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“Because of the boys tagging along?”

“Yes.” I take a deep breath. “And also because he doesn’t give a fuck about my pleasure anymore, and this weekend was supposed to be something… I don’t know. Wild and fun and romantic. A way to celebrate graduating and all the hard work I’ve put in.”

“It’s not working out like you planned.”

It’s not a question, but I answer it anyway. “No. Not even a little bit.”

“I’m sorry.” He looks at the house and then at me, expression unreadable. “If you want to talk about it, we could go into my office. It’s chilly out here.”

It isn’t chilly out here. It’s balmy and perfect, and I could drop the towel and barely notice the difference. There is absolutely no reason we can’t talk out here. Saying yes is doing more than walking naked out of the pool as if I’m some kind of fearless seductress. Saying yes puts a layer of intent behind this.

I should say no. I should drag on Brad’s shirt and go back to the room I share with him and try to sleep. It’s what a good girlfriend would do. It’s what a good girl would do.

I don’t say no.

I wrap my arms around myself and nod slowly. “Okay.”

He grabs the shirt from the lounge chair and heads for the door without a word. I can’t pretend he’s pressuring me when I’m following behind him of my own power. My heart takes up residence in my throat, guilt and something worse twisting my stomach. It has nothing to do with the anticipation trilling through me, though. That anticipation, that recklessness, has me putting one foot in front of the other as I follow Mr. Jones up the stairs to his office on the second level. The second floor is smaller than the first, holding only Mr. Jones’s office…and his bedroom. Brad gave me a quick tour when we got here, but he mostly just flapped a hand at the two doors before we headed back downstairs.

Mr. Jones moves to the one on the right and opens it. He doesn’t move back, though, and my shoulder brushes his chest as I walk past him into the office. I expect him to flip on the overhead lights, but the switch he flicks turns on the gas fireplace in the corner.

The door clicking shut feels like a gunshot going off.

My nerves get the best of me, and I laugh, the sound edged. “A fireplace in a beach house?”

“I like to come out here in the winter.” I expect him to cross around to sit behind the desk, but he walks to the couch on the other side of the room and sits on one side.

I follow, tugged along by a pull I’ve tried so hard to ignore since arriving here, and sit on the other side of the couch. My damp hair makes me shiver, and I’m all too aware that the only thing I’m wearing is a towel.

Mr. Jones leans back and spreads his arm across the back of the couch. He doesn’t look at me, but his fingers brush my bare shoulder. I could almost pretend it’s an accident, but it’s no accident that I’m here right now. “Can I ask you a question, Neveah?”


His thumb strokes my shoulder. The tiniest of touches, but I have to fight back a whimper in response. It feels like he’s stroking me somewhere else entirely. Mr. Jones finally looks at me. God, he’s fucking hot. The firelight really loves his strong jawline and bold brows. “Is my son pleasing you?”

I flush. “He used to.”

“I suppose that answers that.” He shakes his head slowly, his gaze drinking me in. “I bet he stumbled into the room tonight, drunk as fuck, and did the equivalent of masturbating into your body.”

I flinch. “Yeah, that about sums it up.”

“That’s a damn shame.”

Is he closer? I don’t know. I think I’m leaning in. Or he is. Or maybe it’s both of us, drawn by the lust spinning out between us. This is the moment where I tell him this line of conversation is inappropriate and leave the room. That’s the only option. It has to be. I look into the flickering flames. “Yeah, tell me about it. I wish I could say it’s not always like this, but it seems to be the rule these days.”

I turn back to face him, and he’s right there, his breath ghosting against my lips. I lick them, pretending I can taste him. He leans closer, so close his whiskers drag across my cheek. I shiver. “What… What is this?”

“It’s whatever you want it to be.”

I shift, and the towel loosens, gaping a bit and sliding down the curves of my breasts. I don’t grab it. I arch my back a little, holding my breath as the towel drops to my waist. Mr. Jones inhales sharply. “You’re a good girl, aren’t you, Neveah.”