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He let out a ragged groan.

Gripping my arms, seconds later Braydon hauled me to my feet and stripped off my dress and heels in a matter of moments. I stood before him in a pair of black panties and nothing more, and even those were tugged down my legs before I could blink. He was every bit as intent on getting me naked as I had been with him. My heart raced.

Lifting me over his shoulder, Braydon carted me to the nearby bed and deposited me unceremoniously in the center, then began crawling up my body, spreading my legs wide with his hands. Kissing a wet path up my body, he moved with calculated precision. For all the rushing we were both doing, things suddenly slowed. He was making this about me, being too sweet, too considerate. I couldn’t take it.

“Inside me . . .” I gripped his shoulders and tugged him farther up the bed. “I need you inside me.” No sense pretending this was some romantic lovemaking session.

His eyes met mine and a low growl tore from his throat. No more words needed to be exchanged. Braydon’s hand captured his length and he aligned himself with my entrance before slowly pushing forward. He remembered that I needed time to adjust to his size and acted accordingly, letting me get accustomed while his jaw tensed with need.

Don’t make me fall for you . . .

His words rang in my head with each thrust. He entered me and slowly pulled out, rocking against me in the most deliciously exquisite rhythm. I gripped his firm ass, pressing him closer, needing him to fully claim me, and whimpered when he hit just the right spot.

“Kitten,” he whispered sweetly in my ear. “You feel so f**king good.”

Gentle bites and sucking kisses at my neck brought back a rush of memories. Too many good memories to count. Tears formed in my eyes and I squeezed them tight to prevent any from leaking out. I couldn’t let him see me break down. I just needed to stay in the moment, to feel every bit of pleasure he was giving me. And I wanted to please him; he’d been through so much pain . . . maybe we could heal each other.

Braydon brought my knees together, closing my legs and kneeled in front of me, slowly pulling out and pushing in until he was fully sated. Feeling him like this was beautiful torture . . . he was deeper than ever before.

Arching my back, I lost myself in the rhythm, in the sensations his body elicited from mine. All too soon, I was moaning his name as I came apart. He followed me over the edge, burying his hands in my hair and exhaling a soft curse as he came.


Once we were back home, it was as if nothing had changed. We should have been nominated for Oscars for the amazing job we did acting like nothing had happened between us in LA. Braydon texted occasionally, asking me for coffee or for a walk in the park. Even though it was painful to see him, to be near him, I usually caved in and said yes. But we were still strictly friends and hadn’t slipped up with any physical contact again. It seemed we were more careful around each other than ever before—going out of our way to avoid touching at all costs. When he reached for the bill, I conveniently needed something from my purse, and when I grabbed a sugar packet for my coffee, his hands tucked themselves into his pockets.

I was still waiting for him to realize that he couldn’t live without me, just like Emmy kept saying he would. So far, it was a no-go. And I was more depressed than ever.

It hadn’t helped that I’d come down with the world’s worst case of the flu. For the past several days, I felt achy and exhausted and had been regularly puking my guts out. The first few days I’d called in sick to work, but now it seemed that my body was growing accustomed to living with the sickness, so I ventured into work but kept a plastic garbage bag under my desk for when the urge struck. Oh, joy.

A text from Braydon was a nice distraction later that afternoon.

Braydon: Hey you up for grabbing coffee or a drink tonight?

I stared down at my phone. Another half-hearted attempt. I didn’t want a coffee date out with a friend at this point. I wanted him, no holds barred. Even if I had wanted to say yes, the crappy way I felt prevented me. I hadn’t kept down coffee in nearly a week. I’d taken to drinking ginger ale in the morning. And though the relaxing buzz that came from a nice glass of wine sounded nice, I doubted I could stomach that either.

Me: No thanks, I’ll have to take a rain check. I have the flu.

Braydon: Shit. That sucks. Let me know if you need anything—I’m on it.

Me: Thanks, I will.

And that was that.

Until two days later.

I was home. Saturday, thank god.

Braydon: Hey, you feeling better?

I didn’t want him to worry, to insist on coming over with soup or something, and I wouldn’t put that past him. The truth was I just wanted to be alone. I felt like shit. I looked worse. I was in sweatpants with greasy, matted hair and I wanted to stay that way, warm under my covers for the rest of the day.

Me: I’m on the mend, but not there yet. Sorry to disappoint.

Braydon: You never disappoint. I just wish you were feeling better.

I released a heavy sigh. He was in his famous sweet, gentlemanly mode. He held my beating heart in the palm of his hand, little did he know. He had the ability to crush it or put me back together, make me whole. I feared what he’d choose. I knew he’d been through hell in his past relationships, losing his mom and watching what his dad went through afterward.

I needed to swallow my pride and move on. Maybe he’d never be ready—or maybe I wasn’t the girl to get him there. Something inside me told me I was, though. I was the girl for the job. He’d said himself that the chemistry we shared wasn’t something he’d ever experienced. Me neither. That had to count for something, right?

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