“So,” I nip her upper lip, then her bottom one. “Now that we’ve established that you turn into raging beast without your morning coffee—”


“I wouldn’t say ‘raging beast’…” She pauses with a grin and a blush. “Okay, fine, I’m a raging beast.”

“A cute one, though.” I kiss her once. Twice. “So if you had your choice of coffee, what would it be?”

Her legs wrap around my hips, drawing me in as she explores my neck with soft lips. When she hits that spot, that damn spot that I feel down to my balls, I groan. Her smile imprints on my skin. “Espresso,” she murmurs, still busy with that spot. “Most mornings, though, I like lattes or a cappuccino.”

“I could be wrong,” I lift a section of her heavy curls and kiss behind her ear, “but I don’t think a simple coffeemaker would do the trick.”

“You’re right. You’d need a moka pot.”

“What the heck is that?” I kiss my way to her jaw.

Humor warms her voice when she answers. “It’s a pot for making espresso.” Anna pulls back with a slight frown. “Sadly, I can’t make it nearly as well as my mom. I really need one of those fancy espresso machines to achieve perfection. But I can’t afford that.”

“Well then,” I say, “let’s go get you some coffee.”

“We’re doing carry out,” Anna says against my shoulder. “I’m a freaking hair-catastrophe.”

“What? You’re crazy.”

“Drew,” she says in exasperation, “my hair looks as if I’ve been wind tunnel testing.”

I lean back to inspect her, and she crosses her arm over her chest, her chin lifting in defiance. Okay, so her hair is a bit wild, swarming around her delicate face in a dark red, angry cloud. But that only makes her look like she’s spent hours in my bed. I approve.

Wrapping my arms around her shoulders, I pull her in close, because, really, I can’t keep my hands or mouth off her. “You’re beautiful.”

I’m not surprised when Anna rolls her eyes. My prickly girl.

“Beautiful.” She says the word like it’s a disease. “Typical.”

“Why typical?” I fight a smile. She thinks I don’t know her. But I do. And I know exactly where she’ll go with this.

Her nose wrinkles, which makes her cheeks plump. Though I’ve caged her in with my arms, she manages to lift a hand and tick off her points on her fingers. “Why not funny, or smart, or interesting?”

I grab a finger with my lips and suck it in my mouth, making her shiver. Slowly, I draw back releasing her finger with care.

“You know all of that.” I run my thumb along the crest of her cheek. “But I don’t think you know how beautiful you are. So that’s what I chose to tell you.”

A slow smile curls the corners of her pouty lips. She’s fighting it, though, which means I’ve touched a nerve. “Because I need to know I’m beautiful?” she asks.

“Yeah.” I press a slow, lazy kiss on her mouth. “Yeah, you do.”

Anna has confidence and has never hidden her body from me, which is a huge turn on. But I don’t think she’s been appreciated for all that she is.

Her green eyes shine up at me with pleasure, and my heart clenches. Then her long lashes flutter closed as she kisses me back with gentle, languid attention, and my head spins. A small hum rumbles in her throat.

“And what do you need to know?” she asks, running her fingers through my hair. God, that feels good.

I sag into her, nuzzling the warm, fragrant spot on her neck where it curves towards her collarbone. My words come out muffled. “It’s not my place to tell you.”

“A challenge?” She sounds way too pleased about that.

“Maybe.” I lick a path across her collarbone.

“Hmm…” Her hands cup my cheeks. She lifts my head and looks into my eyes as if she’s searching for some hidden secret. “Well then, you’re funny. Smart. Interesting.”

While I’m happy she thinks that, it isn’t what I need to hear from her. I’m beginning to regret challenging her. Because I can’t tell her what I need without exposing my underbelly. So I resort to the safety of quips. “Not beautiful?”

“You are.” Her grin turns cheeky. “But you know that already, don’t you?”

“Maybe.”

“You do.”

I nip the tip of her nose. “Not as important to guys as it is to girls, I’m afraid.”

“You’re probably right.” She snuggles closer, wrapping her arms around my neck, her hands playing with my hair again. I love the glint in her eyes. “Oh,” she says lightly. “There’s one other thing.”

“What?”

Her expression eases into something soft. “I like you just the way you are, Drew Baylor.”

Poleaxed. Again. My throat closes too tight to find my voice. I swallow convulsively.

“I like you just the way you are too, Anna Jones.” I’m crazy for you. I f**king adore you. “Go put your damn hair up,” I tell her instead. “And we’ll get you some coffee.”

Chapter 21

SLINKING INTO MY apartment in the middle of the morning, I feel like an intruder. I don’t want to be here. I want Drew. Disconcerting, as I’m more needy than I’ve ever been in my life. About anything. Though I’m pretty sure Drew is just as needy. It took twenty minutes of making out in his car before he let me go with a sigh and a promise to meet me after practice.

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