My eyes bug out of my head. “Why?”

“I’m spending the night with you,” he states.

I’m shaking my head before he’s finished saying it. It’s cruel for him to test me like this. Seriously, cruel. He knows I don’t want to hurt Meg. Now he’s made my stomach hurt. I feel like I just went ten rounds on a rollercoaster and I’m about to lose my lunch.

“Mateo, no.” He ignores me, unbuttoning the other cuff. “Please stop undressing.”

This right on the heels of my nice afternoon with Meg. After the guilt I felt when she told me what a great friend I am.

She sure wouldn’t say that if she saw us now.

He isn’t stopping and I don’t know what to do. I’ve been so weak lately—wanting him, struggling to even hide it. But today with Meg reminded me that there’s too much at stake to let simple lust fuck everything up. It may be love on my end, but what he feels for me isn’t that. And it isn’t enough to wreck what he already has with her.

I won’t be the one who wrecks his relationship with Meg. Not in a million years. Not even if I want it more than I want anything else in my whole life. I will not sink that low.

His shirt comes off and now I’m feeling panicky. Not knowing what else to do, I decide to bail on him—run, escape, get the hell out of here.

Throwing back the blankets on the far side of the bed, I hop off and make for the door.

As if amused, he asks, “What the hell are you doing, Mia?”

He moves to block me, and now he’s shirtless. My stupid, faithless eyes drop to his muscular chest, but I jerk them away, refusing to look at him. “Please let me out.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve changed your mind about wanting me,” he says, watching me like a cornered animal as he takes a step closer.

I take a step back, eyeing him warily. “It doesn’t matter. I won’t hurt Meg. I can’t do that to her. I love Meg.”

“So do I,” he replies, easily.

A literal sting of pain gets me right in the gut at the reminder, but he shouldn’t be here if he loves Meg. He shouldn’t be taking his clothes off and telling me he’s going to spend the night with me. He shouldn’t be making me say no to him when he knows I don’t want to.

Mateo’s hands shoot out, gripping me by the hips, and he backs me up against the wall. The stupid spot between my legs that he seems to own throbs with arousal. Breathing gets a lot harder. God, he’s so much more powerful than a man has a right to be.

My eyes drop to his bare shoulders—those broad, sexy shoulders. He has great shoulders. His arms come up on either side of me against the wall, barring me in like a Mateo-prison.

I think I’m going to suffocate.

“Calm down,” he commands, probably thinking the same thing.

“You need to leave. Please. I’m begging you to leave.”

“I’m not going to leave,” he replies, calmly.

“You have to. You’re going to ruin everything. You have a good thing going right now and this is going to ruin it. I’m sorry, I know I led you on, but I thought you’d be the stronger one, I thought… I thought you knew better. But this cannot happen. I can’t do this again. I can’t do this to another person. I can’t destroy more relationships—and this will do that. I know you don’t think there are consequences for your actions, and that’s maybe a little my fault because I’ve lied for you in the past, but there are consequences, terrible consequences, even for you. I can’t maintain this lie. The first one was your fault so I could justify it, but this would be just as much mine; I won’t be able to lie for myself. And when Meg finds out—and she will find out—it’s going to ruin everything for both of us. I’m going to lose my best friend and you’re going to lose her love. You might be able to make her stay, but you can’t force her to feel, you can’t make people forgive you. Trust me, I’ve been trying. I’ve been living the aftermath, and… love doesn’t recover from this. You can’t rebuild the good thing you had once you break it. You can’t make people look at you the same way. You can’t get the trust back.”

Tears are brimming right now, and this is somehow only the second most humiliated I’ve been in front of him. I’m so overwhelmed and a little scared. I know he won’t leave if he doesn’t want to. And if he doesn’t, what do I do then? I don’t know if I can keep covering his ass without the weight of all his secrets completely crushing me. I’m floundering right now in the sea of guilt I’ve slowly immersed myself in since becoming a part of his life, only realizing after diving in that I don’t know how to swim.

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