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But I don’t move because I also really crave, I really need, for him to make the first move. So I boost myself down and whisper, “I should clean up.”

With a low, unexpected groan, he clamps his hand over mine and forces my hand down against his erection—pulsing between his legs and as hard as I’ve ever felt it—then he turns his head and takes my mouth in a quick, heady kiss that tastes of cinnamon and apples and him. “Princess, I’ve been like that for hours. Hours. Since I boarded the damn flight on my way here . . .”

“If you’ve been like this for so long, then you can give me ten minutes to clear this up so I will have nothing else to do the rest of the night but you,” I seductively whisper, then I giggle happily when he warns, a thick, raw lust roiling in his eyes, “Five minutes.”

“It’s not a race,” I counter, and then, purposely, secretly, I start moving more slowly to entice him. He watches my every move, making love to me with his eyes as I start cleaning up the rest of the table. Playfully, I slap his hand away when he tries cupping my butt. He chuckles as I carry the plates to the sink, and I’m so affected by the rumbling sound, I can’t quell the pulsing throb in my body, begging me for his fingers, his lips, his teeth, his tongue. He’s been hard for hours but he doesn’t know I’ve been wet and achy for just as long.

He helps me take the rest of the plates to the sink, and the gesture, along with his overpowering nearness, keeps me on edge. As he finishes clearing the table, I start to wash, our fingers brushing, our bodies connecting in so many points, every one of them sizzles across my nerve endings.

When I’m washing the last plate, he stands behind me, his body a wall of brick, his palm rubbing my butt as he starts kissing the back of my neck in the most breathtaking way. “It felt like coming home for the first time in a long time tonight, Melanie,” he says, and I can detect the rasp of gratitude in his voice.

“No girl cooked for you before?”

I’m amused and laughingly turn, but when I look into his eyes, my amusement vanishes.

There’s something very serious in his eyes, and very, very tender.

His jaw looks squarer from the force of his hunger as he reaches out to unhook the apron from my nape, letting it fall to my waist as he undoes the knot at the small of my back.

“Nobody has cooked for me for thirteen years,” he says, knocking the wind out of me with what I see roiling in his gaze. Hunger, but not only of the physical kind. Hunger to be nurtured, taken, accepted.

I know this hunger. I hunger for the same.

Watching me like I’m all the acceptance he’s ever wanted, he laces both his hands through mine and backs me toward my bedroom.

My pulse thunders as he backs me inside, letting his thumbs trail along my face. When he kisses me, his kiss is such velvet, I feel like I could fly. His body presses close to mine, filling me with yearning. I close my eyes when he dips his fingers into my braid and slowly unwinds it. I shake my hair out and run my fingers over it, and he sinks his fingers in with mine as though curious as to how I do it. I close my eyes and feel him awkwardly but very tenderly use his hands to unravel all of my hair.

Do you ever want someone to look at you, but see only the good? This is me with him. I don’t want him to see that I’m a mess inside sometimes. I’m trying to be the perfect girlfriend. And I know that he’s trying to be the perfect boyfriend too. I guess it’s not fair. I want him to see only the good, but I want to see all of him. Even the bad. As we kiss for a while, we talk about memories from his childhood, his uncle named Eric, how they went hunting all the time at a Texas ranch. We talk about my ballet lessons growing up, my embarrassment when I fell at my first recital. We talk tonight. But I want to know more, every piece of the puzzle that is him.

He doesn’t mince words and he tells me what he likes about me and how much he wants me. And I still want more, but our kisses are getting heavy, so heavy I can’t breathe right anymore. He’s taken off his shirt and is now in only his slacks, while he’s pried off my apron and left me in my skimpy little dress.

I suck on his nipple ring. God, how I love this ringed nipple. The groan that follows my sucks. I love how the other nipple puckers in response as I stroke it with my fingertips.

“You wear a scar and yet I can’t ever imagine you being broken,” I whisper as I rub my hands up the muscled grooves of his chest, paying extra attention to the long, textured slash of his scar. I really value scars. The story they tell. The meaning they wear.

“My scar,” I say, then I hesitate before murmuring, “Do you know what it’s for? It’s because I needed a kidney when I was young.”

Shocked at my own revelation, I ease back, protectively curling my arms around myself. “Melanie, come here,” he commands, a spark of some indefinable emotion in his eyes. I take one step to him, and he slides my dress off my shoulders, down my waist, and to the floor.

I’m so exposed . . .

I stare at my feet, feeling myself go red unexpectedly. I’m not wearing panties and I didn’t cover my scar.

Greyson exhales, a long and slow sound as he takes in my nakedness, then he clenches my waist in one hand and tugs me closer, his voice low and breaking with huskiness. “You, princess, are nothing but perfect.”

“Do you realize I haven’t ever talked to anyone about it?” I whisper.

He fingers the scar on my hip bone, tracing it with one blunt fingertip. “I see the pills you take for this every morning.”

“They’re so my body doesn’t reject it. But since she was my identical twin, my dose is minor. My body . . . accepted it almost as if it were mine.”

Impulsively, I lean over and set my lips on the deeper, more jagged cut near the bottom of his rib cage. “Now you tell me how you got this?”

“Long time ago,” he touches my hair with one hand, “my brother . . . my stepbrother got into a fight. Had to pull him out of there and got a souvenir. It’s nothing.”

Dragging my lips up his scar and toward his neck and those thick tendons I really like and the Adam’s apple that makes his voice rumble the way it does, he tilts my head up by the chin and looks at me, smoldering eyes trailing down to my tits, my abdomen, my perfectly waxed pu**y, and the way he looks at me as if he’s photographing me in his mind sends a dizzying current racing through me.

“I want to be in you, to lose myself in you.”

His energy feels as hot and erratic as a summer storm as he lifts me up and carries me up to my bed. He starts kissing me in the darkness, cupping my head and feeding only my mouth for long, heady minutes.

Then he’s touching. My breathing goes with every pull on my ni**les. The cup of his palm on my sex. I moan at the press and roll of his mouth over mine, and the addition of his thumb sliding behind me, slowly killing me as he caresses my little ass. “Oh god, Grey,” I gasp when his free hand slips down my abdomen, lower, and lower, while his tongue takes mine. I part my thighs with a sigh, and he strokes me open, my folds slick under his fingers, and suddenly everything is gone. My debt. My dreams. My work. My to-do list. It’s all gone except for Greyson’s mouth and hands in me, the gentle abrasion of his stubble against my jaw. His breath going as fast as mine.

“You smell as good as you feel.” His gruff whisper is hot against my mouth. His body trembles with unleashed power. I can see, even in the dark, the sheer, raw, aggressive beauty under the polish. I love the way the walls drop when he f**ks me. How he peels layers of me away until I’m vulnerable and shaking. How he’s as lost in what he does as I am.

“Say something wrong to prove this isn’t happening,” I whisper.

“I don’t think so, I don’t feel like ruining tonight just yet.” His gruff voice resonates with lust as he looks at me, his eyes glittering, fierce. Engulfing.

“Fuck me hard.” I gasp for breath as his tongue swirls wetly over my skin and he dips his middle finger into my folds, stoking, gathering my juices.

“Wet, tight, and ready,” he rasps in undisguised pleasure, his chuckle dark and throaty as he presses two fingers in me.

The need for him builds and twists along my nerves, tangles in my every muscle. My heart beats furiously in my chest as he suckles one of my ni**les, and when he fingers both my pu**y and my back at the same time, I scream.

Hot sucking motions rock through me as I jerk my h*ps to his hands, my fingers burying in his hair as my body grips his plunging fingers, terrified of losing them.

“Say you want me to f**k you, long and hard and everywhere,” he says, his face twisted into a mask of pleasure as he watches me.

“I want you to, I need you to f**k me everywhere,” I plead. “Only you. Please.”

“Here?” Face raw with desire, he caresses the outer rim of my ass with his thumb again and teases the tip back inside.

I bite back another scream of pleasure. “Greyson, I want this with you.” I lick my lips as my body tightens involuntarily, a sheen of perspiration already coating our bodies, we’re so hot. “You know how much I want this with you.”

“It’ll take us over the edge, Melanie. Over the f**king edge, are you ready to go there with me?” he warns, his tongue rasping into my ear. My flesh melts as he starts dragging his mouth down, sucking my br**sts until I arch and gasp, then lower, trailing a hot, swirling path down my belly button, to my bare sex. “First I want to taste you until you’re ready to convulse, princess.”

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