Page 18

I'm a step away from him when I look down at my bra. The clasp is in the front. My heart is pounding like it's going to explode, but I unhook it and drop the material to the floor. Peter inhales shakily and blinks once—hard—like he's dreaming. My eyes fixate on his boxers and the obvious attraction. I swallow hard and step toward him. My nipples brush against his chest, and he sucks in. It's like that night in the restaurant, but more, oh my God, it's more.

I hold on to him tight before backing away and lowering my gaze to his boxers. Going down on my knees, I kneel in front of him and slip my fingers in his waistband. I remove the garment and gasp—I can't help it. He's perfect and right in front of me. My lips want to kiss him there, but I don't. I want things to move slowly. I don't want either of us to bolt.

After I stand and step back, I hook my thumbs in my matching panties and slide them past my hips. I kick them off, tossing them onto the pile of discarded clothing. Before I can think about being there naked and freak out, I take Peter's hand and lead him into the bathroom. The tub is full, and bubbles are pouring onto the floor. The room has the light scent of vanilla and lavender.

The tub is like a small pool, it's so large. We can both do the back float in there at the same time. It's nestled into the corner of the large room. Peter gets in first and the parts that make me nervous disappear beneath the waterline. I step in after him.

Avery said this would be easier than jumping straight into bed, and it gives us both a spot where we can put off being together if it needs to wait. It was good advice. My nerves disappear as soon as the warm water swallows my naughty parts. When I look at Peter, all I see are bare shoulders and a wicked grin. It makes me want to kiss those lips.

At first, I'm just sitting next to Peter, but that feels like we're waiting for a bus, so I ask, "Will you hold me?"

"Of course." He holds open his arms for me and I settle back into his chest, facing away from him. Peter wraps his arms around my waist, just under my breasts. The embrace feels good. I tilt my head back against his shoulder. "I like this."

"I'm glad. So do I."

"It's not too fast?"

Peter shakes his head. "No, it's perfect."

We stay like that for a little bit and then things change on their own. Sitting still isn't peaceful anymore. The urge to turn and face him is shooting through me and won't stop. I hand him soap, thinking it'll be a good distraction, but as Peter's hands move over my neck and arms, and down my back, I want more. That innocent little idea is making me hot enough to boil the water, and from the feel of it, Peter is turned on, too. I take the soap from him and set it aside before turning around to face him.

"Can I?" I don't really know what I'm asking for, but Peter nods. I place my hands on his shoulders and move in toward him. My pulse pounds harder and harder as I part my legs and feel the water shifting beneath me. I lower myself slowly on his lap, careful to keep his hard length below me. If Peter tilts his hips, we'll be doing way more than hugging.

I wrap my arms around him and press my naked body to his. I close my eyes and stay there listening to the sound of his heartbeat. Tingles fill me, making me hot in strange places. The desire to rub against him is consuming me. I try to brush it aside, but the urge won't die back. I lift my head and press my lips to the base of his neck. I give him one tiny kiss and then another. Peter's hands remain on my back. They don't dip too low or go places they shouldn't. I feel his grip tighten as the kisses continue. I slip my tongue up his neck, following instinct and whatever ideas tumble into my head.

Peter's beautiful lips are parted like he wants to say something. As he reaches for me, he pulls my lips down on his. My breasts slip against his chest as I try to get closer to him. Lust is coursing through me so loudly that I can't ignore it anymore. I want him. I need him. The kisses grow hotter as I fight the feelings I have, but they swallow me whole. I gasp and raise myself out of the water a little bit.

My voice is a whisper. "Can I?" My fingers tangle in Peter's dark hair. It curls around the nape of his neck, damp from the bath.

His eyes are locked on mine. He swallows hard but doesn't say yes. His hands are still on my bare skin, holding me there. There's a far-off look in his eye like he's somewhere else, but I know he's not. I hesitate. I don't want to push him if he's not ready. I can't imagine what's going through his head right now. "It's okay. We can wait."

Peter smiles at me. It's the warmest, most stunning smile I've ever seen on his face. His hands find my waist. "Make love to me, Sidney. I'm yours. I'll always be yours."

The pressure on my waist increases. I lean into him, sliding against his chest as our hips line up. I feel Peter beneath me as I slip down into the perfect place. Peter closes his eyes and moans my name. His hands push on my hips, tilting them, which makes the movement feel divine.

I no longer know what I'm doing. I have no plan and no intention of stopping. I do whatever feels right, whatever makes Peter moan and close his eyes. The look on his face is perfect—it's bliss, lust, and love all spilling together. I lift off of him again and again. Each time delicious heat builds inside of me. The rhythm of our bodies rocking together becomes faster and steadier. We both climb higher and higher, lost in lust. Just as I shatter, Peter finds his release and stills. I slip down against his chest and hold on tight.

After a few moments, things start to sink in. I made love to Peter. I had sex without freaking out. A soft smile spreads across my lips and I hug him harder.


The next morning, I have a huge smile on my face that I can't hide. When I roll over and glance at Peter, he's already awake with a mirrored expression.

"How are you?" His head is still on the pillow with his lower body tangled in the sheets.

"Really good." I'm wearing my pajamas because I'm mental and can't sleep naked. I fight the urge to pull the blankets up to my chin. Part of my brain is squealing like a twelve-year-old girl, I'm in bed with a hot guy! I try to stop smiling, but I can't, so I tug the sheets up to cover my goofy grin.

Peter's hand juts out and stops me. "I don't think so. I want to see that satisfied smile on those lips." He stares at me for a beat and then brushes my hair out of my face. "God, you're beautiful."

That makes the smile worse, and I blush as more of last night comes back to me. Peter likes that. He holds me in his arms whispering sweet words in my ear until there's a knock at the door. I glance over at him, wondering who would bang on the door this early. It's barely sunrise.

Peter gets up, pulls on boxers, and pads across the room to the door. He looks out the peephole and sighs. "It's Sean." I yank the blankets over my head and hide. I hate Sean. No, I hate Dean; I detest Sean. I think. I might have to make a list or something.

Peter chuckles after seeing me duck below the bedding, and pulls the door open. I can hear their voices with the down blanket over my head. "Good morning, Pete. There's been a change in today's itinerary. We need to stop by Mom's first. Jonathan did something and she's livid. I knew I shouldn't linger in the city. And, as much as I'd like to ride with you and Sidney, I'll take my bike. I'll see you there at lunch. Don't eat without me." There's a noise, like Sean slapped Peter on the arm in a manly embrace.

Peter says, "Afraid of the bird?"

"Where is the beast?"

"In the kennel downstairs. I had to pay them twice as much to take it," Peter explains.

There's a pause and Sean adds, "And you used your old name."

"Maybe." That makes me grin. Peter says it just the way I would have.

"You could have called me, you know," Sean says. "Disappearing like that had Mom more neurotic than normal. She made me track you down. I'll always find you, Peter. I did find you. I left you alone because I thought you were doing what you needed to do to get on with your life, but I have to ask you this—how much does this girl mean to you? Is she worth the risk?"

Peter's voice is stern. "I already answered that last night. Either you help me or you don't, but don't sit around questioning my motives. You already know my intentions. Leave it at that." Peter's voice drops to a hissing whisper. His tone is clipped and beyond annoyed. I don't know what they spoke about last night, but it's painfully clear that Sean doesn't like me at all.

"Fine. It's just odd timing, that's all. You finally get your head on straight and you fuck the first piece of ass that bats her eyes at you—" There's a loud crack as something slams into the open door.

I throw the blankets back and sit up to see what happened. Peter has Sean pressed into the wall and the two guys look like they're going to kill each other. Peter is hissing threats when I dart across the room. Sean replies, equally upset, but none of it makes sense to me.

I pull on Peter and say his name too many times to count. "Let him go, Peter. Stop it."

Peter steps back and flexes his hands several times. He paces in a swift circle, never taking his eyes off of Sean. Sean has a smug look on his face. "You're not thinking straight, Pete."

I'm livid. Sean can't come in here and do crap like this. Peter's been fine, but when Sean's added to the mix, Peter becomes enraged. I step up to Sean. "If he's not thinking straight, it's your fault, you callous bastard. Peter's been through enough. Help him or leave him alone. Stop antagonizing the crap out of him for no damn reason!" I'm not yelling. The voice coming out of my mouth is that low tone my mom used on me and Sam when we did something hideous.

Sean looks me over; his eyes notice the old clothing and my hair before glancing at the messy bedding. "There is a reason, miss." He rolls his eyes like he's forgotten my name and it doesn't matter. "You see, there are people that are toxic, people who poison others. I won't let you do that to him. Pete has been through enough, more than you could—"