It’s killing me not to shout it won’t, it won’t. My throat aches from the effort of keeping those words trapped. And my stupid heart is singing and dancing because he just called what we have a relationship, which is pitiful. Completely wretched, since he’s just trying to let me down easy. I’ve gone from his cool girl pal to the girl who will want more things from him—and he doesn’t have more to give. Another woman has his more already. “I get it. Sex is a huge no no, but it’s cool that you’ve been picturing me in the pink bra to rub one out.”
Have to admit, his chagrin gives me a measure of satisfaction. “I’ve felt like shit about it, too. That’s why I can’t pass a supermarket without buying out the damn cereal aisle for you.”
“You’ve been buying me guilt cereal?”
A corner of his mouth ticks up. “That’s what I’ve been calling it, too.”
Idiot. Adorable, well-raised, gesture-making gentleman idiot.
I hold up my hands. “What do you want from me, Elijah?”
He moves closer and I can’t help it, I suck in a lungful of eucalyptus and sweat and our scents mingled together. It’s better than I could have imagined. I want to bury my face in his chest and feel his arms around me, but he wouldn’t interpret it right. Or he would, rather, and he wouldn’t want my adoration. “I want the same thing I’ve always wanted.” He sends a glance toward the window. “Your place feels like home to me. It’s where I want to be.”
“Then take it,” I say, Elijah staring back at me in utter confusion. “Since you love my place so much, you can have it for now. In the meantime, I’ll take your colossal mansion on the Battery. Sound good?”
“What are you talking about?”
Honestly? I have no idea. Until I make the suggestion out loud, my brain doesn’t quite process it. Here is what I know. I can’t—I can’t—go back to domestic non-bliss with Elijah. Not yet. Not when I know what he feels like inside me. Perfect, huge, hot. Not when I know he likes to act possessive when he’s turned on. Oh, I know those rough demands were all an illusion in the cold post-coital glow, but my God, how will I sleep knowing the man who issued them with such authority is across the hall? My lips still feel molded to the shape of his. The sound he made when I used my finger on him echoes in the dark recesses of my head. Agonized ecstasy.
No, I can’t go back to greeting him with a high five when he walks into my apartment. Or sitting on the opposite end of the couch when we watch Kimmel. Not yet. But while I get my heart back under control, I don’t want to lose him completely. The very idea fills me with a terrible, excruciating panic. Moving into his house means our connection won’t be severed. It might even allow me to feel close to him, in a way, without having him close.
“You’ve been staying with me for months. Return the favor.” I gesture to his pocket, silently urging him to give up the key. “It’s a shame to leave it sitting there unused and I think…maybe after tonight, we should just take some time apart—”
“This is ridiculous.” He drags a hand through his hair. “What is this really about, Addison? Wounded feminine pride?”
I narrow my eyes. “Tread very carefully.”
“Duly noted.” As I watch, his gaze trails down to my neckline, before lifting again. His throat works in a long swallow. “The sex was fucking incredible. Is that what you need to hear? Are you marching out of here with a temper because I didn’t say so?”
“Okay, now I want the key just so I can stab you with it.” I take a giant step closer to him, tilting my head back to keep eye contact. “I don’t need you to tell me it was incredible. I was there. Key, please.” A thought hits me out of nowhere and I don’t quite manage to keep my bravado intact. “Unless you think people won’t approve of Addison Potts inhabiting those four fancy walls.”
His anger is so raw and brilliant, I forget to breathe. With jerky movements, he reaches into his pocket and removes the key, folding my hand around it. “For the record, I think taking this ridiculous break is only going to make things worse. Fuck the hotel. I’ll own that mistake. I’d come home with you right now, if I didn’t know you so damn well. If I didn’t know you aren’t finished being stubborn.”
“In a minute.” He shifts closer and I can’t tell in the shadows, but my lips are tingling. Is that where he’s looking? “If anyone says a damn thing to you about being there, they’ll be picking their teeth up off the floor.”