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Through the Veneer of Time, medieval time travel historical romance, time travel fiction fantasy, irish historical romance, serial killer fbi agent romance, suspense romance series, mystery thriller romance, mystery suspense romance, Celtic triquetra
Bonus Content

Just You and Me

May 23, 2005, Washington, D.C.

My flight to Ireland had started early boarding, so our impromptu date was cut short.

I reached for my carry-on.

“When are you getting back?” Ryan drained his whiskey in one neat swig.

I abandoned the bag. “In three weeks.”

He pulled out his phone, tapped, and handed it to me, screen set to the keypad. “Your number—”

I raised my eyebrows at this crisp order.

“I’m taking you out on a date when you return.” His grin had lit up his face from inside out and lingered in his eyes, warm and twinkling. “To erase the memory of whatever Irish charm you might encounter there.”

If he’d been worried—which I doubted—it had been for nothing. No one I met in Ireland came close to his mind-boggling mixture of audacity and tenderness, which was all I could think about for three weeks straight.
He texted me twice during my trip—the day I landed to ask about my flight, and a week later with the time and the place for our date. Aside from my two replies, I texted him once—to let him know I was back in D.C. and that I’d see him in the evening.

The Georgetown restaurant he chose was perfect for a first date: lively music, ambient lighting, familiar scents of Italian cooking.

I followed the hostess inside, tense as a spring. It’s been three weeks. What if he—

The thrill that shot through me at the sight of him at the table for two bordered on unhealthy.

He stood: white oxford shirt, dark blue tie, well-fitting black slacks. He looked exactly like an FBI agent—the dream variety.

“Hi.” He took a step around the table to give me a hug.

His smooth baritone reverberated in my fingertips. His hands slid down my back, leaving burning imprints in their wake. I breathed deeper: laundry detergent, deodorant, and him. His back beneath my fingertips was pure muscle.

My heart raced against his chest. Or was it his against mine?

“You look stunning,” he murmured in my ear, voice low and husky.

I look stunning? I plopped down on my chair, shivering from head to toe.

“How was your trip?” He took a long swig from his lowball glass—whiskey on ice.

“I don’t even have the words to describe it.” I stared into his eyes. Green—no, hazel. Dark, light, penetrating. I could drown in them. “I think I’m in love.”

I forced myself to blink. Stop it. Right now.

He nodded, gaze locked on mine. “Yeah, it’s one hell of a special place.”

I grabbed my water. The way his eyes raked me, it was like he’d already seen all of me—and couldn’t get enough.

He blinked. “You never told me what your master’s is in.”

“Fine art.” I gave a faint laugh of relief. “I’m on my way to becoming a starving artist.”

“Oh… you paint?”

Did he shiver?

I jerked at the sound of the waiter’s voice. “Have you two decided? Need a little help?”

“Great place, by the way,” I said after the waiter took our order.

Ryan grinned. “I thought you’d appreciate good Italian cooking.”

“Because of my last name?”

I was half-joking, but he leaned in with a wink. “It’s a cool name. Will make a great middle name when you get married.”

Are you kidding me? I stiffened. Either he was a player of the worst kind or—seriously?—I was looking at my future husband.

I laughed to hide my turmoil—and we both reached for the bread. His hand was straight from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam—large, strong, capable, unapologetically masculine. My breath hitched when he stroked the back of my hand with his thumb. I wanted his fingers on my skin, in my hair, in my mouth. I wanted a wedding band on his ring finger, where I’d put it.

I tore my gaze from this living work of art to be met with narrowed eyes the color of melted caramel, speckled with mint. His thumb continued its unhurried stroking. Sure, warm, firm. His gaze deepened—he wasn’t thinking of my hand and wanted me to know it.

My breath quickened. He can see you! I pressed my thighs together and shut my gaping mouth—only to emit a shuddering sigh.

He bent to place the lightest of kisses on the spot he’d been caressing. It echoed where he’d intended.

“Let’s eat, Siena.” His eyes burned holes in my face.

“Yeah…” I swallowed. “We should.”

My linguine cardinale smelled like all the best chefs of Italy had prepared it together, but I couldn’t force down a single bite to save my life.

He raised a sandy eyebrow, fork suspended in the air. “Not good?”

“No, I’m just…” Shut up. “It’s delicious. I’m just a slow eater, Ryan.”

I pulled in my breath. I could almost hear myself screaming his name.

A slow smile built in his eyes. “Let’s get on with it, so we can get to the best part.”

Did I gasp?

“The desert is amazing here,” he said with a bright green twinkle.

Ryan was a fast eater, but his spaghetti with meatballs was Italian-sized. And that, along with my vital glass of wine, was the main reason I’d managed to shove down some of my linguine. But I had no trouble with the tiramisu. Aside from the one my grandmother used to make, it was the best I’d ever tasted.

“Mmm, this is so good…” I murmured, looking up.

His gaze on my mouth turned dark and unblinking. “The way you’re licking your lips, that’s barely legal, Siena.”

I took a large gulp of coffee in lieu of breathing. “You’re the authority on law here.”

He licked his spoon clean and ran his tongue over his lips. Perfect male lips—firm, resolute, and full of skill and promise.

I released a surreptitious breath. You will not break your non-negotiable dating rule tonight.

The lips parted. “My place. Just you and me.”

Another order, but this one stopped me in my tracks. Just you and me. Somewhere deep down, I knew he’d say those exact words. Yeah, right. An FBI agent—he’d obviously read my body language, but even if I was falling for him faster than a plunging roller coaster, did I look that easy?

“Holy shit—” He raked his hair with an unmitigated look of alarm. “Mea culpa. I can’t think clearly around you. A walk?”

It was the perfect summer evening: warm, gentle, still. We walked down Wisconsin Avenue as people emerged from restaurants and bars. In an unspoken agreement, we took a turn to the Potomac. The noise faded when we came to a stop in front of an ancient oak tree, its giant roots peeking through the earth as if trying to break free.

Ryan tucked an errant strand behind my ear and traced my jawline with the back of his hand. “I’ve been thinking about you for three weeks straight, Siena.” He bent to my lips. “And I won’t apologize for this.”

His mouth tasted like coffee. He pulled me closer, tighter—so tight I gasped. His warm lips, coarse scruff. His kiss was home. His body was a fortress. I buried my hands in his hair, thick and smooth. I melted into him. Home, home, home. Sparkling, breathtaking, magical. Time stopped, and the world fell away. Had I even been kissed before?

My heart raced in perfect unison with his. Just him and me.

“I meant it, Siena…” he breathed into my mouth, into my soul, “I’m going to marry you.”

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