"I’m going to stand outside," Lindy said, cutting into Rush’s thoughts. The ferry had been underway for about twenty minutes. She stood and buttoned her sweater before heading for the weather deck.
"Sure. Go ahead," Rush answered. He didn’t mind the long ride to and from the shipyard each day. Most of the navy personnel lived in Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from Seattle. But Rush preferred the cultural advantages of living in a big city.
Rush watched as Lindy moved outside the passenger area and stood against the stern, her hands on the rail. The wind whipped the hair from her face and plastered her thin sweater against her soft curves.
Just watching Lindy, Rush felt his heart constrict. When she’d been holding Timmy and Tommy, laughing with them, bouncing the twins on her hips, Rush hadn’t been able to tear his gaze away from her. The earth could have opened up and swallowed him whole and he swore he wouldn’t have been aware of it.
Seeing her with those two babies had been the most powerful, most emotional moment of his life. The sudden overwhelming physical desire for her was like a knife slicing into his skin and scraping against a bone – it had gone that deep. Not once, not even with Cheryl had he thought about children. He enjoyed Jeff’s sons. They were cute little rascals, but seeing Lindy with those babies had created a need so strong in him he doubted that his life would ever be the same again. He wanted a child. Son or daughter, he didn’t care. What did matter was that Lindy be their mother.
Even now, hours later, his eyes couldn’t get enough of her as she stood, braced against the wind. He thought about her belly swollen with his seed, her breasts full and heavy, and the desire that stabbed through him was like hot needles. The sensation curled into a tight ball in the center of his abdomen. He’d longed for her physically before now. The thought of making love to her had dominated his thoughts from the first morning he’d stumbled upon her in the bathroom wearing those sexy see-through baby-doll pajamas.
But the physical desire he was experiencing now far exceeded anything he’d previously known. And it was different in ways he couldn’t even begin to explain.
Unable to stay parted from her a minute longer, Rush left his seat and stepped outside, joining her at the railing.
Wordlessly he slipped his arm over her shoulder. Lindy looked up at him, and her eyes were unusually dark and solemn. The effort it cost her to smile was revealed in the feeble movement of her mouth.
She pressed her index finger across his lips the way she did when she didn’t want there to be questions between them. Although she strove valiantly to prevent them, tears filled her sweet, adoring gaze. Inhaling a wobbly breath, she pressed her forehead against his chest in a vain attempt to compose herself.
Rush wrapped his arms around her, needing to comfort her, feeling strangely lost as to what to say or do, and not completely understanding what was wrong. Her lithe frame molded against him and he reveled in the feel of her softness pressed to him. "Honey, what is it?"
She shook her head. "Susan said…"
"She offend you?" Rush couldn’t imagine it, and yet the anger rose in him instantly.
Lindy swiftly jerked her head from side to side. "No… no, of course not." Her arms were around his middle now, her eyes as dry as she could make them. But her chin quivered with the effort.
She lifted a hand and touched the side of his face, her eyes full of such tenderness that it was all Rush could do to meet her gaze.
"Do you remember the night we met?"
He grinned. "I’m not likely to forget it. I nearly tossed you into the street."
"You were perfectly horrible. So uncompromising… so unreadable."
"So arrogant," he added, regretting every harsh word he’d ever said to her.
The corner of her mouth quirked with a swift smile. "A good dose of healthy arrogance to put me in my place as I recall."
He brushed the hair from her face and nodded, resisting kissing her, although it was difficult.
"I disliked you so much----I actually looked forward to thwarting you. I could hardly wait for you to leave. And now…now I dread it. I wish I could be more like Susan. She’s so brave."
"She’s had far more experience at this than you." Rush searched her face, and under his scrutiny the normally cool, composed features began to quiver with unspoken anguish. He understood then. She was afraid, almost desperately so, and bravely holding it all inside. Pierced to the quick by his own thoughtlessness, he tightened his grip on her and breathed in the sweet flowery fragrance of her silky dark hair.
"Honey, nothing’s going to happen to me."
"But… the gunboats… the missiles."
"I’m coming back to you, Lindy."
She brushed her hands down her cheeks to wipe away the sheen of tears. "You think I’m being silly and emotional, don’t you? This isn’t wartime, and nothing is likely to happen, but I can’t help thinking…"
He took her by the shoulders then, gripping her tightly. "No," he said sternly, his heart filling with a mixture of concern, tenderness and understanding. His mind groped for the words to comfort her. "You’re not overreacting. It is going to be dangerous; I’m not trying to whitewash our assignment. But, Lindy, my sweet Lindy, I’ve never had anything more to live for than I do right this minute."
"You’d better come back to me, Rush Callaghan." She said it as though it were a fierce threat and the consequences would be dire if he didn’t.
Death was the only thing that would keep him from Lindy. Unless… The thought was as crippling to him as the fear of him dying was to Lindy. "Then you’d better be waiting for me."
Her sturdy gaze held his and his hands slid from their grip on her shoulder to stroke her slim, swanlike neck.