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“Your leg,” she protests against my seeking mouth.

“Is fine.” I nuzzle her lips then dip my tongue into her sweet mouth. She tastes faintly of mint toothpaste, but underneath is pure, delicious Anna. Kissing her plump, pouty mouth makes my head light. It spins when my erection rubs over a tickle of curls and slick desire. That she gets wet for me as easily as I grow hard for her is a high I’ll never get used to.

Gently I rock against her, sliding over the place where I long to be inside. My hands hitch up her shirt and stroke her silky skin. Her curves are soft and warm and giving beneath the hardness of my body. “Anna.” I kiss one corner of her mouth, then the other one. “I don’t deserve you.”

She clasps my cheeks, her thumbs brushing my jaw. “Probably not,” she says into another kiss. “I can be a pain in the ass.”

“Always with the jokes,” I whisper before I kiss her deeper and lift my h*ps enough for the head of my c**k to find her wet core. On a groan, I sink into her. So tight. So perfect.

A shivering heat licks down my spine. I go easy, making love to her with an adoration that has me trembling, sweating. Her hands caress my back, my ass, a gentle exploration as she makes little noises that sends lust burning through my veins. It is perfect. I feast on her soft mouth and slowly pump in and out of her welcoming body. Here and now, I am whole. Healed. If only it could last forever.

But nothing does. And it soon becomes apparent that although Anna’s responding to my touch, she isn’t into it the way she normally is. I start to feel the tension in her, the way she holds back. It reminds me of those early days when I’d try to move in for a kiss, and she’d evade me. My insides go cold and heavy, and I lift my head.

“What’s wrong?”

It’s too dark to fully see her expression, and I hate that. Hate the way she stiffens further. The way she pauses for a moment too long. When she speaks, it comes out stilted, off. “Nothing…Drew...” Her br**sts press against me as she takes a breath. “I’m just tired.”

A lump fills my throat. “You should have said so. You should have stopped me.”

Her eyes glimmer in the gray dark. The sadness in them has my chest clenching. “It isn’t as bad as all that,” she says, reaching up to touch my cheek. But I’ve seen enough. I try to ease off her, but it’s awkward, my chest crushing into hers, my bad leg tweaking and sending pain up to my hip and down to my toes. I bite back a curse, even as Anna tries to pull me back. It’s clumsy, but I evade.

“I don’t want a pity f**k,” I whisper, as I roll away and sit on the side of the bed.

Anna’s hand barely touches my back, as if she’d been reaching out to me, but then it’s gone, and her voice snaps like a whip through the dark. “And I don’t want to be accused of giving them.”

I’m not going to apologize. I’m done apologizing tonight. I run a hand through my hand and lift off of the bed. “Forget it.”

“Where are you going?”

“I can’t sleep.” I grab a discarded pair of shorts. I’ll put them on in the living room. Hell if I’ll bobble around in here, trying to dress. “Go back to sleep.”

“Drew—”

“Please, Anna.” My voice is broken, desperate. “I can’t do this anymore tonight.” I don’t wait for her response, but flee to the safety of the other room where it’s quiet and free from any expectations. For the first time since I met Anna, I wonder if it would be better if I handled this alone.

Chapter 36

SOMETHING HAS TO give. Drew is hurting inside, and I can’t help him. Nor can I just sit back and ignore it any longer. The tension it creates is an ever-inflating balloon, growing tight and swollen. I’m so afraid of the inevitable burst that I don’t dare to touch it. But the only thing avoidance has ever brought me is grief.

Lying in bed, I watch the morning light sneak in through a crack in the curtain to stretch its pale fingers across the ceiling. My heart is a stone weight in my chest. I need to tell him how I feel. It isn’t going to be pretty. Drew’s pride is a powerful thing. And much more sensitive than I ever gave it credit.

A crash from out in the living room has me sitting up quickly. I toss on a robe and run out.

Drew is crouched over a broken glass. Bending at an awkward angle, he attempts to sweep up the pieces.

“Here,” I say, coming forward, “let me.”

“I can do it.” His tone is short as he shoos me away.

I stand back, watching as he clears up the mess. Storm clouds brew over his expression. And when I pick up a stray sliver of glass with a napkin, the storm breaks.

“Jesus,” he snaps, “I said I could do it. Would you quit hovering over me like a bee?”

Stung, I fight to keep my expression neutral as I throw out the glass. “You missed one, and I saw it. That isn’t hovering.”

“Oh no?” His dark brows rise with incredulity. “So you haven’t been walking around on eggshells with me this whole time?”

Pausing, I take a breath. Calm. I need calm. “If I’ve had to walk around on eggshells it’s because you’ve been spoiling for a fight.”

A mulish set lifts his chin, and he doesn’t meet my eyes. “Maybe you’ve been waiting for me to snap.”

“Maybe I have.”

He flinches at that, his gaze darting to mine.

I don’t look away. “Maybe I’m looking for the Drew I fell in love with. Because, if you ask me, he’s gone into hiding.”

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