Familiar Lovers

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Chapter Twelve

Jordan stood with Melanie as the photographer moved around the room, snapping pictures. The supper was held in the private room of the restaurant once again, allowing Jordan a chance to get to know the Prescott family. Kyle and Diane were nice people, simple people with simple needs. Cory was a lot like them, and that made the man feel more comfortable about Stephanie’s choice of husbands.

Donald, however, not only wore an Armani suit, he reeked of money. Around his left wrist, he wore a gold Rolex, a gold link bracelet on his right wrist, and a diamond initial ring of gold on his pinkie on his left hand. He smiled to the two women who were helping serve the party, winking at them and flirting with them when he got the chance, and thought nobody was watching. Unfortunately for him, they were two of the best female agents the Utah division had on staff.

Jordan ate supper with Melanie, keeping himself between her and her ex, though she didn’t even seem to pay attention to the blonde. She was relaxed and joked with her family, laughing as they all picked on the bride-to-be. If Jordan didn’t know about Prescott’s past, he would have assumed it was just another Kent family outing.

Melanie and Stephanie went to the table set up for gifts and was speaking with one of the agents pretending to be there as an attendant. Jordan chose to take the opportunity, and approach Prescott himself. He stepped up beside the man, towering several inches above his blonde head. Jordan outweighed him in muscle alone, by a good thirty pounds. Compared to Donald, Jordan looked like a walking mountain. He folded his arms across his chest and waited patiently, until he was certain nobody was listening.

“You know Prescott,” he began in a low voice. “I still owe you for that beating you gave me a few weeks ago.”

Donald turned slightly, trying to look dignified and sophisticated as he took the man into account.

“Excuse me, have we met?”

“Oh, you remember me. I’m the guy whose skull you tried to bash in.”

“Who the devil, are you?” he demanded gruffly.

Jordan snickered lightly, as he patted the man roughly on the back, causing him to take a stumbled step forward.

“I’m the man who’s going to cost you everything you treasure in life.”

Jordan walked away from him, then headed straight to Melanie, where he deliberately slipped his arm around her waist. Prescott watched as Melanie looked up at Jordan and smiled, accepting the passionate kiss he offered her. Jordan knew he had ignited a fire, but there was no turning back now. He was determined to make Prescott understand that he was there, and he was watching him.

The party continued on for another three hours, though much to Jordan’s dismay, Prescott had managed to sneak away. He knew the man was dangerous, and he was certain he made his point, but it was his hope to force him to slip up. Until the wedding was over, there was little Jordan was willing to do besides taunt him and keep him under the watchful eye of his colleagues.

Jordan glanced to the two men helping with the buffet that had been assembled for the wedding party. He nodded to one who nodded back, then watched as he stepped out of the room. Jordan took his phone out of his pocket and sent a quick text to Michaels informing him that their suspect had left. It took less than thirty seconds before a reply came back, assuring him that the man had returned to his parents’ home, alone.

“Do you know them?” Melanie asked as she stepped to Jordan’s side and slipped her arm through his.

“Who?” Jordan asked with a frown as he returned his phone to his jacket pocket.

“Those waitresses? I’ve seen you staring at them, and they seem to be watching you just as closely. Should I be concerned?”

“Not at all,” Jordan chuckled, wrapping his arm around her waist. “I am hopelessly, helplessly, devoted to you alone.”

“Just make sure you keep the eye contact down to a minimum. I don’t want to have to scratch their pretty eyes out for staring at you.”

“Are you jealous, Darling?”

“Only a lot. I saw you talking with Donald. I never realized how large you are until I saw you standing next to him. I don’t know what you said to him, but he left here a bit irritated.”

“I simply told him to stay away from what’s mine.”

“That sounds a bit possessive,” Melanie smiled.

“It is very possessive, my love. I won’t share you, especially with a weasel like Prescott.”

“You have nothing to worry about when it comes to him. I love you, and that’s where my loyalty starts and ends.”

“Maybe we should consider getting out of here,” Jordan suggested, wrapping his arms around her waist.

“I’d like to, but I promised to help Stephanie go through her gifts. Can you give me about an hour?”

“Of course, just don’t leave my sight. I’m lost without you.”

Jordan kissed her lips gently, then smiled as she walked away. He looked around the room, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who were involved with one wedding. The more he saw what went into a formal wedding, the more he was anxious to elope.

With a deep sigh, Jordan looked around until he found Curtis standing next to his sons, Tommy and Steven, then set his glass of soda aside and walked over to him. He patted the man gently on the back as he joined the conversation, smiling as the three turned to him.

“Don’t know what you said to Donald,” Tommy said with a wide grin, “but he stormed out of here after you left him.”

“I wasn’t aware so many people saw it,” Jordan said with a smile.

“Only those who matter,” Steven chuckled. “I know Melanie saw it, and you couldn’t wipe the grin off her face if you tried.”

“Hopefully, I put the fear of God into the bastard. He needs to know where he stands.”

“What about that…other thing,” Justin asked, joining the conversation.

“I have guards everywhere, and the church will be covered as well. I’m waiting until after the wedding to slap him in handcuffs. I don’t want Stephanie thinking back on the happiest day of her life, with sour memories.”

“You’re a very good man, Jordan,” Curtis told him. “I’m not sure how you came to be a part of Melanie’s life, but I’m very happy you are.”

“Speaking of Melanie, Curtis, I need to have a word with you, if you have a moment?”

“Is anything wrong?” Tommy asked with a frown.

“Nothing that can’t be completed by tomorrow.”

Curtis walked away with the man, taking up a table near the side wall. Melanie glanced around the room, watching as the two men she loved most held a private conversation. She frowned softly as she stared at them. She had read Jordan’s text from Michaels when she joined him a little while ago, though it didn’t make any sense to her. She had a strange feeling there was something going on around her, something that involved her, but she wasn’t privy to the information.

“Hey, are you okay?” Kathy asked, coming to her sister’s side and glancing to where her attention had fallen.

“Yes, I’m fine. I guess I’m just tired.”

“Can I ask you something, away from the others?”

“Sure,” Melanie said with a frown as she walked to the table of desserts with her younger sister.

“Are you in love with Jordan?” Kathy asked, taking a plate and moving to the brownies.

“Yes, I am. Why? Don’t you like him?”

“I like him a lot, I’m just worried that you may be stepping into a relationship that you’re not prepared for. Jordan is a great guy, but he’s kind of…mysterious. He seems to be hiding something, and I’m afraid of him turning into another Donald.”

“Jordan is nothing like Donald,” Melanie smiled. “He’s passionate, and loving, and kind. Could you imagine Donald ever offering to help Dad milk the cows, or help Mom wash dishes?”

“He would rather cut his arm off,” Kathy giggled. “Just be careful. I don’t want you to lose your heart to a man who won’t be there when you wake up.”

“Thanks, Kathy, but I trust Jordan with all my heart. I love him, and I know he feels the same way.”

“Okay, I’ll trust your judgement. Just be careful but try and have a little fun as well. It’s been a really long time since we’ve seen you smile. Since you’ve brought Jordan over to meet the family, you seem to be doing a lot of it lately. Mom credits your mood to him.”

“He does make me happy,” Melanie blushed, taking a rice crispy treat from the platter.

“Will you marry him, if he asks you?”

“Definitely, and without hesitation,” Melanie answered with a wide grin.

“Should we start planning one of these parties for you?”

“No. I’ve had the big fancy wedding and I hated it. I want something small and intimate, just family and close friends. Maybe something at the farm, or even the Justice of The Peace.”

“That would save a lot of money for a really nice honeymoon.”

Melanie smiled, glancing to Jordan who stood up from the table with Curtis, shaking his hand and smiling. She didn’t know what they had been discussing, but she knew from the look on their faces, it had been a much happier subject than Donald Prescott.


“I was talking with my sister a little while ago,” Melanie told the man as they drove back to the motel. “It seems my whole family likes you, and they’re curious about our plans for the future.”

“What did you tell her?” Jordan asked with a knowing grin as he looked across the seat to her.

“I told her you made me happy and I trusted you. Everyone wants to know when they should start planning our wedding.”

“I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want the chaos your sister has. I’d rather have something small and intimate.”

Melanie laughed, looking at the man who frowned at her.

“That’s what I told Kathy. Unfortunately, there is one person who knows we’re getting married.”

“Who?”

“Stephanie. I’m really sorry, I know we agreed to keep it quiet, but she caught me when I wasn’t thinking straight and it just sort of…fell out.”

“I hope she agreed to stay quiet about it?” Jordan told her, smiling at the soft blush he saw creep up her face through the full light of the moon.

“I threatened to clobber her if she didn’t.”

The couple laughed as they pulled into the parking stall and shut off the engine. Jordan raised the roof, as always, then leaned closer to her, lifting her chin with his fingers so he was looking into her eyes.

“I spoke with your dad tonight,” he told her in a soft voice. “He gave me his blessings, so I suppose, your parents know as well. But I didn’t threatened to clobber him.”

“You’re a very romantic man, Mr. James,” she told him as he smiled, then leaned in and kissed her.

“Just wait, baby,” he whispered. “I plan on showing you how romantic my darker side can be, once we’re inside.”

Jordan paused from getting out of the car as his phone rang. He placed it to his ear and winked to Melanie, then pushed the button to answer the call.

“Don’t go into the motel,” Michaels said as soon as the call was connected. “We tracked Prescott down, and he was seen going inside it. Take Melanie back to the farm, and when this is over, I’ll bring your stuff to you.”

“Can you handle it, or do you want my help?” Jordan asked with a deep, angry stare to the window of his room.

“We’ve got it, just get the hell out of there.”

“I’ll see you back at the farm.”

Jordan started the car again and pulled out of the stall before Melanie could ask him about the call. She glanced behind her as two large men in dark clothing stepped up to the front of the motel.

“What’s going on?” she asked him with a frown of concern.

“The motel was broken into tonight,” he told her, hoping she didn’t see through his half-truth. “The guy is hold up in our room.”

“How did he get in?”

“I guess I forgot to lock it when we left, or the maid left it open. It doesn’t matter. The police have it under control, it just means we’re going to have to sleep at your parents’ place again.”

“I know they won’t mind, but…Jordan, who were those men at the motel? I thought one of them looked like Craig.”

“Michaels has connections with…the police,” he said, hoping she didn’t catch on to his hesitation. “He’s worked undercover with a number of states the past few years. He heard on the scanner that the motel had been hit and went to help.”

“The explanation is convincing, but I have a feeling there’s more to it then that. What aren’t you telling me, Jordan?”

Jordan didn’t answer for a long moment as he headed back towards her parents’ farm. There was a lot he wasn’t telling her, but he had to keep his promise to her family. He couldn’t reveal his hand until the wedding was over.

“Do you trust me?” he asked her with a sideways glance in her direction.

“Yes.”

“Do you believe me when I tell you I would never cause you grief or harm?”

“Yes.”

“Then please believe me now, when I tell you that I can’t say anything more. I promise, once the wedding is over and things calm down, you and I will have a long conversation. I’ll tell you everything, but I need you to be patient and trust me. Can you do that?”

Melanie didn’t answer for a long moment as she stared at the man, feeling a strange, almost…protective sensation come over her. She was frustrated, knowing she was a part of whatever he was hiding, but she also knew Jordan wasn’t going to answer her questions until he was ready.

“I’ll be patient,” she told him at last. “But I want the full story once Stephanie is married.”

“I promise,” he told her, taking her hand in his and lifting it to his lips. “I love you and I won’t let anything take you away from me.”

“Is that why you’re wearing a gun?” she asked, noticing the handle of his pistol poking out from beneath his jacket.

“Melanie…”

“I know, you’ll explain it later. You’re not in trouble, are you?”

Jordan laughed, squeezing her hand gently.

“No, Darling, I am not in any trouble.”

“Am I?”

“Not even a little bit.”

“Then why are you carrying it?”

“For protection.”

“Jordan…”

“No more questions. We have an agreement, and you’ll understand everything soon enough. Just be patient.”

“Will you tell me how I know you?”

“Tomorrow, I promise.”

Melanie fell into silence as she rested back in her seat. Having him wear a gun frightened her, but there was a part of her that knew he wasn’t doing it for show, or even as a threat. She honestly did trust him, but there were times when she felt as if she didn’t really know him.

Then the old feeling that he was somehow very familiar to her, came back, replacing all the other feelings she’d been experiencing. Her familiar lover was the only man she’d ever trusted, and she would put her faith in him. At least, until she learned his dark secrets.


“I brought your stuff,” Michaels said, setting his cases on the floor of the bedroom while Jordan leaned against the window sill.

They arrived back at the ranch just after the family had. Jordan explained the story he’d told Melanie and asked if they would mind a couple extra boarders for the night. Once again, Melanie was sent to sleep with Stephanie while Jordan took her room.

Michaels arrived a few minutes before, telling the family who was gathered in the living room, that the guy had escaped. He helped the family’s apprehensions by assuring them they knew who the burglar was, it was just a matter of waiting until he returned to his home.

Jordan excused himself, inviting Michaels up to the room to talk, then kissed Melanie goodnight. They retired to her old bedroom, closing the door behind them, and turning on the small television on her dresser to drown out their voices.

“Was anything taken?” Jordan asked, crossing his arms over his large chest.

“No, but everything was gone through. He crawled out the bathroom window before we were able to stop him.”

“He’s a slippery worm.”

“It’s a good thing you had your gun and badge with you this time.”

“I guess my sixth sense is finally waking up,” Jordan chuckled.

“I’m sorry Jordan,” Michaels said, looking a bit embarrassed. “Everything was gone through. Including a leather satchel, you had in the drawer.”

“So, now you know my dark secrets,” he smiled. “They make Melanie very happy, and I enjoy using them on her.”

“I always wondered if the stories about your past were true or not. You really get a kick out of that…stuff?”

“It’s kink, and yes I do. You should try it sometime. Maybe it would help you keep a woman longer than three weeks.”

“I’d never know how to use those things. I’d be more embarrassed than ashamed.”

“For a man, roughly the size of a grizzly bear, you’re more of a virgin than anyone I’ve ever known. There are books and movies explaining how to use toys, and more pornos on the subject than you’d ever imagine. Trust me when I tell you, women love being controlled, and their orgasms are deeper then anything they’d experience with a finger or a tongue.”

“I’ll take your word on it,” Michaels told him with a deep sigh.

“Consider it research,” Jordan suggested with a firm expression. “One day, you may come across a case that involves the darker side of sex. That’s how I learned about it. You need to understand what the items are, and how they’re used, in order to understand the mentality of the people behind the crime.”

“You learned this from a case?”

“It was my first case with the bureau,” Jordan smiled. “I was actually working on a string of murders in DC, that all involved BDSM. The women - and men - had been bound and used for days before left to die. When I first saw the scenes, it was harsh and appeared cruel. That side of sex was definitely more for the sadist. In order to understand the mind behind the murders, I started researching the subject. I discovered many articles about marital aids and women’s need to have deep orgasms. It was because of the research, I started piecing the puzzle together. Biggs was reading my articles on the murders and came to me. He asked me to join forces with them, and within a week, we located the guy and stopped him.”

“I never knew how you became part of the team,” Michaels said with a half-grin.

“When the case was over, Biggs asked me to join the bureau. I went through the training, and the next thing I know, I’m in Utah with the woman I’d secretly been in love with for twelve years.”

“Maybe I will do some research…for future references, of course,” Michaels smiled, causing Jordan to chuckle again.

“Of course.”

“I’ll be by tomorrow around ten to help you get ready. I know how much you hate ties.”

“Thanks,” Jordan grumbled playfully. “Craig, do me a favor,” he continued, preventing his friend from leaving the room. “Put a guard on the farm. After tonight, I definitely don’t trust Prescott.”

“Will do. What about tomorrow?”

“Have the guards make themselves visible to him. Maybe we can shake him up a bit.”

“For the record, Biggs contacted me and said a warrant has been issued for his arrest. He finally believes Melanie is innocent. His lover from Arizona fingered him on a burglary in Wyoming the week before he showed up here. She said he had a case of cash, but he needed some personal items to hold him over. He ripped off several shops at the mall for more than a hundred grand in clothes, jewelry, shoes, even expensive cologne. It looks like he wasn’t willing to use the money he stole, but he still had to look good.”

“How did he get out of the stores without being seen?” Jordan asked, remembering the expensive suit and Rolex he was wearing at the party.

“His girlfriend was a night watchman for the place. It was just a matter of shutting off the alarms and unlocking the stores. That’s why she fled as quickly as she did, and why she’s been changing her name. She’s being extradited back to Wyoming to stand trial.”

“He makes some damn nice friends,” Jordan grumbled.

“The picture I was sent on her, showed a very attractive brunette who could pass as Melanie’s sister, except that she has a huge rack. We also learned that Prescott has two plane tickets to Chicago at three o’clock, under his alias. I’ve got Maxwell checking the reservations under all of his known aliases just in case he’s trying to pull a fast one.”

“I’ll be happy to have him behind bars,” Jordan assured his friend. “I don’t want him escaping again.”

“We’ll get him, don’t worry. I’ll see you tomorrow. Let me know if anything happens tonight, and I’ll send Casey and Wild over to keep an eye on the place.”

“Thanks for everything,” Jordan told him, shaking his hand as he walked him down the stairs.

The house was quiet with everyone in bed. It was nearly one o’clock, and the family would be awake come seven to get things started for the big day. He showed Michaels out and watched him climb into his car, then closed the door and locked it. He knew the Kents weren’t used to locking their doors, but until Donald was behind bars, he wasn’t taking any chances.

He returned to his room and shut off the television, then slipped out of his clothes. Jordan shut off the light and slipped between the sheets drawing an exhausted sigh. It had been a very long day, and he was ready for a few hours of restful sleep. If only he could convince his mind to stop spinning so he could do exactly that, he thought with a frustrated grunt.


“What did you find out about his escape plan?” Jordan asked the next morning while Michaels helped adjust his tie.

He hated wearing tuxedos, but it was a necessary requirement where weddings were concerned. Especially when you were escorting the sister of the bride.

“Prescott’s got a reservation on the three o’clock flight to Chicago. It’s got to be now, or never.”

Michaels watched Jordan turn to the mirror above the dresser and comb his hair out of his face. His set expression and firm jaw made him aware that his partner was frustrated. He had a life he wanted to start with Melanie and delaying the event of getting Prescott out of their hair was starting to grow on the man’s nerves.

“When do you want to put your plan into effect?” he asked quietly.

“As soon as the wedding is over. Once they’ve taken their vows and are on their way to the reception, I want him nabbed.”

“We’ll do everything possible to keep Melanie out of the way, Jordan. You can trust me on that.”

“Thanks Craig, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary. She’ll be so involved with her sister, this may be a snap.”

“Let’s hope so.”


“I’m so nervous Mellie,” Stephanie told her sister as she adjusted her veil on her dark head. “I feel like I’m going to throw up.”

“You’ll be fine. In less than an hour, you’ll be Mrs. Cory Prescott and you’ll be the happiest woman in the world. Then tonight, you’ll be in the arms of the man you love and nothing else will matter.”

“Oh Mellie, I hope you’re right. I just have a feeling everything’s going to go wrong.”

“Stop worrying. Everything’s going to go off without a hitch. Now come on, if we don’t get a move on, you’ll be late for your own wedding. I don’t think Cory would approve of his bride missing their ceremony.”

The two women walked quickly down the stairs where they were met by their parents. Hugs and kisses were exchanged, before they escorted the youngest Kent to the waiting car. Her dress held high above her ankles, Stephanie hurried into the back seat of Tommy’s minivan and sat down in the middle seat.

Melanie stepped in beside her and helped her sister buckle her seatbelt around the mass of white lace and satin. A few moments later and the grey van was on the main road, heading towards the reception center they had rented for the day’s events.

In a few short hours, her sister would be married, and Melanie would be free to start her own life with the man she loved. It was the perfect day for new beginnings.

The center was already filling up with guests when the girls walked in the side door. They hurried into the room assigned to the future bride, followed by Vera, Patricia, and Kathy. Christine Fields, Stephanie’s best friend, was there in her long pink toga-style gown. Melanie glanced to the girl, as well as the other three friends of her sister’s and frowned. Her own dress was in the same Grecian style, but instead of pink, hers was a very light violet.

“Mellie, I want you to be my maid of honor,” Stephanie told her sister, seeing the confused look on her face. “I discussed it with Christine, as well as Mom and Dad, and we all agreed. You’ve been there for me my whole life, and I want you to be beside me on the happiest day of my life.”

Melanie fought the tears back as she hugged her little sister, feeling the warmth of love surround them. She was happy to just be a bride’s maid, but to be her witness and maid of honor was the greatest privilege she’d ever been given.

“I think we need to get this show on the road,” Vera said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “I’m sure Cory is going crazy wondering if his bride is ever going to join him.”

The girls laughed as they filed out of the room, taking the bouquets Patricia handed them from the box. Stephanie smiled excitedly, taking the larger of the flowers, then hugged Melanie again.

Curtis was pacing the small foyer, waiting for his daughter when the music began. He listened for a moment, then turned to see the girls come out of the room. The tears welled up in his eyes, and he found himself coughing slightly to clear his throat and force the moisture back.

The wedding party lined up as instructed by Vera. First was little Donna, the eldest of the Kent grandchildren, with her wicker basket of rose buds. Next came Jeremy, the second in line according to age, a satin pillow with the rings held securely in his hands. The golden items were held tight by a violet ribbon, keeping them from rolling off the pillow. Marie, Jaqueline and Sara lined up next, followed by Christine and finally Melanie.

Cory’s lineup stood outside the room, in order of importance. Once the children began walking, Tony took Marie’s arm and followed Jeremy. Eric took Jaqueline’s arm, Braxton took Sara’s arm, and finally Robbie and Christine. Melanie stepped forward, sighing a breath of relief as Travis smiled at her, offering her his arm.

There had been a rumor running around the party last night, that Donald would be the best man. Melanie was thankful it had just been a rumor. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to hold her contempt long enough to get through the ceremony if she had to walk down the aisle with her ex-husband.

Jordan stood beside the Kent men in the first row, as the girls slowly walked along a white floor runner. His eyes fell to Melanie, who glanced his way, blushing scarlet at the wink he offered her. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, even when Stephanie, in all her glory of white satin and lace, paced herself beside her father.

The music played, and the soft rustle of the pink chiffon dresses echoed softly along the narrow path as they moved up the aisle. Jordan glanced over to Cory, who looked terrified as he waited patiently next to the bishop for his bride.

The ceremony began once the bride had been handed off to Cory. The music ended, and everyone sat down, allowing the bishop to begin the service. Jordan glanced across the aisle to the Prescott family. Kyle and Diane sat in the first row, along with their parents and Donald. They appeared proud and happy, while Diane wiped her tears away, just as Vera was doing on their side of the room.

His eyes fell to two men who had been acting as ushers, watching them nod their heads to him. He turned his attention back to the young lovers, listening as they spoke their vows. He glanced once again to Melanie who smiled softly to him, blushing a gentle pink. The only time he’d ever seen her more beautiful than she was right now, was the other night, when she wore that sapphire blue negligee.

Shaking the images from his mind, he smiled wickedly to the woman once more, then turned his attention back to the couple as the bishop announced that they were legally joined as husband and wife. Cory smiled as Stephanie threw her arms around her husband’s neck, kissing him for the first time as his wife. The guests laughed as Cory wrapped her in his embrace, returning her kiss with as much abandonment as he was given.

The wedding party hurried outside to take pictures and shake hands. The ritual was proceeding as planned, but when Jordan turned to Michaels, he found a deep frown creasing his brow.

“Jordan, come in the pictures with us,” Stephanie called out, distracting the man’s attention from his task.

He stepped into the group beside Melanie, his arm around her waist as he focused his gaze on his partner. Michaels nodded once, then turned and left the building

“What was that all about?” Melanie whispered as they moved out of the way while the photographer continued snapping pictures of the happy couple.

“What?” Jordan asked, glancing to her as she held her face in a disgusted look.

“You and Craig, and don’t try and deny it. You two are up to something. Are you planning on shanghaiing the bride?”

“What? No,” Jordan said with a frown.

“Then what is it?”

“Melanie…”

“You said you would tell me everything today.”

“Let’s wait until we’re back at your parents’ place, please. I need to go speak with Michaels. Stay here and stay with your family. I’ll be right back.”

Jordan kissed her lips gently, then headed off toward the entrance. Melanie watched him leave, a frown creasing her slender brows. He was up to something, and he was again wearing his gun. That, alone, made her concerns increase.

“Where the hell is he?” Jordan growled as he stepped out of the building.

“He left while everyone was congratulating Stephanie and Cory.”

“I thought the exits were covered?”

“They were, but he arrived before anyone else. All I can figure is that he staked out another escape, that we weren’t aware of.”

“Spread out and send someone to the airport,” Jordan growled as the wedding party started out the front door. “I’ll meet you back at the farm. Let me know the minute you find him.”

Jordan took Melanie’s hand in his and walked her to the small convertible. His mind was on the case, and how Donald got away so easily. They drove back to the Kent place in silence as they concentrated on their own demons. When he turned down the dirt path, he glanced across to Melanie, smiling at her lovely features.

“I love you,” he told her, watching the soft blush creep up her neck. “You look absolutely beautiful. The color agrees with you.”

“Stephanie totally through me for a loop,” she smiled. “She’d been planning on having me as her maid of honor, all along, but never told me.”

“You looked amazing. I couldn’t stop staring at you.”

“You always stare at me,” she giggled.

“That’s because I can’t take my eyes off you. If you weren’t so damn beautiful, I’d be able to look at something else.”

“Like where you’re driving?” she asked with an amused squeal as he started to drive off the road.

Jordan cursed under his breath as he pulled the car back onto the dirt path, glancing once more to the woman next to him.

“You’re dangerous, woman,” he teased her, feeling his pulse increase and his palms begin to sweat.

“I didn’t tell you to take your eyes off the road.”

“I can’t help it if I love watching you.”

“Just watch where you’re driving,” she giggled.

Jordan pulled the car to a stop outside the house and shut off the engine. He drew a deep breath to control his racing heart, then reached over and took her hand. He lifted her fingers to his lips, kissing each one before reaching inside his jacket pocket.

“I love you Melanie and I want you to be my wife,” he told her. “Please be patient with me for a few more hours, and I promise, I’ll tell you all my secrets. Until then…”

Jordan handed her a narrow black box and watched the wide-eyed expression she offered him in return. She took the box and slowly lifted the top, gasping at the diamond and sapphire bracelet that twinkled up to her.

“Jordan, it’s beautiful,” she said, tears filling her eyes.

“I tried to find something that would resemble your beauty, but I had to settle for this,” he teased her, taking the box from her delicate fingers, then slipped the bracelet around her slender wrist. “If you don’t like it, we’ll find something else.”

“You’re not trading this in,” she argued as she slid her fingers across the stones. “I love it, and I love you.”

“We agreed to wait until Stephanie was married to announce our engagement,” he whispered, pulling her the short distance to him. “She’s married, so now we can start telling people.”

“I want to wait until she leaves for the hotel,” she giggled. “Once everything is settled, we’ll tell my family, then call yours.”

“You’re determined to drive me crazy, aren’t you?” he asked with a wicked grin. “Fine, but you have to make it worth my time. If I can’t shout our news from the rooftop, then you need to do something for me in exchange.”

“Like what?” she asked with a deep blush, knowing that look and knew she was about to experience something naughty.

“Take your panties off,” he told her in a deep, husky whisper.

“Jordan, I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. Your body is amazingly tight and firm. Nobody will notice, and I want them in my pocket to remind me to stay quiet. It’s either that, or we tell everyone we’re getting married the moment we step out of this car.”

“You’re a very wicked man,” she giggled, accepting the deep kiss he gave her.

“Take them off, or I talk,” he threatened, smiling when she looked around to make certain they were alone.

With a deep blush, she lifted the hem of her dress and reached for the elastic leg of her panties. Slowly pulling them down her thighs, she found her bottom lip slipping in between her teeth.

Jordan watched her with interest, smiling at the color tinting her delicate features. He could imagine how soft her legs were as her fingers moved down them, bringing her panties out from beneath the hem.

“That was…erotic,” she whispered, handing him her panties.

“No shit,” he growled, taking the silky fabric from her fingers, then placed them to his nose, inhaling deeply.

“I think we need to get out of this car before my parents find us.”

“If they find us, they’ll force me to marry you. Either way, I win.”

“You’re impossible,” she giggled as he pulled her closer, forcing her to straddle his gear shift.

“Jordan stop,” she insisted, looking up to the cars pulling into the driveway. “My family is here, and the guests will be arriving soon. We have to help them.”

“Fine, but once we get the chance, we’re out of here and back at the motel.”

“I thought Craig checked you out?”

“Shit,” he growled again.

“Just be patient. We can go back to Salt Lake tomorrow and pick up your dark lessons again.”

“Promise?” he asked, unlocking the car doors.

“With all my heart,” she told him, then moved back into her seat as her father pulled his truck in beside them.

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