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He drops down and I’m surprised when the lamp flicks on. Dazzled, I close my eyes, and when I open them, he’s looking at me. The black-sapphire facets of his eyes are doing strange things to my heart.

“Hey, Shortcake.” Our fingers tangle again above my head.

The first press he makes is gentle and my body takes, and then takes some more. He’s pressing his temple to mine, making desperate sounds, like he’s in pain, like he’s trying to live through this. I involuntarily clench and he jerks forward, hard. My head nearly hits the headboard and I laugh.

“Sorry,” he says, and I kiss his cheek.

“Don’t apologize. Do it again.”

Chapter 26

We’ve never played the Staring Game with you inside me.” His hips flex a little, and my eyelids start to flutter.

I was expecting the pleasure and pressure, given that he’s huge and I’m small, but it’s emotion now tightening my throat until I can’t reply. It’s his eyes, and the expression in them as he begins to roll his hips, slick and easy. There’s no hard impact, no teeth-chattering thuds. He moves against me with measured control. This is the hottest moment of my life. I can’t process each sensation. A feeling similar to freaking out is beginning to fill my chest.

I can’t keep my composure under his eyes. Passionate eyes. Intense, fierce, fearless eyes. He wants me to hand over everything. He won’t take anything less from me.

“Talk to me.” He touches my nose with his. His breath is heavy and even.

“You were right . . . you fit me, somehow. Oh, that’s so nice.” I can barely speak. “I’m freaking out slightly.”

“Nice, huh?” He looks at me with amusement. “I can always do better than nice.”

He lets go of my fingertips, slides a hand under each of my thighs and lifts me a few inches off the bed.

“Nice is good, nice is good,” I babble. My next sound is a groan.

Joshua Templeman really, really knows what he’s doing.

My eyes roll back into my head. I know they do, because he smiles a bit and moves his hips again. The blankets fall away, and I’m front row, looking up his gorgeous flexing muscles, to his face.

“I’m not nice,” he tells me. Slowly, we begin to stretch against each other, and it’s more rolling friction. I’ve never felt anything like it. It confirms that no guy I’ve ever been with has done it right. Until now.

He’s frowning a little in concentration. It’s got to be the angle he’s created so easily that seems to nudge a little switch inside my body.

“Hey.” He hits it again, and the pleasure is so intense a sob catches in my throat. Again and again. I’ve never played this game before.

I have no strength to raise my arms to his shoulders. Every distinct slide of his body into mine is taking me one step closer to something I’m fairly sure will kill me.

“Are you tired?” I try to be considerate but instead he picks up the pace.

Sweat begins to mist my skin. My hands scrabble for purchase on the sheets. If I’m a deadweight, it doesn’t seem to bother him. All I can do is press my shoulders against the mattress and try to survive this.

“I’m dying,” I warn him. “Josh, I’m dying.”

Josh lifts one of my ankles to rest on his shoulder. His arm hugs my leg, and he studies my face with interest as he increases his pace further. His eyebrows pinch together. The Staring Game is the absolute best when Josh is hitting my lifelong nonexistent G-spot. The one that exists now.

“Holy. Holy . . . Josh.”

When he laughs in response it’s nearly my undoing.

Here’s my problem. This doesn’t happen. First sex with someone is awkward and you take turns and try to work out each other’s likes and dislikes. There’s no simultaneous wet dirty screwing and trying to delay your orgasm. But I am. And he knows it.

“Lucy. Quit holding off.”

“I’m not,” I protest, but for my lie he increases his force. I babble a thank you.

“You’re welcome,” he tells me and angles me higher. I have no idea how he’s not tired. I will write a thank-you card to his personal trainer. If my hand can ever grip a pen again. I bite my lip. I can’t let this end. I tell him so.

“Forever, do this forever,” I beg. I’m near tears. “Don’t stop.”

“Stubborn aren’t you, Shortcake.”

“I can’t let this end. Please, Josh. Please, please, please . . .”

He presses his cheek against my calf in such a sweetly affectionate gesture.

“It won’t end,” he tells me.

I can see he’s starting to lose himself a little. His eyes are lit in a bright haze, and I see him raise them to the ceiling, praying for something. His gorgeous skin is glowing gold in the lamplight.

It’s a smooth, deep rolling thrust like any of the others, but I break.

It’s not a sweet, tame thing sweeping over me. My teeth snap together, I grip on to him and wring myself out. The anguished sound I make probably wakes every single person in the hotel, but I can’t hold it in. It’s violent. I nearly kick him in the jaw but he grabs my foot and holds on to me. The pleasure boils over, my body twists, squeezes, shakes me out, and I’m out-of-my-mind crazy for Joshua Templeman. He’s right. This will not be enough. I need days of this. Weeks. Years. Millions of years.

I’m falling, completely falling, and I look up as he falls too.

He leans down against my leg and I feel him shaking in release. He looks down at me, eyes suddenly shy, and I raise my hand to stroke his cheek.

He lowers me down carefully. I can’t imagine how I’ll let him go. I wrap my arms around his shoulders and press my mouth to his eyebrow and my chest has a cleaned-out feeling like I’ve run a few miles. He must feel like he’s done a triathlon.

He looks up at me. “How You Doing?” he whispers softly.

“I’m a ghost. I’m dead.”

“I didn’t know I was lethal,” he says and begins to pull away from me, achingly slowly. I beg and plead and say, No, no, no. I’m an addict, completely hooked, already wanting my next fix while the current one is still running brightly through my veins. My body tries to hold on to him but he kisses my forehead and apologizes.

“I’m sorry, I gotta,” he says and walks away into the bathroom. I watch his backside and drop back into the pillows.

Best sex of my entire life. Best backside I have ever seen.

“Is that a fact?” he says from the other room. Seems I said it aloud.

I lay my forearm over my eyes and try to regulate my breathing. I feel the mattress dip and he pulls the blankets up over my chilling skin, and turns off the lamp.

“Now you’re going to be unbearable. But goddamn, Josh. Goddamn.” I’m slurring.

“Goddamn, yourself,” he says, and I’m tugged into the cradle of his arms. I press my cheek against him, delighting in his sweat.

“Let’s work out a game plan for when we wake up. I can’t handle it if you go weird on me.”

“We’ll say good morning politely, then we’ll do it again.” I sound like I’ve had a stroke. I fall asleep with my ear pressed to his chest, listening to him laugh.

I SOMEHOW SURVIVE until morning. I’m washing my hands when I glance up at the mirror.

“Oh, shit.”

“What?”

I open the door a crack. The room is dimly lit by strobes of light through the heavy curtains.

“I forgot to take off my makeup. I look like Alice Cooper again.”

My eye makeup is smudged black and it makes my eyes look milky-blue and lurid.

“Again? You’ve looked like Alice Cooper before?”

“Yeah, the morning after I was sick, I nearly screamed when I saw myself.” I brush my teeth and get my hair into a bun.

“I like you when you look a little wrecked.”

“Well, you’d like me right now then.”

I’m in the shower and trying in vain to get the tiny packet of soap open when I hear the door creak and he’s joining me, calmly, like we do this every day. Lust electrifies me; the strangest mix of joy and fear.

“It’s a Shortcake-sized soap,” he comments, taking it from me and biting the package. He pinches the little coin of soap out and holds it up between forefinger and thumb.

“I am going to enjoy this.”

I am so dazzled by the sight of his velvety gold skin being streaked with water I can’t do anything for a few minutes except stare, my tongue peeking out the corner of my mouth like a hungry dog. The water channels down between each muscle, before overflowing and sheening the flat planes.

The shading of hair begins in the center of his chest, fanning outward to his nipples, and moving downward in a thin line toward his navel. After being bombarded with a million billboards of shiny men in their underwear, I nearly forgot men have hair. I follow the water down, the thicker hair, the imposing jut of his erection. All of it wet. Beautifully veined, enough to make my knees lose their strength. He was inside me. I need it again. I need it so many times I lose count.

“You are . . .” I shake my head. I have to close my eyes, to remember how to speak English. He’s too much. I can’t have possibly captured this big golden creature inside a glass hotel shower, and he’s looking at me with those eyes I love so much.

“Oh, no, I’m hideous,” he whispers, mock tragic, and I feel the soap press against my collarbone. It starts to swirl in a little circle, sticky then slick.

“My personal trainer was so sure this disguise would help with women. What a fucking waste of time and energy.”

I drag my eyes open, and they must look like I’ve been in an opium den because he laughs.

I press my thumb into the smile line on his cheek. “You’re gorgeous. Beautiful. I can’t believe you.”

I back away until I’m pressed against the tiles, to get a better view, and now it’s his turn to look at every wet inch of me. My arms ache with the effort it takes to not cover myself. His perfect muscles make me look very squishy in comparison. His eyes darken as he looks at me from head to toe.

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