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I roll it on and climb on top of her. “You sure?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “I’m not sure about anything anymore. But I want this.”

Truer words have never been spoken. I wonder if she has any idea that I feel exactly the same way. I’ve never wanted anything so badly knowing I could never have it. And as I sink myself deep inside her, I know I’ll never want anything as much again.

I’m slow and deliberate, allowing her time to get used to me. I watch her as I pull out. I moan with her as I push back in. I reach between us and stroke her, determined to show her she can have a second orgasm. I have to bite the inside of my cheek and hold back, wanting her to come along with me.

I stroke her clit with my thumb, running it in circles before I give it a little pinch. Then I do it again. I do it as I watch her build back up. “Oh, God,” she moans, her face looking surprised at the impending encore.

“That’s it,” I say. “You feel so good.”

My words push her over the edge. Her screams push me over. We pulsate in and around each other, our gazes never breaking contact. It’s as close to another person as I’ve ever felt. And it fucking scares me. It scares me because I know what happens after. I know I’ll hurt her. But little does she know, she’ll hurt me, too.

I collapse on top of her as we chase our recovery. Then I roll to the side. She snuggles into the crook of my neck and places her hand on my chest. We lie in silence as she traces the outline of my tattoo once again. I’m beginning to think it’s becoming a habit.

I smile down at her as she does it, but she can’t see me. She can’t see how much I want this. I can never show her.

Suddenly, she stops what she’s doing and bolts up in bed. She studies me. She studies my tattoo. Then she stands and picks my shirt up off the floor to cover herself.

“Oh, my God,” she says, looking disgusted. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this, is it?”

“No,” I say, guiltily.

She shakes her head in a huff and pulls on her pants. “What the fuck, Sawyer. When?”

“The first night we met.”

Her jaw opens. Then closes. Then opens again. “Of course. The alcohol. The muscle relaxants. I should have known. Why the hell didn’t you say anything?”

I shrug. “I didn’t even realize you didn’t know until I came back to your apartment later that morning.”

She sits down on the chair next to the bed. “I knew it,” she says. “I mean, I didn’t know it, but I kept having vivid dreams.” She throws my shirt at me before putting on her own. “Why didn’t you tell me back then, when I recognized your tattoo in the car? And for that matter, why didn’t you tell me when we signed the contract? I’ll bet you thought it was pretty funny that I added the no sex clause to it, didn’t you? Did you and your friends make fun of me for that? God, Sawyer, you really are an asshole, aren’t you?”

She gets up and storms across the room. I dress quickly and follow her. “Aspen, wait.” I catch her before she gets to the front door. “I should have told you. I’m sorry.”

She spins around. “So you up and left in the middle of the night, just like all your other conquests. You used me and walked out.”

I shake my head. “It was different with you,” I tell her. “That’s why I came back later that morning.”

“No. You came back to see if you could use me some more.”

“I came back because I liked you. You’re different. And because I had read the letter from Juilliard and knew we could help each other out.”

“You lied to me,” she says.

“Hold on there, I didn’t lie. I’ve never lied to you, Aspen. It’s not my fault that you didn’t remember. How do you think I felt knowing someone I had sex with didn’t remember doing it?”

Her accusing eyes scold me. “Wow – now that’s the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it? How do you think every woman you’ve ever slept with feels? I’ve probably met a dozen women in the past few months who had sex with you, yet you didn’t remember them. It happened earlier tonight, just a couple of hours ago. How can you be so blasé about it?”

I run my hands through my hair and walk over to pour myself a drink. “I never claimed I wasn’t an asshole, you know.” I hold up the decanter. “You want one?”

“You’re kidding, right? After what I just found out?” She nods to her suitcase. “I’m leaving, Sawyer. I’m going back to Denver’s place.”

“You can’t leave. It’s in the contract that you go to some away games with me.”

“You really think I care about the contract now? Plus, if I recall, you fired me an hour ago.”

“Yeah, well, you’re re-hired as of right now.”

Her eyes close and she blows out a long breath. “It doesn’t really matter, because any way you look at it, you’re still paying me to be with you. And that makes me a whore.”

I slam down the drink I just poured, sloshing liquid onto the table. “That’s bullshit and you know it.”

She points to the bedroom. “What would you call me then. After what we just did? I’m not your girlfriend. I’m not your friend. I’m not even your fuck buddy.”

“That’s not true. We’re friends. Friends who had sex. It’s not all that unusual, you know.”

“It’s unusual for me. I’ve only slept with three men. Don’t you get that? You’re only the third guy I’ve slept with. Ever. I realize that’s a novel idea for you.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Three? Really?” Then molten lava creeps up my spine. “And that guy tonight, he was one of the three?”

“Trent. Yes. I told you he was.”

I realize she’s still standing by the front door. “Aspen, I know you’re pissed at me. But that doesn’t change anything. Please put your bag down and come have a drink.”

“So you can take advantage of me again? I don’t think so.”

“I didn’t take advantage of you that night. You only had a few drinks. I didn’t know you were on drugs.”

“Muscle relaxants,” she says.

“Whatever. You seemed fine. And I sure as shit didn’t take advantage of you tonight. You were more than a willing participant. Come on. You have to admit, we’re pretty damn compatible, sexually and otherwise.”

She points her finger between us. “This is not happening again. Not while you are paying me. If you want to, you know, after—”

I shake my head. “There can’t be an after. I’ve told you that.”

“How can you unequivocally say that? You said yourself we’re compatible. What are you so scared of, Sawyer?”

I silently finish my drink and pour another.

“You got hurt, didn’t you? By a woman. Someone you loved?”

“I’ve never loved anyone.”

“I feel sorry for you then,” she says. “Because you’re missing out.”

“You’ve loved someone?” I ask. “Trent?”

“I was seventeen. Who can really say they are in love at that age?”

“But you thought you were.”

She shrugs.

“Who was the third?” I ask. “There’s me and Trent, that leaves one more. Was it Bass? It was Bass, wasn’t it?”

“No, it wasn’t Bass.”

“I’ll bet he wishes it was.”

Her eyes close briefly and I wonder if she wishes it too. “It was just some guy a few years ago. We dated on and off for about a year.”

“So, fuck buddies. See – case in point.”

“We weren’t fuck buddies,” she says with an eyeroll. “We just wanted different things out of life.”

“You’re telling me you went years without sex before you met me?”

She nods.

“Years? And here I am giving you free rein.” I sweep my hand from my head to my waist, showcasing my body. “Yet you don’t want it.”

She furrows her brow. “I’ve had it. Twice, apparently.”

“So then why not just keep doing it?”

“Because you’re paying me, Sawyer. What don’t you understand about that?”

“Semantics,” I say. “And come on, Aspen. Me firing you so we could sleep together? We both know that was a bunch of bullshit. You wanted it. I wanted it. So why fight it?”

“Let me get this straight,” she says, walking over to pour herself a drink. “You want me to sleep with you for the next several months, which is decidedly convenient for you. But then you want to cut off contact and send me on my way, my pockets stuffed with money, come the end of October.”

“It’s kind of a win-win, don’t you think?”

She puts a hand on her hip. “Are you planning on leaving me with a catered breakfast every time we have sex?”

My eyes widen. “You know about that?”

She shakes her head, obviously frustrated with me. “You really don’t have a clue about women, do you?”

I cock my head to the side.

“Let me enlighten you, Speed Limit. Men can separate sex and feelings. Women, not so much. You and I are friends. We live together. Surely you’ve felt the connection we have. Whether you want to admit it or not, we have one.”

“Are you saying you have feelings for me, Andrews?”

“I’m saying I think it goes both ways, but you’re better at compartmentalizing it.”

She takes a swig of her drink, exposing her neck. The neck I was sucking on earlier. I know it well now and I can pinpoint the spot that makes her moan. Her hair is still messy and matted from our activities and she looks sexy as hell in the halter top she’s wearing.

She has no idea just how good at compartmentalizing I am. If I had my way, I’d take her right here on the floor of the suite. Then up against the wall. Then on the table. The window ledge. The shower. She doesn’t know that every time I look at her, I think maybe she’s the one I’ll break my vow for. My vow to never let a woman into my life.

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