By Geri Krotow
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Books S.A.
Pepe gave his mother a curt nod and lowered his hands to his sides. “Okay.”
He stepped off the board and fell into the water, hardly making a splash as Lucas caught him under the arms. Val liked how Lucas let Pepe go under for a bit, just to have the feel of the jump, before he helped the boy reorient himself.
The small crowd broke into huge applause and whooped for Pepe.
Pepe swam to the side of the pool and hauled himself out. Serena was on her knees to catch him as he threw his soaking wet self at her.
Lucas watched from the deep end as he continued to tread water.
“Nice job, Dr. Lucas.” Tanya’s quiet compliment said it all.
Val wiped her tears away.
“Anyone else want to jump?” Lucas smiled, his teeth white against his skin, the sun and water reflecting his joy.
“Does this mean we’re done for the afternoon, doc?” Todd, one of the few single family members who’d come for the week, took off his T-shirt and dove into the deep end. Val thought that was what the past year must have felt like for him, after his wife died in Afghanistan. He’d told her at dinner last night that he was finally giving himself permission to start a new life. Her heart pounded as she wondered if Todd was aware of the metaphor in what he’d done, diving into the deep end in one bold leap.
Lucas climbed out of the pool and his chinos clung to every muscle on his runner’s legs. Val wished she had sunglasses on so that she could get a better look at him—all of him.
“You deserve to go after your own happiness, Val,” Tanya said quietly.
Val smiled at her observation. No doubt she’d watched Val ogle Lucas.
“It’s not that easy, Tanya. He goes back next week.”
“Only if he wants to.”
An hour later, Val found Lucas sitting in the cushioned cedar swing she’d hung within a week of moving into BTS. It was in a secluded part of the small garden but the swing allowed glimpses of the surrounding islands when the weather was clear.
“Mind if I join you?”
Lucas looked up from the client folder he studied and turned his intensity on her. She felt caressed by his gaze as he took her in from head to toe, lingering on her breasts and hips.
How had she kept him at arm’s length for the past six months, especially when she knew how well he kissed?
“Here.” He patted the cushion beside him. As she sank into the soft pillow, his arm went around her and they sat that way for what felt like hours, content with each other’s company.
“Have you gained what you expected from BTS?” She broke their comfortable silence.
“I honestly didn’t have any expectations, except for getting a break from the insane pressure cooker I’ve lived in for the past few years in D.C.” He used his leg to keep them swinging, just a bit, and Val relished how her body leaned into his with each sway.
His fingers were on the back of her neck, drawing delicious little swirls over her skin.
“I figured anything that happened here would be tame compared to what I was used to. I didn’t realize how much impact the families would have on me.”
“In what way?” She thought she knew, understood what he meant, but she wanted to hear it from him.