The perfect match, p.19
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       The Perfect Match, p.19
 

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
Page 19

  Author: Kristan Higgins Come on! said the eggs. We’re dying here! Literally!

  But doing something different did not mean picking up near-strangers in a bar. Honor wanted to get married, not just sleep with someone. She’d been sleeping with someone for fifteen years, and that had gotten her exactly nowhere. She wanted a courtship, not sex. Well, sex during courtship, that was, once a relationship had been established. Hey. She’d read all the books. Control the pace. Don’t be slutty. Sex too early = abject disaster. Tom Barlow had the sexiest mouth ever.

  He just looked at her, his gray eyes unreadable.

  At that moment, Jessica came over. “Hey, guys. We’re closing, sorry to say. It’s really piling up out there. ”

  “Right,” Honor said, grabbing her purse. “I’ll get this, Tom. Since you were so nice to cover for me. ”

  He looked at Jessica. “I am rather nice,” he said with a wink.

  “That’s not what it says on the bathroom wall,” Jessica returned, deadpan.

  Yes. Jessica was flipping beautiful. And Tom was ridiculously appealing, not to mention that accent. He’d flirted with Honor because she was there. Because he was nice, it seemed, and because it was a distraction. He’d probably flirted with Jessica and he flirted with Monica O’Rourke the night they’d met, and no doubt he flirted with Colleen. He was a flirt. Nothing wrong with that; she just shouldn’t read into it.

  Crap, said the eggs.

  “Okay,” she said, putting a twenty on the table. She’d call Pru from the car, see if she could crash there. “Thanks again, Tom. See you Monday, Jess. ”

  “Have a great weekend,” Jessica said.

  “Thank you,” she said to Tom, meaning it.

  “A pleasure,” he said. He stayed seated.

  Outside, the wind gusted off the Crooked Lake, slapping wet snow against her face. She stopped for a minute, her car roughly fifty feet away. She wore suede shoes with a very modest heel because yes, she had dressed up for Brogan. Sort of. A little. She had her pride, after all. No treads, however. Hopefully she wouldn’t fall.

  “Honor. ” It was Tom, coming out of the restaurant as he pulled on his coat. “Are you wearing ridiculous shoes? You are. So impractical. ”

  With that, he picked her up, eliciting a squeak of surprise. “You don’t have to— Put me down. ”

  “Oh, stop. You women love this sort of thing. ”

  “Tom, really, I—”

  “Stop flopping around, you’re making it harder. Which car is yours? The Prius? How did I know?”

  She slid her arm tentatively around his shoulders. He certainly was. . . solid. “It’s the only car left. ”

  “And here I was going to claim a relation to Arthur Conan Doyle. ”

  Being carried. . . not quite as romantic as it seems, especially when one is not prepared. She felt a bit idiotic. His shoulders, on the other hand, were wide and solid and. . . and. . . rational thought was a little hard to summon at the moment.

  He set her down next to her car. Honor’s face was hot. “Well, thank you,” she said. “It was nice talking to you. ”

  He ran a hand through his hair, which was wet from the snow. “Same here. ”

  Different.

  With that, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, there in the soft light of the streetlamps and under the pink-hued sky. His mouth was soft and warm and utterly lovely, and he kissed her back, gently, slowly. A floating sensation filled Honor, deepening as his hand slipped to cup the back of her head.

  Then he pulled back a little and tucked a bit of hair behind her ear. His eyes were soft and kind.

  “Tom?” she whispered. “I think I’m that type, after all. ”

  A corner of his mouth pulled in a smile. “The type who’ll come home with me, then?”

  Her hand, she noted, was resting over his heart, and she could feel it thudding solidly against her palm. “Yes,” she heard herself say. “Hop in. ”

  * * *

  THIRTY-NINE SECONDS later, they were at Tom’s house, which had once been the Eustaces’ place, Honor remembered, a plain little house with a front porch and small yard. She opened the car door, but Tom was already out and around. He offered his hand, and she took it. That was a big hand. That was a paw, practically, swallowing hers.

  “Change your mind?” he asked.

  “Nope. ” Nevertheless, her heart was stuttering and racing, and a slight tremor shook her hands.

  She was inside now, and Tom turned on a light that did little to brighten the gloom. She could make out an ordinary living room, ordinary furniture. A couch. Coffee table. Then he was unbuttoning her coat, and Honor swallowed. Slid her hands up his torso, feeling the hard muscles there, the contour of his ribs and shoulders under his shirt. His eyes met hers, and he gave her a small smile.

  God, his mouth was. . . delicious. Aside from that feature, there was nothing particularly special about his face. Normal eyelashes. Normal nose. Normal everything, except put it all together, and he was incredibly delicious, and she was pulsating for him.

  Then he led her to the couch. She’d never done it on a couch. Or anywhere but a bed, come to think of it. Was she actually going to have sex in a living room? What about the floor? The floor would be. . . well, she didn’t know. Sex on the floor? Her? Honor Holland, the boring sister? Oh, Lordy, how did that even work? Would she get rug burn? Would he? What about—

  “Sit. Your feet must be freezing. ”

  She sat. He slid off her shoe and rubbed her foot in those mammoth hands. He was right. They were freezing, which she might not have noticed if his hands weren’t so warm. He switched to her other foot, rubbing it briskly, then looked up and smiled, that lovely smile that changed his face from solemn to incredibly adorable.

  She didn’t realize she’d launched herself at him until she was kissing him, and hell, it’d been what, almost two minutes, possibly more, since he’d last kissed her, and she missed it. He landed on his back with an ooph, but she didn’t really care.

  “Hallo, what have we here?” he murmured, and she kissed him again, sliding her tongue against his, dying to kiss him, taste him, feel him. Her hands were in his hair, and he smelled like cold air and soap and tasted a little like whiskey, and my God, it was amazing, and look at her, practically straddling him, her legs tangled with his, kissing and kissing and kissing that generous, wonderful mouth, feeling a throb right down into her bone marrow.

  Tom rolled over, pressing against her, cradling her face in his hands. “You sure you want to do this, love?” he whispered, and even though it was just a Britishism, the word went straight into her.

  She nodded.

  “Enough said, then. ” He grinned again, and he lowered his mouth to hers, and suddenly, you know what, being that type was fantastic. The whole night was strange and surreal—Brogan and the baby and then Tom, the quiet bar, the snow, the kiss, this house where she’d never been, and good God, the kissing! Those full, soft lips, so unlike any other kiss she’d ever had, giving and tempting, making her want to do sweet, dirty things.

  She wasn’t the type, but hells yeah, she was doing a good impression. Her skirt slid up around her thighs as she wrapped her legs around him, bringing him closer, and Lordy, he felt so good, so solid and hard and male, completely unfamiliar, definitely a landscape worth exploring.

  His hand slipped between them to unbutton her shirt, kissing the skin he exposed bit by bit, his mouth hot and gentle. Honor’s vision flashed, her breath shuddering out of her. She tugged his shirt from his waistband and slid her hands up his back, feeling thick muscle and hot skin, and pulled his shirt over his head. Something metal brushed against her—a medallion, dangling from a silver chain around his neck.

  He pulled back a bit, looking down at her. His own breath was ragged, and though his face had been gentle earlier, he now looked somewhat. . . fearsome. Down Under clenched at the word.

  “You’
re lovely, you know,” he said, smoothing the hair off her forehead, and damned if she didn’t fall a little in love right then and there. Then he kissed her again, hot and deep and fierce, heavy on top of her, and she kissed him right back, her hands exploring the warm, hard expanse of his back, his heavy, corded arms.

  “You’re not built like a math teacher,” she said raggedly.

  “I’m not a math teacher,” he muttered, and she felt him smile against her mouth. Then she licked his full bottom lip like she was some kind of sex goddess, like she knew exactly what she was doing and didn’t have to think at all. Like she was the most beautiful woman in the world with his hands sliding into her hair, his mouth on her throat, lower now. His clever fingers unhooked her bra, and his mouth followed the path of his hands.

  And Honor discovered she was most definitely that type, after all.

 

 

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  TOM WOKE UP in small pieces, little flashes of an unusually happy feeling bringing a smile to his face before his eyes were open.

  Then his hand brushed something soft, and his eyes did open then.

  Honor Holland was sleeping on her stomach, her face turned away from him. She was naked.

  Right.

  Last night had been. . . unexpected. Pretending to be her man in front of that wanker who’d broken her heart, hell, that was easy. He owed her for the night they’d met, when he’d made damn sure she wouldn’t like him.

  The problem had been. . . well, she was quite decent, Honor was. Seeing her sitting there, throbbing in pain once again because of Brolin or whatever his name was, Tom had wanted to make her feel better. Flirted with her a bit, because a talent was a talent, let’s be honest.

  And then something changed. When she said that thing about him being lonely, he felt like he’d been punched in the chest by Iron Mike Tyson. Funny, how a person could ignore something so effectively until someone pointed it out. Next thing he knew, he was carrying her to her car.

  When she kissed him, he hadn’t expected that electric current to slam through him like a thousand volts. Hadn’t really planned on asking her home. But she’d been right. He was lonely. And maybe, despite her big family, maybe she was, too.

  Which was all fine and lovely, but now he had a naked woman in his bed, and aside from the obvious, he wasn’t sure what to do about that. Or what to say when she woke.

  Taking care not to disturb her, he got out of bed, grabbed some jeans and a pullover and closed the bedroom door behind him.

  The kitchen was still a bit of a mess. Tom made coffee, then surveyed the contents of the fridge. Good. He could offer Miss Holland breakfast if she was so inclined. He’d have to clear off the table, though, because he’d set out the airplane model last night. The PT-17 Stearman, one of the great planes of World War II. Three years ago, he and Charlie had gone to an air show and seen one fly, and Tom had ordered the model the next day. Finished, it would’ve been the sixth model they’d done. He wondered what happened to the others.

  At any rate, the Stearman was in pieces, the fuselage waiting for sides, the many pieces of balsa laying out in optimistic order. Charlie was supposed to have come around for dinner last night, and Tom thought that maybe if the airplane was right there on the table, it might garner the kid’s interest. Granted, the odds of that were the same as being eaten by a giant squid, but he had nothing left in terms of new ideas on how to reach Charlie. And hope sprang eternal, or some such rubbish.

  As it was, Janice called, saying Charlie had a stomachache (a lie, no doubt) and didn’t want to come; hence Tom’s foray to Hugo’s, as the boisterous atmosphere of O’Rourke’s had seemed a bit much.

  Hence the hookup with Honor Holland. Probably ill-advised.

  Still, a surprisingly fantastic shag was nothing to regret.

  And speaking of, he heard footsteps on the stairs. She peeked into the kitchen, and he felt attraction slam into him. Hard.

  “Morning,” he said.
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