I hope after everything I’ve told you that this doesn’t come as a shock, but I don’t “cuddle.” Typically, after a woman and I are done, there is no spooning, no snuggling, no frigging pillow talk. I might, on occasion, have a nap before I head out the door. But I can’t stand it when a girl braids herself around me like some mutant octopus. It’s annoying and uncomfortable.

With Kate, however, the old rules just don’t seem to apply. Our warm skin is meshed together, our bodies aligned, her ankle over my calf, my thigh under her bent knee. It feels…peaceful. Soothing in a way I can’t fully describe. I have absolutely no desire to move from this spot.


Unless it’s to roll over and nail her again.

She breaks the silence first. “When did you lose your virginity?”

I laugh. “Are we playing First and Ten again? Or are you wondering about my sexual history? Because if that’s it, I think you’re a little too late, Kate.”

She smiles. “No. It’s not like that. I just want to know you…more.”

I sigh as I think back. “Okay. My first time was…Janice Lewis. My fifteenth birthday. She invited me to her house to give me my present. It was her.”

I feel her smile against my chest. “Was she a virgin too?”

“No. She was just shy of eighteen—a senior.”

“Ah. The older woman. So she taught you everything you know?”

I smile and shrug. “I picked up a few tricks over the years.”

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We fall quiet again for a few minutes, and then she asks, “Don’t you want to know about mine?”

Don’t even have to think about that one.


Don’t want to spoil the mood, but we’ll pause here a second.

When it comes to a woman’s past, no guy wants to hear about it. I don’t care if you’ve f**ked one guy or a hundred—keep it to yourself.

Let me put it this way: When you’re out at a restaurant and the waiter brings your meal, do you want him to tell you about every single person who touched that food before you put it in your mouth?


I also think it’s pretty safe to assume that her first time was with Warren—that he was her one and only. And he is the last f**king person I want to be discussing at this particular place and time.

Now, back to my bedroom.

I turn on my side so I’m facing Kate. Our faces are close, our heads sharing one pillow. Her hand’s tucked under her cheek in an innocent kind of way.

“There is something I want to know, though,” I say.

“Ask away.”

“Why’d you go into I-banking?”

I come from a long line of white-collar professionals. Alexandra and I weren’t expected to follow in our parents’ footsteps—it just sort of happened that way. People always gravitate toward what they know, what’s familiar.

Like professional athletes. Have you ever noticed how many Juniors there are in major league baseball? It’s to distinguish them from their Hall of Fame fathers. The Manning quarterbacks—same deal. But I wonder what attracted Kate to investment banking considering her adolescent years of petty crime.

“The money. I wanted a career where I knew I’d make a lot of money.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Really?”

She looks at me knowingly. “You were expecting something more noble?”

“Yeah, I guess I was.”

Her smile dims. “The truth is, my parents got married young—had me young. They bought the diner in Greenville. Mortgaged it to the gills. We lived above it. It was…small…but nice.”

Her smile fades a little more. “My father was killed when I was thirteen. Car accident—drunk driver. After that, my mom was always busy. Trying to keep the diner going, trying to keep herself from falling apart.”

When she pauses again, I put my arm across her and pull her in until her forehead rests against my chest. And then she goes on:

“She barely kept us above water. I wasn’t deprived or anything, but…it wasn’t easy. Everything was a struggle. So, when they told me I was going to be Valedictorian, and I received a full scholarship to Wharton, I figured—okay—investing it is. I never wanted to be helpless or dependent. Even though I had Billy, it was important to me to know I’d be able to support myself, by myself. Now that I can, all I really want to do is take care of my mom. I’ve been asking her to move to New York, but so far she’s said no. She’s worked her entire life…I just want her to rest.”

I don’t know what to say. For all my snide comments about my family, I’m pretty sure I’d lose my frigging mind if something happened to any one of them.

I raise her chin so I can look into her eyes. Then I kiss her. After a few minutes, Kate turns around. I wrap my arms around her waist and pull her right up against me. I press my lips to her shoulder and settle my face in her hair. And even though it’s technically morning, that’s just how we stay until we both fall asleep.

Every healthy man in the world wakes up with a stiffy. A fatty. Morning wood. I’m sure there’s some medical explanation for the phenomenon, but I just like to think of it as a little present from God.

A chance to begin the day with your best dick forward.

I can’t remember the last time I slept next to a woman. Waking up beside one, however, definitely has its benefits. And I’m prepared to take full advantage of them.

With my eyes still closed, I roll over and search for Kate. I plan on teasing her awake before giving her a “good morning” from behind. It’s the only acceptable wakeup call, in my book. But as my hand slides over the sheets, it finds only empty space where she’s supposed to be. I open my eyes, sit up, and look around. There’s no sign of her.


I listen for movement in the bathroom or the sound of running water from the shower. But there’s only silence. Deafening, isn’t it?

Where’d she go?

My heart rate kicks up a notch at the thought that she snuck out while I was asleep. It’s a move I’ve performed myself—on several occasions—but one I’d never expect from Kate.

I’m just about to get out of bed when she appears in the doorway. Her hair’s pulled up in one of those elastic bands that women always seem to pull out of thin air. She’s wearing a gray Columbia T-shirt—my gray Columbia T-shirt—and I’m momentarily fascinated by the way her tits jiggle beneath the lettering as she walks.

Kate sets the tray she’s carrying on the bedside table. “Good morning.”

I pout. “It could’ve been. Why’d you get up?”

She laughs. “I’m starving. My stomach was growling like a caged troll. I was going to cook breakfast for us, but the only thing I could find in your kitchen was cereal.”

Cereal is the perfect food. I could eat it at every meal. And not the healthy bran-and-oats shit your parents shoved down your throat. I only go for the good stuff: Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, Cookie Crisp. My cabinet is a veritable smorgasbord of highly sugared puffed wheat.

I shrug. “I order out a lot.”

She hands me a bowl. Apple Jacks—good choice. Between bites, Kate says, “I borrowed a T-shirt. Hope you don’t mind.”

I crunch my breakfast of champions and shake my head. “Not at all. But I really like you better out of it.”

See how she looks down? How her lips curve into a soft smile? See the color that rises in her cheeks? Good God—she’s blushing again. After last night? After the cursing, the screaming, the scratching? Now she blushes?

Adorable, right? I think so too.

“I didn’t think cooking in the nude was very sanitary.”

I put my now-empty bowl back on the tray. “Do you like to cook?” In the months we’ve worked together, I’ve learned a lot about Kate, but there’s still more I want to know.

She nods and finishes her cereal. “You grow up over a diner, it kind of rubs off on you. Baking is sort of my thing. I make great cookies. If we can get the ingredients later, I’ll make them.”

I smile devilishly. “I’d love to eat your cookie, Kate.”

She shakes her head at me. “Why do I have the feeling you’re not talking about the chocolate chip variety?”

Remember that gift from God? I can’t let it go to waste. That would be a sin—and I really can’t afford any more of those. I drag her onto the bed and pull the T-shirt over her head.

“’Cause I’m not. Now, about that cookie…”

“Queen to B-seven.”

“Bishop to G-five.”

Games are fun.

“Knight to C-six.”


Games without clothes? They’re more fun.

Kate’s brow furrows as she stares at the chessboard. This is our third match. Who won the other two? Please, like you even need to ask.

We’ve been trading stories while we play. I told her about the time I broke my arm skateboarding when I was twelve. She told me about the day she and Delores dyed her hamster’s fur pink. I told her about the nickname Matthew and I have for Alexandra. (Kate pinched my nipple after that one. Hard. She remembered the day I called her “an Alexandra” in my office.)

It’s comfortable, easy, enjoyable. Not as enjoyable as screwing—but a close second. We’re lying on the bed on our sides, our heads resting on our hands, the board in the middle.

Oh—and in case you forgot, we’re nak*d.

Now, I know some women have issues with their bodies. Maybe you’ve got a little extra junk in the trunk? Get over it. Doesn’t matter. Naked kicks Modest’s ass every single time. Men are visual. We wouldn’t be f**king you if we didn’t want to look at you.

You can write that down if you like.

Kate has no problem being nak*d. She’s definitely comfortable in her own skin. And it’s sexy—damn sexy.

“Are you going to move or just burn a hole in the board looking at it?”

“Don’t rush me.”

I sigh. “Fine. Take all the time you need. There’s nowhere for you to go anyway. I’ve got you cornered.”

“I think you’re cheating.”

My eyes open wide. “That hurts, Kate. I’m wounded. I don’t cheat. I don’t need to.”

She raises a brow at me. “Do you have to be so cocky?”

“I certainly hope so. And talking dirty will get you nowhere. Stop stalling.”

She sighs and accepts defeat. I make my final move. “Checkmate. Want to play again?”

She rolls onto her stomach and bends her knees, so her feet almost touch her head. My c*ck twitches at the sight.

“Let’s play something else.”

Twister? Hide the Salami? Kama Sutra charades?

“Do you have Guitar Hero?”

Do I have Guitar Hero? The jousting of our millennia? The coolest video game of all time? Of course I do.

“Maybe you should pick something else,” I say. “If I keep beating you like this, it could damage your fragile female ego.”

Kate glares at me. “Set it up.”

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