“What? Drivin’ you crazy?”
“No. Acting so unlike you.”
“Because, you don’t believe I can change, so it’s up to me to convince you otherwise.”
Her smile dimmed. “But what if it doesn’t change anything?”
“What if it does?” he countered.
Might as well get it all out in the open. “It hasn’t always been like this between us. We were good together, weren’t we?”
“Has every year of our marriage been pure hell for you, Libby?”
“God. No. Not even close.” Libby started to say something else but snapped her mouth shut, choosing instead to fiddle with the lace edging on the placemat.
“Good to know.” Quinn stood. He ached to stay, but he’d left her enough to mull over for one night.
On the porch, he paused to absorb the beauty of the place they called home. Dusk had fallen, turning the sky purple-gray and dusting the tree line in the distance with fluffy pink clouds. A brisk breeze rattled the bird feeders. The dark, ripe scent of wet earth filled his lungs. It seemed as if he’d taken his first real breath in months.
The heat of Libby’s body behind his made him turn around very slowly, even when his heart raced like a snared rabbit’s. With forced casualness, Quinn said, “Oh, one other thing.”
“This.” Quinn cupped her face in his hands. He pressed his mouth down, allowing his lips to reacquaint themselves with the softness and shape of hers beneath his. One smooth brush of his lips morphed into a dozen drugging kisses. At the insistent glide of his mouth, teasing nips of his teeth, tiny flicks of his tongue, Libby’s lips parted on a soft sigh.
His tongue slipped inside and her flavor burst in his mouth, sweet coffee, sweet Libby and sweet temptation. It’d been an eternity since he’d kissed his wife this way, a slow seduction. A promise. A renewal of intent.
Quinn tilted her head, kicking the kiss from lazy exploration to undeniable hunger. For her. Only ever for her. A wet, wild reunion of dueling tongues, stuttered breaths and the powerful slide into passion they’d either forgotten or had denied themselves.
Despite the heat and the sense of yearning, he kept their bodies apart, because what was blossoming between them again was too important to rush.
Tonight. Tomorrow all bets were off.
He forced himself to break the kiss. His hands fell away and he buried his nose in her apple-scented hair. “I miss talkin’ to you. Touchin’ you.” He kissed the start of her jawline beneath her ear. “I miss the way you smell. The way you taste. The way you feel. Goddamn, I miss the everything of you, Libby.”
His body was primed for action and it took every bit of willpower to step back from her. “I ain’t gonna apologize.”
“I don’t want you to.”
Damn, if that admission didn’t cause his cock to jerk with hope. Especially when he saw her gaze drop to the bulge beneath his zipper.
Double damn. Definitely time to go. “Good night, Libby. Sweet dreams.” He smiled cagily and melted into the shadows.
“You have no idea where he’s taking you?”
“None.” Libby peeked out the kitchen window, feeling silly for watching for Quinn’s truck to barrel up the drive. She hadn’t done that for years.
“And you just agreed?”
Jillian sighed. “Sis, no offense, but the last time Quinn surprised you, he brought you home a new crock pot.”
Libby stuck her tongue out at the receiver. She loved that damn crock pot. Jilly didn’t understand it’d been an incredibly sweet gesture on Quinn’s part because he so rarely acted spontaneously. “He’s trying, Jilly.”
“Well, it’s about damn time.”
Usually Jillian’s constant yakking was impossible to ignore, but today, Libby easily tuned her out.
She had more important things to tune into. Like the steamy kiss that’d knocked her sideways last night.
Man. She’d forgotten Quinn could kiss like that. She’d forgotten she could kiss like that. She’d definitely forgotten how arousing a simple kiss could be, as evidenced by the soaking wet condition of her panties when she’d stumbled back into the house on wobbly knees.
And Libby couldn’t help but notice Quinn’s erection. Kissing her had the same effect on him—a good sign—since the man hadn’t touched her for three months prior to their separation.
Six long months without physical intimacy. Half a year without her husband paying attention to her at all.
To cope with his apathy, she’d tried a few changes around the house, dropped some weight, updated her hairstyle, makeup and wardrobe. A confidence-boosting bonus she’d hoped would increase her physical attraction to her mate. But when she’d marshaled the courage to ask Quinn how he liked the “new” her, he’d responded he’d liked the old her just fine.
Quinn probably hadn’t meant his remark in an unflattering way, but it’d stung nevertheless. In response, she’d lashed back at him like she’d never done, said hurtful things and then kicked him out.
And speak of the devil; the man was kicking up a cloud of dust as he zipped up the gravel driveway.
“Can I offer you some advice—”
She cut Jillian off mid-sentence. “Quinn is here.”
“Libby, will you listen to me before you hang up?”
No. But Jillian would blather on anyway. “What?”
“Avoid talking about the baby issue. If you really want your relationship with Quinn to have a fair shot, it needs to only be about your relationship as man and wife.”
“Don’t bring up his refusal to take fertility tests or the years you’ve spent trying to get pregnant to the exclusion of everything else.”
“That’s unfair, Jilly. You make it sound like that’s all I’ve cared about.”
“It’s certainly been all you’ve talked about for the last several years,” Jilly gently chided. “I know I’m the only person you’ve trusted with your frustration about your inability to conceive, so my view might be skewed.”
Libby opened her mouth to argue, but a teeny germ of guilt sprouted. Only in the last twelve months she hadn’t been obsessing about babies because she’d been obsessing about what’d gone wrong between her and her husband. She’d figured by letting the big issue drop, they’d be able to focus on the smaller ones.
That hadn’t happened either.
She let her disquiet build as she watched Quinn hurry into the horse trailer.
“Libs? You there?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I’m still here.” Pause. “Was I really that bad?”
“It’ll be hard for you to hear, but yeah, you were. Sometimes I understand why Quinn didn’t protest too much about the separation. It’s been a rough couple years on both of you.”
Her stomach lurched. If she’d been so blatantly single-minded why hadn’t Quinn said anything to her?
Because his unwillingness to talk about anything was the reason you asked for the separation.
But Quinn hadn’t always been like that.
Maybe he’s grown tired of discussing the same old things and silence was his only defense.
“I didn’t say that to hurt you, Libs.”
“I don’t understand why you didn’t mention it before now.”
“Because it wasn’t my place, honey. It was Quinn’s. And we both know he wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful.”
Libby fought the urge to curl into a ball and weep. “Lord. How did everything get so screwed up?”
“I don’t know. Good luck.” Jillian hung up.
Quinn exited the horse trailer and Libby caught her first glimpse of his clothes. Gray sweatpants. A faded brown and gold University of Wyoming Go Pokes! T-shirt, tennis shoes and a “gimme” ball cap from the local Yamaha dealership.
Whoa. Quinn never dressed casually, especially if he planned on being seen in public. Some kind of proper public cowboy attire had been hardwired into the man’s DNA. Did that mean he’d planned a private outing?
He bounded up the steps like an eager pup and barged right in. “Heya, Libby. You look great.
A compliment right off the bat? The man really was trying. “Yeah. Just let me grab my purse.”
Familiar warmth spread inside and outside her body from his hand caressing the small of her back as he followed her down the porch steps.
“Where are we going?”
Quinn smiled and opened the truck door. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
Inside the pickup, he patted the bench seat. “Scoot over. I wanna relive those times when we were first dating and you practically sat on my lap.”
Touched by his request, she slid next to him until they were matched thigh-to-thigh. “Is this a date?”
“As much as a man can be on a date with his wife of nine years.”
Libby turned. His face was mere inches away.
“Bein’s you are my wife, I’m entitled to steal a kiss.” Quinn angled his head and gently brushed his lips over hers one time. Then he straightened up and started the truck.
“That’s it?” burst out before she could stop it.
“You were expectin’ something else?”
“I was hoping for a kiss like the one from last night.”
“Libby, darlin’, you can kiss me like that anytime you want. Any. Damn. Time. At all. And it don’t gotta stop at kissin’.”
Just like that, Quinn had gotten his point across in his usual low-key manner. She bumped him with her shoulder. “Maybe I will.”
“I’ll look forward to it.” He kept his hand on her thigh during the drive to Sundance.
Quinn parked in front of the Sandstone Building. It housed three separate businesses, all run by women who’d married into the McKay family. Macie McKay ran Dewey’s Delish Dish, Skylar McKay owned Sky Blue, and her sister, India, owned the tattoo shop, India’s Ink, which were housed together in the same space, while AJ McKay operated Healing Touch Massage. It was too late to eat lunch so Libby couldn’t fathom why they were here. A panicked thought struck her. “Are we getting a tattoo?”