I should spank you, he’d threatened once. It’s confusingly erotic, teasingly sensational. But he doesn’t and somehow I knew he wouldn’t. He cups my cheeks and then caresses down my thighs and back up. His fingers slip intimately between my legs, into the slickness of my swollen, aroused body and I fall to my elbows, unable to hold myself up on my hands.

He begins to stroke me, playing with my clit, and then slips two fingers inside me, filling me, stretching me. I find myself leaning back into the touch, arching my back, pushing for more. And I know he could take me over the edge but he doesn’t. He teases me. Pulling his fingers out. Pressing them back inside me. Repeating until I think I will go crazy. Finally, oh yes, finally, he takes me to that edge and I am ready. So very ready, when suddenly, his fingers are gone and I am panting in agony.

He flattens his hand on my back and leans over me, his mouth moving to my ear. “Not without me. Not this time. You need to remember the meaning of ‘together’. Don’t move.”

Don’t move. Easier said than done, but I can hear him undressing and I focus the idea of him being inside me. How good it will feel when that first touch of his c**k becomes a deep push. And I get what I crave. His hands come down on my hips. His shaft settles between my thighs. “Mine,” he growls, and he thrusts into me, driving hard and deep.

I moan and expect another thrust, but instead he goes down on the bed and molds my back to his chest, his hand covering my breast. His lips are back at my ear as he whispers, “Mine.”

“Yes. Yours.”

“He wants to f**k you.” He tugs on my nipple, almost as if he is punishing me with pleasure, his h*ps grinding into me.

“And I want to f**k you,” I pant.

He pulls out of me, turns me to face him, presses his c**k inside me and cups my backside to bury himself deep inside me again. We lay there then, our eyes connecting, as he murmurs, “The best f**king, baby, is when it’s--”

“Raw and honest,” I whisper.

His sensual, amazing mouth curves slightly. “And when it’s wicked hot and driven by love.” His fingers settle on my face. “Like I love you with everything I am and ever will be.”

He loves me. I knew, I did, but hearing it is everything. “I love you too, and I didn’t want to tell you in a note, but I didn’t want to risk never telling you at all.”

“I know,” he murmurs, his fingers caressing down my arm to slide up my back and mold my chest to his. “Don’t ever leave me again.”

It’s an order, but somewhere in the depth of the command is a plea, and pain. I hear the pain etched in his words, see it in his eyes. Not for the first time, I am struck by the way we speak to each other beyond words. The way my soul knows his soul. Love and loss have touched our lives, but with all his money and power, he has never felt what family truly means. He has never felt that unity and peace.

I twine my fingers in the dark strands of his hair. “You have to know that leaving you was about not losing you. Please tell me you know that.”

“I know but I can’t go through that again, Amy. Together means together. Whatever happens, you come to me and we will handle it.”

“I just--”

He cups my head and kisses me. “No excuses. Together. That’s what you say you want.”

“It is.”

“No exceptions.”

“No exceptions,” I murmur and his tongue sweeps against mine, tender and sweet, and where I’ve tasted possession and need in him in the past, I taste love and heartache now. I moan and deepen the kiss, trying to wash away the hurt in him I know runs deeper than me and this moment in time. It’s why he understands mine.

I don’t know when we start moving. We just do and it is passion and pleasure and absolute perfection in the midst of the danger surrounding us. All that matters are these moments and every touch, every lick, every move, is about the forever we want to share together. The family we want to be together. I want it to last, but too soon, I tumble into those blissful spasms of release and he shudders with his own. It is truly bittersweet.

In the aftermath, we hold each other, neither of us caring about the stickiness on our thighs, or the two men hanging out beyond the room. We lie there together...breathing. Eventually, Liam pulls out of me and walks to the bathroom, returning with a towel, helping me clean up, and it doesn’t make me blush. It somehow makes me feel closer to him.

We lay on our backs and stare at the stained ceiling. “Is the house okay?”

“It’s fine, but even if it wasn’t, it can be replaced.” He turns to look at me. “You can’t.”

I roll to my side to face him. “I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if Alex’s home had been destroyed.”

“I told you--”

I touch his lips. “I know. You’re worried about me, but what is important to you is important to me.” I think of Meg’s claim that she’d set the fire, but now it seems to have been done with help. “Was there a bomb?”

“No bomb.”

I let out a breath. “That’s a relief.”

“How did you end up with Jared instead of Meg?”

“When I got here, I went to my old house--”

“Red Heaven Restaurant,” he supplies.

A burn starts in my chest. “You know?”

“Derek figured it out after he put Sheridan on the radar.” He takes my hand. “I should have been there when you found out.”

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