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And it feels so good.

Like that time in his office, only better. Much, much better. Because here he can spread me wide open. Here he can play with me, tease me, torment me until all I can think of is him. All I can feel is him.

I clutch at his shoulders, tangle my fingers in the cool silk of his hair, and tug him closer even as I arch my back, lift my hips.

He laughs then, a low, dark sound that vibrates through my sex and into the very heart of me. And just that easily I move from desire to need. “Ethan, please. I need—” My voice breaks on a moan as he circles my clit. Once, twice, then again and again. Long, slow sweeps of his tongue that bring me right to the edge of climax. And then take me over.

Wave after wave of pleasure crashes through me and I hold on to him like the lifeline he is. His touch grounds me, gentles me, even as it takes me higher, until nothing exists but him and me and the feelings that stretch between us.

I come down with a gasp, and reach for his shoulders, try to pull him over me. But Ethan isn’t having it. Instead, he turns his head and nips at my fingers until I lean back and let him have his way with me.

And what a way it is. The first time he built my orgasm straight up, took me over quickly. This time he goes slower, makes me wait. He licks and sucks, tastes and touches and torments me until I can’t move, can’t think, can’t even breathe. And then he does it some more.

His tongue is everywhere. Everywhere. Circling my clit, tracing my slit, delving deep inside my sex while the pleasure goes on and on and on. Until I’m begging. Until I’m screaming. Until I go beyond individual orgasms to a place where there is no end and no beginning, only continuous, never-ending ecstasy.

And still he pushes me. Still he demands more.

I’m sobbing. Mindless. A body driven by the sweet, hot edges of pleasure and pain. So wrapped up in sensation, in what Ethan is doing to me, that there’s no room for fear. No room for what Brandon did to me. No room for anything but Ethan and the response he draws from me so effortlessly.

“Please,” I beg. “Please.”

He lifts his head, his blue eyes sparkling wildly as he looks at me. “What do you need, baby?”

“You,” I gasp. “I need you.”

“You’ve got me, Chloe. Don’t you know that by now?”

And then he lowers his head and sends me careening over the edge of oblivion one more time.

Chapter Twenty-three

“Are you okay?” he asks minutes later when I still haven’t moved.

“Define okay.” I can’t even muster the energy to open my eyes.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I? Or scare you?”

I smile at that, run a languid hand down his arm until my fingers twine with his. “Do I look scared?”

“You look comatose.”

I laugh. “That’s about how I feel.”

“Good.” He shifts a little, making the water lap against my still-sensitized skin in a way that makes my nipples harden and my breath catch in my throat. Then he turns the water on.


“Shh,” he murmurs as his fingers slide up my arm and shoulders to my neck and then my head. He digs through my curls, starts to massage my scalp even as he turns me so that my head is under the gently running water.

Once my hair is completely wet, he reaches for the shampoo and squeezes some into his palm before slowly working it through my hair. He plays with my curls as he coats each strand, strokes my scalp. Then tilts my head back and rinses the soap away.

He does the same with the conditioner, taking his time and rubbing my scalp in a motion that has my eyes all but rolling back in my head. I’m totally sated, completely spent, and yet I can’t help thinking that if he keeps this up, he just might make me come again.

Eventually he rinses out the conditioner, too, then skims his lips across my forehead.

“Okay?” he asks again.

I swallow past the sudden lump in my throat. “Perfect.”


He leans forward and opens the stopper for the bathtub before stepping out of the tub. He grabs a towel and wraps it around his waist before reaching to pull me up and out.

He dries me slowly, spending a lot of time on my hair before moving on to my body. I wait for embarrassment to swamp me—he’s caring for me like I’m an invalid, after all.

Or like I’m the most precious thing in the world. The thought slips into my head, but I refuse to acknowledge it. To wish for it. Right now, it’s more than enough that he’s here with me and still wants me, even after everything I told him.

When I’m completely dry, Ethan picks me up and carries me back into the bedroom. Lays me out on the bed completely naked. Once again I wait for the nervousness to come, and once again it doesn’t show up. I’m too busy watching Ethan move, his beautiful body bunching and stretching in all the right places.

Finally—finally—he lies down next to me on the bed. He’s on his side, facing me, and while he hasn’t taken the towel off I can see his obvious erection. Thank God. Because I know he said to trust him, but if he doesn’t fuck me soon, I think I’m going to lose my mind.

He reaches for me and I think he’s going to pull me close to him, but instead he trails a light finger over the hollow of my throat before stroking it down the center of my body. Over my heart, down my midriff to my navel ring. “I like this,” Ethan murmurs, his voice low and gravelly as he plays with the little silver hoop.

“I like it, too.” And I like that he likes it. More, I like that he seems to understand the control it helps me feel over my own body. The same control that I felt when I got the small compass tattooed on the back of my hip. The same control I feel now, in his arms.

He smiles. “I’m glad.”

Eventually he moves past the navel ring and slides his finger down the platinum links and glistening diamonds of the belly chain to my mons. I tense despite myself and his eyes jerk right back up to mine. “You okay?” he asks.

I swallow, nod. Because when I’m with Ethan I am okay and that’s all that matters.

He strokes me here for long minutes, letting me get used to his touch all over again before he moves down to my sex. By now, any nerves I had are gone and all I can think about is taking him deep inside my body.

Suddenly I’m tired of waiting. Ethan has been wonderful. Sweet. Sexy. More patient than any man should have to be. But I’m ready for the next step. More than ready.

Reaching out, I reach through the opening in his towel and wrap my hand around his cock. He gasps, his wicked blue eyes shooting to mine. I can almost see the indecision in them—he doesn’t like that I’ve circumvented his plan, but at the same time he’s a guy. He’s not exactly going to complain about the fact that my hand is on his dick.

I lean into him, press a soft kiss to his mouth. Then whisper, “My turn, Ethan.”

I start to stroke him, running my hand from the base of his shaft to the tip in one long, smooth motion. He stiffens, drops his hand down to rest on top of mine. “You don’t have to do this.”

I roll my eyes. “You’ve made it abundantly clear that I don’t have to do this. But what if I want to do this?”

He studies me for long seconds, looking for I don’t know what. Reassurance, maybe? Or just proof that I’m not going to lose my mind this time?

To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen when Ethan actually makes love to me, but I know that I want to try. I know that I’ve never been less afraid in my adult life than I am at this very moment.

“I don’t want to wait anymore,” I tell him, dropping soft kisses across his chest. “Please. Don’t make me wait.”

I think it’s the plea that does it—I’m learning that Ethan has a hard time refusing me anything. But this time when I move my hand along the length of his cock, he doesn’t try to stop me. Instead he leans back and lets me touch him the way I’ve been dying to.

I roll over until my body is right next to his. Then I do the same thing he did to me—tracing the center line of his body from his collarbone to his groin—but I do it with my tongue.

Ethan groans before I even get to his belly button, his hands tangling in my hair, tugging at the curls hard enough to get my attention but nowhere near hard enough to hurt me. I take my time kissing and licking my way down his torso, enjoying everything about his body.

The salty-sweet taste of him that echoes the ocean, that is even now beating on the rocks outside this room.

The warm, firm feel of him that makes me long to touch every part of him.

The dark, musky scent of him that works its way into every part of my body.

For a second, just a second, I think about what it would be like if I could stay here—right here—with him forever. This moment is so perfect, so right, that I want to remember every part of it, so that when the rest of my life gets too much I can pull today out and wrap it around me like my own personal armor.

“Baby?” Ethan asks, his voice even hoarser than it was a few minutes ago. “You doing all right?”

“I’m doing fine.” And with that, I lower my head and take him gently into my mouth.

He groans at the first lick of my tongue down his rigid length, his fingers tangling in my hair. “Chloe, baby…” His whole body tenses, his every muscle going rock hard against me. I’ve never done this before and it’s different than I thought it would be. Better. More exciting. More arousing. Already I can feel my nipples hardening and the throb of burgeoning desire deep inside my sex.

Because I don’t know what I’m doing beyond the basics, I let instinct guide me as I bring my hands up to cup his ass. To pull him closer. To suck him deep into the recesses of my mouth.

His hands tug gently at my hair, guiding my mouth where he wants it to go. I like the sharp little tugs on my scalp, the brief twinges of pain that make the pleasure I feel at learning him this way so much sweeter. Running my tongue along the underside of his cock, I move with him as he gently tugs at my hair, his hands guiding my mouth where he wants it to go.

I lick at him, swirling my tongue around the length of him again and again and again before I stop to linger at the head of his cock.

I probe the little slit there with my tongue and I relish the sound he makes low and deep in his throat as much as I relish the salty taste that comes with the drops of pre-ejaculate he spills. He tastes good, feels good, and as his hips begin to move—as he begins to thrust himself gently into my mouth—I know that I want more. I want everything he has and I want him to give it to me, no holds barred.

But, much to my disappointment, Ethan has other ideas. He doesn’t let me play for long, doesn’t let me bring him to orgasm as he’s done for me. Instead, he pulls me up, his mouth taking mine in a greedy, rapacious kiss that has me seeing stars even as I cling to him.

His tongue sweeps across my lips and I open myself to him. I take everything he has to give me and then demand more. Demand everything. He’s held back long enough. I want all of Ethan, and I want him now.

He groans when I suck his lower lip between my teeth, then slides his hands down to cup my ass. I gasp as he pulls me closer to him and settles his heavy cock against the apex of my thighs.

I open my eyes, find him watching me with concern. Which is sweet, but right now I want the fire much more than I want the tenderness. So I hitch my leg over his hip and move so that he’s pressed right up against my sex. Then I slide my hands into his hair and tug harder than he ever tugged at mine, while I thrust my tongue deep into the recesses of his mouth.

A deep growl rumbles up from Ethan’s chest, and somehow it only stokes the flames that are burning through every part of me. “Ethan, I need—” More. I need more, but I don’t know how to say that. Don’t even know what exactly it is I’m asking for.

But Ethan does. “I’ve got you, sweetheart. I’ve got you.” And then his mouth is on me, skimming from my neck to my breastbone to the undersides of my breasts. He sucks my nipple into his mouth, nips at it sharply before soothing the small hurt with his tongue.

Again and again he bites, then soothes, until the experience of mild pain and overwhelming pleasure blends into one glorious mixture so closely related that I can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. My nipples, my breasts, my neck, my shoulders, my back, he explores them all. Again and again and again, until my skin is flushed pink and I have more than a few small hickeys decorating my body.

I love it, the way I love my navel ring and my tattoo. The way I love the brand-new belly bracelet resting against my hips. Because with every love bite he gives me, Ethan is helping me reaffirm my control over my own body. My right to do with it as I please.

But eventually it gets to be too much. And not enough. I need more. I need everything. Ethan seems to know instinctively when I hit that point, or maybe he’s hit it, too. But suddenly there’s an urgency in his callused hands as they stroke over my body, a sense of desire that will no longer be denied.