Authors: Cyndi Raye
From the Author of What Tomorrow Brings
continues the Romance in the Keys Series with
Jake & Maggie’s journey in
Where Tomorrow Leads
Copyright © 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
To my husband, my best friend, the man who inspires and lights my fires. This is the beginning of a long road ahead as we continue on our journey. I love you forever.
Jake stood back and nodded to himself. He brushed fingers across his chin and ran a muscular hand through dark hair. Perfect!
“Is that all, boss?” another man asked, standing up and stretching his back.
“Thanks. It looks good, I appreciate the help.”
“No problem, boss. See you tomorrow.” The man in blue jeans and a light tee shirt closed the door behind him.
Jake wasn’t sure why he was so nervous. In twenty minutes Maggie would walk through the door to find a surprise. Would she like the changes? He stood in meetings with the mayor and governor of the state without being one bit nervous. Why was a trickle of sweat forming at his brow now? He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slow, memories of the last night at his hotel burning bright.
He paced back and forth in the small bungalow, a grin on his nervous face as he remembered how she thought he was his twin brother Jon, standing in the garden hidden by foliage, making out with Cari. Maggie was so jealous she marched down to the gardens to confront him and when Jon turned, they both crashed in to each other, winding up entangled in each others arms on the ground.
At that exact moment when Jake entered the garden and thought she was with someone else, his heart pounded in his throat. She was the one for him, the one who had his heart. He had to tell her what she meant to him. Even though she said she wanted it all, the house, kids, white picket fence, all he promised her at the time was a loyal heart. No more, no less. He knew she wanted marriage, but he couldn’t ask her yet. He had to work out some of his own issues first. After the moment in the gardens, they became inseparable. She moved in with him and the bungalow she rented below was empty.
Now here he stood, nervous as a teenager as he waited for her to come home to see the surprise. Being a man’s man was easy. This romance stuff was enough to drive a man insane, but it was what she loved and he was going to make sure she had the perfect place to write her romance novels to her hearts content.
He heard the camaro pull up out front. She took a liking to his hot rod, so one day he handed over the keys. After all, she didn’t have her own car to drive. His heart clenched tight when he remembered the look on her face. Man it was a whole new world to have someone to love and be loved back. He’d give her whatever she wanted, whatever she asked for and more.
Jake slipped outside to the patio and waited until she came through the white picket fence. Jax bounced by her side. He shook his head at the reminder of the dog’s betrayal. When Jax was a pup, he never left Jake’s side, but ever since Maggie came on the scene, she won both their hearts. He gave her a nervous grin.
“Hi baby,” Jake said, slipping an arm around her. His mouth drifted to hers, a lingering kiss leaving a spark of emotion he couldn’t hide.
“You look like you’re up to no good, Jake. What’s going on?” Maggie asked, her dark shoulder length hair bouncing back and forth.
He reached in his back pocket and pulled out a strip of dark material. “Turn around, I have to blindfold you.”
“Are you serious?” she said, turning around at the same time. “I didn’t realize you were this, um-.” She let the rest of the sentence linger on her lips.
He chuckled but couldn’t resist those lips again. He bent down and brushed against her mouth. “I’m afraid yours is the only mind in the gutter. Come, follow my steps.” He led her to the bungalow and threw open the door, then positioned her facing the room. “You ready?” he asked.
“It’s amazing how a blindfold heightens the other senses. Why are you so nervous, love?” She reached back and squeezed his thigh, the one place her hand landed as he stood behind her, tight up against her body.
His rough fingers gentled as he untied the blindfold and moved it away from her face. Her body stiffened under his touch. She took long, slow steps over to the beautiful wood carved desk he found at an estate sale last week.
She walked around the room speechless at its transformation from a simple tropical living room to a personalized office any writer would envy. On one side was the gorgeous desk, with two book shelves along one side of the fireplace. On the other side was a cozy chair, big enough for two with an Ottoman in front. He watched her face as she realized the chair would fit them both. Across the room sat a treadmill, with a desk over top to put her computer and other things. A perfect way to exercise while working.
He waited for a sign. Sometimes Maggie was very emotionless. He didn’t realize he held his breath. What kind of man was he to be this nervous at a simple transformation?
He stuck his hands deep in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. His brow shot up when she looked in to his eyes at last. A tear slid down her cheek right before she burst in to wild sobs. Her face scrunched up, and she ran in to his arms, the impact almost throwing him off balance.
His arms tightened around her. Was he wrong? Did he make a mistake? “I’m sorry baby. Maybe I should -”
Maggie lifted her face to his and whispered, her voice hoarse. “It is perfect. Oh Jake, how did you know I longed for my own space?” Her eyes, filled with tears, spilled over and ran down her cheeks.
He held her, unable to speak, not expecting this kind of emotion to come out. Filled with relief, his arms tightened, his body moved as close to hers as possible, melding together. He smelled the lingering jasmine scent in her hair and closed his eyes. She felt so good, he held on to her, forgetting for a moment where he was.
“Jake, you’re going to crush me!”
He let her go and stepped back. “I’m sorry baby. I’m relieved you like this. The bedroom hasn’t been changed in case your Mother stops to visit. She can stay here instead of with us upstairs.” Jake’s two bedroom home above the bungalow was perfect for the two of them, but Maggie’s mother was a whirlwind of chaos. Jake liked her but tried his hardest to keep her at a distance.
“Good idea, although she is spending most of her time at the hotel with your Father. It may be too early to tell, but I think Mother will be moving in with your Dad sooner or later. He’s her long, lost love.”
Jake nodded. “I think it’s time to forget about your Mother and try out this two seater chair.” He grabbed Maggie by the waist and swirled her around and then lost his balance on purpose as they both toppled in to the soft, plush chair. Maggie landed on top. “Now this is the way to enjoy this chair,” he mumbled in to her neck as he began to drip tiny kisses across her skin.
She pulled back, a serious look on her face. “Thank you.”
He grinned and then his dark eyes became intense. “I love you Maggie. I want you to have everything you need and I can afford to give you anything.”
She looked at him with her big brown eyes filled with wet tears. “All I want is you. I can write my books anywhere, with or without an office. On the other hand, this is perfect.”
“I’m glad you’re pleased. I tried to keep it a secret. You kept snooping around every time I was on the phone making arrangements.” He hugged her tighter.
She threw her head back and laughed out loud. “I’m going to be honest here, love. I had my suspicions but didn’t know what it was. I liked the game you played, leaving me subtle hints.”
“More like a tease,” he admitted. Over the last few weeks, Jake gave her enough information to let her know he was buying something or bringing something home. The curiosity on her face was priceless but she never questioned what he was doing. “You’re pleased? I can change anything you don’t like.”
“It’s perfect. Now I have a surprise for you.” She tried to stand up but Jake held on to her.
“I’m the one who is supposed to give the surprises.”
“Oh don’t be a Neanderthal Jake! I can give gifts too. I can afford to.”
Jake frowned. He liked to protect Maggie, to shower her with money and gifts and whatever she wanted. He didn’t expect anything in return. It was what a real man did. “I’m not a Neanderthal, Maggie. I like to take care of you.”
He realized the moment he said the wrong thing. Her face closed down. Her bottom lip began to move as she started a slow burn at the words he spoke. He forgot Maggie liked to be independent.
“I take care of myself, Jake. You know how I feel about our situation. I pay half the rent here to pay my own way. I don’t ever want any man telling me I owe them and, and-” she began to sputter some other words out but Jake didn’t hear any of them. All he saw in her eyes was fear.
“Baby, I know you can take care of yourself.” He held her against him as her stiff body began to relax. He massaged her neck and back, his hands kneading her tense muscles until she curled in to him. “I know you can afford to buy a desk and remodel this room with your own money. You are a successful author and it amazes me what you accomplish day to day. This is my way of showing my love and how much I care.”
Jake had to tread light when it came to giving her things. Maggie’s mom was a single mother and they had a hard life in the beginning. Maggie never met her Dad, she heard stories which made her determined not to ever need a man for financial reasons. He understood the fears, but it was time she moved on and let him take care of her. Except he wasn’t about to tell her so again, he’d have to show her somehow.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffed. “How rude of me to ruin your surprise. I act like a baby at times.”
“You didn’t ruin a thing. I get it, baby and forget sometimes that you need me to back off. I love to shower you with things.”
Maggie twisted around. “It’s not all about the money. You have money. You’re a big time real estate developer. I’m sure you make a lot more than I do, but I need to know I am contributing to us. I’m not sure why.” She splayed dainty fingers across his cheek.
Jake lifted her hand and placed a kiss on the palm, letting his mouth linger there. She had no idea how much money he made over the years. He invested smart and could live the rest of his days without working but the love of creating and developing buildings drove him on. At one time he worked day and night, never lifting his head up even to breath. One day he realized he worked so hard because he felt as if he let down his Mother, who died when he was young. Now he realized his Mom gave him a gift to make something out of himself. He could pat himself on the back because he did well for himself.
Now he wanted to share the fruits of his labor with Maggie. Except she didn’t want them.
Maggie took a deep breath as she faced him. Jake, her love, looked at her with intense dark eyes that made her fall harder and deeper with each passing day. When he revealed this surprise, it was better than the one before. He liked to give her things, one after another. Didn’t he know she didn’t need material things? All she needed was him.