Night Maneuvers
Author:Jillian Burns

chapter 10

SITUATION REPORT—DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: best damn day of his life.

It occurred to Mitch as he was leaving his office Friday evening that he didn’t need to count down the thirty days of his celibacy anymore since that ship had sailed this morning.

Guilt at breaking his word rubbed his conscience raw. The one thing he never thought he’d do was break his word. He owed Jackson a forfeit. For three damn days. If only he could’ve waited three more days.

But the thought of Alex marrying that SEAL had torn up his insides. He’d meant to just go over there and talk some sense into her. To tell her marriage was for suckers. For poor saps like he used to be who bought into the whole happily ever after scam. When vows meant next to nothing these days, and love was obliterated at the first sign of hardship.

But seeing Alex in nothing but that towel had wiped his brain clean like a computer virus on a motherboard. The next thing he knew they were both naked on her bed.

Mitch grinned as he fired up his Jeep and headed for Hughes’s—Alex’s—house. Who’d have thought he’d be attracted to his best friend? This would be the best of both worlds. His wingman. And his lover.

At the last minute, he stopped for Kung Pao Chicken. Alex loved Kung Pao. He couldn’t ever remember feeling so…happy. So sure about anything. Even his wedding day he’d been nervous despite telling Hughes that his love felt right. He remembered feeling as if he needed to puke as he’d stood at the front of that church waiting for Luanne to walk down the aisle.

Maybe he should’ve paid more attention to his gut.

But his gut was just fine and dandy tonight. He hadn’t had such great sex in he didn’t know when. Sex had been pretty meaningless for a long time now. But with Alex…

Hard to explain why. Maybe it was a trust thing. She knew him like no one else. And he knew without a doubt he could always rely on Alex. That was real. So the sex felt more real.

As he pulled into her driveway, that thought triggered another. He’d always be there for Alex, too. Like good friends, they cared about each other. He sure felt better when he was around her. The past week had been pure hell thinking he’d lose her friendship when she married.

He got out and rang her doorbell. Maybe she’d be wrapped in nothing but a towel again. This morning her skin had been glistening from her bath and her hair, still damp, had clung to her cheek. He’d wanted to crash through that window and hold her, taste her, have her.

Hmm, she wasn’t answering. She wasn’t home? Hadn’t she known he’d come over here tonight? Guess he hadn’t actually made plans. He’d just assumed. Yeah, and you know what happens when you assume, McCabe.

He turned back to his Jeep, that bad feeling forming in his gut. He’d thought they’d finally worked out their problems. Wait. She’d said they’d talk later.

Just as he opened the door to his Jeep, her Mustang pulled into her driveway. He headed her way and saw pots of shrubs, flats of multicolored flowers and huge bags of soil filling her backseat.

“Oh, hey, you’re here.” Alex barely glanced at him as she got out and reached into the backseat for a plant. “Help me carry this stuff to the back?”

All day he’d been thinking of being with her and she’d been thinking about yard work? He held up his bag of food. “I brought dinner.”

“Great.” She gave him the halfhearted smile he’d seen her use for fools and morons. “Let’s get this unloaded and then we’ll eat.”

Did she not want him here? Should he go? With a mental shrug, Mitch stuck the bag of Kung Pao between his teeth, shrugged out of his uniform coat and set them both on the porch swing. Then he grabbed both bags of soil, hefted them onto his shoulders and carried them through the gate to the back.

After dropping the soil where Alex instructed him, he made two more trips to the car. She’d seemed surprised to see him—or had that been disappointment? Had she planned on unloading all these plants and stuff herself?

“There’s a game on, want to eat on the sofa and watch?” she called as she set down the last of the flowers.


After they’d cleaned up and retrieved the Kung Pao, he grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge, loosened his uniform tie and slid it off.

She plopped down, propped her feet on the coffee table and grabbed the remote.

An hour later, Mitch thought he might be in heaven. They were still on the couch, still watching the game, but after he’d finished eating, he’d scooted closer and put his arm around Alex’s shoulders. He was playing with her hair and thinking about all the things he wanted to do to her tonight.

He was glad they’d finally done what they’d done this morning. She wanted him as much as he wanted her. Just thinking that, feeling it, made him smile so big he probably looked like a dope.

She seemed completely absorbed in the game, and he didn’t know why he wasn’t, the score was close and the time left was short, but all he cared about right now was getting Alex beneath him. He’d been rock-hard for half an hour.

Like a teen on a first date, he was nervous, wondering how the night would play out. “So, we’re good?”

She looked over at him. Her eyes seemed to be searching for something in his. Then she shrugged. “I can’t fight it anymore. We’ll just see where this goes, okay?”

A sense of relief overwhelmed him and he knew he was grinning like an idiot again. Surely it wasn’t good that he cared that much. But this was Alex. She’d never screw him over.

Just before she turned her attention back to the game, she smiled at him and it took his breath away. He had to close his eyes and force air into his lungs. Alex’s smile was one of his favorite things about her. She wasn’t classically beautiful, she had more of a girl-next-door kind of prettiness. But when she smiled at him just now, he felt it to his toes.

After a second’s hesitation, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tighter. “Alex.” He nuzzled into her neck. “Do you really want to finish watching the game?”

“Mitch.” She sighed as she put her cheek on his chest. “What am I going to do with you?”

“I have a few ideas.” He scooped her up onto his lap. One hand lifted her T-shirt while the other traveled down beneath her sweats to play between her thighs. “Open for me,” he whispered as he tossed her shirt aside and unhooked her bra one-handed.

With a whimper she complied, spreading her legs. Supporting her with his other arm around her back, he slid a finger deep inside her, stroked her G-spot, pulled out and plunged back in. She made a strangled sound and wiggled her hips.

“Aw, Alex. You’re so beautiful. Now lift your breast to me.” When she cupped her breast, he lowered his head and took the tiny, pale pink nipple into his mouth and suckled, all the while thrusting with his finger, and letting his thumb tease her clit.

She arched her back and rolled her other nipple between her thumb and finger, but Mitch wanted it. He lifted her toward him and suckled it deep into his mouth, then took it gently between his teeth and flicked his tongue across the tight peak.

Crooning an incoherent sound, she sat up, slid her sweats and panties down and off, and then straddled his lap. She unbuttoned his shirt, then reached for his slacks, unzipped him and took out his hard, aching cock.

“Wait, wait.” He scrambled for the condom in his back pocket and ripped it open, but she was stroking him and bent to lick the tip. Mitch lifted his hips and groaned. “Careful.” He jerked when she licked him again and took him farther into her mouth and sucked. “Alex.”

She looked up and met his gaze with a wicked grin.

“You’re evil.” With an answering grin he rolled on protection, grabbed her waist and lifted her into position. She put her hands on his shoulders and sank slowly around him.

So tight. So hot. Mitch squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on lasting. But when she rose up on her knees and sank back down he knew it was a losing battle. “Alex, hold still,” he warned through clenched teeth.

She ignored him and moved faster, fighting his hold around her waist. Up and down, she rose and fell, like everything she did, single-mindedly, skillfully, generously.

So much for lasting. He threw back his head and cursed under his breath as wave after wave of intense pleasure hit him. Even after he stiffened beneath her she didn’t let up, but kept pumping him, milking him into shuddering after-spasms. Finally she jerked her hips and moaned her own pleasure before collapsing against his damp chest.

He wrapped his arms around her back and held her close, his throat tight for some reason. All he could think was, this was Alex. Skin to skin. The perfect lover for him. They’d known each other so long, that, like working on their cars, or teaching air combat, they hardly needed words to get it right. And this felt so right.

After some homemade peach ice cream, Alex took his hand and led him back to the bedroom and he made slow, tender love to her, relishing every moment, worshipping every inch of her. He couldn’t believe he’d spent the last half-dozen or more years just putting tab B into slot A. Sex was much more fulfilling when the two partners knew each other so well.

When he finally came, after making Alex come again and again, he looked into her eyes just before he exploded in pleasure, and something passed between them, something unspoken, but profound. He rolled to his back as he moved off her and covered his eyes with his arm. Damn, he’d almost teared up for a second there. He’d never felt so close to anyone. It made him realize how alone he’d been all his life.

Alex rolled over and threw an arm and a leg over him, snuggling close as her breathing became slower and deeper. Then he heard a light but steady snore.

He smiled. He definitely wasn’t alone anymore.

ALEX WAS COCOONED in heat. She tried to move and a band of strength tightened around her lungs. Had she crashed her jet? A deep moan sounded behind her and an unmistakable hard length twitched against her butt.

Her eyes flew open when the horny man who was curled around her pushed a knee between her legs and the hand encircling her waist moved up to cup her breast.

As he rolled over and came up on his knees, he lifted her hips, spread her thighs, and slid deep inside her in one swift movement. She cried out. The position enhanced the sensations. He filled her completely, hitting her G-spot and her womb with each thrust. With one hand teasing her clit and the other her nipple, she was a goner in a matter of minutes.

He kissed her neck, her back, her neck again before calling her name. Gripping her waist with both hands, he started pumping faster until he stiffened, breathing harshly into her shoulder.

“Mmm,” he mumbled as he fell to his side and tugged her close against him.

“Mmm, yourself.” Totally energized, she scooted away and hopped off the bed.

Mitch rolled to his stomach and laid his head on his bent arms.

“Come on, sleepyhead, we’re burning daylight.” As she headed for the shower, she slapped his taut, naked butt. He merely grunted.

Then she stopped and simply took in the sight of him.

She wished she had a camera so she could always remember this gloriously naked, slim-hipped man lying in her bed. In that position his shoulder blades protruded and his biceps bulged. The sunlight gleamed off his blond hair and seemed to radiate from his smooth, tanned skin. He was a Greek god, a supermodel and a Hollywood hunk all rolled into one.

And for now, he was all hers.

She’d showered, made coffee and stuck cinnamon rolls from a can in the oven before Apollo deigned to show his blond-stubbled jaw in the kitchen. He ruffled a hand through his hair and shuffled in, wearing only his boxer-briefs. Squinting at her, he inhaled. “Smells good.”

“Well, hurry up and eat. We’ve got a lot to get done today.”

“We do?” He poured himself a mug of coffee and sat at her table.

Guess he wasn’t quite the Saturday morning enthusiast she was. “Uh, hello? All those flowers aren’t going to plant themselves.” She stuck her hand inside an oven mitt, pulled the rolls from the oven and slathered on the icing from the tiny plastic container.

He sipped his coffee. “Right.”

Alex froze. “I mean, that’s what I’m doing today. You may have other plans.” She sneaked a glance at him.

Slouched in his chair, his mug halfway to his mouth, Mitch was staring at her. He set down the mug, got up and stalked over to her, lithe as a jungle cat. He slid his arms around her waist and nuzzled into her neck. “Give me half an hour to bring back a change of clothes and my shaving kit, and then your wish will be my command.”

Alex smiled, warmed inside where a moment ago she’d gone cold. “That’s a dangerous concept.”

He reached around her, snatched a cinnamon roll off the baking sheet and popped it in his mouth. “I’ll bring you an apron and you can make me a pie.” He swatted her behind and then darted for the hallway.

Grabbing an onion from the hanging basket, she charged after him and pitched it at his back, but he ducked, swiveled and tackled her. Half tickling her, half carrying her into the bedroom, he dropped her on the bed and kept tickling her. Laughing and giggling, she kicked and screeched, fighting off his attack.

Alex decided the best defense was a good offense so she cupped his package and caressed.

“Aw, Hughes, no fair.” His light blue eyes sparkled down at her as he lowered his head and kissed her. His body followed and soon they were writhing around on the sheets. Alex rolled on top, straddled his waist and combed her fingers through his hair as she poured all her overpowering emotions into her kiss.

His hands caressed her back, and as she tucked her nose into the strong column of his neck his arms tightened around her. They lay there just holding each other. She heard his ragged breathing soft in her ear, and she felt his Adam’s apple move as he swallowed. The silence filled with words unspoken, with emotions unexpressed.

It was either spill her guts, or get up. She rolled off him and the bed and landed on her feet, forcing a smile. “Daylight’s a-wasting. Come on, up and at ’em.”

He rose up on his elbows, a mock expression of dismay on his face. “You’re just going to leave me like this?”

Alex’s gaze traveled from his face down his fine chest to the long protrusion beneath his underwear. She licked her lips. So tempting. But she’d bought those flowers on purpose to remind her that her life was more than just Mitch. If she let him, he’d engulf her in his life and she’d very easily lose her own. And then what would she have when this ended, as it surely would?

She had no illusions about what she’d agreed to. She’d simply been unwilling to live the rest of her life without knowing what it could be like with Mitch.

“You need to save your strength.” She made herself turn and head for the backyard.

The rest of the day was a snapshot of Alex’s dream of a perfect day. In between hours of backbreaking but fulfilling work, she and Mitch played. They chased, and wrestled, they had a water fight and made slow love in the pool. To her, food tasted better, the sun shone brighter, the grass was literally greener, the water bluer. Everything in her world was enhanced by her love for Mitch.

And as she fell asleep in his arms for the second night in a row, she ignored the dread and fear lurking, waiting for the dream world she’d stolen to come crumbling down. She shoved it way down deep and sighed into hot masculine skin.

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