Keely’s voice broke and Jack squeezed her thigh.
“And now…I can’t imagine Liesl not being part of their family. Cam’s quiet life and pristine house is a thing of the past but he and Domini wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Sounds like they should be canonized.”
“I suspect they’re not done adding to their brood. It’s funny. Cam was always ambivalent about being a parent. So it’s hysterical he’ll probably end up with the most kids out of any of my brothers. That said, God knows all my brother’s wives are in some freaky race to see who can pop out the most McKays. Jesus.
They’re all pregnant again. It’s an epidemic that makes me want to stay far, far away from their overactive uteruses.”
He gently stroked her soft skin, watching her closely. “They’re all pregnant?”
“Yep. Channing, AJ and Macie are knocked up. So’s India. And Chassie. And my cousin Quinn’s wife, Libby, is on baby number two. On the West side, Blake’s wife, Willow, is expecting their first. His brother Nick’s wife, Holly, is expecting their second.”
Jack whistled. “That’s some seriously scary reproductive mojo.”
“Tell me about it. That doesn’t include any of my friends. Many are on baby number three. Heck, some of them are already on husband number three.”
As stealthily as possible, Jack slipped his arm behind Keely on the back of the couch. Her hair was long enough he could twine a silky section around his index finger. “You’ve never been tempted to take the plunge?”
“I’ve had my fair share of boyfriends. Some say more than my fair share, but I’ve never seen myself with any of them long term.”
“Why do you think that is?”
Her body tensed. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m flawed. I’m sure you’d derive great joy in detailing all that is wrong with me.”
“I don’t know if your opinion of me bothers me worse than your opinion of yourself.”
Keely snorted. “Please.”
“You don’t need me to tell you you’re a beautiful woman, Keely. You didn’t offer a glimpse of your insecurity because you were fishing for compliments.”
Silence. An unhappy, uncomfortable silence.
“What did I say?”
“Stop teasing me.” She attempted to squirm away.
“I’m not teasing you.” Don’t snap at her. “Why is it so damn hard for you to take a compliment from me?”
“Because you’ve never given me one and it’s insincere,” she retorted.
Jack tugged on her hair until she faced him. “If you’re challenging my sincerity, then I should at least get a chance to prove it.”
“I don’t need proof. We’re pretending to be engaged for Christsake. How much more insincere can it get?”
“We might be lying about some things, but this…pull between us is real.”
Keely shivered. “That’s not—”
“I can demonstrate if you like.”
“I thought you were conditioning me?”
“That too,” he murmured. “Take a chance, cowgirl.”
“And if I say no you’ll call me a chicken?”
“Yep. I’ll even cluck.”
She laughed softly. “You are crazy.”
“I know. It’s part of my charm.” Jack angled his head until his nose brushed her ear. Goddamn. The woman’s scent was a shot of adrenaline straight to his groin. “Close your eyes, Keely.”
“Jack, I don’t think—”
“Don’t think. Just do it.”
She muttered unintelligibly, but she complied.
He dragged his fingers to the top of her thigh where her hand clenched into a fist. He brushed his mouth across the lilac scented skin below her ear. “My lips are a perfect fit for this spot, right here.”
She arched into him slightly.
“I could spend an hour touching you with my mouth and my hands.”
“Over my clothes?”
“To start. Then I’d unbutton your shirt, kissing each section of skin as I bared it. I’d look my fill. I’d taste my fill.”
Jack’s lips skimmed the hollow of her throat. “And then whatever you want, Keely, just name it.”
“What is this proving?” she asked breathlessly.
“Nothing. I’m conditioning you to my touch, remember?”
“So this is just a game?”
“Yes.” Jack let his heated breath follow the sexy curvature of her jaw. “And no. Getting you comfortable with my touch is a means to an end, but the process isn’t a hardship. Not at all.” Hadn’t the woman noticed his cock straining against his zipper?
Keely’s breath caught when he tugged on her earlobe with his teeth.
He smiled against her cheek, figuring he’d won her over. “Am I proving myself?”
“Why not?” Jarred by her response, he stilled. If he hadn’t persuaded her, then why was her voice unsteady? Why was her breath choppy?
“Because you’re not the type of man to take it slow or give me a play by play.”
“And you know me so well?” he murmured with a trace of humor.
“Well enough to know I prefer the zero to four second response time you have, whether it’s in anger or with lust. That’s honest. This calculated seduction is not.” Keely extracted herself from him and stood.
She reached for her beer. “Maybe it would be better if we just watched TV.”
That sneaky bastard.
Keely turned, blocking Jack’s view as she pressed the bottle of beer to her lips and drained it.
Damn. Her entire body—blood, muscles, tissues, bones—felt as if he’d zapped her with a cattle prod.
Wobbly knees, dry throat, rapid heartbeat, damp panties, haywire responses from a simple touch? Damn embarrassing. Jack had stroked, whispered and teased until she was mere seconds from mounting him.
She’d enjoyed plenty of lovers. Men who’d rocked her world in bed. But she’d never experienced such a visceral reaction to a man’s heated touch and the soothing cadence of a deep voice drifting across her skin.
“Keely? You okay?”
She jumped. Damn him. She would not be a freakin’ wreck of hormones in her own space. “You want another beer?”
“You having one?”
I’m having two. “Yep.”
“Then I’ll take one. Since I bought them.”
Keely booked it to the kitchen. She took her time uncapping the beer bottles, stalling really. But she needn’t have bothered; Jack was yakking on his cell phone when she returned. She sat across from him, propped her booted feet on the coffee table and studied him.
Jack Donohue was a total contradiction. Polished, yet rugged. Confident, yet not overtly cocky.
Professional, yet an air of wildness surrounded him. Down to earth, as well as aloof. Smokin’ hot, yet ice cold.
Who was he?
Will the real Jack Donohue please stand up?
Although Jack wasn’t talking to her, she sensed his intense focus on her, totally on her. She couldn’t drop her guard around him for a single second. Screw the conditioning exercises. She’d never get accustomed to the way Jack made her feel.
“I shouldn’t have to handle it. Because it’s not in my job description, nor is it in my contract. Yes, I’m sure. And for the record, I was against hiring them in the first place. No. This is not an ‘I told you so’ moment, George. What am I supposed to do about it from here? You’re there, I’m not. Handle it. You’re the GC. No. Because I can’t right now.”
Jack stopped and stared at her.
It wasn’t a cool look. Oh no. The molten look in Jack’s eyes was hot enough to melt cinderblocks. He wanted her. Keely knew if she stayed in this room, he’d have her the second he ended the call. His way.
And she wouldn’t do a damn thing to stop him.
Keely listened to her inner voice advising retreat. Keeping their gazes locked, she saluted with the bottle and backtracked into her bedroom. She leaned against the door and locked it, trying to calm her racing heart.
But over the rapid lub-dub lub-dub lub-dub, she swore she heard the sound of Jack…clucking.
The next morning Keely was up and out of the apartment before Jack stopped snoring in the guest bedroom.
Once again she hadn’t beaten Dr. Joely Monroe into the office. The doc’s door was wide open and a regular old coffeepot—not some fancy-schmancy French-Chinese hybrid—was brimming with fresh, hot, strong coffee. Keely grabbed a cup and plopped across from the doc.
“Make yourself comfy.”
“I am, Doc. Thank you.”
Dr. Monroe’s eyes glommed onto Keely’s left hand. “Nice ring. New, isn’t it?”
Keely had been freelancing in the clinic as a physical and occupational therapist for more than two years. From the start Doc Monroe had encouraged Keely’s dream to own a physical therapy clinic. She’d offered advice and a recommendation to the Rural Medical Initiative about funding the venture. But Keely didn’t feel comfortable talking to the doctor about her personal life.
Sometimes Keely wondered why she kept her life compartmentalized; she told AJ about her love life, Ramona about her career issues, her brothers and parents the entertaining tidbits, but no one knew all sides of her. How refreshing would it be to just be herself with one person? How bizarre would it be if that person was…Jack?
“Yes, it’s brand spankin’ new.”
“I keep secrets for a living, McKay. We work together two, three days a week. You couldn’t have given me a hint you were seriously involved with someone?”
“Umm. He’s from out of town.”
“What’s his name?”
Satan. “Jack Donohue. In my own defense, it was sudden. And no, I’m not pregnant.”