“You don’t think I can do it.” It’s not a question.

“Paige, you can do anything you put your mind to. Your strength was one of the first things I noticed about you.”

“Then why?” I ask, looking up at him. He looks like a warrior ready to go to battle for me. My warrior.

“You’ve had enough darkness touch you. I know you want your piece of payback, and I’m going to help you get it. But I’m going to shield you as much as possible while we do it. When it’s over, it’s over. And I’ll spend the rest of my life filling that beautiful brain of yours with memories you’ll want. There’ll be so many, and they’ll be so beautiful that they’ll block out the ones you can’t let go of. I’ll give you so many you’ll have no choice but to replay those in your mind.”

“You’re already doing that,” I admit.

“You’re going to let me shield you? Help you get where you’re going? Be a team?” he presses, always wanting my words. He needs to hear me say what he wants. “Let me take care of you, kitten. Let me make everything right. I can give you everything you could ever want.”

God, that sounds good. Not even my mother took care of me like Captain wants to. I was always the one taking care of her and picking up her broken pieces. The thought of a life where I have a partner, someone to stand beside me through the storm, is a welcome relief I didn’t expect.

“If I let you do this, then you have to do something for me.”

“Anything,” Captain agrees, without a second of hesitation.

“I want you to make love to me while wearing the Captain America costume. Complete with shield.”

The intense moment is broken as he smiles and puts his weight down on my chest. I can feel his body shaking with laughter, and I wrap myself around him and close my eyes. If this is what love feels like, then I never want it to end.

Chapter Twenty-One


* * *

A KNOCK ON the door startles me awake, and I realize that I’ve somehow fallen asleep with Paige on top of me. I squeeze her lush ass with both hands and grind my erection into her stomach before I roll us over. I kiss her cheek and pull the covers over her, then grab my pants and tug them on.

I make my way to the front door, look through the peephole and smile. Mallory is standing there with a basket in her hands, so I unlock the door and swing it open.

“Morning,” she says over her shoulder as she comes in. Miles is out in the hallway, talking on his cell, and he waves to me. I give him a chin lift in hello and leave the door slightly ajar. “I brought you guys brunch. Miles and I went out early and thought we would drop this off on our way back up.”

“Do I smell food?” Paige walks out of her room with a blanket wrapped around her and her hair all on one side. She would look comical if I didn’t want her so badly.

“You’ve got the nose of a bloodhound,” Mallory says. “Looks like everything worked out last night.”

She looks at me in my shirtless state, and I bring my hands up to cover my naked chest. Mallory glances over at Paige, who laughs and rolls her eyes.

“We’ll leave you two alone,” Miles says from the doorway, dragging Mallory behind him.

“Wait, I want girl talk!” Mallory pouts as she exits. She yells for Paige to text her as I close the door behind them and lock it for good measure.

“What happened last night?” Paige asks as she digs into the basket of food.

“Do you need a reminder?” I walk up beside her and kiss her bare shoulder.

“Yes.” The word is breathy, then she clears her throat. “Maybe in a second. Tell me what happened. Before you found me.”

“I knew something was off with you last night. I went home and I debated about what to do, and then I decided to come check on you. I had this feeling that you were going somewhere, and when I got to your door and Mallory answered, I knew. She didn’t even open her mouth. I took one look at her and guilt was written all over her face. I told her if she went straight home, I wouldn’t tell Miles.”

“Bet she hated that,” Paige says, pulling the containers out of the basket.

“He found out, anyway. He was walking in just as I was leaving. He always knows where she is. But I didn’t stay to listen to what happened. I knew my badge was missing, and I knew you had plans to sneak back in. You’re the only person who gets close enough to me to be able to take it from me.”

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