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Mischief glitters all across his eyes as he brushes his mouth against mine. “You know where the door is.”

He licks into the seam of my lips. “I really, really have to go.” I loop my arms around his neck, intending a quick kiss, but he seems to have a different, slower, headier kiss in mind.

He makes it happen.

His hand eases into my wet hair and cups me by the scalp as he angles his head and kisses me, deeply, our mouths tasting of toothpaste and heat, my body arching to get closer to him while he seems to stand there, hot and hard, supporting us both as I melt under his mouth.

“Greyson . . .” I protest.

He runs his fingers through my hair and takes a kiss from another angle. “Nobody’s stopping you, Melanie.”

I turn my head to get more access into his mouth too, rubbing my tongue against his, my ni**les to his chest. “God, you’re danger, Grey.”

“You have no idea, princess.” He tongues me hard and unapologetically. More kissing, deep and slow, the kind of kiss that makes me hear our breathing, our slow, slick sounds.

“I think you do plan to tie me up and make me pick out safe words,” I breathe in between lazy, hungry sucks of his tongue.

“Just pick one.”

A soft moan leaves me when his lips trail my throat as I think of my word. “Dickhead.”

His chuckle vibrates right between my legs, where my cl*t feels extra sensitive this morning, and suddenly very, very achy. “That filthy f**king mouth just begging to be quieted,” he rasps. “But FYI, the word I want to hear the next time that I’m in you is Greyson. That’s the word I want to hear when I’m behind you . . .”

“We won’t . . . we won’t be doing that.” I can almost hear the flutters in my stomach in my voice as I try to escape.

He trails his hands up the small of my back, locking me to him. “Soon, we will,” he softly promises me.

“We won’t. I don’t trust you!”

He seizes my chin and looks me directly in the eye, speaking with deliberate slowness, as if I’m an idiot. “You can trust . . . that I won’t let any other ass**le . . . into your sweet, tight little ass**le—you sure as f**k can trust that.”

I groan. “Your mouth is filthier than mine. Why are you even after me?”

“The same reason you go out there, bang the brains off some dude, get hurt and keep looking for what you want. There are three things I’m not big on. Trust. Being ordered the f**k around—I get enough of that from my father. And denying myself what I want.”

“And you want me?”

I fall still under the hot feel of his lips suddenly pressing into my throat, trailing up to my ear, where he whispers, a warning, “That’s an understatement, but yes. I want you.” He steps back. “I want this in a way I have no business wanting, Melanie. Just don’t confuse me with your prince charming.”

The words, they hit me. Straight and true.

They hit me so hard, they knock the wind out of me.

“If I did, you just ruined it,” I say, rolling my eyes. “Bye, Greyson.”

I hate the silence that follows me out of there.

FIFTEEN

WHERE I’M HEADED

Greyson

“Next thing you know, you’ll be going to f**king church on Sunday to sing choir,” Derek cackles as he drives me over to Melanie’s parents’ house.

Why is he driving me to her parents’ house, you wonder?

Because it looks like I’m doing brunch today.

“Shut the f**k up,” I growl.

Derek chuckles and shakes his head, and I stare morosely out the window.

“Aaaaahhhhhh, god, I can’t believe this,” I tell myself as I rub my face and look down at my clean clothes. I took the risk of not wearing any weapons and I feel beyond naked—I feel stupid. Like some prom boy about to pick up his date.

There are some things that you just know are right or wrong. And I know that sitting at a Sunday brunch with a woman’s parents is not where I belong.

My crewneck itches. I angrily tug it as I walk up to their townhome. I know exactly where their home is because I’ve hacked Melanie’s every system, read every page, receipt, and article with her name on it. I could be a plague on legs approaching the two-story home, that’s how out of place I feel as I rap my knuckles on the door. There are flower beds nearby. It smells . . . of freshly mowed lawn. I almost remember helping my mother mow our lawn thirteen years ago. In a home like this. It’s been thirteen years since I stepped through doors like these, in a neighborhood like this. I don’t f**king belong here anymore.

Derek waves at me from the car and I flip him off, then call, “I’ll bring out a doggie bag for you.”

He flips me back. “I chomped on a burrito at the gas station but you sure are the epitome of kindness this morning, boss.”

Ignoring the jibe—because of course I wasn’t my sunniest on our drive here, hell, I never am—I knock on the door a third time.

I’m not really certain how Melanie will react to my being here but I’m going to give her a little help and act like I already know she’s going to be f**king delighted to see me. Period.

A servant opens the door. “Yes?”

She runs her gaze over me as if she can’t help herself, then I hear a voice, similar to Melanie’s. “Who is it, Maria?”

“Thank you, I’ll find my way.” I ease into the house and head to the noise, bursting into the dining room with ease.

Melanie’s father pushes up from his chair, surprised, though not alarmed. Silver dusts a full head of hair, and he has the kind of face that perennially wears a smile. Melanie’s mother, on the other hand, remains seated and wide-eyed, a beautiful woman with a pale, sensitive expression and eyes almost the exact shade as Melanie’s.

“Melanie?” her father asks. I roam her body with my gaze, and when our eyes connect, I see her lightly tugging on a loose tendril of hair, nervously looking for an explanation. What? Now she’s leaving me here like an idiot? Currents of electricity crackle between us, and I feel my body respond.

“Mr. and Mrs. Meyers,” I say to the people seated at the dining table. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

“Mom and Dad, this is Greyson. He went with me to Brooke and Remy’s wedding. He’s . . .”

She raises her face to me for help. Her eyes wide and bright, and god, she screws my brain. My mind flashes with images of her—the playful woman, the siren in my bed, the nurse who wrapped me up and kissed me after, and I can feel the fire in my gut blend into my soul.

Quietly I say, “I’m her new boyfriend and it’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

I pump her father’s hand and hold his gaze. Her mother launches herself at me and almost disintegrates in my arms. “So nice to meet you!”

Uncomfortable as f**k by the immediate warmth around me, I pry myself free and head over to Melanie. My body feels charged just being near hers. Now lust, I can understand.

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s just a friend,” Melanie laughs, playing a role for them. With an amused smile, she looks at me, then quips, “Change of plans?”

I pull out the chair next to hers. “Looks like.”

Her mother claps delightedly. “Oh, we’ll have a new member to play charades with!”

Fuck. Me. Standing.

I haven’t had a family-style dinner in my entire life, not even when my mother was with me. Never with both my parents at the table. I don’t eat at tables. I don’t hang out with families. In their homes.

I don’t know why I followed her here.

Bullshit. I do know.

She’s my mark, but she’s marked me. Guilt, an emotion I’m not familiar with, niggles in the back of my mind when her parents instantly begin listing all of Melanie’s talents for me. I guess I look like a decent guy. I look more than decent. They think if she likes me, I deserve her. Fuck, it hurts.

“Greyson King, hmmm . . . I’m trying to think of any Kings I know?” Her father scrubs his chin. “We are in King County, after all. What about the KING-5 TV station . . . ?”

“No, I’m not from around here.”

“Greyson, can I just say our little grasshopper is not only an amazing decorator, she makes perfect homemade ice cream from the days when Lucas and I had a little gelato place. She can actually cook, this one can!”

“Only when forced to,” she says, grinning.

Fuck me again, but she looks adorable, somehow vulnerable and playful.

She makes me f**king hot.

Hard.

Possessive.

Protective.

What the f**k?

“So how did you two meet?” her mother wants to know.

Melanie sighs. “He saved my car from the rain one day.”

Her mother’s eyes turn huge. “When you found yourself standing in the rain?” she asks Melanie, as though they’ve discussed the night we met.

Melanie flushes—how can I miss the way her cheeks flare bright red? The fire in my gut grows even more when I realize she’d talked about me to her mother.

“Greyson, I hope you don’t think we’re being overly enthusiastic but Mel’s never brought a boy home in twenty-five years. Even a friend.”

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