“Living with Ned will be torture to a girl like that. You heard him earlier. He’ll get her to do all the work and he won’t give her any thanks, will he? He’s bad-tempered and rough. She’ll hate it there. Make sure your place is more inviting. Time will do the rest.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t just wait around and hope for the best. I have to do something.”
“Then… get Fila to move in with you,” Jake said, surprised at his own brilliance. He could kill two birds with one stone.
“Fila? How will that help?” Luke leaned against the porch railing.
“She’s sad that both her friends have moved away. She wants to move here, too—I’m sure of it,” Jake told him. “Get her to your place and she’ll do the rest.”
“But if she’s staying with me, there won’t be room for Mia.”
Jake thought fast. “There’s plenty of ways around that. Put another bed in Fila’s room, or move yourself onto the couch, or…” He flashed a wicked grin at Luke. “Seduce Mia and she can stay with you in your room.”
Luke smiled. “I like the sound of that last one. I’ll do it.”
When all the guests left and Jake came back inside, he joined Hannah in the kitchen, picked up a tea towel and dried the dishes as she washed them. As angry as she was at him—at all of the Mathesons—she couldn’t help notice the sweetness of the situation. If they were married they might do this every night. She couldn’t help but appreciate the tall, handsome cowboy beside her, his strong fingers taking care not to damage the delicate stemware and dishes, the concern on his face when she glanced up at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “None of this has gone the way I hoped it would.”
“I know.” She did know. It was as much her fault as his when you got down to it. She should never have tumbled into bed with him. He couldn’t help that Holt and Ned seemed determined to drive her crazy, either. When she moved onto the Double-Bar-K, she set herself up for problems.
“Will it help to have Mia nearby?”
“I guess. I didn’t expect Ned to ask her to move in with him.”
“No, me neither.”
She looked up at his wry tone of voice. “What?”
She let it go, but determined to keep an eye on things when Mia arrived. Something was going on here she didn’t understand. There seemed to be bad blood between Jake and Ned. Hannah had already paid a price for it; she didn’t want Mia to pay that price, too. They did the rest of the dishes in silence, and Jake took her by the hand to lead her upstairs. She followed him, bracing herself for what would come next.
“I’ll understand if you don’t want to sleep with me tonight.” He hesitated in front of the guest room door and leaned against the frame. He was such a handsome sight, even concerned as he was. He still held her hand and as she fought for words, he caressed it with his thumb. Hannah struggled against the surge of desire deep within her.
He was right. Her mind told her to pull away from him, crawl into her bed alone and think over this whole debacle, but if she did she wouldn’t be able to lie to Holt tomorrow, and the truth was, she’d miss Jake.
“I’d prefer to sleep with you,” she said quietly. “But…” She meant to say she wanted to only sleep with him, not make love. There was no way she’d take any more chances with him, not while he was ripping condoms and talking marriage. Maybe, just maybe, they could find a way to be together long term, but they couldn’t fall back into bed until they had things on a solid footing.
Before she could finish her sentence, however, Jake pulled her close, tipped her head back and kissed her thoroughly. As usual, all her other thoughts scattered when he was so close. There was just Jake—the strength of his arms, the scent of his soap, the clear intent behind his kisses. To seduce her. To tumble her onto the bed. To make love to her as only he could.
“Thank God,” he said when they pulled apart to catch their breath. “I didn’t think I’d make it through the night if you hated me for what I’ve done.”
“I don’t hate you but I don’t trust you either.” She fought for clarity. For common sense. “To deliberately rip a condom…”
He flinched back. “Is that what you think? That I did it deliberately?”
“Why hide the evidence if you didn’t?”
“I panicked. When I saw the state of it I couldn’t believe it. I thought you’d leave…I wanted to keep you around long enough to explain.” She searched his face, trying to decide whether or not he was telling the truth. “Hell,” he said when she didn’t answer. “You really don’t trust me.”
“Why should I? I barely you know you. The second time we make love the condom breaks. That’s never happened to me before.”
“It’s never happened to me either.” Jake touched her. “And I would never do something like that deliberately. If we get serious and decide to have a family, I want to make that decision together. I want us to talk about it.” He took her hands. “Hell, I want the fun of trying to make you pregnant on purpose.” He pulled her in for a kiss and Hannah blinked, heat surging through her at the idea of how much fun that could be. Someday. Not right now, but… “You don’t really think you’re pregnant, do you? I mean, I know it’s possible, but what are the odds?”
“I would never hurt you. You have to believe that.” Jake gathered her closer. His arms around her made it difficult for her to think. She was still picturing Jake making her pregnant…
“I guess.” She leaned against him.
“Come on.” He scooped her up into his arms and kicked the bedroom door open. He tumbled her down onto her bed and followed her, rolling her back into his arms as soon as they were both prone. He didn’t waste words before sweeping her into another long kiss, one that left her senses reeling. She gave up fighting him and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back, instead. What did it matter if she made love to him again? The die was already cast. She planned to stay with him for thirteen more nights.
Might as well make the most of it.
She let him peel her clothing off of her, and when they were naked his hands left trails of heat up and down her skin. This time he lay back and urged her to climb on top of him. She did, gladly. She bent forward to slide her breasts across his chest and he caught her and pulled her forward to take one nipple into his mouth. Hannah sighed with pleasure as he took his time lavishing his attention on both breasts. Soon she was rocking her hips and enjoying the feel of his hardness between her legs.