I like it too. More than I should. I like him. “You realize I can use the same argument? Seeing as you’ve made the state of my ass a question of personal preference rather than a discussion of empirical facts.”

He chuckles, the laugh muffled by his lips pressed to my skin.

“And, anyway,” I add just a bit strangled, “you’re cheating.”

“How?” But he sounds like he knows perfectly well how. He just doesn’t care.

“You attack only after putting me in this weakened condition.”

I’m proven correct when he grins. “I’m a competitor. What did you expect?”

“Not your face in my butt,” I mutter. But his attention and care feel so damn good that I don’t want it to end. Ever. I want to lie here and let him do what he wants to me until I can’t remember my name. Or his. So of course, idiot that I am, I tense up further.

“Relax, Jones,” he whispers, his fingers lightly tickling me as they drift along. “You can handle it.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re not having your ass inspected at close range.”

Another chuckle rumbles. “You can inspect my ass. I won’t mind.”

“Baylor…” I warn.

“Jones…” he mocks. And then his tongue licks the curve of my butt cheek.

A pathetic whimper escapes me, and my head hits the mattress. But he simply laughs in that husky, satisfied way again. “If you can’t handle it, call this a boon,” he suggests before giving me a small nip.

“A boon?” It comes out way too close to a squeak.

“Yeah.” His breath is warm. “Like a reward for hauling my ass out here in the pouring rain for a booty call.”

“Oh, I see.” My breath hitches as he hits a sensitive spot. “So it’s a chore now?”

“Never said that.” He nuzzles, f**king nuzzles, my butt. “I said you could call it that if it makes you feel better. Me? I’d be here every day if you’d let me.”

I’m not going to get into that. But I can’t help but smile against my forearm. “And what boon do I get the next time you’re the one to call?”

He gives me another soft kiss. “Anything.”

The quick, yet steady way he answers sends a little thrill through me. He might have backpedaled or given me conditions, but instead it’s a promise more than an answer. I press my lips harder into the flesh of my arm. “Careful, Baylor, you might regret that.”

He makes a humming noise. Content. Amused. “Possibly. But something tells me I’ll enjoy it too.” Lightly, he traces his fingertips over my hips, raising gooseflesh in his wake.

“What if it’s an hour-long foot rub?”

“Maybe I have a secret foot fetish.” I know he’s smiling. I can feel it along my skin. “Maybe I get off on foot rubs.”

I laugh just a bit. “If you think that’s going to scare me, you’re wrong.” He probably gives great foot rubs. Strong fingers. Intense concentration. I’m tempted to beg for one now.

“Damn.” His sigh tickles my back. “Then what?” Another kiss. “Come on, hit me with it.”

I tilt my head and snuggle down into the cradle of my arms. “Maybe I’ll have you edit my class paper.”

He goes so still, I can hear my own heartbeat, and then he rests his cheek on my butt. I want to squirm but he slips his arms under me and holds tight.

“Edit it?” His voice is a vibration through my skin.

Absently I nod. “Mmm. You know, point out all the flaws of logic like you do in class. Which I hate to admit, you’re right more than you’re wrong. Not surprising, smart as you are.”

I’m basically babbling, but his hold on me clenches, and he takes a sharp breath.

The sheets rustle when I crane my neck to look down at him. From my vantage point I can only see his profile from above, the gold streaks in his hair at the crown of his head and the darker brown along his temples, the high bridge of his nose, and the thick curve of his lashes against his cheeks. With his head resting on my ass, his body is half off the bed, he’s so damn long. Lean yet strong, muscular yet graceful. I could look at him forever. And his shoulders are so tight now that every sinew and curve stands out.

“You don’t think you’re smart?” My voice is a rasp in the quiet.

His answer is just as rough, but there’s a hint of bitter laughter in it. “Oh, I know I’m smart.” He glances up, and when our eyes meet, that familiar, sweet punch hits me straight in the heart. His eyes are dark and shining in the low light. “It’s just that, outside of my team, not many people give a shit if I am or not.”

No, most care about that arm of his. The one now wrapped around my waist, giving me a little squeeze as if he needs to bring me closer. Or his hand, which is tenderly pressed into my lower belly, so warm and secure that contentment spreads over me.

I want to keep this moment. Keep this part of him, like a secret. But he’s not mine to keep, and even though it might hurt him that people only see his surface, he still loves that life. And why shouldn’t he? His talent is immense, and he works his ass off. I don’t want to change that. It would change him.

Watching me, his expression turns pinched and pained. “I caught one of my professors grading a test in my favor.” He almost chokes on the words, as if it’s killing him to admit this to me. “I don’t know how many times it’s happened without my knowledge, or if they’ve all done things like that.”

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