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Page 57

“I want to hear you,” Nick says, his voice harsh and breath coming way too fast. “Let me hear you.”

I can’t deny him—or myself. Not on this. For once, I don’t have to stay quiet while I come all by myself in the bed next to a snoring husband. I can moan and sigh and talk dirty and whatever the hell else I want.

So I do.

It feels amazing, just like everything else about this afternoon. And this man.

My fingers tangle in his hair.

My hips move against his.

My lips slide over his.

Electricity. Power. Need. They sweep through me all at once—sweep through us both—and take us up, up, up. Until I can’t think. Can’t breathe. Can’t do anything but feel.

I’m drowning in sensations, drowning in a need I’ve never felt before, and just when I’m certain I can’t take any more—that we can’t take any more—I shatter into a million tiny pieces.

Nick breaks with me, and it isn’t until long minutes later, when I’m finally able to remember my own name and how to do something more than tremble and cling, that I can’t help wondering how many of his pieces have gotten mixed up with mine.

And how I’m supposed to give them back.

Chapter Forty-Four


   I wake up with a hand cupping my breast and a long, warm body pressed against my back.

I’d like to say it takes me a few seconds to remember where I am, but the truth is, I know where I am as soon as I drift into consciousness—maybe even before. I’m in Nick’s house, in Nick’s bed, and every single muscle in my body is aching just enough to remind me of what we spent most of the evening doing.

I moan a little—in horror, not pleasure—as images from last night flash through my brain at high speed.

Nick slamming into me against the wall as I dug my nails into his back and begged for more.

Nick dropping me down on the edge of his bed and then falling to his knees between my legs.

Nick turning me over while a third orgasm still had my knees shaking and plunging inside me until I screamed myself hoarse with pleasure.

Nick touching me, kissing me, fucking me, over and over and over again.

Nick throwing his head back as he came.

Nick smiling wickedly.

Nick.

Nick.

Nick.

He’s all I can see against the black backdrop of my closed lids. All I can feel wrapped around me in this warm, toasty bed. All I can smell or taste or hear as I try to get my galloping heart and rampaging imagination under control. What happens next? It’s hard to have a one-night stand with a guy who lives across the street!

I take a deep breath in an effort to tamp down the panic sliding around inside me, but it doesn’t work. Partly because I’m too freaked out and partly because Nick is waking up, his long, lean, hard body moving against me even as his fingers stroke and squeeze my nipple.

Heat that never really went away flares to life, and there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to roll over and kiss him. To graze my hand along his body until he’s trembling against me. To shift down the bed and take him deep inside my mouth, my throat.

But there’s another part of me that is screaming about the fact that I’m supposed to be walking into his office to work for him in less than two hours. And before that, I have to do the walk of shame across the street to my house in front of the entire neighborhood.

What am I supposed to do? This is a mess. A huge, giant mess, and I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to fix it.

Nick’s hand drifts lower, down my rib cage and across my stomach, and I stiffen as all the worries in my head come roaring over me.

His hand stops immediately.

“Hey,” he says in a voice that is even lower and sexier and more gravelly than usual. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” The word sticks in my throat as I roll over to climb out of bed. “I should probably get going—”

“Going? Now?” He sounds surprised, and maybe even a little concerned.

“It’s okay,” I say. “Everything is—”

“Wait a minute.” He tugs me onto my back so that I can’t hide from him, then props himself up onto an elbow.

He’s pulled away and isn’t touching me anymore, and there’s a wariness on his face that makes my stomach churn even as it exacerbates every fear I have deep inside.

“What’s going on inside that head of yours?” he asks.

“As opposed to outside this head of mine?” I snark.

Nick sighs, even as he reaches up to brush a few strands of hair out of my face. “I’m sorry. I probably should have said this before we ended up in bed last night, but the moment just got away from us both. We should discuss boundaries, you working for me right now and all. So there are no misunderstandings, yes?”

Oh God. The only thing more embarrassing than the walk of shame for all of Huckleberry Hills is for the guy, whose house said walk begins with, to first tell me this was a onetime thing.

“I get it,” I tell him, shoving away and out of bed. “You don’t have to spell it out.”

“Spell what out?” he asks as my gaze darts around for a blanket or towel. Or hell, a dirty sock on the floor.

My clothes are in the living room, and I’ve never been more embarrassed being naked in my life. It’s one thing having Nick look at me yesterday, when everything was couched in a sea of lust. It’s another altogether to have him staring at me with clear eyes in the harsh glare of the morning sunlight. I head toward the door in all my un-glory.

“That this can’t happen again,” I clarify. “That we’re about to start working together and are neighbors and need to stay friends.” I toss a wave over my shoulder and try to make it out the door with my last shred of dignity. “Like I said, I get it.”

Except Nick is around the bed before I can even get to the door. “Hey,” he says, grabbing my hand. “That’s not what I was going to say.”

“Yeah, well, it’s what I was going to say, so you don’t need to bother with trying to let me down easy.”

He’s nicer than Karl and probably wants to get out of this without hurting anyone’s feelings, but I don’t have it in me to listen to him fumble around trying to be a good guy.

Things are what they are—better to just lay it out there so there are no hurt feelings or misconceptions. The last thing my pride can take right now is another man thinking I’m going to shrivel up and die without him.

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