Familiar Lovers

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Chapter Nine

“What did you find out?” Michaels asked after the couple returned to the farm.

Fortunately, Donald had left shortly after they did, and had not bothered to return. With a little luck, he would leave Utah and forget about his ex-wife altogether.

“He’s trying to get her back,” he told the man through the silence surrounding the small pond Curtis built for his children years ago. “He asked her to go for a ride with him, so he could fuck her, then insulted her by accusing her of enjoying masturbating too much to take him up on his offer. She was so furious she hit him. Too bad it wasn’t hard enough to knock some sense into him.”

“I was talking with her parents and brothers, and they assured me she hadn’t seen him before yesterday.”

“I’ve been with her nearly every day, and she’s shown no sign of being in contact with him.”

“Okay, I believe you. But do you think she still has feelings for him?” Michaels asked.

“No, but that doesn’t mean he won’t stop trying to get her back. My concern is what he’ll do if he does get his hands on her.”

“If you can put him away, then he’ll be out of the picture once and for all.”

“I want you to check out that motel again,” Jordan said, turning at the sound of children playing in the yard. “Take a picture of Melanie and see if they recognize her. If we can get Biggs to believe it wasn’t her, then maybe we can start looking at who it could be.”

“What if they say it was her? What will you do then?” Michaels asked as they began walking back toward the party.

“I’ll have no choice but to have her brought in for in-depth questioning. We can’t run the risk of having him give us the slip again. I want Prescott behind bars.”

“I’ll get on it right away. I’m going to need a current photo of her.”

“That won’t be hard today. Just take your phone out and start snapping. Take a few of her sisters as well.”

“Why?” Michaels asked with a frown creasing his dark forehead.

“I know this is going to sound strange, but what if Stephanie went to Donald to talk to him about the way he treated Melanie, or his family? It could have been an innocent event, but it might explain the brunette. After all, those girls all look alike, with only a few minor differences.”

“Alright, I’ll send a photo of each of them and see what the manager has to say.”

Jordan disappeared around the side of the house, as Michaels watched in concern. It was going to be a difficult task trying to keep his partner under control long enough to bring Prescott to justice.

Strange, he thought with a slight smile as he took his phone out of his pocket and began snapping pictures, just how love could make a man lose sight of everything important.


The day drug on as the guests continued to arrive. Melanie told Jordan that the wedding party was coming for the barbeque. Much to their joint surprise, her parents had invited neighbors and close friends to share the day with them, as well. Fortunately, Donald had not returned with his brother and parents. Cory told Curtis that he insisted he had work to do and returned to Salt Lake earlier than he planned.

Melanie and Jordan stayed close to each other, and it didn’t escape the attention of their visitors. Many asked Curtis and Vera who he was, and if Melanie was planning on getting married again. It seemed to be the second biggest interest of the day, next to the food being served.

Jordan had never seen a spread like the one the Kents put forward. Stakes, hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken were placed on the large brick barbeque by the dozens. They had four kinds of wieners, including bratwurst and sausages, and even arranged a few vegetarian burgers.

More than two dozen side dishes had been prepared, or brought over by the guests, including four kinds of potato salads and seven different styles of chips, and something Melanie said were funeral potatoes. There were brownies, cheesecakes, rice crispy treats, two kinds of puddings and five different types of Jell-o. Dozens of watermelons had been placed in an old bathtub full of ice, as well as cantaloupes, and three large buckets full of cherries from a neighbor’s orchard.

It was nearly seven o’clock when the different families brought out fireworks and sparklers for the children. Jordan excused himself and went into the kitchen for a soda, only to find Vera washing dishes alone. All the girls were still outdoors playing and laughing, while their mother cleaned up behind everyone.

“Want some help with that?” he asked the woman, watching her wipe a wet wrist across her forehead, brushing the loose hair from her face.

“I’m almost finished,” Vera smiled. “Why don’t you go join the others.”

“It’s alright, let me help. You should be out there enjoying the fun as well.”

“I will, when the fireworks are ready. We can’t shoot anything off until it’s dark.”

Jordan smiled and took a towel from the back of one of the kitchen chairs and began drying the stack of dishes the old woman had washed.

“The barbecue seemed to have been a big hit, wouldn’t you agree?” she asked, watching the way the man moved around.

He was the perfect type of man for her daughter, and he didn’t appear to be timid when it came to work. He was as comfortable cutting firewood, for the pit the guests were gathered around, as well as lifting children in his strong arms and helping them serve their meals. He was a far cry from the sort of man Donald Prescott was. That man would never have agreed to a barbeque, which was probably why he hadn’t returned after Melanie left with Jordan.

“Everyone seems to have enjoyed it,” Jordan chuckled. “I’ve never seen so much food in one place before.”

“Don’t your folks have parties?” Vera asked with a slight frown.

“Nothing like this. The most they do is barbeque a few burgers or stakes now and again.”

“We have large family gatherings like this all the time. I hope you’ll be able to come to more of them.”

“I’d love to, if I’m invited.”

“Consider it an open invitation,” Vera chuckled.

The two worked together in silence until all the dishes were washed and dried and put back into their respective cupboards. Jordan placed the damp towel on the handle of the stove while Vera untied the floral apron she had around her waist.

“Your friend was questioning us earlier,” the old woman said, placing the apron on a hook near the hallway door. “He seems to think Melanie knew Donald was in town, before he showed up here yesterday.”

“Do you think she did?” he asked, turning and facing the woman, a can of cold soda in his hands.

“No, I don’t. I know Melanie, and I know she would never have kept something like that a secret. She wouldn’t be able to. He upsets her too much for her to stay calm.”

The room was silent for a moment, with the only sound coming from those outside who were watching the children with the sparklers.

“Why do you think he’s here?” Vera asked at last. “He never gave two hoots for his family, so I don’t believe he’s here for the wedding, as he claims.”

“I’m not sure, but I think he’s here for Melanie. I’m worried he’s going to try and get her involved in his schemes. I noticed he doesn’t have a lot of supporters around here. Your boys don’t act like they care anymore for him than I do.”

“He seems to bring out the bad in people. Melanie is a good girl, and I know she cares for you. A lot. I’ve seen it in her eyes.” Vera paused for a moment, then pulled out a chair and sat down, watching Jordan do the same.

“She cared for Donald once, but that ended when she realized what he had done to her. When he left, she was heartbroken and depressed. She blamed herself for a long time. He’s always been a very suave man, and he can persuade the devil into handing over his pitchfork. I’m just concerned that she’ll forget all the pain he caused.”

“Don’t worry Vera. I’m not going to let her fall under his charms. If Prescott thinks he can steal her away, he’ll have me to deal with first.”

“Don’t do anything you’ll regret, Jordan. Donald can’t be trusted, and I don’t want you to fall as his victim.”

“I’ll be careful, Vera. I promise.”

Jordan leaned closer to the woman and kissed the wrinkled old cheek, then smiled at her concern and friendship.

“Tell me something, Jordan,” she began, trying to ignore the slight rise in color on her face. “Are you going to marry Melanie, when this is all over?”

Jordan thought for a moment, before looking out the window again. Melanie was laughing at something her sister had said and Jordan couldn’t help but smile at the thought of spending his life with that woman.

“I have every intention of making an honest woman out of your daughter, Mrs. Kent.”

“Hopefully before she finds out she’s pregnant,” the woman said, a look of suspicion on her wise old face.

It was Jordan’s turn to blush, as he turned his attention back to the can of soda in his hands.

“Why Mrs. Kent, are you accusing me of taking advantage of your daughter?”

“No, I’m accusing you of loving her enough, to show her.”

Jordan smiled gently at the woman, then looked back out the window.

“I do love her, Vera. More then she’ll ever know.”


Jordan steered his car through the streets of Vernal, while Melanie dozed contentedly beside him. The party finally wound down shortly before midnight, and the guests took their exhausted children and left once the fireworks were finished. The yard was picked up, to help prevent racoons from invading the property, and the food was tucked away in the kitchen fridge, as well as one in the garage.

They had spent nearly an hour with her parents before Vera excused herself and went to bed. Slowly, one by one of the family disappeared upstairs, with Melanie’s brothers and sisters staying over. The house was filled with sleeping children who camped out on the floor of the living room, or in the den, leaving Jordan alone to persuade Melanie to return to the motel with him. It took very little coaxing, and only a few encouraging words to remind her of their afternoon, until she was in the car with him.

He was eager to help her explore the darker side of passion, but she looked so comfortable and relaxed, he felt guilty for wanting his own pleasure. As if reading his mind, Melanie opened her eyes and smiled across the seat to him.

“What wicked ideas do you have planned for this evening?” she asked, covering the yawn that escaped her tired lips.

“Sleep,” he told her flatly.

“I thought you wanted…”

“I do, and I will, but tonight we’ll have to be content with a quick romp and a long night’s rest. Your family is expecting us to join them for brunch around eleven, when they’re finished with church, so that should give us a few hours to explore each other’s treasures.”

“What if I’m not that tired?” she asked, fighting to contain a second yawn.

Jordan chuckled, reaching out and taking her hand in his. He lifted it to his lips and kissed her fingers, then pulled his car into the parking stall in front of his motel room. He turned to gaze into her eyes, wondering if his ideas would help wake her up.

“What I have in mind is going to keep you awake for a few hours, and I’m not sure if you have enough energy to see it through,” he told her, shutting off the engine.

“I can handle anything you throw my way,” she smiled, listening to his deep chuckle.

Jordan climbed out of the car and walked around to open her door. He glanced around and noticed the dark sedan parked near the street and frowned. He knew Michaels wanted to keep her under surveillance, but he knew she was going to be with him. It seemed a little redundant to have a stakeout for his own partner.

“What’s your plans for the night?” she asked him as he opened the door and walked her to the room.

“We can play for a little while, if you feel up to it, but I want you to get washed up first. We may not have time tomorrow to shower and play both.”

“My folks know I’m always late, so it won’t mean much if we don’t make it on time.”

“Habits are going to change, Darling,” he assured her, locking the door behind him. “Keeping to a schedule is the best way of having extra time for fun. Get the necessary things over with first, then you can concentrate on what’s left.”

“My parents are going to love you,” she giggled.

“Shower, Darling. I have a phone call to make then I’ll join you.”

“Don’t be long,” she said, kissing his lips gently. “I want some of that extra time you were talking about.”

Jordan chuckled as she walked into the bathroom and closed the door. He removed his phone from his pocket and dialed his partner before peeking out the curtains to the car.

“Hey, it’s me. Did you put a tail on me?”

“No, why?” Michaels asked over the small speaker.

“Because there’s a black sedan sitting outside of the motel. It’s a bit too obvious to be the typical stakeout.”

“Can you see the plate?”

“Yeah, hold on.”

Jordan pulled up the camera on his phone and zoomed in, snapping a picture of the front plate of the car. He forwarded the picture to Michaels then placed the receiver against his ear again.

“Did you get it?” he asked.

“Yeah, I got it. Let me run it through the computer and I’ll call you back. Are you going to be awake for a while?”

“Yes, but I’m going to jump in the shower. Give me an hour before you call me back.”

Jordan disconnected the call and tossed the phone to the bed, then pulled his shirt off over his head. He pulled his boots off and tossed them under the desk, then walked into the bathroom.

“About time you got in here,” Melanie teased him as he climbed into the shower behind her. “I thought I’d have to do everything without you tonight.”

“That would prove interesting,” he growled a soft purr as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’d love to watch you take care of yourself.”

“Another time, perhaps. Tonight, you promised to make me cum.”

“And I never break a promise,” he assured her, nipping at her neck.

Jordan took the bar of soap and ran it over her body, washing her with a gentle touch before handing the soap to her. He stood still as she followed his lead and cleaned his muscles from the day’s activities. She loved how his muscles rippled beneath her fingers, feeling the heat begin to grow inside her.

“We need to get the hell out of here, before you find yourself pressed up against the wall,” he growled.

“Not this wall,” she gasped. “I know my tiles are clean, but I don’t know about these.”

Jordan laughed as he shut off the water and reached for the towels. Her OCD came into effect when he least expected it. He was certain she wouldn’t object to his making love to her in her own bathroom, but a strange place meant germs that she couldn’t clean or sterilize.

“Once you’re dry, I want you to go to the bedroom and sit on the edge of the bed,” he told her in a tone of authority. “You’re to braid your hair and keep your eyes cast downwards.”

“Is this part of the submission you were talking about?”

“Yes. Tonight, you’ll be my very obedient submissive and I’ll treat you exactly as a slave should be treated.”

“So, I’m to be your sex slave?” she asked with a grin. “I think I can handle that.”

“Then brush your teeth and do as you’re told,” he ordered, kissing her briefly and slapping her bottom hard.

They stood together as they brushed their teeth, then he watched her walk back into the bedroom, pulling her hair across her shoulder as she braided it. He smiled as she sat on the edge of the bed as he instructed.

This was going to be a lot of fun, he thought as he quickly shaved his chin. The last thing he needed was for her to walk around with a rash between her legs because of his stubble.

Jordan cleaned up the mess he’d made then splashed his aftershave over his face. He washed his hands, then shut off the light and walked casually back into the bedroom. He moved to the dresser where the leather satchel was and removed it from the drawer. There were some very naughty things he wanted to do to the woman, but he had to stay in control until they were back in Salt Lake, where he could take his time.

“Raise your right hand,” he ordered, smiling when she obeyed.

He tossed the satchel on the bed and unzipped it, removing the furry cuffs. He placed her hand inside one round end and snugged it up around her wrist. Jordan gently pulled her hand behind her and wrapped the cuff around her free wrist, before reaching back into the satchel.

He took the string of beads out and laid them next to her, then removed the bottle of gel they had decided on and opened the top.

“Stand up and turn around,” he ordered. “I want you to bend over the bed and rest your head and shoulders on the mattress.”

Again, she obeyed, gasping as he laid the beads across her hips. She felt the cool liquid drip down her buttocks as he drizzled it across the round objects, then felt a thin stream of oily gel slide between her cheeks.

Jordan massaged the oil across her bottom, then took the beads and rubbed the gel over each round globe. Without another word, he slowly and gently pressed the string inside her anus, one bead at a time until they were all tucked securely into her.

“Stand up and turn around,” he told her, slapping her backside once.

Melanie smiled as she turned toward him, her eyes still on the floor. She was playing this game better than he expected, and he actually found himself anxious to experience the event to the final conclusion.

“Six strikes,” he began as he sat down on the bed. “If you want more, you have to ask me nicely. When we’ve finished, I’m going to cuff you to the bed, and you’re going to tell me where you want me to start. After that, you’re going to be a good girl and go to sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll play a bit longer before we meet your parents. Do you understand?”

“Yes master,” she smiled.

Jordan sat down on the edge of the mattress and patted his legs, watching her struggle to keep from giggling as she laid down across them. He loved her bravery, but he loved how she embraced this new side of passion even more.

He stared down to Melanie’s bare bottom and felt his erection grow beneath her. She was beautiful. All the jogging she did made her firm, and her skin felt like satin as he began to caress each round globe. It was going to take all the resistance he had not to take her the moment she stood up.

Raising his hand in the air, he quickly slapped her cheek. The result was a light pink color growing across her buttocks, driving him forward. He could still remember his nerves when he first learned to do this. The woman may not have been Melanie, but she was on his mind, even back then.

Another slap and she moaned, a third and she began to pant. Half way through and he was ready to quit and impale her with the need that was burning in his loins. The fourth slap brought her hips upwards enough to arch her back, the fifth had her purring deep in her throat. He knew it wouldn’t take much to make her cum, and he struggled to keep his actions under control.

“Last one,” he told her in a husky voice. “I’m going to make this one harder, so brace yourself.

Jordan smiled as she tightened her buttocks, then gasped at the sensation of the beads inside her. Raising his hand in the air, he wrapped his fingers from his free hand around the string. Putting more muscle behind the slap, he jerked the string out at the same time, listening as she cried out to him. He held her down with a firm hand on her low back, his fingers moving between her legs, playing and teasing with the moistness that covered her curls.

Melanie’s voice was a deep moan, her breath panting as she tightened her bottom, gyrating against his touch. Jordan allowed her to ride out the passion for several long moments before he stopped tormenting her. She drew a deep breath as she tried to settle her racing heart. He could feel her pulse against his legs and smiled.

The image of Prescott suddenly came into his mind, causing him to frown. If he had taken the time to teach his wife how to love, how to enjoy his touch, she would still be in his arms. That was a thought that echoed in the back of his mind as he helped her stand.

“I take it you didn’t want more?” he asked with a wicked grin.

“I think six was perfect,” she told him with a deep blush and a shy smile.

“Lay down in the middle of the bed and raise your arms,” he told her, chuckling at her innocent comment. “I’ll let you choose one toy, but when we’ve finished, you’re going to sleep.”

“The white and black one,” Melanie told him, kneeling on the bed and crawling across it.

Jordan unlocked the cuffs from one wrist, allowing her to stretch out across the mattress. He took his phone off the bed and glanced to see Michaels hadn’t called, then laid it on the table next to them. He wrapped the cuffs carefully around the board running across the bottom of the headboard, then removed the small wand she asked for.

“Where do you want me to start?” he asked, kneeling beside her.

“Jordan…” she said with a frown.

“There’s no room for shyness in the bedroom, Darling,” he told her. “Do you want me to eat you, or fuck you?”

“Eat me,” she said after a short pause to collect her nerves. “But I want the toy too.”

“As you wish,” he told her, moving between her spread legs.

Jordan switched on the small device and began caressing the moist curls. He played with her for several long moments before opening her labia and leaning closer. The toy continued to torment her as his tongue caressed the swollen bud of her clitoris.

He was amazed at how easily it was for him to arouse her a second time, but within just a few seconds, she was panting. Her hips rose against him, wiggling beneath his touch. She bent her knees and allowed him a closer contact, then gasped when he gently bit her clitoris.

Melanie found the white shards of passion burn inside her as her body tightened around the finger he slipped into the wet canal. She cried out a second time, begging him to love her.

Switching off the toy, Jordan tossed it aside and knelt between her knees. He pressed the tip of his manhood against her and pushed swiftly inside her. The heat of her climax surrounded him as the muscles twitched. Thrust after thrust, brought them closer to a joined release, the headboard knocking gently into the wall. Then it happened. Melanie panted, gasping and moaning as he filled her. His deep growl echoed through the room like a beast on the prowl.

Then, without warning, a loud banging fell on the wall joining their room with the next. Melanie bit her lip and giggled as Jordan narrowed his eyes to the picture of a mountain scene above them.

“Spoilsports,” he grumbled with a grin as he pulled out of her and reached for her wrists.

“I guess it is a little late for most people,” she giggled, lowering her hands when he removed the cuffs.

“I suppose one thirty in the morning is a bit late.”

“Let’s hope they’re at Dinosaurland when we wake up for round two,” Melanie said with a wide grin.

“Time for sleep,” he told her, pulling the blankets back and watching her slip between the sheets.

Jordan snuggled her close to his chest as she drew a deep, content sigh. This woman was everything he had ever imagined she would be, and a thousand times more. He loved her obstinance, her compulsiveness, her strength, but most of all, he loved her. The longer they were together, the more he realized he would fight man or beast to keep her in his life. And that included Prescott.


Jordan’s eyes opened at the soft buzzing sound, then looked to Melanie. She moaned softly in the dark room, rolling over to her side to allow him to move. He reached for his phone on the side table and quietly pushed the button.

“Give me a minute,” he whispered into the receiver.

He pulled on his pants from earlier and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He turned on the light and blinked repeatedly until his eyes adjusted, then placed the phone to his ear.

“What did you find out?” he asked, knowing it was Michaels as soon as he answered the call.

“You’re never going to believe this,” the man’s voice said. “The car is registered to Newberry, from the SLPD.”

“What the hell?”

“Apparently, he’s been following you the past day. I guess he’s trying to play stakeout.”

“He’s not very good at it. Why’s he following me?”

“When I found out who owned the car, I called him. He said the prints in your apartment came back for you, me, and Prescott. He ran a background on him, and discovered he’d spent six months in a Wyoming jail for attempted burglary.”

“Why didn’t we know that?” Jordan growled, then lowered his voice when it echoed around them.

“Because he went to jail under an alias. He was eighteen. The man has more names than Hershey’s has chocolate.”

“Now that there are prints, I want them ran through our databanks. See if he’s been arrested as anyone else. What did the motel manager have to say about the pictures?”

“He said the pictures of Melanie looked close to the woman who came to visit Prescott, but the woman wasn’t as tall, and appeared to have fake boobs.”

“So, she’s off the list,” Jordan said with a deep sigh of relief.

“But it leaves us back at square one.”

“What about the woman from Arizona? Did you find her yet?”

“She’s moved twice since she left Wyoming. We’re still looking for her.”

“Okay. Let’s call it a night. The Kents are having the family together tomorrow for brunch. Did you tell Newberry to back off?”

“I leaned on him pretty hard and assured him he was muscling in on an F.B.I. case. He wasn’t happy to back off, but he didn’t have a choice. I’ll run those prints in the morning and let you know what I find out.”

Jordan hung up the phone and leaned against the sink. The only good part of that phone call was knowing Melanie was off the hook. The bad part was that there was even more circumstantial evidence stacking up against Prescott. As much as he wanted him behind bars, the most they could do was pick him up for questioning. Until they could find the money, or prove he’d taken it, it was just his word against his father-in-law’s. There wasn’t even proof he killed his partner.

With a heavy sigh, Jordan shut off the light and went back into the bedroom. He plugged in the phone and climbed back into bed. He wrapped Melanie into his embrace and pulled her back against his chest. She was the only constant in all of this, and the only thing he could count on not changing.

Tomorrow would be another day and the possibilities were endless.


Brunch was a relaxed, comfortable event. Especially when compared with the chaos of yesterday. Melanie sat next to Jordan as the family filled the private dining room of the local restaurant. Steven and Susie were there with their new baby, though they stayed far enough away from the curiosity of neighbors who had come to eat after church. The place seemed alive with the laughter of the children, as stories of the Kent children were told and exchanged.

Melanie smiled as she glanced to Jordan. He seemed to fit right in with the family, laughing and commenting on the stories being shared. It was possibly the first meal they’d shared since becoming a couple that didn’t center around dessert in the bedroom.

“When are you two going to join the Kent clan and get married?” Justin asked, looking to Melanie and Jordan.

“I keep telling Melanie she’s going to have to make an honest man out of me, sooner or later,” Jordan said with an exaggerated sigh. “She likes the single life too much. You know these independent millennial women. Bars every night, a different man every month. I just can’t convince her to settle down.”

The family laughed as Melanie glared at the man next to her, who simply shrugged his shoulders. She knew her family loved him, and he would fit in like another brother. She had been fighting the images of being with him as the years went by, but the truth was, even though he said he loved her, she didn’t know if he felt the same way. Waking up in this man’s arms was amazing, and she loved going to sleep with him beside her. He hadn’t returned to his own apartment since it was broken in to, but that didn’t constitute a reason to be married.

“She’s always been a little firecracker,” Curtis chuckled. “Even as a child, she tried to obey the rules, but she often walked outside of the box until she found a better solution.”

“When she wasn’t cleaning and sterilizing something,” Patricia added with a smirk.

“I don’t like germs or messes,” Melanie said in defense of herself.

“You’d hate my house.”

“I don’t mind it so much,” Jordan added, offering the woman someone to defend her. “It keeps me on my toes.”

“How long have you two been dating?” Tommy asked, taking a drink of his coffee as he looked over the rim to his sister and the man holding her hand under the table.

“A couple of months, I think,” Jordan answered. “We started the weekend I moved in.”

“Fast worker,” Justin chuckled.

“Not really. She loaned me a bar of soap, and I owed her. After she showed me around Salt Lake, I realized I needed to stand close to her. She’s the only one I know who can direct me to the freeway without going the wrong way on a one-way street.”

“Two months is long enough for a courtship,” Vera mumbled.

“I am still willing to share my day with you,” Stephanie added with a wide grin.

“Can we change the subject, please?” Melanie asked with a heavy sigh.

Jordan squeezed her hand as the conversation shifted to the new baby. They had never discussed marriage, and until last night, he didn’t attempt it. She was a suspect for the past six months. Now that the light was no longer shining on her, and she was out of the running for Prescott’s accomplice, there was really nothing holding him back from asking her to marry him. It was a subject he would have to consider once her sister’s wedding was over.


The family had gathered around in the living room of the big old house, after spending the day playing in the yard and having leftovers for supper. Jordan had been forced to accept Vera’s offer to spend the night. Melanie didn’t think she’d be able to escape the watchful eye of her parents another night.

Cory had come by that afternoon and spent the remaining hours with his fiancé and her family. The wedding was inching closer and the young lovers were getting nervous. It wasn’t the sort of event Jordan was considering when he thought about how to propose to Melanie. He still liked the idea of going to the bridal shop, but he would rather just drive to Vegas and ask her, followed by a quick wedding and a long wedding night.

Stephanie sat on the porch with Cory until the mosquitos began to buzz around them. She was having a difficult time saying goodbye. Fortunately for all concerned, Donald was not along for the day’s activities, though nobody missed him. Cory told Jordan that he received a phone call from his wife, then returned to Salt Lake to his motel. That, however, proved to be another of his many lies, as Michaels learned from the stakeout he had on the motel.

It was just after nine o’clock, as Curtis was talking about Stephanie as a baby and the trouble she would get into, when the doorbell rang. Vera looked at Jordan, who watched Melanie closely as she went to answer it. A few minutes of confused excitement in the front of the house made the family look towards the door. The laughter came closer to the living room and Melanie’s voice could be heard, shouting to the group of people, crowded together in the small room.

“I have someone here, who wants to see y’all,” Melanie said, turning the corner of the door.

A second later and a tall, dark haired man, well-tanned and possessing the same blue eyes as the woman standing beside him, crossed the threshold.

“Mark,” Vera exclaimed, followed by the excited voices of the rest of the family.

Jordan remained seated next to the window, watching as the man received hug after hug. He remembered Mark the most out of the Kent family, except for Melanie. They had been friends during those weeks, so long ago. They had shared their dreams for the future and their confusion of growing into manhood. He had kept in touch with the youngest Kent male over the years, but it was never the close friendship they had once experienced.

The chance of Mark remembering him, however, was a strong possibility. He knew Jordan the best and was sure to recognize him. That could put a damper on the charade he was keeping from Melanie, not to mention the rest of the family.

“Jordan,” Curtis said, indicating for him to join the group. “This is my youngest son, Mark. Son, this is Melanie’s friend, Jordan James.”

The two men shook hands, as the Kent boy narrowed his eyes at the tall stranger. It was obvious he recognized Jordan, but for the moment, he was willing to keep his mouth closed.

As Vera dished up leftovers for her son, the conversation turned from old memories, to his time spent in Italy, the dig sight and the man’s life away from his family. Two hours soon gave way to three and Jordan found himself tired from the day’s events.

He took Melanie’s hand and walked her to the stairs, then up to her old bedroom. It seemed strange to both of them, that this was the first night they would be apart since they met. Melanie was sharing Stephanie’s bed, but Jordan was going to be on his own.

“I’m really going to have a hell of a time sleeping,” he told her, pulling her into the room and wrapping his arms around her waist. “Think you can sneak out in the middle of the night and visit me?”

“After having the neighbor banging on the wall last night?” she giggled. “If my father caught us, he really would demand you marry me.”

Jordan pulled her to the bed and sat down, holding her on his lap. He continued to kiss her for several long moments before he found the courage to speak again.

“Would marriage be such a terrible idea?” he asked, looking into her eyes. “I know your first try was horrible, but I’m not Prescott.”

“No, you certainly aren’t,” she smiled as he slipped his hand up her blouse.

“Mellie, I love you, you know that. I will never hurt you, and I will never keep you under my shoe, like he did.”

Jordan paused as he began caressing her breast. He could feel her heartbeat beneath his fingers and felt the skip when he looked into her eyes.

“I don’t want to ask you, and I don’t want you to answer. I just want you to think about it. I can’t imagine things would be much different than they are right now, except we’d officially be sharing one apartment. Mrs. Walsh will throw a fit when I break the lease.”

Melanie giggled as she thought about the fuss the old woman would make, but the idea of being this man’s wife, was an intriguing and inviting dream.

“Once your sister’s day is over, I want to take you away from here for a long vacation. Maybe Hawaii, or a cruise. Somewhere romantic and private.”

“That sounds fun,” she smiled.

“Think about it, Darling,” he whispered, kissing her neck. “I want you to think hard about the way Prescott treated you and ask yourself if I would do the same thing. You have to know, in your heart, that I am not going to abuse or misuse you.”

“Jordan, I already know you’re nothing like Donald. You are kind and loving, and passionate. Donald was selfish and arrogant. He would never have helped my father with the barbecue, like you did. He would never have gone to brunch with them, and he would never know how to please me in bed like you do.”

“So…” Jordan paused, staring into her eyes with an expression of love, so deep, she nearly cried. “If I asked you to marry me. Would you?”

“Are you asking me?” she asked him in a soft whisper.

Jordan was silent for a long moment as he just stared at her. For the first time in his life, he was afraid of what the outcome of a decision would be.

“Yes.”

“I’m waiting,” she told him as a tear slipped down her cheek.

Jordan lifted her off his lap and sat her on the bed. He knelt in front of her, her hand tucked securely in his as he gently wiped away the moisture from her cheek.

“Melanie Charlotte Kent, would you do me the honor of sharing my life, my bed, my world with me, and become my wife.”

Melanie’s eyes flooded with tears as she nodded her head silently. She wrapped her arms around Jordan’s neck as he stood, hugging her tightly to his chest. She had never been happier than she was at that moment. She knew her life would be different with Jordan, but not because of the love she felt for him, not because her heart sang when he was with her. But because, deep down, she knew him. She had always known him. He was her familiar lover.

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