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And then she slid between his legs.

The moonlight made her naked form glow like some ethereal being. He could see her image in the water behind her and it was beyond carnal. “Darcy—”

“Shh,” she whispered, her hair teasing his abs and thighs as she bent low and slowly dragged hot, openmouthed kisses over chilled skin. Then she ran her tongue up the underside of his length.

He swore, and then again when she sucked him into her mouth.

Barely coherent, things got a little hazy, and in an embarrassingly short amount of time he tightened his grip on her hair to pull her away from him before he exploded. “You’ve got to stop—”

She didn’t. Instead she fought his hold and had her merry way with him.

“Darcy”—Christ, her mouth—“if you keep that up I’m going to— Oh fuck. I’m going to come.”

She kept at it and his world spiraled out of control. Somewhere in the midst of the sheer, heart-stopping pleasure, one thing became crystal clear to him. Whatever the hell this was, whatever they managed to give to each other—she owned him.

When he firmly blinked his way back to consciousness, he was flat on his back, half in the water and half out, staring up at the stars and the moon. He had no idea if he was hot or cold or dead or alive.

And then a lovely face suddenly hovered above his, with hair rioting around her face.

“You alive?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t feel my extremities.” He sat up. “But I can feel the rock jabbing me in the ass, so yeah, I must be alive.”

She was sitting at his hip wearing nothing but her soaked panties and looking pretty damn smug. “Stand up,” he said.

She got to her feet.

Reaching up, he hooked his fingers in the wet cotton and slowly pulled them down, settling on his knees in front of her. He let the material pool at her ankles and slid his hands up the backs of her thighs. “Spread your legs,” he said.

She kicked off her panties and did as he asked.

And he just about died and went to heaven. “Damn,” he managed, “you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

She shifted as if uncomfortable with the praise. “I don’t need fancy words, AJ.”

“How about the truth, then? You are beautiful. And something else—you’re not alone. You don’t ever have to be alone. Because I’m …” Leaning in, he pressed his mouth against a hipbone. “… right …” And then her other hipbone. “… here.” He trailed wet, openmouthed kisses across the top of her thighs, stopping to pay special attention in between them. “I came here for you, Darcy. I’ll always come for you.”

She slid her fingers into his hair and whimpered.

“Say you know it.” He cupped her ass and squeezed her cheeks in his palms, tracing his tongue over her hot, wet center. When she didn’t speak, he pulled back.

“You came for me,” she gasped.

“Yes. And now you’re going to come for me.”

And not three minutes later his prophetic words became fact as she shuddered in orgasm, panting his name, lost to everything but him.

His chest tightened with satisfaction and so much more he almost couldn’t breathe with it as he pulled her down to straddle him, gripping her hips as he pushed upward, seating himself deep inside her, so deep.

She cried out and bent over him, giving him her mouth, her body, and—he hoped—her heart and soul.

Because she certainly was the keeper of his.


Darcy opened her eyes at the sound of rain beating on her windows— Wait. Not her windows. She was in AJ’s bed, alone. She stretched and peered at the clock on his nightstand.

Seven thirty.

Yesterday came back to her in a wave. The fight with Xander and him walking out of her life, which made her heart hurt, physically hurt. She’d tried calling him before she’d gone to the hot springs but he hadn’t answered her call. Or her texts. Or her e-mails.

Problem was, she was having a hard time picturing her world without him in it.

Dammit, Xander.

But last night AJ had come for her, needing to see if she was okay. He’d made her okay just by being there. Sure, the skinny-dipping had helped, and then … yeah. The and then had been pretty fantastic, too.

But all she’d needed was him, and that … that was the crazy part. Everything about him put her entirely out of her comfort zone.

And yet she couldn’t imagine going back to how things had been BB—before Boise.

He’d brought her here afterward. He’d again tried to talk to her about Xander but she’d declined. She didn’t know how to talk about Xander.

But then she and AJ had climbed into his big bed and had instead used their time wisely, and she’d fallen asleep on him and slept the night through.

Something that was becoming a habit with him.

There was yet another note pinned to the pillow.


Right, today was the big day. She was scheduled to work at the Wellness Center at nine and— Her heart skidded to a stop.

Love, AJ.

What was with the Love, AJ?

She stared at the two words once again scrawled in his usual messy block writing and told herself for the second time that it was nothing more than a figure of speech.

She believed he felt a great deal for her. And she felt a great deal for him as well. It didn’t matter whether she was hurting or scared or just in general losing her collective shit, it was AJ she yearned for. AJ’s arms around her. AJ’s low voice in her ear, steadying her. AJ’s belief in her.