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Passion. At least that’s the word that comes to mind. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, but I have to believe this is passion—a completely uncontrollable emotion. The moment when mind and body collide into something indescribable.

Our heads tilt in every direction, my palms pressed to his stubbly face, his tangled in my hair. For the first time in the past twenty-four hours, I don’t miss my hair. Jake doesn’t just say I’m beautiful, he makes me feel beautiful with his whole body.

When passion explodes into undeniable need, I move my hands down his chest, letting my lips follow. Our lust-drunk gazes meet as I slide off his shorts, tasting him like he tasted me.

“Ave …” he tugs on my hair like he’s in pain. I glance up as I release him from my mouth.

Standing, I slide out of my jogging shorts and panties. Jake sits up and grabs my hips to bring my center to his mouth, making me weak in the knees as my eyelids grow heavy.

“Jake Matthews…” I say through my stolen breaths “…I love your mouth.”

He closes his eyes and palms my ass like he’s never enjoyed anything more in his life. When I’m ready to convulse and collapse onto him, he brings his hands back to my hips and kisses his way up my body while guiding me down onto his lap. It’s almost everything—almost perfection—but not quite. I pull away from his mouth and lift onto my knees.

Without a second of hesitation, a moment of doubt, or a breath of uncertainty, he fists his cock and positions it between my legs. I slide my fingers through his hair and kiss him as he pulls me completely onto him.

We share soft moans.

We share tender touches.

We share the best. Sex. Of. My. Life.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Jake

Avery Montgomery is my new favorite acoustic song. The sounds she makes when she’s completely out of her skin with desire and out of her mind with need … it’s fucking incredible.

“I’m sleeping with the enemy,” she mumbles into my neck, her naked body covering mine.

Did I mention she’s my new favorite blanket too?

“I’m the enemy?”

“Yes.” She lifts her head and hands me a pathetic frown. “You’re the school bully who calls me names, pulls my hair, snaps my bra, then gives me chocolate. And I’m the gullible girl who lets said school bully feel me up because I like chocolate.” Avery twists her lips. “Well, I don’t like chocolate anymore, but I used to.”

I chuckle. “Now I’m the school bully and you’re the girl who lets a guy feel her up for chocolate? Avery, Avery, Avery … God, I hope it was more than just a bag of candy from a vending machine.”

“I’m just kidding.” She rests her cheek on my chest. Her fingers trace my tattoos.

“Liar.” I pinch her sides.

She jumps and giggles, rolling off me.

“Who was he? Choir boy? Quarterback? Math geek?”

Avery rolls to the other side of the tent to get away from me, giggling the whole way.

I crawl toward her.

“No!” She grabs my pillow and hugs it to her chest like it can protect her, but her back is pressed to the side of the tent. She has nowhere to go.

Swarley barks outside of the tent. I hold up my finger to my lips. “Shh … you’re upsetting him with your schoolgirl squealing.”

“Then stop prowling toward me like that.” Avery pulls the pillow up so just her blue eyes are peering over the top of it.

“Like what?” I snatch the pillow away from her.

“Eek!”

Swarley barks.

“Shh …” I hook her waist and drag her to me.

She grins as I hover above her. It makes that thing in my chest hurt because I think I fucked up. In my effort to strip her down to just Avery, I may have gone too far—gave her too much of myself.

Avery widens her legs, positioning my newly aroused dick right at her entrance. When she pulls her knees back, I feel her wet and warm against me.

“Again,” she says on a breathy whisper.

My conscience screams to get out of here. Buy her a plane ticket to L.A. and deliver the dog at a later date.

Right now, that screaming conscience falls on deaf ears.

“Again.” I push into her as our mouths collide.

* * *

Welcome to New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment

“Hi, Daddy,” Avery slips off her sandals and plants her sexy feet onto my dash. The windows are down. The breeze is warm.

Not a diva in sight.

Holding my phone to her ear, she glances over at me and winks. Yeah, she’s going to ruin me.

“We’re in New Mexico. No … my phone battery isn’t dead. The whole thing died. There was an incident, but I don’t need it. How’s Deedy?”

She says Deedy’s name like she’s sucking on a piece of hard, bitter candy. I have a feeling it’s a mix of her being a daddy’s girl and Deedy being close to her age.

“Jake’s … fine. I guess.”

I give her a sidelong glance with a raised eyebrow. Avery smirks, keeping her gaze pointed at the road ahead.

“Oh … she’s going to wear an actual wedding dress? That’s … interesting.” Her smirk drops into a solid frown. “Even though it’s just the two of you and witnesses?” She picks at the frayed hem of her jean shorts.

After a few more uh huh’s, okay’s, and I supposes’s, she says “I love you” in a very honest way and ends the call.

“Just to be really, really clear … you’ve never been intimate, sexual, flirty, or anything like that with Deedy?” Avery glances over at me. “Have your lips ever touched any part of her body?”

“You really want to have this conversation?”

“JAKE! You lied to me! Eww …” An exaggerated shake shimmies her whole body. “It’s cross contamination. You can’t do what you’ve done to me and have a history with my dad’s fiancée. It’s all kinds of wrong.”

I laugh. “You realize you’ve done a few things to me too.”

“But I didn’t screw your mom’s boyfriend.” She wrinkles her nose. “That’s my bad. Your parents are probably happily married. I’m not seriously suggesting she has a boyfriend. And I certainly haven’t slept with him. Oh god … at least I hope not.”

“My mom is not alive.”

Avery covers her mouth with her hand and shakes her head, closing her eyes. “Shit … I’m sorry. I just shouldn’t … speak. I should stop talking indefinitely.”

“It’s fine.”

She doesn’t respond for several miles. I must not have sold the fine so well.

“Can I ask how she died?”

I clear my throat, keeping my eyes on the carless road in front of us. “She was sick.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. Cancer? That’s how my mom died.”

I shake my head. “Not cancer.”

“Oh … um …”

I hate that this is so fucking hard. I always thought it would get easier. It hasn’t. Years of physically fighting away the demons, and I’m still filled with anger when I think about it too long. “She battled depression.”

Avery nods slowly, not saying a word for several miles. Finally, she breaks the silence. “How long ago did your mom die?”

“I was fourteen.”

“What do you remember about her?”

“If I don’t want to talk about this, does that make me an asshole? I know you shared about your mom, but—”

“No. Doesn’t make you an asshole.” Avery’s reassurance sounds anything but reassuring as I hand over five dollars for parking.

I bite my tongue from making up a million reasons for why I don’t want to talk about my mom, since the real reason isn’t ready to come out. By the time we reach Santa Rosa, Avery seems to be fine. I think. She’s hard to read when she’s so quiet.

“Are we good?” I reach over and squeeze her leg after I shut off the truck.

“Yeah. Everything is fine.” She returns a tight smile.

I scratch the start of a beard growing along my jaw. Her fine sounds like anything but fine.

Avery unfastens her seat belt and tosses me a smile. It borders on a cringe, clearly a forced smile. “So, what are we doing here? What is Blue Hole?”

“It was once known as Blue Lake. It’s just a blue gem in the middle of the desert. Great place for scuba diving, but we’re just going to cool off for a bit since it’s insanely hot.”

She nods slowly. “I don’t have a swimsuit.”

“I’ll grab your sports bra and shorts from this morning. They’ll work. You let Swarley out.”

Avery nods slowly again, face tense with apprehension. Bringing her out of her comfort zone is my new high.

After Swarley does his thing, we do a quick change into swimming attire, grab towels, and put him in the truck with all the windows down and his travel bowl of water on the floor.

“It’s blue. Really blue.” Avery’s eyes widen as we approach the rock cliffs around the swimming hole.

“Together?” I give her hand a squeeze.

“What? Wait …” She tries to pull away. “I’m an ease-it-in sort of girl.”

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