Page 37

“Who says I have an addiction? Maybe I just hang out with you on Saturday mornings because I want to.”

“Your counselor, that’s me, says you do, and I bet your brothers too if we asked them.”

“McKenna…”

His tone held a warning, but I pressed on. “What, Knox?”

“I do what I need to do. Are you offering up your services?”

My breathing pattern changed. It was like my body forgot the simple process of drawing in air and releasing it back out. “I’m serious. I’m here, Knox. I believe in you, but…”

I swallowed down a lump in my throat. I couldn’t take it to know he was still the same man he was before we met. I’d shared pieces of myself with him, made myself completely vulnerable, and I needed to know he was meeting me halfway.

“Listen, I’m not saying I’m a hundred percent, or that I’ll never slip up, but I have been trying, McKenna.”

My heart crashed violently against my ribs. It wasn’t a promise, it wasn’t any sort of guarantee, but nothing with him ever would be. I had to decide if I could accept that. My head said no, but my lonely heart was willing to try. I rolled closer, needing to feel the shelter his warm body provided.

Knox was trying. It might not be much, but knowing I’d inspired change in him meant everything. It meant maybe I was doing something right, that my hard work was beginning to pay off. As I lay there with him, warm and secure, I never wanted this moment to end. The vulnerability he showed me, his belief that things would turn out okay, it was all so fragile, but it was all I had.

Wrapping his arm around my middle to snuggle me in closer, his big palm came to a rest on my exposed hip, sending a tiny thrill zipping through me. My entire body buzzed with awareness. I wanted to pretend he was mine, that this was all normal—me and him alone in his bed. I wanted to touch him. We were so close, I could feel the heat from his skin and smell his scent—a combination of body wash and a slight hint of mint toothpaste. The urge to nuzzle into his neck and feel the stubble from his jaw scrape my skin rose up inside me. Instead I remained rooted in place, my breathing growing shallow and rapid as desire for him raced through my system.

I would never be able to sleep in this state. My heart slammed against my ribs, nearly knocking the breath from my lungs. “There’s something I want to try.”

“What’s that?” he asked, his voice strained.

“Do you think I could…touch you?”

He swallowed heavily, his Adam’s apple moving in the dim light. “You want to touch me?”

I knew this was hard for him—being physical without having sex—but maybe it was good for him too. Like stretching before a workout, he had to develop these muscles if he wanted to grow stronger, if he wanted to heal.

“Would that be bad?” I bit my lip, sort of liking the idea of being naughty after being good for so long. I wanted to feel his warmth, to make sure what I felt blooming inside me was real. That he was real.

“I’m pretty sure that would be really bad. One touch from you and I’d probably embarrass myself.”

I pouted, though I was almost positive he couldn’t see my expression. “What do you mean?”

He drew a breath and released it slowly through clenched teeth. “You have no idea how badly I want you. You’re beautiful, smart, talented, kind, and good to your very core. Touching me will only taint you, as bad as I might want it.”

He wouldn’t decide this for me. Knox was a good man, despite his history. I placed my palm flat on his bare abs and felt him tense. “Will you show me?”

“Show you?”

“What you like,” I said, recovering. I didn’t want him to know how inexperienced I really was.

“Fuck,” he bit out. “McKenna, we shouldn’t do this.”

My hand curled into a fist, retracting away from him. “Do you not want to?”

He cursed again. “Trust me, that’s not it. You get my dick so hard, but it’s more than that. You’re more than that.”

My heart soared. Hearing him acknowledge that I was something special to him did strange things to me. And the fact that I turned him on despite my lack of knowledge…it made my heart pound like a drum and my panties grow damp.

Uncurling my fingers, I flattened my palm against his stomach and again felt his jerky inhale. I let my hand begin to trail south. A dusting of fine hairs tickled my palm as I lightly caressed him. When I reached the waistband of his boxer briefs, Knox sucked in a breath and held it. Not yet brave enough to feel him skin to skin, I brushed my hand against his erection and warmth flooded my panties.

I rubbed the length of his manhood as my heart thundered in my chest. My confidence growing, I rubbed him up and down, feeling bold and powerful. He felt thick and long, and I wanted to see him.

“Kenna…” He groaned, sending a little rush of tingles skittering out over my skin.

As my endorphins kicked in, my inexperience no longer mattered. I felt alive, and I wanted this—to touch this beautiful, broken man, to be part of making him whole again.

My fingers edged into the waistband of his boxers and Knox lifted his hips slightly off the mattress, allowing me to pull them down and free his heavy cock.

Under the faintest glow of moonlight, I admired his body—his strength, masculinity, and the tender way he was watching me. He was making himself vulnerable to me, letting me take control and do things at my own pace. The emotional weight of the moment left me breathless. But then my gaze lowered and my breath caught in my throat. He was huge.

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