In Your Arms: A Small Town Love Story (Safe Haven Book 1) (22 page)

She nodded. “Uh-huh.”

“Every time you leave or enter the house, I want you to blush when you think about standing here against the wall with your pussy getting all wet, wondering exactly what we’re going to do.”

“I’m blushing now.”

Oh, she knew how to heat things up.
He stepped back in between her legs again, back with his fingers stroking around her clit, but not ever touching. He continued the stroking while he reached up with the other hand and gently brushed her nipple with his thumb. She pushed into his hand, asking for more, but he pulled off her, teasing.

“Adam, no, not this.”

“Not what?”

“The teasing thing. Don’t tease me.”

“What do you want?”

“You. I want you in me. Hard. Now.”

He reached back for her and swirled his fingers around her clit, slipping down into her pussy, spreading her wetness around until she moaned his name, bearing down on his fingers. That almost did him in. He pulled away quickly, ripping the shirt over his head while undoing his shorts, stepping out of them in two steps as he went for his bag. He grabbed a condom, dropping it once and needing three tries before managing to get the packet open. With a steadying breath, he rolled it on and returned to stand behind Marlo.

He swept his hands across her buttocks before stepping up to her. Pressed between her legs, he smiled when she gasped and pushed back against him. He gently nudged her clit with the tip of his cock, pulling back and driving forward again in a slow and steady slide. Her breath was ragged, interspersed with little gulps and groans that were going to be the end for him. Leaning in, he lay across her back, his mouth against her ear. “Ready?”

“Yes, I’m ready,” she whispered.

With one hand, he eased his cock into her, almost losing it when her hand covered his, to guide him.

“Right there,” she moaned and nestled against him.

He released himself and reached to her front, drawing his hands from her hips, across her ribs, and over the curve of her breasts. “God, Marlo, your nipples are so hard and tight.” When he took them between his thumb and fingers she arched into him, and her pussy contracted around his cock.

Damn, he needed some control but Marlo was already taking him harder and faster. He dropped his forehead to her shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut as he searched for something to ease this exquisite pleasure. Finally he took hold of her hip, trying to stave her off, to make it last longer. He went to her ear, “Let’s slow it down, hon,” and as soon as his words were out, he heard her groan, incoherent, long and deep. Shit, that ear thing really kicked it up a notch for her.

“Adam, I want you. Now.”

He pulled almost all the way out of her. “Are you sure?”

“Please,” she was panting, and he could feel a small tremor set up through her body. He went back to her ear as he pushed hard into her, his tongue introducing the same urgent rhythm as his cock.

“Let’s go now, little tiger,” he spoke up by her cheek before pulling back a bit, taking her earlobe into his mouth. Rougher now, fuelled by their combined need, his fingers searched between her legs and firmly circled her clit. Before the minute was up, she was coming.

The cry of his name from her took him by surprise and gripped his heart, pulling him right over with her. As her legs weakened, he swept his arm under her waist, holding her hard against him as he climaxed.

He rested his elbows against the wall, still connected to her, as their gasps for air filled the silence. With effort, he pulled away so she could turn to face him, both of them still relying on the wall for support. God, her eyes. He had to tear himself away from that look, so raw, so bare and brutal.

I can’t leave this.

Finally he squeezed his eyes shut to break the connection. He couldn’t help but cover her mouth with his, kissing her as though he could only breathe through her.

At last he lifted his head. Reaching to clear a damp tendril of hair from her face, he questioned, “You okay, hon?”

“Yeah, very” she smiled, weak and satisfied. “How about you?”

“I’m going to live.”

“Good to hear.”

“I fucking adore you.” Shit, how did that escape?

H
e adored her and
, God, that feeling was mutual and frightening, because somehow they were going to have to find the strength to turn their backs on each other and walk away. For the meantime, though, she would accept every minute of pleasure he offered.

Adam led her to the bathroom and they showered, taking time to wash each other but otherwise not talking much. His words hung between them like a piece of astonishing news they still had to accept. But he wasn’t backing off, or trying to minimize their power, and Marlo wouldn’t, either.

After, they lay in bed, and she could feel his warm sleepy breath against her neck. He was settled into her back, one arm holding her against him, his palm covering her breast. She tried to create a physical memory of this moment, of exactly how their bodies interlocked, of the contentment she felt, so that if she needed to, she could retreat to this point when she was alone. And everything would be fine.

Or not.

29

M
arlo didn’t have
to turn to know that Adam had walked into the kitchen. The man could move with stealth, and his bare feet were quiet on the cool tiles, but the energy that came with him threw her on full alert.

“Coffee, tea, or…”

“Me,” he finished.

When she faced him, he shot a look at the kitchen table and gave her a big grin. “I believe we’ve still got this room to check off on your Blush List.”

“You’re ready to go again, after what we just did in the shower?”

“Time’s running along, and
we’ve still got a couple of rooms to cover.”

Marlo added some bread to the toaster. “Not regretting coming up with that blush line last night. Much.”

He moved alongside her and started making coffee. “So what’s on the agenda today?”

“I have two new dogs arriving. My first intake since Justice.”

“Ah. I’m presuming they aren’t fight dogs.”

“No, they’re a couple of young ones who ended up on the wrong side of the tracks. Literally. They were found fending for themselves in the railway yards. The parallels between these dogs and some of the people around here are astounding.” She glanced at the clock. “I’ve got about twenty minutes to get down to the barn before the staff start rolling in. I want to catch up on what went on yesterday before we prepare for the new dogs.”

His arm snaked around her. “Enough time for a kitchen quickie?” He looked her up and down without a single attempt to conceal any lust. “You’re the Daily Special on my breakfast menu.”

She smiled and pushed him away and grabbed her coffee. “When did you turn into this insatiable monster?”

“When circumstances imposed this time limit.”

She replaced her mug on the bench. Time limit
.
It was as if her stomach had filled with freshly fallen rubble.

Adam circled her with his arms, all warm and safe and giving off that unique scent that jumpstarted her hormones. He pressed his lips to the top of her head and spoke into her hair. “Dammit, sorry, hon.”

She tilted her head back and smiled at him. “It’s fine. I’m okay—I’d better get down to work.” She pushed off him and headed out of the kitchen. “Your toast has popped, butter and jam are in the fridge. Sorry, I don’t have any of that evil Vegemite stuff.”

“Hey, Vegemite rocks. Makes me strong and virile.”

“Going without it doesn’t seem to have done you any harm.” She blew him a kiss as she went out the door.

Down at the barn, she gathered the staff together. After giving a general brief on the two new dogs due in that day, she filled them in on the lack of success in their search for Justice. Smiling bravely, she explained how great the CRAR volunteers were up at the park, handing out leaflets and helping with the search.

They showed such concern for Justice. And it struck her—they were concerned for her, too. Her face heated and suddenly she wanted to confide in them, share her fears, tell them how anxious she was because maybe Justice had gone forever. Tell them that it seemed he’d disappeared and was soon to be followed by another important male who had turned up on the same night in the beginning of June. The one who’d grabbed a piece of her heart and was about to become elusive, too.

She fixed her focus on the open door at the end of the corridor. “I’ll be in my office,” she called with a light airy voice that sounded foreign, as if somebody had dubbed a soundtrack to her life. Now, if only they could rewrite the script.

She walked up the path and continued past her office, toward the house because she had this urge, strong and insistent, to see Adam. One quick look would be enough. She stopped at the top of the drive. A ladder was propped against the front wall, and Fala was keeping careful watch at the base. Adam was up the ladder, fixing the security lights, making things safe because he wouldn’t be around to do that himself. And where were his shirt and his shoes? Looking at him in what appeared now to be his favorite well-worn cargo shorts was not keeping her in any frame of mind for work. She turned with the idea of getting back to her office before he caught her watching.

“Glad you’re here. I’ve just been thinking up some fascinating things to do which involve you, me, and a ladder. I think you’d blush.”

Marlo halted mid-step, and her heart skipped a beat. Spotted. She slid a quick glance his way, and he was still on the ladder with his back to her. Had he even seen her or had he sensed her, in that same way she had responded to his presence in the kitchen that morning? “Blushing anyway,” she called out and kept walking.

“Coming to find you as soon as I’m done with my chores.”

“Not hiding,” she replied, heading to her office. She was meeting with Adrienne, a volunteer who was an online social networking expert. Marlo planned to spend the morning with her, creating a profile for Justice at the missing pet websites. That would give CRAR’s team of ‘street brats’ who were assisting, putting up posters, and delivering flyers, plenty of information and graphics to work with. They, in turn, would continue sharing the information with their own networks.

By lunchtime, they would have a powerful, well-armed team searching for Justice, both online and offline.

When Marlo returned to the house for lunch, she discovered Adam on the patio with the slider door off, which meant she now had a great, gaping hole from the living room. “Interesting remodel going on, but it might be hard to keep the cold out in the winter.”

Adam waved a screwdriver at her. “Time you started improving your security, little tiger. I jumped this door when you thought you’d locked yourself in. Admittedly, at that time, that flaw was useful, but I don’t want anyone else doing it.”

He had called her little tiger, and they were both fully clothed. That was new. Her body behaved as if it had been conditioned to jump straight to Stage Two Arousal when it heard those words. Cool it. She poked the toolbox with her toe. “Do you really know what all this stuff does?”

“Nah, I’m faking it, like MacGyver.”

“Hush your mouth! MacGyver never
faked it.”

“Well, you shouldn’t go around asking guys if they know what to do with their tools. One day one of them is going to show you.”

“Oh, that’s okay, I already have a guy who does that.”

They locked stares, and although they both knew they should be laughing, they weren’t. Marlo turned first because that guy was only going to be around for just over another day, and try as she might to not think about that, it stuck in her head like an addiction she was trying to quit. “I’ll make us lunch. We can eat out here.” A little practice and that light, airy voice was starting to sound normal.

He followed her into the kitchen. “How did you get on with Adrienne?”

From the fridge, she unloaded salad stuff and cold drinks. Closing the door she gripped the bench and gave herself one minute to stop feeling sorry for herself. “Adrienne was good, she really knows her stuff. If we can build up a strong online team of people watching out for Justice, it’s easier to keep the message fresh, but it doesn’t…”

“What?”

“I’m really grateful, but it doesn’t replace time spent on the ground, looking for him. The problem is, we have no idea where to start searching.”

“I think he had moved on from the area we were in yesterday.”

Marlo nodded. “I agree. It didn’t feel as though he was there, so all I can do is hope and pray he’s heading in this direction. This afternoon we’ll map some routes we think he might take if he’s coming this way so that we can alert people in the surrounding area. It’s probably pointless, but I can’t get out for another physical search until the weekend.” By which time, Adam and Justice would be gone.

W
hen Marlo returned
to the house at the end of the day, she was surprised to find Adam working on her old mountain bike. Fala, once again, had settled at his feet. “Have you run out of things to fix?”

“I’m doing a little maintenance before our bike ride.”

“Bike ride? Was that on my list?”

“I threw away your list. Now that I have you to myself at last, I thought we could start off with a bike ride up to the lake. So go in and change into bike stuff or whatever it is girls do before they go bike riding and we’ll get away.”

Marlo called to Fala to come and have her dinner, but the dog ignored her. “I see you’ve still got your adoring fan-club-of-one keeping an eye on you.”

Adam stayed focused on whatever adjustment he was making to the brakes on her bike. “Oh, she’s the secretary. Believe me, the fan club is larger than one.”

Marlo rolled her eyes. “Well, can you inform Ms. Secretary that her dinner will be served in five minutes, so she’ll have to get her tail over to the dining area?”

“Off you go, Fala.” He nodded to the dog, and Marlo shook her head as the dog instantly obeyed him and followed her into the house.

By the time Marlo had Fala fed and settled, Adam had the two bikes ready. The ride to the lake was dusty, hot and competitive. Marlo had tried to put some distance between them a few times, but Adam had stayed relentlessly—and with what appeared to be little effort—right on her back wheel. He pushed her, and she couldn’t resist the challenge. When they parked their bikes and headed down on foot to the flat rock, she was slick with perspiration. He reached for her hand to guide her down the last part, but she held back. “Ugh, I’m all sweaty.”

“Come on, let’s swim, and you can rinse it all off.”

Marlo stopped. The lake was nice to look at, but swim? He had to be kidding. The only time she got wet was in the shower.

“Something wrong?”

“Yeah, ah, I don’t swim, so if making me bike out here at full speed to get me all hot and sweaty was your plan to get me into the lake, you can forget about it.” She glanced at the lake and back to Adam who was giving her a big
I don’t believe it
sort of head shake. She pointed at him. “You see, that, right there … that’s not going to work.”

“What?” His eyes had widened, trying to fake some innocence.

She flung her arms in the air as if she could clear it all away—Adam, the lake, the landscape. “That whole challenge thing that’s supposed to make me feel I’m not up to the game unless I throw myself into the lake.”

He grinned. “So throw yourself in the lake.”

That lake. It calls to him, but for me, that’s my cold day in hell. She kept watch on the water as if it might sneak up and swamp her if she dropped her guard. The idea made her shudder.

“Oh, that was a little moment. You okay?”

She was still watching the lake. “No, actually, I’m scared of the water. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Big horrid fear…and all that.”

“Never apologize for fear.” He pulled her in and held her, and she simply let him do it because she knew now the pleasure of a bit of comforting.

She stayed against his chest until he asked how she was feeling.

“Okay; I’m good.”

“Come and sit down.”

She let him guide her down the path near the edge of the water. He threw off his backpack and pulled out a towel, which he laid across the ground for them. When she sat, he got in behind her, enveloping her with his legs and arms.

“So will you take a minute to share your swimming fears with me?”

His arms tightened around her and rocked her slightly further against him. She nestled into him. “It’s going to seem silly to you.”

“Fear is never silly; it’s debilitating. Come on, tell me why you don’t like the water.”

“I’m uncomfortable around it. I never went to the beach or the pool as I child. I had no idea about water. When I went to live at the home, they had a swimming pool, and, in summer, we had swimming lessons. On the first day of lessons, I panicked and ran off. I was given detention, and I decided I’d rather endure that and gain extra study time than have anything to do with the swimming pool.”

“Why didn’t you want to take a swimming lesson?”

“You wouldn’t understand. All the others were so confident, leaping into the water and messing around. It looked so chaotic; shouting and laughing, arms and legs all over the place, splashing water. It seemed…I don’t know, dangerous.”

“Okay. So was it the thing about getting water splashed on your face? Getting wet? Wearing a swimsuit when you’re a self-conscious adolescent? Was the water too cold?”

“No.”

“Come on, tell me.”

“I didn’t know how to float. I still don’t know how. The others had this innate skill, and I watched them to see what they did to make themselves buoyant, but I couldn’t work it out. Every time I looked into the pool, I could see myself sinking to the bottom, and I was scared nobody would see me there…so I’d drown.”

“Was there nobody there to help you?”

She gave a small laugh. “Believe me, if you asked for help you never heard the end of it. The taunting was merciless. For me, the best method of survival was to stay in the background and watch. I worked stuff out for myself. That strategy got me by most of the time.” Most of my life.

Adam’s hands slid up to her shoulders and started to knead the muscles. “So, I’m guessing there was an incident.”

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