From Secondhand Smoke
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved
In Ghost’s life history, there existed a handful of moments in which the heaviness of failure had overcome him, and he’d felt himself begin to crumble beneath its weight. One had occurred when his first marriage ended. Another when he’d recognized the mistake of separating Ava and Mercy. And now there was this one. [Redacted because of plot spoilers]
Failure. And failure was inexcusable in a president.
The sun was sinking as he walked into the back door at home. He was grateful for the warm light of the kitchen and all its normal homey smells of food and flowers. He didn’t tell Mags often enough, but he would be forever thankful for the way she’d brought a sense of home into his life. He’d never had that before her; she worked hard at it, and most days he walked right through her magic without acknowledgement.
That was shitty of him. Funny how failure had a way of sharpening his priorities.
“Babe?” he called, toing off his boots in the rack, shrugging off jacket and cut. “Something smells good. What is that?”
Her voice sounded behind him, low, throaty, and not what he’d been expecting. “Pot roast, if you’re hungry. But maybe you’d like a little appetizer?”
A prickling up the back of his neck as he turned, the good kind. A fast pulse of anticipation deep in his belly.
And then he caught sight of her.
She transported him back through time, all the way to the afternoon they’d met, that cool fall day outside the liquor store. The Maggie standing before him now, one hand braced in the kitchen doorjamb, was the Maggie of his violent mid-twenties’ obsession. She wore a denim miniskirt that hugged her hips and flashed every inch of her long pale legs. Black boots. White tank top that left nothing to the imagination. She’d teased her thick blonde hair. And her lips – bright flawless red.
His mouth went dry, and every drop of blood in his head fled to places south.
“Mags.” He advanced on her slowly, taking in the low-lidded eyes that had first snagged his attention all those years ago. All she was missing was the cigarette. “You feeling nostalgic?”
“Hmm.” Her smile was mysterious, knowing, full of feminine power. “A little bit.”
“Any particular reason why?” When he put his hand on her waist, he felt the surge of electricity in his blood that accompanied all those first forbidden touches between them. He always claimed to have been shocked and appalled when he’d learned that she was only sixteen. He had no attraction to underage girls; he’d been disturbed when she’d told him.
That, of course, wasn’t true. Their age gap was as exciting to him now as it had always been.
So he was a bastard. What else was new?
Her hair rustled as she tipped her head back to look at him. “You’ve been really stressed, and I thought you might like a little walk down memory lane.”
When he kissed her, she leaned into him, pressed her breasts against his chest, clutched at his biceps and let her neck soften. He loved that reaction. Maggie could be as hard-nosed and tough as she wanted during the day, but when he kissed her, she melted.
Every stroke of her lips against his stripped a year away. He felt younger, stronger, lighter by the second as her hands kneaded across his chest and her mouth opened for his tongue.
They needed more moments like these, he decided. Moments in which they weren’t just parents, grandparents, the voices of reason – but moments for the two of them. Husband and wife time.
Ghost pinned her back against the doorframe and bunched up her skirt. She was naked underneath. Damn. He was just discovering that this was exciting for her too when she pulled back.
“Ghost.” Her tone froze him cold. Her eyes, when they lifted to his, were cool and serious…if not a little heavy-lidded still, because, as he could feel against his hand, she was deeply invested in the sex that was about to happen.
She sighed. “Okay, I can’t do this.”
He slid his fingers through the slippery wetness between her legs. “Pretty sure you’re all ready for it, sweetheart.”
A quick smile. “Oh trust me. I need it, baby. Bad.” She lifted her hands to frame his face, her touch familiar, grounding, sweet. But possessed of the command of any general. “I’m supposed to be keeping you distracted.”
A warning signal pinged in the back of his mind.
“But that goes against every maternal instinct I’ve got,” she continued, growing more urgent. “Your son needs you tonight. All of your boys need you.”