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Shit. “Once. A long time ago.”

Her face fell.

“Hey…” I reached for her hand and brought it to my lips. “I’d be happy if you stayed tonight and waited for me.”

She chewed on her lip, as if deciding.

The truth was, I trusted myself completely around Rachel. We’d had sex once, two years ago, shortly after she began working here. And despite her constant flirting with me, I saw it strictly as a one-time thing. If McKenna was willing to hang out here all night, I wouldn’t deny myself the chance to be near her.

“Do you want me to order you some food? We have a full kitchen.”

“Sure. What’s good here?” She leaned toward me, settling in.

Just after one in the morning, Rachel told me to go ahead and punch out. The crowd had died down, but mostly I think she’d grown tired of watching me and McKenna steal glances at each other all night. Normally I’d feel bad leaving a coworker with all the end-of-shift cleaning, but I was itching to be alone with McKenna again.

I punched out in back and washed up before meeting McKenna. She slid off her stool and stretched. “Now what?”

I wanted to get her alone in my bedroom again, but I knew I needed to reel myself in before I pushed her too far. “Whatever you like.”

“Can we just go back to your place?”

“The guys will be sleeping.” I needed her to understand what she was asking me for. We’d be alone with nothing to distract me and no one to protect her.

She lifted up on her toes and leaned in until her lips brushed my ear. “I’ll be quiet.”

Blood raged south to my groin, making me instantly hard. “Come on.”

Chapter Sixteen


With my heart slamming into my ribs, I climbed the stairs to Knox’s room, thinking about the first time I’d come here. Just like I could feel his gaze on me then, I could feel it now. Only this time, I knew what his hands felt like on my skin, what his hot mouth felt like moving against mine.

When I reached his bedroom, I wanted to be brave, to show him what I wanted, since I knew I wouldn’t have the guts to tell him how I felt. Instead, I stopped awkwardly in the center of the room and stared at the big bed.

From behind me, Knox’s warm hand came to rest on my shoulder. The heat from his body licked mine, warming me from head to toe. “Relax,” he breathed behind my ear.

As if on command, my body instantly relaxed. This was Knox. He might have his issues, but he’d never hurt me. I opened my mouth to tell him I was fine, but let out a huge yawn instead. Oops. It seemed my body suddenly remembered the late hour.

“You’re tired.” Knox chuckled, coming around to face me.

I nodded. “I’m sleepy.”

“Go lay down on my bed. I’m going to take a quick shower.”

I obeyed, toeing off my shoes and padding across the room in my socks to crawl into his big bed. I pulled the covers around me and snuggled against his pillow. Mmm. That scent I’d come to love—sandalwood, leather, and male deliciousness—greeted me.

Sometime later, Knox crawled into bed beside me and I opened my eyes to watch him in the pale moonlight position himself on the pillow. He met my gaze and grinned. “Did I wake you?”

I nodded. “I dozed off waiting for you.”

“It’s okay. You can rest, sleepy girl. You’re safe.”

I did feel safe with him. Even the other night, things had only gone as far as I’d wanted them to. In fact, Knox had been somewhat reluctant, leaving me in the shower alone and dressing in the other room. Not that I’d had to convince him too much. His body had responded to the intensity between us just like mine had. His erection had been impossible not to notice. I hadn’t been brave enough to touch him, even though I’d wanted to. In fact, it was all I’d thought about while lying in bed this week.

Knox was still watching me. He hadn’t yet touched me, but he didn’t have to. I could feel the heat from his body as his hot breath warmed a path across my skin. I nestled myself closer and he opened his arms for me, embracing me securely against his body.



Losing my courage, I shrugged. “I’m not tired anymore.” I wanted to ask him about his recovery, if he’d been abstaining from sex, but I knew I wasn’t brave enough to hear the answer.

“What do you want?” He groaned, breathless.

Part of me couldn’t believe I’d found myself in his bed again, tempting him. I shouldn’t be here, even if it was exactly where I wanted to be. I didn’t even know where he stood with his recovery. He kept that information closely guarded.

“Never mind. Maybe we should just sleep,” I said, even though it was the last thing I wanted.

“You see, there’s this girl who’s making it a little hard at the moment.”

When he emphasized the word hard, I giggled. “Knox?” I asked again.


I took a deep breath, drawing my courage. “How have you been doing with your addiction?”

He paused for several seconds, a long, awkward silence hanging between us. “I’ve cut back.”

My stomach tightened into a knot. “Why don’t you just stop?”

“Where’s the fun in that?” he teased, poking me in the ribs underneath the covers.

“Recovering from an addiction isn’t supposed to be fun.” I arranged the blankets around me, feeling the sudden need to create a barrier between us.


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