He didn’t speak for a moment, just let out a slow, deep breath like he was gathering his thoughts. “I think I probably do sometimes talk in my sleep,” he said. “Or dream badly. It’s like that for a while after a rough tour.”
“I can imagine.” Unable to help herself, she sifted her fingers through his short hair and shook her head. “Actually, I can’t imagine what it must be like to come home after all you’ve been through and try to fit into regular civilian life.”
“I didn’t expect to come home.”
He met her gaze when hers flew to his face.
“I didn’t,” he said. “I thought I’d be a career soldier.”
“What changed your mind?”
The pain, sharp and dark, was buried deep in his words, pain he was clearly fighting to hide, and it slid right through her, taking her a moment to find her voice. “Were you hurt in the explosion? Is that why you’re on leave?”
His profile was tight, the corners of his mouth hard. “Just a few scratches and a concussion, no big deal,” he said. “Another buddy was hurt far worse. Chris Marshall. He broke every bone in his left leg and lost his arm.” He lifted a shoulder. “I can’t complain. But I’m not crazy about the idea of going back.”
Neither was she. “What will you do when you’ve finished out your tour?”
“Something quiet,” he said.
She gave him a little nudge. “Like maybe live in a cabin on a mountain lake?”
His eyes warmed as he let his gaze roam over her face. “Something like that, yeah.”
She got lost in his eyes a moment and then reminded herself that she had to get out of here and to work before she did something she regretted—like lick him from head to toe. “I gotta go.”
“How much time do you have?”
She eyeballed his clock. It was nine. “I don’t have to be at work until ten thirty today.”
“Good to know.” He pulled her beneath him and settled himself between her legs, his hands roaming, warming her up and revving her up, too, until she arched into him, already halfway to heaven. “You mind?” he murmured, mouth at her breast.
She slid her fingers back into his hair to hold his head to her. “Only if you stop…”
A while later, she was drifting again, mind blank with all the pleasure, when, from Jacob’s dresser, the alarm on her phone went off. With a groan, she closed her eyes.
“Someone dying?” Jacob asked, not moving an inch.
“Just me.” She sighed. “That was my alarm reminding me to call my sister.”
“You set an alarm for that?”
“We talk on her days off when she needs a moment from her kids.”
“At least you call her,” he said, something in his voice. But his eyes were closed, so she couldn’t tell what.
“Feel free to talk to her now,” he said, his chest rising and falling with his slow, even breath.
She loved the sound of his morning voice, rough and gruff. An octave lower than usual. Heart-stopping. As was the sight of him in the bed, covered only by a sheet that had pooled low on his ripped abs. She blew out a sigh and reached for her phone.
“Oh, my God,” Brooklyn answered. “I was having the best sex daydream about Chris Evans!”
“Sorry to interrupt that,” Sophie said. “Hard to compete with sex and Captain America.” Then she realized what she’d said and slid a look at Jacob.
He was paying her no mind, seemingly not listening. In fact, she thought maybe he’d drifted off to sleep.
“Listen,” Brooklyn said. “Dad’s birthday is coming up. I thought we could do a surprise b-day visit.”
“Are you kidding? Dad hates surprise visits.”
“No, he doesn’t.”
“Yes, he does,” Sophie said. “Remember the time I flew home for Father’s Day and brought him a kitten because his therapist had mentioned it’d be good for him to have something to take care of?”
“Well, who’d have guessed he was violently allergic?” Brooklyn asked.
It’d been a disaster of epic proportions. “At least I called nine-one-one in time to get him an epi shot before his throat closed up completely,” Sophie said on a sigh.
“And you did try to make it up to him by sending him and Mom to dinner the next year at that new fancy restaurant downtown,” Brooklyn said.
“You mean the time they got stuck in the elevator and the paramedics and firefighters had to rescue them? No. No more surprises, not from me.”