I grin and walk back over to her bed. She scoots over and makes room for me. I hand Rylee back to her and we snuggle together on her bed and watch Rylee sleep, like it’s the most magnificent thing we’ve ever seen.

Chapter Twenty-Three


It’s three hours later and after ten o’clock when I make it back home. I stayed with Allysa for another hour after Ryle left and then went back to my office to finish up a few things so that I don’t have to go in for the next two days. Whenever Ryle has a day off, I try to coincide my own days off with his.

The lights are off when I walk through the front door, so that means Ryle is already in bed.

The entire drive home I thought about what he’d said. I wasn’t expecting this conversation to come up so soon. I’m almost twenty-five, but I had it in my head it would be at least a couple of years before we started trying for a family. I’m still not certain I’m ready for it yet, but knowing it’s now something he wants someday has put me in an incredibly happy mood.

I decide to make myself a quick bite to eat before waking him up. I haven’t had dinner yet and I’m starving. When I flip on the kitchen light, I scream. My hand goes to my chest and I fall against the counter. “Jesus Christ, Ryle! What are you doing?”

He’s leaning with his back against the wall next to the refrigerator. His feet are crossed at the ankles and his eyes are narrowed in my direction. He’s flipping something over in his fingers, staring at me.

My eyes fall to the counter to his left and I see an empty glass that probably recently held scotch. He drinks it on occasion to help him fall asleep.

I look back at him and there’s a smirk on his face. My body instantly grows warm at that smile because I know what comes next. This apartment is about to become a frenzy of clothes and kisses. We’ve christened nearly every room since we moved in here, but the kitchen is one we haven’t tackled yet.

I smile back at him, my heart still beating erratically from the shock of finding him here in the dark. His eyes fall to his hand, and I notice he’s holding the Boston magnet. I brought it from the old apartment and stuck it on this fridge when we moved in.

He places it back on the fridge and taps it. “Where’d you get this?”

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I look at the magnet and then back at him. The last thing I want to do is tell him that magnet came from Atlas on my sixteenth birthday. It would only bring up an already sore subject, and I’m too excited for what’s about to come next between us to give him the naked truth right now.

I shrug. “I can’t remember. I’ve had it forever.”

He stares at me silently and then straightens up, taking two steps toward me. I back myself against the counter and my breath catches. His hands meet my waist and he slides them between my ass and my jeans and pulls me against him. His mouth claims mine and he kisses me while he begins to lower my jeans.

Okay. So we’re doing this right now.

His lips drag down my neck as I kick off my shoes and then he pulls my jeans off the rest of the way.

I guess I can eat later. Christening the kitchen just became my priority.

When his mouth is back on mine, he lifts me and sets me down on the countertop, standing between my knees. I can smell the scotch on his breath, and I kind of like it. I’m already breathing heavily as his warm lips slide across mine. He takes a fistful of my hair and he tugs gently so that I’m looking up at him.

“Naked truth?” he whispers, looking at my mouth like he’s about to devour me.

I nod.

His other hand begins to slide slowly up my thigh until there’s nowhere left for his hand to go. He slips two warm fingers inside of me, keeping my gaze locked with his. I suck in a rush of air as my legs tighten around his waist. I begin to slowly move against his hand, moaning softly as he stares heatedly at me.

“Where did you get that magnet, Lily?”


My heart feels like it begins beating in reverse.

Why does he keep asking me this?

His fingers are still moving inside of me, his eyes still look like they want me. But his hand. The hand that’s wrapped in my hair begins to tug harder and I wince.

“Ryle,” I whisper, keeping my voice calm, even though I’m beginning to shake. “That hurts.”

His fingers stop moving, but his gaze never leaves mine. He slowly pulls his fingers out of me and then brings his hand up around my throat, squeezing gently. His lips meet mine and his tongue dives inside my mouth. I take it, because I have no idea what’s going through his head right now and I pray I’m overreacting.

I can feel him hard against his jeans as he presses into me. But then he pulls back. His hands leave me entirely as he flattens his back against the refrigerator, scraping his eyes over my body like he wants to take me right here in the kitchen. My heart begins to calm down. I’m overreacting.

He reaches beside him, next to the stove, and he picks up a newspaper. It’s the same newspaper he showed me earlier, with the awards article printed in it. He holds it up, then tosses it toward me. “Did you get a chance to read that yet?”

I blow out a breath of relief. “Not yet,” I say, my eyes falling to the article.

“Read it out loud.”

I glance up at him. I smile, but my stomach is anxious. There’s something about him right now. The way he’s acting. I can’t put my finger on it.

“You want me to read the article?” I ask. “Right now?”

I feel odd, sitting on my kitchen counter half naked, holding a newspaper. He nods. “I’d like you to take off your shirt first. Then read it out loud.”

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