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“My feet hurt,” I whine.

“Come here, I’ll carry you,” Hardin offers.

What? I giggle.

He smiles uncertainly. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“You just offered to carry me.”

“And . . .”

“It’s just unlike you, that’s all.” I shrug, and he steps closer, hooks his arm under my legs, and lifts me into his arms.

“I would do anything for you, Tessa. You shouldn’t be surprised that I’d carry you up a damn driveway.”

I don’t speak, I just laugh. Hard. Uncontrollable laughter racks my body. I cover my mouth to stop it, but it doesn’t help one bit.

“Why are you laughing?” His face is stone, serious and intimidating.

“I don’t know . . . that was just funny,” I say.

We reach the porch, and he shifts me slightly so he can turn the knob on the door. “Me telling you that I’d do anything for you is funny?”

“You’ll do anything for me—except go to Seattle, marry me, or have children with me?” Even in my drunkenness, the irony is not lost on me.

“Don’t start with me; we’re too drunk to have this conversation right now.”

“Ooooh,” I immaturely remark, knowing that he’s right.

Hardin shakes his head and walks up the stairs. I latch on to his neck, and he smiles down at me despite his curt behavior.

“Don’t drop me,” I whisper, and he lets go of me just enough to slide me down his torso. I turn and wrap my legs around his waist, letting out a small yelp as I cling to his body.

“Shh, if I was going to drop you,” he threatens, “it would be from the top.”

I do my best to look appalled. A wicked grin spreads over his face, and I lean up and stick my tongue out at him, touching the end of his nose with it.

I blame the whiskey.

At the end of the hall, a light clicks on, and Hardin hurries to the room we’re sharing. “You woke them up,” he says and places me on the bed. I lean down to remove my shoes, rubbing my sore ankles as I drop the monstrous shoes to the floor.

“Your fault,” I say and walk past him and open the dresser drawer to dig out something more comfortable to sleep in. “This dress is killing me,” I groan, reaching behind me to unzip it. It was much easier to zip it when I was sober.

“Here.” Hardin moves behind me and brushes my hand aside. “What the hell?”


His fingers trace over my skin, raising goose bumps. “Your skin is red, like the dress left these marks on you.” He touches a spot under my shoulder blade and pushes the fabric down my back until it hits the floor.

“It was really uncomfortable,” I whine.

“I can see that.” He circles me with hungry eyes. “Nothing is supposed to be marking you, except me.”

I gulp. He’s drunk, playful, and his dark eyes give away exactly what he’s thinking.

“Come here.” He steps toward me, closing the small gap between us. He’s fully dressed, and I’m only in a bra and panties.

I shake my head. “No . . .” I know there’s something I have to say to him, I just can’t recall what it is. I can barely remember my name when he’s looking at me this way.

“Yes,” he counters, and I back away.

“I’m not having sex with you.”

He grabs me by the arm and pushes his free hand into my hair, gently tugging at it so I’m forced to look up at him. His breath fans across my face, his lips only inches from mine. “And why is that?” he asks.

“Because . . .” My mind scrambles for answers as my subconscious begs for the rest of my clothes to be torn off. “I’m upset with you.”

“So? I’m upset with you, too.” His lips graze over my skin, trailing along my jawline. My knees are weak, my mind is heavy and cloudy.

I crinkle my brow and ask, “Why would you be? I didn’t do anything.” My stomach clenches when his hands move to my backside, squeezing and kneading slowly.

“Your little show on the bar was enough to send me to the fucking madhouse, not to mention the fact that you were parading around town with that fucking waiter; you disrespected me in front of everyone by staying with him.” His tone is threatening, but his lips are soft as they travel down to my neck. “I want you so bad, I wanted you at that shitty bar. After watching you dance like that, I wanted to take you into the bathroom and fuck you against the wall.” He presses himself against me, and I can feel how hard he is.

As much as I want him, I can’t allow him to blame everything on me.

“You . . .” I close my eyes, relishing the feeling of his hands on me, his lips on me. “You are the one . . .” I can’t form a solid thought, let alone make a sentence. “Stop it.”

I grab his hands to stop them from groping me further.

His eyes flash, and he drops his hands to his sides. “You don’t want me?”

“Of course I do, I always do. I just . . . I’m supposed to be mad.”

“Be mad tomorrow,” he says with that evil grin of his.

“I always do that, I need to—”

“Shh . . .” He covers my mouth with his lips and kisses me, hard. My lips part, and he takes full advantage, tugging at my hair once more, dipping his tongue into my mouth, and pulling me as close to his body as possible.

“Touch me,” he begs, reaching for my hands. I don’t have to be told twice; I want to touch him, and he needs the reassurance. This is the way we deal with things, and as unhealthy as it is, it doesn’t feel that way when he’s kissing me like this and begging me to put my hands on him.

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