Read Love After Dark Online

Authors: Marie Force

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction

Love After Dark (6 page)

BOOK: Love After Dark
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Chapter 4

Jenny and Alex walked outside, and the bright sunshine had Alex reaching for the shades he’d pushed to the top of his head while they were inside. “Let’s go home for lunch.”

She looked up at him. “How come?”

“Because I want some time alone with my fiancée.”

“We’re both working today.”

“So? Are we too busy for lunch?”

“Your mom and Hope are there and—”

“I want to go to

“Oh. Okay.”

“Go on ahead. I’ll grab some food and meet you there.” He bent to kiss her and once again noted the slight hesitation before she returned his kiss. By the time this afternoon was over, he was going to get to the bottom of what was going on with her. If she told him she didn’t want to get married anymore—

, he thought, as he got into his truck and followed her out of the Chesterfield driveway. She couldn’t have changed her mind. If she told him she didn’t want to get married, he wasn’t sure how he would cope. After the incredible year they’d spent together, he’d never be able to face a future without her. Alex was fully prepared to fight for her, no matter what it took.

He stopped at the grocery store and picked up sandwiches as well as a bottle of the iced tea she loved and headed for home. As he passed the retail store, he slowed to take a look at the activity, more out of habit than actual interest. The only thing he was interested in at the moment was Jenny.

Behind the retail store, he hung a left onto a new dirt lane that had been created by the construction vehicles that had traversed the property while their house was being built. It was down to finish work now, and he was doing most of that himself. They were on schedule to move in before the wedding, and until recently, he’d been under the impression that she was looking forward to the next month as much as he was. Now he wasn’t so sure.

Jenny was sitting on the front stairs waiting for him when he pulled up and shut off the truck. The two-story shingled colonial had four bedrooms, plenty of space for the family they hoped to have. He grabbed the bag from the store and got out to walk over to her. “Inside or out here?”

“It’s so pretty outside today.”

“Outside it is.”

“Is it me or is the air different this month?”

“It’s not you. Happens every September. The humidity disappears, the days are clear, and the nights are chilly. I love it.”

“I do, too.” She accepted the turkey wrap he’d gotten for her and smiled at him when he produced the iced tea. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

They ate in silence, which had Alex’s roast beef sandwich landing like a brick in his stomach. His Jenny wasn’t quiet or withdrawn, especially not with him. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had to know what was bothering her. “We need to talk, babe.”

She glanced at him, the trepidation in her expression tugging at his heart. “What’s wrong?”

“That’s what I’d like to know.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

He had to force himself to say the words, to ask the question that had to be asked, even if the answer had the power to devastate him. “Do you still want to get married?”

She gasped. “Why would you ask me that? Do
not want to?”

“Jenny, God, all I want is to be married to you, but lately, you seem so…so sad and like you’re forcing yourself through the motions with the wedding.”

To his dismay, she began to cry.

Alex put his arm around her and gathered her in close to him, fortified by her reaction to his initial question. “Baby, whatever is wrong, we can fix it, but I can’t help if I don’t know what’s bothering you. Is it me? Did I do something?”

She shook her head vigorously but was crying too hard to speak.

“Jenny, sweetheart, I love you so much. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make you happy. If you’d rather wait a while longer before we get married—”

“No, that’s n-not what I want.”

“Then what is it? Please tell me so I can help.”

She buried her face in her hands as he continued to caress her back.

“Talk to me. Whatever it is, I want to know.”

Lifting her head and looking at him, she said, “I’m so sorry you thought I didn’t want to marry you. That’s not it. I swear. I love you, and I can’t wait to marry you.”

Relieved to hear her say that so forcefully, he said, “Then why do you seem so unhappy? Is it the wedding itself?”

Shaking her head, she sighed. “I know what you’re going to say. It seems ridiculous to me, but I can’t seem to help it.”

“What can’t you help?”

She wiped the tears from her face and looked at him. “I’ve been right here before, right where we are now. Less than a month until my wedding…”

And then he knew exactly what was bothering her and felt terrible that he hadn’t realized it sooner. “Nothing’s going to happen, sweetheart.” He took hold of her hand. “I promise you. Nothing will happen. Not this time.”

“You don’t know that. Every time you leave me, I’m afraid, and I hate myself for feeling that way.”

“Then I won’t leave you again until after we say ‘I do.’”

Smiling even as tears rolled down her cheeks, she shook her head. “That’s very sweet of you, but we both have work to do, and we can’t spend every minute together for the next three weeks.”

“Yes, we can. If it means you’ll relax and stop worrying that something bad is going to happen, we can absolutely do that.”

“It’s not necessary. You’re busy. I’m busy. I’m just being foolish.”

“No, you’re not. I can’t bear the thought of you being afraid every minute that we’re apart for weeks. But you know what was even worse than that?”


“Thinking you’d changed your mind about us. About me.”

“Not for one second. I’m so sorry I made you worry about that.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. “I’m also thinking a lot about seeing Toby’s parents at the wedding and how that’ll feel for me—and for them. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them.”

“You know they’re happy for you. They said so when you called to tell them we were engaged.”

“Still… For them to see me marry someone else…” She raised her head to meet his gaze. “I want that day to be about you and me and no one else, but it’s not just about us.”

“It’s never been just about us. Toby is part of us. Remember what I said when I proposed about how I wanted to honor him and his memory and what he meant to you?”

“I could never forget that.”

“We need to find a way to do that on our wedding day.”

“We don’t have to—”

“I know we don’t have to, but I want to. We should.”

She blinked rapidly, trying to contain more tears. “What do you have in mind?”

“You know how we’re doing the unity candle thing during the ceremony?”

She nodded.

“How about we light a third candle in his memory? No one needs to know why we’re doing that, but we’ll know. What do you think?”

“That would be very special, and you’re very sweet for thinking of it.”

“I understand and respect what he meant to you, Jenny, and I know that the only reason I get to have forever with you is because he didn’t. I’ll never forget that.”

“I hate that you thought, for even one second, that I didn’t want to marry you.”

“I didn’t know what to think when you got really quiet and withdrawn.”

“I’m sorry. I should’ve talked to you about it, but it seemed so silly.”

“It’s not silly, and I get it. But this time… This time you’re going to have that magical day and every day after, because I’m not going anywhere.”

She smiled at him, but the sadness lingered in her big brown eyes. What they both knew but didn’t say was that Toby hadn’t planned to be anywhere but with her either. This time she was going to get her happily ever after, no matter what.

He stood and gave her hand a gentle tug. “Come inside with me.”

“We have to get back to work.”

“I own the company, and as your boss, I’m telling you to come inside with me.”

“Paul’s my boss,” she said with a playfully defiant look in her eyes that he much preferred to the tears.

“Get your sexy ass in the house before I spank it.”

“Do you want me to start throwing tomatoes at you again?”

“You can throw anything you want at me.”

They were halfway up the stairs when Jenny turned to him, meeting him at eye level from the stair above his. “Thanks for making me talk about it.”

“I always want to know what you’re thinking. If you’re unhappy, so am I.”

She put her arms on his shoulders, encircling his neck. “I’m not unhappy. I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, all because of you.”

Reaching around her, he cupped her bottom and lifted her off her feet as he continued up the stairs, carrying her into the master bedroom where he’d surprised her with an air mattress a couple of weeks ago to hold them over until their new furniture arrived.

“We can’t be doing this in the middle of a workday. It sets a terrible example for the employees.”

“I love when you’re stern with me. It’s so hot.”

Jenny rolled her eyes the way she always did when he said something outrageous, which he did frequently because he loved pushing her buttons. “Everything makes you hot.”

make me hot,” he said, molding his lips to hers as he lowered them to the mattress without missing a beat in the kiss. “Tomatoes make me hot.”

Jenny started laughing and couldn’t seem to stop. “Am I ever going to hear the end of the tomatoes?”

“Never.” Hearing her laugh hard made him realize how long it had been since she’d done that. Her belly laugh was another thing that made him hot. He helped her out of her clothes and then pulled off his own, ignoring the fact that he probably needed a shower after the morning spent working. But that would take time he didn’t want to waste with her naked and eager beneath him.

He kissed her all over, starting at her neck and working his way down to her breasts, her belly and between her legs. She came twice, one right after the other, and was still in the throes of the second one when he drove into her, triggering another wave. There was nothing in this entire world that felt better than being with her this way, and he couldn’t wait to be married to her.

And as he made love to her, he promised himself to spend as much time with her as he possibly could over the next few weeks, to reassure her that nothing was going to go wrong this time.

The house was full of people who’d come to pay their respects to Lisa, to deliver food, to check on the boys, to offer to help in any way they could. Seamus appreciated the outpouring. Hell, he’d expected it of the Gansett Island community. But his entire focus was on the two little boys who were now his responsibility. His and Caro’s.

Lisa had signed over custody to them days before she died, but the boys had felt like theirs for much longer than that. He and Caro had been caring for them, as well as the mixed-breed puppy they’d named Burpy, for weeks now as their mum slowly faded away from the ravages of lung cancer.

He held the younger boy, Jackson, who was five, on his lap. The poor kid had been inconsolable all day, even though they’d done what they could to prepare him and his brother Kyle, age six, for the inevitable. But what did little guys their age know about death and dying? He’d been much older than they were now when he lost first one brother and then the other, and he hadn’t been able to make sense of it then. How were they to make sense of losing their young mum so tragically?

Having to tell them that Lisa had died overnight was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do. Though they’d known it was coming, the reality had been heartbreaking for them.

The boys lit up at the sight of Shane and Mac McCarthy, who’d been building them a house when their mother got sick. Now the house, like their mother, was lost to them, but Seamus was determined to fill the void in every possible way that he could.

BOOK: Love After Dark
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Devil's Eye by Al Ruksenas
Lauren's Dilemma by Margaret Tanner
Potionate Love by Patricia Mason
The Doctor's Redemption by Susan Carlisle
Cuckoo by Julia Crouch
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
True Grey by Clea Simon
The Society of Orion: The Orion Codex by Gerald J . Kubicki, Kristopher Kubicki
Eureka by Jim Lehrer