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His grin was pure evil. Hell itself would have been jealous. “Oh, you want to meet Anne? Because she’s right–”

I slapped my hand over his mouth. “Don’t you f**king dare,” I hissed.

Crap, the things he thought were amusing might just get one of us killed. In this situation, it was most definitely his life on the line. Despite the laughter in his eyes, he nodded, pressing a kiss to the palm of my hand. Slowly, I removed it, my eyes narrowed on him.

“What was that?” asked his mom.

“I was just saying she’ll be home from work soon, Mom.”

“Wonderful.”

“Sorry,” he mouthed to me, laughing silently.

“Asshole,” I mouthed back.

He grabbed the back of my head, bringing my lips to his. If only I didn’t love kissing him so much.

“Son,” a deep voice said from the other room.

“Hi, Dad.” Mal rested his forehead on my shoulder. “Don’t come in.”

“No, no. We won’t do that.”

“There’s a lot of water on the floor,” his mom said, matter-of-factly. “Aren’t you a bit old to be splashing around like this? What on earth were you doing? Where does Anne keep her mop?”

“Kitchen cabinet,” I whispered.

“Ah, kitchen cabinet, Mom. Thanks. Guess I got carried away.” Mal rested his head against the back of the tub. He rolled his eyes to the side, checking out the floor. “Look what you did, young lady.”

“You’re the one that climbed into my tub,” I replied quietly. Sure enough, the bathroom was pretty much flooded. Water had spread across the floor, a stream of it leading out beneath the door and into the living room. “What a mess. We better clean this up.”

“Sorry, pumpkin. I don’t mind picking up my shit and all, but I’m a rock star. Rock stars don’t mop. It’s just not done.”

“You help make the mess, you help clean it up. Boundaries, Mal.”

“You don’t understand.” He shut his eyes, face tight with fake despair. “These are the hands of an artist. Would you expect Bonham to mop?”

“Who?” I asked in confusion.

“John Bonham.”

“Right. Well … if John Bonham got water on the floor, yes, I would expect him to mop.”

“Well, he can’t. He’s dead.”

I cocked my head. “What … who are we even talking about?”

“You don’t know who John Bonham is?” Mal asked, his voice rising.

“Shh. Your parents are going to hear us.”

“Sorry. But c’mon, pumpkin, you have to know who Bonham is. You’re f**king with me, right?”

“Sorry.”

“Ah, man,” he sighed, shaking his head slowly, mournfully. “I’m not sure I can stick my dick in a woman who doesn’t even know who John Bonham is.”

“‘Stick your dick in’?” I asked, my brows probably touching. “Did you actually just say that?”

“Make love. I meant make love … of course. I would never just stick my dick in you. I would make mad, passionate love to this sweet, sweet body of yours for days, no, weeks. It would be beautiful, pumpkin. There’d be little angels, and birdies, and you know … all just hanging around, watching. Perverts.”

“Right. You are so full of shit.” I smiled, cautiously, climbing to my feet.

“What about Kerslake, you know him? How about Wilk, never heard of Wilk?”

“I know Grohl. He’s great.”

“Oh, no. Fuck, honey. Not Dave Grohl. I mean, he’s a good guy and there were flashes of definite genius back in the Nirvana days, sure.” His hands slid from my waist down the sides of my thighs, holding me steady. “Whoa, where’d they go?”

“Hmm? Mal, stop.”

He stared straight at my sex, studying it. A little line sat between his brows. Deep down inside, I could live without him doing that right now. The man’s parents were on the other side of the door. The woman who’d given birth to him was busy cleaning up the mess we’d made. So not the time to be getting familiar with me. Quizzing me on famous drummers could probably also wait.

“Can you not, please? And where’d what go?” I threw a leg over the side of the bath, stepping down carefully onto the slippery floor. Getting the hell away from his overly intrusive eyes. My robe hung on the back of the bathroom door, fortunately. I hadn’t thought to bring in a change of clothes and my work wear sat in a soggy heap in the corner.

“Your pubes,” he said, angst filling his voice. “Where are they?”

“I wax.”

His nose wrinkled up in obvious disgust. “Well, stop it. I want cute carrot-colored pubic hair like on the top of your head. I deserve it.”

I bit back a smile. “You’ve given this a lot of thought, haven’t you?”

“It’s been almost a week. I had to have something to beat off to.”

“You’ve been masturbating to the thought of me?” I asked, thrilled. Clapping would probably be uncool, plus his parents might hear.

“Do I have a dick, Anne?” Mal climbed out, water running out of his soaked jeans, flowing out of his Chucks. What a beautiful wet disheveled mess.

“Given the size of the bulge in the front of your jeans, I’m going to answer yes to that question, Malcolm.”

“Then, yeah, of course I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve been thinking about your pu**y constantly, what it looks like, what it tastes like, how it’ll feel.” He towered over me, half na**d and dripping wet. The dripping-wet part was definitely going around. “Why do you think I was on Ben’s couch last night? No one else I wanna f**k. It’s gotta be you.”

“Wow,” I whispered.

“You gonna give me shit about not being romantic like you did last time?”

“Nope.”

“Nope?” His fingers toyed with the collar of my robe. Not undoing it, just hanging on.

I gripped the waist of his jeans and lifted my face, pressing my lips to his. “All I heard was blah blah I’ve been thinking about you constantly. Blah blah it’s got to be you. It was perfect, pure romance.”

He grinned. “You’re crazy.”

“We might have that in common, yes.”

“I definitely need you to know I have a dick.” He rubbed his lips over my jawline, making me shiver.

“Show it to me later?”

“Since you asked so nicely.” He drew back slightly. “Shit, we’re not going to start acting all nauseating like Davie and Ev are we?”

“Isn’t that how we’re supposed to be behaving?”

“Yeah, but it was funny while we were faking it. If we’re doing it for real …” He left the thought hanging.

My lust cooled significantly, chilling me. Because for real meant people getting hurt. And people getting hurt most likely meant me. It might also mean him, yes. But the odds were not in my favor. I already knew how much it would sting when our fake relationship ended. But a real relationship? That would be so much worse.

“I, um … why don’t we just take it easy? See how it goes,” I said.

“Can’t stop now.” He rested his forehead against mine. “We really f**king need to have sex, Anne.”

“Yes. But things don’t have to change if we start sleeping together.”

“They don’t?”

“No. It’ll be fine.” God didn’t smite me. Who knew, it could even be the truth.

“Cool,” he said, cocky grin back in full force. He held one big hand aloft, waiting for me to high-five him. “Damn, we’re good.”

I slapped our palms together, before slipping my fingers between his and holding on tight. “We so are.”

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

When it came to his parents’ visit, Mal went all out.

He threw on dry clothes and mopped out the bathroom while I hid in the tub behind the curtain. All in all, he got his parents out of the apartment quite quickly. I heard his mom asking about my decimated bed (because the bedroom doors were wide open too). Our on-and-off, real-and-fake relationship was slowly destroying my apartment and its contents. Though hopefully the water spillage hadn’t done too much damage.

Mal mumbled an explanation about the bed and his father changed the topic of conversation. What the hell had he told them? Now they probably thought I was some sort of sex fiend, knowing him. Though the real reason, that we’d been jumping on the bed like a pair of idiots, wasn’t something I wanted his parents knowing either.

I got dried and finished up the mopping. Fifteen minutes later Mal texted me.

Mal: Car will b there in 15

Anne: Where are we going?

Mal: Surprise

Anne: I don’t like surprises. Where are we going?

Anne: Answer me or I will hurt you while you sleep. I need to know what to wear etc

Mal: Wear nothing

Anne: …Try again

Mal: Restaurant in town. Wear a skirt

Mal: Plz?

Anne: Your wish is my command

Mal: HAHA I f**king wish

I stood on the curb, freezing my knees off in the bitter cold wind. Also panicking ever so slightly about what his parents would think of me, barely educated and broke. Then a sleek stretch limousine pulled up.

Oh, wow.

My eyes had to be as wide as the wheels. This was a first for me. I’d missed out on prom. I’d missed out on a lot of things. My first boyfriend had moved on to someone who had time to go to games and after-parties.

A young man in a snazzy gray suit and hat stepped out.

“Miss Rollins?” he asked.

“Yes.” I pulled open the door, eager to check out the inside. Then paused. “Crap. I was supposed to let you do that, wasn’t I?”

“That’s alright, miss.” He took up his position by the door, waiting for me to get in. Luckily my skirt went to my knees. Given the size of the vehicle, there wasn’t really any dainty way to make an entrance.

Glossy leather and a shining crystal decanter and glasses set greeted me. Talk about luxury. The limo dropped me at an up-market steak place in the Pearl District. We always seemed to end up in that part of town. I’d never been to the restaurant before, but I’d heard all about it. Once upon a time, Reece had taken a woman there in hopes of impressing her. It did the job. This place reeked of style, with its red booths and low lighting. Honestly, the lighting fixtures looked more like art installations. There were these giant, sparkly orb-type things. I really needed one for home just as soon as I made my first million.

I mentioned Mal’s name and the cool guy acting as the host gave me several once-overs. Though I guess after the first time, the look ceased to be a once-over and turned plain rude.

“Whenever you’re ready,” I said, not bothering with friendly.

Mal was sitting with his back to the room, his hair in a short ponytail. Asking him if his mom had made him tidy it up was tempting but in any teasing war of words, I usually wound up the loser. My nerves were frayed enough from meeting his parents so I kept my mouth shut and admired the cut of his cheekbones.

“Here she is.” The pride in Mal’s voice both startled and warmed me in turn. He slid out of the booth and put an arm around my waist. “Mom, Dad, this is Anne.”

Mal’s mom was petite and her smile lit up her entire face. Neil, Mal’s dad, stood at my approach. Tall with golden blond hair, he appeared to have Viking blood in him. It made sense once you’d seen the son.

“Lovely to meet you,” I said, trying my best to project bright, bubbly, trustworthy … shit like that. I’d never been introduced to a man’s parents before. Mal and I were forging new ground. Fingers crossed, I didn’t let him down.


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