Author: Jill Shalvis


“I know.”


She laughed breathlessly. “No, you don’t understand—” She pushed at his chest until he lifted his head. “You got your hand in my pants!”


“Uh-huh.” His expression was a mix of lust and amusement. “I was hoping to get even more than that.”


Giddy, she grinned. “No, you did it without unbuttoning them. I think it’s all that hauling of debris and chopping wood. I’m toning up!”


His eyes were dark and very, very hot. “And that turns you on?”


“Yes.” She cupped his face and smiled. “But you turn me on more.”


“Good. You turn me on, too.” Taking her hand, he placed it over his erection to show her just how much. “We’re done talking now. I have other plans for our mouths.” To prove it, he tugged her jeans off and then rose off the bed to do the same with his.


Her breath caught at the sight of him in silhouette. Gorgeous. That went without saying. The air shuddered out of her when he bent and kissed her, low on her stomach as he hooked his thumbs in her panties and slowly tugged them down. “You’re beautiful, Maddie.”


While she melted, he made himself at home between her thighs, taking so long to look at the view in front of him, she squirmed. “Jax.”


“If you could see from my point of view…” His broad shoulders nudging her legs wide, he bent and kissed an inner thigh, and she had one thought; Please be as good at this as you are at everything else.


Then he gently stroked her with his thumb and she had no more thoughts. With a groan, he ran his tongue over her wet, throbbing skin. She bit her lip and fisted her hands in his sheets, unable to stop from writhing beneath him.


Newsflash—he was indeed as good at this as he was at everything else.


“I love how you taste,” he murmured, and when her hips rocked against him, he slid both hands beneath her bottom, holding her still for his ministrations. Quicker than she could have believed possible, she was quivering, on the very edge of an explosive orgasm, and—


And he paused.


“What?” she gasped.


Lifting his head, he met her gaze, his own glittering. “The last two times we even got to this spot, we were interrupted. I’m just waiting for it.”


She gaped at him in disbelief, panting for breath as she sat up. “You want to be interrupted? Because I have to tell you, if we are, I’m going to scream at someone.”


He flashed her a devastatingly wicked grin. “Better idea. I’m going to make you scream.” With that outrageously confident statement, he leaned over her, using the fact that she’d sat up to his advantage. “Soon as I find all your sweet spots.” He laved his tongue over a nipple, pressing her back down to the bed. “What you like…” He dipped his tongue into her belly button, then nipped at her hip, taking his cues from her reactions, which she couldn’t seem to help.


“How about this?” he murmured, licking the spot where her leg met her body, lingering, taking his time while she shifted restlessly beneath him, trying to get him where she wanted him to go. “Maddie?”


“Y—yes, I like that.”


“Good.” He kissed her there, then brushed his lips over her mound. “This?” When she didn’t answer, he lifted his head.


“Yes!”


Doing it again, he slid first one finger into her, and then another, stroking slowly.


She gasped his name.


“Good?”


“Ohmigod,” was all she could manage.


“Good,” he decided and gently closed his teeth on her center.


She just about lifted off the bed, would have if he wasn’t anchoring her with his body. “Jax. Jax, please…”


“Anything,” he promised and sucked her into his mouth.


“Don’t stop.”


He didn’t, not when her hands came up to tangle in his hair, not when she cried out and came, shuddering endlessly beneath him. When she was limp, he kissed his way up her still-quivering body.


She tightened her grip on him and kissed him back, feeling him hard and throbbing at her hip. “I need you inside me.”


Reaching over her, he took a condom from his nightstand, groaning when she helped him roll it down his length. Then he entwined their fingers and brought their joined hands up to rest on either side of her face. Already cradled by her open thighs, he slid into her. She gasped, rocked to her very core by how good he felt filling her, and he went still. “No, don’t stop,” she whispered, barely recognizing her soft and throaty voice.


He dropped his forehead to hers, his eyes closing, clearly trying to give her a minute to adjust to him. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she arched up and felt herself soften for him.


“God, look at you,” he whispered hoarsely. Squeezing their entwined fingers, he touched his lips to hers. “I love your smile.”


She hadn’t even been aware that she was smiling. But when she was with him like this, she felt sexy and wanted and beautiful, and on top of her world. And then he was moving with her, setting a pace that stole her breath and captured her heart. Freeing her hands from his, she threaded her fingers into his hair, holding his gaze, knowing her own was filled with shock and wonder.


This. This was what it felt like when it was right.


Jax banded his arms around her, sliding them beneath her, up her back to grip her shoulders. The movement pulled them closer, allowing him even deeper inside her, and she cried out, shuddering in pleasure. Her eyes started to drift closed, but he tangled a hand in her hair, tugging gently until she opened them again, allowing him to see everything, allowing her the same as she quivered and trembled against him.


He seemed to lose himself in her eyes. God knew she’d lost herself in his, and as she came, she took him with her for the freefall.


But in his arms, the landing was safe. She had a feeling that with him she’d always be safe.


Chapter 19


“Since it’s the early worm that gets


eaten by the bird, sleep late.”


PHOEBE TRAEGER


The sun was slanting much lower in the sky out Jax’s bedroom window when Maddie opened her eyes and blinked into focus a well-defined, muscular chest. Tipping her head back, she met a pair of warm golden eyes that were looking pretty damn alert for a man who should have nothing left in the tank.


“I fell asleep,” she said in surprise.


“Just for a little while.” He was playing with a strand of her hair, wrapping the curl around and around his finger. “You okay?”


She knew why he asked. He’d seen her face that exact moment he’d pushed inside of her, the single sole heartbeat when her world had slammed to a halt on its axis.


Fear.


Not that he’d hurt her, never that. No, this fear hadn’t been physical. Instead, she was afraid of the emotions he had awakened in her. Of what she could feel for him if she let herself.


Jax was on his side, holding her snugged up against him, one hand propping up his head, the other stroking her under the blanket he must have pulled up over them.


“I’m more than okay,” she said.


“Then what was the look?”


Trust him to ask bluntly, to put it all out there. She dropped her gaze from his and stared at his throat. “It was good, so very, very good.”


“And this surprises you?”


“No. It scares me.” She met his gaze. “You’ve made sure to touch me, to try to put me at ease, as often as possible, and yet you’ve never asked me about it. About my past. My relationships.”


“I figured you’d tell me when you were ready.”


And she finally was. “I dated a guy that… well, he wasn’t good for me.”


Something flickered in his eyes. Something hard. But when he spoke, his voice was as calm and gentle as his hand still whispering over her. “Figured that.”


“Until I met you, I’d talked myself into believing all guys were assholes.” She chewed on her lower lip, closing her eyes when he lifted his hand to stroke the hair from her forehead, brushing his fingers across her scar.


“Maddie, look at me.”


She opened her eyes and found his eyes warm and waiting. “We can all be assholes. I want five minutes alone with your ex to prove it, and I want that badly, but I’d never hurt you. Never.”


“Only five minutes?” she asked, trying to lighten the mood.


He wasn’t feeling playful. “Violence should never happen in a relationship.”


She listened to the vehemence in his voice and took strength from it. “Alex was quiet. Controlled. And when he got pissed, he got more quiet and more controlled, until he wasn’t either of those things.” She drew a deep, shuddery breath, remembering how awful it’d been. “The first time he hit me, he seemed so horrified. I can’t even explain to myself how I forgave him. He was so sorry and promised it’d never happen again. Then it did. It was…” She swallowed hard, knowing this all played into her fears, how she had no idea what people were really capable of, and how frightening that was. “It escalated, and I left. But I still hate that it happened more than once.” She shut her eyes and admitted her secret shame. “It’s humiliating that I didn’t see him for what he was. That I’d be with a guy like that—”


“You got out,” he said quietly, firmly. “You managed a difficult situation, and you got out. That’s all that matters now. You have nothing to be ashamed of.” He waited until she met his gaze again and softly repeated it. “Nothing.”


She nodded, and he kissed her softly. “You’re one of the bravest women I know.”


That made her laugh.


“You are.”


Looking deep into his eyes, her amusement faded, replaced by awe. He meant it. And suddenly, she didn’t have to fake the strength. The bravado. It was real. “Did you build this house?”


“Yes. And time for a subject change, I take it.”


She smiled at him. “You’re a smart man. And I think the house is beautiful.”

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