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“You jackass.”

“What?” He froze. “What did I say?”

She shook her head.

“You can’t say shit like that when my condoms are all so far away in my bedroom. Because now I want you to fuck me right this second.”

He jumped into a runner’s stance.

“Where are they? I can run fast. Especially when I’m motivated.”

“Top drawer of the nightstand. Go.”

She relaxed back on the couch and laughed as he raced to her bedroom. She could feel the shit-eating grin on her face. Ahhhhh, that butt in motion was fantastic.

He was back in less than thirty seconds, true to his boasting. He dropped his boxer briefs to the floor and ripped open the condom packet. Thank God enough lights were on in her living room so she could see he really was as big as she’d thought he was. Sometimes touch could be deceiving, especially with layers of clothes in between, but boy was this not one of those times.

He was back on the couch and on top of her as soon as he’d rolled the condom on. She wrapped one leg around him to bring him in closer, and he groaned in her ear and moved faster. So she did it with the other leg and he bit down on her shoulder.

He took her hands and moved them to the arm of the couch behind her.

“Hold on.”

She obeyed him and was glad she did. She held on for dear life and met him thrust for thrust as he pounded into her, faster and faster, until he finally roared and collapsed against her.

He lifted himself up a little while later and kissed her cheek.

“I’m never going to make fun of rosé again if that’s the result.” He stood up and went over to the kitchen to throw out the condom. “Pink wine, man. Who would have thought?”

She laughed and curled up in the corner of the couch.

“There’s more in the fridge.” She pulled the blanket that hung on the back of the couch over herself.

He opened the fridge and took out the bottle.

“Look, lady. Some of us need a little bit of a break before we have more rosé, okay? Let a man breathe for a minute.”

Oh, she would let him breathe as long as he wanted if he did it with that grin on his face and that swagger in his walk.

“I’m just glad I introduced you to the glory that is rosé, that’s all. You take your time. I don’t want to rush you.”

He topped up both of their glasses and carefully pushed the coffee table back to its normal spot before getting under the blanket with her.

“You know what would look great on that table?” he asked her, nodding at her coffee table.

“What?” She stared at the table, trying to figure out what he meant. It was just a chestnut wood coffee table, nothing fancy, but the perfect height for propping her feet up to watch TV. What did he think would look good on it, coasters or coffee table books or something?

“A large pizza. With everything. That much rosé makes me hungry.”

She shook her head.

“Not everything. No blue cheese or olives. Everything other than that.”

He reached down to the floor for his pants and pulled his phone out of the pocket.

“I can live with that. Large pizza with almost everything coming up.”

He called some pizza place she’d never heard of and ordered a monstrosity of a pizza. As soon as he listed the toppings on the phone, her stomach rumbled. Apparently, that much . . . rosé . . . made her hungry, too. Well, that, and she hadn’t eaten since lunchtime.

* * *

• • •

“I’ve never ordered from this place before, but this sausage is great,” she said as she picked up her second piece. Carlos was already on his third.

“Look,” he said, when his mouth was no longer full. “You don’t know me that well yet, but one thing you should know is I’m very good at ordering food. I know you didn’t trust that this pizza was going to be good. I could see it in your eyes when I ordered. I’m not even going to make you admit that you were wrong, because that’s the kind of guy I am. But that should be the last time you ever doubt me on food matters.”

She reached for her wineglass to wash down the delicious grease.

“Noted. Does that mean you’re a good cook, too?”

He shrugged, but that cocky grin was still on his face.

“I mean, yes, I’m a fantastic cook, but I try not to brag about it.” His grin widened and she laughed. “I don’t do enough cooking these days, though, what with work and everything else.”

“How did you learn to cook?” she asked.

He took another bite of pizza.

“Originally, from my mom. She taught both me and my sister all of her specialties, and then I taught myself how to cook other stuff. First, when I was a poor student, and then when I realized that cooking was meditative for me, a way to relax and take a break and be alone with my thoughts.”

He shook his head and was silent for a moment.

“In med school I used to make huge pots of chili for my roommates, and we would all eat it for a week. My buddy Drew and I met when we were in this fellowship together. It was so stressful and exhausting. We both happened to have the same day off one week, so I invited him over to eat enchiladas and watch the game. We were so tired that we both fell asleep on the couch after we ate and woke up just as the game was ending.” He laughed. “We’ve been friends ever since.”

She laughed, too. She and her friends had bonded over revenge; he and his friend had bonded over food and a nap. That sounded about right.

Speaking of sleep . . .

“Hey, what time is it?” she asked him.

He checked his phone, on the coffee table along with the now almost empty pizza box and wine.

“Ten thirty.” He put his wineglass down. “I hadn’t realized it was so late. I’d better be going.”

“Oh.” She put hers down, too. “Oh, okay. You probably have to get up early, I guess.”

He stopped halfway through standing up and sat back down.

“Didn’t you . . .” He paused for a few seconds, shrugged, and continued. “Just to be clear—do you want me to go? Because if you do, it’s no problem, but if not, I’m happy to stay.”

“No!” She shook her head and put her hand on his knee. “I mean, no, you don’t have to go. Sorry, that must have sounded like a hint, that’s not what I meant. I was just thinking it was about time we left the couch. We haven’t even made it into my bedroom yet, and we finished the bottle of rosé, so . . .”

He took her hands and pulled her up off of the couch with him.

“Lead the way.”

Chapter Ten

. . . . . . .

Nik woke up the next morning significantly later than she usually did. As a writer who worked from home, she generally had to keep herself on a pretty strict schedule or she would get nothing done. She almost always forced herself to keep to that schedule, even though everyone she knew—including Fisher—had made fun of her about how rigid she was about it.

But when you woke up in the wee hours of the morning because a big, warm, strong man was kissing you awake, and then you spent the next hour doing delicious things with him in your bed before he had to leave to get to work on time, it was only natural that you’d fall back asleep and not wake up until . . . holy shit, it was nine thirty.

She stretched luxuriously in her big empty bed and smiled at her rumpled sheets. She felt like the queen of the world. She liked this feeling.

She stumbled into the kitchen, naked and pleasantly sore. She’d forgotten to set up her coffee maker the night before—she had been a little distracted, okay?—so she tossed out yesterday’s coffee filter and turned her coffee grinder on. She hummed as she scooped coffee into the machine, measured out the water, and got her favorite coffee cup down from the cabinet. While the coffee brewed, she went back to her bedroom for her robe. Not that she minded being naked, but she’d left the windows open overnight, and the morning air was chilly.

Would she see Carlos again? He didn’t seem the type to sleep with her and then disappear, but you never knew with men. She hoped she’d see him again, though. The sex was fantastic, and he made her laugh. That was a pretty rare combination in her experience.

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