his father. He'd grown up there, working with engines and learning what made them run; some of his earliest memories involved grease and metal. The idea of leaving that behind was almost unbearable.
Sean growled and punched his pillow. Right now he didn't want to worry about his father's business or being a full-time firefighter. He wanted to think about Maggie and those heated moments on the beach, when they'd been all over each other like a couple of hormonal teenagers. Even now, he could still feel the warm fullness of her body pressed against his; he could still taste the sweetness of her lips and feel the silky smoothness of her skin on his tongue.
Hell, that wasn't going to help him sleep, either.
Sean managed to sleep for a few hours before waking up and heading into work. By noon, however, he had had enough. He knew when to admit defeat, and he was defeated. "Ma, I'm taking the afternoon off," he said wearily.
"About time," Suzanne told him. "We've been taking bets all morning on long it would be before you either gave up or fell down."
"Funny joke, Ma."
"Who's joking? I won the pool."
He wished he had enough energy to make a comment about mothers who bet on their son's imminent collapse, but decided to let it go. He needed sleep.
Well, after he saw Maggie. Just to make sure she everything was all right between them, he told himself. He owed her an apology, although he wasn’t sure if he needed to apologize for what had happened, or for leaving her there alone on the beach without finishing what they started. Then right home and straight to bed.
Alone, of course.
She was just coming back from the beach when he arrived at Carrington House. She was wearing a simple blouse and jeans with the cuffs rolled up to her knees, and the wet fabric told him that she had been wading in the cold waters of Lake Michigan. He forced himself to think clean thoughts as she bent to brush away the wet sand that clung to her ankles.
His heart sped up when he looked up and smiled at the sight of him. "Get your fires all put out?" she asked.
"No problem. Just a matter of putting the wet stuff on the red stuff." He tried to hide a yawn behind his hand.
"Sean, you're exhausted."
"I am," he agreed. "I'm going home to get some sleep right now, in fact. Since we missed out on the whitefish last night, I wanted to invite you to come along to a cookout tonight with the rest of the Fire Department and their families. It's really casual, just a dozen of us and a few family members."
He kissed her then, because he couldn't think of any other way to stop her protest. It was a gentle, sleepy kiss with none of the passion from the previous night, but it felt good. When he pulled away, he was surprised to see that now-familiar enigmatic little smile on her face.
"Come on," she said softly, taking his hand and leading him toward inside.
"But, Maggie, this isn't why I stopped by."
"Shhh." She led him up the stairs and down the hall to her room, which, although tastefully decorated, contained little more than a bed and a dresser. "Make yourself comfortable," she told him, and disappeared into the bathroom.
Comfortable? He looked around again, hoping to find a chair hidden somewhere. She was every bit as tantalizing as she had been the previous night; he could have kicked himself for wondering if there wasn't some way to get a rain check for whatever she had in mind right now.
He perched carefully on the edge of the bed. It was comfortable. And she did tell me to make myself comfortable , he reflected. He pushed himself back away from the edge and leaned carefully against the pillows. Just for a moment or two, he told himself. That was all. Then he would make his apologies to Maggie and drive home for a little nap.
He didn't even have time to argue with himself. He thought he heard Maggie laughing quietly as she snuggled in next to him, but decided that it must be part of the dream that started even