“Do you?” His brow arches up as he considers my words. “Well then, I think we can manage that.”

I smile, then lay my head back and close my eyes, losing myself to his touch as he gently trails his fingers over my flesh, the touch light and enticing and full of promise. He draws small circles on my abdomen, then trails down in spirals to my pubis. His fingers trace the triangle of trimmed hair, and I gasp from the sensual, almost ticklish touch of his fingertip along the juncture of groin and thigh.

He cheats a bit when he bends low and blows a thin stream of air directly on my clit, but the sensation is too incredible for me to complain about breaking rules, and I only arch up in a silent demand for more, which, thankfully, he understands.

The cool air on my hot clit is mind-blowing, and I spread my legs, wanting his mouth, his tongue.

“No,” he whispers. “I want to hear you say it.”

“Lick me,” I beg. “Go down on me. Please, Jackson, god, please.”

Thankfully, he doesn’t hesitate, and he takes my sex in his mouth, his tongue laving me, drawing me higher and higher with gentle flicks upon my clit. Thrusting his tongue into me with so much force, so much power, that I’m not sure I can stand it. But it’s not his tongue that I want, because all I desire in that moment is for him to fill me, wholly and completely.

“Jackson.” I close my fingers in his hair and tug his head up so that his eyes meet mine. “Kiss me,” I demand. “Fuck me.”

His slow smile sets my skin on fire, and he moves off the chaise to stand beside me. Slowly, he takes off his shirt, then peels off his slacks, his briefs. He stands there, naked and erect and with such longing on his face that I do not know how either of us will survive this night, because I am certain that when we come together the explosion will destroy us both.

“I don’t have a condom,” he says.

I reach for him. “I don’t care. I want you. And if you say it’s okay, then I believe you.”

“It’s okay,” he says, then moves on top of me. He starts low, his lips on my hip, then kisses his way up my body, stopping at my breast to lick and tug and tease so much that the sensation shoots through me, all the way to my clit, and I have to stop him for fear that I will come right then.

His cock is hard between my legs. I spread my thighs, wanting him to find my center, and when he does, I toss my head back and gasp. In that moment, he captures me with a kiss, then thrusts inside me.

My body captures him, draws him in, and as his tongue thrusts inside my mouth, his cock pounds into me, harder and harder as if every moment of the last five years is hidden in each thrust.

This isn’t like before. It’s not revenge sex. It’s not make-up sex.

It’s need and demand and lust and passion. It’s us. And it finally feels right.

His touch—our connection—sends me spiraling up faster than I wanted, and yet at the same time I have no desire to hold back. I want the explosion. I want him. I want everything that we have shared and will share.

I want the world, and with Jackson I do not think that is too much to ask.

And with that thought, I shatter, exploding like a billion pieces of colored glass as he slides against me, filling me, touching my core—and then, oh yes, finding his own release inside me.

He stays over me for a moment as the colors fall like stars around us. His arms tense as they support his weight above me. He watches me, his expression so tender that I wish once again I could cry, because it seems as if there is no other release for all the emotion I’m feeling.


It’s all he says. Just my name. But it holds a world of meaning. And when he lowers himself and I curl close to him, I draw in a sigh and know that, right then at least, I am content.

I do not know how long we lay there, naked on the chaise. I haven’t slept. Instead, I’ve simply felt Jackson’s touch as I look out at the moon reflecting on the Pacific’s waves in the distance, with the deep gray of the sky reaching down to touch the water. “I want a house,” I say, though I don’t know what made me think of it. “I want a rooftop patio and I want it in the hills. Somewhere with a lot of land, but a view of the ocean.”

“Already tired of your new place, and you haven’t even unpacked?”

I reach for the blanket and pull it up to ward off the nighttime chill. It is almost not necessary, though. Jackson is like a furnace, and his heat warms me as I curl against him, my cheek to his chest, so that I hear both his heartbeat and the reverberation of his voice when he speaks.

“I love this place,” I say. “But I want to see the stars. I want a velvet black sky. And I want to be able to hear the sound of the ocean’s waves breaking.” I start to mention that I hold Damien and Nikki’s Malibu house up as the gold standard, but decide that perhaps this isn’t the moment to bring my boss into the conversation.

Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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