Feeling her nude body against his healed the raw places inside him. She was his. He would fight. For however long it took. No matter what happened, he was never letting her go again.


Lucy’s brain whirled in sickening circles. Jeff wanted her to believe he hadn’t been with another woman since she walked out on him. He expected her to believe he had not cheated on her.

She should have been elated...relieved. Instead, she was shattered and confused and overwhelmed. Was she going to be one of those women who blindly accepted whatever her lover told her? Where was her pride? Her intuition? Her intellect?

Jeff was silent, but tense. She knew him well enough to realize that he was angry. Even so, the strong arms holding her close were her only anchors at a moment when everything she thought she knew was shattering into tiny fragments and swirling away.

At last, the storm of grief passed. She lay against him limp with emotional distress. Taking a deep breath, she tried to sit up. “We need to go back to Royal. Right now. I need to see you and Kirsten in the same room at the same time to hash this out.”

Jeff moved up against the headboard. His jaw was tight, but he scooped her into his lap. “It can wait until tomorrow. We deserve this night together, Lucy. You and I. No one else. Even if you don’t believe me.”

With her cheek against his chest, she seesawed between hope and despair. Was it possible she hadn’t lost him after all, or was she being a credulous fool? If she had placed more trust in what they had from the beginning, it might never have come to this. Was it too late to repair the damage and to reclaim the future that had almost been destroyed?

And what if Jeff had initiated the kiss with Kirsten? Could she forgive him and move on? Was what they had worth another chance? Would their relationship ever be the same?

She was deeply moved, unbearably regretful, and at the same time giddy with hope. Tipping back her head so she could see his face, she memorized his features. The heavy-lidded green eyes. The strong chin. The slightly crooked nose. The tiny scar below his left cheekbone.

He gazed down at her with a half-smile. “Are we good?”

“I’m not sure.” She wanted to say more. She wanted to pour out her heart...to tell him about the endless months of despair and loneliness. But now was not the time to be sad. “Kiss me again,” she whispered unsteadily. “So I know this isn’t a dream.”

Jeff leaned her over his arm and gave her what she asked for, warm and slow...soft and deep. With each fractured sigh on her part and every ragged groan from him, arousal shimmered and spread until every cell of her body pulsed wildly with wanting him. She grabbed handfuls of his hair, trying to drag him closer.

He winced and laughed. “Easy, darlin’. I don’t want to go bald just yet.”

His trademark humor was one of the things that had attracted her to him in the beginning. That and his broad-shouldered, lanky body.

Before she knew what was happening, he had levered her onto her back and was leaning over her, shaping the curves of her breasts with his fingertips. Her nipples were so sensitive, she could hardly stand for him to touch them.

“I need you inside me again,” she pleaded.

“Not yet.” His smile was feral. “Have patience, Lucy, love. We’ve got all night.”


Jeff wanted to worship her body and mark it as his and drive her insane with pleasure. It was a tall order for a man still wrung out from his own release. Not that he wasn’t ready for another round. He was. He definitely was. His erection throbbed with a hunger that wouldn’t be sated anytime soon.

But somehow he had to make Lucy understand.

When he tasted the tips of her breasts, circled the areolas with his tongue, she gasped and arched her back. He pressed her to the mattress and moved south, teasing her belly button before kissing his way down her hips and thighs and legs one at a time. He even spent a few crazy minutes playing with her toes, and this from a man who had never once entertained a foot fetish.

By this point, she was calling him names...pleading for more.

He laughed, but it was a hoarse laugh. He knew the joke was on him. All his plans to demonstrate how high he could push her evaporated in the driving urge to fill her and erase the memory of every hour that had separated them.

His brain was so fuzzy he only remembered the new condom at the last minute. Once he was ready, he knelt and lifted one of Lucy’s legs onto his shoulder. He paused—only a moment—to appreciate the sensual picture she made.

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