He glanced in her direction as he slid the end of his belt through the buckle. “Walk me to the door?”
With her heart pounding harder at the thought of saying goodbye than it had before their sexual encounter, Ali forced herself to sound casual as she said, “Sure.”
He led the way to the front door, glancing at the back of the house along the way. “About that back entrance . . . If you go to the hardware store and pick up a chain, you can install it pretty easily yourself. Or call Rick. I’m sure he’d help you.”
This was the kind of talk she could get from the guy working at the hardware store. It wasn’t what she wanted during the last moments she would spend with the man who’d just been inside her.
Though it was sweet that he was concerned for her safety. “Okay. Thanks.”
Jon turned to face her fully. “I’m going to be gone very soon and for a long time.”
She read between the lines. He was telling her not to expect a post-coital phone call before he left. “I know.”
“It’s fighting season over there. I can’t afford to be distracted.”
And now he was saying, in his roundabout way, for her not to expect an email or letter while he was gone either. “I understand.”
“And even when I’m home, the schedule, the hours, the demands are insane. It’s the kind of shit that breaks up marriages.”
Jeez. She got it. Most men would probably just say goodbye and disappear. She didn’t know if she respected him more or less after this run of preemptive excuses.
“Jon, I knew what I was getting into when I invited you in.” She managed a smile and tried to lighten the mood with a joke. “I mean, before you broke in.”
He didn’t laugh, but instead shook his head. He surprised her when he reached up and cupped her face with both palms. His gaze was intense as it met and held hers. “I’m screwing this up badly. What I’m trying to say is, Ali, you’re the kind of woman who could easily be a distraction if I let you.”
That wasn’t what she’d expected. She managed to say, “Oh.”
“If I want to come home alive, I can’t let you.” His words as much as his touch sent a flood of warmth through her heart, just when she should be locking that organ down tight before it got broken by this man who was telling her he was going away and she’d never hear from him again.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...