Page 29

He watches me like a predator as I go take my seat on the stool across the island.

We smile at each other, those smiles that seem to spread our lips simultaneously; from the moment we met it’s always been like that. I notice, at last, that he’s brought wine, and I watch as he pops open the bottle, searches my cabinet for glasses, and comes back to pour a glass for me, and another for him.

We clink glasses, smiling, and before he drinks, he murmurs, “To you, princess.”

“No, to you,” I counter, taking a sip.

“You like going against me, don’t you,” he purrs, still swirling and sniffing his own glass.

I laugh and suddenly I feel like the sexiest thing in existence as I start to eat. As if my every move is meant to entice him, excite and exhilarate him.

Not even my breaths escape his notice.

I feel him look at my fingers, my bare arms, my bare shoulders, my lips. I fork some salad and watch him tear off a piece of bread and stick it into his mouth. We sip quietly, watching each other, savoring each other’s company. The look of each other. The energy of each other. I’m a decorator who believes in feng shui. I believe in yin and yang. I have never felt such a yang to my yin. Ever.

“Do you like the meal?” I ask him.

“Am I the first man you’ve cooked for?”

I narrow my eyes, sipping a bit of red wine for courage, but there’s no cure for the nervous spinning in my stomach. “Truth? Yes. You are. So think very well about your answer,” I warn.

“Every spoonful was as delicious as you.”

I smile. “Really?” Feeling insecure, I check his plates and notice he’s wiped them both clean.

He edges back, and his gaze drops from my eyes to my shoulders to my br**sts. “I’m ready for dessert.”

“Wait, mister, I’m not finished. I have some actual dessert that’s not me, you know!” I twirl some pasta onto my fork a little faster and ram it into my mouth, licking some pesto off the corner of my lips.

Greyson watches me intently, and he looks so big, dark, and sexy in my apartment, I’m not accustomed to the deep little pangs of longing springing up inside my chest.

“How was your week?” he asks.

A flash of feelings stabs me when I remember all the nights I’ve lain in bed, more frightened than I want to be, and more lonely than I’ve ever felt in my life. Maybe it’s because I know who I want to be with right now. Maybe it’s because I feel vulnerable and scared.

“Actually, good,” I lie. “I wanted to ask you. I got an offer for my car.”

“You’re selling your car?”

I gaze at him in despair and notice the sudden grim set to his mouth. “Yes, I’m selling it.” I get up and go get his empty plates as I tell him how much I was offered. “Do you think it’s a fair price?”

He’s silent as I carry his plates to the sink, tracking me with his gaze as he asks me, “Why do you need to sell it?”

I can’t help but notice he looks more than a little curious. He seems determined.

So I try going for lighthearted, including adding a casual shrug to my explanation. “Just have my eye on something else.”

One dark eyebrow goes up, followed by another, and then an achingly slow, clearly smart question. “Another car?”

He’s not buying it.

I wrack my brain for something to say that will be as far away from the truth as I can, until he speaks, sighing as though I wear him out, “They’re low-balling you. Don’t sell your f**king car, princess, not for that, not for anything.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” he grits out, “you need your car.”

“Not to go to the office,” I lightly counter, “and I can hitch a ride with friends to go out during the weekends.”

When he continues looking displeased, I feel instantly suspicious. “Why are you so protective of my car, Greyson?”

After a rather interesting silence, during which my heart melts in my chest, I answer for him. “Because thanks to that f**ked-up car, I hooked up with you.”

He hikes up one big shoulder in an angry shrug. “That car is you. It doesn’t go with anyone else.”

I feel giddy thinking he might feel protective of the spot where we met, but I’m also sad that I can’t explain to him that no matter how attached I am to that car, I’m more attached to myself. “My buyer is a young eighteen-year-old, she’ll have as much fun with it as I have.”

When he speaks again, his voice carries a unique force, almost like a command. “Nobody can ever have as much fun as you do. You are fun, Melanie. And life. And so is that crazy, sweet little blue Mustang.”

I bring my hand up to stifle my giggles, because he’s being terribly cute and protective, and when he scowls, I tell him, “I think it’s adorable, Greyson.”

“That word and I don’t go together, princess.”

“It’s adorable. You’re adorable.”

He stands as though he’s going to make me pay for that. I run toward my room, laughing, and say from the door, “Greyson, I know this will break your tender heart, but I really need to sell my car. I’ll just ask for a thousand more. What do you say? God, even that scowl you’re wearing is adorable.”

He throws his head back and laughs—the sound rich and deep—and when I realize he won’t ever get the direness of my circumstances, I excuse myself to the bedroom for a moment and call the interested party to ask for one thousand more.

The girl tells me she’ll talk to her dad and let me know. When I come back out, Greyson’s standing with his arms crossed, looking at me with the kind of look a man wears when he doesn’t know what the f**k to do with you.

“I counteroffered,” I explain, once again the word “adorable” whispering through my hair as he rubs a hand through his own in frustration.

“Ahh, princess. Really. I can’t even . . .” He shakes his head in obvious frustration.

“Greyson, it doesn’t matter!” I cry. “Even if the car is gone, you’ll always be both my and my Mustang’s hero, you know.”

Somehow aching to appease him—hey, his volatile energy feels like a tornado in the room—I approach him and brush my hand through his mussed-up hair as I try to smooth it out again, loving the softness, which is just about the only thing soft on his hard head. He growls and catches me by the waist, surprising me when he drops his head and sets his nose between my br**sts and kisses my cle**age with fierce tenderness.

“If you weren’t going to listen to me,” he murmurs, his voice muffled by my apron, “why ask me?”

“I like knowing your opinion.”

“Show me you like it by proving you’re listening to me, Melanie.”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, rumpling his head playfully as I try to make him be happy again. The pleaser in me just can’t take his displeasure. Not his. “I’ll make it up to you.”

“Hmm.” His eyes glow like torches all of a sudden. “Make it up to me by telling me how you’d like to spend your twenty-fifth birthday,” he proposes.

A moment’s hesitation settles between us. What would he say if I told him I wanted to spend the day with him? Doing nothing but him all day? That I want him to tell me about his life, his family, that I just want to be with him because, lately, that’s when I’m happiest?

Prying free of his hold and forcing him to settle down on his seat, I bring over the cinnamon apple tart on a plate, then I boost myself up to sit on the island counter right in front of his seat. Using my lap as a table, I set my bare feet on his thighs and lift a spoon to feed him dessert.

“Where did you spend your twenty-fifth birthday?” I ask, spooning a little of the tart into his mouth.

He eats every spoonful I feed him, and the act is not as hot and sexy as I’d imagined it to be; it’s ten times more so. Because of those eyes. The way they watch me feed him like some predator biding his time for the real meal. “Probably drunk. Nowhere memorable. You braid your hair when you cook too?” he asks gruffly, tugging at my knot as I feed him another spoonful.

Something intensely intimate flares between us. Every second, he’s unlocking both my heart and my soul, and there’s no stopping the barrage of emotions overtaking me. Longing, tenderness, want, hunger, need, fear, happiness.

“It’s to keep my hair on my head and off my plates,” I tell him.

“Ahh,” he says, eyes twinkling as I bring up another spoonful of tart to his mouth. Watching as his tongue takes the spoon and runs around it teases all my senses. A buttery sensation flows across my thighs as I watch how his lips close over the spoon, how he savors it, how he watches me as he eats his tart, his eyes bright and hungry and brilliant like a bastard who knows I’m wet and ready for him. I feel like he’s baking me on the inside just like the oven baked my pie. As he takes the last bite, he tugs the tip of my braid and runs it under my chin, caressing me down my throat, and then . . . into my cle**age.

An instant flood of heat pools between my legs, pu**y gripping greedily to feel him inside me again. Why is everything he does so f**king hot? My heart is racing and my brain is screaming—touch him! Kiss him! Straddle him and feel him, show him you want him! Make him want you back, just like this! Make him want to STAY!

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