Home Fires

Free Home Fires by Barbara Delinsky

Book: Home Fires by Barbara Delinsky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Delinsky
prick of tears in her eyes. Looking down in vain denial of the emotion he stirred, she tried to focus on his words, but those to come were even more emotion-laden.
    â€œYou came to me willingly tonight, didn’t you?” he asked pointedly.
    She twisted the pearl ring slowly on her finger as she struggled to recall its origin. But the fact that it had been a gift from Larry was suddenly irrelevant. “Yes,” she whispered, unable to lie.
    â€œWhy, Deanna? Why did you come? Why did you let me make love to you?”
    She shrugged, frowned and stared at his hands. They were strong and warm and she wished one held her own hand. She recalled how gently he’d touched her, how sweetly he’d caressed her body and brought her to the moment of fulfillment she’d never experienced before. Soft tremors tickled her insides in memory of that glorious instant. But it was past. Now she was being asked to examine her motives. How did one bare one’s soul when its contents were an enigma?
    Her eyes fell on her own hands, clutched together with tension. “Don’t ask me to explain myself,” she pleaded softly. “I don’t think I can do that.”
    â€œCan you see me again … tomorrow night?”
    Her head flew up. “No.”
    Though he’d known what the answer would be, it was no easier to accept. “You haven’t got other plans, have you?” Silently she shook her head, then raised her brows as he continued. “Will you tell me something, Deanna?” She waited. “Have there been other men since your husband died?”
    Startled by his directness, she stiffened. “You don’t need me to answer that, do you?”
    Mark’s chuckle held admiration. “The perfect evasion.”

    â€œI didn’t mean it that way,” she put in quickly. “But I’m sure you already know the answer. If I’d been with other men I would be taking this all in stride rather than agonizing over it, wouldn’t I?”
    â€œIt’s possible”—he arched a brow—“that what you felt with me was powerful enough to frighten you.” The ensuing pause was pregnant with meaning. “Well … ?”
    Deanna jumped to her feet. “I’ve got to go. Really.”
    â€œYou can’t!” Mark stood up just as quickly and reached out to feather-touch the auburn silk of her hair. “I mean …” He shifted self-consciously, grinned sheepishly, then broke into an exquisitely tender smile. “That is … you’d better hitch up your hair again. It looks positively beautiful to me … but that housekeeper of yours is apt to wonder.”
    Deanna put a hand to her shoulder, where her tresses spilled in sensual luxury. “Oh!” she gasped, then blushed, even dared to laugh at herself. “I forgot! You’re right. She would wonder …”
    â€œCome on.” He tilted his head. “You can use my things.”
    Unwilling to argue, she felt characteristically docile as she retraced her steps to the bathroom. Mark fished a brush from his leather kit, handed it to her, then leaned back against the doorjamb to watch her work.
    After several long strokes she paused. “My hair will be all over your brush … .”
    He crossed his arms over his chest and beamed in delight at the sight before him. “I don’t mind. Except for the length, it’d be hard to tell your hair from mine. And it’s not as if I have a jealous wife to wonder who’s been sharing my hairbrush.”
    Deanna froze. Unable to move, she stared at Mark in the mirror. “You don’t have one, do you?” she asked, horrified at the thought of what she might have done. Indeed, much of her horror was due to the fact that the
possibility of his being married hadn’t once entered her mind.
    But rather than ridiculing her naivete as he might have done, Mark laughed his pleasure and shook his

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