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I admire the long, lean body stretched out on my mattress. He’s wearing cargo pants and a black sweatshirt. The latter doesn’t stay on for long—he peels the shirt off and tosses it on the floor, then settles back down. The T-shirt he’s left with is so thin it looks like it’s been washed a thousand times. There’s a hole near the hem, and the logo is almost completely faded away. I can barely make out the words Gloucester Lions.

“Is that your high school team?” I ask, while trying not to focus on how the thin material clings to the most impressive chest I’ve ever seen. And I’m constantly surrounded by ripped dudes, so that says a lot.

Connelly’s body is amazing. Period.

The crooked grin he gives me sends a shiver up my spine. “Yup, we were the Lions.” He picks up my closed laptop and puts it on the nightstand, then pats the empty space. “Come here.”


“Why not?”

“Because if I go there, we’re going to fool around, and my dad might hear.” I immediately feel like a total loser for saying those words. It’s like I’m fifteen years old again, sneaking Eric into my room.

But I snuck him in often, I remind myself. And in all that time, we didn’t get caught, not even once.

The reminder of my previous stealth is what propels me to join Jake on the bed. I settle beside him in a cross-legged position. He takes my hand, his thumb rubbing the inside of my palm in lazy circles.

“Why are you here?” I find myself blurting. “You didn’t come all this way to talk about the whipped-cream incident, did you?” A thought suddenly strikes me. “How did you know where I live?”

“I came because I wanted to see you,” he says simply. “And how did I know where you live…I’m gonna take the Fifth on that one.”

“Oh my God. Please don’t tell me you hacked into my school records or my phone or something.”

“Nothing that nefarious.”

“Then how?”

He shrugs sheepishly.


“Fine. Freshman year we played Briar and got our asses kicked. Your dad was an asshole to Pedersen after the game, and, well, we loved our coach and wanted to avenge him, so…”

“So, what?” I demand.

“So we drove back to Hastings later that night and toilet-papered your house,” he mumbles.

I gasp. “That was you? I remember that! Dad was livid.”

“That was us. In my defense, I was eighteen and kind of a moron.”

“Not much has changed,” I offer sweetly

He laces his fingers through mine and squeezes. Hard.

“Ouch,” I complain.

“That didn’t hurt.”

“Yes it did.”

“No it didn’t.” He pauses. “Did it?”

“No,” I admit.

“Brat.” Jake brings my hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles.

I gaze down at him, trying to make sense of this guy. He constantly shows me new sides of himself. It’s unnerving. “I can’t believe how touchy you are.”

“Touchy as in testy, or touchy as in I like to touch you?”

“The latter. I honestly didn’t expect you to be so cuddly.” I purse my lips. “I don’t think I like it.”

“We already talked about this, babe. You love it.”

“Stop telling me what I love. I don’t like that.”

“Sure you do.”

I groan in exasperation. But I can’t deny that his silly humor amuses me. I trace the Gloucester Lions logo with the tip of my finger. “Did you play any other sports in high school?”

“No. Only hockey. What about you?”

“I played volleyball, but I never really took it seriously. And I certainly wasn’t good enough to land a scholarship and play on a college team. I didn’t even get into college.”

Jake looks startled. “For real?”

“My grades weren’t the best.” A flush rises in my cheeks. “I did two years of community college until I was able to transfer to Briar.”

“So you really were a bad girl,” he muses.

“Yes,” I admit.

“I like bad girls.” He captures a chunk of my hair and threads it around his finger. “Did you grow up around here?”

I shake my head. “I grew up in Westlynn. It’s a small town in New Hampshire. And I went to school there even after Dad got his job at Briar. My friends were there. My cousins.”

My boyfriend. I leave that part out. Bringing up Eric is never a good idea. I already know for a fact it kills the mood.

“I didn’t have the best judgment in high school,” I admit. “And Dad never let me forget it. It’s one of the reasons I moved out as soon as I could.” A million more questions flash in Jake’s eyes, so I change the subject before he can ask any of them. “Gloucester is a fishing town, isn’t it?”


“Does your family own a boat?”

“My granddad does.” Jake carelessly plays with my hair. It seems a part of him always needs to be in motion, whether it’s toying with the ends of my hair, or stroking my knee with his knuckles. “My dad works in construction, but Pops worked on a boat his entire life. I work with him in the summers, actually.”

“Really? Doing what?”

“Clam diving.”

“Come on, Jake. Gross.”

“I’m serious!” He grins. “I dive for clams in the summer. Pops and I are a two-man dive operation. Clamming is a lucrative business, actually. I make enough money in one summer to pay my expenses for the whole year.”

My lips twitch wildly as I attempt not to laugh. “You’re a clam diver.”

“Yup.” He drags his tongue over his bottom lip in a lewd manner. “Turns you on, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t know what it does to me, but I’m pretty sure turned on is not what I’m feeling right now.”

“Mmm-hmmm. Sure.”

“Do you get along with your granddad?”

“Oh yeah, he’s a tough old fucker. Love that guy.”

“And your dad?”

“Also a tough fucker. We get along, for the most part.” Jake’s hand snakes underneath my shirt again. “Anyway, how about we don’t talk about our parents anymore?”

His fingers are no longer cold. Now they’re warm and dry and feel like heaven skimming over my bare skin.

“Wanna make out?” He lifts a brow.

“Maybe.” My heart beats faster as I dip my head to kiss him. The moment we make contact, ribbons of heat uncurl inside me.

To me, a kiss is the most intimate act there is. More intimate than oral sex and penetration. Sure, it’s the simple act of mouths touching, tongues dancing. But a kiss, at its very core, is an emotional experience. Or at least it is for me. Anyone can give me an orgasm, but not everyone can touch my soul. One kiss can make me fall in love with someone. I know it, because it happened once before. And that’s why kissing scares me sometimes.

“I fucking love kissing you,” Jake whispers, and I wonder if he somehow read my mind.

His lips are hot against mine as he gently nudges me backward. I part my legs and he nestles his powerful body in the cradle of my thighs, kissing me over and over and over again.

Arousal builds in my belly. Throbs in my clit. I tear my mouth away and meet his lust-glazed eyes. “I didn’t get to play last time,” I tell him. “You got to have all the fun.”

His answering smile is smug. “You’re the only one who came. I’m pretty sure that means you had all the fun.”

“But I didn’t get to torture you.” I rise on one elbow and give his chest a firm shove, forcing him onto his back. Once he’s at my mercy, I inch up the hem of his T-shirt to expose the hard ridges of his abdomen.

My heart races as I stare down at him. His muscles are perfectly defined, and he’s got that drool-worthy man “V” that disappears into his waistband. I bring my lips to the center of his chest, and a shudder rolls through his broad frame. He tastes like citrusy soap and a hint of salt. It’s delicious. I lick my way up his chest, pulling his shirt up as I go, revealing more and more skin. I reach a nipple and give it a soft bite.

Jake groans.

“Quiet,” I whisper before flicking my tongue over the flat brown disc.

“Sorry. I forgot.”

I tease his other nipple, then kiss my way to the strong column of his throat. The material of his shirt is bunched up there, but I don’t remove the shirt because I’m still entirely aware that my dad is downstairs watching TV. I nuzzle his neck, my fingers stroking the stubble dotting his jaw.

He makes a husky sound of approval. I brush my lips over his, but the contact is fleeting. I’m busy admiring his gorgeous face.

Jake’s eyes flutter open. A dark, bottomless green. “You’re not kissing me anymore,” he mumbles. “Why aren’t you kissing me anymore?”

“Because I want to do something else. But I need you to remember to be quiet. Are you going to be quiet for me?”

His tongue darts out to moisten his top lip, then quickly swipes over the bottom one. “I’ll try.”

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