I’m not, and it’s important that both of us know that.

“Okay,” he says after a second of studying my face. “If that’s all that needs to be said, then I’m going to catch a shower before work. I’ll see you in the office at eight.”

He smiles tightly, then turns and walks straight into the master bathroom without a backward glance.

Seconds later, I hear the shower start, just like he said. And though I suddenly want to stick around and try to figure out why he went from warm and amused to cold and distant so quickly, the clock is ticking. I need to head home, fend off my mom and sister, and grab a shower of my own before getting dressed for my very first day of work.

But as I rush naked around his living room, gathering up my clothes and looking desperately for my missing pair of underwear, I can’t help thinking that this really is the only time I’m ever going to get to have sex that fantastic in my life—especially if that fantastic sex is supposed to happen with Nick.

Because he might be the kind of guy to have sex with me and ask questions later, but he’s not the kind to want anything to be uncomfortable afterward. Just look at his house, for God’s sake. He likes his life neat and orderly. Two things a relationship with me would definitely not be.

Which I’m pretty sure means everything is going to be completely platonic and completely businesslike from now on—and that he’ll never make another move on me again.

Which is a good thing—I know it is. What I can’t figure out is why, as I let myself out of his house to start what feels like the longest walk of my life, it doesn’t feel so good.

And that’s before I run into three neighbors who are out walking their dogs. I tell myself they don’t actually know what I’m doing or why I’m out this early with a serious case of bedhead and what I’m sure is mascara running down my cheeks.

But it feels like they know, feels like I have a giant scarlet S for walk of Shame plastered across my chest. A nice old lady with a poodle compliments me on my va-va-voom tank top and I just kind of smile and wave at her.

And then I run—all the way up my driveway, through the gate, and around the back of the house. My only saving grace is that it’s barely six a.m. and there are no lights on in the house that I can see. Which—please God—means Mom and Sarah are still upstairs in bed.

The last thing I want to do right now is see anyone else, let alone my mom as I wobble in on shaky legs after the best, most confusing sex of my life. She hasn’t been as judgy since our hours of drunken abandon two days ago, but I’m pretty sure the judginess will roar back, full force, if she catches me sneaking in at six in the morning. And I’m just not up for that.

I slide the back door open and start to tiptoe inside, only to find myself face-to-face with Sarah and my mother, both of whom are sitting on the couch drinking coffee. And watching me sneak in with raised brows.


I close my eyes and pray for the ground to open up and swallow me whole. When that doesn’t happen, I decide I might as well look on the bright side. At least I got one last fantastic orgasm before I died of total and complete humiliation. Okay, several orgasms, but that’s not the point right now.

Fingers crossed that this won’t be as bad as I think it’s going to be.

I smile sickly at them and give a little wave—kind of like how I treated the neighbors—before I make a beeline for the stairs.

“From the look of you, I’m guessing the contractor knows how to swing his hammer,” Sarah says with a grin.

I give her an are-you-kidding-me look. “I, umm—”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Sarah.” My mother gives me a knowing look. “Mallory wasn’t with the contractor. The car’s been in the driveway since three yesterday afternoon.”

“Well, then, who was she—” Sarah’s eyes go huge, and she claps her hands as she squeals, “Really? Nick?”

“I don’t—I mean—”

“Stop dithering, Mallory,” my mother says with a roll of her eyes. “Of course it was Nick, Sarah. The two of them have been dancing around each other since I got here.”

“She’s right, isn’t she?” Sarah says, watching my face closely. “That’s awesome. Nick’s a great guy. And super hot.”

I don’t know if he’s great, but he’s certainly not a bad guy—despite our awkward morning after. “He’s very nice,” I agree as I creep toward the stairs. The last thing I want—or have time for—is a bunch of questions about last night.

“Do you want some coffee?” my mom asks.

“I’ve got to take a shower and get dressed. I have to be at work by eight.” I remind myself to smile at her. “But thanks for the offer.”

I’m almost at the stairs, thank God, but as I all but make a running leap for them, my mom says, “I’m proud of you.”

“For…” I trail off, not willing to say out loud to my mother that I had sex with Nick, no matter how chill she seems to be right now.

“For going after what you want. It’s been a long time since either of us did that,” she murmurs. “But watching you, I find myself inspired.”

“Me too,” Sarah says. “I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for the last few days, but I’m done with that. I mean, I may not be able to go out and find myself a guy as awesome as Nick—at least not yet—but that doesn’t mean I can’t get the rest of my life in order… Starting now.”

“There’s no time like the present,” my mother agrees. “Especially with inspiration like Mallory around.”

I have no idea what that means, but I want to know—just not when I really do have to get ready for work. Making a mental note to ask her later, I give her and Sarah my first real smile of the day.

“Thanks, Mom.”

And then I race up the stairs and dive straight into the shower. As I rinse the shampoo from my hair, I can’t help wondering if anyone at work will be able to tell I just had the best sex of my life with the boss or not. I feel like it’s tattooed on my forehead. Or vagina, at least.

Chapter Forty-Five

   I totally regret the thong—especially since it keeps crawling way too far north as I walk a potential client down the plant-lined hall at Holloway and Murphy to Gina’s office. I grit my teeth to deal with the pinch between my cheeks.

“As you can see,” I say, gesturing toward the conference room where several of the paralegals are meeting, “while we’re a boutique firm, we have the ability to meet all of your needs.”