He rocked into me again, his sweat mixing with mine, making our skin feel like we were melting together. My eyes nearly rolled back into my head with the devastating mixture of ache and pleasure surging through my body with every movement.

His mouth returned to mine, and I was easily lost in thoughts of how eager yet smooth and amazing his lips were. Every flick of his tongue was calculated, practiced, and seemed like it was all in pursuit of my pleasure. Jackson hadn’t been a particularly good kisser, and even though I’d only just met this man above me, I would miss those longing kisses once he ducked out of my condo in the early hours of the morning—if he even waited that long.

While he wonderfully and mercilessly fucked me, he gripped my thigh with one hand, spreading my legs further apart, and then he slid his other hand between my legs, tenderly rubbing his thumb in tiny circles over my swollen, sensitive pink skin.

A few seconds later, I was crying out, raising my hips to meet his and then squeezing his waist with my trembling knees. He leaned down and covered my mouth with his while I moaned. I could feel his lips turn up into a smile.

After a few slow movements and tender kisses, his restraint was gone. His muscles tensed as he thrust himself inside me, each time more powerful than the one before. With my climax impressively achieved, he concentrated only on himself as he thrust harder and ruthlessly against me.

His groan was muffled inside my mouth, and then he pressed his cheek against mine while he rode the wave of his orgasm. Gradually, he lay still above me. He took a moment to catch his breath, and then he turned to kiss my cheek, his lips lingering for a while.

Our encounter had gone from a spontaneous adventure to painfully awkward in less than a minute.

The silence and stillness in the room made the alcohol disappear, and the reality of what we’d done weighed down on me. I’d gone from feeling sexy and desired to an embarrassingly eager, cheap score.

The stranger leaned down to kiss my lips, but I lowered my chin, pulling back, which felt ridiculous since he was still engaged.

“I,” I began, “have to be at work early.”

He kissed me anyway, ignoring my shamed expression. His tongue danced with mine, caressing it, memorizing it. He deeply breathed in through his nose, not at all in a hurry, and then he pulled back, smiling.

Damn it, I would miss his mouth, and I suddenly felt really pathetic for that. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever find someone who could kiss me that way.

“Me, too. I’m…Thomas, by the way,” he said softly. He rolled over and relaxed beside me, his head propped by his hand. Instead of getting dressed, he looked as if he were ready for conversation.

My independence was slipping away from me every second the stranger became something more. Thoughts of reporting my every move to Jackson flipped like television channels in my mind. I hadn’t transferred thousands of miles away to be chained to another relationship.

I pressed my lips together. “I’m”—Do it. Do it, or you’ll just kick yourself later.—“emotionally unavailable.”

Thomas nodded, stood up, and then walked into the living room to dress in silence. He stood in the doorway of my bedroom with his shoes in one hand, his keys in the other, his tie hanging askew from his neck. I tried not to stare, but I did, so I could study every inch of him to remember and fantasize over for the rest of my life.

He looked down and then chuckled, judgment still absent from his expression. “Thanks for a great and unexpected end to a shitty Monday.” He began to turn around.

I pulled the blanket across me and sat up. “It’s not you. You were great.”

He turned back to face me, a smirk on his shadowed face. “Don’t worry about me. I’m not walking out of here, doubting myself. You gave me fair warning. I wasn’t expecting anything more.”

“If you wait a second, I’ll walk you out.”

“I know the way. This is my building. I’m sure we’ll run into each other again.”

My cheeks paled. “You live in this building?”

He peered up at the ceiling. “Just above you.”

I pointed up. “The next floor up, you mean?”

“Yes, but,” he said with a sheepish grin, “my place is right above yours. But I’m rarely home.”

I swallowed, horrified. So much for a strings-free one-night stand. I began nibbling at my thumbnail, trying to think of what to say next. “Okay…well, I guess good night then?”

Thomas flashed an arrogant, seductive smile. “Night.”

Chapter Two

DRINKING AWAY JACKSON’S GUILT TRIP the night before my first day in the San Diego field office proved not to be the most intelligent thing I’d done.

I arrived with only my vest, and I was given a sidearm, credentials, and a cell phone once I’d checked in. Assigned to Squad Five, I found the only empty desk, vacated by the last agent who hadn’t meshed with the infamous Assistant Special Agent in Charge, who we referred to as the ASAC. I had heard about him all the way in Chicago, but it would take more than a bad temper to scare me away from a chance at a promotion.

Only a few sections of the desk’s surface didn’t have a light film of dust, probably from where his or her computer and belongings had been set. My headphones case sat next to my laptop, and a lack of picture frames or miscellaneous decor looked rather pathetic compared with the other desks in the squad room.

“That’s pathetic,” a female voice said, making me wonder if I’d spoken my thoughts aloud.

A woman, young but slightly intimidating, stood with her arms crossed and resting on the ledge of the four-by-five fabric-covered wall that separated my cubicle from the main hallway that was used to get from one end of the squad room to the other. Her shiny but otherwise ordinary brown hair was pulled into a low bun at the nape of her neck.

“I can’t disagree,” I said, wiping the dust away with a paper towel.

I had already put my vest in my locker. It was the only thing I had brought from the Chicago office. I had moved to San Diego to start over, so it didn’t make much sense to put my old life on display.

“I don’t mean the dust,” she said, watching me with her hooded green eyes. Her cheeks were a bit chubby, but that only gave away her youth. She was certainly fit everywhere else.

“I know.”

“I’m Val Taber. Don’t call me Agent Taber, or we can’t be friends.”