The Girl Next Door

Bonus Chapter for Insider’s Club Members

 

The windshield wipers pushed the glass clear again. Keeping up with the downpour was proving difficult, even for Luke’s top-of-the-line BMW This spring storm wasn’t giving up.

Luke steered the car into the driveway of Marcus and Emma’s house. He wasn’t about to complain about the weather. Running home through the downpour with Jocelyn had the two of them dropping their clothes on the floor faster than the rain fell from the sky. They’d had to shower, of course. And with respect to the schedule they were trying to keep, they’d tackled that chore together. And what a blissful chore it had been. Luke’s heart pumped at the memory—hot and intense.

He pulled Jocelyn’s hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. The scent of his soap mixed with her usual flowery smell was another turn on. This girl had a power over him he’d never let any other woman have, and he was pretty sure she knew it.

How was it that in just a few short weeks, this beautiful creature had inspired images of platinum and diamonds to dance around his mind? He’d been trying to decide if she’d prefer a princess or emerald-cut diamond when Marcus had marched her into his office. Unannounced.

The prospect of being caught had terrified him. He had every intention of seeing this relationship through to the end of time, but it was still in its infancy, and he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the current course of perfection they were navigating. Another round of interference like Stacy had thrown into the mix was something he didn’t want to deal with again anytime soon.

At Jocelyn’s feet was the bag with the flowers, bottle of sparkling cider, and dinosaur fact book they’d picked up in the city. He let her hand go, and she pulled it to her lap. From the corner of his eye, he caught her rolling her lips together.

“What is it?” he asked, always intrigued to know what she was thinking.

“Nothing.” She shook her head, but her lips were belying her. He could tell she was trying not to let them curve into a smile.

His own smile spread easily across his lips. “Are you thinking about what I’m thinking about?”

“I’m sure I’m not.” She turned away from him.

“That’s too bad.” He pulled up to the front door. “Because those twenty minutes in the shower were so worth remembering.”

It was dark, but he was sure her cheeks were turning that soft shade of red of he loved to see rise up whenever he teased her. She was so innocent, and it was charming.

He hurried around to Jocelyn’s side of the car and opened her door. Emma was waiting with the door already open to let them inside.

He rushed in and scooped her into a hug. “We’re not late.”

“I didn’t think you would be.” Emma’s feet touched the floor again. He released her and couldn’t help but notice the intense joy burning in her eyes.

He pulled Jocelyn next to him. “I’d like you to meet Jocelyn.”

“It’s so nice to meet you.” Jocelyn held out a hand, but Emma ignored it and pulled her into a hug instead.

“I’m so happy to meet you too.” Emma squeezed her eyes shut.

“We brought you these,” Luke said when it looked like Emma wasn’t ever going to let go of Jocelyn.

“You did?” Emma stepped back in surprise and took the bag. “That wasn’t necessary.”

“It was Jocelyn’s idea.” That much was probably obvious since he’d been coming here for weeks, bringing nothing but himself. But it was important to him to give the credit to Jocelyn.

“Hey, Uncle Luke. Hi, Miss Jocelyn.” Brayden ran in from the long tiled hallway.

“Hi, little buddy.” Luke picked up his nephew, reminding himself that these days were numbered. The boy was growing so much.

“Hi, Brayden.” Jocelyn gave him a wave.

“Can I take your coats for you?” he asked as Luke set him on the floor.

What a miniature Marcus he’s becoming.

“Yes, thank you.” Jocelyn slipped out of her coat before following Emma into the kitchen.

“He’s one of the most well-mannered children I’ve ever met,” Jocelyn said as Luke and Brayden walked in.

Emma’s face filled with pride. “He is one awesome kiddo, that’s for sure.”

“Can I help you with dinner?” Jocelyn asked.

“No, it’s all ready. We’re just waiting for Marcus.”

“Where is the old man, anyway?” Luke asked.

“He’s on the phone with Grandfather,” Brayden said.

“Oh.” That explained it.

Emma pulled the flowers out of the bag and inhaled their scent. “These are beautiful. And Brayden it looks like there’s something in here for you too.”

Brayden went over to investigate the book while Emma set about putting the flowers in water.

“Dinner smells delicious, and your home is lovely,” Jocelyn said, going over to stand next to Emma. “Here let me do that.”

Jocelyn took over putting the flowers in the vase. Emma turned to Luke and mouthed, “I love her.”

In that moment, Marcus came in to join them.

“How’s everything on the home front?” Luke asked.

Marcus turned to Jocelyn first. “Hello, Jocelyn. Good to see you again.” Always the perfect gentleman, that one. Then, turning to Luke he said, “Fine. Mom and Dad want to know if you’re going to Seattle with us next weekend. Seems you never call anymore.”

Emma passed Marcus a salad bowl and bread basket. He took both to the long table set with white china and candles. Luke followed, and so did Jocelyn, taking the seats Brayden pointed out for them. Lastly, Emma joined them with a platter of sliced chicken.

Luke pulled out Jocelyn’s chair for her before sitting down beside her. “Yes, well.” He draped his arm behind Jocelyn. “Life has been a touch busy for me lately.”

Marcus looked up from his position at the head of his family’s table. “Spare us the details. But really, we’d be happy to have you join us. Both of you.”

“Oh yes, please do.” Emma reached across the table for Jocelyn’s hand. “My mother-in-law is throwing me a baby shower, and I’d love it if you came along.”

“That sounds—” Jocelyn started to say.

Luke cleared his throat. “Jocelyn might have to work next weekend. Her responsibilities at the paper are increasing and…” And he didn’t want his parents to interfere and scare her off. Margaret and Alfred Lewis were known to have that sort of effect on people. How Marcus ever got Emma to stick around was still a mystery to him.

Jocelyn half-scowled at him before looking back to Emma. “I’d love to go. Thank you for asking me.”

“Don’t worry.” Emma still held Jocelyn’s hand but looked at Luke. “I won’t leave her side. She’ll be safe with me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jocelyn asked.

Luke covered his face with a hand, thinking of how badly this could go. “You’ll see when we get there.”

“So you’re going?” Emma almost squealed. “It’ll be fine. And please ride up with us. There’s plenty of room in the mini-van.”

“I call dibs on the way backseat,” Brayden chimed in.

And I call dibs on the first train ride home.

Marcus grinned. “Guess you’d better let Mom and Dad know you’re bringing a girl home. You wouldn’t want to ambush them with a surprise like that now, would you? For Jocelyn’s sake, I mean.”

And so it begins, Luke thought, the first steps toward forever.

 

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR – Bonus Chapter

Written by Meg Gray

Copyright Meg Gray 2016

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