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Noticing the way her arms were curled around her middle, I cranked the heat to high. “Are you warm enough?”

She nodded. “I’m fine.”

Damn it. I was being a prick. I took a deep breath, fighting to calm my raging emotions. “Hey…” My tone softened and I reached for her hand. “I’m sorry.”

Gazing out at the headlights of the oncoming traffic and the snowflakes floating in the night sky, I knew this wasn’t her fault. Her intentions were pure, as always. And she had no way of knowing that one of my hot buttons was when people assumed I couldn’t take care of the boys. It had happened numerous times over the years. I caught suspicious glares or outright accusations about how I could afford to provide for them from teachers, guidance counselors, and even my own lawyer at the custody hearing. McKenna had touched on a sore spot for me, but her involvement wasn’t like the others. She wanted to help, plain and simple. And I’d all but jumped down her throat. Not that it changed my stance any, but I knew I’d overreacted.

McKenna watched the traffic pass, looking deep in thought. “It’s okay. It wasn’t my place.”

I didn’t say anything further, I just laced her fingers between mine and squeezed her hand in the darkness. “You’re always thinking of others. I just want to see you take care of yourself with that money.”

She nodded. “I know. I will, I promise.”

“And I think your first priority should be buying yourself a car. I don’t like you taking the city bus.”

She nodded again. “I know. I’ve thought about that, too.”

I released a deep exhale. Good. We were getting somewhere. I knew I shouldn’t have freaked out earlier and ruined the entire night. But she was still here and she was holding my hand, so maybe it wasn’t completely ruined.

“I thought you’d say the first priority was me moving out of my place with Brian and getting my own apartment.”

Shaking my head, I glanced over at her. “No. Contrary to what you might think, I like you living with him, with someone there to protect you in case of a break-in. I wouldn’t want you moving out until you’re ready to move in with me.”

Glancing her way, I checked for her reaction. McKenna’s mouth dropped open and she stared blankly straight ahead. I might not have said the L-word yet, but judging by her reaction, that clued her in to how I felt. She wasn’t just some random hookup to me. But something told me McKenna needed to hear that in words, and not just through my actions.

I parked in front of her building and brought her hand to my lips, pressing a tender kiss there before releasing it.

Chapter Four

McKenna

“Do you want to come inside?” I asked Knox as we sat in silence outside my apartment building. I might as well take advantage of the fact that Brian was out of town and I still had the apartment to myself. Plus, before our argument over money, Knox had said that tonight’s date was supposed to be just us, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

Wordlessly, Knox turned off the ignition and his dark gaze met mine, causing a warm shiver to rake across my skin. “Brian still gone?”

I nodded. He was thinking the same thing I was—that with Brian out of town, this was one of the rare times we’d have true privacy from the boys. Delicious anticipation raced through my veins.

Knox was out of the Jeep and opening my door within seconds, causing my lips to curl up in a grin. He was every bit as eager for this reunion as I was. We still hadn’t talked about the elephant in the room—our relationship—but I was trying to give him the time he needed. I’d told him I loved him, and weeks later he’d scrawled the same message to me on the frosty pane of his window. Hearing him say those words to me was what I craved, what I needed, but I was going to be patient with him. For now.

His arm curled protectively around my middle as we trekked up the two flights of stairs to my unit. Feeling his big, warm hand at my rib cage shouldn’t have caused such a thrill to course through me, but it did. I was addicted to his touch more than was even remotely normal. I’d lived twenty-one years without the touch of a man, and yet right from the beginning I’d been hungry for his. My time away had only made this need inside me more acute. And Knox’s thrumming pulse and barely there restraint told me he felt it, too.

My shaking hands fumbled to get the key in the lock, but once I did and the door pushed open, Knox towed me inside, slammed it closed behind us, and pressed my back against the door. The air whooshed from my lungs as my back hit the door and his solid body closed in on me. His eyes flashed on mine, dark and hungry, seconds before his eager mouth found mine.

A startled gasp escaped my throat as my body struggled to comprehend where the mild-mannered Knox of earlier had gone. He kissed me deeply, his tongue taking command of mine, his firm body pressing me harder into the door. My hips pushed back against his, seeking friction between us.

His fist twisted in my hair, angling my mouth to his as his tongue hypnotically stroked mine. Molten heat dampened my panties, my body every bit on board with where this was headed. His thigh wedged between my legs, pressing the seam of my jeans against my clit, and I let out a ragged groan, remembering our first erotic encounter began this same way. There was something naughty and taboo about being in the entryway to my apartment, as if we couldn’t be bothered to take the three seconds it took to get to the bedroom.

Before I had time to process what was happening, Knox’s hands were under my butt, lifting me up and spreading my thighs wide. I secured my legs around his waist so my core was positioned against his firm cock. A gush of moisture caused me to clench my legs, and I tilted my head back, exposing my throat to his exploring kisses and grazing bites.

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