Page 41

“Good plan. You don’t want to smother our girl here.”

“You’re so thoughtful, Drew.”

Though we’re joking, and he’s doing his best to turn me on, that somber air still hangs over him. His breathing is too slow and heavy, as if he has a massive weight on his chest. And my heart hurts for him. Especially when he absently traces the numbers on my chest once more.

“Hey.” I cup his cheek. “You will wear one again. Don’t you dare think otherwise.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I mean it, Drew. You will.”

The corners of his eyes crease with worry. “What makes you so sure, beautiful?”

“Because it isn’t in you to quit.”

Drew’s smile is slow, but wide. “Kiss me, Anna.”

We meet halfway. Instantly, I open to him, and his tongue dips in to taste me. I shiver, loving the way he touches me, and he breathes into me on a sigh.

Under the sheet, his c**k rises hard and strong, nestling between my legs. I rock against it, and we both groan. Drew cups my cheeks, holds me where he wants me. “I love your lips,” he whispers.

He suckles my bottom lip, plays with my mouth in that delicious way of his.

“I love the way you kiss,” I say.

He hums, the vibration making my mouth tinge. He kiss goes deep then light. “I love you.”

The words slap into me, and my entire body seizes. I’m shaking as I pull back to look at him. His expression is tender but wary. He knows he’s turned my world on its ear.

“What did you say?” I choke out.

“You heard me.” His tone is cautious, as if he’s waiting for me to run away but hoping I won’t.

Tears blur my vision. My body feels like lead. I sag in his arms and slump against his chest. Gently, he lifts me up a bit until he can see me.

“Hey.” He thumbs away a tear. “I didn’t tell you to upset you. I told you because holding it back is too hard.” He leans in until our breaths mingle. “I want to tell you every day.”

Drew pauses and vulnerability tightens the corners of his eyes. “And you need to know what this is for me, because I wasn’t clear before.” Deep gold eyes hold mine. He’s leaving himself wide open, revealing his soul. “You have my heart, Anna. And every time I had to walk away from you, every time you walked away from me, it felt like it was being ripped out of my chest. It f**king hurt, Anna.”

His confession mirrors my feelings so closely that a fresh wave of hot tears well in my eyes. “It hurt me too. So much. I felt so empty I couldn’t stand up straight.”

Drew’s dark brows furrow. “Why didn’t you—”

“I was afraid. Shit.” I take an unsteady breath, feeling sick. “You shine so brightly, Drew. And it’s beautiful to me, but I didn’t know how to live under your light.”

He frowns, his expression growing fierce. But his words are low, strong. “What people see? That is only gloss. But, Anna, you light me up. Drew. Not the player. You didn’t know how to live under my light? I don’t have a light anymore unless you’re there.”

“Drew.” With a trembling hand, I stroke his neck then rest my palm in the center of his chest. “I’m not…” I squeeze my eyes shut. I don’t want to admit my weaknesses. Not even to myself. But this is Drew, and I trust him. More importantly, he deserves to know. I open my eyes and face him.

And he’s watching me, uncertain now, likely hurting again, because of me and my f**king issues.

“I never went to prom,” I blurt out. “I was never asked on a date, guys never even looked at me in high school.”

His expression shifts from shock to confusion to an understanding that makes my insides pitch. My fingers curl against the dense rise of his pecks as I forge on. “No one really liked me. I was the weird girl. The sullen one they wanted to pretend didn’t exist.” I snort, an ugly, pained sound. “Or maybe they really didn’t know I existed.”

I shrug, not wanting to meet his eyes, but I do. “Mom called me a late bloomer. Which means dick all when you’re sixteen and dying inside.” Viciously, I wipe at my eyes. “And you…” My voice cracks before I can bring it under control. “When I say you shine, I mean just that. You’re the sun around which people orbit. If you had been in my school, you’d have been the one everyone looked toward to lead. You never would have seen me hiding in the shadows.”

“Anna…” His voice is so gentle it sets my teeth on edge.

“No,” I snap. “Just…let me finish.”

He gives an awkward nod.

“I know it wasn’t fair to treat you the way I did,” I say. “Or to put you in some category that I created due to bad experience and old teen angst. But it’s hard, Drew.” My mouth trembles, I bite down on my lip. “It’s hard nullifying all of that, because it came back to me every time you paid attention to me in public and people stared. When they’d ask why you’re with me.”

“I don’t give a shit what people think,” he cuts in on a rasp. “Only what you think.”

My chin drops. I can’t look at him anymore. “Don’t you understand? I felt like an impostor. I kept waiting for you to realize that you’d got it wrong. That I was the girl you were never supposed to see.”

“Not possible,” he says with quiet fierceness.


“Anna, baby, you would never be the girl I didn’t see, whether we had met now or in high school.” He pulls me in close, rubbing his nose along the tip of mine. “Don’t you understand? I know you wouldn’t be because, since the moment I laid eyes on you, you’re all I can see.” Drew kisses me, lingering before he pulls back to study me. His eyes are clear and filled with so much emotion that my throat closes up. As if he too is overcome, he swallows hard, and his voice is but a breath. “I love you, Anna Jones. That’s not going to change. I loved you when I thought we’d never be together, and I love you still.”

I let go of a sharp breath and then lean into him. I don’t kiss his lips but the tender spot on his neck where his pulse beats. “I should have told you earlier.”

His throat moves under my lips as he swallows. “Yeah.” His lips brush my temple, his warm, rough palms smoothing down my thighs. “But I understand now.”

“I’m so sorry, Drew.” I place a tender kiss on the center of his chest.

His voice is thick. “Don’t need that.”

No, he needs the words, at the very least to know that I care for him too. I owe him so much more. Sitting back on his lap, I meet his eyes. Emotion clogs my throat, makes my heart speed up to a desperate thud, thud, thud.

He appears almost stern, his mouth relaxed but not smiling. God, he’s everything. Everything. I touch his cheek, grazing the beard-roughened skin there with my fingertips. My mouth opens yet nothing comes out. With a garbled sound, I throw myself on him, hugging him hard and burrow my face into the smooth crook of his neck. He’s warm, his scent familiar and comforting in a bone-deep way that has me crying harder.

And though I’ve clearly shocked him, he wraps his arms around me and holds on tightly.

“Hey,” he says softly. “Anna…”

“I’m sorry.” I gulp down air, trying to calm. “I’m sorry.” But I can’t stop shaking.

His arms are steel supports against my back, his chest a solid slab that bolsters me. I snuggle in deeper. “I was so scared,” I whisper against his damp skin. “I saw you… the hit. I needed to get to you, and…” I can’t say the rest.

Beneath me, his body relaxes a little and his big hand cups the back of my head before stroking it. “Shhh. It’s okay.”

But it isn’t. How can I explain to him? If he hadn’t gotten up from that hit, something vital inside me would have died. The truth chokes me, burns my throat.

“It’s okay, Anna. I’ve got you.” His smooth, deep voice rolls over my skin like a caress. “I won’t let you go.”

He won’t. He never truly has. On a breath, I press my forehead to his. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“What wasn’t, baby?”

I run my shaking fingers along his jaw. “Finding you now. Before I got all of my shit together.”

“But you did,” he whispers. “And I’m not sorry.”

Neither am I.

I look at him. Really look, my eyes wide open, letting him see all of me. Every hidden vulnerability. In return, I see the world in his. A tremor runs through me, and I cup his cheek. “I love you, Drew Baylor. No one has ever meant as much to me as you have. I adore you, need you, crave you—”

His lips meet mine, his kiss deep and demanding.

I sink into it, clutching his neck and shoulders like a lifeline. And there is no more talking, just long searching kisses, and short, frantic ones. Places to touch and rediscover. Emotion and need surge in like the tide. The sheet covering his lap is tugged away, and his hot c**k presses against my sex, slipping against the wetness there.

“Put me inside you,” he breathes into my mouth, his lips nipping at mine. “I need to be inside you.”

I rock against him, making him groan. When I lift up and the thick, rounded crown of him presses against my opening, our gazes lock. We both shudder as I sink down onto him. It feels so damn good, like everything I’ve missed and like nothing before. It’s better. Truer.

The muscles along his chest strain as he pushes in further and a flush works over his cheeks. “God,” he rasps, “I’ve missed being surrounded by you. So perfect. This is what I needed. You. Here.”

“I know. I needed this too.” I cup his cheeks with my hands. “I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much.”

He eyes squeeze shut at the words, his throat working. His hands ease up to hold me as I hold him. And he thrusts up, meeting me halfway. Our foreheads touch, our breath mingling hot and uneven.

I ride him slowly, working my h*ps in an undulating rhythm that has us both trembling. My sex feels swollen, full of him. The pace is torture. I’m acutely aware of every inch of his thick girth moving in and out of me.

My skin steams, and I wrench the jersey off, the cool air tightening my ni**les. Drew captures one in his mouth, sucking it with sharp tugs that I feel down to my core. My breath catches, and my insides clench. A move I know he feels when he groans and answers with a sharper thrust. His big hand clamps down on my butt, clenching and kneading it as if he’s making up for lost opportunities.

God, he’s so delicious looking, all sweaty and flushed, his muscles moving as his body rocks into mine. I lean down, lick along the strong column of his throat. His scent surrounds me, a comfort and an aphrodisiac. I love the way he smells, feels.

Both hands cup my butt now. His finger brushes against the entrance to my ass, and I hiss. Sensation, dark and forbidden, skitters through me at the touch.

Our eyes meet. Because Drew is paying attention to my every move, and because I am watching him, I see the understanding and the heated knowledge dawn in his eyes.

Slowly, deliberately, he strokes the spot again, an exploration that circles the area. And again, my insides tighten. It feels illicit, this touch, and despite my pounding heart, or maybe because of it, I push back against his finger. Just enough. His throat works on a swallow, his skin prickling. Within me, his c**k swells.

Holding my gaze, and moving slow enough for me to stop him, Drew reaches over to the bedside table. I don’t look at what he’s doing. Part of me knows, and I go both hot and cold. Anticipation has my heart leaping within my chest and my throat going dry. We’ve both gone so still and tense, I feel his c**k pulsing inside of me. Our mingled pants sound overloud in the silence. And then I see the gleam of his fingers now coated in olive oil.

The first touch is a slow, insistent push. I swallow hard, my cl*t throbbing and my entire lower half clenching. God.

The thick tip of his finger breeches the tight ring of my ass. I moan, my head falling forward. Oh God. What we’re doing is something new for me. Something I never trusted anyone to do. It’s personal, naughty, decadent. I want more.

Watching me with dark eyes, he sinks in further. My lids flutter, pleasure and a feeling of fullness overwhelming me. I’m so hot, so turned on, I can barely breathe. My chest is heaving now, my thighs shaking.

He shakes too, his heavily-lidded gaze never leaving mine, and I know he’s never done anything like this either. He pants like he’s run miles, sweat making his golden skin glisten.

With every thrust of his cock, his finger slides away, then pushes back in as his c**k retreats. In and out, a slow, inexorable rhythm of dual attack that gets me hotter. I’m so weak, I can only lie prone against his chest and take it as I shiver and sweat. Our lips brush, our breath shared. I kiss him, trusting my tongue in his mouth, f**king it just as he f**ks me. Drew groans. His h*ps slam into mine, harder, aggressive.

Another finger plunges into me, and I whimper. The invasion aches, a sore heaviness that I both want to escape and push into further. I feel it everywhere, running up against my skin, licking down the valley of my spine. I’m going to melt right here, dissolve and sink into his flesh.

His next thrust wracks my body. My br**sts slide over his slick chest. He wiggles his fingers. And I lose all sense of myself as I begin to come on a long, keening wail. I arch back, my hands braced on his shoulders.

But he doesn’t stop tormenting me. He pushes deeper. The orgasm ratchets higher with each hitch of my breath. Frantically, I rock my hips, needing the friction. “Oh shi—Oh, shi—”