I immediately pick up the phone and dial his number. A woman picks up on the third ring.

“Uh, hi, uh, can I talk to Ryder?” I stutter into the phone.

The woman laughs, and I realize she is talking to someone else. When she comes back to the phone, she says, “He’s busy right now, but let me get him for you.”

“No, no,” I stop her. “I will just talk to him later.” And I hang up quickly.

My thoughts go wild, instantly wondering why a woman would be answering his phone. I take the rest of the afternoon to clean my apartment, then sit down with a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. I still haven’t unboxed the television. I don’t plan on keeping it.

Ryder has called me four times in the last hour. I didn’t answer any of them. But I did listen to his messages and when I heard the worry in his voice, I did finally send him a text telling him I was fine.

Just as I pick up my sandwich, there is a knock on my door. I put my plate down and look out the peep hole. Ryder. I take a deep breath and unlock the door.

Opening it, I stand at the entrance. “Hey, Ryder.”

“You didn’t have the alarm set.”

“But I’m awake and home. I don’t need the alarm on.”

He steps toward me and I instantly back up. “Can I come in?”

I shake my head. “Sure, yes, I’m sorry. Uh, I got your delivery today. Ryder, you can’t buy me a television.”

He just laughs. “I figured you wouldn’t take it out of the box. Look, honey, it’s not a big deal. I’m going to be over here more and I like to watch TV. No big deal.”

“So you bought me a sixty-five-inch television? Why not a thirty-two? This is bigger than I would ever need.”

“I like to watch sports on big TVs.” He smiles broadly at me and shrugs. He starts unpacking it and stops when he sees my sandwich on the coffee table. He pulls out his phone and wallet. He calls a local pizza place and puts them on hold. “What do you like on your pizza?”

“Anything. But no anchovies or olives.” And right then my belly growls.

“Got it.” He finishes ordering and pays over the phone. “It will be here shortly.” He leans down and kisses me quickly, then goes back to the TV.

I should just keep my mouth shut, but I’m not that type of person. A woman answered his phone and if he has a girlfriend, I can’t just keep kissing him.

“So I called you earlier,” I mention as he is gets the remote out and starts going through the setup.

“Oh yeah? I tried calling you too.” He smiles over at me.

I sit down on the couch and shrug my shoulders. “Yeah, uh, some woman answered your phone.”

He sits down next to me, and I feel the heat of his body next to mine. I breathe in his manly scent but I can’t look at him.

“That was Charlie. We work together. I leave my phone outside of the conference room so if there is an emergency, it can be answered. She knew to come and get me if you called. I will talk to her,” he tells me with a stern voice.

“No, no, don’t do that. It’s not a big deal. I thought she was your girlfriend or something.” I start to get up to go get a drink of water, or to just get up. I know I’ve embarrassed myself.

He grabs on to my hips and pulls me back down until I’m sitting on his lap. I try to get up. “Ryder, I’m too big to be sitting on your lap.”

I stop struggling when he wraps his arm around me. “Don’t say that. Look at us.” And he points at the mirror on the wall.

I look into the mirror and he’s right, sitting on his lap, I almost look small and dainty compared to him. I look at his broad shoulders, strong muscular arms covered in tattoos and also his big, muscular thighs that are holding me. When I raise my eyes back up to look at him in the mirror, I can see the heat in his eyes.

He tugs my chin to the side so he can whisper into my ear. “Charlie is definitely not my girlfriend. I don’t have eyes for any woman besides you.” And I feel his lips caress my ear lobe as he says it.

Ryder

I turn her sideways to have better access to her mouth. This kiss is different than any kiss we’ve shared before. All the others were sweet, soft touches. This one I am devouring her mouth with my own. I want her to know that I want her and have no doubt about it whatsoever.

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