We were so fucking insane.

Deeper. I yanked on her hair as she wrapped her fingers in mine. Each second it grew a bit rougher, a bit wilder, a bit more untamed. “Fuck.” I sighed, loving how it felt being between her legs, loving the sweat that rolled down her body. It felt good to be inside her, it felt safe.

Faster. I wanted to feel all of Elizabeth. I wanted to bury myself so deep inside her that she would never forget the way I made her skip reality. I wanted to fuck her as if she were my love and I was hers.

Lifting her right leg, I placed it over my shoulder. I allowed her to feel every inch of me as she told me to make love to her harder. Did she realize what she’d said? Had she really said love? I knew it was what we had agreed to, but hearing the words fall from her lips made me lose focus for a moment.

I wasn’t him.

She wasn’t her.

But my God, it felt good to lie to ourselves.

She was out of breath, and I liked the way her head fell back to the headboard. I also liked how her nails dug into my skin as if she never wanted to let me go. Then she blinked once, and when her eyes reappeared, they were holding back tears. The tension of struggling tears strived for an outlet, yet she took a breath instead.

Slower. She asked me once more if she could really stay the night. She was probably nervous that I’d kick her out afterward, and she would be forced back into the reality that she was alone. And I was alone. Pre-rejection was swimming in her eyes. But I’d promised I wouldn’t. I could see it in those brown eyes of hers: she hated being by herself with her own thoughts.

We had something in common.


We had many things in common.

Laying her down on the mattress, I kept myself inside her but slowed my movements. “I’ll stop,” I said, seeing tears falling from her eyes.

“Please don’t,” she begged, shaking her head. She dug her fingers deeper into my back, as if she were trying to hold onto something that wasn’t even there.

This is nothing more than a dream.

“We’re dreaming, Elizabeth. We’re dreaming. It’s not real.”

She pushed her hips up. “No. Keep going.”

I wiped her tears away, but I didn’t keep going.

It was wrong.

She was broken.

I was broken.

I removed myself from her warmth and sat up on the edge of the bed. My hands gripped the sides of the mattress. The sheets wrinkled with her every move. She sat up on the other side of the bed, her hands gripped to the sides of the mattress. Our backs faced one another, but I swore I could still feel her heartbeats.

“What’s wrong with us?” she whispered.

My fingers brushed against my temple and I sighed. “Everything.”

“Was today one of the big moments?” she asked.

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me. “Jamie’s birthday.”

She chuckled. I turned around to see her wiping tears away. “I thought so.” She stood up, slid on her panties, and tossed on her bra.

“How did you know?”

She moved over to me and stood between my legs. Her eyes studied my stare, and her fingers combed through my wild hair. She placed her hand against my chest, finding my rapid heartbeats. Her lips lay against mine, not kissing me, but feeling my breaths. “Because I could really feel how much you longed for her. In those stormy eyes I could see how disappointed you were that I wasn’t her.”

“Elizabeth,” I said, feeling guilty.

She shook her head and pulled away from me. “It’s okay,” she promised. She picked up her T-shirt and tossed it onto her small frame. She slid her pajama shorts up her legs and walked over to my window to leave. “Because I’m guessing you could see how disappointed I was that you weren’t him, too.”

“We should probably stop doing this,” I said as she walked over to her window.

She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and smiled. “Yeah, probably.” She climbed into her house and gave me a sly grin. “But we probably won’t anyway. Because I think we’re both a bit addicted to the past. I’ll see you later.”

I fell backward onto my bed and groaned, because I knew she was right.

Chapter Seventeen


“So you’re seeing that Tristan Cole guy, huh?” Marybeth asked at the book club meeting.

I arched an eyebrow as I held Little Women in my grip. “What?”

“Oh, honey, you don’t have to be shy about it. Everyone in the neighborhood has seen the two of you hanging out. And don’t worry, you can tell us all about it. This is a safe place,” Susan promised.

Yeah right.

“He just cuts my grass. We hardly know each other.”

“Is that why I saw you climbing out of his bedroom window at one in the morning the other night? Because he was cutting the grass?” asked a woman I’d never even spoken to.

“I’m sorry, who are you?”

“Oh, I’m Dana. I’m new to the neighborhood.”

It took everything in me to not roll my eyes. She would fit right in.

“So is that true? Were you climbing out of his window? I told Dana I didn’t believe it because you just lost your husband and it would be insulting to his memory for you to already be moving on with another man,” Marybeth explained. “It would be like a slap in the face of your marriage. Almost as if your vows were only written in sand and not in your heart.”

My stomach twisted in knots. “Maybe we should talk about the novel,” I offered.

But they kept asking me questions. Questions I didn’t have answers to. Questions I didn’t want to answer. The night went on and on, and it all felt like slow motion. When the end of the night came, I couldn’t have been happier.