FORTY-EIGHT

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Virginia awoke to a kiss. Opening her eyes, she found Mark standing beside the bed, all showered and dressed and wearing a leather jacket.

"Hi, sleepy head," he said softly.

He pushed the button to open the drapes. Sun came pouring through the window and she shut her eyes with a groan.

"I have to go get Simon. Do you want me to meet you at the gym or bring him here?"

She rubbed her eyes before propping herself up on elbows. "What time is it?"

"Eight."

"Is Janine up?"

"Yes, she's watching cartoons."

"We'll meet you at the gym, I guess." She sank back down to the pillows and closed her eyes.

"Are you sure?" he said with a chuckle. "Because it doesn't look like you're going anywhere right now."

She managed to force one eye open, but it was a brief peek. "I'm not a morning person."

"Duly warned." He leaned down to kiss her again, his coat creaking in complaint. "See you in a couple hours. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen."

When her eyes opened again, he was gone.

Ten minutes later she dragged herself into the shower.

The two of them were at Jack's by ten A.M., arriving just before Simon and Mark showed up. This time Mark did come in, walking right up to her for a quick kiss. "I told him about us. He's not too happy."

"Really?" Virginia glanced over at Simon, who gave them an angry glare as he made his way to the back of the gym.

"He just needs some time." The lines on Mark's forehead eased when he shifted his gaze back to hers. "I'm going to the office for a couple of hours, and then I'll head back here to take you all to lunch."

"Don't we have to be inconspicuous?"

"Let's go for a drive, find some place quiet and out of the way. Okay?"

"Sure." She didn't care where they went as long as she went with him.

As soon as his uncle left, Simon hustled over to her. "What are you doing?" he all but hissed.

"Good morning, Simon."

He ignored the pleasantries. "You think you know him, but you don't. This is my fault, getting you mixed up in all my family shit." The young face twisted into a scowl. "These are dangerous men, Virginia."

She put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm flattered you feel this need to protect me, but I'm very aware of who your uncle is, believe me. I've spent most of my career tracking his. You are wrong about him. He's a caring man. I wouldn't be as drawn to him as I am if he weren't. We are going to take our time and see what happens."

He folded his arms across his chest, cords of muscle tightening under the strain. Weekly training sessions with Dominique were paying off. He was getting big. After a brooding pause, he muttered a curse. And then a warning. "Be careful."

She sighed, watching his back as he walked away from her. Like I said, this isn't going to be easy.

END OF CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT 

Sorry for the short one, but I had to get Simon's view of things in here somewhere. Do you think he's exaggerating? Are his concerns justified? Do you see trouble brewing in the near future? Or is it all just teenage angst? 

Get ready for some more steam coming your way.


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