The perfect match, p.45
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       The Perfect Match, p.45

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 45

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  He smiled. Charlie Kellogg actually smiled. Crikey, it had been a long time since Tom had seen that.

  They watched to make sure he got inside okay, and then Tom pulled away from the curb and drove the short distance to their place.

  Now that they were alone, they didn’t talk.

  He’d made her smile. Laugh, even. Rather saved the day, in his own humble opinion, which was the least he could do, given that she’d worked so hard on this night. He’d bet that tomorrow morning, people would be talking more about Honor and her strange Brit than about Brogan and his viperous little fiancée and the bun in her oven.

  He’d seen Honor’s face when the other couple was dancing. He knew that face, that helpless, confused look. He’d seen it in the mirror often enough when he was with Melissa, after all. Perhaps he should’ve been jealous, but instead, without a lot of thought, he found himself doing something to change her mood.

  He pulled up in front of their house. Odd, that—their house. Home. He got out and slid across the hood of the car so he could open her door before she did. Another smile, making him feel like he’d won the Irish sweepstakes.

  “Miss Holland?” he said, offering his hand, and she took it. Didn’t let go, either. Then again, she was teetering a bit in those heels. Which were quite slutty and evocative. Wouldn’t mind seeing her wearing those and nothing but, all pale skin and—

  “Thank you,” she said. “For the song. ”

  “What’s that? Oh. Sure, it was nothing. ” He let go of her hand and unlocked the door, causing Ratty to awake from her coma and begin hurling herself against the door.

  “Honor,” he began. “For what it’s worth, I think Brogan’s a right prat. ”

  Her eyes flickered. “What exactly does that word mean, anyway?” she asked, fiddling with her bag.

  “A wanker. An idiot. An idiot wanker. ”

  She gave a small smile. “Oh. Gotcha. I appreciate that. ”

  “You were the most beautiful woman there tonight. ” Bloody great. Next he’d be quoting Nicholas Sparks.

  She gave him a dubious look. “Thanks. ”

  “I mean it. ”

  “Look, you don’t have to—”

  He was kissing her then, the cool night air wrapping around them, her dog thudding against the door from the inside. Her mouth was sweet and soft, and he pressed against her, because if he had to stop, it might ruin him. His mouth moved to her throat, his teeth scraping, crushing her against him, and he couldn’t get enough; he’d do her on the porch if she—

  “Tom?”

  He pulled back, his breath uneven. Waited.

  Her eyes were soft and huge. “I just. . . I don’t want to do anything stupid. ”

  He smoothed a wisp of hair behind her ear. “Does that rule me out, then?”

  She gave a shaky laugh.

  He was throbbing for her, every beat of his heart telling him to get her inside and naked and fast. “Come to bed with me, Honor. ”

  Her breath shuddered, and her hands fisted in his shirt. She still didn’t answer.

  “Please,” he added in a whisper.

  That did it. She stood on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around him, and then her mouth was on his, thank you, God. Without breaking the kiss, Tom fumbled with the door, and when they managed to get inside and Spike bit him on the ankle, he found that he didn’t even care.

  Up in the bedroom, they fell onto the bed, and Tom kissed her like his life depended on it, because that’s how it felt. Then he unzipped her dress and pulled the silky fabric off her, following its path with his mouth.

  He left the light on.

  And her shoes.

 

 

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED.

  Okay, actually nothing had changed, except that she and Tom were sleeping together. As in doing it. Every. Night. And sometimes first thing in the morning, too.

  Life was good. Life was meltingly, sweetly, achingly wonderful, in fact. She wasn’t faking it anymore. This was the real thing.

  For fifteen years (fine! seventeen years), Honor had been in love with Brogan Cain. There was no denying that fact. But with Brogan, she always had to work so hard, always putting forth her best face, never impatient or irritable or even just quiet. She turned herself inside out trying to match him, to be the most fascinating, smartest, funniest person she could possibly be, somewhat terrified that Brogan, who flew all over the world and photographed some of the most famous people on the planet, would realize she was not nearly as interesting as he was.

  But Tom seemed to like her just as she was.

  The other night, tired from a happy lack of sleep, she’d fallen asleep on the couch, waking up to find him looking at her from the other end, her feet in his lap, Spike curled on her shoulder. And his face, while not smiling, had been decidedly. . . interested. Then he’d crawled on top of her, setting her dog on the floor with only minimal hostility from Spike, unbuttoned her shirt and slid his hand under her skirt, like they were naughty teenagers necking on the couch.

  And over coffee the other morning, when she told him about the new sales incentive program and the contest to name the latest vintage, he’d asked some questions, remembered what she said last week on the same subject and hadn’t seemed bored at all. Seemed rather charmed, in fact. Then he kissed her and wished her luck and grinned as he left, taking her heart with him.

  So yes, things were different.

  As for his feelings, well, maybe it would take a little time for him to fall in love with her, for that locked-away part of him to hand over the key.

  For now, she was happy. Happier than she’d ever been.

  * * *

  WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, SHE stopped by the gym to see Tom’s boxing club, which had morphed from a self-defense class into a boxing class for high schoolers who seemed to enjoy all sorts of medieval torture like push-ups and running stairs. Tom was sparring in the ring with a giant boy, both of them wearing helmets and gloves, but when he saw her, he came over, all testosterone-riddled, muscular, sweaty delicious alpha male.

  “Don’t you dare touch me, Rocky Balboa,” she said, hoping like hell he’d disobey, and he did. Grabbed her and pulled her against him and kissed her full on the mouth, a hot, soft, killer kiss, until the kids had groaned and complained. A cheeky grin and he headed back into the ring, leaving her feeling like she’d gone a few rounds herself, rather dizzy and weak, Down Under clenching with lust.

  “You’re Tom’s fiancée, aren’t you?” a stocky woman asked. “I’m Dr. Didier, the principal at the high school. ”

  “Oh, hi,” Honor said. “I’m Abby Vanderbeek’s aunt. We’ve met before. ”

  “We have? Cool. So Charlie’s doing great, isn’t he? He’s come a long way. ”

  “Yes,” Honor said. It seemed to be true. At dinner on Tuesday, he’d answered a few questions, hardly chatty but not quite so furious anymore. And he had quite a few good moves, Honor thought, watching him demonstrate a combination of hits and pivots on the heavy bag.

  “All right,” Tom called. “So for this tournament, which is in three short weeks, mates, I’ve got Abby, Charlie, Bethany, Michael and Jesse all signed up. Anyone else? Don’t worry about your experience level, they take beginners far worse than you lot. Anyone else? Yes, Devin, good girl! Brilliant! I’ll see you all on Friday, then, yeah? Now get out, your parents are waiting. ”

  Tom bounded over to her again. “I’ve got to run Charlie home. Will you be around?”

  “I have to go to my grandparents’ house,” she said. “Still trying to purge. ” A drop of sweat ran from his jaw down his neck, and she had to resist the urge to lick it. Huh. Imagine that. She was a nasty, dirty girl. About time, the eggs said.

  “Tell me about it,” she murmured.

  “What’s that, darling?”

 
“Oh, nothing. Hey, I forgot to mention it, but we have this thing tonight at Blue Heron. A family thing. ” She paused. “So I hope you can come. Charlie, too. ”

  “Sounds fun. Though I did have plans to cook dinner for you tonight. ”

  Oh, sigh. Not only could he shag like a friggin’ Olympian, he cooked for her. “You can still cook for me. ” If you take me to bed first, that is.

  He grinned as if reading her mind and went back to the kids, and Honor headed out of the gym and up the Hill.

  Dad was at the Old House, listening as his parents gave closing arguments as to why they didn’t need a downstairs shower.

  “We didn’t even have running water when I was a boy,” Pops said. “We don’t need a second bathroom!”

  “I don’t know why everyone’s having a problem with me going up the stairs twenty times a day,” Goggy added. “If this old fool would up and die, I could move into his room. ”

  “You’d mourn me, woman,” Pops said. “Your life would be an empty shell. ”

  “Try me. Oh, Honor! Honey! How are you, sweetheart? You look exhausted. ”

  Oh, I am, Goggy. Uh-huh. That’s right. She cleared her throat. “How are you guys?”

  “Your father thinks we need a downstairs shower. ”

  “So do I,” Honor said, kissing her grandmother’s cheek.

  “I have a perfectly good bathroom upstairs,” the old lady said.

  “She has a perfectly good bathroom upstairs,” Pops echoed.

  “You can’t make us have a better bathroom,” Goggy said.

  “We hate better bathrooms,” Pops added.

  “Okay, you two,” Honor said. “You’re making Dad’s life a living hell. He’s getting married again, he doesn’t want to have to come over here five times a day to see if either of you is lying in a pool of your own blood. ”

  “So? Don’t come over, then,” Goggy said. “I’m just your mother. I didn’t mean to be such a burden. I thought that three days in childbirth would’ve—”

  “And I’m getting married, too,” Honor interrupted. “And Jack is useless, as everyone knows. So let’s talk about what we can do to keep you here safely, or maybe think about spending winters in Florida. ”

  “Death’s waiting room? Are you crazy?” Goggy sputtered.

  “Do I look like I want to go to Disney World?” Pops said.

  Honor looked at her grands. “Look,” she said. “We love you. We don’t want you to go anywhere. The best way to stay in this house is to make a few changes here and there. ”

  “You think we’re old,” Goggy said.

  “Mom,” her father said, “you are old. Not decrepit, but old. I’m old. I’m sixty-eight. ”

  “I know, John. Since I spent three days in childbirth with you. ”

  Dad sighed and closed his eyes.

  “Okay,” Honor said. “I have a list—”

  “Of course you do,” Pops muttered.

  “—of things that should be done. There are seventeen things on this list. How about if we pick five to get started?”

  “Two,” Pops said.

  “None,” Goggy said

  An hour and twenty-three minutes later, after presenting an argument that would hold up in front of the Supreme Court, Honor had coerced her grandparents into agreeing to two of the seventeen changes. A stair-chair and a new furnace so they wouldn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning. “Fine,” muttered Goggy. “But I won’t use that silly chair. That’s for old people. ”

  “You are old, Elizabeth,” Pops snapped.

  “And you’re older!”

  Dad roused himself from where he’d been sitting with his head in his hands. “Okay, let’s get going. We have the sowing ceremony tonight. Honor, sweetheart, walk with me to the New House. Mrs. J. and I haven’t seen you much this week. ”
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