“I don’t give a shit what people think,” he cuts in on a rasp. “Only what you think.”


My chin drops. I can’t look at him anymore. “Don’t you understand? I felt like an impostor. I kept waiting for you to realize that you’d got it wrong. That I was the girl you were never supposed to see.”

“Not possible,” he says with quiet fierceness.

“But—”

“Anna, baby, you would never be the girl I didn’t see, whether we had met now or in high school.” He pulls me in close, rubbing his nose along the tip of mine. “Don’t you understand? I know you wouldn’t be because, since the moment I laid eyes on you, you’re all I can see.” Drew kisses me, lingering before he pulls back to study me. His eyes are clear and filled with so much emotion that my throat closes up. As if he too is overcome, he swallows hard, and his voice is but a breath. “I love you, Anna Jones. That’s not going to change. I loved you when I thought we’d never be together, and I love you still.”

I let go of a sharp breath and then lean into him. I don’t kiss his lips but the tender spot on his neck where his pulse beats. “I should have told you earlier.”

His throat moves under my lips as he swallows. “Yeah.” His lips brush my temple, his warm, rough palms smoothing down my thighs. “But I understand now.”

“I’m so sorry, Drew.” I place a tender kiss on the center of his chest.

His voice is thick. “Don’t need that.”

No, he needs the words, at the very least to know that I care for him too. I owe him so much more. Sitting back on his lap, I meet his eyes. Emotion clogs my throat, makes my heart speed up to a desperate thud, thud, thud.

He appears almost stern, his mouth relaxed but not smiling. God, he’s everything. Everything. I touch his cheek, grazing the beard-roughened skin there with my fingertips. My mouth opens yet nothing comes out. With a garbled sound, I throw myself on him, hugging him hard and burrow my face into the smooth crook of his neck. He’s warm, his scent familiar and comforting in a bone-deep way that has me crying harder.

And though I’ve clearly shocked him, he wraps his arms around me and holds on tightly.

“Hey,” he says softly. “Anna…”

“I’m sorry.” I gulp down air, trying to calm. “I’m sorry.” But I can’t stop shaking.

His arms are steel supports against my back, his chest a solid slab that bolsters me. I snuggle in deeper. “I was so scared,” I whisper against his damp skin. “I saw you… the hit. I needed to get to you, and…” I can’t say the rest.

Beneath me, his body relaxes a little and his big hand cups the back of my head before stroking it. “Shhh. It’s okay.”

But it isn’t. How can I explain to him? If he hadn’t gotten up from that hit, something vital inside me would have died. The truth chokes me, burns my throat.

“It’s okay, Anna. I’ve got you.” His smooth, deep voice rolls over my skin like a caress. “I won’t let you go.”

He won’t. He never truly has. On a breath, I press my forehead to his. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“What wasn’t, baby?”

I run my shaking fingers along his jaw. “Finding you now. Before I got all of my shit together.”

“But you did,” he whispers. “And I’m not sorry.”

Neither am I.

I look at him. Really look, my eyes wide open, letting him see all of me. Every hidden vulnerability. In return, I see the world in his. A tremor runs through me, and I cup his cheek. “I love you, Drew Baylor. No one has ever meant as much to me as you have. I adore you, need you, crave you—”

His lips meet mine, his kiss deep and demanding.

I sink into it, clutching his neck and shoulders like a lifeline. And there is no more talking, just long searching kisses, and short, frantic ones. Places to touch and rediscover. Emotion and need surge in like the tide. The sheet covering his lap is tugged away, and his hot c**k presses against my sex, slipping against the wetness there.

“Put me inside you,” he breathes into my mouth, his lips nipping at mine. “I need to be inside you.”

I rock against him, making him groan. When I lift up and the thick, rounded crown of him presses against my opening, our gazes lock. We both shudder as I sink down onto him. It feels so damn good, like everything I’ve missed and like nothing before. It’s better. Truer.

The muscles along his chest strain as he pushes in further and a flush works over his cheeks. “God,” he rasps, “I’ve missed being surrounded by you. So perfect. This is what I needed. You. Here.”

“I know. I needed this too.” I cup his cheeks with my hands. “I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much.”

He eyes squeeze shut at the words, his throat working. His hands ease up to hold me as I hold him. And he thrusts up, meeting me halfway. Our foreheads touch, our breath mingling hot and uneven.

I ride him slowly, working my h*ps in an undulating rhythm that has us both trembling. My sex feels swollen, full of him. The pace is torture. I’m acutely aware of every inch of his thick girth moving in and out of me.

My skin steams, and I wrench the jersey off, the cool air tightening my ni**les. Drew captures one in his mouth, sucking it with sharp tugs that I feel down to my core. My breath catches, and my insides clench. A move I know he feels when he groans and answers with a sharper thrust. His big hand clamps down on my butt, clenching and kneading it as if he’s making up for lost opportunities.

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