Home > Scandalous 2 (Scandalous #2)(2)

Scandalous 2 (Scandalous #2)(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

Jack touches the sides of Abby's face, feeling the softness of her cheek and letting his fingers linger along the curve of her neck. Jack can feel her body responding to his touch in the way she tilts her head back and parts her lips. It reminds him of the things they did last night, of Abby's ecstasy and the way she threw her arms around his neck and held on tight. It reminds him of paint and pleasure, of passion so hot and bright that he can barely restrain it.

The moonlight reflects on her hair, forming a golden crown. Jack drinks her in, wanting to remember this moment. There's no one like Abby, there never will be, and for this moment in time - everything is perfect.

Jack has to force his voice out. She's stolen it again with that bewitching glance of hers. It's as careless as a flick of the wrist, but it sizzles under his skin every time Abby looks at him that way. "We could, but then we wouldn't get to do the things I planned for our last night here."

"Ah, so that's what all the secrecy has been about?" Abby says, smiling up at him. She points a finger and places it on his chest, just above his shirt. Something in her eyes relaxes. It makes the guilt festering in his stomach creep up his throat. She senses that something's wrong. Damn, am I so easy to read?

Jack smiles at her, running his fingers through her bright hair. "Maybe," he answers, playfully. A grin spreads across his face as he thinks about the things he has arranged for this evening. Jack has no idea how the night will go, if Abby will offer herself to him the way he hopes. Even if she can't, he's glad he did it. The look on her face alone when she sees what he's done will be worth it.

Abby looks up at him from beneath her lashes. She pushes her fingers into his chest, giving him a playful shove. "Oh, you're horrible. I had no idea you'd done anything. I didn't get anything for you. I thought - "

Before her voice squeaks any higher, Jack cuts her off, saying, "It's for both of us." Reaching for her hands, Jack pulls Abby to his chest and wraps his arms around her waist. Looking down into her eyes, he can see his past and his future colliding. It makes his stomach twist, but Jack shoves aside the thought. Abby is his now. Live in the now, Jack. Don't think about tomorrow.

Chapter 4


Jack looks down at me like he thinks he'll never see me again. I touch his cheek, gently stroking my fingers along his jaw, "What's wrong?"

He blinks hard and what I thought I saw is gone. "Nothing. I'm just overwhelmed by you sometimes. It's hard to look back and even remember my life as it was a few months ago to compare it to the way things are now. I never thought I'd marry. I never thought I'd see you again, but here you are - my beautiful wife in my arms." Jack kisses my temple and turns me toward the restaurant.

We walk in silence. There's a lump in my throat that won't go away. Jack's been like this all week. One moment he's fine - all sexy smiles and wit - and the next that haunted look is back. I wonder if I'm the cause. I have to be, right? There's a sad smile on my face as we walk, but Jack can't see it. His strides match mine. We walk together with his arm around my shoulder. His scent fills my head along with the night breeze. I want to make him forget whatever it is that's pulling at him. I want his last night alone with me to be so wonderful that it blindsides everything else, chasing all other thoughts away until tomorrow.

Thinking of tomorrow nearly puts me into a panic. Tomorrow I face my past. Tomorrow I return to Texas, to my previous life, and pick my belongings from the ashes. Tomorrow makes me feel sick. Jack seems to sense it.

He pulls me closer and kisses the top of my head. "I love you, Abigail."

The choking sensation flees. Jack has the ability to chase away my nightmares, even the real ones. I smile up at him. "I love you, too."

Jack pulls open the door to the main building and we walk inside. Soft music plays and other couples walk by us hand in hand. We walk to the finest restaurant in the pavilion. Jack tells me to wait a moment while he speaks to the host. I glance around. It doesn't matter how many times we've been in here, it's still amazing. The walls are dark and covered in pale blue cracked shells and sea glass. It gives the room an ethereal feel, like we're under the ocean. It's serene and perfect.

Jack returns and extends his arm to me. I take it as he leads us past the area where we usually sit on the veranda overlooking the water. The waiter leads us to the and through a short hallway to a private room that's reserved for parties. It's cut off from the rest of the diners. Jack holds my hand and leads me to the door. When the waiter opens it, I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't this.

I abruptly stop. My jaw drops open and my hand presses gently to my heart. "Jack," I breathe, as my eyes take it in.

This room has the same decor as the front. Sea glass in all shades of green and blue make the walls ripple like waves. That's where the commonality stops. There is a beautifully decorated table in the center of the room with delicate linens and two golden chairs. The centerpiece glows in the middle of the table, floating in a glass bowl, and casting pale golden light. Strips of silk are strung across the ceiling, forming long drapes that surround the table. They're tied back, making it look like a little gazebo of silk. White rose petals cover the floor. The scent fills the air.

I stare at the room, trying to take it all in. It's beautiful and sensual and stunning. It's the kind of room that you might see in a magazine, but never get a chance to sit in. It's perfect.

I feel Jack's arms slip around my waist as he asks, "Do you like it?"

I nod, speechless. The entire room seems to shimmer. I nod slowly, saying, "It's like a dream."

Jack steps around me and reaches for my hand. Taking it, he says, "Come on. The honeymoon isn't over yet." Jack kicks off his shoes after he steps inside the room. I do the same. We walk across the rose petals to the table. They feel soft and cool under my feet.

Jack pulls out my chair and waits for me to sit, before pushing the chair in. He leans down and kisses my cheek, before sitting down opposite me.

I watch Jack and can't think about anything but his lips. Jack grins at me, like he knows. My toes play with the petals beneath the table as we talk. "This is so stunning. When did you plan all this?"

Jack's eyes fall to the table, and then he glances around the room. "I planned it in my free time." He winks at me with a wicked grin on his face.

"You haven't had any free time," I say, smiling at him. "It's been all Jack and Abby, all the time."

He shrugs. "I have my secrets."

"Oh, do you?" He nods, like he has many. "Ah, then, I plan to wiggle them out of you, one by one, Jack Gray." I have a playful look on my face, but Jack construes it differently.

The side of his foot brushes against my bare ankle. With a wolfish smile on his face he says, "I look forward to it. Anything that involves you wiggling sounds good to me."

I laugh and bump my foot against his under the table. I think about how great tonight is, about how wonderful Jack is, and how much tomorrow will suck. The thought pulls the smile from my face before I can stop it.

"What is it?" Jack asks me.

He's been asking me all week, but I haven't wanted to talk about it. It just makes me sad. I feel like I'm grieving someone's death when I think about my old life, but that doesn't make any sense. I'm not dead. I found what I wanted, and he's sitting right in front of me. But it doesn't matter. The feeling keeps coming back. It clings to me like a wet blanket, chilling me when I least expect it. Like now.

My lips part as I search for the words. Jack's eyes are soft. They hold mine, waiting to hear what I've been too upset to tell him. "I keep thinking about tomorrow. This is the second time that I've dreaded going home."

"I know it's hard for you, but the last time turned out pretty good. Maybe it won't be as bad as you think." Jack reaches for my hand and gently rubs his thumb along mine.

I grin at him, knowing the memory that's playing through his mind. The day I showed up in his studio, everything changed. Fate brought us back together. I should let go of the things that hurt me, but I can't. Those things are part of me somehow, in a way that I don't really understand. "I hope you're right. And you'll be there, which will be different."

Jack smiles at me. Leaning forward, he holds my hand tightly. "I will always be there for you. I'll be there tomorrow and the day after." He smiles oddly, like he just realized something.

For the life of me, I have no idea what it could be so I ask, "What?"

"I never thought about it before, but that was part of my vow to you - to love you, to protect you, to cherish you, for as long as I live." He smiles so warmly that it makes my eyes fill with tears. "Sometimes people just go through the motions. I'm not like that and I know that you aren't like that either. I'm here for you, Abby - however you need me, in every way you want me."

I take my napkin from the table and dab at my eyes. "Jack," I breathe his name like it's life itself. His words pull every heartstring I have. He had taken every fear that bounces around in this tiny brain of mine, wrapped his arms around them, and squeezed them away. I'm smiling at him and dabbing at my eyes. Jack's blue gaze is filled with affection.

Before we have a chance to say anything more, the waiter appears with the first course. It's brought on tiny plates edged in silver. I nearly laugh when I realize what's on the first dish. It's a little white triangle dusted with powdered sugar.

"PB and J?" I ask, arching an eyebrow at him, wondering what he's done. A smile inches across my face.

"Tonight is a cornucopia of Abby Gray's favorite foods." He looks at the tiny triangles on his plate. "I told them to make it look cute. How'd they do?"

I laugh, picking up the little sandwich, "Good. Very impressive, Mr. Gray. It's very thoughtful and cute." I glance at him for a moment, holding his gaze, wondering if he remembers. "Is this because of what happened that day in the cafeteria?"

Jack's eyes gleam. "I don't know what you mean." He smiles at me and I know he remembers.

"How do you remember that?" We were seventeen. Jack rushed up behind me on the lunch line. He was chattering about some girl that had turned his head, and he grabbed the last sandwich. I said nothing and took the slop they were serving as hot lunch instead. I nodded and smiled as he bounced on the balls of his feet. When we sat down at the table, he asked me to grab him a fork. I didn't understand, until I came back to the table. He'd switched our trays. He had the slop and the perfect little sandwich was in front of my seat. He always did things like that back then, but that one stuck in my mind. That infectious smile of his and his laughter from that day still echoes in my ears.

"I was madly in love with you. How could I forget?" He gives me a crooked grin and my heart soars.

"But you were talking about some girl that you wanted to nail. You never even came up for air."

He shrugs. "I was stupid. By the way, the girl I was talking about that day was you." He laughs as my eyes widen. "I made up girls here and there to see what you'd do, trying to get a reaction." He eats his little sandwich, smiling at me.

"You were talking about a girl that you wanted to sleep with..." I'm trying to remember the words he had been saying all those years ago. At the time, I wanted to rip her eyes out, and so I was only half listening. Jack watches me, slowly piecing the memory together. I stare at him with my lips pressed together. When they finally open, my jaw just flaps - words won't come.

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