“I should go turn out the lights and stuff,” she mutters sleepily against my chest as her arm slides over my abs.

“I’ll get them in a bit. Sleep, baby,” I whisper, kissing the top of her head. Her answer is to cuddle closer. I don’t sleep. I listen until her breathing turns even then slide out from under her. I head to the living room, grab our clothes from there, shut down the house, and then fold our stuff and set them on the bench at the end of her bed. When I get back into bed, her body burrows into mine and she whispers, “Ev,” like she did earlier that day when she was asleep.


“I’m here, beautiful.”

“Yeah,” she sighs, and then her body goes soft. I adjust us so she’s half under me and follow her off to sleep, not realizing she only calls me Ev when she’s asleep or when I’m deep inside of her. Any other time, she calls me Evan.

Chapter 6

June

“This tastes like strawberry milk,” I mutter to JJ, taking another shot of the creamy pink-colored tequila.

“It’s Tequila Rose, bitch, not strawberry milk.” She laughs, pouring herself a shot.

“Still tastes like strawberry milk.” I grin.

“Yeah, except the fact you’re drunk proves it’s tequila.”

She wasn’t wrong. I was drunk. Actually, I wasn’t really drunk, but I was on my way there.

“You have a point,” I mutter, and she rolls her eyes, releasing a breath, and I know what’s coming. I knew the second I stepped out of my car when she yelled at me from her porch that she was coming over to “talk.” Then she showed up twenty minutes ago with a bottle of tequila and told me to drink.

“So tell me what the fuck happened. Last time we had tequila, you told me you and Hot Guy’s history, how you two got together, how it was when he joined the military, and what happened since you moved here. You seemed pretty firm in the idea you wanted nothing to do with him. Obviously, that didn’t pan out, ’cause his tongue was down your throat and his hand on your bare ass this morning when I was leaving for work,” she states, pouring me another shot.

I frowned. “My ass wasn’t bare.” And it wasn’t. I put on panties and a shirt when Evan pulled me from bed and told me to walk him to the door this morning before he left.

“Whatever, that’s besides the point,” she mutters then continues on. “The point is he obviously stayed the night and you obviously gave him the cookie. What happened? Spill it, bitch.”

“I’m stupid.” I close my eyes, dropping my forehead to the granite countertop in front of me. Even knowing that, knowing I was being stupid, I was still doing it. I couldn’t help myself. The second he touched me, I knew I would give him anything he asked for.

Totally stupid.

The positive: I knew what the outcome would be. I knew he wouldn’t stick around, so while I had him, I would attempt to help him get past whatever it is I saw in his eyes. That raw anguish he tried to hide. And while I did that, I would have as much amazing sex as I could get, while carefully guarding my heart so it wouldn’t be crushed anymore than it already had been.

“Honey, love is never stupid,” JJ whispers, bringing me out of my thoughts, and my head lifts, my eyes meeting her soft ones.

“I don’t love him.”

Her eyes close briefly then a small smile turns up her lips. “Don’t lie to yourself, honey, and please don’t lie to me either.”

“Wouldn’t it…” I swallow and pull my eyes from her to look out the window at the back yard. “Wouldn’t that be stupid?”

“Love is never stupid. It’s beautiful and consuming, and we don’t always have the ability to fight it when it happens.”

“I don’t want to love him. I don’t want to get hurt again,” I tell her honestly, dropping my eyes to the counter in front of me.

“I hear you. It’s never easy putting yourself out there, putting yourself in a situation that leaves you vulnerable, open for hurt or pain.”

“Exactly,” I agree, taking the shot she scoots across the counter toward me.

“But then again, if you don’t put yourself out there, don’t let your guard down, don’t open yourself up to the chance of love, then you will never have the experience of someone proving to you they are worthy of the gift you’re giving them. You won’t have a shot at happiness, not real happiness, which comes from sharing your life with someone.”

“I don’t need anyone—especially not a man—to be happy,” I grumble, and her hand reaches out, taking mine and squeezing it tight.

“Everyone needs someone. Even people who think they’re happy on their own know they were wrong the first time they have someone to come home to at the end of the night. Someone to share their sorrow with, someone to lean on when they can’t stand on their own anymore. I’m not saying another person will ever make you whole, but having someone who wants the best for you, loves you, cares about your future and your well-being, is far from a bad thing.”

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