Home > Love with Me (With Me in Seattle #11)(10)

Love with Me (With Me in Seattle #11)(10)
Author: Kristen Proby

“No,” he says again and shakes his head. He won’t look at either of us. He’s gone pale. “No.”

“Okay,” Jace says and covers my hand with his. “It’s okay, Larry. Now you know, that when you’re ready, the girls will help. I’ll help, too, if you’d like. I noticed you planted carrots out back. I don’t remember seeing them last week.”

And just like that, Dad takes a deep breath, rubs Nancy’s head, and talks about his vegetable garden with Jace while Noel and I push our food around on our plates, half-listening.

When dinner is over, Noel and I clean up the dishes, and she makes a hasty escape. I can see the grief in her eyes as she waves goodbye and leaves out the front door.

Coming to Dad’s house is never easy for either of us.

“I guess I should go, too,” I say.

“Come to my place,” Jace says. “I’d like to show you the progress in the bathroom.”

“I have Nancy.”

“She can stay here tonight,” Dad says with a smile. Nancy is sitting next to his feet as if that’s exactly where she belongs. “We’ll watch some TV and make an early night of it.”

“I’ll come get her in the morning,” I reply and give Dad a big hug. “I love you, Daddy.”

“I know. I love you, too, baby girl.”

“You have to talk to me,” Jace says when we pull up to his house. I left my car at Dad’s, and yes, I know what that means. That I’ll be staying with Jace tonight. But it felt natural to just slip into his car and come home with him.

I just haven’t said much because I’m way too inside my own head about my dad and Noel and Jace and all of the craziness going on in my life right now.

He throws the car into park, cuts the engine, and we walk inside the house. He left a few lights on in the hallway and kitchen, and I walk directly to the wall of windows that frames the city and the Sound beyond it.

“I don’t get it,” I mutter as Jace joins me. He holds my hand, tangling our fingers. “How can he do it? How can he keep that house exactly the way it was when she was living?”

“He misses her,” he says.

“Two years. She’s been gone for two years, Jace. I miss her, too, but Jesus, it’s been two years. There’s no need to leave her dust rag out, or her laundry in the hamper. Her makeup on the vanity. My God, her hairbrush, full of hair, is still on the bathroom sink.”

“Two years isn’t that long when you’ve lost the woman you spent more than forty years with,” he points out, bringing tears to my eyes. “I know she was your mom, and you were close, but Joy, she was his wife. His partner in all things. He slept next to her every night.”

“You’re right.” I blink rapidly against the tears that want to fall. “I can’t imagine it.”

He squeezes my hand. “I know. I can’t either. Why do you think I go see him every week? Because I know he’s lonely, and I enjoy him. He’s one of the best people I know.”

“I can’t believe you’ve been going to see him every week and I didn’t know.” I look up at him, then lean in and press a kiss to his arm. “You’re a good man, Jace Crawford.”

“Don’t let it get out.”

“Your secret is safe with me.”

He smiles down at me, then tugs on my hand and leads me back to his guest bathroom. The trim is taped off, the floor and fixtures protected by a tarp, and the walls are covered in a bold blue.

“We got the first coat on today,” he says. “Levi isn’t great with a paintbrush, but he’s an excellent taper.”

“I love the color,” I reply. “It would look fantastic with a Moroccan tile.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” he says with a smile. “Wyatt sent me the name of a good tile guy. I’ll call him tomorrow.”

I kick off my shoes into the hallway, pull my hair into a ponytail, and reach for a roller.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“I’m starting the second coat.” I smile over at him. “Might as well get this done.”

“You don’t have to paint my bathroom,” he insists, but I’ve already poured the paint into the pan.

“I like doing this, remember?”

“Okay.” He shrugs and reaches for another roller. But first, he sets his phone on the countertop and starts a playlist. Rob Thomas and Santana come blaring out of his phone, and my hips immediately begin to move as I roll the paint onto the wall.

“And it’s just like the ocean . . .”

I shake my booty back to the pan to load my roller and find Jace watching me with a grin.

“What?”

“I like the way you move, Dr. Thomas.”

I curtsey. “Thank you, Dr. Crawford.”

I go back to my dancing and painting. After three more songs, Jace passes a glass of white wine under my nose, and I greedily take it from him, sipping it as I take in our handiwork.

“We’re good at this,” I say.

“You’re good at everything,” he replies, sipping his wine. Maroon 5’s Sugar comes on, and with a half-smile, Jace sets our glasses aside and pulls me into his arms to dance.

“I love this song,” he says.

Jace can do a lot of things well. He’s amazing at math. He’s the best surgeon on the West Coast, and maybe in the country.

And that’s not just my bias talking.

But when it comes to dancing, he could give Fred Astaire a run for his money. He’s light on his feet, his posture is perfect, and the way his muscles move as he sways makes my mouth go dry.

Jesus, he’s a sight to behold.

I can’t help but think that he’d move this way in bed, too—with confidence and grace. His hands are sure and strong, one on my back and the other holding mine as he moves us across the floor, making me laugh when he dips me back and then steals a kiss as he pulls me back up.

“You’re charming,” I murmur against his lips. “And this wine is going to my head.”

“That was my evil plan,” he admits and nibbles on the corner of my mouth. “Get you good and drunk.”

“Hey, no hanky-panky,” I inform him, jabbing my finger into his chest. “I’ll stay in the guest room.”

“Over my cold, dead body,” he growls and buries his face in my neck as Adam Levine sings about girls like me. I have Jace wrapped around me and Adam in my ears, and it’s a heady combination.

“Where will I sleep?”

“My bed,” he replies immediately.

“I never said I would sleep with you.”

“Sleep,” he says. “Don’t think for a minute that you’re getting me naked.”

I snort, making him grin.

“I mean, you must think very highly of yourself if you think I’ll just take my clothes off and let you have your way with me.”

He’s barely moving now, just snuggled up against me, his mouth gliding over my skin as he talks, sending delicious chills over my body.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” My voice is weak, and I feel him smile against me.

“There’s no way I’d want to kiss you.” He presses those lips against the pulse in my neck. “Bite you.” He bares his teeth and nibbles me there. “Lick you.”

He leaves a wet trail down to my collarbone, and I can’t even remember what we were talking about now.

“Do you work tomorrow?” he asks, bringing me out of the sexy fog.

“No.”

“Good.” He presses his lips to my forehead. “You can sleep in tomorrow morning.”

We spend the next thirty minutes cleaning up our painting mess, then gather our empty wine glasses and wander through the house to his master suite.

The room is massive with simple furniture and neutral-colored linens. More windows line the west window, showing off the city and the water beyond.

“I need a shower,” I murmur, reaching high above my head in a stretch. Without a word, Jace marches into his bathroom, and then I hear the shower come to life.

“It’s ready for you,” he calls out. I walk to the doorway and lean one shoulder on the doorjamb, watching as he peels off his shirt, tosses it into his hamper, and disappears into the attached closet. Two minutes later, he returns wearing nothing but pajama pants and a smile. “Do your thing, babe.”

   
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