Make Me Forever, p.1part #8 of Make Me Series
Titles by Beth Kery
MAKE ME PART 1: MAKE ME FORGET
MAKE ME PART 2: MAKE ME TREMBLE
MAKE ME PART 3: MAKE ME SAY IT
MAKE ME PART 4: MAKE ME DESPERATE
MAKE ME PART 5: MAKE ME RISK IT
MAKE ME PART 6: MAKE ME FEEL
MAKE ME PART 7: MAKE ME REMEMBER
MAKE ME PART 8: MAKE ME FOREVER
THE AFFAIR (ALSO AVAILABLE IN SERIAL FORMAT)
Because You Are Mine Series
BECAUSE YOU ARE MINE (ALSO AVAILABLE IN SERIAL FORMAT)
WHEN I’M WITH YOU (ALSO AVAILABLE IN SERIAL FORMAT)
BECAUSE WE BELONG
SINCE I SAW YOU
One Night of Passion Series
ADDICTED TO YOU (WRITING AS BETHANY KANE)
EXPOSED TO YOU
ONLY FOR YOU
One Night of Passion Specials
BOUND TO YOU
CAPTURED BY YOU
Make Me Forever
InterMix Books, New York
AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC
375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014
MAKE ME PART 8: MAKE ME FOREVER
An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2016 by Beth Kery.
Excerpt from Looking Inside copyright © 2016 by Beth Kery
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-98828-2
InterMix eBook edition / May 2016
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Titles by Beth Kery
Excerpt from Looking Inside
About the Author
That afternoon, Jacob received a surprise phone call from an old friend, Miranda Meyer. He’d known Miranda for a long time. She was one of less than a handful of people from his past that he accepted into his present. Miranda had been his caseworker in the Adopt a West Virginia Child program, and they’d managed to maintain a friendship ever since then.
They caught up for a minute or two. Miranda followed some of Lattice’s business news and commented on what she’d read, and Jacob filled her in on some of the unreported background details. He congratulated Miranda for being promoted yet again, this time becoming the current cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services.
“That’s quite a climb up the ladder, from being a caseworker in the adoption program to the secretary of the whole department,” he told her.
“You’re not the only one who was destined for greatness,” Miranda joked. “Never fear, though. The adoption program is still under my supervision.”
“And so we get to the reason you’re calling?” Jacob said smoothly, leaning back in his desk chair. A call from Miranda of this kind wasn’t a common occurrence, by any means, but it did happen sporadically enough for him to be comfortable with it. Miranda’d had many jobs at the WVDHHS before becoming the department head, and she’d made it her business to look out for Jacob while in each of those jobs . . . Jacob and Jake Tharp, that is.
Jacob had learned early on in his career that information was key to success. He’d cultivated a number of important contacts in both the government and private sector. Miranda was different, though. They’d kept in touch over the years, but he didn’t think of Miranda like an informant. He didn’t pay or exchange key information for her efforts. She did what she did because she was a friend.
“Yeah, you guessed it. Someone’s been calling about the Jacob Sinclair adoption again,” she said with a sigh. “A supervisor in the adoption department told me about it over lunch today—she’d gotten the information from one of her caseworkers.”
“You usually e-mail when someone is nosing around,” Jacob said, staring out the windows onto a sparkling Lake Tahoe. “Any reason this time warranted a phone call?”
“Aside from the fact that we haven’t talked since two Christmases ago? Not really, it’s just that the reporter calling and asking questions was from a paper right there in town with you. The Sierra Tahoe Gazette?” Jacob sat forward abruptly, his chair squeaking loudly. “You’ve told me Tahoe Shores is a pretty small town. I figured it might be someone you’re hobnobbing with there, and if so, that you’d want to know that they were digging for information on you behind your back.”
“Did you get the name of the reporter?”
“I did,” Miranda said and he heard some paper shuffling. “It was a Harper McFadden. She called this morning. Know her?”
“Yeah. I know her,” Jacob replied, his voice sounding even despite the icy sensation that suddenly poured through his veins.
After he’d hung up his phone, memories kept bombarding him. He recalled how sexy and fresh and uncontrived Harper had looked this morning following their hot, heavy, and hasty lovemaking, and her subsequent mad rush to get ready for work. She’d looked that innocent . . . that loving . . . just before walking into her office and digging around in a past that he’d told her again and again was dead?
He felt a little sick at confronting that unavoidable fact. He honestly didn’t know if he was supposed to be left angry, panicked, concerned, or grateful at that realization. It was bewildering, to view the world while standing at the still eye of a cyclone.
Dr. Fielding had certainly alluded to the fact that there was a possibility she’d remember. He—Jacob—could be the very trigger that was prompting her memories.
But that’s only true if you assume what Dr. Fielding says is true, the logical part of his brain reasserted itself. Did he believe that he’d successfully buried weak, ineffective Jake Tharp and had evolved into an independent, utterly self-reliant man? Yes, he did.
Or at least he had . . . until Harper had walked back into his life.
There was no telling what Harper would do with those volatile memories. How much did she remember, and when, exactly had she begun to recall?
Or had she remembered all along, and knowingly reinserted herself into his life in order to get an inside position for this story?
Most of him thought that idea was paranoid and ridiculous. The tiny remainder that doubted only added a small, but rich vein of fuel to his unrest.
He’d been wrong to think he could handle getting involved with her. The only chance he had of keeping them both safe was to convince her that the only future they had together was to leave the past where it belonged. If he couldn’t accomplish that . . . he needed to seriously consider the fact that he was a harmful agent to her life.
It was time to seriously consider the bleak possibility that he might have to cut all ties with the only woman he’d ever loved . . .
. . . With the only woman he strongly suspected he’d ever be able to love.
* * *
Harper felt like she was watching herself from a distance that evening when she packed up and left the Gazette’s offices with the intent of returning to Jacob’s home.
Elizabeth had gone through the protocol with her that morning on how to enter and exit the Lattice compound. Clarence, the stocky, friendly security guard who had spoken to Jacob from the woods on the first night she’d come to the mansion, was called in to enter Harper’s fingerprints and record her speaking into a voice recognition system.
Upon Jacob’s orders, Elizabeth had also instructed Jim to drive Harper to work that morning and pick her up again in the evening. When Jim picked her up after work, he started to take her directly to the mansion, but Harper stopped him.
“Can you take me back to my townhome, please?” she asked.
Jim glanced back uneasily. “But Elizabeth said I was supposed to take you back to Mr. Latimer’s.”
“I just need to pick up a few things at my place first,” Harper told him. “And my car. I don’t want to have to bother you about running me around.”
“But I’d be happy to take you wherever—”
“I know, Jim,” she assured, smiling at him when he looked at her anxiously in the rearview mirror. “But I’d prefer to have my car there, just in case. I’m pretty used to getting around on my own, you know.”
She recognized that her insistence upon having her own vehicle at Jacob’s compound was her small way of asserting her independence. Her car was a tangible means to come and go as she pleased. Today’s meeting with Burt had stunned her. It was always hard for her to get a good perspective on Jacob, but after that meeting with Burt, everything had gotten worse. She got downright dizzy every time she tried to focus on what Jacob’s guardedness meant . . .
. . . When she tried to puzzle out who Jacob was.
What Burt had uncovered about Regina Morrow was shocking, but at least it made some sense, given the little Jacob had told her about Clint Jefferies taking advantage of Regina and hurting her. If Burt was correct in his suspicion about the nature of that party at Jefferies’s, didn’t that mean Regina had been a prostitute? How had Jacob known her? And had he been in love with Regina Morrow at the time he’d found her intoxicated and bruised up at his mentor’s party?
It felt disorienting, entering the mansion that evening with no one there to greet her. In fact, a strange, surreal quality had settled on her consciousness ever since she’d seen those typed words on that report this morning.
She had so many questions to ask Jacob, but knew she couldn’t. She felt blocked at every turn. For one, she couldn’t reveal that she’d been consulting with one of her reporters today in regard to a story about him. He’d think she’d betrayed him. Two, he’d made it very clear that his past was off-limits in their personal relationship.
She’d spoken with him briefly on the phone earlier at work, and he’d told her where to find him when she returned to the mansion. She traveled through the enormous house like a sleepwalker, passing the familiar entrance to Jacob’s bedroom suite and continuing down the hall. She rapped softly on a pinewood door.
“Come in,” Elizabeth called.
Harper entered. Elizabeth’s portion of the office was large and airy. She had her own spectacular view of the lake and pine-covered mountains. Jacob’s assistant sat behind her desk, her demeanor striking Harper as contained, but tense. Harper suspected it was her own presence in Jacob’s private offices that made Elizabeth that way. Elizabeth continued to be polite and highly efficient in regard to Harper, but Harper still sensed her caution and a hint of disapproval.
“Hi,” Harper greeted her.
“Hello,” Elizabeth said, standing and coming around her desk. “He’s waiting for you.”
She led Harper to a massive door and knocked. Harper heard Jacob’s distant, deep voice. Elizabeth held open the door for her.
“Thanks,” she told Elizabeth before she walked into Jacob’s office.
It was an enormous space. Three of the walls consisted of book-lined shelves, while the fourth was floor-to-ceiling windows and doors with the spectacular view of Lake Tahoe through them. Jacob’s large, L-shaped desk was situated to the right of the room, so that he could easily look out at the panoramic view as he worked. He sat behind the desk. Harper was immediately aware of his stare on her as she walked into the room. Elizabeth closed the door behind her.
Harper walked toward him, gazing about the handsome, incredible room.
“You have quite the library here,” she said, forcing a smile. “All these beautiful bookshelves and incredible books.”
He stood as she approached him, looking very appealing in a pair of dark blue pants and an ivory collarless shirt. His appearance struck her as new and magnificent in that moment . . . freshly amazing, like she’d never seen him before. Yet he was achingly familiar. He was so big and tall. Somehow, his sense of graceful power struck her as miraculous. His expression was impassive, but his eyes shone with feeling as he regarded her.
She swallowed back a lump in her throat. He walked around his desk and rested his butt at the corner of it. When he held out his arms to her, her dazed, strange state fractured for a moment. She stepped between his legs, warmth thawing her when he wrapped his arms around her waist and brought her against him. Without saying a word, his mouth fastened on hers.
His firm, hot kiss further scattered her disorientation. Her arms snaked around his waist. How was it possible to be dazed and confused logically, when her senses grew so sharp and brilliant beneath his touch?
He smoothed back her hair with one hand, cupping the side of her head, and sealed their deep kiss. He continued to nibble hungrily at her lips.
“I missed you,” he said.
“I missed you, too,” she replied, shivering at the sexy sound of his gruff voice. His sharp gaze moved over her face. He slid his butt a few inches off the desk, his feet planted firmly on the floor, and pulled her more tightly between his legs.
“What’s this I hear about you telling Jim you wanted to get your car?” he asked. The bright evening light off the lake made his agate eyes seem to glow. His hands lowered to her ass. “Are you planning on an escape, Harper?”
“Hell, no,” she drawled, ducking forward to kiss his mouth again, diverting both him and herself from the fact that his teasing about her car had come a little too close to the truth. He caught her to him and deepened their kiss, pressing her against him tightly in a way that made it clear to her just how much he’d missed her. This time when he sealed their kiss, he straightened and stepped away from her. Harper tried to contain her disappointment as she watched him walk around his desk. Her gaze dropped down over his lean, powerful body. Despite both her reanimated and new doubts, her desire for him was cutting as it’d ever been.
Possibly even sharper.
He lifted an envelope from his desk and handed it to her. Harper took it with a questioning look, but he merely gestured that she should look for herself.
She unfolded several pieces of paper. They were lab reports and a written note from Dr. Amorantz. She looked up, her breath froze
“We’re both as healthy as they come. Nothing else between us,” he said, and there was something in his tone of voice, a quiet but profound victory.
She swallowed with difficulty and smiled.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Aren’t you glad that he cleared us for sex without protection?”
“Of course I am,” she managed thickly.
“Then what is it?” he asked, coming around his desk with that predator’s stalk she loved, but which also intimidated. She floundered for something to say. Her gaze flickered anxiously across the bookshelves behind him because she was having difficulty meeting his stare.
She froze with her mouth open, staring at very fine, gilded copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings directly behind his desk. Suddenly he turned, following her stare to the bookcase.
“Jacob,” she said abruptly, recognizing the break in her composure and rushing to fill the vacuum. He glanced back at her narrowly. “I was wondering about something. You uh . . . you did say that you grew up in South Carolina, didn’t you?” she asked in a rush. She was desperate, for some reason. It wasn’t possible that he could see down into the heart of her, but she still got that impression sometimes that he could.
That he was doing it, right at this very moment. She waited for him to reply, her heart starting to throb in her ears.
“That’s what I said, yes,” he replied, stepping toward her, his face a mask.
“Oh. Did you mean for your entire childhood?” she asked, and despite her efforts at appearing light and calm, her voice broke.
“Why?” he asked, coming to a halt just inches in front of her. She couldn’t seem to break his boring stare.
“I just wondered,” she said with fake casualness, shrugging. “Someone at work today used the term ‘born and bred.’ They said they were born and bred in Tahoe Shores, and they meant they’d never left it until they went to college. So I was just wondering if you meant the same thing when you said the same about South Carolina . . .” She faded off lamely. His stare seemed to drain the oxygen from her lungs.