Page 53 of Coercion

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The bedroom door opens, a smooth, soft sound, then closes again.Photo-Will grins at me from the picture while Real-Will’s footsteps pad across the carpet, closer and closer until he wraps his arms around me from behind.I put both hands on his forearm.

“Can I keep my mom’s necklace here?All your important things are here already.”

“Of course you can.”A light squeeze.“And yes, they are.”

“I meant your picture.And the watch, and the rock.”


“You were that sure I’d agree to move here with you?”

“I hoped.”Will turns me around to face him, and my breath catches.He looks so tired, but so at home.His hands move up to my face.The pads of his thumbs skim my cheekbones.He smooths a stray lock of hair behind my ear.Everything in my body wants him.Everything in my soul, too.It feels like a sunburn.Energy, all over my skin.

“I know about the photo, but—” Hold it together.Don’t sound quite so breathless.“But not the watch, or the rock.Why is the rock important?I think those shelves are only for special stuff.”

His sheepish expression reappears.

It doesn’t go away.

I can almost see him working at it.At letting me in, even though his instinct is to shut people out.

“People wanted Emerson’s opinion on art when he was still in college.Online classes, obviously.That was before he could go fifteen blocks, and he wouldn’t take the subway or ride a bus, but he did agree to try car trips.The first place we drove was to the beach to go surfing.That’s where I got the rock.”

“And had it polished?”

Will smiles, and I almost burst into tears, because it’s his real smile.I saw it at the beach, when he was playing with the twins.“Yeah, because it went really well.We hadn’t lived by the beach in a long time by then.Emerson claimed he hated it, and only went because Sin insisted, but he was lying.”

“How did you know?”

“Please.You’ve seen him out there.Last year he told me it was just along-term habit.Bullshit.He only makes long-term habits out of things he loves.”

“What about you?”I trace a pattern on the front of his shirt with my fingertip.“What do you love?”

He takes my face in his hands and kisses me.

No part of the kiss is tame.It’s like jumping into the ocean with both feet.Will seems taller in the kiss.Stronger.Overwhelming, in how good he tastes and how deeply he tastes my mouth.

Just when my lungs are about to explode, he pulls back, eyes dark.One more long look at my face, then his hands are busy again.He strips me down with raw anticipation in every movement.The last thing he takes off is the elastic in my hair.

Will runs his fingers through it and kisses me again.His hands are trembling.He’s not nervous, is he?

I am.

This is our house.This is where we’re going to live together—where we live together, present tense.These things usually happen in a different order.You get married,thenyou buy the house.We don’t have to be married, though.We don’t have to be dating.

“I need something from you.”

He says the words against my lips, and I kiss him on instinct.Maybe, if I taste him, I’ll understand.Will Leblanc doesn’t need anything from anyone.To hear him say it out loud, after the day we’ve had—

“I’ll give you anything you want.”

He lets out a breath, the heat of it skimming my kiss-swollen lips and spreading all the way down to my toes.

“You can hurt me,” I whisper.“I like it.”

Will makes a noise in the back of his throat that says he wants that, too.I know he does.The fact that he’s fully clothed doesn’t hide how hard he is.I move my body closer, keeping my hands on his chest.

“Lie down on the bed.”

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