Jacqueline Hughes groaned into her pillow when she saw the time and realized she once again woke up late. Stupid fucking alarm. She hit the head of the old timepiece that had been her trustworthy companion for the past two decades.
Her bare feet padded to the kitchen and her shoulders relaxed on seeing the coffee ready. A wisp of a smile tugged one corner of her lips. She filled a cup of coffee and her smile widened noticing the toast sat ready on the kitchen island. It was wonderful how these little things made her life easy.
Grabbing the plate, she walked over to the porch that overlooked their backyard. Fresh morning air brushed over her skin as soon as she stepped out. It was neither hot nor cold. Just pleasant and warm. Her gaze took a sweep around their beautiful garden. The flowers beamed at her, performing a happy dance with the wind.
Jacqueline bit into the toast and sipped the coffee. She liked it black without sugar. Plain and simple. Same went with the toast. And, she needed food as soon as she woke for her brain to function properly. The peace didn’t last long as her subconscious reminded she had work.
There was no time to cook the meal she had planned for the day. She’ll need to fix something real quick. She stared at the contents in the fridge. Frustration mounted as she couldn’t decide what to make.
“Why don’t you take a shower while I fix something real quick?”
The velvety voice caressed her insides like a feather and made her lower belly clench. It belonged to her handsome husband, Matthew. A relieved sigh broke past her lips and she turned to lock her gaze with his. Cool greys smiled at her. Jacqueline’s appreciative gaze traveled down killer jawline to see the way muscles stretched underneath the sweat-soaked T-shirt he wore. His right brow lifted with a knowing smile when her gaze lifted to his face.
“You are staring again.”
“More like gawking,” she added seductively. “Can you blame me when my husband is so good looking,” her voice took a lower note that caused him to suck in a breath. Jacqueline closed the distance between them, pressing herself to his body. She loved the way he smelled after his morning jogs. She ran a hand over his broad chest. “You haven’t answered my question yet.”
Matthew chuckled under his breath. He bent his head capturing her lips in response. When they broke apart, she wanted more. “No,” he whispered. “And, I love it when you do that.”
I’ll love it more if you take me right now against the fridge, she wanted to add. But the words never made past her lips. Jacqueline took a step back, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden. Heat rushed to her cheeks. And, these thoughts were hard to express.
“I…um…I should get going. It’s getting late. We are taking the kids to the museum today.” Damn. I should’ve just kept my trap shut.
“Sure,” he moved aside when she walked past him.
A part of her hoped he’d join her. She shook her head to clear the thoughts when he moved to the fridge to pull out the contents for lunch. The shirt stuck to his body, emphasizing his broad back. Should I just ask him to join me in the shower? He was her husband. These things happen between the couples. Then, her mouth clamped shut as her feet grew cold. Without another look at the tantalizing view she hurried to the bathroom shutting it behind her.
Jacqueline blamed her friend Maya for the provocative thoughts that had been bugging her lately. No, her strict orthodox upbringing was to be blamed. While she couldn’t ask for a better man than Matthew their life lacked the adventure she longed for. And, she was responsible for it.
Why do I have to ruin it every time?
The next hour flew by and she sat in his car, fixing her make up. The drive into the town was smooth. Montgomery city was a quiet place to live in. Here, almost everyone knew each other and she loved the close-knit community.
When they arrived at the school where she worked, Matthew cleared his throat. “I’ll be leaving for a business trip this evening.”
“What?” her eyes widened. He just returned last night after a week of being away.
“I know and I’m sorry,” his expression grew sincere.
“Why don’t you look for something else?” her voice was low. She thought she’d be here for a while. She thought––
“I’m trying.” He took her hands in his. “You know jobs aren’t easy to come by.”
“You just came back.”
“And, I’ll be here before you know it.”
Disappointment washed over her. She’d been hearing this lot lately. He isn’t cheating on me, is he? “Okay.”
“Hey, don’t give me that face.”
What face? She didn’t ask but looked away. How was she supposed to act? They were married for only six months and he was barely home for two months. Her parents were already bugging her for good news.
“Jackie, please…” his voice begged. “Look at me.”
“I promise I’ll be back soon.” He cupped her cheek, turning her face toward him. His index finger hooked under her chin, lifting her face to meet his gaze. “Why don’t you plan a vacation for us? It’s been a while we spent time for ourselves.”
A sudden emotion bubbled within her chest and before she could mask it, the corners of her lips lifted, betraying her. Yeah, our honeymoon was cut short because of your job, she wanted to point out. And, her grandmother had to fall ill.
Matthew beamed. Her heart stuttered on seeing the dashing smile that increased his appeal. Butterflies fluttered in her belly.
“I promise.” He pecked her lips, earning a sigh from her.
A knock on her window caused her to twist her head.
“Hey, lovebirds, kids are watching,” Maya winked at her.
“Shut up.” Jacqueline slipped out of the car and waved at her husband, watching him back his car from the driveway. Her smile fell when the car disappeared from her vision.
“He’s going away again, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” her voice broke.
“Not here. Come in.”
Jacqueline managed a smile and greeted the fellow staff and students as they walked in. Fortunately, they both were free until eleven, which was enough time to talk.
“I thought he just came back.”
“And, he is leaving again.”
“And, nothing happened between you.”
Maya rolled her eyes and Jacqueline looked away, not meeting her gaze. “For God’s sake Jackie, you both are married now. Why can’t you behave like a married couple for once?”
“We are behaving like a married couple,” Jacqueline replied, offended.
“Really? Then, tell me how many times did you have sex with him?”
“Maya…” Jacqueline’s shoulders slumped. She had no answer. Matthew’s job demanded him to travel and they barely spend time together. She was lucky if he stayed for two weeks.
“You were going to seduce him last night.”
Guilt flooded her. She was going to and then she got cold feet.
“Did you wear the lingerie I bought for you?”
Jacqueline shook her head. “That was too raunchy.”
Maya’s gaze narrowed at her. “You do realize, he’s already seen you naked.”
“I know. But I don’t have enough courage to do that.”
After a few minutes, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Okay, Jackie. You really need to step up your game if you want a colorful sex life. I’m gonna break it down to you and you better listen carefully. Here’s what you’re gonna do.”
And, Jacqueline listened––her eyes widening and cheeks heating up. Her heart raced faster as determination slowly took root inside her.
Matthew peeled his eyes off the rear view mirror. His wife’s tear glazed eyes kept flashing in his mind’s eyes. It hurt him to leave her like that. He wanted nothing more than to fuck her then and there when she gawked at him in the kitchen.
Damn. He loved her bed hair and tussled clothes. He wanted those long tan legs wrapped around him when he took her hard. Matthew’s hands tightened around the wheel, his arousal straining against his pants. His fucking job had put him on a leash. Jacqueline, his wife of six months didn’t know who or what he was.
The beep of his cell phone demanded his attention. He swiped it on and entered the code for the security line.
“How’s the weather this morning?”
“As clear as it can get,” he rolled his eyes at the usual greeting. “What’s the news?”
“Tipple is in town again. Two students are at the hospital. You are needed at the HQ. ASAP.”
His jaw tightened. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Matthew disconnected the call as his car slipped into one of the city’s popular garages. “Is Mr. Buccelli in?”
“Yeah, you go right in.” The tattooed-mechanic in greasy-red overalls nodded his head to the right.
“Got it.” He drove further, parking in the designated space. The walk to Mr. Buccelli’s office was short.
“Oh, hello, Mr. Hughes, welcome back.”
Matthew shook his hand and took a seat. His features hardened as soon as the door locked behind them. He reclined in the chair and crossed his right leg over the left. Hard grey eyes narrowed at the bald man before him.
“I’m sorry, man. It’s just––”
Matthew’s fist landed on his jaw and he knew it’d leave a nice purple bruise this time. “You ratted us out,” his voice growled out.
“They had my daughter,” Buccelli cried out when he raised his arm again. “She is thirteen.”
Matthew’s hold on him loosened. “What did they ask for?”
“They wanted intel.”
“Tell me more.”
“There was an exchange in the downtown south. A one-hundred million dollar deal,” Buccelli swallowed. “I tipped them off. Didn’t know you would be there.”
Matthew released his hold on him and straightened his suit jacket. “Your daughter home?”
“Yeah,” Buccelli nodded and wiped the sweat off his forehead. “I’m really sorry man. I was––”
“When is the next deal?”
“The snakes don’t share those details beforehand. You know the drill.”
Yeah, he knew. The location for such transactions was only shared a few hours before it happened. However, the snakes were the least of his concern. He was after Tipple––the fresh drug in town that had claimed nine lives in less than three months. Now, two more were in the hospital, fighting for their lives.
“I’ll be in touch.” Matthew walked out of the small office and to the car.
“Do you have everything you need?”
“Yes.” Jacqueline rubbed her hands together taking a much-needed breath.
Jacqueline looked down at her modest black dress, wondering if it counted as sexy. “Check,” she grunted. “Not sure if it qualifies to the term sexy.”
Her friend, Maya, snickered on the other end of the phone. “I know your kind of sexy. But… we’ll manage with what we have. Don’t want to spook your guy, do we?”
“You are not helping.” Her hands were growing sweaty and she smoothed her knee-length dress for the umpteenth time. She arrived early from work and cooked before following a beauty routine.
“Chill, Jackie. Food is the way to a man’s heart. How long it’s been since you cooked him a proper meal?”
“I don’t remember. He is always been busy.”
With a marketing job that demanded most of his time, he always came late. When they dated, he told her never to wait for him. That she should eat if she was hungry and shouldn’t wait for him. At that time, she didn’t know he would always come late.
Tonight, she’d cooked for him after a long time. In the words of her friend, it was time to add colors to her family life.
“Okay. Call him and tell him you’re waiting.”
“I’m not sure––”
“He is your husband damn it. Call him and then, call me back.”
When the call disconnected, she dialed Matthew’s number.
His thick voice sounded sexier over the phone, more personal as if he was near her, talking in her ears.
“Hey,” she breathed through her mouth. “Um… so, you said you are traveling tonight.”
“I…um, I thought we could have dinner together before you left.”
“Oh, sure,” she could sense his smile. “Where do you wanna go?” His voice was at ease as it always had been.
“I made your favorite chicken casserole.”
“I have some wine…”
“Okay. Hold right there. I’m on my way.”
A relieved breath exhaled out and her lips stretched to form a full-blown grin. Her cell phone blared, distracting her. Maya’s name popped on screen.
“What did he say?”
“He is coming.”
“Good. Is your make up done?”
“No, not yet.”
“Okay, keep it minimal. We don’t want to give off a desperate vibe.”
“What do I do without you?”
“Get to work, girl. Now, remember, keep me in the loop. I’ll call you in ten.”
Jacqueline hoped her friend’s plan worked. Their idea was simple. She would do normal things couples did and this would, in turn, improve their relationship.
Just because he works a lot doesn’t mean you can’t live your life to the fullest. You should take that step first. Cook for him, dress nicer and be attentive. How does he know what you want if you don’t tell him? Maya had scolded her.
Just as she finished with her makeup, she heard the sound of a familiar sound of a car engine cutting off. Jacqueline dabbed the cologne and quickly dialed Maya’s number before securing the Bluetooth headset in her ear. She pulled her hair over, hiding it.
“Stop. Take a deep breath and open the door with a smile.”
Jacqueline followed as she was told. “Hey…”
“You look adorable,” Matthew bent pecking her lips and handed her a rose. “Sorry couldn’t stop by a florist. Grabbed this from our garden.”
“I love it,” Jacqueline smiled and led him in. “Why don’t you freshen up while I set the table?”
“Smooth. You’re doing well.”
“Okay,” she whispered and busied herself by lighting the scented candles she bought on the way home. Her hands trembled slightly. It took several deep breathes and the sweet scent of Lavender drifting to her nostrils to calm her rattling nerves.
She whipped around, almost tumbling over a chair and quickly adjusted herself. Hands subconsciously smoothed her dress.
“It smells good in here.” His eyes swept around, taking in the arrangements.
“Um… thank you,” she managed a smile. “I thought you could use a change.”
Matthew pulled a chair for her to site before sitting on his. He removed the lid if the bowls, revealing the dishes. His face lit when he saw what it was. “This looks delicious.”
He raised her hand to his lips, placing a kiss before proceeding to eat. “So how was your trip to the museum?”
“The usual,” she responded. “So tell me about this trip?”
“I’m meeting a client who is hard to get hold of. The company would profit a lot if this deal happened.”
He took her hand in his. “I know you miss me and I’m sorry for leaving so soon.”
“It’s okay,” she shook her head, hiding the disappointment. Focus, Jacqueline.
“The food is delicious. It’s been a while since I ate something that good.”
Jacqueline beamed at the praise. “Then, I’ll cook for you every day. Only you have to be home to eat.”
“Darling, if you cook this way, then I’m gonna be home every day,” he winked and she felt her insides flutter.
“Remove your shoes and cross your legs.”
Jacqueline jumped slightly, startled. She’d forgotten her friend was listening in. With a smile, she readjusted her position as she was told.
“Lean toward him so your hands are touching. Serve him and keep talking. Oh, and don’t talk about work.”
Her hand brushed against his when she grabbed a bowl, serving him more. “So, um… about this vacation, do you have a place in your mind?”
“You know me well, sweetheart. I suck at the planning department. It’s your call.”
“Let your knees brush. Men like the touch.”
Jacqueline casually let her knees brush on his. His grey eyes flashed over her and she felt goosebumps erupting on her skin. She averted her gaze focusing on the food and regulating her erratic heartbeat.
In her peripheral vision, his hand reached out, wiping the corner of her lips. Their gazes locked. An inaudible gasp parted her lips when he sucked his thumb. She couldn’t look away. Greys narrowed at her and she knew the moment lust filled them. She leaned toward his touch when he cupped her cheek. The surroundings faded as her heart beat faster.
The anticipation made her south side clench and she gripped the table waiting for their lips to connect. Matthew’s hot breath fanned on her lips. So close. She tipped her chin, meeting him halfway. The kiss was electric, sending jolts of awareness to the other parts of her body. Lips tingled from where he nipped at it.
Her eyes shot open when he thrust his tongue inside her mouth. Oh, God! She fought the urge to push him like she often did when he crossed her comfort zone. It made her uncomfortable. Do I smell bad? Hands rose, flattening over his chest, ready to push him.
Then, Maya’s warning rang loud and clear. Jacqueline closed her eyes, fighting the minute insecurity that distracted her from the kiss. His tongue massaged hers, swiping the inside of her mouth.
She felt his kiss dominating and found that she liked being kissed that way. A throaty moan slipped off from her chest, shocking her. Jacqueline stiffened in his arms, only to relax when he paid no attention about it.
Matthew’s hands traveled down, tracing her soft feminine curves over the dress. The heat of his touch scorched her skin. His palm rested below the curve of her breast when they broke apart for air.
Jacqueline grew bolder and tugged at his hair, pulling him down. Just as their lips were about to touch––
The doorbell blared, making her jump. She blinked, turning her gaze to him. Matthew shrugged unsure who it was. A silent understanding passed between them and he bent toward her when the doorbell blared again.
The curse tumbled out of his lips surprised her and the slight flash of anger was something she’d never seen before.
“I’ll check on it. Don’t move,” his voice growled out as he stood.
The loss of his touch drew a sigh from her lips as a low whistle sounded in her ear, reminding her friend was still on line.
“Didn’t know your man could cuss.”
“Me neither.” The exhilaration she felt a while ago was draining. And, it was her turn to curse when she heard her father’s exciting voice. “Fuck!”
In the opposite end, Maya cursed. “Your dad’s heart would burst if he knew his golden girl could cuss.”
“Shut up. What the fuck is he doing here?” she whisper-yelled and ran to clear out the candles.
“Where is your phone? We were trying to call you from evening,” her mother exclaimed and all the blood from Jacqueline’s face drained when she heard the sound of the critters.
“What the fuck!!! Tell me, he hasn’t brought the kids.”
“Hey, mom…” her shock-filled, disgruntled gaze flicked to Matthew’s for a brief moment as her twin nephews and two teenage cousins shuffled into the room. If that wasn’t enough their boxer Draco just lifted his leg, peeing on the side of her couch. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth as she watched the horror unfold right before her eyes.
“We are heading to Water town for a church council meet. Kids, be good.” Her mother dropped the bags in the center of the room and was already walking out. “Oh, we’ll be back in two days.”
“What?!” She had work. “Mom!” Her mother was already out of their home and was getting into their car. Her aunt and others waved at her before driving off. “What the hell just happened?”
“Your beloved parents just dropped off a bunch of cock-blockers in your home and left.”
“I have work tomorrow. How am I supposed to look after them? I’m not their fucking babysitter!”
“Shh… girl. Don’t cuss when the kids are around.”
Jacqueline whipped around to see Matthew standing there with his travel bag. She blinked away the frustrated tears and managed a tight smile. “Hey.”
“I’m sorry to leave you like this.” He waved the phone with an apologetic shrug. “I’ll miss the flight if I don’t go now.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t––”
His finger silenced her and she noticed her cousins’ shadow behind the window. “I’ll call you later.” Matthew kissed her lips before getting into his car and drove away with a nod of assurance on his lips.
“Eww… she kissed him,” Jacqueline heard one of her cousins’ say when she stepped into the living room. “You shouldn’t be kissing men on lips. Uncle Bradley would be furious if he knew.”
Jacqueline swallowed the fury that tugged at her and took a deep breath before turning to see the all-knowing-attitude girls, who were twelve and thirteen respectively. “And, you should also tell your Uncle Bradley that you were eavesdropping and poking noses in other’s business.”
“What? We didn’t––”
“Inside now!” Her anger flared and she knew her face would be red by now. “Go to your rooms and I don’t want to hear anything for the rest of the night. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Dropping in without invitation is rude, she wanted to yell. But these girls didn’t deserve her anger. They infuriated her at every turn and thought themselves to be better than her. Which wouldn’t have bothered her if they had kept their thoughts to themselves. Their only job was to spy on her and report to her father and Uncle, which, in turn, put her in the box.
“Draco!” the boxer froze, flattening its ears as it dropped the shoe he was chewing at. That was her favorite pair. She could feel the smoke coming off from her ears. “To the room, now!” she turned to her twin nephews who had already made a mess in the dining room. Jacqueline didn’t know why they had to laugh on seeing the candles. “Enough!” she gritted out, pointing the room in the ground floor.
The ten-year-olds ran off to their room with their dog in tow. Jacqueline walked to the living room and plopped on the couch, clutching her hair. Where the hell was her sister? Jennifer’s husband worked as a Vice president to a popular firm. She often ditched the kids at her parents and tagged along with her rich husband to wherever he went. Perhaps, ditching without notice was a thing that ran in her family.
“Jee…That went well,” Maya mused.
“Is there a way I can divorce my family?”
“I wish there is. I’m really sorry girl.”
“I’m tired.” Jacqueline looked around the mess that was created under five minutes and exhaled in defeat. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Sure. Good night.”
Jacqueline couldn’t help the anger she felt toward her overbearing parents. How thoughtless they could get? This wasn’t the first time they were doing this. And, she knew it wouldn’t be the last.
Her gaze snapped to the sealing as she reclined in the couch. How does one handle situations like this?
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Catherine Edward is a law graduate, specializing in Intellectual Property & Copyright Infringement. Her love for books grew when her father introduced them to her in childhood. She started writing in her free time when the plot bunnies wouldn’t stop chasing her.
She loves to read and write paranormal romance with a twist. Her hobbies includes Singing, dancing and reading. She writes Book Reviews upon requests.
DISCOVER OTHER TITLES BY THIS AUTHOR:
- Randolph Series
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- Stanfield Romance Series
- Revenge Series
- A Mate & A Betrayal
- Reincarnated Love
- Within my Grasp
- Getting Over Him
- Silver Blood Curse
- That Clumsy Vampire
- Dangerous Love
- Husband Undercover
- Love Has Boundaries
- Moving on Series
- Husband Undercover
Above titles are available to read on Inkitt for free – https://inkitt.app.link/RA_catherine10
Do you like my stories? Check out my website for my other works - https://catherineedward.wixsite.com/catherineedward