She glanced at him, then looked out over the water. “It’s commitment, compassion, honesty. Trust. Those things are marked with a ceremony and a ring, but they don’t make them happen. I learned that the hard way.”
He caught her chin, pressing his lips to hers, then pulling back enough to say, “School’s over, baby.”
Her eyes teared and she touched the side of his face, falling into his kiss. “I know.” Her voice wavered. “I really know that.” She searched his features and Jack saw her uncertainty, saw the fears.
“Talk to me.”
“I don’t want to let you down, Jack. You’ve done so much.”
He tipped her face up. “Hey, this isn’t about who does more, Melanie. I’m getting all the benefits—a wife, a daughter…a friend.”
“You haven’t mentioned lover.”
“Kiss me again, Lieutenant.”
Boy, did he. Melanie felt her insides yank tight the instant his mouth touched hers.
“I’ll want to do that forever,” he whispered against her mouth and pulled her onto his lap.
Melanie sank into him. Forever. It was the same for her. She knew she wouldn’t have agreed to marriage if she wasn’t sure there was more than sex and a baby between them. She couldn’t admit to herself that she loved him. Not yet. Trust was coming, but her heart had tricked her badly before. She would have sworn she loved her fiancés, but this was so different. Jack was different, strong, patient, powerful.
Did she have to choose badly twice before she chose wisely? she wondered when Jack’s hand worked inside her robe and her train of thought disintegrated. He palmed her breast, whispering how soft she was, how he loved just holding her.
“You’re more than holding, Singer, and you best stop or get busy,” she teased, and he grinned and his hand shot downward between her thighs. He nudged them apart and pushed two fingers inside her.
“Oh, yeah,” she moaned, curling toward him as he stroked her to incredible passion. Her hips rocked and Jack stood, carrying her into the bedroom and setting her on the bed.
Melanie was on fire and she tore at her sash and flung her robe open. “Hurry,” she said. “Right now, Jack.”
He tore off his robe, his arousal full and throbbing. “Aye, aye, ma’am,” he growled. Lowering himself and spreading her thighs, he pushed into her.
“Oh, Jack.” She dragged his name out, long and soulful, as he plunged and plunged, cupping her buttocks and lifting her to greet him.
There was nothing gentle in their lovemaking, only a frantic passion that overtook them in seconds. They clawed and dug at each other as they met and parted. Bodies didn’t sheathe, they captured. Kisses were deep and hard and devouring. The crest rose with each thrust, and when Jack thought he’d hurt her, she’d demand more. He gave it, wanting this pleasure only with her. It was never typical, each touch seemed to be fresh and new and yet familiar. He plunged maddeningly deep and she locked her legs around him as they reached the summit and grabbed for more.
The explosion ripped a cry from her. Jack bit his lip to keep from screaming like a fool as pleasure erupted in savage demand. His legs and arms trembled as shudder after shudder razored through his body.
And when it subsided, when they were limp and sated, Melanie laughed.
He lifted his head to stare down at her. “You laugh? Laugh when I can barely breathe?”
“No, I laughed because I remembered why I went to the hotel room with you in the first place.”
“I knew it would be mind-blowing exciting.”
He rolled off her and lay on his back. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Don’t. Your ego is large enough.” She stood and he watched her cross the room to the bath, his gaze on her behind. A second later he heard the shower running.
“Hey, Singer,” she called. “You waiting for an invitation or what?”
Air. He was waiting for breathing to come easily again, he thought, smiling as he pushed off the bed, crossed the room, then pushed open the door. Through the clear glass he saw her in the shower, wet and soapy. All she did was arch a brow and run that sponge over her breasts, and he was ready for her again.
He stepped under the spray and murmured, “You’re going to kill me, woman.” Then pushed her up against the tile wall and loved her again.
Melanie stared out the window into her backyard, watching her father inspect Jack’s handiwork on the castle-style gym he’d built for Juliana. The two men hit it off famously, sharing some secret bond. Her father had told her already that he thought Jack was more than a good choice for her, but he didn’t elaborate on what the “more than” meant. She wondered how shocked her father would be that she and her new husband had been romping all over the place, buck naked till the wee hours.