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“What is it about ‘he doesn’t love her’ that you don’t understand?”

I go to the bar and pour myself a drink. “Who says you have to be in love to get married?”

“Oh, my God, you did not just say that.” She leans against the arm of the couch and takes her shoes off, letting them fall to the floor with a thud. “How can you be so cavalier?”

“I don’t know, years of practice?”

She picks up a shoe and throws it at me.

I catch it and walk it back over to her. “The real question here is, why are you so damn upset about Bass’s engagement? He’s an adult. He can marry for love or money or companionship. It’s not for you to decide. Not unless there is something else going on. Not unless you’re still carrying a torch for him.”

“Carrying a torch for him? Are you crazy?”

I hold up the ring in my hand. “Apparently, I am.”

“I’m not in love with him,” she says, unconvincingly.

“The hell you aren’t.”

“What is it with men? None of you seem to understand that you can love someone without being in love with them.”

“So you do love him?” I ask, pacing behind the couch.

“Of course I love him. I love him like a brother, Sawyer.”

“Did you love him like a brother when you were screwing him?”

She throws her shoe at me again. It’s a good thing I know how to catch fast moving objects.

“I’ve told you many times, we never slept together. I don’t know why you can’t get it through your thick skull. I guess the steroids are making you stupid.”

She makes her way to the stairs and I follow her up.

“I’ve never done that shit, Aspen. That’s a low fucking blow.”

She walks into her room and tries to reach the zipper around her back. I stand in the doorway for a minute, watching her get frustrated.

“Damn it!” she yells. “Well, are you going to help me with this or not?”

I walk over to help. I unzip it just enough to see the black lacy bra she’s wearing under her dress. I look at the creamy skin of her back, thinking of the two times I’ve been able to touch it. My hands are screaming at me to let them have a feel. It takes everything I have not to let them.

“I just don’t get how a man and a woman can live together for years and not hook up. It’s unnatural.”

She spins around and holds up her dress so it doesn’t fall off her shoulders. “Will you get over yourself? Bass is my best friend. He’ll always be my best friend. I don’t really give a rat’s ass if you are too immature to comprehend it.”

“Best friends fuck all the time,” I say.

“No they don’t.”

“Yes they do. There have been a dozen movies made about that very thing.”

She laughs. “Because that’s what sells movies.”

“No. Because that’s what women fantasize about.”

“You are crazy,” she says.

“I’m crazy to think that you want him? Or that you love him? Maybe you’re crazy because you won’t admit it.”

“Oh, my God, would you quit saying that? I don’t love him, Sawyer. How could I when I’m in love with you?”

The same time the words leave her mouth, her hand slips from her shoulder and her dress falls to the floor, pooling around her feet leaving her standing practically naked in front of me.

She looks horrified after realizing the dress fell when she was yelling at me. She leans down to pick it up.

I’m not sure my brain even comprehends what she said, because it’s too busy taking in her body. The body I dream of every night. The body I try to stay away from every day. The body that fits so perfectly with mine.

Before she can grab the dress, I push her gently onto the bed.

“I didn’t—”

I kiss her before she gets any more words out.

She tries to push me way. “I don’t—”

My lips come crashing down on hers again.

“I can’t—”

Her protests cease when my hands grab her breasts and my mouth finds the spot on her neck that makes her moan. I smile against her skin knowing that I’ve won. I’ve won and I didn’t even have to fire her this time.

She writhes beneath me as my lips explore her neck. Her hands snake around behind me to wander up and down my back, weaving their way under my dress shirt as she grabs every inch of skin she can reach.

I lower the cups of her bra and lick her breasts. I suck on her nipples as she arches into me. I dip my tongue into the depression between her breasts and laugh when she forces my mouth back to the left.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about her in the two times we’ve been together, it’s that her left nipple is more sensitive than her right one. I tease it incessantly as she bucks underneath me. I swirl my tongue around it. I flick it, suck it, and play with it until she’s begging me for something more. I wonder if I could even get her to come simply by keeping this up. It’s one of life’s great mysteries that I long to solve.

But I’m too greedy and impatient at this moment. And I’m hard as a fucking rock. My cock is pleading for escape. But she could still say no. She could still end this right now. I need to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I reach a hand beneath her wet panties and run my fingers along her slit. I easily insert two fingers into her slick entrance as she pushes herself onto me, sinking me in even deeper. She’s close. So close I can almost taste it.

I don’t even bother removing her panties. I simply rip them off her and swing one of her legs over my shoulder. I climb down her body, licking and laving her soft stomach as I make my way. When my mouth reaches her silky folds, she cries out. When my tongue lands on her clit, her loud moans beg me to make her come.

Her pleas drive me to work harder than I’ve ever worked before. I want this to be the best orgasm she’s ever had. So I pull back and let my tongue wander around her thighs. I let my hands wander around her ass.

I chuckle when a whine of displeasure erupts from her. I run a finger down the curve of her hip, counting slowly to ten before my tongue continues its assault of her clit. As soon as it does, she bucks her hips and calls out to God. So, of course, I immediately ease up and pull away.

She lifts herself up on her elbows and gives me a heated stare. “Sawyerrrrr,” she pleads.

“What do you want, baby?”

“You know what I want,” she says, her face red with either embarrassment or passion.

“Say it,” I say, giving her clit a teasing flick.

“No.”

I stick out my tongue and circle it along the edge of her wet pussy as I watch her. Her eyes roll upwards in pleasure. “Say it,” I command.

She opens her eyes again and looks right at me. I can tell she’s fighting it. She wants so badly to say it, but she doesn’t want to give me all the control.

Then she takes her finger and puts it on her clit. “If you don’t make me come, I will.”

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

My cock swells even bigger at her words. I’d love nothing more than to watch her get herself off. But not now. This one’s all mine. And I tell her that.

“Not today you won’t. But the thought of you doing that almost made me come.”

Her sultry smile recedes, and her mouth falls open as I push her hand aside and double my efforts. I bring her to the brink of orgasm over and over, each time, she begs me for more. Every time I pull away, I remove a piece of my clothing until I’m fully naked on top of her. She’s on the brink of insanity. I’m on the verge of explosion.

When neither of us can stand it any longer, I push myself inside of her, both of us moaning in pleasure at the exquisite feeling. I know neither of us will last long, so I take my time and savor her, making long slow strokes. She’s clawing at my back, meeting me thrust for thrust. She’s building up so high, I doubt I’ll even have to use my hand to get her there.

Her thighs tighten. Her back arches. Her eyes close.

“No,” I say. “Look at me.”

Her eyes open and I watch her come as I feel the sweet sensation of her walls pulsating around me. It pushes me over the edge and I join her, shouting out her name and other words of pleasure as I spill myself inside of her.

My eyes close briefly from the intensity. When I open them, she’s still watching me. We stare at each other, her waning pulses still milking the last drops from me. She’s gorgeous. I wipe away a piece of wet hair that got caught in her mouth.

“God, Aspen, I lo—”

I freeze, mid-sentence. What the fuck am I doing?

I quickly pull out of her, jump off the bed and go to remove the condom. “Shit!”

I stare down at my naked cock. I shake my head from side to side. Never have I forgotten to wear one. Never.

Aspen is still lying in bed, staring at me with damp eyes. “What were you going to say to me?” she asks.

“I didn’t wear a goddamn rubber,” I tell her, still in shock over it.

“It’s fine. I’m on the pill. What were you going to say, Sawyer?”

I start pulling on my clothes, but she comes to the edge of the bed and grabs my arm. “You love me. That’s what you were going to say. Why can’t you just admit it?”

I look at her and shake my head over and over. “No. No. This can’t happen.”

I finish putting my shirt and pants on and walk out of her room. She grabs a robe and follows me. “Why can’t it happen, Sawyer? Quit fighting this. I know you love me. It’s okay. I love you, too. Don’t you think I’m scared, too? We can be scared together.”

I run down the stairs and grab my car keys. She tries to take them from me, but I push her away, careful not to push her into the wall. “I can’t. We can’t.” I walk through the back door and turn around to see her tears. “I’d only hurt you,” I say, just before closing the door.

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