“It’s been a week,” he groans in my ear as he teases me with his fingers.

“It’s been three days,” I correct him as I drop my head back against his chest. But it could be three minutes and I think I’d want him again.

He slips a finger inside me and then another. “I can’t help myself. It feels like forever since I’ve been inside you.”

I feel his rock-hard erection grinding against my bottom while he slides his fingers in and out of me. The way his hand is positioned, his fingers are rubbing my sweet spot and each stroke brings me closer to orgasm.

“Come for me, Laurelyn, and say my name when you do.”

Now, I’m grinding down on his hand and I’m saying his name in my head over and over until I fall over the edge into pure oblivion. “Jack Henry,” I cry out with the familiar spasms I’ve come to love so much.

I recognize the sound of a tearing wrapper so I know what’s he’s doing. I feel his fingers loop around the waistband of my panties and he drags them down my legs until I step out of them. “Hold on to the countertop. We’re not going to make it to the bedroom.”

I wrap my hands around the edge of the solid granite in front of me and he uses his knee to push my legs apart. One of his arms loops around my waist and yanks me so that I’m bent just the way he wants me. I feel him there, against my wet core, and then he pushes inside me with a force reflecting that of his pent-up sexual frustration.

I cry out at the surprise of the sudden intrusion and he stills. “Too rough?”

It only takes a moment for me to adjust to this position and then I’m rocking against him wanting more. “No, don’t stop.”

We synchronize our rhythms and he pounds into me over and over until I hear my name. That’s when I know he’s slipped over the edge. So I follow him.

I wake at four in the morning with lyrics racing through my head. I almost leave the bed to go to the piano, but I don’t. I can’t stand the thought of losing one minute of lying next to Jack Henry.

After he’s gone to work, I scramble to the piano to play the tune that danced in my head all morning and struggle to remember the exact words I was sure I couldn’t forget.

I jot down lyrics telling my story—how I wonder who will take my place after I’m gone and how I am secretly desperate for him to ask me to stay because I love him so much. I struggle because my hand isn’t fast enough to get the lyrics down as they flow from my head.

I put the words to music and sing them aloud, adjusting the melody for the best sound. I raise the key to test the tone of the chorus.

As I sing, I have that feeling you get when you’re being watched. Since Mrs. Porcelli often listens to me play, I look toward the doorway expecting to see her, but it’s not. It’s Margaret McLachlan.

My heart jumps into my throat. I immediately think something terrible has happened to Henry and she sees the fear in my eyes. “Nothing’s wrong, Laurelyn.”

I bring my hand to my chest, as if to calm my erratic heart. I get up from the piano and she meets me halfway for a hug. “Jack Henry is out on the vineyard. Should I call him?”

“No. I didn’t come to see him.”

I’m confused by this and I gesture toward the couch. “Come sit with me. Would you care for some coffee?”

“No. I’m fine, thank you.” She takes a seat on the sofa and I sit on the edge of the chair across from her. It seems the appropriate place for me to be—on the edge of my seat—because I’m dying to know what has brought her to Avalon.

“I’m sorry. I would have called, but I had no way of getting your number unless I asked Jack Henry, and I don’t want him to know I’m here to see you.”

This is news I wasn’t expecting. “You’re here to see me?”

“Yes, Laurelyn. I know you’re only here for two more weeks and I have something I want to say to you.”

I clutch the cushion of the chair to hold on so my ass doesn’t fall off into the floor. “Okay.”

“I know my son very well, and Jack Henry loves you. I see it in his eyes every time he looks at you.” Is it love she saw or was it the façade? “He wouldn’t have brought you to meet us or into our home if he didn’t. Trust me. That’s not something he does lightly.”

She’s smiling. “So now, I’m going to be a very forward and meddling mother. Do you love my son?”

Wow. I’m taken back by her question, but I know the answer without thinking about it. I should be guarded and not willing to confess it so easily, but I want nothing more than to scream it from the rooftop. “Yes. I love Jack Henry very much.”

She smiles even bigger and pats the cushion next to her. “Come sit next to me.”

I get up from the chair and do as she asks. She faces me and takes my hands. “Believe me, he’s going to be a stubborn jackass when it’s time for you to leave in a couple of weeks. He isn’t going to want to put his heart on the line and ask you to stay, but he will be sick with himself if he lets you go. Because you love him, you have to spend the rest of your time together showing him why he should ask you to stay.”

Whoa. I’m not sure, but I think Margaret McLachlan is advising me to get it on with her son. Does she think I haven’t already been doing that?

How do I make her understand about our agreement without telling her? “We knew we’d only be together for three months, so we agreed from the start that our relationship wouldn’t become serious. I don’t think he’s changed his mind about that.”

She squeezes my hands. “Hon, it doesn’t matter what you agreed to. If you love each other, that changes everything. Trust me. Nothing else matters. And a little nookie to change his mind never hurts, either.”

Yep. That’s exactly what I thought she was suggesting.

It’s only one week until Laurelyn leaves. It’s too soon and I want more time with her.

I’m neglecting my work at Avalon because I’m desperate to spend every minute with her. I can’t get enough of her and this morning is no different. That’s why I’ve come back to the house to see her after being gone for only an hour.

I open the bedroom door expecting her to still be asleep, but she’s not, and I hear the shower running. Maybe I’ll slip in and join her.

As I’m thinking it over, I hear a smothered version of “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon playing somewhere in the bedroom. I follow the sound until I find a ringing phone inside Laurelyn’s purse. I reach in and take it out to see the caller ID in case it’s an emergency from home. At least that’s why I tell myself I do it.

This time it’s not a missed call notification I see. It’s a photo of Laurelyn with her lips pressed against a man’s cheek. They look like a happy couple. Maybe even in love.

I contemplate what to do—answer or let it go to voicemail—and my curiosity wins out. I slide the bar over and have no idea what to say because I’m in the dark about who this man is. I put Laurelyn’s phone to my ear and listen without saying a word. A moment later, I hear his voice. He’s a Yank—of course. I would expect him to be. “Laurelyn. I know you’re there. I hear you breathing.”

I continue silent, waiting to hear some clue as to what kind of relationship she has with this man.

“If you’re not ready to talk, please listen.” I wait and hear nothing. I think we’ve been disconnected, but then he continues, “I miss you, Laurie. We had a great thing going and I know we can get it back. Baby, no one knows about us. I convinced Mitch and the guys you just needed a little time to deal with the stress of the music industry, but they’re not going to wait forever. You need to come back to Nashville so we can push this record deal through. You need to come home to me.”

I’m still not positive who Blake Phillips is, but I’m getting a much clearer picture. He’s the one before me, the one who hurt Laurelyn.

I’ve heard enough. “Laurelyn can’t come to the phone right now.”

There’s a moment of silence before he asks, “Who is this?”

“Jack McLachlan. I’m Laurelyn’s boyfriend, her Australian boyfriend. Because that’s where she is—in Australia with me. Not in Nashville with you.”

“I need to speak with Laurie as soon as possible. Please, tell her to call Blake.”

“She doesn’t want to talk to you and you’re out of your fucking mind if you think I’m telling my girlfriend to call her ex-hole. I’m sure you understand.” I press the end button because we’re done here.

Laurelyn is mine. Not his.

After I end the call, I thumb through photo after photo of Laurelyn with this guy and see the proof of her happy life before me. It’s unsettling, even painful to see.

I hear the shower cut off and try to decide what my approach will be to asking Laurelyn about her relationship with this guy. I’m sitting on the side of the bed when she comes out of the bathroom wearing a towel wrapped turban style around her hair. She’s as naked as the day she was born.

She’s startled to see me and lets out a girlish squeal as she uses her hands to cover herself. She realizes it’s me and grins as she drops her hands from her naked body. “Shit, you scared me. I thought you were gone for the day.”

“I was, but I came back for something.” I wish I hadn’t. I don’t want these feelings I have.

Laurelyn grins as she walks over to her lingerie drawer. “What’s going on? You’re acting weird.”

I watch her step into a pair of white lace panties and pull them up. She reaches for the matching bra and slips her arms through it before fastening the clasp between her breasts.

I decide I’m done wondering. “Tell me who Blake Phillips is.”

She pales as she freezes in place. Her words come out as a whisper. “Why would you ask me that?”