And what if he did love her? Could she trust it? After all, Craig and Andy had said the same thing, and look what happened. Jack hasn’t said so, either, she reminded herself. But she also admitted that everything she had with Jack was different. Very different. She’d never felt the electric charge go through her with one look until Jack. Never wanted to be with a man twenty-four/seven until Jack.

As if her addiction was trying to prove her right, she moved to catch a glimpse of him. The men were having a beer and discussing woodworking, she didn’t doubt. God, Jack was handsome. The black polo shirt combined with the black hair made him look dangerous. Desirable.

Laura strolled past, laughing to herself. As if to say, “See? Told you so.”

Jack wanted her in his bed, wanted to be near his daughter and to have his last name on Juliana’s birth certificate. Which he’d had changed the day they’d returned from their honeymoon. He had what he’d wanted. Would he leave now? Melanie wasn’t going to fool herself and live in a dreamworld, believing he loved her. Just thinking about it would drive her insane, she thought.

Why? Because she wanted his love?

How was she ever to know? she asked herself again. He was kind, considerate, and there wasn’t much about him she didn’t like.

Adore. You adore him, a voice in her head shouted.

Yes, she did. She was falling into love with Jack and it was easy. So easy. But there was a little part of her that refused to accept it. As if she’d be tricked and lied to again.


Jack frowned down at the wrapped box tied with ribbon. There was no mistaking that it was for him, since the card stated his name. He called out for Melanie, tossing his keys on the table.

She walked out from the hallway. “Shh, she’s sleeping.”

“What’s this?”

“What’s it look like?”

“A present for me, but why?”

“Open it and find out, silly.”

He eyed her, his lips curving slightly. He tore open the package and lifted out the heavy toolbox. “Man, this is a nice one.”

“Look inside.”

Setting it down, he flipped the heavy latches. It was filled with tools: tape measure, level, a hammer, screwdrivers, even a power drill and handsaw.

“You said all your tools were in storage, so I thought you might like to have a set here.”

He lifted out the drill, checking it out the way only a man could, she thought. Boy toys.

“Thank you.”

She frowned. “You don’t seem pleased.”

“I am, I love it. It’s very thoughtful, but…” He hesitated and her heart sank a little.


“I’ll have my things with us. When you and Juliana come with me to Virginia. I won’t be stationed in this area. There are no teams here.”

“Well, that I knew.”

“Now you don’t sound pleased.”

“I’ve tried not to think about it just yet.” Truth be told, Melanie didn’t want Jack to leave. Their relationship was growing stronger by the day and she wanted it to have a better chance before he left.

“You didn’t think I was just going to return to work and drop back in when I have leave, did you?”

She smiled now. “That, Lieutenant Singer, I never considered.”

He set the tools aside. “Are you prepared to move?”

“Prepared mentally? No.” She tipped her head, holding his gaze. “Is that necessary right now? You’re gone a lot.”

His lips quirked. “Ready to kick me out?”

“No,” she said without hesitation. “Of course not, but I can handle being alone.”

“Oh, I’ve no doubt about that. I had to muscle my way in.”

Her smile was small and a little embarrassed. “You don’t have that problem now, do you, sailor?”

He moved close, settling his hands on her waist. “I’m stationed where they tell me to go, and right now it’s Virginia. It’s nice there, and there are other Navy wives you could meet.”

“I’d like to meet your friends’ wives. I would.”

“You’re not ready to commit that far, huh?” He lowered his hands.

“No, it’s not that. I’m up to the challenge and we’re in this marriage together,” she said, pulling him back to her. Melanie didn’t like the hurt way he’d looked at her, and she couldn’t just do this half-heartedly, not being married to a man who risked his life every time he went to work. “Sure, I’m willing to move, too. We’re husband and wife. In fact, it would be an adventure,” she said, warming to the idea. “New town, new community. Fresh start. Changing locations would certainly make Juliana a more well-rounded person.” Copyright 2016 - 2023