“Gabe, you’re being ridiculous.” She starts to go around me but I step in front of her again, stopping her. “Come on. Let me go.”

“No. You see, that’s the problem.” I reach out and grab her upper arms, holding her there, not pulling her close but not releasing her either. “I can’t seem to let you go, no matter how much I want to.”

She parts her lips, ready to read me the riot act, no doubt. Tell me to go to hell. She should. I’m no good for her. I keep telling myself that yet here I am, touching her, wanting more from her.

So much more.

Before she can speak, I claim her mouth, cutting off whatever she might’ve said. She’s stunned, I can tell by the way she’s not really moving, not responding. Her arms hang by her sides as if she’s afraid to touch me and I reach up, cupping her face, holding her, cradling her cheeks in my hands, softening the kiss to one press of my lips against hers, over and over.

A little shudder ripples through her. A sigh. A whimper. I take the kiss deeper, circle my tongue around hers and she steps closer, until we’re melded together in front of the TV in the living room, my sister sleeping on the couch nearby.

This moment couldn’t get any weirder.

Or better.

The second I saw him walk into the house, I knew. I knew this would happen. That he would see me and feel it. That connection, the zap and zing that seems to bounce between us whenever we get near each other. He’s avoided me all week and I’ve let him. I was glad he did it because I needed the break and I think he did too.

It’s freaking stressful, wanting someone you can’t have.

Me being here tonight with Sydney was completely unexpected. Only when she told me Gabe wasn’t going to be there did I agree to come over. I didn’t want to run into him. I know he doesn’t want to run into me. I was only trying to respect his wishes.

But his wishes seem to change with the tide and I can’t keep up. He entered the house and I didn’t even hear him. I glanced up, caught him staring and the hungry way he looked at me made my skin feel hot and itchy. He still wants me. I still want him. He’s taking his opportunity where he can find it and I can’t blame him.

I want this stolen moment too.

His lips coax mine apart and his tongue searches my mouth, warm and slick. He tastes like beer and Gabe and I wonder what he did tonight. Who did he go out with? Was it a girl? Did he go on an actual date? Am I an afterthought?

I push the torturous thoughts from my brain and focus on the way Gabe is holding me. Kissing me. How he tangles his tongue with mine, his movements so sure yet a little reckless. Like his control is slipping and I love that I’m the one who could make him feel that way.

He breaks the kiss, his mouth hovering above mine, his breathing fast. His hands move from my face to my waist, his touch careful, as if he’s afraid I might break. “Touch me, Lucy,” he whispers, the raw need in his voice nearly my undoing. “I want to feel your hands on me.”

He sounds like he would die if I didn’t touch him right now. How can I resist his demand? I rest tentative, shaking hands on his broad shoulders and he groans at my first touch. The sound fuels me and I gather the soft cotton of his T-shirt in my fingers, clutching him close as he presses his face against my neck. My head falls back as if I’m offering myself up as his sacrifice.

He takes the opportunity to rain kisses along the sensitive skin of my throat, his lips hot and damp. Nipping and sucking at my skin, his mouth blazes a trail everywhere, sending shivers cascading down my spine. I wrap one hand around the back of his neck, absorbing his warmth, his strength. My name is a whisper of breath against my skin, close to my ear, just before he bites it. I tilt my head to the side, my fingers curled into the hair at his nape, a whimper escaping me when he lifts his head and claims my mouth yet again.

I let myself drown in his taste, in his kiss. His hands wander, along my waist, over my hips, my butt, then back up again, until they’re just beneath my breasts.

Lust and fear combine, making me anxious. Will he take it further? Or stop? He knows my biggest secret—well, not my biggest secret. I hate that I’m lying to him, that he thinks I’m some shallow rich girl with daddy issues.

I might have daddy issues, but I’m definitely not a shallow rich girl. No, more like I’m a scared poor girl who’s in way over her head and perfectly willing to let this man do whatever he wants to me.

No regrets.

“Have you lost weight?” he asks after he breaks away from my still needy lips.

Pleasure ripples through me as he runs his hands back down along my waist, settling them at my hips. “Seven pounds,” I say proudly. It may not sound like much but every one of those pounds lost was a struggle. Dieting is such a bitch.

He frowns. Even growls. “That’s a damn shame.” His fingers slip beneath the hem of my shirt, touching bare skin. “I really, really love your curves.”

Gabe says things like that and I want to melt. His easy acceptance of my body seriously blows my mind. He seems to enjoy touching me, mapping my body with his hands and fingers, tracing every sensitive spot, pushing just enough that I always crave more. No other man has ever appreciated my curves like Gabe does.

I’m tired of denying myself of this. Of him. Isn’t he tired of it too? Or does he enjoy the torture? There is something to be said for denying yourself what you desperately want. I should know as queen of the diets. I remember going on a no carbs diet one time and all I ever did was crave chocolate cake. Like, dreamed about it and everything.

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