Ally came to consciousness shortly before eight o’clock and the memory that Jack was there, sleeping in her spare bedroom, catapulted her mind into wakefulness. There was no way she was going back to sleep. With a sigh, she swung her legs out of bed and sat there.
Although she worked at home now, she disciplined herself to rise at seven-thirty every morning and stuck to a schedule as much as she could. But on weekends she allowed herself the luxury of staying in bed as long as she wanted and only worked if she felt a burning need to get stuff down. When things were going well with her writing, she just wanted to keep going and never stop. Too bad that hadn’t happened recently. Lately, she’d rather scrub her toilets than sit in front of that computer.
She loved sleeping in. Loved snuggling into the covers, inhaling the familiar warm scent of them, stretching her limbs against their silky softness, letting her mind wander wherever it wanted to.
But today…Jack was there. She slowly shook her head as she stood and walked into her bathroom to have a shower. It was unbelievable.
She pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, leaving her feet bare. When she opened her door and stepped into the hallway, her eyes shot straight to the door of Jack’s room, still closed. Probably burnt out after traveling halfway around the world, not to mention all the emotional exhaustion of finding out he had a daughter.
She couldn’t imagine what that would be like. He must be completely thunderstruck. What had Brittany been thinking? But then, again, maybe Brittany had done him a favor. What would Jack’s life have been like had he known about the baby? He would have married Brittany. He likely wouldn’t have been able to go to college, probably would have gotten a job at the Garden City Sun, taking pictures of 4H events and little league games. He’d have been miserable without the excitement and adrenaline rush of getting those risky but revealing shots. Everyone always knew he was destined for great things with his incredible talent and adventurous streak.
In her small, bright kitchen she started a pot of coffee, plunged some bread into the toaster, then went to find her newspaper. Outside, she shivered in the damp morning air. The cement of her front doorstep chilled her bare toes. The rhythmic whoosh of the neighbor’s sprinkler watering his lush lawn had her frowning at the brown patch of grass in front of her building. Ah, well.
Back in the kitchen when she heard movement upstairs she tensed, then forced herself to relax. It was Jack, for God’s sake. The person in the world she should be most comfortable with. Except...everything was different. He was different.
His footsteps thunked down the stairs a few minutes later and she turned to him as he entered the kitchen. Her heart gave a little extra beat. She still couldn’t get over how he’d changed. He was a man.
She almost laughed at the thought. He’d always been a man. But now he was...a man. Big and dark, clear blue eyes compelling in his tanned face, the experiences he’d had gave him a mature, guarded look that was intensely masculine and...sexual. That intense, moody side of him she’d sometimes seen in high school seemed closer to the surface, and it was...disturbing.
“Good morning,” she said, smiling and trying to keep her voice from shaking. “Want some coffee?”
“Oh, yeah, I need coffee.”
She jumped off her stool to get a mug for him. She handed it to him and he poured the coffee.
“Um...you need milk.”
He shook his head. “Nah. I’ve gotten used to it black. Black and really strong.”
“I have toast. Or blueberry muffins.” She leaned on the counter as he lifted the steaming cup to his lips, nicely shaped, firm but full. She dragged her gaze away from them. “And juice.”
“Toast is fine. I’m starving.”
She reached for the bread, but he waved her aside. “I can make it,” he said. “You finish yours. You got peanut butter?” “Sure.”
“God, I missed peanut butter.” He took the jar from her, opened it and sniffed it. “Oh, yeah.”
Something so simple gave him so much pleasure, and reminded her how long he’d been gone. “I’d love to hear about the places you’ve been. Sometime.”
“Be careful. I could talk for hours.”
He devoured the first two pieces of toast, popped two more into the toaster, then another two. She watched him finish off the loaf of bread with astonishment. “I guess I forgot how much you like to eat,” she told him faintly.
“I’ll buy you another loaf of bread.”
She looked at him and saw the glint in his eye.
“Damn right you will.”
They both grinned. And just like that, things were easy again.
With a feeling of buoyancy, Ally got up to slide their plates into the dishwasher and refill their coffee mugs. “Did you sleep okay?” she asked.
“Not really.” He shrugged. “Had a lot on my mind. I was kind of wired.”
“No kidding.” Her heart squeezed tightly in her chest. “It’ll be okay, Jack.”
One corner of his mouth deepened. “Sure. I guess I should call Brittany and let her know I’m here.” He looked at his watch, then reached for the cell phone on his belt. He thumbed through his contacts and then pressed the button to dial.
When he’d finished the awkward conversation with Brittany, they’d arranged to meet that afternoon at a Starbucks near her place. Then he tried Carter again, but once again, no luck.
Ally frowned. “I wonder if he’s out of town. He does travel back and forth to San Diego quite a bit.”
“So,” Ally said brightly. “Do you want me to come with you this afternoon?”
* * *
Jack knew he should be strong enough to do it on his own, but damn, he’d wanted her to come. Her calmness soothed him, made him feel like it would all be okay. And it wasn’t like they had any secrets from each other. He didn’t know what Brittany would think of it, but hey, why should he care - this was the woman who’d kept his daughter from him for nine years.
“Yeah, sure,” he’d said gruffly in response to her question. .
Now his gut clenched as he drove, following Ally’s directions to Pasadena. He pulled onto the freeway, accelerated up to the speed of the LA traffic. Sun glinted off speeding chrome and glass surrounding them, and heat shimmered off concrete as he manoeuvred the curves and lane changes. Ally told him which exit to take and soon they pulled into a strip mall parking lot, outside a Starbucks.
The cool air conditioning hit them as they walked in. The hiss and growl of the espresso machine floated over the chatter of the Saturday afternoon crowd and a rich warm coffee aroma scented the air. Brittany sat at a small table in the back.
She looked different. She wore her blonde hair shorter now, and fine lines around her eyes and mouth hinted at fatigue...and nerves.
The whole situation was surreal.
“I hope you don’t mind that Ally came,” he said to Brittany.
She shook her head. “No. That’s fine. It’s nice to see you again, Ally. Do you two want to get coffee?”
When they were all settled at the table, fragrant cups steaming in front of them, Brittany said, “Well. This is awkward.” All three huffed an uncomfortable laugh. “I guess I should start.”
Jack saw Ally smile encouragingly at Brittany. Ally and Brittany had been pretty good friends too.
“Um...where’s Sarah?” Jack asked.
“At home. With a babysitter. I didn’t want to just introduce you two to each other without preparing her. Or you.”
Jack nodded. Some of his tension seeped out of him at the knowledge he didn’t have to deal with that emotional land mine right now.
“I guess I owe you an apology first,” Brittany said slowly, looking down at her coffee. She swallowed, then raised her eyes to Jack’s. “I never told you about Sarah because I knew if I did, you would stay.”
He stared at her. “Oh.”
She continued. “I know you would have done whatever I wanted. You even would have married me if I’d pushed. You had so much talent, everyone knew you were going to do great things. I didn’t want to get in the way of that. And the truth is, I wasn’t ready to get married either. So I told you I’d had a miscarriage.” She looked away. “I came and stayed with my aunt and uncle here in Pasadena.”
“You’re not...married?” He felt Ally’s glance.
Brittany shook her head. “No. I almost got married...a couple of years ago. But...stuff got in the way.” She waved a hand. “Never mind about that right now.”
“Tell me more about Sarah.”
“Well, she’s nine years old. People say she looks like me.”
Jack smiled. “Blonde hair? Blue eyes?”
“Yes.” Pride glowed in her eyes. “And she’s smart, too. She learned how to read before she even started kindergarten and she gets great marks at school. Her teachers love her. She does ballet and gymnastics. Her favorite food is pepperoni pizza.”
Brittany made a face. “Well, she’s almost perfect.”
“So, when do I get to meet her?”
Brittany searched his face. “You really do want to meet her?”
His brows rose. “I wouldn’t have come home if I didn’t want to.”
Relief lightened her features. “That’s good. I know I called you out of the blue, but...”
“Why did you call me now, Britt?”
Extreme Close Up Chapter 5
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Tyler stared at Chloe as she unbuttoned her shirt. Standing, she undid the button and zipper of her Capri pants and stepped out of them. Then she climbed onto his lap, straddled him as she had that afternoon, her blouse hanging open over her bra and black lace boy short panties.
His eyes were so hot she was surprised she didn’t combust on the spot under his heated gaze, scorching her as he lowered his gaze to the opening of her shirt and his hands parted the two sides. Today her black demi-bra was so low-cut her nipples almost showed. He sucked in his breath.
“Holy shit,” he muttered. “Chloe, your underwear is killing me.”
Her heart expanded and warmed. His hands slid up her legs and under the lace edge of the panties to cup her cheeks. The touch of hands on her bare thighs and bottom sent flames licking over her body, need twisting inside her. She leaned forward to kiss him with everything she had, remembering that last time and how badly she’d wanted to feel his hands on her. And now...God, it was hard to believe she was here, doing this, and it was real.
They kissed like that for a long time, slow, open-mouthed, wet kisses, his hands on her butt, her hands on his face, holding him. She lowered herself fully onto his lap and scooted forward until his erection pressed right against her pussy, and it felt so good she gasped.
He lifted his hips to press his hardness against her and she broke the kiss.
Then his hands pushed her blouse off her shoulders and down. It fell somewhere, she didn’t care where. She sat up straight, her head falling back, her long hair brushing his knees. His hands cupped her breasts, slid under the top edge of the demi-cup to touch her nipples. He lifted one breast out of the low-cut cup and leaned forward to touch his lips to her nipple. Sensation shot through her and swelled between her legs. He kissed her softly, then tucked her breast back into the bra cup and moved to the other one.
“Take my bra off,” she whispered. He shook his head, surprising her.
“I love this bra. Leave it on. Just for a while.”
A soft moan escaped her and she canted her hips against his erection. He brought her head down to his again to kiss him.
Then she slid to the floor in front of him, her fingers on the button of his jeans. He groaned again, hands fisted in her hair, as she opened his zipper carefully and drew out his erection, rigid and engorged, heavy veins pulsing. So beautiful. She gathered her hair behind her, leaned to the side, took that long ponytail and wrapped it around his cock.
His hips jerked off the couch. “Shit, Chloe!” She tightened the hair around him and slid the ring of hair slowly up his shaft and off. And again. She sat back a little to look at him, loved the expression of agony and ecstasy on his dark face, his eyes closed, cheeks flushed.
She loved the feeling of power she had, the power to arouse him so fiercely. At this moment, even though she suspected otherwise, she could believe that she was the only one who could affect him so deeply. Then she shook her hair back and leaned forward to kiss his cock. Again his body shook.
“Oh, fuck, yeah,” he muttered. Encouraged, she kissed the tip of him again, opened her mouth over him and sucked the head into her mouth. She licked over the head, finding a drop of moisture there that she tasted and liked. His fingers drove into her hair again and he held her head tightly.
Hungry for more of him, she licked him all over, up and down the shaft, took him in her hand to hold him as she did so. When he was wet all over, she closed her hand around the base and pulled, as she had done in the shower. Now she knew he liked it hard, she gripped him firmly. Then she took him in her mouth, as deep as she could. He was so big, and when he hit the back of her throat her eyes watered, so she eased off at bit, still sucking. Then she lifted her head from him and looked up.
“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” he said, his voice ragged. He squeezed his eyes closed, the corners of his mouth turned down.
“No, no! I want to, I’m going to...I just can’t...take you very deep.”
“That’s okay, baby. You don’t have to deep throat me. Just put your mouth on me like you were doing. That felt so fucking awesome.”
His hands guided her head back to him and she took him in again, loving the feel and the taste of him. She swirled her tongue around him, over the head, took him as deep as she could, squeezed his shaft with her hand. With her other hand she cupped his balls, eliciting another growl from him. Her fingers went lower, around behind his scrotum, pressed the firm skin there and he thrust deeper into her mouth.
“God, yeah,” he groaned. “Oh, Chloe.”
She sucked and moved her hand harder and he lifted into her mouth faster.
“I’m going to come. Chloe, if you want to pull back, do it now...”
But she didn’t. She let him thrust into her mouth, his hands hard on her skull as he held here there and then she tasted the salty sharp taste of his hot semen as he spurted into her.
“Yeah, fuck yeah.”
Liquid trickled out of her mouth and her hand became wet and slippery, and he shuddered beneath her touch.
She sucked gently, licked the head of his penis, which made him jolt. He must be sensitive after that. She lifted her head and wiped her mouth. She stayed there, between his knees for a moment, gulping air into her lungs.
He laid there, head flung back, eyes closed. His hands still rested on her head and chest heaved as he, too, struggled for breath.
“Holy shit,” he finally whispered. “Holy shit.”
“Was that okay?” She nibbled her bottom lip.
“Okay? Uh...no, that wasn’t okay...that was unfuckingbelievable.” He grabbed her and dragged her up so she lay on top of him.
“I loved doing that,” she whispered to him, gazing into his eyes, amazed at how much she had loved it. “You taste so good, Tyler.”
“I’ll take your word for that one,” he replied, a smile touching the corners of his mouth. “You are incredible, Chloe. So hot.”
She smiled and laid her head on his chest.
Then he said, “Now the bedroom. And my turn to eat.”
He pulled her down the hall after him.
* * *
He left her bra and panties on because they were so damn sexy. That bra! It pushed her breasts up so high they were practically falling out. And those panties! So short half her cheeks were revealed, and the loose lace around the bottom gave him easy access. His fingers happily slid there to feel her. She was wet, so wet, and that turned him on all over again.
He was so wrung out from that stupendous blow job he hoped he had the energy to go down on her and give her at least one orgasm. Then he remembered the taste of her, and voracious hunger and adrenaline kicked in.
He lowered her to his bed in the dark. He left the door ajar so light from the living room gave just enough illumination to see her beautiful face and sexy body.
Still dressed, he yanked the t-shirt over his head, and shucked off his jeans. Then he climbed up beside her and lay down, bending one arm and resting his head on his hand. With his other hand he stroked up her stomach and between her breasts, across her chest and shoulders, down one soft, slim arm. Then he did the same with her legs, reaching as low as he could go, trailing his fingers up the inside of one thigh. Her legs shifted, parted for him.
“That’s it, sweetheart, open your legs for me.” He watched her face, eyes closed, lips parted, and he felt a jolt as a vision of her mouth on his cock flashed into his mind. His own eyes closed, then opened again to watch her. He continued to pet her, everywhere, and her legs opened wider in invitation. She moved on the bed, her hips lifting.
“Touch me, Tyler,” she whispered.
“Oh, yeah. Tell me what you want, Chloe. I’ll do whatever you want.”
She moaned. “I want you to touch me.”
“Touch you where?”
“Oh God. Don’t make me...”
“Yes, Chloe, you have to tell me...”
Taking a breath, she whispered, “Touch me between my legs.”
“Your pussy?” he asked, and she moaned again, low and ragged.
“Yes,” she hissed. “There.” Then, bravely, “Touch my clit.”
Her words almost undid him and he shuddered. “Yeah.” He moved his fingers where she’d asked him, slipped through the slick folds, parted her labia, stroked her wetness all over and rubbed. Then he found her clit and circled it, then rubbed over it.
“Is that the spot, sweetheart?”
“Yessssss.” He stroked a little harder, firmer over her inner lips, found the entrance to her and pushed a finger in. And out. In and out. His thumb brushed over her clit and her legs fell open wider and her hips lifted against his hand in a jerky rhythm. He knew she was going to come. He withdrew his hand.
“Noooo,” she groaned, hips lifting against nothing. Her head tossed on the pillow. “Tyler...please.”
“I want to taste you again, Chloe. Do you want that?”
“Yes, yes, I want you to lick me.”
“Oh, me too, baby, me too.” He slid down her body, kissing her belly, dipping his tongue in her navel, then pressing his mouth to each hip bone in a soft wet love bite. Then he proceeded to feast on her sweetness, making her come over and over.
When she was limp and sated, he pulled her over him, tucked her head under his chin and covered them up with soft blankets.
“Now tell me about your mother,” he said.
She sighed and snuggled in closer. “You want to talk? Now?”
He kissed her hair. “Sure.” He was hoping that after what they’d just shared she’d open up a bit more. How much more intimate could they get?
She gave another pretty sigh. “Well, you know about my mom. Our dad left her when my sister and I were little. I don’t think he could handle the stuff that went on with her moods. Up, down, all over the place, that was my mom. He did try to keep in touch but she made it difficult, and over the years we just grew apart. He got married again, had more kids, had a new family.”
“That’s hard.” He stroked her hair and she nodded.
“I missed my dad because he was so nice and normal,” she said. “And I really hated him for leaving us with her. Sometimes I wished he’d taken us with him. And sometimes...and I’m so ashamed of this...I even said that to my mom.” She shifted against him. “I know that hurt her. I was such a selfish kid.”
“That’s not selfish, Chloe. You were a kid.”
“All kids are selfish to a certain extent,” she said. “But I did care about Carly and I cared about my mom, too, so I couldn’t just leave her. I thought about running away and trying to convince my dad to let me live with him, but then I guess pride stopped me because he obviously didn’t want us. And I was afraid for my mom if I left.”
“You looked after her.”
She nodded again. “Yeah. I looked after her. When she was up, it could be fun. Sometimes she was very charming when she was manic. But it was scary, too. She wouldn’t eat, or sleep. Then she’d go on a rampage, not go to work, say mean things to us. She’d go nuts cleaning the house.” She paused. “I didn’t have a lot of friends at school, because I was afraid for them to meet my mom. I was embarrassed by her.”
“It’s hard when you’re a teenager, trying to fit in.”
She nodded against his chest. “She’d lose a job, find another one for a while but it never lasted. A couple of times she ended up in the hospital. So I had to start finding part-time jobs to help support us.” He stroked her hair, the smooth curve of her back. “And when she was down it was horrible. Her depression just sucked the life out of everything. I felt so helpless, but when I tried to get Mom to go for help, she’d just yell at me, tell me I was a bad kid and I should just get out of her life.”
“Oh, Chloe.” His chest ached and he wrapped his arms around her tighter. Tyler pressed her head to his chest. “I told you before, I know you did the best you could. It sounds like you busted your ass trying to look after everyone else.”
She tipped her head back to look up at him. “I tried. When Mom was in the hospital, I didn’t have much choice. Carly was so little, she didn’t understand what was going on.” She pressed her lips to his chest. “I’ve never told anyone stuff like this.”
He felt like an ice cube had lodged in his throat, didn’t trust himself to speak, so he just wrapped his arms around her. Then the words he’d never said to any woman fell out of his mouth. “I love you, Chloe.”