I wasn’t sure he was listening, until he repeated my words. “You don’t want to lose me.” He softened his stance over me, his hands coming down to rest on my shoulders.

“No,” I sighed. “I don’t.”

“Bee...” He squinted his eyes together and pressed his fingers on the bridge of his nose. “Did he rape you?” His breath was short and shallow.


“How do I know you’re not just saying that so I don’t go after him?”

“Did you see his hand?”

“Yeah, it’s in a sling.”

“I did that. I slammed his hand in his own door when I ran out.” I sounded proud of myself.

I was proud of myself.

“You did that to him?” Jake sounded impressed.

“Yes,” I confirmed. “Owen didn’t rape me. He just got touchy-feely while I was sleeping. I put a quick end to it, though.”

“Baby, I hate that he touched you, that he thought his privileged ass was good enough to get to lay hands on you.” He paused and rubbed his knuckles down the side of my face. “I don’t want anyone to touch you but me.” Jake smelled like the beach and leather. His breath was cool as it came in heavy quick bursts. “I’m not good enough to touch you either, but that’s not enough to make me stop.”

My own breathing quickened.

“Just you, Jake.”

“Why didn’t you tell me then? That night?”

“What was I supposed to tell you? I was embarrassed, I was tired. I didn’t know who to trust or what to do.” I held his gaze.

Jake pulled me from the door and sat me on the couch. He laid his gun on the coffee table, making sure to keep it pointed away from us. “I didn’t just find you by accident that night.”

“What do you mean?”

“I was looking for you. I just needed to see you. I didn’t like the feeling I got when I saw you with Owen. I barely knew you, but I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to help you. I wanted you to need me.” He shifted me to face him, our chests pressed up against one another. “Originally I was just going to make sure you were safe—even if it was with Owen. Then, I saw you walking down that road and I was just so happy to see you. When I saw the bruise on your jaw, I told myself it was from an accident. I wanted to concentrate on you and not killing the person who hurt you.” He sighed deeply. “I’m so glad he didn’t.”

“No, he didn’t, but I feel kind of guilty, anyway.”

“Why would you feel guilty? He was molesting you as you were passed the fuck out.”

“Because I liked it,” I whispered. “While I was dreaming, before I realized it was him touching me.”

Jake’s jaw clenched, then relaxed. I could tell he thought hard about what to say next. “It’s okay to like being touched.” He intertwined his fingers with mine.

“Not for me it isn’t. I mean, I liked how I felt when I woke up, but mostly because at the end of my dream I saw your face and…” I hesitated before telling him the rest. “…I imagined it was you making me feel that way.”

Jake looked puzzled. “You were imagining it was me?”

I wanted to lay it all out for him. I was tired of tiptoeing around my physical feelings for him. “Jake, the only person I’ve ever been physically attracted to, the only person I’ve ever wanted to ever touch me at all, and especially the only person I’ve ever wanted more from is you.”

Jake still didn’t know everything about me. I wanted to tell him all of it and just rip it off like a bandage, but wanting to and being able to were so far apart. I wanted him to help me heal, and for him to heal with me.

I wanted to take on his pain because he’d taken mine so completely.

I had let him into my life, into my secrets and my wounds, but the thought of letting him into my body still panicked me. I wanted him, so very much. I wanted his mouth on me and his hands on my body, and I wanted to feel what it would be like to lay skin to skin with him. I wanted him more than I wanted to breathe.

It wasn’t a question of what I wanted. It was a question of what I was capable of.

As if he’d read my mind, Jake grabbed the back of my neck and connected my lips to his. His lips were soft, but his kiss wasn’t. It was demanding. He pressed harder, asking for more. His lips a perfect mix of hard and soft. He opened to me, deepening the kiss, his tongue finding its way into my mouth as I pushed my hands into his hair.

I wanted this with him. I wanted him to kiss away the past and fill me with only new and amazing memories. Our breathing became labored, and for just a moment, I thought I could really give myself to him in every way.