This is an unprecedented moment. I’m awake before Jack Henry, studying his sleeping figure—it’s a fine one—but that’s not what makes this morning a new experience. I’m waking next to him as my husband.
Wow. I did it. I married a man who propositioned me a year ago, asking me to be his companion for three months. His idea of our pairing deciphered into something much different back then—an offer of noncommittal sex in exchange for the time of my life. Translation? I agreed to be his whore. There, I admit it, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made regardless of what kind of label we place upon it.
Now he’s my husband—forever mine—and I couldn’t be happier.
No number fourteen for him. Ever.
We began as strangers—as most couples do—but our beginning was so much more complicated. That simple word makes me giggle each time I hear or say it now. There’s never a time I don’t recall the freakish control my husband displayed when he told me he was a man who didn’t do complicated. Damn, was he ever wrong. I turned his world on its head. To know I hold that power over him makes me feel invincible. And adored.
Some would consider our inception into this whirlwind a perverted one. Even I did in the beginning, but then we became so much more than either of us intended. Now we’re Mr. and Mrs. Jack Henry McLachlan and this is the beginning of the rest of our lives. We’re setting out into the world to write our own story—in stone, never sand.
I look at my husband’s face and see his eyes flutter beneath his lids, a clear indication he’s dreaming, and I wonder what a man like him sees when he’s in the deepest of sleep. Whatever it is, I don’t want to disrupt it so I slide to the edge of the bed in slow motion and place my feet on the floor of the plane’s bedroom suite. I look over my shoulder to make sure I haven’t disturbed his slumber—and he’s unmoving—so I ease from the bed with the agility of a thief in the night.
When I’m finished in the bathroom, I return to bed and repeat the same motion in reverse. I’m so pleased with myself because I’ve managed to slip into bed next to Jack Henry without waking him. But then I realize I’m basking in my accomplishment prematurely. He suddenly rises, pinning me beneath him, a huge grin wide across his face.
“Mornin’.” He lowers his mouth to mine and kisses me as his grin grows larger, a sweet kiss just on the surface of my lips. “My wife.” He places his forehead against mine. “You know … I think I like the sound of that.”
“You better love the sound of it.”
“Hmm. Maybe it’ll grow on me with a little time.”
I push against Jack Henry’s chest and we roll so I’m on top. “And maybe you’ll grow on me.” I lower my mouth to his as close as possible without our lips touching. “If I try really, really hard.”
I move my knees on each side of his hips and slowly grind against him. His hands creep up my thighs until they’re on my waist. “I think something may already be growing on you. Really, really hard.”
“You and that mouth of yours, Mr. McLachlan.”
“You love this mouth of mine, Mrs. McLachlan, along with everything it does to you.” He’s told me that before.
He slides his hands up the sides of my bare body and then quickly turns us so I’m on my back again. His mouth begins a journey at my neck and leaves a trail of wet kisses on its way down until reaching my belly button. “And this tongue of mine. Don’t forget how much you love what it does to you as well.”
He dips it inside my navel and I lace my fingers through his hair before dragging my nails across his scalp. “I could never forget about your highly talented tongue. Or how good it made me feel last night.”
He looks up at me and beams. “Our wedding night was everything you hoped it would be?”
I can’t believe he thinks he has to ask. “It was perfect—everything I dreamed plus a whole lot more I couldn’t have possibly imagined. I didn’t know I could be so happy.”
“Last night exceeded my every expectation.” He laces his fingers together and places them on my belly before propping his chin on top. “It was the same physical act we’ve shared countless times but I never imagined it feeling so different as husband and wife.” I run my fingers through his hair again but I’m speechless. I think he’s waiting for me to respond but I can’t because my heart feels like it might explode from the love I have for this man. “Come on, L. You’re making me feel pretty damn sappy since you aren’t saying anything.”
I beckon for him to come closer and caress his cheeks once we’re eye to eye. “You’re right. It was a level of intimacy we’ve never shared and I couldn’t feel more connected to you.”
He tucks each side of my hair behind my ears before pressing his forehead to mine. “You are my world and I’ll do anything to make you happy.”
“You. That’s all it takes to make me smile.”
He nuzzles against my neck and I feel the freshly grown scruff on his chin. “Your face was smooth at the wedding yesterday. I can’t believe you already have this much growth.”
He reaches up and strokes his chin with his hand. “Is it too rough for you?”
“No. I like you with stubble. It’s sexy. I wouldn’t mind you growing it a little.”
“But just a very light beard, right? Nothing heavy like I had several months ago?”
I’ve never seen him with heavy growth. “I didn’t know you grew a beard.”
“I fell into a depression and sort of let myself go for a while when a certain unnamed young lady left me without a word.”
He isn’t the only one who was in a bad place. “I was depressed too but I didn’t grow a beard. I took the highlights out of my hair—the lighter streaks didn’t seem to go with the darkness I felt.”
“When my beard grew out, I found highlights.” He points to his temples. “And several here on each side.”
I grab his face and turn it to the side for a better look. “Really?”
“Yeah. Gray ones,” he laughs. “Are you really oblivious to the fact that you just married an old man?”
I turn his face back so he’s looking at me. “You’re thirty. That’s not old. Got it?”
He playfully rubs his nose against mine, giving me an Eskimo kiss. “Your disappearance put me through hell so I blame you for giving me my first gray hairs.”
He rubs his nose up the length of my neck. “Does that mean you won’t get any more since I’m never leaving again? Even if you toss me out on my keister?”
“Sorry. I’m afraid it’s inevitable. I got my hair from Dad and he was mostly salt with little pepper by forty-five. That doesn’t leave you many years with a youthful-looking husband.”
I’m imagining Jack Henry with gray hair in place of his near black. I’m certain he’s going to be like Richard Gere and only get better looking with age. “So when people see us together ten years from now, they’ll think I’m some sweet young thing on the arm of my sugar daddy?”
He’s laughing. “No, they’ll see our swarm of mini-Laurelyns buzzing around us and know I was smart enough to make you mine while I was still young and had a chance with you.”
“Exactly how many children are in a swarm?”
His lips next to my ear, he whispers, “Several.”
I won’t be distracted by the stir his nearness causes in my groin. “‘Several’ is a number that may vary quite a bit depending on who you’re talking to.”
His fingers lace through the nape of my hair and his thumb rubs that spot below my ear. “You once told me you saw yourself with three.”
“Three is a few—which isn’t several.”
“I know but I’d like to talk you into more.” He runs his nose down the length of my neck again and I feel his warm breath on my skin. He knows how much that turns me on. “And I’d like to persuade you into starting on the first one right now.”
He didn’t want a wife or children when we met. Somewhere in the theory of my future, I wanted a husband—which I now have—but I’d like to wait on the children. I want to enjoy us before a baby is added to the mix. “Why are you so anxious? We haven’t been married a full day yet. Don’t you want time for the two of us?” He rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling. “What’s going on with you and this rush to start having babies right away?”
He sighs and turns onto his side so we’re facing one another. “Dad’s side of the family has a significant history of heart disease and heart attacks. He’s fifty-five and has already had his first episode. His brother wasn’t fifty when he had his first heart attack. I’m afraid that’ll be me in twenty years, so I feel like waiting to start our family is wasting time I could be spending with our children while I’m still young and healthy.”
This is the reason he hoped I was pregnant. He’s afraid of dying young. I had no idea he had this fear bottled inside him. “You don’t know that you’ll have those kinds of problems.”
“You don’t know that I won’t.” He reaches for the back of my neck and pulls my face to his. “Promise me you’ll think about it.”
This beautiful man wants to create a life with me—little people that look like us. Isn’t that what he once told me he saw when he imagined his future with me? I want him to have everything his heart desires—and this is something only I can give him—so how can I not consider it? “I’ll think about it. Promise.”
“Thank you.” He kisses my mouth so lovingly. It isn’t urgent as many of our kisses are. It’s sweet, and he makes me feel so beloved. “I love you so much, L.”
“And I love you but I need you to promise me you’ll share these fears and concerns. I’m your wife and I want to know everything. Your hopes. Your dreams. And especially your fears.” He needs to see he shouldn’t keep these things from me.
He touches his finger to the tip of my nose. “You. You’re what my hopes and dreams are made of.”
I pull him back on top of me. “You know exactly what to say to get into a girl’s panties.”
He runs his hands over each of my bare hips. “I think you’d need to be wearing knickers in order for me to get into them but you’re not, Mrs. McLachlan.”
“Oops.” I cover my mouth with my fingers. “You’re right. Mr. McLachlan took them off hours ago.”
“You never put them back on and now you’re under me, completely naked.”
I bring my legs up and squeeze him closer. “For good reason. Easier access.”
He rubs the back of my thighs, squeezing them. “Easier access. I like that. You should go without knickers all the time.”
“Maybe I will.”
Jack Henry possesses my mouth as I lower my hands down his back until I have two handfuls of his perfect ass. “I love your … bum.”
He moves from my mouth to the side of my face and then on to that special place below my ear. “My bum, huh?” His voice is a breathy whisper. “Is my Yank wife turning Aussie so soon?”
“Maybe.” His mouth creeps down my neck. “Probably. I see no reason to fight it since I’m here to stay.”
I feel a sudden drop in the plane’s altitude. Jack Henry lifts his face to look at me but he doesn’t appear alarmed. “I think we’re descending.” He leans over to take his phone from the bedside table. “Dammit. The flight is right on time.”
A pilot’s voice comes over the overhead speaker. “We’re beginning our descent into Maui so our flight will be landing as scheduled in approximately fifteen minutes. It’s been a pleasure serving you, Mr. and Mrs. McLachlan. Looks like you’ll be having beautiful weather for the duration of your honeymoon. Maui is currently seventy degrees and sunny with a high of eighty-three later today.”
I make my pouty face. “Only fifteen minutes.”
“I know. It’s not enough time for me to do what I want to you. And we still have to get dressed and be in our seats for the landing.” He gives me one last kiss. “We’ll have plenty of time to do everything we want once we’re on the ground. We’re here as long as we want to be.”
He kisses me chastely and gets up. He’s naked, his back to me as he stands, searching through the suitcase for a change of clothes. I take a few seconds to admire his physique. He’s so beautiful. And all mine.
I get up and walk over to grab something to wear. I opt for the first outfit I find since the clock is ticking. A strappy floral sundress with a fuchsia cardigan packed right on the top. It should look lovely with the lei I’ll be given when we land.
We’re dressed with clean faces and freshly brushed teeth when we buckle into our seats. We have maybe one whole minute to spare, but I plan on indulging in a long, hot bath—hopefully with Jack Henry joining me—once we arrive at our hotel. I hope our suite has a huge shower to accommodate both of us because I have lots of naughty things I want to do to him.
He holds my hand as the plane touches down and I’m immediately relieved. I grew a little more accustomed to flying while touring with Southern Ophelia but I’m still happier when my feet are on solid ground. “Have you visited Hawaii often?”
“Yes. Quite a few times.” He brings my hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles. “I’m glad your first time is with me.”
I wonder what brought him to Hawaii. A family trip, perhaps? Maybe business. Or possibly pleasure with a companion. A pang of jealousy strikes within. I wish I wasn’t on my honeymoon thinking of such things but I’m curious by nature. “How many times have you visited?”
He answers immediately, “A lot. I couldn’t even take a guess at a number. Dad spent the year working like crazy but he’d take off for two weeks after harvest season so we could come here. It’s my mum’s favorite getaway so she’d bring us even when Dad was too busy to come. We always stayed at the same house—it felt like my second childhood home.”
“So you were always with your family?”
“No. I came once without them.”
“You came alone or with a friend?” I shouldn’t ask since I might get an answer I won’t like.
“Friends.” Plural. What does that mean? Friends, like the ones everyone has or the kind of friends only he has? I mean had.
He’s laughing but I’m not. “Friends?”
“Well, I guess drunken college buddies is probably a more accurate description of the company I kept the time I came without my family.”
Oh—that I can handle. “You and your pals came here to party?”
“Yeah, but only once during break. The guys wrecked the place and the owner was furious. The damage wasn’t minimal. Mum paid for it but threatened to beat me within an inch of my life if it ever happened again.” He’s grinning. “I knew she wasn’t kidding so I never brought them back.”
“I bet Margaret wanted to beat your ass.”
“There was definitely some smacking with a purse. She loves to do that. She knows it doesn’t hurt but it sounds like it does so she enjoys it. And it’s dramatic. She did that to me in front of my mates. God, I was humiliated. But of course, that’s why she did it.” I’m laughing as I imagine my mother-in-law clobbering her college-age son with her handbag in front of his friends. “Have you seen her in action? She should’ve been a professional boxer. She can get at least three good licks in before your brain has time to register that you’re being smacked.”
I love Margaret so much. She’s going to be the best mother-in-law I could ever wish for. I could stand to learn a thing or two from her. “I’m going to have her teach me her moves.”
“Baby, please don’t. I can’t take any more unnecessary roughness. Unless you want to get unruly with me in the bedroom.” He leans over to kiss the side of my neck and my skin instantly prickles while something stirs deep within my belly. He loves doing that to me.
“Down, boy. We’re not at the hotel yet.” He leans back and I can tell he’s fighting a grin. “What? Are you up to something, Mr. McLachlan?”
“Maybe, but it’s a surprise, Mrs. McLachlan. One I can’t wait to show you.”
The car stops only moments before Jack Henry’s warm hand squeezes mine gently. I recognize the sound of an opening car door. I’m guessing the driver is probably waiting for us to get out. “Can you see anything through your blindfold?”
That’s right. My husband has blindfolded me in the car, not the bedroom.
“No. Not a thing.” And I can’t. All I see is total blackness and it’s disorienting. But not as much as what we’re doing now. It’s becoming more and more evident that we aren’t at a hotel. This is something entirely different.
I feel him slide across the seat away from me as he tugs on my hand. “This way, love.”
I step out of the car and hear waves in the distance as I breathe in the salty air. We’re at the beach and I’m confused. I don’t understand why he’d bring me here directly from the airport instead of checking into our room so we could take a hot shower after our long flight. It’s too early to swim. And I’m in a sundress, not a swimsuit.
These are the thoughts of a nagging wife so I hastily put them away. What do I have to complain about? I’m married to the man of my dreams and he treats me like a queen. I could do much, much worse.
“Walk this way.” I take a few baby steps in the direction he’s pulling me. I can’t see but it feels like he’s walking backward as he holds both of my hands. “Don’t be afraid, L. I won’t let you fall. Ever.”
I don’t doubt him for a moment. “I trust that you won’t, but I have an innate instinct telling me I will so it’s hard to ignore.”
“Not much further.”
It’s not sand I’m walking on. It feels firm, like concrete or asphalt, but I take about twenty more steps before we stop. “I’m taking your blindfold off but I want you to keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them.”
He removes my blinder and the sun shines directly on my face. I feel its warmth against my skin and see its brightness on the other side of my closed lids. “You can open them.”
The breeze from the ocean blows a strand of hair into my face and lodges itself in the slit of one my eyes. I shake my head to make my hair fall over one shoulder. When I straighten, I look before me and see a magnificent beachfront home.
I wait for him to say something—give me an idea about what we’re doing here—but he doesn’t. “Is this where we’re staying?”
“Yes.” He’s beaming, appearing so proud of himself. Maybe he’s pleased he has pulled one over on me because he has. I completely expected a honeymoon suite in one of Maui’s finest hotels but this is so much better. “Do you like it?”
Now I’m the one grinning like the Cheshire cat because I know this means we don’t have to be quiet. We can lose control without the fear of being heard by others. “Are you kidding me? It’s breathtaking. Who wouldn’t love it?” I wrap my arms around him and squeeze his middle. “This is going to be so much better than a hotel.”
“This is it—the house I was telling you about. My vacation home as a child.”
Oh my. I can’t believe he brought me to the place he thought of as his second home while growing up.
“Oh, Jack Henry.”
“It wasn’t possible for me to come to Maui with my bride and not stay here.”
He would’ve been so limited on time when planning our honeymoon. I can’t believe a place like this would have a vacancy. “Then we’re incredibly lucky it was available for rent on such short notice.”
He beams before turning me so I’m facing the house. Behind me, he snakes his arms around my waist and pulls me tight against him, his mouth next to my ear. “I own it, L. I bought it for you. It’s your wedding gift.” I turn my face toward him and his stubble grazes me. “I want to spend the rest of our lives making happy memories here with you and our children.”Omigod. Best. Husband. Ever.