He sinks into me, buries his c**k inside me, and we lie there, foreheads touching, breathing together. I have never felt as part of a man as I do in that moment. Never felt so a part of another human being. I do not know what to do with the emotions inside me. I do not know how to be this close to someone and still hold on to myself.

“Chris?” I rasp desperately, afraid of this, of him, of where I am spiraling and will never be found.


He moves then, the thick ridge of his shaft caressing a path backward until I think he is going to pull out, to move away. I arch forward, desperate to bring him back, and he answers me with a hard thrust. I cry out and wrap my leg around his, lifting my body, moaning as his hand slides under my backside and pulls me closer, drives him deeper. He pumps into me over and over and I feel him shaking, or maybe it is me who is shaking. I don’t want this to end, and I sense he, too, is fighting it, as if we both fear the moment after, and what comes next. But the pleasure is too intense, too overwhelming, to be sustained. My sex clamps down on him, spasming with the most intense orgasm of my life. He growls low in his throat and thrusts deep into me, before I feel the wet, hot heat of his release. And then we are there, in the moment after, him on top of me in his bed. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what to do with this ball of emotion threatening to explode in my chest.

Chris moves first, shifting me to lie in front of him and pulling the blanket over the top of me. I feel the wetness clinging to my thighs but I don’t care. Chris is wrapped around me, holding me in his bed. For long minutes, we lie there in silence and I don’t want to sleep. I just want to feel him here with me.

“Come with me to Los Angeles.”

For a moment I consider saying yes and my reasons are many. Chris somehow steadies the shaky ground of uncertainty in my world.

“I bought you a seat on the plane.”

“Chris,” I say, rolling over and feeling defensive, and more than a little pressured. “You know I can’t. You know I have a job. And when did you even have time to buy me a seat?”

“Before I even knew about the storage unit power outage. I came here tonight determined to convince you to come back with me, and before you start to argue, getting out of town gives the private detective time to check on what happened last night and gives us some peace of mind that it was nothing to worry about.”

My stomach flutters wildly. “You think I’m in danger?”

“I just don’t want to take any chances, Sara.”

“You do think I’m in danger.”

“I’m not trying to scare you, but I also told you I want to protect you and I meant it. That means being cautious.” He teases a tendril of hair at my forehead. “And I want you with me. I’d want you with me even if this wasn’t going on.”

He wants me with him. These words please me deeply and I yearn to say yes but my fear for my job holds me back. “I want to go, but I can’t. I have to stay. And I’ll be fine thanks to you. I feel safe here.”

His expression darkens. “You won’t be in the apartment around the clock.”

“I’ll be at the gallery and it’s safe.”

“That’s a matter of opinion,” he says dryly, and I know he’s talking about Mark’s presence there, not the security. He runs a hand over the back of his neck and casts me a wry glance. “I’m about as likely to change your mind about this as I am likely to get you to watch Friday the 13th with me, aren’t I?”

“Less.” I cup his cheek and plant a quick kiss on his mouth. “Buttered popcorn and the promise of a chick flick to follow might convince me to watch the movie.” I roll back over and he leans away from me and turns out the light before pulling me close, and yes, we are spooning. It’s wonderful.

“You really are making me crazy, woman,” he murmurs, nuzzling my ear.

“Good,” I say, smiling into the darkness. “Because you make me crazy, too.”

“Is that right?” he challenges.

“Hmm,” I assure him, feeling the heaviness of emotional and physical exhaustion begin to settle deep in my limbs. “Yes. You absolutely make me crazy.” And it’s crazy good, I add silently, letting my lashes lower and the groggy sensation of sleep claim me.

• • •

Blinking awake, I am instantly aware that Chris is gone. For a moment, I fear that morning has come and he’s flown off to Los Angeles and hasn’t given me a chance to say good-bye. But there’s the soft hum of a light beyond the door, and it gives me hope he’s still here. The sound of muffled music slides into my awareness, and relief washes over me. I know I am not really alone and I am eager to seek out Chris.

I sit up and the blanket falls to my waist, the cool air chilling my na**d body. Still, I toss away the comforter and find Chris’s shirt on the floor, and glance at the clock to find it’s almost five in the morning. I wonder how early his flight leaves and hope it’s not the early bird, but it must be since he’s awake. It is odd to imagine being here without Chris, and I am shocked and pleased at his willingness to allow me such a freedom.

Pulling his shirt over my head, I inhale the delicious scent of the man who has come to fill such a big part of my life, and I decide I’ll keep this shirt to sleep in until he returns.

I pad in bare feet to the doorway and stare at the empty living room. The music pulls me to my left and down a hallway that is long and narrow, and I pass several closed doors. The one at the very end of the walkway that serves as an endcap is open several inches, and I rest my hand on the surface. I am certain this is Chris’s studio, which I have longed to see, and I know the crack is an invitation. The music changes, and the song, “You Taste Like Sugar,” a sexy Matchbox Twenty tune, begins to play. I remember Chris saying he paints to music and I wonder what this song inspires, and I am almost nervous to find out.

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