But Nick doesn’t look like he cares about my embarrassment as he steps over the threshold and gets right in my face. “Guys like me? What exactly do you mean by that?”

“You know exactly what I mean.” I wave a hand up and down to encompass his gorgeous physique and even more gorgeous face.

“Yeah, actually, I do know what you mean, and I’m not exactly impressed. You think I’m just like your ex, right? An asshole who has an agenda every time he does anything.”

The ice-cold annoyance in his voice sets off a similar annoyance in me.

“Are you saying you don’t have an agenda?” I shoot back at him.

Now both brows are up and he looks an awful lot like an enraged ancient god about to smite the inconsequential people—and by inconsequential people, I mean me. Too bad I’m too worked up to care right now.

Even when his mouth firms into a straight line and he leans forward and down so that we are eye to eye. “Exactly what agenda am I supposed to have, Mallory?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I grumble. “How about the fact that you’ve been judging me and telling me what to do from the first time we met.”

“I have not—”

“Oh, yes you have.” I make my voice deeper as I mimic, “Mow your lawn, close your garage, don’t roll over for your ex, fight for a fair settlement, go out with the contractor, fill out these forms, give me a dollar because my partner and I will represent you, go out with the contractor again, take a shower—”

My voice breaks on the last one because his eyes narrow to slits. And yes, I am more than aware that I am being ridiculous. Because all those things that pissed me off along the way—all those things that made me feel like he was trying to boss me around like Karl used to—actually sound pretty decent when I lay them out in a list like that.

Maybe not the mow-my-lawn part, but the close-my-garage-because-I-might-get-burgled, let-me-help-you-out-of-this-mess-with-your-ex stuff…that all sounded pretty good. It certainly sounded better in retrospect than how I was taking it earlier today.

I blink several times as realization dawns. Well, hell. I’m not mad at Nick at all. I’m mad at the universe, but it doesn’t handily live across the street so I can cuss it out.

I finally want someone again, crave him actually, and he pushed me toward another man. A man who just spent our date telling me exactly why I’m not date material. Apparently, my hormones have been in cold storage for more years than I can count, and my thawing ovaries are not enjoying this party at all.

And just like that, the fight eases out with my breath, my shoulders hanging low.

I’m about to be reasonable and apologize when Nick takes another step forward. “You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”

Um, ouch. Okay, buddy, no apology for you. The muscles tic in his clenched jaw, and I don’t even care if he breaks a molar now. There was no call for that low blow. I know I’m damaged goods right now. No need to rub it in, Mr. Perfect Pants.

“I’m going to take that as a compliment.” I lift my chin.

“Go ahead and take it any way you want,” he snarls. “God knows, you will anyway.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

My eyes widen as he takes one last step forward. Now his chest isn’t the only thing that’s close to me as we go toe to toe on the front porch in front of God and all of Huckleberry Hills. His mouth is as well. And even though he’s mad as hell right now, there’s a part of me that recognizes something even more important. Nick is not unaffected by me.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen real attraction this up close, granted, but it’s hard to miss the signs. His pupils are blown out, his breathing is ragged, and his eyes… His gorgeous eyes are fixed on my lips. I can’t help wondering what would happen if I just leaned forward a little more. What would happen if I just pressed my lips to his?

He draws in a deep breath and brings his gaze back to mine. “It means that maybe your ovaries know what they’re talking about, and you should listen to them for once.”

The breathless feeling I always get around him is back—about ten times worse than usual. A confidence I didn’t know I had has me asking, “Oh, and do what exactly?”

“The same thing I’ve been wanting to do for days now.” He takes one last step and eliminates the small sliver of space I left between our bodies. “The same thing I’ve been thinking about every fucking second of every fucking hour of every fucking day since you moved in across the street from me.”

“Yeah?” I barely get the word past my suddenly dry throat. “What’s that?”


His hands come up to cup my face seconds before his lips slam down on mine.

Chapter Forty-Three

   Oh my God is Nick a great kisser. It’s like everything that was building up inside—all the want and the need and the gotta-have—got to the point where it couldn’t be locked down any longer, and the relief valve has been well and truly flipped open.

His hands are on my hips, his mouth is on mine, and I can’t get enough. I’ve never been called greedy in my life, but right now—right now I want everything I can get and more. His mouth nips and licks and sucks at mine, devouring me so completely, I feel dizzy.

Suddenly, the world tilts, and I chalk it up to his kisses being just that powerful before I realize he’s scooped an arm under my legs and is carrying me inside. His foot slams the door closed behind us and a molecule of wariness pricks along my skin. Not because of Nick, per se, but because the last time I gave my body to a man, he took my soul instead.

If this is going to continue, and God I hope it does, I need to set some boundaries. I’m not ready for a relationship or anything like that. I just want to have an orgasm that makes me forget my name. That’s reasonable, right?

“This doesn’t change anything,” I say as I touch every part of him that I can while he carries me into the living room.

In a heartbeat, my feet are on the floor again, but I still can’t stop touching him.

He pauses his journey of kissing his way down my neck. “What won’t change?”

I reach out, grab the hem of his shirt, and slide my hands underneath so I can glide them across the hard ridges of his abs. And God, he feels good. “I don’t need a man to help me with anything but orgasms.”

Nick pulls back at that. Takes a few steps away. Then we stand there, both breathing heavily—from my words? From the kiss? From both?—staring at each other in the middle of his living room. The only illumination is the soft light coming in from the foyer.