Author: Jill Shalvis


“Oh. Oh, that feels so good,” she said shakily. “But you’re not up for this.”


Gripping her hips, he ground against her, showing her exactly how “up” he was.


“Josh, seriously. You need to be still, not—”


“I’m going to be very still.” He reached out and blindly opened his nightstand drawer, producing a condom.


He knew he had her when she took it. She tugged the sheet from between them, then untied his sweats and pushed them off before rolling the condom down his length. He ran his hands along her sweet thighs, pushing her dress as high as he could. She rose up and took him inside her.


She gasped, then covered her mouth with her hands. Watching her fight to keep in her moans of pleasure drove him right to the very edge. Gripping her tight, he thrust up inside her wet heat, hard, and oh, Christ. Christ, she felt amazing.


Warm hands covered his on her hips. She pulled them from her and lifted them to the headboard above his head, tightening her fingers on his. “Still,” she whispered. “You have to stay very still.”


He opened his eyes to find her face only inches from his. Deep blue orbs stared down at him, and his breath lodged in his throat.


Apparently satisfied that he was going to relinquish control, she let go of his hands and skimmed hers down his shoulders and chest to his stomach and back up again. And then she began to move on him.


Slow.


Achingly slow.


Grace’s hips rocked, and her head fell back as she took her pleasure from his body. Every time he so much as rocked his hips, she stopped. This was her ride, and she had places to go. And it was a hell of a ride. She nipped gently at his lips, nothing guarded or shielded in her gaze, nothing held back. He could see anything and everything in those eyes, and he didn’t understand how it could be, but this between them just kept getting better.


She was going easy, clearly not wanting to hurt him, but he needed more. He rocked up, changing the angle, creating a deeper penetration. Inhaling sharply, she bowed over him, entwining her fingers with his as she kissed him, her muscles quivering as the pressure built. Lost in the sight of her, he whispered her name, and then again.


It sent her skittering over the edge, her entire body shuddering in gorgeous relief above him, and he groaned as the wave took him under right along with her.


It was the most erotic experience of his life.


“I should go,” she whispered against his jaw.


“A minute.” He pulled her into him and stroked a hand down her damp back. “In a minute.”


Grace opened her eyes and nearly leaped right out her skin.


Toby was nose to nose with her.


And so was Tank.


Toby was on a stool leaning over the bed. Tank was actually on the bed.


On her.


At least until she sat up and dislodged him. With a reproachful look, the pug rolled aside like a boneless glob. Grace looked at Josh, who was flat on his stomach, sprawled out, and thankfully covered by the blanket.


Equally thankfully, she was fully dressed—and not covered by the blanket. Huh. The doctor was a bed hog.


Toby smiled at her. “Whatcha doing in my daddy’s bed?”


Yeah, Grace, whatcha doing in his daddy’s bed? She tried not to eyeball Josh’s sweatpants on the floor behind Toby as she reached for the book on the nightstand. The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners. “Reading him a bedtime story,” she improvised. Which was better than explaining the middle-of-the-night bootie call.


“It’s not bedtime,” Toby said.


And to think she’d been excited when he’d started using his words. “Well—”


“Hey, Squirt,” Josh said, opening his eyes. “Cereal for breakfast?”


“Yeah!”


“How about you go pour it.”


“By myself?” Toby asked.


“Yep.”


“Oh boy!”


Toby leaped off the stool and ran for the door.


When he was gone, Grace covered her face. “Oh my God.”


“He didn’t see anything.”


She rolled to her feet. “I was in your bed! We could have scarred him for life!”


“Grace, we weren’t doing anything. Well, I wasn’t. You were snoring.”


“I don’t—” She smoothed her dress down and searched out her sandals, shoving her feet into them. She glanced at herself in the mirror over his dresser and groaned. Hair, wild. Lips, swollen. Face, flushed.


Nipples, hard.


“Dammit!” She clapped her hands over them. “It’s like they’re broken!”


Josh let out a low laugh. “They just like me more than your other parts.”


She didn’t know about that. Her other parts liked him, too, a lot.


He got up much more slowly than she. Naked, of course. The man didn’t have a single ounce of self-consciousness in his entire body. Not that he needed to. “What are you doing?” she hissed. “Put some clothes on!”


“Christ, woman.” He appeared to be holding his head onto his shoulders. “Shhh.”


She narrowed her eyes. “Your head didn’t seem to hurt so badly a little while ago.”


“The brain is motivated to avoid pain by seeking pleasure.”


“The brain, huh? Because I’m pretty sure the body part that was seeking pleasure sits quite a bit lower than your brain.”


He let out a low laugh, but it was weak. Softening, Grace slid her arms around him, trying to guide him back to the bed. Not a hardship, since he was warm and sleek and hard.


Everywhere.


The hardest part of him was poking her in the belly. Seemed her nipples weren’t the only things broken.


Looking both amused and pained at the both of them, he extracted himself from her grip and strode butt-ass naked to the sweats on the floor, which he pulled on. “What’s up for you today?” he asked.


“The usual variety of jobs. Tomorrow I have another interview.”


He froze for a beat. “Seattle?”


“Yeah,” she said, more than a little distracted by the way the sweats sat so low on his hips. “You have a few more nanny applicants.” It was her turn to pause. “One of them is Sarah Tombs, Mindy’s sister, from the florist shop. She’s going to an online college and is looking for a way to work part-time. I could check her out if you’d like.”


“That’d be great.”


She nodded. “The other is Riley.”


“Amy’s Riley?”


“Yes. She’s taking college classes in the mornings,” she said. “She needs a job for the afternoons or evenings. She loves kids, she loves Toby, and more importantly, he loves her.”


Josh said nothing to this as he pulled on a T-shirt, his muscles bunching and unbunching in a way that made her lose her train of thought again. When he finally spoke, it was a complete subject change. “I heard you picked up a few more clients.”


“Yeah, it’s getting totally out of hand. Mindy brought me her paperwork. In grocery store bags.” She shook her head. “What is wrong with people?”


He smiled. “Lots.”


The smile made her want to hug him, and maybe love him up some more. Stupid smile. She backed to the door. “I’ll be back in time to get Toby.”


“We’ll be okay today. Do what you have to do.”


“You’re not going to work?” This had her heart stopping short. “You’re not better.”


“I’m fine. Just not fine enough to treat people.”


She looked him over carefully. He had shadows beneath his eyes. His brow was furrowed. His mouth was tight. He was holding it together—the guy clearly knew no other way—but he was feeling like shit. She shook her head. “I’m going to cancel the floral deliveries—”


“No. Don’t.”


“You’re—”


“Fine,” he said finally. “I’ll pick up Toby from school and take him to the pier. We’ll play arcade games and eat crap.”


Aw. She pictured it, Toby running around in hog heaven, and Josh trying to find something to eat that wasn’t a hot dog. “You’re a good dad, Josh.”


He didn’t have any obvious reaction, but she knew him now and felt his surprise. Had no one ever told him such a thing? The thought made her heart melt. And it wasn’t the fleeting kind of melt either. It was the kind that made her want to burrow into him and make him feel good some more. In lots of ways…


Which in turn reminded her that she was this close to a job—finally—and he was this close to getting a nanny, and then this time with him would be over.


And when it was, there’d be no reason to see him. At least no reason that didn’t involve doing what they’d both said they didn’t want to do—have a relationship.


Chapter 23


The best drug is chocolate.


The next day, Grace had her Seattle interview and got on the road heading back to Lucky Harbor. Her passenger was a big, shiny, fancy file folder with a formal offer and all the big, shiny, fancy benefits that went with it.


It was a really good offer. It didn’t involve shoe boxes filled with receipts, modeling various body parts, or doggie poo. It didn’t involve grumpy paraplegics or terrifyingly adorable Jedi warriors. This job would be all checks and balances, spreadsheets, and detailed analysis programs for a midsized bank with growth potential.


No messy emotions.


Now it was just a matter of deciding if she wanted it. This thought was so disconcerting that she had to pull over and stare at herself in the rearview mirror.


Of course she wanted the job. It was a good salary and had full benefits. It was what she’d been aiming for, and it would make her family proud.


But it also meant walking away from all the things and people who’d come to mean so much to her.


The break’s over, she told herself firmly. Fun was fun but it was time to follow through on her life plans. Past time.


She headed to the pier. She’d called Sarah for a preliminary nanny interview. They were meeting in twenty minutes at the diner. She was halfway through town when she saw Anna on the sidewalk, wheeling furiously along, steam practically coming out of her ears. Grace pulled over and got out of the car. She could tell Anna had been crying, but since she didn’t have a death wish, she didn’t mention it. “What are you doing?”

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