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He studies me for a moment. “Well, the good news is, you’re young. My father used to tell me that no life decision is permanent other than a tattoo.”

“I could argue with that logic,” I say with a laugh. “What about you? Have you always wanted to be an artist?”

The timer goes off on the oven and Owen immediately opens it to check the pizza. He shoves it back inside. I know it’s just a frozen pizza, but it’s kind of a turn-on to see a man take over in the kitchen.

He leans against the counter again. “I didn’t choose to be an artist. I think it kind of chose me.”

I love that answer. I’m also jealous of it, because I wish I could have been born with a natural talent. Something that would have chosen me, so that I wouldn’t have to cut hair all day.

“Have you ever thought about returning to school?” he asks. “Maybe majoring in something you actually have an interest in?”

I shrug. “One of these days, maybe. Right now, though, my goal is AJ.”

He smiles appreciatively at my answer. I can’t think of any questions I want to toss his way, because the silence is nice. I like the way he looks at me when it’s quiet. His smile lingers, and his gaze falls all over me like a blanket.

I press my hands onto the countertop beneath me and look down at my dangling feet. I suddenly find it hard to continue watching him, because I’m afraid he can see how much I like it.

Without speaking, he begins to close the distance between us. I bite my bottom lip nervously, because he’s coming at me with an intention, and I don’t think his intention is to ask more questions. I watch as the palms of his hands meet my knees and then slowly slide upward. His hands graze my thighs all the way up until they come to rest on my hips.

When I look into his eyes, I get completely lost in them. He’s staring at me with a level of need that I didn’t know I was capable of producing in someone. He wraps his hand around my lower back and pulls me against him. I place my hands on his forearms and grip tightly, not sure what’s about to happen next but completely prepared to allow it.

The faint smile on his face disappears the closer his lips come to mine. My eyelids flutter and then close completely, just as his mouth feathers mine.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since the moment I laid eyes on you,” he whispers. His mouth connects with mine, and at first his kiss is like the one I gave him in the tent. Soft, sweet, and innocent. But then the innocence is stripped away the second he runs one of his hands through the back of my hair and slides his tongue against my lips.

I don’t know how I can feel so light and so heavy all at once, but his kiss makes me feel weighted to a cloud. I slide my hands up his neck and do my best to kiss him the way he’s kissing me, but I’m afraid my mouth doesn’t even compare to his. There’s no way I could make him feel like he’s making me feel right now.

He pulls my legs until they’re wrapped around his waist, and then he lifts me off the bar and directs us toward the living room without stopping our kiss. I try to ignore the smell of pizza being overcooked in the oven, because I don’t want him to stop. But I’m also really, really hungry and don’t want the pizza to burn.

“I think the pizza is burning,” I whisper just as we hit the couch. He gently lowers me onto my back as he shakes his head.

“I’ll make you another one.” His mouth reconnects with mine, and I suddenly couldn’t care less about the pizza.

He lowers himself onto the couch but not completely on top of me. He keeps his arms locked on either side of my head and doesn’t do anything to show that he expects more than just this kiss.

So that’s what I give him. I kiss him and he kisses me and we don’t stop until a smoke alarm begins to sound. As soon as we realize the sound is coming from inside my apartment, we both separate and jump up. He rushes to the oven and opens it while I grab the cardboard pizza box and begin fanning the smoke alarm.

Owen pulls the pizza out of the oven and it’s so burnt, it’s completely inedible. “Maybe we should just go out to eat on the way back to my place.”

The smoke alarm finally stops, and I toss the pizza box on the counter. “Or we can just eat some of the years’ worth of food you bought at Target today.”

He pulls the oven mitt off his hand and drops it onto the stove. He reaches for my hand and pulls me against him, lowering his mouth back to mine.

I’m pretty sure his kisses are the best form of dieting there is, because every time his lips touch mine, I forget all about the fact that I’m starving.

As soon as our tongues meet, there’s a sudden, loud knock on the front door. Our mouths separate and we both turn and look at the door as soon as it swings open. When I see Trey standing in the doorway, I immediately back away from Owen. I hate that my first instinct is to separate myself from him, because the last thing I want Owen to think is that I’m involved with Trey in any way. The truth is, I would have backed away from him no matter who was at the door.

I just really wish it wasn’t Trey.

“Shit,” Owen mutters. I glance at him and his face has fallen, along with his shoulders. I can tell immediately that he must have the wrong idea about Trey’s bursting through the front door.

I glance back at Trey, who, for some reason, is making his way toward the kitchen with a death stare directed at Owen. “What are you doing here?”

I look at Owen, and he isn’t paying attention to Trey. He’s looking directly at me. “Auburn,” he says. “We need to talk.”

Trey’s laugh makes me wince. “What do you need to talk to her about, Owen? Have you not already told her?”

Owen’s eyes close for several seconds, and then he opens them and fixes his stare on Trey. “When will it be enough for you, Trey? Fuck.”

My heart is hammering away in my chest and I have a feeling I’m about to find out why they feel this way toward each other, but at the moment I’m not sure I want to know. It can’t be good.

Trey takes two steps toward Owen, until he’s inches from his face. “Get out of her apartment. Get out of her life. If you can do those two things, then I’ll probably be satisfied.”

“Auburn,” Owen says firmly.

Trey takes several steps toward me, standing between Owen and me so that I can’t see him anymore. I look into Trey’s eyes now and see nothing but anger.

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