I lean in and give him a peck on the mouth. He brings his hand to the side of my head and pulls back. “I know you’re probably ready to have hot, sweaty sex, but I don’t have the energy tonight. I’m sorry. But I’ve missed you and for some reason I sleep better when I sleep next to you. Is it okay that I’m here?”

I smile. “It’s more than okay.”


He leans in and kisses my forehead. He grabs my hand and then holds it between us on the pillow. His eyes close, but I keep mine open and stare at him. He has the type of face that people shy away from, because you could get lost in it. And to think, I get to look at this face all the time. I don’t have to be modest and look away, because he’s mine.


This is a trial run. I have to remember that.

After a minute, he releases my hand and begins to flex his fingers. I look down at his hand and wonder what that must be like . . . to have to stand for so long and use your fine motor skills for eighteen hours straight. I can’t think of much else that would match that level of exhaustion.

I slide out of the bed and retrieve some lotion out of my bathroom. I go back to the bed and sit cross-legged next to him. I squirt some lotion on my hand and then pull his arm to my lap. He opens his eyes and looks up at me.

“What are you doing?” he mumbles.

“Shh. Go back to sleep,” I say. I press my thumbs into the palm of his hand and rotate them upward and then out. His eyes fall shut and he groans into the pillow. I continue massaging his hand for about five minutes before switching to his other hand. He keeps his eyes closed the whole time. When I’m finished with his hands, I roll him onto his stomach and straddle his back. He assists me in pulling off his shirt, but his arms are like noodles.

I massage his shoulders and his neck and his back and his arms. When I’m finished, I roll off of him and lie down beside him.

I’m running my fingers through his hair and massaging his scalp when he opens his eyes. “Lily?” he whispers, looking at me sincerely. “You just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

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Those words wrap around me like a warm blanket. I don’t know what to say in response. He lifts a hand and gently cups my cheek, and I feel his stare deep in my stomach. Slowly, he leans forward and presses his lips to mine. I expect a peck, but he doesn’t pull back. The tip of his tongue slides across my lips, parting them softly. His mouth is so warm, I moan as his kiss grows deeper.

He rolls me onto my back and then drags his hand down my body, straight to my hip. He moves closer, sliding his hand down my thigh. He pushes against me and a surge of heat shoots inside me. I grab a fistful of his hair and whisper against his mouth. “I think we’ve waited long enough. I would very much like for you to fuck me now.”

He practically growls with a renewed sense of energy and begins to pull my shirt off. It becomes an interlude of hands and moans and tongues and sweat. I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever been touched by a man. The few who came before him were all boys—nervous hands and timid mouths. But Ryle is all confidence. He knows exactly where to touch me and exactly how to kiss me.

The only time he’s not giving my body his undivided attention is when he reaches to the floor and fishes a condom out of his wallet. Once he’s back under the covers and the condom is in place, he doesn’t even hesitate. He takes me brazenly in one swift thrust and I gasp into his mouth, every muscle in me tensing.

His mouth is fierce and needy, kissing me everywhere he can reach. I grow so dizzy, I can do nothing but succumb to him. He’s unapologetic in the way he fucks me. His hand comes between my headboard and the top of my head as he pushes harder and harder, the bed crashing against the wall with every push.

My fingernails dig into the skin of his back as he buries his face against my neck.

“Ryle,” I whisper.

“Oh, God,” I say.

“Ryle!” I scream.

And then I bite down on his shoulder to muffle every sound that comes after it. My whole body feels it—from my head to my toes and back up again.

I’m afraid I might literally pass out for a moment, so I tighten my legs around him and he tenses. “Jesus, Lily.” His body ripples with tremors, and he shoves against me one last time. He groans, stilling himself on top of me. His body jerks with his release and my head falls back against the pillow.

It’s a full minute before either of us is able to move. And even then, we choose not to. He presses his face into the pillow and lets out a deep sigh. “I can’t . . .” He pulls back and looks down at me. His eyes are full of something . . . I don’t know what. He presses his lips to mine and then says, “You were so right.”

“About what?”

He slowly pulls out of me, coming down on his forearms. “You warned me. You said one time with you wouldn’t be enough. You said you were like a drug. But you failed to tell me you were the most addictive kind.”

Chapter Ten

“Can I ask you a personal question?”

Allysa nods as she perfects a bouquet of flowers about to go out for delivery. We’re three days away from our grand opening, and it just keeps getting busier by the day.

“What is it?” Allysa asks, facing me. She leans into the counter and starts picking at her fingernails.

“You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to,” I warn. “Well I can’t answer it if you don’t ask it.”

That’s a good point. “Do you and Marshall donate to charity?”