Blue-Eyed Devil - Page 36

Hardy is at his desk, his suit jacket tossed carelessly over a chair. His tie is loose and his shirt sleeves are rolled up over heavy-muscled forearms, as if he's tried to make himself more comfortable in the confining business attire. Roughneck, I think, with a pang of possessive pleasure.

We've been married for nearly a year, and I still can't get used to the fact that he's mine. It's nothing like the marriage I had with Nick in any way, shape, or form. Nick is no longer a threat to me or anyone, having been convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and sent to Texarkana. And Vanessa Flint ended up leaving Houston. The last I heard, she was the assistant manager at a fertilizer company in Marfa.

I don't spend much time dwelling on the past. One of the blessings human beings take for granted is the ability to remember pain without re-feeling it. The pain of physical wounds is long gone for both Hardy and me. And the other kind of hurt, the damage done to our spirits, has been healed. We are careful with those scarred places in each other. And we delight in a marriage that the two of us are creating, deepening, every day.

" . . . want you to pin 'em down on exactly what kind of fluid they're planning to pump into that crack," Hardy says.

I bite back a grin, thinking by now I should be used to the filthy-sounding oil business lingo.

" . . . I'm less concerned with the flow rate than the additives they use." Hardy pauses to listen. "Yeah, well, I don't give a damn about stimulation technology secrets. It's my ass the EPA will come after if there's ground water contamination, and — "

He breaks off as he sees me, and a slow, dazzling smile crosses his face, the one that never fails to make me a little light-headed. "Let's finish this later," he says into the phone. "Something's come up. Okay."

Setting the phone aside, Hardy walks around the desk. He half sits, half leans on the edge, and reaches to pull me between his thighs. "Brown-eyed girl," he murmurs, kissing me.

"Stimulation technology?" I ask, looping my arms around his neck.

"Ways of getting hard-to-reach oil out of low permeability reservoirs," he explains. "You inject fluids into the wellbore hole until they widen underground cracks enough to let the oil out." His hands coast over my sides and hips. "We're working with a new hydraulic fracturing group."

"You could have finished your conversation," I tell him.

"I wouldn't want you to be bored."

"Not at all. I love hearing you talk about business, it always sounds so risqué."

"I don't know exactly what risqué means," Hardy returns, his hand wandering down to my bottom, "but I think I've done it a few times."

I mold myself against him. "Suggestive of sexual impropriety," I explain. "You've been risqué your entire adult life."

His blue eyes sparkle. "But now only with you." He kisses me slowly, as if the point needs demonstrating. "Haven, sweetheart . . . how did the appointment go?"

We've been talking lately about the possibility of having a baby. Hardy seems willing but cautious, while I've been feeling what must be a biological imperative. I want a baby with him. I want our own family. And whatever life has in store for us, I know we'll deal with it together.

"The doctor said I'm perfectly healthy and good to go," I tell him. "Now the rest is up to you."

He laughs and grips me closer. "When do we start?"

"Tonight?" I tilt my head back languidly as his lips slide along my throat.

"How about lunch hour?"

"No way. I want mood music and foreplay."

I feel the curve of his smile against my skin. But as he lifts his head and looks into my eyes, his grin fades. "Haven . . . I don't know if I'm going to be a good father. What if I don't do it right?"

I am touched by Hardy's concern, his constant desire to be the man he thinks I deserve. Even when we disagree, I have no doubt that I am cherished. And respected. And I know that neither of us takes the other one for granted.

I have come to realize you can never be truly happy unless you've known some sorrow. All the terrible things Hardy and I have gone through in our lives have created the spaces inside where happiness can live. Not to mention love. So much love that there doesn't seem to be room for bitterness in either of us.

"I think the fact that you're worrying about it at all," I say, "means you'll probably be great at it."

Hardy smiles and pulls me safe and secure into the shelter of his body. He holds me tightly, and it feels good. It's what I need. "That does it," he says, his voice muffled in my hair. "It's going to be lunch hour for you, honey. Get your purse. We've got time for foreplay, but not for mood music. Unless you can find something on the car radio on the way to the apartment."

I turn and find his lips, and discover that it's nearly impossible to smile and kiss at the same time. I have no intention of arguing. "Who needs mood music?" I say.

And a few minutes later, we're heading home.

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