Jacqueline Hughes groaned into her pillow when she saw the time and realized she once again woke up late. Stupid fucking alarm. She hit the head of the old timepiece that had been her trustworthy companion for the past two decades.
Her bare feet padded to the kitchen and her shoulders relaxed on seeing the coffee ready. A wisp of a smile tugged one corner of her lips. She filled a cup of coffee and her smile widened noticing the toast sat ready on the kitchen island. It was wonderful how these little things made her life easy.
Grabbing the plate, she walked over to the porch that overlooked their backyard. Fresh morning air brushed over her skin as soon as she stepped out. It was neither hot nor cold. Just pleasant and warm. Her gaze took a sweep around their beautiful garden. The flowers beamed at her, performing a happy dance with the wind.
Jacqueline bit into the toast and sipped the coffee. She liked it black without sugar. Plain and simple. Same went with the toast. And, she needed food as soon as she woke for her brain to function properly. The peace didn’t last long as her subconscious reminded she had work.
There was no time to cook the meal she had planned for the day. She’ll need to fix something real quick. She stared at the contents in the fridge. Frustration mounted as she couldn’t decide what to make.
“Why don’t you take a shower while I fix something real quick?”
The velvety voice caressed her insides like a feather and made her lower belly clench. It belonged to her handsome husband, Matthew. A relieved sigh broke past her lips and she turned to lock her gaze with his. Cool greys smiled at her. Jacqueline’s appreciative gaze traveled down killer jawline to see the way muscles stretched underneath the sweat-soaked T-shirt he wore. His right brow lifted with a knowing smile when her gaze lifted to his face.
“You are staring again.”
“More like gawking,” she added seductively. “Can you blame me when my husband is so good looking,” her voice took a lower note that caused him to suck in a breath. Jacqueline closed the distance between them, pressing herself to his body. She loved the way he smelled after his morning jogs. She ran a hand over his broad chest. “You haven’t answered my question yet.”
Matthew chuckled under his breath. He bent his head capturing her lips in response. When they broke apart, she wanted more. “No,” he whispered. “And, I love it when you do that.”
I’ll love it more if you take me right now against the fridge, she wanted to add. But the words never made past her lips. Jacqueline took a step back, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden. Heat rushed to her cheeks. And, these thoughts were hard to express.
“I…um…I should get going. It’s getting late. We are taking the kids to the museum today.” Damn. I should’ve just kept my trap shut.
“Sure,” he moved aside when she walked past him.
A part of her hoped he’d join her. She shook her head to clear the thoughts when he moved to the fridge to pull out the contents for lunch. The shirt stuck to his body, emphasizing his broad back. Should I just ask him to join me in the shower? He was her husband. These things happen between the couples. Then, her mouth clamped shut as her feet grew cold. Without another look at the tantalizing view she hurried to the bathroom shutting it behind her.
Jacqueline blamed her friend Maya for the provocative thoughts that had been bugging her lately. No, her strict orthodox upbringing was to be blamed. While she couldn’t ask for a better man than Matthew their life lacked the adventure she longed for. And, she was responsible for it.
Why do I have to ruin it every time?
The next hour flew by and she sat in his car, fixing her make up. The drive into the town was smooth. Montgomery city was a quiet place to live in. Here, almost everyone knew each other and she loved the close-knit community.
When they arrived at the school where she worked, Matthew cleared his throat. “I’ll be leaving for a business trip this evening.”
“What?” her eyes widened. He just returned last night after a week of being away.
“I know and I’m sorry,” his expression grew sincere.
“Why don’t you look for something else?” her voice was low. She thought she’d be here for a while. She thought––
“I’m trying.” He took her hands in his. “You know jobs aren’t easy to come by.”
“You just came back.”
“And, I’ll be here before you know it.”
Disappointment washed over her. She’d been hearing this lot lately. He isn’t cheating on me, is he? “Okay.”
“Hey, don’t give me that face.”
What face? She didn’t ask but looked away. How was she supposed to act? They were married for only six months and he was barely home for two months. Her parents were already bugging her for good news.
“Jackie, please…” his voice begged. “Look at me.”
“I promise I’ll be back soon.” He cupped her cheek, turning her face toward him. His index finger hooked under her chin, lifting her face to meet his gaze. “Why don’t you plan a vacation for us? It’s been a while we spent time for ourselves.”
A sudden emotion bubbled within her chest and before she could mask it, the corners of her lips lifted, betraying her. Yeah, our honeymoon was cut short because of your job, she wanted to point out. And, her grandmother had to fall ill.
Matthew beamed. Her heart stuttered on seeing the dashing smile that increased his appeal. Butterflies fluttered in her belly.
“I promise.” He pecked her lips, earning a sigh from her.
A knock on her window caused her to twist her head.
“Hey, lovebirds, kids are watching,” Maya winked at her.
“Shut up.” Jacqueline slipped out of the car and waved at her husband, watching him back his car from the driveway. Her smile fell when the car disappeared from her vision.
“He’s going away again, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” her voice broke.
“Not here. Come in.”
Jacqueline managed a smile and greeted the fellow staff and students as they walked in. Fortunately, they both were free until eleven, which was enough time to talk.
“I thought he just came back.”
“And, he is leaving again.”
“And, nothing happened between you.”
Maya rolled her eyes and Jacqueline looked away, not meeting her gaze. “For God’s sake Jackie, you both are married now. Why can’t you behave like a married couple for once?”
“We are behaving like a married couple,” Jacqueline replied, offended.
“Really? Then, tell me how many times did you have sex with him?”
“Maya…” Jacqueline’s shoulders slumped. She had no answer. Matthew’s job demanded him to travel and they barely spend time together. She was lucky if he stayed for two weeks.
“You were going to seduce him last night.”
Guilt flooded her. She was going to and then she got cold feet.
“Did you wear the lingerie I bought for you?”
Jacqueline shook her head. “That was too raunchy.”
Maya’s gaze narrowed at her. “You do realize, he’s already seen you naked.”
“I know. But I don’t have enough courage to do that.”
After a few minutes, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Okay, Jackie. You really need to step up your game if you want a colorful sex life. I’m gonna break it down to you and you better listen carefully. Here’s what you’re gonna do.”
And, Jacqueline listened––her eyes widening and cheeks heating up. Her heart raced faster as determination slowly took root inside her.
Matthew peeled his eyes off the rear view mirror. His wife’s tear glazed eyes kept flashing in his mind’s eyes. It hurt him to leave her like that. He wanted nothing more than to fuck her then and there when she gawked at him in the kitchen.
Damn. He loved her bed hair and tussled clothes. He wanted those long tan legs wrapped around him when he took her hard. Matthew’s hands tightened around the wheel, his arousal straining against his pants. His fucking job had put him on a leash. Jacqueline, his wife of six months didn’t know who or what he was.
The beep of his cell phone demanded his attention. He swiped it on and entered the code for the security line.
“How’s the weather this morning?”
“As clear as it can get,” he rolled his eyes at the usual greeting. “What’s the news?”
“Tipple is in town again. Two students are at the hospital. You are needed at the HQ. ASAP.”
His jaw tightened. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Matthew disconnected the call as his car slipped into one of the city’s popular garages. “Is Mr. Buccelli in?”
“Yeah, you go right in.” The tattooed-mechanic in greasy-red overalls nodded his head to the right.
“Got it.” He drove further, parking in the designated space. The walk to Mr. Buccelli’s office was short.
“Oh, hello, Mr. Hughes, welcome back.”
Matthew shook his hand and took a seat. His features hardened as soon as the door locked behind them. He reclined in the chair and crossed his right leg over the left. Hard grey eyes narrowed at the bald man before him.
“I’m sorry, man. It’s just––”
Matthew’s fist landed on his jaw and he knew it’d leave a nice purple bruise this time. “You ratted us out,” his voice growled out.
“They had my daughter,” Buccelli cried out when he raised his arm again. “She is thirteen.”
Matthew’s hold on him loosened. “What did they ask for?”
“They wanted intel.”
“Tell me more.”
“There was an exchange in the downtown south. A one-hundred million dollar deal,” Buccelli swallowed. “I tipped them off. Didn’t know you would be there.”
Matthew released his hold on him and straightened his suit jacket. “Your daughter home?”
“Yeah,” Buccelli nodded and wiped the sweat off his forehead. “I’m really sorry man. I was––”
“When is the next deal?”
“The snakes don’t share those details beforehand. You know the drill.”
Yeah, he knew. The location for such transactions was only shared a few hours before it happened. However, the snakes were the least of his concern. He was after Tipple––the fresh drug in town that had claimed nine lives in less than three months. Now, two more were in the hospital, fighting for their lives.
“I’ll be in touch.” Matthew walked out of the small office and to the car.