume you've given it some thought?"
He laughed. "About a million hours."
"So, what did you decide?"
"As long as it's you, Grace. I just need it to be you."
She rolled onto her back and pulled him on top of her, and in the end, it was just him lying on top of her, sinking inside her, finally, that wet, welcoming heat that was Grace.
He needed that connection with her, needed to feel their bodies joined in this way, needed to be as close to her as he could get.
"I want this to last forever," he said, his elbows braced on the bed just above her shoulders, her face cupped in his hands. "I need to be here, just like this, with you, for as long as we can stand it."
"Okay," she said.
And he laughed. "Okay, says the most agreeable, most beautiful woman in the world, to anything I say. Have I told you how much I love that about you? That I can say anything, even the hardest things, and you say, 'Okay.' I love that."
"You just have the best ideas," she said, rocking gently against him.
He closed his eyes and groaned, savoring the sweet sensation the slightest movement by either one of them brought.
"I know," she said, thrusting so subtly against him once more. "We can make it a game."
"A game? Baby, you come up with the best games."
"Or maybe a dare?"
"Okay. What's the dare?"
"Who can last the longest without moving."
"No, no, no. I have to move. Just a little bit." And he did, making her whimper and then sigh, so sexily.
"Okay, a little bit," she agreed. "Just that. What you just did. What I did. A centimeter. Nothing more."
"Grace, I have to tell you, the thing about these games of yours? I just don't see any way I can possibly lose."
* * *
Rachel McRae was in her kitchen calmly sipping wine when Emma, her oldest daughter, walked in, leaving Zach and Sam in another room, raging. She could hear them, Sam sounding madder than he'd been in years.
"I've been sent to the kitchen to talk some sense into you," Emma said. "And that's a direct quote. I've never seen Sam like this."
"He met Grace's new man."
"Oh! He's here? In the house somewhere? I didn't think she'd ever let us meet him."
"No, he's at Grace's," Rachel said, holding out her open bottle of wine to Em, who nodded her acceptance. It might be a long night in the McRae house.
"So, what's wrong with him?" Emma asked, as she turned and found a wine goblet in the cabinet.
"Apparently, it was a memorable first meeting. He didn't realize Sam was there and... said something Sam didn't need to hear."
"Something I didn't need to hear?" Sam had arrived in the kitchen, still furious, their son behind him. "He's an ass. Didn't she learn anything from That Damned Frenchman?"
Sam wouldn't even say his name anymore. It was just That Damned Frenchman. Rachel understood. She despised the man, too, but she had hopes for the new one. First, she didn't think Grace would make a mistake like that again. And more than that, she'd seen how happy her youngest daughter had been the last few months. It had been such a relief, to finally see her happy.
"So, what did he say?" Emma asked.
"He waltzed into her house like he owned the place and complained because she didn't take her clothes off fast enough for him," Sam said, still bellowing.
And Rachel laughed, couldn't help it, because she didn't think it had been anything like what Sam thought, although there was no telling him that. She knew how worried he'd been about Grace for so long, how much he loved her. It was a special kind of hell for a father to think he saw a man taking advantage of one of his daughters or hurting her.
So Rachel was trying to be understanding. "Tell them exactly what he said, Sam. Word for word."
"You think that makes it any better? He said, 'Why are you still dressed? I told you to be naked when I got here.' "
"And what did Grace do?" Rachel asked, hoping her husband might have calmed down enough to actually listen this time.
"She laughed," Sam said, like that made him mad, too.
"How did she laugh? Like she was embarrassed?"
"I would think so. I'm her father!"
"Or did she sound happy, Sam?"
He stood there, dumbstruck for a moment, obviously searching his mind for the moment, wanting to remember.
"Because she's sounded happy lately," Rachel reminded him. "I know you've noticed."
"And you think it's because of this guy?" Sam asked.
Emma did, too.
The men looked puzzled, surprised.
"You knew?" Zach asked. "Both of you?"
She and Emma nodded.
"And you didn't say anything?" Sam asked.
"It was so obvious," Emma said. "You guys really didn't notice?"
"Should we have told them?" Rachel asked Em. "You know, not kept secrets from them?" Because the women in the family were all still mad about the one the men had kept from them about That Damned Frenchman.
"Come on," Zach said. "Could you have told her that? After telling her that her husband was dead?"
"We just thought, if you guys could keep secrets from her, she should be able to keep some secrets from you," Rachel said.
And didn't that make Sam mad all over again. Poor man. He was just a mess when it came to their children maybe being hurt, particularly Grace. She'd been so little when she'd come to them, a beautiful baby, impossible to resist.
"Well, I don't like him," Sam said.
"You don't even know him," Rachel pointed out. "He can't be someone from here in town. We'd have heard about it."
"No, and besides, I think she met him during that ridiculously long weekend she took back in September to see Luc's parents. When she came back, she was different."
"She was," Rachel agreed. "Just, please, tell me he's not connected in any way to Luc."
"But how did she meet a man at Ellen's? I still can't figure that out," Emma said. "Did Ellen introduce her? Surely she wouldn't do that, when Luc hadn't even been gone a year. And please, please, tell me he's not French."
"He's not French. He's an American, at least," Sam said. "A military guy—"
"Wait," Zach cut in. "Military?"
Sam nodded. "Stood at attention. I thought he was going to salute me."
"Damn, that's it." Zach shook his head. "That's where the damned dog came from."
"I don't care about the dog," Sam said. "You know the guy?"
"Aidan Shaw, right?"
Sam nodded. "I think that's what Grace said."
"He's Tommy Shaw's brother. You remember Tommy. We went to law school together. He spent a few breaks from school here. His brother needed a place to stay for a while. I loaned him the cabin last fall. He was there for two and a half months or so. He needed to lay low for a while."
"Lay low?" Sam pounced on that. "What did he do to need to hide out?"
"It wasn't like that. The guy's a war hero, career Navy, Annapolis grad, nearly died last summer in Afghanistan. He was still recovering when he came here. He helped rescue our neighbor at the lake, Maeve, when a tree fell on her last fall, probably saved her life, and then he took in her dog."
"Her dog was little and obnoxious," Sam said.
"I know. That's why I never made the connection. The dogs were so different. But the little one was old. She must have had a new dog by then. When she got hurt, the dog needed a place to stay. Aidan said he was going to take it. That was practically the same weekend that Grace showed up with that giant thing she calls a dog."
"But how did he meet Grace?" Sam asked.
"I have no idea."
"Okay, but he's a nice guy, right?" Rachel asked. "A war hero who rescues little old ladies and takes in their dogs?"
"Yells at our daughter for not taking her clothes off fast enough?" Sam reminded her. "I hate the idea of him treating her that way."
"Sam, you said she got a phone call and tried to hustle you out the door before he got there. Then she started laughing after he walked in and said that to her."