She searched his eyes with her own, the longing in them the final push he needed to say, “I love you, Kiarra Melini.” He leaned closer, his breath a whisper. “But only on one condition.”
Kiarra blinked. “A condition?”
He leaned in close, a hairbreadth away from her lips. “Just be careful not to char off my bollocks.”
Kiarra laughed. “We’ll see about that. Someone has to keep you in line.”
Jaxton rolled her onto her back and pinned her hands over her head. “Did you not hear what I just said, bloody woman?” He gave her a half-lidded gaze. “I love you.”
The laughter in her eyes changed into something fiercer. “I love you too.”
Jaxton growled before he kissed her and took his time showing her how much she meant to him.
Several weeks later
Kiarra shifted her feet for the hundredth time inside the car, positive that they’d gone more than the necessary ten miles by now. She stole a glance at Jaxton in the driver’s seat, and without a word, he reached out to squeeze her hand.
His touch helped, but not enough to ease all of her nervous energy. Kiarra decided to focus on something other than their upcoming meeting of doom. “Are you sure no one’s following us? We’re in the middle of nowhere and pretty easy to spot.”
Jaxton raised an eyebrow and slid his gaze to Kiarra before focusing on the road again. “Would I ever knowingly put you in danger?”
“No,” she answered without thought. “But after recent events, I can’t help but be a little paranoid.”
He glanced at her again. “I know you’re worried about Millie, but she’s alive. She’d call us again if she needed our help. As for the rest, Neena and Aislinn have things in hand. Neena ordered us to take two days’ rest, and unless you want another scary visit from her, I wouldn’t disobey her orders.”
“Hmph.” Kiarra had almost forgiven Neena for drugging her unconscious. The woman had been scarce of late, unwilling to give them much help and only contacting them to let Kiarra and Jaxton know that they would be in charge of a new operation.
“I know you’re not really upset with Neena,” Jaxton said. He squeezed her hand before shifting as the car slowed down to make a turn. “As I’ve said many time before, don’t worry. She’s going to love you.”
“You’re obligated to say that,” she murmured, “but I’m not sure I believe you.”
Jaxton’s hearing was keen. “Well, I look forward to you apologizing to me later, love. We’re here.”
He pulled in front of a small single-level cottage with bushes and flowers decorating the yard. There was even a garden and two benches off to the side. It was exactly how she pictured the British countryside—slightly aged, but quaint and charming.
Kiarra gave her hair a final run-through with her fingers before exiting the car and joining Jaxton. Even with his arm around her waist, all Kiarra could think about were her doubts.
What happens if she doesn’t like me? What then?
The front door of the
cottage opened and revealed a medium-sized woman with hair more gray than brown. The woman smiled and walked toward them. When she finally reached them, the woman pulled Jaxton down for a hug, her embrace fierce with love. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” she said, her voice muffled against Jaxton’s chest.
When the woman finally stepped back, she kept a hand on Jaxton’s chest and turned her green-gold gaze to Kiarra.
Kiarra started sweating. The time had come.
The woman patted Jaxton on the chest and said, “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your lovely companion?”
Jaxton placed a hand on Kiarra’s lower back and said, “Mum, this is Kiarra Melini.” He gave Kiarra a look of encouragement and said, “Kiarra, this is my mum, Ellen Ward.”
Kiarra put out a hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Ward.”
Ellen Ward ignored Kiarra’s hand and pulled her into a tight embrace. “Dear, I’m American, and we hug.”
Kiarra stopped breathing. Not because she was still adverse to touch, but rather because of the ease of Ellen’s acceptance.