Veronica woke the next morning to the smell of coffee and bacon. A glance at the empty bed beside her told her who the chef was. Pulling on a robe she padded down the hallway to the kitchen....and froze in the doorway.
The sight of Jon, barefoot and shirtless, wearing only jeans hanging low on his hips made her breath catch in her chest, her heart skip a beat and her fingers itch to touch. Oh yeah, I could get used to seeing this everyday!
Sensing eyes watching him, Jon turned. Blue eyes met violet and he winked. “Morning.” He reached for the coffee pot, poured a mug, added cream and approached her. “Sleep well?”
“Mmmmmm, best I’ve had in days. You?” She reached for the mug, but Jon held it way. When she raised a brow in question he pursed his lips. Veronica chuckled, but fulfilled his silent request. Ending the kiss, she snagged the mug from his hand and raised it to her lips.
While she drank, her attention wandered to the masculine chest on display in front of her. She didn’t even notice when her free hand lifted to run her palm and fingers over his firm pecs and sift through the semi coarse fur.
Becoming aware of the silence of the room, she raised her eyes to see a smug, indulgent look on his face and an amused twinkle in his blue eyes. It also became apparent that he was waiting for an answer...to a question she hadn’t heard. “Sorry, what was that?”
“I just asked how you wanted your eggs, but maybe you want something else for breakfast.” He grinned at her pink cheeks. “Like what you see sweetheart?”
“Mmmm.” She gave his chest a last stroke and pushed him away. “Scrambled please.” Leaning against the counter, she watched him cook. “What did I do to rate this?”
“Breakfast or my manly display?”
“Honey, as much as I enjoy the view, it’s nothing that thousands of women all over the world haven’t seen. I was talking about you cooking me breakfast.” He often cooked when the kids were with him, but not usually when it was just the two of them.
Jon hesitated but couldn’t let the opportunity go by. “If you move to Jersey I can make sure this happens regularly.”
“That’s something to take into consideration.” She moved to set the table and put bread in the toaster.
While they ate they talked about the kids, the tour, her friends, world events...everything except Veronica’s future. Every time Jon tried to steer the conversation in that direction, she changed the subject. He was handling her with kid gloves, not wanting to piss her off and risk her bolting, but it was taking every ounce of his considerable willpower not to push for what he wanted.
They were almost finished cleaning up the kitchen when there was a knock at the door. Jon set down the towel he was drying dishes with. “I’ll get it.”
He opened the door to find Lori, Naomi and Tricia on the other side, their arms full of boxes and packing tape.
“Oh good you’re up.” Lori greeted him. “When we pulled into the parking lot it finally dawned on us that maybe we should have called first. We didn’t want to wake you, or...interrupt anything.”
Jon grinned and stepped back to allow them to enter. “No problem. Good morning ladies, come on in. Would you like some coffee? Maybe some breakfast? I scramble a mean egg.” If they were there for the reason he thought they were he’d cook them a seven course meal – or at least order one if they actually wanted to eat it.
“Coffee would be great. We’ve already eaten. Thanks Jon.” Tricia replied nudging Naomi who stood unmoving in front of her and leaned closer to murmur in her ear. “Close your mouth. You’re drooling.”
“Well, shit, can you blame me? Look at the man!” Naomi hissed back. “We can’t let her say no to that...she deserves every glorious inch of him!”
Veronica, hearing multiple voices and bumping sounds, appeared in the kitchen doorway. One sweeping glance took in her friends, boxes and tape. Violet eyes narrowed and one elegant black brow rose. “What’s all this?”
“The materials we’re going to need.” Lori answered and braced herself for a battle.
“To make sure you don’t make the biggest mistake of your life.” Tricia informed her.
“And that would be?”
“Not moving to New Jersey.” Naomi added her two cents. When she saw Veronica’s jaw firm, she held up a hand. “Come on Veronica, you know we’re right. You love Jon and he loves you. What’s there to think about? Life’s too short and love’s too precious to waste time.”
Lori searched her friend’s face. “You’ve got to let the past go if you want to move forward. If you’re not willing to take a chance on Jon, then who? Who else is ever going to know you....understand you.....love you...as well as he does – mind, body and soul? Or do you want to be alone for the rest of your life?”
Veronica’s frown deepened.
Jon couldn’t stand on the sidelines any longer. He sensed she was close to giving in and wanted to give a final push. Stepping in front of her, he reached for her hands. “Sugar? What do you say? Will you give us a chance? I promise you I’ll do everything in my power to make it work. We can do it. I know we can!”
Veronica searched his eyes, seeing warmth and love and yearning there. She took a deep breath and threw up her hands. “I give up!”
She caught a brief glimpse of that mega-watt smile before she was enfolded in his arms and pressed against his firm chest.
Jon bent his head to murmur in her ear. “Thank you! You won’t regret it. I promise!”
Tricia smiled at the couple then glanced at her friends. “Okay folks we’ve got a lot of work to do. Veronica get dressed and start sorting through your stuff. You and I will start in the living room, Lori and Na will start in the kitchen.”
“What do you need me to do?” Jon asked.
“We should have the apartment packed up by late tomorrow afternoon. Can you arrange for a truck?”
“Consider it done.” He was already reaching for his phone.
“Hey! I can’t be ready by tomorrow! I’ve got to notify my landlord, and the cable people, and the utilities and figure out what to do with my furniture...” Veronica tried to regain some control.
“Write your notice and make the other calls. If your landlord wants to hold you to the extra month’s rent, I’m sure you can afford it.” Lori glanced at Jon who nodded. “Leave me the necessary information and I’ll look after the rest. As for your furniture, what you don’t want to take with you can either go to a charity or into Mom and Dad’s garage and we’ll sell it for you.”
“Habitat might be able to use some of it.” Jon suggested. “But if you want to bring it all that’s great too. We’ll make room for it.”
Veronica knew when she was beaten. “Fine.”
“Okay, let get some boxes put together and get started.” Tricia took control again.
Jon looked around. “Bubble wrap?”
“Down in my car.” Lori tossed the keys to him and told him where she was parked.
When the door closed behind him Veronica eyed her friends. “I don’t know whether to feel betrayed....or grateful.”
Lori shrugged. “No sense being pissed, you’ll want to thank us later.” She sighed. “You know this is what you wanted, you just needed a big push.”
“We just want you to be happy.” Tricia added.
“And you think you know what will make me happy better than I do?”
“At this point....yes.” Naomi was honest. “We’re not blinded by fear and past pain. When he walked into the bar last night you lit up brighter than a Christmas tree. Anyone with eyes could see how happy you were to see him.....and him you.”
“You’re not a passing fling for him Veronica.” Lori added.
“How do you know?”
“Because I asked him. And I saw his face when he saw you. No one could fake the depth of emotion I saw there. He loves you. Deeply. And I believe he’ll work hard to ensure your happiness. All you have to do is let him.”
Veronica sighed. I hope you’re right.”
True to Tricia’s calculations, they had her entire apartment packed up and cleaned by dinner time the next day. Jon and Veronica stayed in a hotel that night and met the trucks early the next morning.
Veronica blew out a shaky breath as she watched the trucks drive away with all her worldly goods, one bound for a local homeless shelter, one for New Jersey. There was no turning back now. God, I hope I’m making the right decision!
Jon turned and drew her into his arms. Lifting her chin with a finger he searched her eyes and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. “Let’s go home.”