“And sometimes she’d lose the friends she’d made. So would you.”

“I’m a big girl and you act like I haven’t thought about this, Jack. I have.” She sighed and looked at her hands, spread over his chest. “I just don’t want to be afraid for you.”

That touched him and stung in the same instant. “I’m good at what I do.”

“I know.”

“Hey.” He tipped her chin up, moved beyond words that she was worried about him. “Let’s not think about that right now. How about we start planning? You can look up some real estate on the Internet, learn about the area. Because I don’t want my wife and child that far away from me. I’ll go nuts.”

Any arguments Melanie had faded quickly with the look in his eyes. “You mean that, don’t you?”

“Hell, yes. The thought of leaving you in a couple weeks scares the heck out of me.”

Him? Scared? “Why?”

“Because I’m just now getting you to believe in me, and I feel like if I disappear, we’re going to backslide.” It was his greatest fear, that all they had would be destroyed because he had to leave soon. He didn’t like this uncertainty when he was certain they should be together. He wanted to prove to Melanie that she had his heart, and he was fast running out of ways to convince her that he wasn’t going to break hers.

“That’s not going to happen.” She found it odd that she was convincing him now.

His gaze raked her. “You so sure?”

“One thing I know right now, right this minute, Jack, is that what I feel for you is more than I expected and just what I wanted.”

He grinned. But her features were somber. “Just don’t lie to me. I don’t think I could stand it,” she said.

A horrible guilt passed over his spine. He still hadn’t told her he was a bastard, the real reason he’d insisted on marriage. And right now, the words wouldn’t move past his lips. He told himself it didn’t matter, but the tiny voice in his head said he’d better tell her all or she’d never forgive him. And tell soon.

Melanie followed the notes Jack had left. It was cute, she thought. She took the glass of wine from the fridge and sipped as she made her way to the bathroom as instructed. The note said he had Juliana with him, and he was picking up Chinese food after a quick visit to the grocery store.

She followed his instructions and stepped into the bathroom. Her breath caught, and something sharp touched her deep in her heart. Steam rose from a bathtub filled with bubbles, and though only two candles were lit, several circled the tub. It smelled like lavender and rosemary, and the rough day she’d had, which she’d complained about, melted away with the anticipation of soaking in the bath. She set the glass aside long enough to tie up her hair and strip off her clothes. The water was near scalding hot and her muscles relaxed. She sank to her chin and closed her eyes.

This, she thought, was pure heaven.

Jack set the bags of Chinese food down on the table, Juliana asleep in his arms. Quietly he changed the baby and put her down for the night, glad he’d bathed her earlier and feeling terrible for forcing the child to stay awake while he shopped. But he had plans with her mama.

He laid Juliana in her crib, tucking her in and bending to kiss her. The child smiled in her dreams and it cut his heart in half and made it spill with hard emotions. She has me in her fist, he thought, closing the door. The baby monitor was on, and he tucked the receiver into his back pocket. He knew where Melanie was, and as he headed to the living room, he heard the sound of water in the bathroom. Temptation clubbed him and he paused at the door, pushing it open a crack.

Her hair was piled on her crown, and a mountain of frothy bubbles surrounded her shoulders. The lights were off and each candle was lit, flickering around her. Steam rose from the surface. Her eyes were closed.

“You’re letting in a draft,” she whispered.

“Do you know what you do to me looking like that?”

Her eyes flashed open and across the short distance he felt electrified.

She smiled. “I have an idea. This was very sweet of you, Jack.” She reached for her wineglass, sipping. “It’s just what I needed.”

“After the bad day you were having and whining about, I figured some downtime would make you sleep better.”

“All you had in mind was sleep, huh?”

He gave her an innocent look. “Of course.”

“Liar. Wanna get naked and wet with me?”

He smiled, stepping inside and leaving the baby monitor on the sink. He stripped and she watched him, loving the jump and flex of his muscles. Hottest body on the planet, she thought, delighted that he was hers. She shifted and he slid into the tub. Water rose to the rim. She was glad she’d opted for the garden-style tub when she’d bought the house, she thought, although she’d never had a man in her tub. She’d never had a man this deep in her life, she realized.

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