Still The One (Family Stone #4 Jack)(3)

By: Lisa Hughey


Con shrugged as if that wouldn’t be a problem.

“Stay here a sec.” Jack pressed the intercom on his phone and called his assistant, Ava Sanchez. “Ava, my office now.”

Finding Maria Torres would be the ultimate coup, for many reasons. But the best of all would be easing Ava’s guilt. Ava would be over the moon to find out that her best friend from high school wasn’t dead. Ava was more than his employee, she was like a little sister, and Jack was thrilled that he would have a hand in helping Ava put the guilt behind her. He couldn’t wait to see the reunion     of Ava and Maria.

Reunion    . Ugh. That reminded him of what he’d have to do in order to make that reunion     happen. He’d have to have a reluctant reunion     of his own.

If only he didn’t have to see Bliss again.





Two

Bliss Lee rubbed her damp palms over her navy blue, Federally-approved pantsuit, and forced herself not to pace the elegantly appointed CEO’s office of Adams-Larson International and Associates, lovingly and humorously dubbed ALIAS by the employees. She was the ‘Associates’ part of the agency. Which was fine by her. She didn’t want the responsibility of running the whole shebang. She’d rather concentrate on their special clients.

“Relax,” Jillian Larson, her boss, friend, and co-chairman of Adams-Larsen directed and threw up hands. “He’s just a guy.”

But Jack Stone wasn’t just a guy. He was The Guy. The one who got away, even though she’d initiated their break-up. The one who, despite her attempts to find another guy, ruined her for every other man she’d ever been intimate with. Except that had been their problem. Jack Stone didn’t really know how to be intimate.

Sex, yes. Emotional intimacy, no.

He’d been excellent at the sex part. But he’d never bared his private self to her. Although she’d had her own issues with being completely honest, she’d tried as much as she could. Her lack of honesty was more omission than lying. But her awkward half-attempts and Jack’s inability had been too much strain for their young relationship. And once he’d joined the Navy, she’d been done.

Unfortunately, Bliss had never found another bond close to what she’d had with Jack, flaws and all. Even her ex-husband couldn’t measure up to Jack Stone. And after a long two years of trying to make their marriage work, they had, less than amicably, decided to end it. Her ex-husband had accused her of hiding things. And she had been. Most of all she’d been hiding the fact that she was still in love with a man she’d kicked out years earlier.

Bliss’s throat tightened. “Keep telling me that.”

Jillian raised one exquisitely-groomed blond eyebrow and smirked. “Gladly.” Her friend was perfectly put together in her signature pencil skirt in black and a fitted black jacket with a flirty peplum accent.

Bliss couldn’t pull off that outfit in a million years. Jill looked sophisticated, sexy, and in charge. Bliss stuck to borderline masculine suits and darted white or blue broadcloth shirts.

The intercom crackled. “Your appointment has arrived,” Marissa said pleasantly through the communication system.

Bliss’s heart boomed in her chest, furious and nearly out-of-control.

Jill’s hand wrapped around Bliss’s wrist tightly, grounding her, reining her in. Bliss took a deep breath, gathered her scattered composure, and nodded. “Ready.”

“Show him in,” Jillian said calmly to Marissa.

The perfunctory knock was quick and then the door swung open. Bliss forced herself to turn, braced for the impact of seeing Jack Stone again.

Jack strode into the office like he owned it. Dressed in khaki cargo pants and a black t-shirt, the cotton strained across his forty-six inch chest, his huge biceps tested the hem of his short sleeves. He had a canvas duffel slung over his shoulder and a multi-dial watch strapped to his solid, thick wrist.

He didn’t falter when his gaze connected with hers, but she was pretty sure his shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly. They locked gazes, his ever-changing hazel eyes appeared almost pure green today and mesmerized her with their intensity.

The shock of his penetrating regard held her immobile. She damned her extreme visceral reaction as stunning emotions and images from years ago waterfalled through her brain; Joy, Jack laughing as he picked her up and swung her around like she was a kid; Love, Jack lying in bed, sheets tangled around his legs, his large chest bare, arm propped behind his head, eager smile on his face, as he waited impatiently for her to join him; Lust, Jack with water droplets running down his body and disappearing into the wrap of his towel, the bulge of his erection a sign of his passion; Pain, Jack’s stunned expression when she told him goodbye; and finally despair, the stark, unrelenting ache that gripped her for weeks and months after he’d left.

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