Author: Jill Shalvis


“Grace,” he said softly, nipping at her lower lip until she looked at him. When she did, he kissed her deeper, harder. She could feel the burn low in her belly as she began to rise to peak again. Wrapping her arms around him, she had the sudden, irrational wish that she’d never have to let go. Not exactly in keeping with this being just fun. But then he slid into her in one thrust, and she could no longer think at all. She whimpered for more, and he gave it, slow and steady, until she adjusted to him, then hard and fast as they climbed together. She clutched at him, panting his name, giving herself over to him fully, wondering if he could possibly feel what she was feeling. Which was entirely too much.


His head was thrown back, his big body taut as a bow. Pressing her harder into the bed, he tightened his grip on her and plunged deep. Moving together in just the right rhythm, her toes curled, and he shuddered against her as they rode each other to a mind-blowing completion.


When he finally sank down over her, muscles quivering, hands still possessively gripping her butt as he fought to catch his breath, she smiled. “Feel better?”


He rolled to his back so that she was straddling him. “Getting there.”


A long time later, they were a tangle of damp sheets and exhausted limbs in the warm night. Grace couldn’t have moved to save her life.


Josh pulled her in close, wrapped his arms around her, and let out a long, slow breath. Relaxed to the bone, she thought. It gave her a surge of feminine satisfaction that she’d gotten him there and it put a big grin on her face.


“Hmm,” he said in a voice so low on the register she could barely hear it. “I’d swipe that smile off your face, but my body isn’t working.”


“Later,” she promised him, hearing the exhaustion in his voice, snuggling in closer, stroking a hand down his back. “Josh?”


“Yeah?”


“Watching you tonight, working so hard to save Anderson…” She shook her head, moved again at the memory. “It was amazing.” She snuggled in close and kissed one corner of his mouth, then the other. “I was so proud of you,” she whispered.


The words seemed to rejuvenate him. He tugged the sheet from her, an urgent energy behind his movements that resonated within her as well. In a blink of an eye, he was pressing her back into the mattress, the sure and solid weight of his body as comforting as it was arousing.


It felt more right than anything she’d ever felt. He felt right.


He came up on his forearms, his eyes locked on hers as he slowly pushed inside her. Unable to keep still, she arched up with a soft gasp, wrapping her legs around his waist.


“So good,” he murmured, then lowered himself again, his hands sliding up her back, pulling her in close. “Always so fucking good with you.” He brushed his lips over hers, his eyes never leaving her face as he began to move inside her, slowly at first. She met him thrust for thrust, trying to urge him on by biting his lower lip. He hissed in a breath and gripped her hard, holding her still, forcing her to take the slow, tortuous climb, making her feel every single inch of him.


And she did feel him, she felt everything, and when the pure emotion overtook her, she felt her throat tighten, her eyes sting. She sobbed when she burst, feeling his release hit him too. Afterward, he pulled her in tight and held her close. Lulled by the feel of his warm strength, the comforting scent of him surrounding her, she drifted off, with him still buried deep.


Josh knew he needed to get up, but lying here with Grace wrapped around him like he was her own personal body pillow was really doing it for him.


He’d shown up here tonight and pretty much taken what he’d needed from her without a thought to the after. This wasn’t supposed to keep happening, and yet it did. And each time, feelings got deeper.


At least for him.


He had no idea what that meant for them now and wasn’t all that eager to find out if things had changed between them. Of course they’d changed, because in his experience, right about now was when things tended to go to shit.


“Hey,” Grace murmured, her head on his chest, fingers gliding back and forth from pec to pec. “You okay?”


“That was going to be my question to you.”


She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. “Nice deflection, Dr. Scott.”


He blew out a breath and lay back, staring up at the ceiling. He felt unsure, and that was an extremely new and uncomfortable sensation.


“Are you…feeling claustrophobic?” she asked. “Maybe contemplating a trip to Australia to go surfing?”


He shook his head at her polite tone. “Not all men are dicks like your exes, Grace.”


“Touché. And right back at you.”


He tilted his head down and met her gaze. “I haven’t dated anyone with a dick.”


“You know what I mean.”


“Actually, I don’t.”


“It means,” she said, coming up on an elbow to lean over him, eyes flashing, “that I might have called this ‘just fun’ but that doesn’t mean I’d walk away if the going got tough.”


God, she was gorgeous when riled up. “So that wasn’t some sort of pity fuck?”


She pulled back to stare at him, then laughed, dropping her head to his chest.


“Just what a man loves. Being laughed at in bed.”


“I don’t do pity fucks,” she said, still grinning, pissing him off a little. “And I especially don’t do pity fucks with doctors. Doctors don’t need pity fucks.”


Some of his annoyance drained away. “What do doctors need?”


She climbed on top of him, effectively taking care of the rest of his annoyance. “I’ll show you,” she said.


It was 3:00 a.m. before Josh could move again, and his blanket—a warm, sated, boneless Grace—murmured in soft protest. He stroked a soothing hand down her back.


She let out a sexy little purr and fell back into a deep sleep. He managed to untangle himself and rolled out of the bed without her stirring.


As he moved around the room searching out the scrubs he’d carelessly discarded earlier, his gaze kept wandering back to the bed. To the woman in it.


Dead to the world.


When he was dressed, he bent over her and brushed a kiss over her mouth. “’Night,” he whispered.


She let out a barely there snore that made him smile as he left the guesthouse, carefully locking the door behind him. He entered his house and moved down the hall. Toby’s door was open but he wasn’t there; he was still at his friend Conner’s. Anna’s door was also open, and he found his sister sitting in her chair at her bedroom window, staring out into the dark night.


“Hey,” he said, startled to see her. She did her best to avoid him these days. Something else he was going to have to fix in all his new spare time that he didn’t yet have. “No adventure tonight?” he asked carefully. Something was obviously wrong. Not that she’d tell him.


“Hard to have an adventure on wheels.”


His chest ached, and he drew a slow, painful breath. “What adventure would you like to have?”


She sighed, then wheeled to face him. “Don’t you ever get tired of trying to make my life work for me?”


“No.”


She stared at him and then shook her head. “Well I do. I hate being a pathetic burden.”


“Anna, you are smart, attitude-ridden, and scary as hell. You’re a lot of other things, too, but you are not, nor have you ever been, a pathetic burden.”


She shrugged.


“What if it was me?” he asked her quietly. “Me hurt in the accident. Me in a chair. Would you think of me as a burden?”


“Would I have to wipe your drool?”


He sighed. Her teen years had been hell on wheels. Literally. Once in a while he thought he saw glimpses of the gentler, kinder version of Anna that she’d been as a young girl, but right now wasn’t one of those times.


“Fine,” she said, caving. “I’d kick your ass every day until you no longer felt sorry for yourself.”


“So consider your ass kicked,” he said.


“I’m still going to Europe.”


He’d done a lot of thinking about this, and the idea of Anna alone in Europe gave him the cold sweats. But she was twenty-one, and the truth was, he couldn’t stop her. And he did understand her need to go, to prove her independence. He really did. He just was terrified for her. “You can get adventure closer to home and closer to your support system.”


“My support system works twenty-four-seven and doesn’t have time for his own life, much less mine.”


Guilt sliced him. “That’s going to change. You know I sold the practice.”


“I’m still doing this.”


Since there was nothing to say to that, he turned to go.


“Josh?”


He looked back, wondering what she was going to fling at him now. “Yeah?”


“Thanks.”


He was so surprised she could have knocked him over with one little push. “For?” he asked warily.


“For not seeing me as pathetic.”


Chapter 20


Coffee makes it possible to get out of bed but chocolate makes it worthwhile.


Josh walked into his office the next day and found his office staff and Tessa huddled over the scheduling computer. They looked up in unison, paused, and then—still in unison—grinned.


“Nice,” Dee said to him.


“What?” He looked behind him; he was the only one there.


“You got some,” Dee said.


Michelle and Tessa smiled and nodded.


Josh worked at not reacting. He had a good staff, but they were a pack of vultures. If they sensed a weakness, they’d attack.


“’Bout time, if you ask me,” Michelle said. “So it’s a good day to ask for a raise?”


“I’m thinking you don’t have enough work to do,” Josh said in his boss voice.


They all scattered, except for Tessa. “I’m beginning to see why you signed on the dotted line,” she said. “Having a life looks good on you.”

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