Authors: Beverly Preston
Tags: #Contemporary, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat
“You don’t have to lea-” she started to say.
“We already had plans. Honest. Did you forget we’ve been
gone for a month and leave in two weeks for school? I need to catch up with my
girls and show them all the hotties we found in Europe,” JC chimed.
“Tom, you’re not leaving early, are you? We want to see you
before you take off,” Tracy said.
“I leave late in the afternoon.” Tom beamed, noticeably
happy by Tracy’s comment.
“Oh, good cause I’m leaving, too,” John informed as he
kissed Tess on the cheek and shook Tom’s hand. “I’ll be by before work or for
lunch, but I’ll see you before you take off.”
Tom and Tess sat out back and drank a glass of wine,
enjoying the city lights and view of the Strip.
After Tess worked up the courage to take him to bed, she led
him down the hallway and they entered her bedroom. Her chest felt tight, making
it hard to breath. Standing frozen at the foot of her bed, she cringed with
embarrassment, wondering if she could go through with it.
For God’s sake,
Richard’s not coming back. This wonderful, amazing man wants to make love to
me. In my own home. In my own bed. Yesterdays are gone, but today is standing
right here beside me.
Tom remained understandingly silent, gently clasping her
nape, turning slow circles with his thumb. “You okay?”
She nodded and approached the bed, hoping her knees wouldn’t
buckle before she got there. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she patted the
comforter and Tom sat next to her. He reached down and slipped her tennis shoes
off before removing his own.
He tugged her toward the center of the bed and they laid
side-by-side, staring at each other in the quietness of the dimly lit room.
Tucking an arm beneath her neck, his other hand coasted over her spine as he
brushed soft kisses across her forehead.
It was after four in the morning when Tess sat straight up
in bed. She stared at Tom lying on her bed in the dark in only his shorts. At
that moment, she could think of nothing she’d ever desired more. She quietly
took off her shorts and T-shirt, snuggling up next to him, kissing his neck to
wake him up.
“I think I fell asleep.”
“Me too, but I’m awake now.”
He slid his hand down her side. “You undressed?”
“Yes.” She crossed her leg over his hip, pressing herself
against him. He gazed into her eyes inquisitively through the darkness. “I’m
with you now, Tom.” She unbuttoned his shorts, slipping them off with her toes,
kissing him softly, touching his body lovingly. “I’ve never wanted anyone the
way I want you. The way you kiss me and touch me drives me absolutely crazy.”
Tom looked as if he wanted to say something, but only kissed
her. Finally, after a very long, intimate kiss, he murmured, “I never thought
it was possible to feel this way.”
The next morning, Tom was out of bed. Tess could hear him in
the other room. When she came out, Tom sat on the sofa with her girls,
laughing, rolling actually.
“What is so funny this morning?” Tess asked, smiling.
“Oh, nothing!” her girls chimed sarcastically.
“What? Spill it. Come on. What’s so funny?”
Tom peered down at the floor, evading her eyes as if trying
to hide another chuckle.
JC held a magazine in her hands and turned it so Tess could
see a steamy picture of them dancing at the after party. Tracy and JC burst out
“I happen to like that picture.” Tess held her head high,
but pink cheeks gave away her embarrassment.
“I bet,” Tracy snickered, jumping up to mimic her mom’s best
Tom’s face turned as red as Tess'.
“You! I can’t believe you ratted me out. I’ll get you back
for this.” She poked him in the side.
“Hey, I just brought out all of the magazines. It’s not my
fault they like this picture the best.”
All of them laughed until their sides hurt and just as it
was almost over, John came in and it started all over again. Even he imitated
her dance moves.
“Very funny. Ha, ha, ha.” Tess acted mad, but was only
After the laughter died down, John stood tall and folded his
arms across his chest. His demeanor turned blatantly protective. “So, where are
you flying today for your film?”
The frank tone of John’s voice made Tess flinch.
“Right outside of Germany. It’s a war movie, not the typical
type of film I do.”
“What’s it about?” Tracy asked
“I haven’t read over the script too much.” He smiled, but
his creased eyebrows gave him away. Tom didn’t want to leave. “I’ll be doing a
crash course of the script on the airplane.”
“So how long will you be gone for?” John questioned in a
harsh manner. His eyes narrowed apprehensively, waiting for Tom’s reply.
“Several months.” Tom’s eyes darted uncomfortably between
John and Tess. “I’ve asked your mom to come see me. It would be too distracting
at first, but once it starts rolling, it’ll work.”
“Are you going to go, Mom?” John asked cynically.
“Yes, of course,” she replied, glaring at her son who was on
the verge of stepping into her personal business.
The mood in the room turned strained. Even Tracy and JC
gawked at their brother, surprised by his forwardness.
“So you two are a couple then?” John asked Tom skeptically.
Tom appeared a bit uncomfortable being put on the spot, but
grinned at Tess. “Yes. Partner is the word your mom used. I’ve told her that I don’t
want to see anyone else. I’m sure that was your next question, John.”
“Do you have any more questions? Actually, don’t answer
that. If you do, you can discuss it with me later. You’re out of line,” Tess
said firmly to John.
Seeming impressed with John for asking, Tom had no
hesitation answering his questions. “It’s okay, Tess, I understand. Your kids
don’t want to see you get hurt. I don’t have anything to hide. Even though my
entire life story appears to be online, most of it is untrue, so if you could
keep that in mind, I’d appreciate it,” he stated to John.
Tess thought he’d handled that well. Better than she did.
John hesitantly extending his hand toward Tom’s. “Sorry,
Oddly enough, Tom acted like he completely understood. “No
“Sorry, Mom.” He kissed her cheek. “Hey, man, wanna come
check out my bike?”
Tom winked at her, following John to the garage.
“What the fuck was that?” If Tess was mad enough to drop
F-bombs, somebody was in trouble.
“We don’t know. John’s just being protective. He’s worried
crush you like a bug
,” JC mocked her brother, pretending to
squish a bug with her toe.
Still stunned by the whole confrontation, Tracy whispered,
“John looked exactly like Dad when my dates would come pick me up.”
The three girls laughed. “You’re right! He did,” Tess
Thirty minutes later, John and Tom emerged from their male
bonding session in the garage, seeming completely fine together. John had to go
back to work. The two men shook hands and John told Tom to have a good trip and
hoped he’d see him soon.
“I’ll see you when you get home from work,” she said.
Tracy and JC headed out the door behind John. “We’re going
out for lunch. We’ll be back before you leave, Tom.” Both girls bowed their
heads attempting to hide their giggles.
JC whispered to her mom, “You’re welcome.”
“See you later,” Tess said with a flushed face, knowing they
were leaving so she and Tom could say their goodbyes in bed.
“I like your kids, Tess. They’re funny, nice, polite and
very protective. Like a mini version of you. The dancing thing was hysterical
this morning. It’s refreshing to see how open you are around each other. It’s
“I have a good relationship with them. They’re good kids. Do
you want to go for a swim?”
“Nope.” He led her to the bedroom. “I want to talk to you
and then I’m going to make love to you again before I have to leave.”
They lay across her bed and she told herself,
“Tess, I don’t want you to think this is goodbye. For the
first time in my life, I have no desire to go to work. I want you to come see
me, but I won’t be able to take days off while we’re filming. I’ll find fun
stuff for you to do while I’m busy.”
“You won’t need to entertain me, Tom, I can keep busy. It’d
be nice to come see you and sleep next to you.”
“I’ve totally blown this job off for the last month. I’m not
complaining, I merely want to explain my situation to you. When I get on the
plane, I have to go to work and I need to try to concentrate. If I call you and
talk to you all the time, it’s going to make it extremely difficult for me to
focus. I already know I’m going to be a wreck because I don’t want to leave
you, Tess, but I need to finish this job so we can go have fun.”
She understood, nodding her head. Tess had been avoiding
this conversation like it was the black plague. She didn’t want Tom to leave,
but she refused to make him feel bad about having to go to work.
“You have no idea how hard this is for me.”
“I do understand.” She choked, trying not to cry.
“Look, Tess, I need to know you’re not going to be here
falling apart. To think I might be hurting you…it’s tearing me apart.”
“I promise I won’t be here crying all day.” She smiled. “You
have my word, Tom. I’ll miss you beyond desperately and I’m not going to tell
you I won’t cry, but I’ll be okay. I’ll be busy the next two weeks getting the
girls off to school in Colorado.”
“Oh, that’s right. I forgot. When do you leave?”
“I might leave earlier than I originally planned, maybe next
Friday. I’m taking my car so I won’t have a lot of room, but I’ll go shopping
for all the things they’ll need when we get there.”
“One more thing, Tess. I know you take care of yourself,
Tess raised her eyebrows and giggled.
“I didn’t mean physically.” He gave her a playful smile. “I
meant financially, but if there’s anything you need or something I can do for
you, will you please tell me?”
“I appreciate the offer, but I don’t need anything.” A
naughty chuckle filtered through the silence of her room. “And just so you
know, without a doubt, I will definitely be taking care of myself and I expect
the same from you. So when you’re lying in bed, remember our first night
together in Bora Bora, or the rain storm, or the wall in Greece,” she rubbed
her cheek against his neck, whispering in his ear, sliding her tongue around
his earlobe, “or every time I kiss you like this,” she kissed him passionately.
“But most importantly, I want you to remember right now.” She undid the button
of his shorts with her teeth. “I want you to wait for me right now.” She looked
up at him. “And when we’re apart. Wait for me, Tom.”
He tried to pull her up toward his lips to kiss her, but she
grinned up at him seductively, running her tongue over his skin. “I’ll always
wait for you, Tess, I promise.”
A few hours later, Tess found Tom in the hall studying
family photos that adorned the wall.
His eyes filled with admiration. “You have a very beautiful
family. You all look so happy.” He examined all the photos, stopping to point
out an old picture of her and Richard. “How old were you in this one?”
“You’re even more beautiful now.”
“They’re my favorite vacation pictures from over the years.”
They kicked back on the couch, teasing each other and being
playful. Neither of them heard Tracy and JC standing in the kitchen watching
them. Tom noticed them first and smiled, nodding his head as if to say hi. Tess
glanced over and for one split second, worried, until she saw their faces. They
were giggling. Her girls were happy for her.
They joined Tess and Tom on the sofa like it was no big
deal. Her girls didn’t seem bothered by the fact he had stayed in their home.
Tracy and JC were back to asking him questions about his career, films he had
been in, and actors he had worked with. They made him feel comfortable.
“Well, I hate to say this, but it’s time for me to go,” he
The girls stood to walk them to the car. Tess reached the
garage first with JC right behind her, but Tracy pulled Tom off to the side in
Tess suspected Tracy was up to something. Minutes later, she
observed them as they entered the garage. The girls hugged Tom and said
Tom and Tess climbed into the car. As he backed out the
driveway, she stared at him and watched his face turn redder by the minute.
“Well?” she asked. “Are you going to tell me what Tracy said
that’s putting that big smile on your face?”
“She’s warming up to me.” He shrugged, flashing her an
innocent smile. “She even apologized for judging me, and calling me a
womanizer, and not liking me.”
But then his face smile softened and he drug his knuckles
over his jaw.
“What?” She could’ve sworn he had tears in his eyes.
Reaching for her hand, he squeezed her fingers. “She thanked
me for making you smile.” His voice turned hoarse. “Your kids are pretty
amazing. You should be really proud of how you’ve raised them.”
The adoration in his voice damn near made her fall apart.
Tess suspected not many people would talk to Tom the way her kids had and he
respected them for it.
As they parked at the airport, Tess was determined not to
break down. “I can’t go in, Tom. I don’t want to do this in front of people.”
He opened her car door and lifted her onto the hood of her
car. “I’ve had the best time. I’m going to miss you, Tess,” he said, running
his fingers through her hair.
“There are so many things I want to say to you.”
Tess learned a year ago that tomorrow isn’t written in
stone. She yearned to tell him she loved him, but panicked, wondering which
scenario she feared more. She could choose
to reveal her feelings
and risk the one in a billion odds of losing him in a tragic accident, never to
see him again. Or, she could gamble, admit her love, and lose him to his own
commitment phobias, never for him to