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“Good,” she quickly agreed. “End of discussion.”

“Hold on now, Honey,” he almost shouted. “I didn’t say that I believe you. I was speaking in hypotheticals. You are lying through your teeth. You want me—I could tell by your kisses that you do. So, what’s with the walls you have in place, Tatum?”

Shit—he wasn’t going to let her hide from him and she could tell by the determination in his eyes that he was going to keep pushing her for answers. Fine—he wanted the truth; she’d give it to him and then he’d want nothing to do with her.

“You keep pushing me for answers, Ryder—so, here’s my answer. I’m a virgin.” There, she said it out loud and there would be no taking it back now. “Sorry—you’re a what?” he asked.

“A virgin,” she said.

“Wait—how old are you?” he asked.

“Not that it matters, but I’m twenty-three. My age has nothing to do with my decision not to have sex, Ryder. I just never met someone I’ve ever wanted to do that with—you know, give myself to. Plus, I had to care for my dying mother for almost two years. That put a crimp in my dating life. So, yeah—I’m a virgin.” God, she wished she could stop saying the word “virgin” but it was like once the truth was out, she couldn’t stop saying it.

“I’m sorry about your mom. How long ago did she pass?” he asked.

“A little over six months ago,” she whispered. “It’s still so fresh, I don’t like to talk about it.”

“I get that, Honey,” he said.

“So, now that you know the truth, you can just stop pretending that we’re on the same page here, Ryder. Hell, I’m not even reading the same book as you. I’m betting you have a whole lot more experience than me when it comes to sex,” she said. It sounded as if she was accusing him of something but that wasn’t the case. She wished she had at least some experience. It was almost embarrassing walking around knowing that most women her age had at least a little experience. She had none and she was sure that wasn’t going to change any time soon—no matter how badly she wanted Ryder, he wasn’t going to want her now.

He hooked his finger under her chin and forced her to look at him. “I’m not sure why you think I won’t want you now, Tatum. Me wanting you has nothing to do with the fact that you are a virgin or not. You never answered my question, Honey,” he said.

“What question was that?” she asked. Her head felt like it was spinning. She needed coffee and space and she was sure that Ryder wasn’t about to give her either.

“Want to go out with me?” he asked. “On a date.”

“You’re kidding, right?” she said.

“I wouldn’t kid about something like that, Tatum,” he said. “I don’t give a shit that you’re a virgin. In fact, I think that’s hot as fuck. I also know that you have some hang-ups about giving me a shot because I’m your brother’s friend. I get that, but don’t shut me out just because you think I’m not reading from the same book as you because I am, Baby.”

Tatum rolled out of bed and stood by her side, realizing that she was only wearing a very tight t-shirt and her lacy panties still. She was going to pull on some sweatpants before falling into bed with Ryder but she was too tired to put any effort into finding them. Ryder’s gaze roamed her body and she felt her skin heat, almost as if he had physically touched her. Tatum wrapped her arms around her body and he groaned.

“Don’t,” he ordered. “Stop hiding from me, Tatum.”

“The way you look at me, Ryder,” she breathed. “makes me hot.”

“Good,” he said. “Get used to it, Honey.” Tatum had gotten out of bed to avoid answering to his proposal of a date. She wasn’t sure that them going out was a good idea but now, with the way he was watching her, she knew she had to tell him yes. Telling him no might be something that she’d regret for a long time to come, and she didn’t want any more regrets in life—she already had enough of those.

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