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Oh my God. He was not asking me this. How the hell would I know, with my utter lack of experience?

Knox had entered the room after putting Tucker to bed and he glanced over at us briefly, acting disinterested, but I could see the tension in his jaw as he plopped into the armchair and pretended not to listen.

My heartbeat ticked in my throat and I fought to maintain slow, even breaths. When I looked up again, I found Knox’s eyes locked on mine, looking straight into my soul. I met Luke’s gaze again, who was still waiting for an answer.

I gave him a little nod, as if I answered this type of question all the time. “For a girl, her first time is really important. Probably more so than a guy’s.” My voice was a little shaky and I cleared my throat, starting again. “It’s important to make sure she’s really ready and not just going along with it or feeling pressured.”

Luke nodded, hanging on my every word. I didn’t want to encourage him to have sex, but I also didn’t want to counsel him too harshly and pretend this type of stuff didn’t happen. He was a junior in high school, and many boys and girls his age were already sexually active. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to that fact. Just because I wasn’t getting any, didn’t mean that other people weren’t.

“Yeah, I get that,” he said. “It’s just, it’s a lot of pressure on the guy to make it perfect, ya know?”

I smiled at him. It was sweet that he was worried about making it good for the girl. “No one’s first time is perfect. Take your time, make sure you’re both enjoying yourselves, and have fun. That’s the best advice I can give you.” It was the only advice I could give him, considering my own first time was over before it even started. I was a twenty-one-year-old virgin. A fact I wasn’t necessarily proud of. Sometimes I felt like a freak.

“Okay, that makes sense.” The crease in his forehead disappeared.

“Just be yourself, Luke. You’re thoughtful and sweet. Oh, and make sure you have protection. And wear it.”

“Yes, ma’am.” His cheeks reddened slightly. “They give out condoms in health class.”

I nodded. Curious, I wanted to ask him who the special girl was, but I thought more questions might make this conversation awkward and I didn’t want to pry. “You can always ask me anything, I want you to know that.” I smiled at him and patted his knee, all the while mentally cursing myself for implying I’d be around more, when the truth was I had no idea.

“So you know a lot about this sex stuff, huh?”

“Professionally speaking, I suppose so, but I’m not discussing my private life with you.”

Luke’s face broke into a wide smile. “That’s okay, I don’t wanna hear about my brother’s sex life. Nasty.”

“Your brother and I aren’t—”

“I know.” He smiled. “He likes you, I can tell.” His eyes flashed on mine before he hopped up from the couch and retreated down the hallway.

What did that mean? Knox wasn’t sleeping with me because he liked me? His logic seemed backward, but instead of trying to solve the puzzle in my head, I lifted my gaze to meet Knox’s caramel-colored eyes, which was a big mistake.

I suppressed a hot shudder at the intensity I saw reflected back at me.

Knox

Fuck me. Listening to McKenna describe her perfect first time was a special kind of torture. My dick rose to attention, hanging on her every word.

She wanted a lover who took his time, and made sure she was enjoying herself? Sign me up. I’d gladly take the job, right f**king now. I wondered if she had enjoyed her first time. Given the chance, I would make sure she came and called out for more.

Even hotter than imagining myself in McKenna’s little sex fantasy was watching the way she navigated a tough conversation with ease. I could tell she already cared about my brothers, and that did insane things to me. I had no clue whose virginity Luke was planning to take and honestly I didn’t really care as long as he wrapped it up.

But listening to McKenna’s advice, knowing she created a bond—a trust—with him to get him to open up, was pretty f**king cool. These kids didn’t have a female role model in their lives. I was the closest thing they had to a mom or a dad¸ and I often did a shitty job of it. Especially with feelings and emotions. So it made me breathe a little easier knowing that they could rely on McKenna to fill that void. Even if it was just for now.

When Luke took off for his room, her eyes lifted to mine and I was overcome by a tight feeling in my chest as I watched her. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her breathing came in shallow little gasps. She was nervous and I had no idea why.

“I hope that was okay,” she said hesitantly. “What I said to Luke. I don’t want to overstep my bounds.”

I got up from the chair and crossed the room to stand before her. Since it put my groin at her eye level, I was thankful my erection had faded. Even though things were purely platonic between us, there was a certain awareness we seemed to share when in each other’s proximity. It grew stronger each time I saw her, and watching her now, seeing how her body responded when I was near, I couldn’t help but believe she felt the same. We couldn’t keep avoiding this chemistry between us forever.

Looking down at her, I couldn’t stop myself from touching her, so I reached down and stroked my thumb along her cheek. Her skin felt incredibly soft, making me wonder if my skin, in contrast, felt rough and calloused to her.

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