“So you love me—noted.”

“I never said that.”

“You didn’t have to. You implied it.”

“How?”

“Shh!” He holds his finger up to his mouth. “The movie is starting.”

“We’re the only people in here!”

“No you’re not!” someone yells from the other side of the theater.

We’re seated in the very back row, tucked away in a dark corner. This guy must be in the same spot on the other side because when I peek around the projection box, I don’t see him.

“Oh, and one other thing: no one eats chips during a movie! It’s loud and obnoxious. Just eat those chicken nuggets I can smell from here and skip the chips.”

“I-I… Okay.”

“Shh! The movie is starting!” the stranger says impatiently.

Shep shakes with laughter next to me and I toss a glare his way.

“What?” he whispers. “I told you to skip the chips.”

“Shut up, you ass!”

The movie begins playing, but I can’t focus on the screen. All that’s running through my mind is Shep and a possible future.

I want to be with him. If I’m being damn honest with myself, I’ve always wanted to be with him, even when I hated him…except when I think about Shep, commitment doesn’t come to mind. The heartache from before does.

Is he that same guy he was then? Has he actually changed? I’ve watched him over the years, a different girl on his arm every day. He never settled down, never tried. He can say he was waiting for me all he wants, but that doesn’t make it true.

“Stop thinking so loud or we’re going to get yelled at again,” he says in my ear.

“I’m not thinking.”

“Yes, you are. You’re worried I don’t mean what I said.”

“How’d you know?”

“Because I know you, Den. I’ve always known you, better than anyone else in the whole fucking world.”

He pushes up the armrest between us then takes the purse and food and shoves them into the empty seat next to him.

He hauls me onto his lap and suddenly I’m straddling him.

“What are you doing?” I whisper.

“This movie sucks.”

“It’s just the previews.”

“I’ve heard it sucks.”

The bright screen illuminates the glow in his eyes, and I know just what he’s after—me.

“Shepard Clark, are you trying to get me to make out with you in a movie theater?”

“Yeah. I mean, I was hoping we’d be alone, but this is close enough.”

Then he’s kissing me. And I’m letting him.

Spreading my legs farther apart, I sink down onto him more, wrapping my arms around his neck and tangling my fingers in his hair. It’s soft, messy as always.

He drags his fingers down my back and his touch feels like the sun itself brushing against me. His hands dip into the waistband of my jeans and I suddenly wish I had worn something else—something with easier access.

He voices my thought against my lips. “Why couldn’t you have worn a skirt?”

He trails his mouth from my mine, down my chin and over my neck, sucking at that same place below my ear. I’ve had a permanent hickey since he discovered it and I’m not complaining.

I can feel his cock straining against his jeans under me and I grind down on him, swirling my hips, causing him to gasp.

“You witch.”

“Watch it,” I mutter. “I’m on top—I’m the one in control here.”

He chuckles lowly. “It’s so cute you think that.”

Without warning he pops the button on my jeans, and I realize I didn’t even notice his hands were anywhere close to my center.

With deft movements, he slides one into the waistband of my undies, and I have to catch the gasp that tries to leave my lips when his fingers brush against my swollen clit.

“Shh,” he rumbles. “Keep quiet.”

He works me over, rubbing tight circles until I’m about to combust then pushing two fingers inside me.

Shep swallows my gasps and moves his tongue against mine as he thrusts his fingers in and out of me. The orgasm hits me out of nowhere and I ride his fingers until every last shiver runs through me.

My heart rate works to even out as I sag against him, feeling satiated and exhausted and so fucking high all at once.

He pulls his fingers from my center and I relish the emptiness. When he brushes against my clit once more, I bite my lip to keep from making a sound.

I watch with rapt attention as he draws his hand up to his mouth and sucks both fingers inside.

Oh holy fuck…

He pops them free and winks. “Guess you were right about me having you for dinner after all.”

I can’t help the stuttered gasp that squeaks out.

“Are you two fucking?”

The moment is broken at the interruption.

“No!” Shep hollers back, lips twitching. “This trailer is just really intense!”

“It’s for a kids’ movie, but whatever,” the stranger says.

We burst into laughter, not caring how loud we’re being.

“Shh!” he says again.

We laugh harder.

I rest my head against his chest. “I want this to last forever.”

I don’t know why I say it, but I do know I mean it.

“I think I’d like that.”

“This scares me, Shep.”

“Me too.”

“I can’t help but keep thinking—”

“What if?”

I nod. “Yes.”

“There are a lot of what-ifs in life. Being chickenshit isn’t a reason to walk away from something,” he says softly, repeating my words from our heated conversation in the truck. “I’m done being scared, Denny. I promise.”

“Your version of a promise scares me too.”

He doesn’t say anything, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Thirty

Shepard

“Bro, will you please quit pacing? You’re starting to make me nervous.”

“You should be nervous. You’re getting married tomorrow.”

“Nah, man.” AJ smiles, shaking his head. “All I can think is finally. I still can’t believe I let you talk me out of doing this in high school. Do you know how many years of being husband and wife we’d have under our belt already?”

“You thanked me back then. You can’t take that back.”

“You’re right—waiting totally made us stronger.”

“Like you and Allie ever needed to be stronger.”

“I’m sorry…was that a compliment on my love life?”

I shoot him a look. “Shut it.”

He laughs. “Uh huh. We both know you’re a closet romantic.”

“I am not.”

“Tell that to Denver. You buy her flowers with special meanings and hand-deliver them to her at work.”

“Once! I did that once!” I argue.

“Once is enough.” He winks. “Seriously, sit the fuck down. You’re freaking me out.”

I’ve been pacing my kitchen and scrubbing the counters that are already way too fucking clean for nearly two hours now.

That’s what I do when I’m nervous: pace and clean. My teammates are constantly poking fun when I’m pacing the dugout and sweeping the floors. The announcers eat that shit up, but they’d never know what a sign of stress it really is.

“What’s rolling around in that big head of yours?”

I toss the rag onto the counter and force myself to take a step back. Folding my arms across my chest, I exhale a steadying breath.

“Come on, man. Talk to me.”

“What if she hates me after she finds out about…”

“You being the biggest fucking tool on the planet and screwing over your brother’s gal?”

I wince. “Yeah, that.”

AJ’s been pushing me to tell Denny about Delia from the start. I told him I would before the wedding.

But the wedding’s tomorrow and I haven’t said a fucking peep about it. I can’t bring myself to. Things are going well—like ridiculously so—for us and I don’t want anything to screw that up, especially not some stupid mistake I made almost two years ago.

I know I need to tell her, though. It would be wrong not to, and I know I’m making such a big deal out of it because of how Denny is going to react to the news—badly.

“You gotta do it, man. Just rip the band-aid off before she finds out from someone who isn’t you.”

“Why do I have to tell her at all?”

He narrows his eyes at me. “You know why—because you were way in the fucking wrong and she needs to know the kind of person she’s letting into her life.”

“But I’m not that person anymore.”

“I know you’re not, I do, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t do it. That doesn’t mean it never happened just because you’re not who you were back then. Sorry, bro, but this is like if you had an arrest record for assault and didn’t tell her about it.” He snaps his fingers together. “Oh, wait, you do have one.”

I’m quick to correct him. “Not true—he didn’t press charges.”

***

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