She cleared her throat. “So you showed up all Captain America to save the day, and now what? I jump into bed with you? Was that your plan?”

“Yeah,” he said, “but in my version we didn’t talk this much.”

“A full-service rescue then,” she said evenly.

He tried a cajoling smile. “I’m really good at full service.”

“Do you really think this is a good idea?”

He laughed softly and let his mouth brush over her temple and then her ear, which caused her to shiver. “Of course it’s not a good idea. Or we’d have gone for it already. But sometimes the bad ideas turn out to be the best ideas of all.”

“Yeah?” she asked. “Name one.”

“Bringing out your keys from the convenience store after the postcard display demolition.”

She let out a soft laugh and fisted her hands in his hair. “So what now? We really going to try this out?”

Were they? He’d promised himself he wouldn’t give her a chance to devastate him again. But somehow over the past few weeks he’d lost sight of keeping his heart safe and moved onto wanting to heal her heart. “I’m game.”

She hesitated so long he took a step back from her and prepared himself to leave. But her hand came out and gripped his. “You’re wearing too many clothes,” she said softly.

Lily’s breath caught when, eyes glued on hers, Aidan pulled off his shirt. He kicked off his shoes next and reached for the zipper on his pants.

“Wait!” she cried.

Aidan froze, shirtless, his thumbs hooked into the opened waistband of his pants, looking so incredibly hot that she started to sweat.

“We stopping here?” he asked, voice rough but in control.

He’d do whatever she wanted, she knew that. The question was what did she want—stop, or go on … Oh, who was she kidding. She’d had enough of the yearning and endless need. She wanted to go on. Bad. “Never mind. Carry on.”

He raised a brow, a silent You positive?

And because he was being so patient, she suddenly found herself very, very positive. “I just needed a minute. I’m okay now,” she said. His bare torso was rippled with strength and very lightly dusted with chest hair including a treasure trail that left her without a coherent thought in her brain.

“Be more than okay. Be sure,” he said in a voice that made her go damp.

“I am.” Or at least she was ninety-five percent sure. Maybe seventy-five … Because the real problem was that the light was on and she was going to have to lose her clothes too and she didn’t look as good as he did. “So …” Mental knuckle cracking … “How are we going to do this?” she asked. Please say in the dark …

He just smiled. The kind of smile the Big Bad Wolf might have given Little Red Riding Hood. This caused a chain reaction of tremors inside her, the really good kind. “I mean where,” she clarified. “Because the light’s on and I’m having a fat week, so—”

He picked her up. Just scooped her into his arms like she didn’t weigh a thing—even though she’d singlehandedly wiped out her entire junk food collection the night before.

“I love your body,” he said, carrying her across the room.

Her heart squished in her chest, but her wits weren’t ready to give up the fight. “The light,” she said, pointing to it as they passed by. “Let’s turn off the—”

He set her very carefully on the bed and didn’t turn off the light. “You still with me?”

“Yes, but—”

But nothing because he straightened and stripped the rest of the way.

Every inch of him visible.

While she stared in shock and admiration, trying to take in everything at once, from his broad shoulders to the ridged muscles of his abs—which, by the way, she wanted to lick—she forgot herself.

Until, that is, he sprawled out on his back on the bed and pulled her over to straddle him. “Watch yourself,” he said. “Don’t do anything to pull on your cuts.”

What cuts? she thought, dazed. Aroused.

Pressing openmouthed kisses along her throat, he unzipped her dress.

“Uh-oh,” she whispered, holding her dress to her as she remembered.


She felt herself flush. “I’m not wearing panties. They weren’t in my closet where I got dressed so—”

He grinned. “You’re commando.”


“I love commando,” he said, and then tugged the dress over her head with a gentleness that she knew was in reverence of her injuries even as he somehow also moved with absolute steely unwavering determination.

“Um.” She started to cover herself. “The light—”

“God,” he murmured huskily, holding her hands out, away from her body. “You’re so beautiful, Lily.”

She looked into his warm, soft brown eyes, saw he absolutely meant it, and … melted. Or maybe that was his hands making her melt as they cupped her breasts, then headed south as he slid one between her spread legs.

“Oh,” she breathed, and then her hands were busy, too, trying to touch every part of him she could reach, and with him beneath her, sprawled out for her touching pleasure, she didn’t hold back, wanting all of him. Every single inch.

And he had a lot of really great inches.

He said her name again, his voice low and rough, and then he very carefully rolled her beneath him and slid her hands above her head, pinning them lightly to the mattress.

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