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Chance leans down, and the fluttering in my stomach explodes into a full-blown trembling, but I turn my head away an inch before he can kiss me, and his mouth brushes hotly over my cheek.

I close my eyes, unable to look at him, whispering, “I learned my lesson the first time.”

I might feel an overpowering pull toward him, but that doesn’t mean I’ll let him hurt me by kissing me only to shove me away.

His hand slips into my hair, and his other arm wraps around my waist, locking me to his body. Bolts of excitement rush through me, making me feel tingles deep inside my abdomen.

“Look at me,” he demands.

My eyes snap open, clashing with his bright blue irises.

Why does he make me feel both strong and weak?

“Stop testing my patience,” he warns me, a dangerous glint in his eyes.

I stare at him, my body tense and my heart confused. “I can’t just kiss someone and pretend it doesn’t mean anything. I’m not like the rebels.”

“I know.”

I pull my arms from between us and place them on his biceps. My fingers dig into the fabric of his shirt.

“Everything is new and totally the opposite of what I’ve known my entire life. I don’t know if I can do it and if you keep pushing me, I’ll lose my mind.” Now that I’ve started, I can’t stop the words from coming. “Instead of worrying whether I’ll be a monumental failure at kissing and stuff like that, I have to worry about not being killed. That’s a pretty giant step to take if you don’t know where to walk.” I gulp down a few breaths, my heart pounding in my ears.

Chance is quiet for a moment, then he tilts his head, his eyes softening a fraction. “I know it’s overwhelming. I was in the same position once.”

Giving him a pleading look, I ask, “How did you cope?”

A frown line forms between his eyebrows. “If there’s no other way, you just adapt to your new surroundings.” He brings a hand to my cheek and softly brushes a finger over the scar the bullet left. His eyes drift over my face before he looks into my eyes. “Your first kiss shouldn’t have been like that.”

After the events of the past days, and especially after this conversation, it feels as if something between us has shifted. It’s probably my imagination, but even though we’re fighting, I feel it’s brought us closer together.

My tone is soft as I ask, “What should it have been like?”

The corner of his mouth lifts, and it makes him look dangerously attractive. There’s a mad frenzy of fluttering in the region of my stomach.

“Are you going to let me show you, or will you keep fighting?”

“Are you going to use it to teach me a lesson?” I ask. I really don’t have the strength for that tonight, not after everything I’ve been through.

“No lessons for the rest of the night.”

Suddenly my heart is beating in my throat, and I swallow hard.

Chance frames my face with his hands, and too late, I realize it’s to keep me in place as his mouth slams against mine. He uses his body to push me backward until I bump into the wall.

A squeak escapes me, and I swear he inhales the sound. All my nerves explode with tingles, and for a split second, I worry whether I’ll be bad at kissing, but then his tongue pushes past my lips, and my thoughts come to a screeching halt.

I don’t get to think about being a failure or how I should kiss him. Pleasure pulses through my blood with every beat of my heart.

The kiss turns into something forceful, and his tongue lashes at mine. His breaths are hot, and his hands move into my hair, grabbing fistfuls.

Chance tilts my head, then I lose my ability to breathe as he kisses me like a starved man.

Which I guess he is, seeing as there aren’t many women.

My fingers tighten their hold on his shirt, and I lift myself on my tiptoes. He wraps a strong arm around my lower back, and my feet barely touch the floor as he keeps me locked to his body.

His mouth devours mine, robbing me of all rational thinking until it feels like he’s placing me in a trance.

This is magical.

Suddenly he lets go, and I slump against the wall. My eyes snap open, and I watch as he takes two steps back, putting some distance between us. His chest rises and falls visibly as he takes deep breaths, his eyes burning on me.

“I have to leave.” His voice is deep and hoarse, sending waves of tingles over my skin.

“Don’t tell me this was a lesson,” I beg, not able to handle another blow.

“It’s not.” He takes another step away from me, his features strained as if it’s taking a lot of effort. “It’s just hard to kiss you and leave it at that.”

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