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“Me, too,” he breathes and dips his head down to my neck. “This is what’s good for us . . . to be close this way,” he whispers. His arms tighten around my body, and he uses his knees to guide us onto the bed as his lips gently suck on my tingling skin. I can feel him growing hard against my leg; he’s ready to go again, and so am I.

“I’ve missed you so fucking much . . . I’ve missed your body,” he hisses. His hands travel under my thin cotton T-shirt, and he pulls it up over my head. My ponytail catches on the neckline, but Hardin gently untangles my hair, and his fingers reach behind me to pull the band out, letting my hair fall against the mattress beneath me. He gently presses his lips to my forehead; his mood has changed since he ravished me at the gym. He was rough there, sexy and commanding. But now he’s being my Hardin, the soft and gentle man hiding inside of a tough exterior.

“The way your pulse”—his lips hover inches from mine, and his fingers press against the tender beating in my neck as he breathes—“goes fucking crazy when I touch you, especially here”—his free hand slides down over my stomach and into the front of my pajama pants.

“You’re always so ready for me.” He groans, running his middle finger up and down. I feel my skin catch fire—it’s a steady burn instead of an explosion, as fits his gentle touch. Hardin removes his hand, then brings his finger to his lips. “So sweet,” he says, and his wet tongue slowly darts out to cover the tip of his finger.

He knows exactly what he’s doing to me. He knows how much his dirty words affect me and how much they make me want him. He knows, and he’s doing a damn good job at making me burn with desire from the inside out.

Chapter ninety-eight


I know exactly what I’m doing to her. I know how much she loves my filthy mouth, and when I look down at her, she doesn’t even bother to conceal it.

“You’re being such a good girl,” I say with a dark smile, eliciting a moan from her without so much as a touch to her flaming skin.

“Tell me what you want,” I whisper into her ear. I can practically hear her erratic pulse under her skin. I’m driving her crazy, and I fucking love it.

“You,” she says, desperately, vaguely.

“I want it slow. I want you to feel every single moment that you were away from me.”

I tug on her pajamas and give her a commanding look. Without a word she nods and pulls them down. Then I press my thumb into her thin cotton panties, tearing them from her body. Her eyes are wide and dark, her lips pink and swollen. The force of my movement pulls her into me, and she wraps both of her small hands around my arms, hooking them with her beautiful little fingers.

“Grab the condom,” she reminds me.

Fuck, it’s across the hall in the room that no one could have possibly expected me to actually stay in, with Tessa only meters away. Curiously, however, the nightstand was stocked with condoms upon my arrival.

“You grab the condom.” I playfully fight back, knowing there’s no chance in hell I’m having her scurry across the hallway half dressed. I gently push my hands under her back and unsnap her bra, then slide the black straps down before tossing the whole contraption onto the floor behind us.

“Cond—” she starts to remind me.

But her own sharp intake of breath interrupts the thought as I suck on her newly exposed nipples. She’s so sensitive to my touch, and I want to savor every second of her.

“Shh . . .” I silence her by biting down on the sensitive flesh.

But after a moment, I do climb to my feet. I don’t waste my time getting dressed. At least I’m wearing boxers; even if I wasn’t, I sure as hell wouldn’t be wasting my time putting clothes on right now.

I return to the room, four condoms in hand . . . I’m a little ambitious and overprepared, but with the way Tessa is behaving tonight, we may need the entire drawerful.

“I missed you,” she sweetly remarks, a shy smile covering her face. And then there’s a flash of embarrassment in her eyes when she realizes she’s said the words aloud.

“And I you,” I reply, which sounds as cheesy as I expected it to.

Without any further Hallmark statements, I move to join her on the bed again. She’s sitting up, completely topless, with her back against the headboard and her knees slightly bent. She’s completely naked; only the cream satin sheets drape over the top of her thighs, blending in with her creamy skin.

I have to control myself at the sight. I have to stop myself from literally diving onto the bed, ripping the sheets away from her, and taking what is mine. I want tonight . . . well . . . morning now, to go smoothly, and I don’t want to rush it.

Smiling, I stare at the woman on the bed. She’s staring back at me, her eyes soft and warm, her cheeks painted a deep pink. When I join her on the bed, eager hands move straight to the lining of my boxers, tugging them down my thighs. Her feet finish the job, and she gathers me in her hand, squeezing gently.

“Christ,” I hiss, momentarily losing my focus on everything except her touch. She begins to slowly pump, her small wrist twisting slightly as it moves up and down, and I fucking love the way she knows exactly how to touch me. As she lays herself down, her hand keeps a steady rhythm, and I give her the condom, silently instructing her what to do next.

She bites her lip and quickly obliges. As the latex rolls down me, I silently curse at her, and myself, for never following through with the birth-control plan. The feeling of skin on skin with her is heavenly, and now that I’ve felt it, I crave more and more.