“Harley.” He sounded a little rough. “You’ve got to stop moving, or-”

“You’re too close!” Stop moving or what? a very bad part of her wanted to know.

“Keep rocking your hips and I’ll show you just how close I can get.”

She inhaled and went as still, caught between wanting him to follow through on that threat and wanting to run screaming into the night.

After a long silence, during which time she held herself so rigid she couldn’t even breathe, he sighed. “Relax. You know I’m not going to jump you.”

Yeah, that wasn’t what she was worried about. She was worried she’d jump him.

“Go to sleep,” he commanded softly in her ear.

Uh huh, like that was going to be possible with his delicious warmth and sexy bod cradling hers! She wasn’t the only one affected if the rigid length poking her butt was any indication. “TJ, you’re-”

“Ignore it. I’m trying to.”

She snorted, and the hand lightly gripping her hip tightened. “You’re laughing at me.”

“A little. It’s just that you’re usually the one so in control.”

“And you are?” he countered. “In control? Unmoved by the proximity?”

“Completely.” She went still, waiting to be struck by lightning for the lie.

“Really.” His fingers skimmed her belly; slowly, achingly slowly, stroking up and down, not quite reaching her bra or the edging of her panties, but coming close enough that she was breathing again. Or more correctly, panting.

Her ni**les were hard. Between her thighs, she was damp.

“You’re completely unmoved,” he repeated.

She bit her tongue rather than lie.

“It’s easy enough to check,” he said in a raspy, sexy voice, his fingers just barely slipping beneath her panties, heading south.

With a squeak, she caught his wrist. “Okay, I’m not unmoved!” She threw his hand off her. “But it’s not you. It’s that I’ve not-it’s been a long time.”

“How long?”


At that, the bastard chuckled.

She rolled her eyes, not that he could see her. “Go to sleep!”

“I’ll try, but if you crawl all over me again, all bets are off.”

“I won’t crawl all over you!” She hoped. She lay there for a long time.

“Harley?” His voice was husky low, as if he’d nearly drifted off.


“You think about me?”

“All the time,” she murmured without missing a beat.

All the time? She wrestled with second thoughts over that little tidbit for a few minutes until he pressed his hot mouth against the nape of her neck. “Brad?” she murmured. “Brad Pitt, is that you?”

He gave a soft laugh. “I could make you pay for that.”

Who was he kidding, she’d willingly pay for that.

“Why are you still awake?” he asked.

“Why are you?” she countered.

When he spoke, his voice was soft. “I keep going over it in my head.”

“I’m not going to admit I’m not unmoved again, TJ,” she quipped, pretending to misunderstand him, trying to keep it light. And talking about what had happened that long ago night at Long Lake wouldn’t be light. Not for her. “That was a onetime confession. A gift.”

“Not that.” He wasn’t playing. “I’m sorry. God, I’m so damn sorry for that night. If I could take it back, if I could grovel for forgiveness…” He paused, and she heard him swallow hard. “I can’t get it out of my head, what it must have been like for you. Your first time. With a drunken idiot.” He hugged her in a little closer, pressing his face into her hair. “In a f**king open truck bed.” His voice was hoarse and filled with self-loathing. “With others all around us. Christ, I was such an ass back then.”

“Back then?” she teased.

He said nothing to that. Okaaaaay, he was clearly not ready to find it amusing, and he was beating himself up to boot. Deep down, she could admit that’s what she’d wanted from him for years.

Hurray. Mission accomplished.

Except…She rolled to her back to see into his face. Looking up at him, into his pained expression, she didn’t suddenly want him to pay at all.

The fire was nothing more than a flicker, and she’d always loved looking at people by the firelight. Somehow it was so revealing, and let her see right through to the heart and soul of a person.

As she was seeing TJ.

Did she want to see through him, right to his heart and soul? It was a deep question, a difficult question, but the simple answer was yes.

His eyes were two dark pools, but his concern and regret rolled over her in waves. His legendary cool was gone. In another time and place, it’d be fascinating. “I told you that you didn’t hurt me,” she said quietly, watching a grimace twist his mouth at her words. “I meant it, TJ.”

He said nothing to that, and she tried nudging him, a smile on her face. “But I wouldn’t mind hearing more about the possible groveling.”

He still wasn’t playing and couldn’t be distracted. “Your first time,” he repeated so softly she barely heard him.

Her eyes drifted shut as she let memories wash over her. Between the wild crush she’d had on him and the time he’d spent stroking her body into a quivery boneless mass of bliss, the pain of his first penetration truly had been shockingly minimal.