“I want to know everything about where you’ve been.” And he did.
“Same here. I want to know about your job, your family, everything.” She seemed a little nervous as she said the last word, but he couldn’t figure out why.
As they headed down the small side street that would take them to the main road where all the restaurants, bars and clubs were, he kept his body on the street side.
“And I’ll tell you, but you’re up first,” he said.
“Well, after the first year of bouncing around to different temporary safe houses, I was placed in New Mexico. It was really hard at first. I…didn’t adjust well. But eventually I got a job teaching.”
“They let you teach?” He didn’t know everything about the WITSEC program, but he knew a little. And after Jordan had come to see him a couple days ago he’d tried to research as much as he could. From what he understood, they didn’t always let their entrants stay in the same field they’d been in because it made them easier to track. Especially if their field of expertise was narrow.
“Yeah. I didn’t at first, but I was finally allowed to. There are so many schools, public and private, it would be almost impossible to track me down that way. Plus I was vigilant about no photos of me ever being posted on the school website. I didn’t even take one with the volleyball team I coached. The first year they didn’t seem to understand, but my girls were amazing. I coached them from the time they were freshmen and by their senior year it was sort of a joke that the coach wouldn’t ever pose for social media photos.” The joy on her face when she talked about her team was vivid. And he was so fucking glad she’d eventually settled in somewhere. He still hated that she’d left without telling him, but the thought of her being miserable carved him up inside.
“So you taught the junior and varsity team?” She’d loved playing in college. She was too short to ever make a serious team, but she’d played at the beach anytime she could. And she’d looked damn sexy playing in her two-piece suits. Those images were seared into his brain forever.
“Yeah, the first two years it was the freshmen and sophomores. The varsity coach was retiring so it was like kismet. I just moved up with them and after they all graduated, I stayed with the varsity team. I’d already started coaching the incoming juniors anyway and I just love that age. Everything in life is so fresh and dramatic for them. It was fun watching so many wonderful young women heading off into the world, ready to take anything on.”
He tightened his grip on her shoulders as they sidestepped a street entertainer playing a guitar on the sidewalk. “You miss them.”
“Yeah. I’ve stayed in touch with those that I was close with. It’s been pretty freeing to be able to be honest with them now that they know my real name. But enough about me, how is it working for Red Stone? I remember how excited you were to get an offer from them. Is it what you hoped?”
He stopped at a small restaurant that had an outside patio and glanced at the glassed-in menu on the outside of the hostess stand. “I’ll tell you everything, but first, how does this place look?”
“Coconut shrimp, pan-grilled barbeque shrimp, lobster, seared tuna…I think I’m in heaven.”
The joy in her voice and on her face was so open, so real, it was a punch to his senses. He couldn’t believe he’d lived so long without her. With that thought, it brought up the reminder that she’d left him. He didn’t want it to make him angry, but it did.
“What?” Her smile fell and he could feel her start to emotionally pull away from him even before she tried to step out of his embrace.
Tried. Because he wouldn’t let her. It was like he physically couldn’t. Vincent tightened his grip and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s grab a table on the patio.” The sign said to seat themselves so he snagged two menus before they headed over.
He had to decide if he could let his own anger go before he took things further between them. He knew that. Figuring out how to do it was the tough part.
Jordan couldn’t get over the fact that Vincent was sitting across from her. Over dinner they’d caught up on the last seven years. Of course it wasn’t enough, and she still wanted to know a lot more, but she loved hearing about his life. And she was glad he wasn’t dating someone at the moment. The thought of him with other women…no, she wasn’t even going there. It hurt too much.
“You ready?” he asked as he set the black bill pad on the table.
She’d tried to pay but he’d been almost insulted as he’d snatched the pad from their server. Even though she wished they could sit there all night and talk, she nodded. The night had to end sometime. She nodded and stood. “Yeah.”
“Maybe we can grab gelato on the way back. I remember how much you love it,” he murmured against her ear as he tugged her close to his side, his voice completely wicked.
At those words, her entire body went molten hot. Damn him and his memory. And damn him for turning her on with just a few words. Because she had no doubt that he knew exactly what he was doing. More than once she’d let him eat it off her body—and she’d done the same to him. “You have a very good memory,” she muttered, nudging him with her elbow.
He just wrapped his muscular arm around her shoulders and pulled her close once again. She’d missed that closeness, his warmth, and the way he always made her feel safe and protected. Vincent had never had a problem with displaying affection.
Now that the sun had set, people were out in full party mode. It didn’t matter that it was a Tuesday night; it was summer and everyone was here to let loose. The island music, the sound of laughter, talking and people just having a good time was infectious and relaxing. For the first time in a while she felt as if she could truly let her guard down. Well, almost. She wasn’t letting the guard around her heart totally down, but she liked being able to be herself. Especially with Vincent.
Lord, he was sexy tonight. Wearing simple cargo shorts and a T-shirt with some surf brand logo on the front, he looked good enough to eat. The shirt molded to all his muscles, showing off every sexy line and striation. Even his freaking calves were toned, delicious and so sexy she wanted to lick them. Calves should not be sexy. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t a SEAL anymore, the man was built. And pretty much every female—and quite a few men—had been checking him out all during their dinner. Not that she really cared since he hadn’t even seemed to notice. Of course he probably had, but he hadn’t let on.
At the beginning of the meal he’d seemed to almost pull back from her emotionally, but he didn’t have eyes for anyone else as they’d talked and ate. Not that he ever had when they’d been together. He might have been a player before her, but with her, he’d been devoted. She missed that more than she’d thought possible. She just hated the hot and cold vibe she was getting from him.
“I remember all the dirty stuff.” His voice was teasing and light as they strolled down the sidewalk.
She just bet he did because she did too. In explicit detail. “So…do you want to do anything else tonight?” Because she really didn’t want to spend the night alone at the condo. She’d come here to hibernate, to figure stuff out, but now that Vincent was in town she wanted to soak up every second she could with him.
He would break her heart. She knew that. Hell, she figured she deserved it. But she didn’t care. Not after living without him for so long.
“I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do,” he murmured, the words deep and raspy. The meaning behind them was clear too.
And didn’t that just make her nipples tighten almost painfully. She was wearing a thin bandeau bra under her halter dress and knew her reaction must be blatant. She risked a quick glance up at him, but he was looking around in that vigilant way she remembered. He was always on alert, always ready for danger.
Thank God for men like him.
Against her better judgment, she leaned her face into his chest as they walked and inhaled his spicy masculine scent. She didn’t care if she looked crazy; she wanted to roll around in that purely male essence. Vincent just brought out that primal, extremely feminine part of her and after living like a nun for so long, she wanted to find pleasure with him. Hours and hours of it. More like days and weeks and… nope, not going down that path. She couldn’t expect more than a few nights with him. Deep down she was pretty sure he’d never get over the way she’d left and while it killed her, she still wanted to take what he could offer. She wanted something to hold onto as she tried to figure her life out again.
His arm tightened around her as they turned at the next corner. “You’re killing me, Jordan,” he murmured, still not looking at her.
She wasn’t sure of his tone, and since he was still scanning their surroundings, she couldn’t read his expression. “How?”
He snorted softly before turning to face her and slowly backing her up against a high stone wall that hid a house. The way he moved reminded her of a skilled predator, as if he was stalking his prey. Of course she didn’t mind being his prey. Not when she had firsthand experience with the kind of pleasure he could deliver. Her bare upper back slightly scraped against the rough stone, but she hardly noticed.
The street was much quieter than where they’d just come from, with cars and mopeds parked along the curb. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a couple across the street walking in the other direction, with their backs to her and Vincent. But no one else.
As he watched her with a hot, assessing stare and pale blue eyes that still captivated her, she could hear upbeat reggae style music in the distance, but all her focus was on the man in front of her—the way his chest rose and fell in an unsteady rhythm, the body heat he emanated, his spicy scent. She just wanted to lean into him and soak him up. He placed his hands on the wall on either side of her, caging her in, and rolled his hips once against her.
Oh my. His erection pressed insistently against her, letting her know how much he wanted her, but with the exception of his clear lust, his expression was hard to read. Maybe this was just about sex for him. His breathing was slightly erratic as he watched her. Her gaze drifted to his lips. Why was he just standing there? Unable to read his exact mood and afraid of his rejection, she didn’t have the courage to lift up on her tiptoes and kiss him. Though she really wanted to.