Authors: Amy Andrews
He’d lain awake at night thinking about her kiss. And it was as good as he remembered. Better. She opened to him on a sigh, moved into the shelter of his arms as if she belonged there and he felt the last of the cold disappear from his bones as an intense heat roared and raged through his marrow.
And then he was hot everywhere.
Their tongues tangoed as he pressed her back onto the sand, his thigh instantly pushing between hers, his hand automatically stroking down her neck, across her shoulders before claiming a breast, firmer and rounder even than he remembered, the nipple beading instantly beneath his palm.
Evie moaned as she arched her back, pushing herself into his hand more, the ache of the aroused tip mirroring the ache between her legs. She rubbed against his thigh to relieve it but he only pushed harder against her, stoking the need higher.
And then with a muffled curse against her mouth he was over her, on top of her, and she revelled in the pressure of him pushing her into the warm sand, the imprint of each grain against the backs of her calves, the feel of the naked planes of his back dry and warm from the sun beneath her hands.
Her head spun from his kiss, her breath was short and choppy and her belly dipped and tightened with every thrust and parry of his tongue. And if it hadn’t been for a lone seagull landing practically on top of them and startling them both out of their stupor, Evie had no doubt they would have gone all the way, oblivious to everything but the primitive imperative of their bodies.
Evie broke off their kiss as sense invaded their bubble and she became aware they were making out on a beach and anyone with two eyes and a pair of binoculars could be watching them from the cliff top. Not to mention anyone coming down the stairs from the retreat copping an eyeful.
Finn uttered another curse and rolled off her, flopping onto his back, his chest heaving, his pulse battering his temples, his erection throbbing painfully.
‘Finn.’ She reached for his arm but he vaulted upright abruptly and she knew he was already regretting what had happened.
‘I’m sorry, he said. ‘That shouldn’t have happened.’
Evie sighed as she too sat, her body still zinging from their kisses. ‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘We’re both adults, Finn.’
Finn shook his head vehemently. ‘We’re not going down this road again, Evie,’ he said.
Evie smoothed her dress over her knees.
. Tell him they were on the road together whether he liked it or not. ‘Would it be so bad?’
‘I lose my head when I’m around you and I don’t like it.’
‘That’s a shame,’ she said, trying to lighten the moment.
‘I like it when you lose your head.’
‘Damn it, Evie,’ he barked, looking at her, her lips full and soft from his ravaging. ‘I don’t. I don’t like it. I almost had you naked on your back on this beach.’
She placed her hand on his forearm. It felt warm and solid in her palm and she never wanted to let go.
But she couldn’t. She didn’t want to use the baby to win him. ‘Finn … I’ve known you for five years and I’ve never seen you so relaxed. So why don’t you just … relax and see where this takes us?’
Finn shrugged her hand away. ‘You want more than I’m prepared to give. And you deserve it, too.’ He stood and looked down at her. ‘We’ve got two weeks here together. Let’s just stay away from each other, okay?’
He didn’t give her a chance to reply as he turned on his heel. The baby thumped around inside her as she watched him stride off. No doubt it was trying to make her feel guilty for not accomplishing what she’d come to the beach to achieve.
‘Sorry, baby,’ she whispered. ‘Not going to happen. I’ll tell him when we get to Sydney—promise.’
AND STAY AWAY from each other they did. At least, Finn steered clear of her anyway.
His distance reminded her of how they had co-existed for years at the hospital. Aware of each other, of what might have happened that first night they’d met at the gala in Finn’s honour had her father not come along and given her away as a Lockheart. Aware of something bubbling beneath the surface but neither crossing the professional divide—junior doctor and consultant.
Even her catastrophic relationship with Stuart now seemed a desperate attempt to cling to someone she could have, to distract herself from someone she couldn’t.
But despite all that, their mutual attraction—subversive, unspoken—had simmered away until it had flared out of control one day and little by little she’d wedged herself into his life. He hadn’t liked it, he didn’t like it now, but it was simply too big to ignore.
Although she had to give it to Finn, the man did denial better than anyone she knew.
So Evie did what she had been raised to do from an early age by a father who’d prized her social skills above her brains and talent—she fitted in.
She got to know the gang. Mingled with the guys as they went about their day-to-day business—despite Finn’s scowls. Took quad lessons with whoever was around to teach her. Helped Tom out at the gym and in the hydrotherapy pool. Became a sounding board for Ethan over a couple of the guys he was worried about.
And she slept in and read a book a day from the extensive library at the homestead and ate the delicious food cooked by Reginald, an ex-army chef, and soaked in the sea air and the sunshine like a giant sponge. She felt good—fit and healthy—and knew from the mirror that the tired smudges beneath her eyes had disappeared and that her skin was glowing and her hair shone.
She’d also taken to swimming after her clinic each day. She tagged along with a group of the guys and lolled in ankle-deep waters as they ran drills on the beach. Despite being a strong swimmer, she was never quite game enough to go out too far, preferring the gentler push and pull of the shallows. Such a desolate windswept section of the coastline, dominated by sheer cliffs and rocky outcrops, needed to be respected.
After a couple of hours of swimming and soaking up the sun they’d head back again. Oftentimes Finn would be on his way down. The men would greet him enthusiastically and if any of them thought Finn’s reserved response was odd they never commented. They seemed to respect him and his personal space and if it made Evie sad to think that Finn came to the beach alone when he could have had company, she was obviously the only one.
Two weeks flew by so fast and Evie couldn’t believe it was her last day as she dressed for her final sojourn to the beach. Thoughts of how relaxing it had been here filled her head as she rounded the side of the veranda and literally ran smack bang into Finn.
‘Sorry,’ she apologised as he grabbed her to steady her from their impact.
For the briefest moment their bodies were pressed together and neither of them moved as heat arced between them. Then Finn set her back and stepped away.
‘Going down for your daily flirt, I see?’ he said through stiff lips.
He looked her up and down as if she was wearing a skimpy bikini instead of a very sensible pair of boardies and the un-sexiest sun shirt ever made. Apart from the fact the shirt was tight around her bust due to the pregnancy, everywhere else pretty much hung and Evie was grateful for the extra layers of fabric as her bump seemed to become more and more noticeable to her by the day.
She decided to ignore the jibe. ‘Have you packed up all your stuff for the trip home tomorrow?’
Her time in paradise was over—Hamish would be back tonight and she and Finn would return to Sydney tomorrow. A flutter wormed its way through her belly at the thought of going back. Part of her wanted to stay—hole up here and forget the world. With the pound of the ocean below, it was incredibly tempting. But she was a fighter, not a hider. And real life beckoned.
The thought of being in a car with Finn for five hours, of having him back in Sydney, of telling him what she knew she must, made her pulse trip.
But it had to be done.
‘Nothing to pack—I still have my apartment with everything I’ll need,’ he said. ‘And I’ll be coming straight back here after Khalid’s discharge.’
Evie blinked. ‘You’re coming back?’
Finn gave a curt nod. ‘Yes. I’m done with surgery.’ He hadn’t been sure when she’d first arrived but two weeks back in her company had crystallised his decision.
Evie stared at him blankly for a moment then allowed the bubble of laughter rising in her throat an escape. He seriously thought he could just waltz in and do a one-off and not be sucked back into a world he’d thrived in?
Even she knew being a surgeon was like oxygen to him.
‘You know as well as I do that you’ll change your mind the minute you step foot in your old operating theatre.’
Finn hated how her laughter trivialised something he’d grappled with for a long time.
And that that she knew him so well
It had been hell having her around the last two weeks. Hearing her voice and catching glimpses of her everywhere. Reminding him of them. Of his old life. Watching the guys flirt with her and then talk about her—
Evie this and Evie that
. The calm that he’d found here over the last months had well and truly evaporated and he desperately wanted it back.
The sooner he fulfilled his end of the bargain, the sooner he could find it again.
But he was scared. Scared that her prediction would come to pass. That he’d pick up a scalpel and find the salvation he’d always found there. The concentration, the focus, the intensity.
That he’d never want to leave.
Scared that he’d say yes. To surgery. To her.
And Finn didn’t like feeling scared. It reminded him too much of the perpetual fear he’d lived with during his fractured childhood—for him, for Isaac. Trying to keep him safe, to keep them together.
Fear that he’d conquered a long time ago.
And frankly it pissed him off
‘Don’t think you know me,’ he snarled, ‘because you don’t. You think because we rutted like animals …’ he saw her flinch at his deliberate crudity but his adrenaline was flowing and he couldn’t stop ‘… a few times that you know me? Read my lips.’ He shoved his face close to hers and watched her hazel eyes widen. ‘I don’t want to be a surgeon,’ he hissed. ‘I don’t want to work at your father’s precious hospital.
I don’t want to be anywhere you are
Evie felt like he’d taken a bloody great sword and cleaved it right through her middle, leaving her mortally wounded. A surge of white-hot bile rose in her chest as a blinding need to strike back took hold.
‘You’re a liar, Finn Kennedy,’ she snarled. ‘And a coward to boot. And to think you once called yourself a soldier!’
Finn took a step back at the disdain and contempt in her voice. No one had ever called him a coward before. No one. And he was damned if he was going to legitimise her accusation with a response.
Evie drew in a ragged breath as Finn stormed away, her insides shaking at their exchange. At her terrible insult. At the venom in his voice. Anger she’d expected—God knew, he pretty much existed in a perpetually angry state—but vitriol? That had been cutting. A block of tangled emotions rose to mingle with the acid in her chest and her legs started to shake. The urge to crumple into a heap undulated through her muscles but she refused to succumb to it.
Not here on the veranda, at least.
On autopilot she slung her hold-all over her shoulder, found the stairs, pounded down them. Hurried down the track, his angry words chasing her, nipping at her heels. And it didn’t matter that she’d given as good as she’d got, that her words had been just as harsh, it was his voice that ran through her head.
Rutted like animals
Your father’s precious hospital
I don’t want to be anywhere you’re at
It was a little early for her rendezvous with the guys—it didn’t matter, she had to keep moving, do something other than think, get away from his words.
Rutted like animals
The ocean, more rolling than pounding and surprisingly calm in some areas beneath the leaden sky, lay before her and she knew it was what she needed. To cleanse herself. Let the ocean wash the ugliness of his words away.
Rutted. Rutted. Rutted
She took the stairs two at a time, her breath choking and catching in her throat, shaking her head to jam the audio playing on continuous loop.
Her foot hit the sand, her lungs and throat burning as breath and sob fought for the lion’s share of each inhalation. She ran down to the shoreline, dropped her bag and kept going, running into the water, not registering the cooler temperature or the depth she quickly reached.
She just threw herself into the waves and struck out against the ocean. Heaving in oxygen through her nose, pulling armfuls of water behind her as she freestyled like she had a rocket attached to her feet.
Getting away from Finn. Away from his words.
Away from his rejection.
She swam and swam, not looking up or around, just hitting out at the waves as her anger grew to match his.
Finn Kennedy was a jerk of the highest order.