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He was also naked.

Completely and utterly, devastatingly and beautifully…naked.

I wanted to hate him and I was pretty sure I did but that didn’t mean that his mere presence didn’t affect me.

Under the light of the moon his tattoos and smooth skin looked as if they were shining, glowing with the same iridescent light reflecting off the water. His chest and arms flexed from the strain of his swim. His ab muscles rose and fell as he tried to catch his breath and I found myself following them where they turned into a V, pointing down to his…

I averted my gaze to the trees. “You win, Bear, whatever you are trying to argue. It’s fine. I agree. You win. Just go!”

“Bullshit,” he said. “I don’t win. I fucked up, Ti. If this is winning I hate to find out what losing feels like, so please, tell me what it is you think I won?”

It was exactly what I wanted to hear.

It was exactly bullshit.

“You wanted to push me away,” I reminded him. “You wanted to hurt me. Mission accomplished. Now get out of my boat.”

“First off, this is my boat. I built it with King and Preppy when they first bought the place, so if anyone is getting out, it’s you. Second, I tried to push you away. I admit it, even convinced myself that I wanted to do it. I thought it would be better if you hated me. I thought you would be better if you hated me.” His eyes met mine. “And part of me still thinks that’s true. But nothing about the look on your face felt like I was doing the right thing. The reality of you hating me was nothing like I thought it would be.” His voice grew quiet and his words sank further into the barrier I had a hard time keeping up around him. “It gutted me, Ti.”

Don’t listen. He’s lying. Don’t believe him.

“I know the feeling,” I said, the words dripping with the bitterness I felt.

Don’t listen. He’s lying. Don’t believe him.

“Here I thought you were being an asshole, but really, you just couldn’t push her hand from your dick fast enough?” I snapped. “Makes total sense. Please, by all means, continue,” I said sarcastically, resting my chin on my closed fist and leaning toward him to hear the rest of his ridiculous lies. The breeze picked up blowing my hair over my shoulders. Bear reached over my shoulder and grazed the side of my neck with the back of his knuckles. I shivered as he pulled my hair back around, dragging his fingertips across my skin as he adjusted my hair across my back. “You don’t get to touch me.” I seethed, trying my hardest not to give away the desire coursing through me by leaning into his touch.

“I told myself I can’t have you, but I can’t shake you. Why do you think that is?” Bear asked, his words a whisper against my bare neck. His fingers continuing to dance down the back of my arms despite my protest.

A part of me wanted to turn around and crush my lips to his.

A part of me wanted to drown him in the bay.

I was lost in sensation as my skin prickled to life and a muscle inside of me spasmed out and clenched. It was a war. Desire vs. Anger.

Anger was losing, but I wasn’t ready to give up the fight so easily.

Or so I thought. I’d opened my mouth to argue, yet somehow my brain thought the words and my mouth delivered the message, but I wasn’t fully aware of what I was saying.

Of the truth.

“You can’t shake me because I love you, you fucking asshole,” I said. Instant regret and fear slammed into me and I considered jumping into the bay to avoid seeing Bear’s reaction.

His thighs tensed around me.

After what seemed like forever he finally spoke and my heart started to shatter all over again. “No, you can’t love me.”

“No?” I asked, feeling every bit of anger coming back with a vengeance, rage raced up toward my neck, my blood turning hot in my pulsing veins. “No? You really are an idiot then! You don’t get to tell me that. And newsflash: I’ve loved you since I first saw you when I was just a kid and I will love you until I’m a hundred years old and even after they bury me in the ground.” I turned in the seat and Bear shifted his leg to make room for my knees, which were dangerously close to his cock that I couldn’t help but notice was already hard, pulsing as we argued. “You don’t have the right to tell me not to, love doesn’t work like that. The way I feel about you is the one thing in my life I still have that’s completely mine, and believe it or not, even you can’t take that from me.” I grabbed the oars and tried to row back to shore but Bear locked his thighs around me so that I couldn’t turn back around. He grabbed the oars from me and tossed them overboard, one at a time, launching them like little javelins across the water.

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