Page 28

She stared back at him, speechless for a minute.

“Yeah, right,” he said softly.

She shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that. It’s not dial-a-ghost and connect to the right spirit. No, no…but we’re close to the truth and I know it. I know what I have seen, I know what I’ve learned, and it all has to do with that damned costume, and the fact that people still don’t understand their neighbors, after all these years. We still don’t see each other clearly. We can’t tolerate, we can’t forgive strangeness…but it’s there, and we are close and…”

“And we’re just about going to have to pray that someone runs into the middle of the common and screams, ‘Hey, I’m guilty!’”

“Sam—” Jenna began.

“Shut up!” he cried. “What?”

“Shut up!”

“You shut up!”

“I’m trying to!” he shouted.

She stared at him, stunned. And then she noted the look in his eyes, and he was suddenly close against her and she could feel the damp fire of the length of him, and she opened her mouth to speak but she couldn’t.

“I didn’t want you to try to explain anything to John tonight, that’s true. But I was behind you. Whether I believe or understand or not, I was behind you. And you’re not really angry with me.”

“The hell I’m not.”

“That’s not why you’re here.”

“Why am I here?”

He lowered his head and found her mouth. His lips captured hers, and his kiss was firm and coercive, his mouth forming over hers with a liquid fire, desire seeming to burn in the very way that he touched her. She felt the incredible vitality and supple strength of the length of him as he pressed her there against the wall, and she was grateful for the wall, thinking that, for her, it had been far too long since she had let herself even begin to feel such sensation.

His tongue moved into her mouth, again strong and coercive and seductive, and she was even more grateful that he pinned her there. This was what she had wanted, yes, but she hadn’t imagined that she would feel so deliriously weak, and so at a disadvantage. He was a good lover, she thought, because he was a practiced lover; she had seen from the beginning that he moved with a confidence and ease that meant he would hold everything an alpha male held, power unto himself, the physical arrogance that was undeniably attractive. She felt like an inexperienced teen again, unsure and uncertain, and afraid she was far out of her league.

His lips broke from hers, and his mouth remained just inches away, but she could see his eyes again, and she was stunned that they seemed to be a clear gray, hiding nothing, offering something that might have been honesty and even humility.

“Is this why you came?” he asked hoarsely. “Because, dear Lord, I think I might have simply burned to a cinder, longing for you and not knowing how to even begin to ask.”

She nodded, not trusting her voice, and felt the brush of the back of his fingers on her cheek. She was astonished to see that his fingers trembled.

She moved against him, burying her face against his chest, then lifting her head and finding his mouth again. She felt his arms around her, lifting her more tightly against him, and through clothing and terry, she could feel the rise of his sex, he was so instantly aroused. She slipped her hands beneath the terry of the robe, fumbled at the belt, and drew more flush against him. He backed away, and together they pulled off her sweater, and she realized then that his clothing was strewn about. She looked at him, puzzled for a moment.

“Cold shower when you left me!” he told her.

And she found that she could laugh, and crashed into his arms again. It seemed that they couldn’t kiss enough at first, delirious wet kisses that seemed both too much and somehow necessary between them, and then he began to half lead and half carry her into the bedroom on the side of the house, and they fell together onto the large canopy bed there. Jenna got one boot off before he pulled her back down, and she let the other go. Their mouths met again, and his lips trailed to her throat and her shoulders while his fingers eased around to her bra strap. She ran her hands down the length of his naked back, trembling and hungry and yet wanting every minute, every sensation that led to the pent-up desire she’d been so eager to suppress. His hands and mouth covered her flesh, and he was amazingly giving in all that he did, as if he were fascinated beyond measure by every aspect of her skin, every inch….

She touched him as he touched her, running her hands down his midriff, taking it farther, wrapping her fingers around his erection and bringing a gasp from his lips. “Not fair, I was half-naked already,” he whispered, rising above her. For a moment she caught the silver-gray glint of his eyes in the shadows cast into the darkened room by the hallway light, and she was mesmerized by the dusky shade of the room that seemed to envelop them in some kind of ridiculously magical realm. Could she be so abandoned in bright light? She didn’t know, but she reached out, taking him to her when he moved down to kiss her lips again and then inch down the length of her body, kissing, caressing and stroking while he found the waistband to her jeans and shimmied the denim down her body and, at last, rid her of her last boot, the last vestige of clothing.

And then he rose above her, looking down at her again. He lowered himself, lacing his fingers with hers, and eased himself into her, pausing, and then moving, and moving again, more deeply and deeply, until it seemed that his trust shot through to her heart, and her body—core and limbs—became electric in themselves. She moved against him, arms around him, legs entwined around his back, and she marveled at the miracle of sensation and sensuality and sex, because it was magic, and she’d left the world behind, wanting nothing but the touch, scent and taste of him, and the writhing, undulating, wet, slick movement between them.

She climaxed with a desperation that left her body drained. She felt him expulse, felt his arms around her tighten, and she felt his weight, and then the way he eased down beside her, and brought her back into his arms again. The drumbeat of their hearts seemed ridiculously loud in the room, and the bed’s comforter seemed cool, and still her body seemed to be on fire.

And for a moment, she winced inwardly. It was sex, just sex.

But she liked him so much; she didn’t want to…

She did. She was fascinated by the way he moved, and the way he thought, and the tone of his voice, and his little idiosyncrasies, the way he paced and put his hands in his pockets, thought out his words and didn’t think out his words….

For a moment, she must have eased away.

He pulled her back, his voice husky. “Come here, Red.”

“Oh, please! Don’t call me Red.”

“Okay, come here, Irish.”

“Don’t call me Irish.”

“Is it bad to be Irish?”

“Of course not!”


“Okay, you come on over here, Puritan!”

“Ouch, ooh. That one does hurt!”


He rolled up on an elbow to look at her. “Jenna. Come here, please, Jenna. Please, don’t think about leaving me yet. I’m begging you.”

She eased back against him. “I wasn’t leaving,” she said. “Not now.”

“You should just stay. I can call Jamie—”

She rose out of his arms onto her elbow and stared down at him. “You’re going to call my uncle and tell him that I’m staying the night?”

“Better than have him worry.”

“He was almost a priest!”

“Exactly. Almost a priest. The key word there is almost.”


“Jamie is human, Jenna.”

She laughed and lay back down by him. He pulled her against him. “He’s my uncle,” she said.

“And I’m sure he knows that you grew up.”


“Okay, okay, I’ll take you home. He’ll think we’re assuming that he’s either stupid or entirely blind himself.”

“That won’t work,” Jenna told him.

He laughed.

“I really can’t stay long. Of course, we could be discussing the case, should be discussing the case—”

“No, definitely not. Not now, not here!” he whispered, and pulled her against him again.

This time, he was achingly, deliciously slow, teasing and tormenting, and she struggled to do so in return. When they were spent at last, she collapsed next him, ridiculously glad to know him so well and so thoroughly. She wasn’t sure where it could lead, and she couldn’t allow herself to care. It was now, and it was still magic, and she’d never regret having come here, because somehow, on this night, no matter what aspects of philosophy and life divided them, they were one for those few hours.

They lay there entwined as seconds ticked by. Then, rather than Jenna, it was Sam who rose, and after a minute, he returned to stand in the doorway. She couldn’t help thinking that he was something like an indifferent Adonis, unaware of himself. She wondered if he had any idea of just how perfect he might be; in his world, his tailored clothing was his mask.

“We’re all set,” he said.

“What?” She leaped out of the bed. “All set for what?”

“I called Jamie—”

“And you asked him if I could stay the night?”

“No, I said you were here, safe, with me, and I was about to walk you back, and he said that we should both just get some sleep and he’d see us in the morning.”

“Just like that?” Jenna asked.

“I swear, God as my witness,” he said.

“I’m not sure you believe in God,” she said.

He stood there a moment. “I do believe in…something. A greater power. I believe in life, and all that goes with it. I even believe in people, and that love itself is one of the greatest powers on the earth. The things I’ve seen done when love is real are remarkable. And, anyway, on all that, I swear, it was Jamie’s idea that you stay.”