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He’s in bed with me.

God, it’s like a dream come true. All these nights dreaming.

I tip my head back.

He regards me quietly, his lips quirked. “Livingston, if you could read my mind, you would start feeling really shy around me.”

No. He can’t possibly know what I want. How crazy I feel. How much I want him. How I can’t stop thinking about him. But the intensity in his eyes mystifies me, and the air crackles with so much desire, it’s hard to lie here and do nothing but look at him and want him and feel crazed with desire for him. He doesn’t move closer, but he doesn’t move away, he keeps me in the bestest embrace that’s ever been around me. His lips are here, so very near, two inches from my mouth, as he studies me with an expression of utter determination.

“So tell me about these plans of yours,” he says, and though his voice is low with desire, I can hear the sincerity in his tone as well.

“We don’t have to talk, we can go for the other option,” I whisper. But when he only smiles ruefully down at me, I sigh and snuggle back against his chest. “I’ve never in my life managed to feel safe somehow. But you’re not afraid of movement, you always keep moving. . . .”

Silence.

“Why?” I ask pensively. “Why are you always after something?”

He chuckles. “I don’t know. Because I want to. I want everything.”

“Even women?”

He doesn’t flinch, answers with a soft press of his lips against my temple that makes me melt. “Sometimes women.”

Jealousy sneaks into my guts, but I try not to let it stay there. “You’re always surrounded, Malcolm, by so many people. I’m surprised I found you alone tonight.”

He hesitates. Again, his lips graze my temple. He shifts his body so that I’m almost spread out on top of him, my bare leg folded over one of his black-clad thighs, his hand splaying over my back—over his shirt I’m wearing. “The company I’ve been keeping doesn’t seem to satisfy me anymore,” he whispers in my ear.

If I keep turning into the consistency of honey like this, I don’t even know if there’ll be anything left by morning. Brushing my lips over his tiny brown nipple, I murmur, “Why do you surround yourself with so many people?”

“Because of the meningitis. Remember my father couldn’t stand that I got sick? At five, I was a kid in the hospital with meningitis. My mother stopped by for an hour every day before her tennis classes. The days went by so damn slow. So damn slow that I would look at the clock and one minute would trickle by. Then another. I waited for the last of my IV to drain so someone would come in and change it.”

He felt lonely. In a private room. Alone. Isolated.

I look at him, and he’s big and powerful. But still, there is always the sense of him being surrounded but alone.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I lick his nipple, suck it, kiss it, and when I feel him tense and lift his hand to my hair—ready to pull me back to stop me—I ease back, then gaze up at him with a fierce ache in my gut.

“With Stop the Violence, I sometimes visit family members of the victims, and some of them are so alone. People don’t realize that even if they don’t have money to donate, so many of us just want company.”

Another rueful smile, but there’s nothing rueful about the raw desire on his face as he looks at me. “Come here, Rachel.” He pulls me back to his chest, where he caresses a hand down my hair and whispers against my temple. “I’m very sorry about your neighbor.”

My brain is muddled with his nearness, his unique aroma of male and soap and his shampoo and cologne and aftershave. It’s such a powerful combo, an aphrodisiac to my senses. I close my eyes and stroke my fingers over his chest—just a little. I don’t mean to be devious about it, but I can’t stop touching his skin and his muscles; I can’t stop my heart from beating fast, my chest from feeling knotted over what he just told me.

Want.

I want to run my fingers over the stubble on his jaw. I want to press my lips to the top bow and the bottom curve of his lips. I want, want, want.

Want is such a short word, and yet it can encompass so many infinite things.

Saint is momentum. Movement. He’s a man who’s always moving forward, pushing for more.

He will never stand still until he owns the world, and I just want to find my place in it.

It couldn’t be more wrong.

He’s a womanizer. No one woman will ever appease whatever thirst he has for more and more and more.

Love is for romantics; I’m a journalist.

Still, I lie in a man’s bed for the first time in my life and can’t help but want . . . for a night to be someone else.

19

MORNING

We wake up, his hair bed-mussed, his face fully rested, a scratchy beard on his jaw. He was watching me, and I feel myself blush because I slept so well. I feel loose and relaxed. “Hey.”

He touches me. And I edge closer and move my head closer to his hand. It’s a really tender gesture, and I worry I’m starting to crave them.

His shirt still hugs my body—the feel of the fabric brushing against my skin beneath, the same fabric that touches his bare torso too, warms me to my toes. It’s a struggle to hold my reactions under control. I’m in bed with him, my hair falling past my shoulders, our bodies only partly dressed, our stares equally restless and ravenous. All the ice inside his eyes is gone, replaced by a thermal heat that causes a pooling of volcanic matter inside me.

“I’ll get breakfast for us,” I murmur.

I head to his kitchen in his shirt and, after a bit of fumbling, I get his fancy coffeemaker to work. Then I make some toast.

He comes out fully dressed in slacks and a white shirt and hangs his jacket on the back of a chair. His hair gleams from his shower, wet, dark, slicked back from his smooth forehead, his features sharp and tan.

There’s intimacy between us as I curl up on the chair and have breakfast. Saint drops down and reads the news on his iPad. I don’t want to take his shirt off. I miss having it in my closet. I never realized how much I want it. “Is it okay if I take your shirt? I’ll dry-clean it and bring it back . . .”

“Don’t bring it back.” He sets his iPad aside. Leans forward, his business shirt all over his muscles the way I want to be. Saint spreads his large palm over my cheek as he pushes my hair aside and kisses me with painstaking gentleness. “Rachel.”

That’s all he says. That one last word sounds frustrated, aroused, annoyed, confused—almost pained. Before I can get him to get into the kiss, Malcolm takes my face between his large hands and looks at me with ice-green eyes that carve into my soul. “I’m not the guy anyone comes to for comfort, Rachel. But I like that you came to me.”

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