She hazarded a glance at his face, and found his eyebrows nearly in his hairline. Jake slowly undid his towel and parted it to reveal his cock. “By all means.”
“Good choice.” She took his cock in her hands, reacquainting herself with him. It had been so long, and he hadn’t given her the chance to do much last night. She stroked him once, twice, her eyes on his face to gauge his reactions. Yeah, he likes that.
She couldn’t pretend she was an expert, but she wanted to give him at least a portion of the pleasure he’d given to her, and so she slowly licked around the head of his cock. The move made the veins in his neck stand out, so she did it again. Slower.
“Jessie, you’re trying to kill me.”
“Maybe.” She flicked the underside of his cock with her tongue and, when he cursed, she sucked him deep.
That was right around the time Jessica stopped worrying about pleasing him and started enjoying herself. She took him as deep as she could manage and then eased off him until she could brush his cock across her lips. And then she took him deep again. Over and over, only backing off when he drew her hair back, and the tension in his body telegraphed that he was almost done.
“Jessie. Love. Just… Fuck.”
She wanted him to come. She wanted to drink him down, to know that she was the one who caused it.
So she didn’t stop, she didn’t slow down, she ignored his muttered warning. His cock jerked in her mouth, and then he was coming, spurting down the back of her throat. She swallowed him down with a little moan, taking everything he gave her. When she lifted her head, he was staring at her with a dazed expression on his face. “Damn.”
“Yep.” She pushed to her feet on shaky legs and reached for her towel. “I think our hour is almost up.”
“And you’re running scared again.” He tucked the towel around him in quick, efficient movements. “Not this time, Jessie.”
Jake didn’t speak until they were out of the spa, showered and put together again. He held the passenger open for Jessie and stared at her profile through the window for a few seconds. It was time to face the facts. For all his hemming and hawing, he was about to throw rational thought right out the window.
Jessie might have been right in her fears about how they would have ended up if she’d stayed, but she hadn’t stayed. They were in different spots now than they had been at eighteen. They could work it out if they wanted to. There wasn’t an easy answer about how they’d accomplish that, but Jake had never been afraid of a challenge—not before his accident, and sure as hell not after.
The woman in his truck was nothing if not a challenge.
She already looks more herself. He walked around to the driver’s side and climbed in. “You have something for the masquerade ball.” He grimaced. “I wasn’t going to dress up, but Karly Stocker called me directly and threatened not to let me through the doors if I’m not in costume.”
Jessie laughed. “She sent me a pointed email.”
“That woman is as mean as a snake, and the power of organizing this event has gone to her head. Best not to tempt fate by disobeying a direct order.”
“I have a costume.” She smoothed her hands over her dress.
He pulled out of the parking lot and headed back in the direction of Catfish Creek. “I don’t know if I said it before, but you look mighty fine today, Jessica Jackson. I like that dress. It suits you.”
“It’s silly to be rebelling against my mama at twenty-eight, but I’ll admit that knowing she’d lose her mind seeing me in black was part of the reason I chose it.”
“I know.” Jessie wasn’t his pet project. It wasn’t his job to fix her. She was a person and didn’t need fixing. But it made him all kinds of happy to see her stand up to her mama. “What do you have lined up for tonight?”
She grinned. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”
He pulled into her parents’ drive. Their house never failed to give him a kick in the gut. He hadn’t grown up with money that way the Jacksons had. Jake never went without, but his daddy had worked on a ranch and his mama did other ladies’ hair for a living. They were beneath the Jacksons, and Jessica’s parents had never hesitated to let him know it.
It didn’t matter that he could buy and sell this place ten times over now. He still felt a day late and a dollar short.
“Sometimes I wish things were different.”
Jake kept quiet while the truck bumped along the gravel driveway. She rewarded him by continuing her thought. “The whole beauty queen thing never made me happy.”
“I know.” It was her big, dark secret that she’d confided in him when they hit middle school. She went along with her mama’s craziness because she didn’t have another choice. Somewhere around their freshman year, Jessie had decided that she’d never escape her mama’s plans, so she might as well embrace them. He hadn’t liked that much, but he knew the girl beneath the mean exterior.
The one she only let him see.
He stopped the truck, but didn’t turn it off. “Do you still think about interior decorating?” It had always been her dream—her dream, not her mama’s.
“It’s not the most stable of markets. Hard to get into, and even harder to stay relevant.”
Logical thinking. He still hated to hear it come out of her mouth. “Since when had something being tough stopped you? I swear, you became Homecoming Queen and Prom Queen out of spite because Karly Stocker decided she had a chance.”
“She gave me a run for my money.” Jessie gave a faint smile.
“But you beat her in the end. There’s no reason you couldn’t be an interior designer if you wanted to.” From what she said, between her two friends’ connections—not to mention her own connections—she should have more than enough people willing to give her a shot. Hell, he had a client list of rich, bored women who would like nothing better than to have Jessie put their vision for their mansions into reality while Jake’s guys cleaned their kitchen in Speedos.
He wasn’t a fan of those types of jobs, but most of the guys preferred them. It saved them the necessity of making small talk, and there were strict rules against touching that Jake had created to protect them. He had a no tolerance policy for clients who violated those rules.
“Maybe.” She shrugged. “But I’m not really in a position to go back to school, and so it’ll likely never happen.
“All I’m hearing are excuses.”
She reached for the door. “You’re welcome to your opinion, but ultimately it’s my choice. You might have forgiven me, Jake, but that doesn’t mean you get to start acting like my boyfriend again.” She snorted. “Even if you were my boyfriend, you still don’t get to tell me what to do with my life. I have one dad. I don’t need another one.”
Considering that Benjamin Jackson probably had his secretary bent over his desk right at that moment, Jake didn’t appreciate the comparison.
But that was the problem. Jessie looked at her parents’ dysfunctional relationship and assumed that she would naturally cleave to that—that it was her future set in stone. Well, he wasn’t Benjamin Jackson, and she sure as hell wasn’t her mama.
Just because her fears when she was eighteen had some credibility didn’t mean the same for whatever was holding her back now. He frowned. “What are you so scared of, Jessie?”
“Some days it feels like everything.” She was out of the car before he could say another word, hurrying up the walkway and into the house.
Jake huffed out a breath. “That went well.”
Jessica finished with her hair and fixed her dress for the seventh time. This whole masquerade ball had to be Karly’s revenge for not getting Prom Queen back in the day. Or maybe I’m overestimating my importance. She’d decided to go subtle for her costume. It was a slinky strapless dress that frame
d her breasts to perfection and highlighted her waist and ass. The dark blue faded to black at the bottom, and the whole thing was inlaid with a subtle floral pattern that a person really had to be paying attention to see. Her mask was just as simple—a black lace that set off her creamy skin and dark hair and made the color of her eyes pop.
She wasn’t trying to be the center of attention, but she was just vain enough not to want to fade into the background either.
Before she could think too hard about facing the theoretical firing squad, she marched out of her room and down the stairs. Jake waited by the front door, looking downright lickable in his suit. He fiddled with a black domino mask which was a perfect complement for her mask. Even after all this time, we coordinate without trying to.
She couldn’t decide if that was a good sign or a bad one.
He looked up and went still. “Jessica.”
She stopped at the bottom of the stairs. She couldn’t remember the last time Jake had used her full name. Resisting the temptation to turn around and race up the stairs like some kind of Cinderella in reverse, she straightened her spine and lifted her chin. “Jake.”
“You look…” He shook his head and crossed the living room in two big strides. “You look ravishing.”
“There’s a ten-dollar word if I ever heard one.”