Authors: Helen Brenna
Tags: #An Island To Remember
The kid stepped off the sidewalk and onto the cobblestone road. A carriage clip-clopped its merry way down the street. Young driver. College kid. Two more steps and—
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” The carriage driver called, spotting the child.
Too late. Brakes weren’t holding. A bystander on the sidewalk called, “Watch out!” Jonas shot out into the street. The mother turned and screamed. Jonas dodged a bicyclist and the lead horse, scooped up the kid, and deposited him on the sidewalk.
The carriage slowed to a stop. “Everyone all right?” the driver asked.
“Peachy,” Jonas grunted as pain seized him.
“Oh, my God.” The mother lifted the little boy into her arms, looking as if she might faint.
“Are you all right?” The father held Jonas’s gaze.
Clenching his jaw, Jonas nodded and waited for the pain to subside.
“Thank you,” the man said. “Is there some—”
“No. Don’t worry about it.”
Limping back across the street, Jonas walked up to the first restaurant he ran across, a place called Duffy’s Pub. Laughter and music spilled out onto the sidewalk and, not in the mood for people, he almost turned away. Then the scent of garlic and grilled meat wafted toward him from the alley and his stomach made the decision for him.
Inside, he surveyed the crowd. From the dress and paraphernalia, tourists most assuredly mixed with locals at the tables and booths. Immediately, his eyes latched on Missy at the bar, standing next to the good doctor. Knowing her highbrow background, it seemed strange seeing her in this kind of setting, but there was something about a bar that brought out the best in Missy. Laughing and smiling, she looked more gorgeous than the first night he’d met her.
Doctor Sean surely noticed. He was tall, had to lean down to talk in her ear. She laughed at whatever he said and they both looked at something in her arms.
What the—? A baby. So focused on her interacting with the doctor, he’d totally missed the fact that she was holding a little boy. The sight of her smiling at the kid tugged at Jonas’s heart in a strange way.
While they’d been married they’d mentioned kids only once. Waiting had been the consensus and she’d seemed content. She was young. She had all the time in the world for children. And him? He’d wanted to be more stable before they went that route. A house. A job that didn’t take him out of town or undercover.
Clearly, her vision had changed. She wanted kids. Now.
She glanced at Sean and they laughed together, apparently at something the baby had done. Again, jealousy reared up inside Jonas. He was about to turn around and find another restaurant when she caught sight of him. No way to back out now.
Ignoring the lingering ache in his side, he walked over to where she was standing at the bar. “Hey.”
“Hi.” When she gripped the crystals on the necklace around her neck, presumably seeking protection from him, he looked away. He’d never wanted to hurt her. He’d truly thought he’d been doing her a favor by dying. Coming back? That he hadn’t given much thought, but who could think with a bullet wound in the side?
“Jonas. This is Sarah, Hannah, Sean and Garrett,” Missy said, making introductions. “Everyone, this is my brother, Jonas.”
He nodded at each person in turn, but the doctor only glared at him. When the Setterbergs joined the group, Jonas straightened his shoulders and prepared himself for a few more dirty looks. There was no point in trying to butter them up with a smile. They already hated him.
“Erica, bring this man a beer,” Ron said, patting Jonas on the back. “He just saved a little boy out front from getting run over by a horse.”
As Ron went on explaining what happened, Jonas ducked his head. The last thing he wanted was to draw more attention to himself.
Jan raised her eyebrows at him and whispered, “Guess sometimes there’s more to a man than meets the eye.”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Jonas muttered.
“That’s some fast action,” Sarah said. “You must be feeling better.”
Jonas glanced at the woman, wondering what exactly that comment meant. Missy wouldn’t have told anyone about his gunshot wound. “Yeah, thanks, I do feel better,” he hedged. “Except I’m starving.”
“You can order something from Erica,” Garrett said, studying him, taking him apart piece by piece. “My wife.”
If that man wasn’t a cop, Jonas wasn’t Bureau. “Thanks.” Jonas turned as the bartender set a frosty mug of beer in front of him and ordered a basket of chicken fingers as an appetizer, as well as a tenderloin steak, complete with a baked potato, green beans and a salad.
From there the group peppered him with questions to which he responded with what he hoped were innocuous half truths. He’d spent most of the past four years lying to infiltrate and then operate amidst a drug cartel. What was one more night?
As soon as the group let up on their interrogation, Missy pulled him slightly aside. “Thank you for saving that little boy.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Maybe if you kept real food in your house, your guests wouldn’t need to head into town for a decent meal.”
She glanced away.
Jonas felt the stirrings of a long-dormant conscience chew at his stomach. “I’ll go someplace else. Sound like a better plan?”
“You can’t. Everyone here will think it’s odd. Funny, but my girlfriends want to get to know my
“Tell them the truth, Miss.”
“Why should I? You’ll be gone in no time. I still want to live here. In anonymity. In peace.”
Once upon a time, there used to be a decent, loving man under that cold, hard shell. To bring him out she would’ve run her hands along his shoulders, or dragged her fingers across his scalp to ease his tension. Plant a gentle, quiet kiss on his cheek. He would’ve glanced at her and all his worries would’ve whooshed out of him like a balloon losing air. Then he would’ve focused all that attention on her. There was no better feeling in the world than being the focus of Jonas’s attention.
But that was a long time ago, Missy mused. Another life.
Jonas turned from the bar with his second beer and inadvertently brushed his arm along hers. For a moment, his gaze latched on to hers and it was as if they were alone together in the room, remembering, reliving.
She inched away from him, but the crowd seemed to only push him closer. As if sensing her growing agitation, Sean whispered in her ear, “Come on. Let’s dance.”
Grateful for the distraction, Missy followed him onto the floor.
“Is it just me, or was the tension getting thick over there?” he asked, smiling.
She chuckled and walked into his arms for a slow rock song.
“How’d you end up marrying that guy, anyway? He doesn’t seem like your type.”
“No, I suppose not.” What was her type? A variety of men had come and gone through Duffy’s over the past several years. Golfers, fishermen, old, young, rich, poor. She’d flirted here and there, even dated on occasion, but there’d never once been a man like Jonas.
Sex may have been what had brought her to him, but what had kept her in his arms, what had convinced her to spend the rest of her life with Jonas, had been the way he’d simply let her be. The exact opposite of her father, he’d never once tried to control, direct or change her. Whether she wanted to learn yoga, or how to throw clay pots, taking a cooking class or working at a women’s shelter, he’d supported her every move. If only he’d loved her more than his job.
She glanced toward the bar and found Jonas watching her and Sean, his gaze entirely unreadable. He took a long pull on his beer, but his eyes never left the two of them.
Sean spun her around. “Don’t look now, but he’s watching.”
She laughed. Sean could always make her laugh. When they spun back around, Jonas was standing a foot away. Sean stopped.
“I’d like to dance with my…sister, if you don’t mind.”
Sean glared at Jonas and then glanced at Missy. Jonas never took his eyes off her face.
“It’s all right,” she said, knowing she’d draw more attention to them by refusing.
Sean stepped back and Jonas immediately took her hand and drew her to the far corner of the floor where they weren’t at all visible to her friends at the bar. The song on the jukebox was a new rock song with a fairly fast beat, but he held out his arms for a slow dance.
“No.” She shook her head.
Before she could turn away, he tugged her into his arms and moved half-time, if even, to the beat of the music.
“If I were Sean,” he murmured, “there’s no way in hell I’d let you dance with me.”
“Well, you’re not Sean. Not even close.”
“He’s not your type, Missy.”
“Oh, and you are?” She tried to pull away, but the bullet wound apparently hadn’t impacted his arm strength. His hold on her was like a vise. He wasn’t going to let go.
For a moment, she stopped fighting it. Closing her eyes, she let herself imagine they’d gone back in time to the first few months of their marriage, when they’d been blissfully happy, to a time when his work hadn’t yet intruded.
Resting his cheek against the side of her head, he brought her hand to his chest and drew her closer. She felt the solid, but quick thudding of his heart under her hand as his hips pressed against hers, and something warm and liquid and needy fired to life inside her. “What do you want, Jonas?”
“That’s simple,” he whispered in her ear. “You.” His voice was raspy and soft and made her stomach quiver.
“You had your chance.”
Before this went too far, she yanked away from him and quickly made an exit along one side of the dance floor. All of her friends at the bar were too busy talking and laughing to notice her heading to the bathroom. She pushed open the door and breathed a sigh of relief that there was no one at the sinks and the stalls were empty, giving her a chance to compose herself. Running her hands under cold water, she splashed her cheeks.
Now what? If she’d known Jonas was going to come here, she would’ve gone straight home after work. Then again, better late than never. She left the bathroom, planning to quietly exit via the alley, only to find Garrett waiting for her in the hall.
“You all right?” he asked.
“Actually, I’m not feeling all that well. I think I’ll head home.” She moved toward the rear exit.
“Missy?” Garrett said softly. “I see the way Jonas watches you. If he’s your brother, I’m the King of freaking England.”
“I’m sorry, Garrett.” She turned. “It’s…private.”
“Just tell me one thing. Are you safe?”
In the way he meant? “Yes. Absolutely.”
“Okay then.” Garrett nodded. “You need help, day or night, all you got to do is call.”
“I know that, Garrett.” Guilt over misleading the islanders overwhelmed her. “Thank you.” Somehow, someway, she had to find a way to make things right with her friends. Soon. “Will you tell everyone I’ve gone home?”
“Sure.” Garrett went back to the bar.
Missy walked the rest of the way down the hall and pushed through the rear exit. As soon as she closed the door behind her, she took a deep breath and relaxed. Alone. Thank God.
“Going somewhere?” Jonas was leaning against the brick wall of the building, obviously having anticipated her move.
“Home.” She took a step toward Main, but he blocked her path. “Don’t touch me.” She put up her hands to warn him off. If he kissed her, she’d be a goner. His hands, she could maybe fight, but his lips, his mouth on hers? She had no defense against him.
He didn’t move. His feet remained planted in the same spot on the cobblestone, but to Missy it felt as if he’d come to stand only inches from her. She could’ve sworn she felt his breath fan her neck, his heat on her arms.
“Why, Missy?” he breathed. “What are you afraid of?” His gaze moved to her lips. He came toward her and slowly, slowly bent his head toward her. His mouth settled on her forehead. She couldn’t have moved if she’d wanted to.
Closing her eyes, her head tilted back as if it were suddenly as heavy as a bowling ball. His lips trailed down her nose. It seemed forever before the first, warm stroke of his lips against her mouth. Then his tongue licked at hers, and a groan sounded. Hers, his, she couldn’t be sure.
“We had our chance, Jonas,” she whispered. “Everything went bad.”
“Not everything.” His gaze simmered with memories and she felt herself melting with the heat coming off him. “I know one thing that was always good between us.”
“No more talking,” he said, bending his head toward her. “All it ever did was get us into trouble.” His lips sliding against her cheek and down her neck.
She pressed back against the brick wall, wishing she could slip through it, knowing exactly what was going to happen if she couldn’t stop this. She put her hands against his chest, in a ridiculously feeble attempt to push him away. He only laced his fingers through hers and slowly drew her hands over her head. Then he was against her, pressing into her and all she wanted was to be under him, to feel his weight pressing on her.
“We always had this,” he murmured against her lips and kissed her. He pushed the line, was insistent, but not needy. Resolute in his movements, but not arrogant.
She tilted her head, unintentionally urging him on and he dipped his tongue inside her mouth, at once testing and teasing. He knew her better than she knew herself, read her body, her touch, her sighs. She would never be able to walk away from him. Not while his hands were on her, not while she wanted him with an ache four years in the making.
Her bones turned liquid, her want quickly spiraled into need. There was only one thing she could do to stop this madness. “No,” she breathed, knowing he would never force her.
“You don’t mean that.”
She closed her eyes and pushed the word from her mouth. “No!”
His hands and lips stilled for a moment. “You’re as much mine today, Missy, as you were that first night in Quantico. There’s no other man who can make you feel the way I do, and you know it.”
She ran her hand over her mouth, trying to dispel the tingling sensation. “Just because you can, Jonas, doesn’t mean you should.” Summoning every ounce of willpower, she turned and walked swiftly home.