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She let out a breath as if she’d been holding it in too long. “I don’t want to be just friends, AJ. I know I said that’s all I wanted, but I lied. And I know that’s a mystery to you because you always say what you mean and you don’t make mistakes with things like this. Or make mistakes period. But I do. Sometimes I say stuff in the moment that later I realize was just a knee-jerk reaction, not to mention shortsighted and stupid.”

“I’ve made plenty of mistakes when it comes to you,” he said.

“Not like me,” she said. “But I’m done screwing things up.”

“I like where this is going. But don’t do this unless you’re sure, Darcy. I never intended to give my heart again.” She cupped his face and kissed his rough jaw. “I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life. It’s you who should be thinking this over. People would say I’m a pretty shitty bet.”

“I don’t care what people say. What do you say?”

She laughed low in her throat. “I say I’m so far out of my league I can’t even see the league.” She flashed a smile. “But I always did like to try new things, not to mention prove people wrong.”

Damn, he’d missed that smile.

She sucked in a breath, letting it out with slow exaggeration. “I know I said I don’t need love, but I’ve discovered I want it. I want you, AJ, if you’ll still have me. I … I love you.” Looking like maybe she felt lightheaded, she dropped her head low and put her hands on her knees, sucking in a harsh breath. “Holy cow.”

It was probably wrong to be grinning at her panic attack. After all, she’d put her heart on the line, maybe for the first time ever, but he couldn’t help it. Swamped with feelings for her, he stroked a hand down her back. “You okay?”

“Jury’s still out on that one.”

“Just keep breathing. It gets easier.”

“Good,” she said and gulped in some more air.

He was still smiling. “I’ve waited a long time for this.” She lifted her head. “For me to nearly pass out?”

He smiled into her eyes. “For you.”

“I have no idea why you’re grinning. This isn’t going to be easy.”

He laughed. He laughed so long and hard that she narrowed her eyes and went hands on hips. “Maybe you want to explain why that’s so funny you’re practically busting a gut.”

He hauled her back into him where she belonged and held her still while she squirmed. “One thing you’d never be, Darcy, is easy. But I don’t want easy. I want you. Any way I can get you.”

She stared at him and then her mouth curved, too. “I can think of quite a few ways,” she murmured.

God, he’d missed her. “Can any of them be executed in an office with a window that opens to the main floor?”

She turned her head and stared at the glass where, yep, he had his shades up today and everyone in the place was watching like it was their job. Trent and Summer. Ariana. Tyson. And, damn, Zoe had stopped by. Darcy waved at them all and …

Shut the shades.

Darcy saw the lock on AJ’s door and hit that, too, with great satisfaction. “That should keep everyone out,” she said, and made her way back to AJ, standing there so big, bad, and effortlessly sexy. She fisted her hands in his shirt and tugged him in. “I’ve got a question.”

“Anything,” he said.

Her heart took a good, hard leap at that. “How strong is your desk?”

She had the pleasure of seeing the surprise flash across his face, quickly followed by heat as his eyes darkened. “Strong enough,” he said in a voice that took her halfway to orgasm. “But I’m not taking you on my desk when the building’s full of nosy-ass people.”

“You’re not?” she asked, disappointed.

“No.” He pushed her up against the desk and then lifted her onto it, pushing her legs open to stand in between them.

Mmm … She locked her ankles around his hips, letting out a little humming sound of sheer arousal.

AJ groaned and rocked against her, sliding his hands up from her knees to beneath her skirt.

Darcy got hopeful, really hopeful, even more so when he pushed her hem higher and then higher still, intimately exposing her to his heated hazel eyes.

He took in her bikini panties with the words Rock On across her crotch and smiled. “Damn, you’re distracting.”

“Good,” she said. “Take ’em off, AJ.”

“Not yet.”

“When?” she asked.

“Later.” He gathered her very busy hands from where they’d been trying to get into his pants and entwined their fingers together. “I want a promise from you.”

“Absolutely,” she said, leaning in to kiss his jaw. “I promise to take your undies off, too.”

He slid his fingers into her hair and pulled her head back, his eyes smiling, his mouth serious. “Not that.”

“Sounds serious,” she said carefully.

“It is.”

She bit her lower lip, her heart starting to pound. “Are you going to ask me to go steady? Because I’ve got to tell you, up until this point, I’ve not been all that good at keeping people happy.”

“I’ll keep myself happy,” he said. “You don’t have to do anything different or be anyone different, ever.” He kissed her softly. “But maybe you could tell me you love me, again, just every once in a while.”