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Jinx lifted his head and clasped her face between his hands. She tried to look anywhere but him, but he took up her entire field of vision and wouldn’t allow anything but her full attention.

“Jinx,” she whispered with a near sob in her voice.

“Shh.” He kissed her once. Then again. Then a third time until she went pliant beneath him again. No walls would be erected between them. Not tonight. “Let me stay.”

“No, Jinx, I—”

“Let me stay. Sleep beside me. We don’t need to talk about anything.”

She stared at him with all the naked vulnerability she refused to acknowledge.


He resisted the urge to cheer out loud. Every tiny victory felt like an Olympic win.

He scooted off her and hopped out of bed to take care of the condom. When he returned, he found her on her side, facing away from him.

No problem.

Jinx climbed in, laid down on his side, then pulled her against him. Her ass nestled against his softened cock. Then he draped an arm over her body, nestling it between her breasts.

She was tense and unrelaxed but didn’t protest.

He kissed her neck, then whispered, “Good night, Harper.”

“Good night, Jinx.” She curled her arm over his, and second by second, the tension left her body until she melted into him.

He said no talking, and he meant it. He didn’t need words to know she’d enjoyed herself. The fact that she agreed to let him sleep next to her said it all, but he couldn’t allow himself to drift off without one whispered confession. Harper deserved to know how amazing she was.

“Thank you for trusting me,” he murmured against her ear. “This has been one of the best nights of my life.”

Her breath caught, letting him know she hadn’t fallen asleep and heard him. She didn’t respond, but he didn’t want or need it.

Her warm, sated body plastered to his was all he needed. Within seconds, he’d fallen into a deep sleep and didn’t stir until well into the morning hours.

When he finally cracked open an eye, the sun was shining, a dog was barking outside, and he felt more relaxed than he had in a long time.

Until he realized he was alone in the bed.

His first instinct was to jackknife up and search for Harper, especially when he heard her soft footsteps near the door. There weren’t many places to hide in the shoebox apartment. He’d bet his left nut she’d woken up, panicked, and he was hearing her attempted escape.

He wanted to go to her, wrap his arms around her, and kiss her until she forgot her reasons for leaving, and they’d end up back under the covers. But he resisted. She wouldn’t react well if he interrupted her getaway. Her thorns would emerge, and he was too blissed from the previous night to be punctured by her barbs.

So he’d give her today, but that was it.

Tomorrow he’d come for her.

They’d made a list of future sexual games to play, and he refused to miss out on any of them.


HARPER SPENT HER Saturday doing laundry and cleaning her already tidy apartment while battling last night’s memories. They popped into her head randomly throughout the day with unsettling frequency—Jinx’s hands on her, his mouth, his cock inside her, and how he’d given her exactly what she’d needed physically and mentally to soothe her rampant anxiety about him being the first man in so damn long.

For crying out loud, the man pretended to be asleep and let her scurry out like the coward she was. She owed him for that and could think of more than a few ways to repay the favor. Well, if she hadn’t vowed to leave last night in the past and forbade herself a repeat.

Going back for seconds would be a gigantic mistake. All it had taken was one passionate night with him to screw with her head.

As she’d mopped her tiny kitchen floor, she’d imagined him walking into her apartment, coming up behind her, and kissing her neck. She’d turn around, drop the mop, and lose herself in his intoxicating arms. They’d be so hot for each other that he’d take her right there on the floor, unable to wait long enough to drag her to the bed twenty feet away.

The combination of domesticity and eroticism drove her insane.

What the hell is wrong with me?

She knew nothing of domestic bliss and hadn’t ever craved it.

It made perfect sense if she delved deep into her emotions as she’d been trained as a counselor. By spending seven years in prison, she’d been robbed not only of freedom and a physical relationship with a man but of a home she could call her own to feel safe and comfortable.

The eroticism part of her fantasy needed no further analysis. Hell, Jinx had awoken something she’d kept a lid on for years, and after last night, she might need to invest stock in a vibrator company to keep her newly awakened sexual appetite under control. Combining those two needs into one fantasy revolving around a particular sexy man made perfect sense from the therapist’s side of her brain.

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