“I’m working on it.” I’m not sure what else to say. My brain tells me I should go slow, explore where this could lead, while my body screams at me to make her mine. Visions of her on her hands and knees while I pump into her from behind make my vision cloud with lust. I don’t know how much longer I can hold back. I want to know how things could be between us now that we’re both all grown up. I drop a pillow into my lap in an attempt to conceal the half-erection I struggle to fight off.

Pace laughs. “Still haven’t fucked her.”

“Shut the fuck up unless you want to be tossed overboard,” I warn, my tone coming out harsh and ruthless. But goddamn, being this close to Mia for the past several weeks, she’s completely gotten under my skin.

My eyes wander over to her again. She’s gently touching Sophie’s belly and while there’s nothing to suggest she’s pregnant, Mia looks at her in complete awe. It’s beautiful. I can’t help watching Mia as she plays with Max, tickling his belly, and playing a silly game with him using her sunglasses. I’m awestruck, unable to look away. She will make a beautiful mother, and I feel overcome with emotion.

I listen to my brothers tease me, telling me they’re both fathers now, and it’s my turn next, but my attention stays captured by Mia. She is beautiful in so many ways.

“Excuse me, guys,” I say, pushing out of my chair and heading purposely toward Mia.

When I reach her, I extend my hand, and she takes it without question and rises to her feet.

“Collins?” she asks, letting me lead her below deck. I get the sense she’d let me do just about anything right now.

I don’t respond just yet, because I’m afraid of what I might say, instead I continue guiding her into one of the cabins.

“What are you…”

“Do you trust me?” I ask closing and locking the bedroom door behind us.

“Yes,” she says without hesitation.

I turn and face her, my body pressing her up against the back of the door. A primal growl eases up my throat as my mouth ghosts over hers. “I’m scared of all of this. My feelings for you, what the future holds, all of it. But I know one thing.”

“What?” she asks, her chest rising with an inhale while her lips brush mine.

“I need you,” I whisper.

Her eyes implore mine for several seconds, trying to figure out what exactly it is I need.

When my hands settle against her hips and my fingers sink into the edges of her bikini bottoms, it becomes abundantly clear. “Are you okay with this?” I ask, giving her a chance to pull away.

“I need you too,” she admits.

My heart jumps at her admission. I untie the strings at her hips, and her bikini bottoms fall to the floor. Mia watches me closely, instantly grasping that I’m no longer the nervous fumbling teenage boy from her memories. As far as I’m concerned, this is our real first time. A chance for me to redeem myself and make this good for her.

I reach between us, lightly rubbing one finger over her smooth sex. A murmur rises up her throat and I feel her grow wet. I’ve barely touched her, but she’s so responsive.

She’s much more confident with her body than I remember, pushing her hips into my hands and moaning when my fingertip makes contact with her clit. I kiss her deeply, and her tongue strokes mine while I work her over. Hell yeah.

She reaches behind her neck and unties the strings holding her top in place. Loving how bold she is, I toss the fabric away, wanting her completely bare.

Her body rocks against my hand as she unlaces my shorts and pushes her hand inside. I feel her hand curl around me, and she gasps.

“I love how big you are,” she says. Hot pride rips through me. While Mia strokes my cock, I push one finger inside her. Watching her do this to herself while under my command in Paris has fueled my fantasies every day since. Her body grips me and makes a wet sucking sound each time I pump my fingers in and out.

“You’re so wet for me,” I whisper against her lips.

“Yes, only you, Collins, only you.”

I think I understand what she’s telling me. I get her this way. This turned on and wanting. “You still have the tightest pussy I’ve ever felt,” I growl into the side of her neck. I want to be inside her, but I refuse to rush through foreplay like I did the first and last time I fucked her.

She moans and tilts her pelvis closer. I recognize her throaty cries signal that she’s close to orgasm already.

“That’s it, ride it out,” I whisper. Lowering my mouth to her breasts, I treat them to wet kisses, sucking on her nipples and flicking my tongue across their firm peaks.

Mia shatters, moaning out my name as she comes.

Her body trembles when I remove my fingers and she sways on her feet. Her movements still and my body mourns the loss of her touch.

“Come here, I’ve got you.” I guide her over onto the bed, and once she’s settled, I shove my shorts to the floor. Joining her in the center of the mattress, I pull her close. It should feel strange that I’m in bed with a very naked Mia— my friend—but it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Lifting her chin to mine, I kiss her deeply. I hope she understands that I’ve only just begun exploring her body. There’s so much more I want to do. Kissing my way from her lips, to her neck, to her breasts, she giggles when I reach her belly.

“Ticklish?” I ask.

She grins down at me. “You know I am.”

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