I suck my lower lip between my teeth and slowly shake my head, no.

Sean doesn’t back away. Instead, he takes hold of the string at my hip and pulls. The red bow comes undone and my indecent bottoms fall to the dressing room floor. Sean watches me in the mirror. His eyes dip to the floor and linger as they climb up my body. They stop at the top of my legs and he leans in close and whispers again, “Ask me.”

I shake my head, liking this game. My heart pounds harder, as Sean looks up at my face. I wonder what he’s going to do. His eyes are so dark, so impossibly blue. Sean moves his hands over my skin without touching me. Slowly he goes up my thigh and then down my belly. His shirt tickles my back as he reaches around me. His warm breath makes me want to melt into his kiss, but I don’t move. I remain silent.

Sean continues to tease me. As his hands move over my body, his lips hoover over my back. His hot breath trails a path down my back, caressing every curve until he’s on his knees. Sean touches my leg lightly and sparks shoot across my body.

I gasp, and turn so that he’s kneeling in front of me. He looks up at me with his eyes burning like blue flames. “Ask me.”

I smile and shake my head so slightly that I’m not sure if I moved. Sean blinks slowly and lowers his gaze. He leans in slow, his lips nearing my thigh, and hesitates. I feel like I’m going to explode. I’ve never wanted to be touched so much in my entire life. Sean’s warm breath hits my bare skin and sparks shoot through me, making me hotter and hotter. My core aches for his touch, for Sean, and he hasn’t even touched me yet. I’m a hot mess, ready to beg him to kiss me there, but I don’t have to. After a heart pounding moment, Sean takes a jagged breath.

This time when he looks up, he says something different. “I’m asking you—may I?” His eyes fall back to the prize right in front of his eyes.

I have no voice. I can’t breathe. I feel myself nod and then my world shifts. Sean’s hands are on me and I moan so loudly that he reaches up and puts his hand over my mouth. He looks me in the eye and shakes his head slowly, telling me to be silent. When Sean releases his hand, he lowers me onto the bench and falls to his knees.

Sean crawls toward me and nuzzles his face between my legs. I suck in air and throw my head back, careful not to make and sounds. Sean breathes me in before taking his hands and pushing my knees farther apart. He looks at me with those sinful eyes and then disappears between my legs.

His tongue strokes my hot folds with big greedy licks. I bite my lip to keep quiet and squirm in my seat. Sean’s hands come up and hold me still as he pushes his tongue in deeper. Somehow my legs end up over his shoulders and I’m holding his hair between my fingers, pulling his face toward me. I fight to remain silent. My hips rock slightly as Sean’s tongue devours me.

I make little sounds that drive him crazy and he pushes into me deeper. Butterflies float through my middle and tickle my stomach. Hot tendrils curl tighter and move through me. I can’t let go of him. Sean comes up for air and it makes me beg for more. He gives me a wicked grin before lavishing my lower lips with more wet kisses.

I rock against his mouth as he devours me. Neither of us makes a sound. I feel my body responding to his touches, climbing higher and higher. Every time Sean’s tongue thrusts inside me, I feel my body getting closer to the edge. Sean teased me so much that it’ll take next to nothing to tip me over the top. His tongue sweeps against me again and again.

I hold Sean against me, pushing my hips toward his mouth, wanting him to push me over the edge. But Sean slows his pace and pulls back. I whimper, as his kisses soften. He takes my hands from the side of his head and pins them by my hips on the bench and stops.

I buck my hips, desperately wanting the release, and beg him, “Please. Oh please.”

Sean smiles at me. He watches my face for a moment, and watches me breathe. My breasts strain against the bra and the nipple clips feel so tight. It makes me want him even more. Without warning, Sean dips between my legs again. He releases my hands and grips the curve of my ass, forcing my soft skin to his lips. I hold onto him and rock. Sean’s tongue dips into me over and over again, and I shatter. Every tightly wound coil inside of me breaks free as my body pulses uncontrollably. I breathe harder and harder, as he continues to draw out my pleasure. Sean’s tongue sweeps against me, dipping inside as I float away in bliss.

My hold on Sean loosens as his licking slows. When Sean pulls away, he stands and leans in, and sweeps his moist lips across my mouth. “That’s the second time this week I’ve watched you come and I didn’t get to fuck you either time.”

I laugh. There’s a lazy sated smile on my face. “You’re horrible.”

“You’re delicious.” He licks his lips slowly.

“Avery? Are you still in there?” Marty’s voice rings out and suddenly I’m fully alert. I press my finger to my lips and hope Sean doesn’t say anything.

I clear my throat and try to sound normal. “Yeah. I’ll be up in a second.”

“Okay, just checking. It’s been a while.” His voice is so close. I know he’s right on the other side of the door. I don’t want to explain Sean, and I know Marty will kill me if he knows what I just did.

Sean is quietly watching me as I lie to one of my best friends. My eyes pinch shut. “Sorry. I found something else I wanted to try. I’ll be right up.”

“Yeah,” Marty says, but his voice doesn’t sound right. I think he knows, but Marty walks away without another word.

I sigh and sit down hard on the little bench and bury my face in my hands. Sean is standing, looking down at me. “I don’t like lying to him.”

“Then don’t.”

I laugh, but there’s no humor in it. “I can’t. Marty and Mel don’t want me around you. They think you’re going to…” my voice trails off and I look up at him.

Sean finishes the sentence for me. “Hurt you.”

I nod. “It’s more than that, though. Mel doesn’t even want me to be your friend. Maybe that’s because she knows that I can’t. Damn it, Sean. Things can’t be like this.” I stand and pull on my panties. I take the clips off and put them back in the black case. I finish getting dressed.

While I’m dressing, he says nothing. Sean just leans against the back wall of the dressing room with his hands behind his back. When I look over at him, there’s a pensive expression on his face. I throw my purse on my shoulder before grabbing the black box and holding it out to Sean.

He doesn’t move. He doesn’t pull his hands out from behind his back and take them. Instead he shakes his head. “No, you need those. They complete your outfit for work. Wear them.”

My stomach dips. How can he act so detached? Sean’s talking about another guy having sex with me, and it’s like he doesn’t care. “What are you doing?”

Sean straightens. His eyes narrow as he looks at me. I have no idea what he’s thinking. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Yes, you do. Don’t give me that crap. How can you possibly be okay with sharing me?”

“I’m not okay with sharing you. I don’t like it at all, but I can’t ask you to stop. It’s something you need. I understand that. The guy that’s always drooling on your shoulder, I can’t stand.” He’s so frustratingly calm that I want to punch him in the face. Sean blinks at me like I’m crazy.

“You don’t want me hanging out with Marty, but I can go fuck a client?” Sean nods slowly. His dark hair falls forward with the movement. Sean looks at his shoe before returning his gaze to my face.

“You’re lying.” I step toward him and get up in his face. Sean’s lips are a breath away. His eyes are intently focused, our gazes lock. “You don’t want to share me at all. You’re trying to get me fired.”

“I could have kept you. I didn’t.”

“Things got too serious and you chickened out.”

“Your perception of reality is skewed, Miss Smith. You better blink and wake up from that dream of yours.”

I laugh once, hard. He’s pushing every button I have and I don’t know why. Sean does this every time I mention anything about labeling what we are. I reel in my anger and cut my gaze to the floor. When I look back up at him, I breathe, “You’re the one who needs to stop dreaming, Mr. Jones. One day I won’t be there when you need me, I won’t magically show up, and I won’t give you another chance.”

Sean doesn’t blink. I’m lost in his eyes for a moment. There’s something there, a wall that I can’t get past. I wonder if he’ll ever let me in, if he’ll ever tell me what happened to him that made him this way. Sean finally looks away. He lowers his head and steps back. His silence irritates me. Sean doesn’t offer any explanation or anything.

I make an annoyed sound and reach for the door. Just as my hand lands on the knob, Sean takes my wrist. I look back at him. Sean doesn’t lift his gaze. Instead he stares at my hand, in his grip. “There’s no future for us, but I don’t want to let you go.”

“Then, change your future. Let someone in. You’re doing this to yourself and I was stupid enough to go along with it.” Sean looks up at me and I’m screwed. All my resolve melts and washes away because there’s genuine fear in his eyes. He’s afraid he’s going to lose me. “Sean…”

He nods slowly. “I’m trying, I swear to God, I am. I haven’t—I’m trying to let you in, Avery. Don’t give up, not yet. Come by my place after work.”

I smile sadly and shake my head. “That’s a really bad idea.”

“You said to change, so I’m changing. I’m trying. I want to hang out with my friend after work. We’ll have ice cream and watch movies. You can bitch about your boss or do whatever you want. I won’t even try to seduce you.”

I smirk. “Sean—”

He rubs his thumb over the back of my hand and says, “Please, Avery. Give me more time.”