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When he puts it like that, I kind of sound like a ruthless horndog. If having the time of my life at night with him makes me one, so be it. I swallow past the uncomfortable feelings in my throat. “Yes. I don’t want this to end.”

He blows out a breath, dropping his head in his hand, like this pains him. “It’s just, Luke…”

Oh, shit. My heart skitters. He’s going to end this.

Of course he’s going to end it, you jackwad. He wants a boyfriend. You’re not boyfriend material.

What the hell do I say? I’m not sure, so I roll the dice with the simple truth. “I really like sleeping with you.”

He lifts his face. His mouth softens. “Same here.”

“Like, a lot. And I don’t know why.”

He snort-laughs. “Way to make a guy feel good.”

I set a hand on his biceps, curl it tightly, then tug him to the bed so we’re lying down, face to face. “I mean it. It’s really good. It’s like…” I stop to mime an explosion.

He grins. “Yeah?”

“It’s…well, when I said earlier I was excited, I meant it. I don’t even know why it’s so good. It just is. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot in bed with you, and I didn’t know I was playing slots. But I’m winning big time,” I say.

He sighs, like he’s relenting. “We can’t keep doing this. And you know why.”

“I do. We’re in different places,” I say, starting to list the reasons so he knows I hear him, I get him.

But before I can explain more, he reacts with an intense, “I don’t care what places we’re in with our careers.”

Like he needs to reassure me that our respective statuses don’t bug him.

But that’s not what I meant, although that’s part of the problem. My problem, really. I do care that my career feels like it’s just starting. I care deeply. If I don’t give it my all, it might slip through my fingers.

“I meant we want different things in life right now. We have different priorities,” I say gently, even though I feel like an ass. Like I ought to just slap a sign that says playboy or nothing on my forehead. But it’s all I can give.

“Oh, right.” Tanner looks away, but then he nods, resolute. “Right. Absolutely. And the more we mess around, the more the lines blur,” he says, meeting my gaze again. “We need to…stop.”

But Tanner doesn’t entirely sound like he wants to stop. Especially with that pause he just took.

Maybe I’m playing dirty. Maybe I don’t care. I run my fingers along his arm. “I agree. We need to stop…soon.”

I press a kiss to his shoulder, using touch to make my case. A soft rumble falls from his lips, and when he adds a reluctant “soon,” I do feel like I’ve won the jackpot.

Another night with him.

I punch the air. “I scored! Another night with the hot-as-sin shortstop.”

He laughs, big and warm. The sound winds through me, tugging at my heart. My friendly heart for him, of course.

Tanner smirks. “Then, Remington, I dare you to resist me at the wedding.”

Laughing, I roll my eyes. “Don’t tempt me. You know I can’t resist a dare. Or you.”

“So, let me see if I’ve got this right. The wedding will be the Christmas Eve before the Last Great Fucking?”

He is talking my language. “And when we return it’ll be Christmas morning, baby, and you can open your gift.”

Then, since I don’t have to play it cool, just like I don’t have to be in control constantly, I wedge my body against his, savoring the warmth of his skin under the covers.

I sigh happily. I’ve been given another night. It is a gift.

Tanner lifts a hand and sets it on my face, stroking gently. I melt into his confident touch. He’s steady and calm. Soothing my wilder emotions.

I wait for him to say something sardonic. Instead, he asks a direct question. “Did you get what you needed tonight? In bed?”

It comes out full of tender concern, a lover asking if I was satisfied. My heart speeds up. “I did. With you I feel…”

But I don’t know how to finish the sentence.

With him I just…feel.

He deserves an answer though, so I try again. “I don’t know what it is. It’s just really good.”

That hardly covers it. For now though, it’ll have to do.

“It’s great,” he says as he drops his hand from my face to smooth it over his pillow.

Then, to hit it once.

And maybe I do have one more thing to say. “You smack your pillows into submission.”

He smiles in the darkness of his room. “I do.” Then he comes in for a goodnight kiss, and the tenderness of it makes my toes curl.

But I can’t get used to that, no matter how good it feels.

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