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“Ethan.” His name is a trembling sigh on my lips, a desperate plea that I can’t hold back as I tremble and arch against him. “Fuck me, please. Fuck me now.”

He’s trembling now, too, as he rolls over onto his back and pulls me over him.

“What—” I start to ask, but he stops me with a finger to my lips.

“Right now you’re in control, Chloe.” Those are the last words I’d ever expect to hear from Ethan, but I know he means them. I can see the sincerity shining in his eyes, feel it in the tight restraints he’s keeping on his own needs.

And though I want to tell him that I don’t need it, that I’m happy to cede control to him, there’s a part of me that knows he’s right. That just for tonight, just for this first time, I need to be the one in control of my body.

I need to be the one who takes him.

So I nod even as I twine my fingers with his. “Help me?” I ask, suddenly uncertain despite all my reassurances to the contrary.

He lifts our joined hands to my face, strokes a tender finger down my cheek. “Always, baby. Whatever you need.”

With those words, my desire comes rushing back. It drowns the uncertainty, drowns the fear, drowns everything but the need I have for this beautiful, beautiful man.

He slides a condom on before his hands go to my hips, lift me up slowly, and then settle me gently, ever so gently, astride him as he keeps his eyes on mine. I push down, softly at first and then harder as pleasure—unbelievable, unbearable pleasure—streaks through me. And then, with one downward thrust, he’s buried in me to the hilt.

Part of me wants to rush to completion, to make this a headlong sprint toward ecstasy. But another part of me, the one that is so in tune with Ethan, wants to take it slow. To savor every second.

In the end, he helps me decide, as he’s helped me with everything else on this unexpected journey. He clutches my hips with gentle fingers and slowly—oh so slowly—lifts me up, then lowers me down.

I gasp, take a deep breath. He feels so good. This feels so good. Exactly like I expected, but not. Somehow it’s more. Somehow doing this with Ethan is everything.

And so I ride him slowly, sweetly, cherishing him and us and this one perfect moment the only way I know how. I immerse myself in him in the way he looks at me and the way he feels inside me. Wrap myself in the feelings that grow larger, more tangible with every leisurely glide of my body on his.

He fills me up, and each movement of my body—his body—sends pleasure coursing through me. Indescribable. Unfathomable. Delicious. I rise up on my knees, then lower myself down on him. Again and again and again, biting my lip to keep from moaning. Clenching my muscles around him to keep from coming for just a little while longer. But the relaxed rhythm can’t last forever, not when Ethan and I have been working toward this moment from the moment we met. Tension begins to build in me, in him, the ache deep inside me becoming more and more unbearable. I can tell it’s the same for him, can feel it in the tautness of his body beneath mine and the clenching of his hands on my hips.

I know he’s struggling to keep from wresting control from me and it only makes me want him more. Only makes me need him more.

Soon, desire is a wild thing within me. A desperate, driving force that changes everything. For both of us.

I lean over to give him a kiss and sweat drips from me, mingles with the sweat glistening on him as well. His body entices me, all hot and wet and muscular, and I dip my head lower. Lick a path up his gorgeous, gleaming chest.

Something breaks free in Ethan then. I can hear it in his swift, sharp intake of breath, feel it in the heavy, powerful thrust of his hips beneath mine.

“Now, Chloe.” His hands clamp on my hips like a vise. “Please. I need you, now.”

And just that easily, I yield control. This is Ethan and I trust him more than I’ve ever trusted anyone else. He’ll take me where we’re both so desperate to go, and take care of me when it’s done.

He reaches between us, strokes his thumb over my clit. With his other hand, he pulls me down hard even as he lifts his hips and thrusts into me. And just like that, we plunge over the edge of the world together.

Chapter Twenty-four

I stay with Ethan all day. Making love, having that evening picnic we never got a chance to have yesterday, talking about a million different unimportant things. Like fireflies and caramel versus peanut butter and what our favorite bands are. And while his taste in music is not something I can get behind, I’m willing to overlook it considering just how talented he is with his tongue.

It turns out Ethan’s insatiable, and now that I’m past the stress and insecurity of that first time, so am I. We make love everywhere—in the pool, on the beach, on the patio, in his bed, on his kitchen table.

That might actually be my favorite time. We’re in the kitchen, making something for a late lunch in a belated effort to keep from collapsing under the sheer number of times we’ve made love. Ethan, who is rummaging inside the fridge for cold cuts, turns to me with a can of whipped cream in his hand and a mischievous look on his face. The rest is history…but suffice it to say I’ve never had so much fun with a dairy product in my life.

Under duress, he drops me off at home late Sunday evening. He wants me to spend the night with him, and while there is nothing I’d like more, I feel like I need to put some boundaries on the relationship. Some boundaries on myself. At this moment I’m so caught up in him that I want nothing more than to stay in his bed forever. I want to wrap myself up in him and never, ever let go.

But that’s a problem. We’ve only known each other a week. Normally I take longer than that to decide on buying a new pair of shoes. The fact that I chose him as a lover in a lot less time than that makes me nervous even as it makes me smile, and I need a little time to process. To decompress.

Which is why I let myself into my apartment late Sunday evening, though Ethan is pouting in the car while he watches me. Or at least doing the best impression of pouting a strong, brilliant, beautiful man can pull off. It’d be funny if the steamy look in his eyes didn’t make me want to run back outside and hurtle myself back into his arms. To hell with distance. To hell with perspective. Ethan Frost is mine and I want him more than I’ve ever wanted anything.

Even the truth.

The second the apartment door closes behind me, Tori pounces on me. She’s been patient for two days, sending little text messages to make sure Ethan hasn’t chopped me up into little pieces and hidden me in his fridge. Every time she texted, I made a point of answering her back, but I didn’t give any details.

Tonight she wants details.

“Oh. My. God,” she exclaims as my legs—still shaky from Ethan’s last explosive bout of lovemaking—refuse to carry me any farther and I collapse on the couch next to her.

“I know.”

“Oh. My. God.”

I close my eyes, bury my face in my hands. “I know.”

“Oh. My. God! Is that a hickey?” She points to a bruise on the side of my neck, then leans closer to investigate. “Forget hickey. Are those hickeys?” she screeches, her finger tracing one bruise after another. “There must be fifteen of them!”

And those are only the ones she can see.

“Is he an honest-to-God vampire? Because there’s no other explanation for that!” She points at the ring of small love bites that circles my collarbone.

Except there is. Ethan found out during those first moments of lovemaking that the teeny-tiny bite of pain that comes with getting a hickey grounds me. It gives me something to hold on to in the maelstrom of all that pleasure. And it brings my own pleasure to a whole other level. I’m not sure how I feel about it—I’ve never been one to find anything pleasurable in pain before this—but Ethan has no problem with using it to keep me immersed in the moment. To keep me from losing myself in the torment of my past when my head can threaten to spin completely out of my control.

I don’t tell Tori any of that, though. How can I expect her to understand what I myself can’t quite grasp? So instead of owning up to the truth, I grab a pillow from the corner of the couch and smack her with it.

“Yes, he’s a vampire. He spent the last twenty-four hours keeping me prisoner in his lair and doing unspeakable things to me while he sucked my blood.”

She eyes my neck and shoulder. “The way you look right now, I can believe that.”

I roll my eyes at her. “I guess that’s my cue to go rummage through my closet until I find something to cover most of these.” Somehow I don’t think Maryanne will be impressed. And since I have no intention of telling her her boss gave them to me, my best bet is to find a shirt that hides them.

But Tori just snorts. “I recommend a turtleneck—and some industrial strength concealer.” She taps a small bruise right on my jawline.

I should probably be upset with Ethan for marking me up so conspicuously. But I’m not. One, because it gave me such pleasure for him to do it. And two, because I understand his need to mark me. To claim me. Though I didn’t act on it, there’s a part of me that wanted to do the exact same thing to him.

“Okay, then.” I filch the last sip of wine from her glass before standing up. “I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted.”

“I bet. I’m exhausted just looking at you.” She pouts. “But tomorrow I want every single detail, no matter how small and insignificant.”

I roll my eyes. “We need to get you a boyfriend.”

“You are preaching to the choir, baby. Maybe you can check and see if your gorgeous, sexy man has a clone somewhere.”

“Nope, sorry. I’m not sharing.”

She laughs. “You didn’t even pretend to consider it.”

“No, I didn’t. Ethan Frost is all mine.”

“Does he know that?”

I think of the way he held me as I cried. The way he patiently, determinedly claimed every part of my body for his own. The way he growled that he was never letting me go—and how I told him that went both ways. “Damn straight,” he told me right before he drove me to another explosive orgasm. Thank God.

“He does,” I say to her, dropping a kiss on the top of her head before I walk toward my room.

“Ew,” she says, pretending to wipe my kiss off. “Careful! Who knows where that mouth has been!”

It’s my turn to laugh as she intends me to. “I know exactly where it’s been.” I pause for dramatic effect. “Everywhere.”

She groans, then reaches for the bottle of wine and pours herself another glass. I don’t want to fight, so I pretend not to see that the thing is more than 75 percent empty. Which means that before I got here, Tori was doing nothing but sitting alone in the living room and drinking. Something she seems to be doing more and more of lately.

I’m going to have to find a way to talk to her about it, one that won’t make her shut down, as she is wont to do in situations where she doesn’t like what she’s hearing. I know we’re college students, I know it’s summer. But she can’t go through a bottle and a half of wine or more every night and think that she’s doing okay. Because she’s not.

Tomorrow, I tell myself as I make my way down to my room. Or maybe Tuesday, during movie night, when she’s relaxed and the conversation is not so fixated on my new and exciting sex life. I don’t want to give her a chance for any ammunition.

“By the way,” she calls down the hall after me. “Your mother called a few times. She says it’s important.”


I get to my room to find three sticky notes on my door, each with the time my mother called and exactly what she said when Tori answered. My best friend is nothing if not an excellent message taker.

I rip them off the door, toss them into the trash can under my desk. Whatever she wants can wait. I have better things to do with my time tonight than worry about her. Especially when there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to climb into bed and go over every delicious thing Ethan did to my body today.

Processing, I tell myself as I strip down and climb into my pajamas, my fingers lingering for long seconds on the belly chain that fits like it was made for me. I did say that I needed to process, after all…

* * *

I get to work early on Monday morning so I can run by Ethan’s office to see him. And to drop off the blender.

His assistant ushers me right into his office, his eyes on the blender the entire time. I don’t know if that’s because he’s fascinated by the endless possibilities presented by the Vitamix, or if it’s because I missed a hickey in the great love bite cover-up that took the better half of my morning and he’s desperate not to focus on it.

Either way, I figure it’s not going to take much for the rest of the company to start talking about us. Strangely, I find that possibility much less concerning now than I did even a couple of days ago.