“You’re lying on it, aren’t you?” Another creak of his chair. “Sugar, I have to go on national television very soon.”

“Then don’t think about how I’ll be waiting in bed for you…all warm and naked.” I slide my hips around and moan. “Grateful, too. So…very grateful.”

“Christ. I’m going to regret this, but there’s more.”

“More what?”

“Get off our bed.” He let’s his emphasis on our hang in the air. “And go look in the room at the other end of the hall.”

I sit up and push the hair out of my face. “The meditation room?”

“Addison Potts, I do believe you just said that without a hint of judgment.”

“Maybe I’m just getting better at hiding it.” I slide off the bed, taking one last, longing look at the incredible piece of furniture before turning out the light. “Thank you for the new bed,” I say quietly. “It’s perfect.”

“You’ll be sleeping in it when I get home.”

My smile is back to hurting. “Yes, Captain.”

I’m not prepared for what I see when I open the meditation room door. I was so wrapped up in flirting with Elijah and trying to distract myself from dwelling on Naomi returning home, I didn’t have the headspace to speculate. But when I nudge open the door and see my neatly stacked tubs of Christmas ornament supplies, I plop right down on the floor.

“Addison,” comes Elijah’s voice in my ear. “Are you there?”

“Fine.” I use my shirt sleeve to swipe at my eyes. “I’ll save you a plate.”

His laugh creeps down the line and makes a home in my ear. “Thank you, sugar.”

I blow out a breath and stare at the ceiling, willing the moisture leaking out to go away. “Elijah?”

“Yes?”

I lied about the reporters. They’re not harmless. A couple of well-aimed questions have the power to devastate me because I have no idea how you feel about your ex-fiancée. Or where I stand in relation to her. Am I your live-in hookup? Are you doing these lovely things for me out of guilt, because at the end of the day, all you want from me is sex and companionship?

“I’ll save you the snowman buttons to glue on,” I say, instead. “Good night.”

He’s quiet for a few seconds. “Night, Goose.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

Elijah

Mayor-elect wows panel on Fastball.

Getaway Girl responsible for his renewed convictions?

—Charleston Courier

Mayor betrays his political roots on Fastball.

Getaway Girl responsible for his flagging sense of tradition?

—Southern Insider News

Addison is fast asleep when I finally walk into the bedroom around midnight. She barely takes up any of the bed and yet, the sight of her there is like a knockout punch. The tie I unknotted on the way up the stairs slips from my fingers, landing on the floor. My military training demands I pick it up, but I ignore the impulse and keep moving, keep stripping off my clothes and leaving them in a trail, needing like hell to get into the bed beside her.

When I draw back the covers, I see that she is, in fact, wearing nothing but her birthday suit and my cock wastes no time saluting her with enthusiasm. God, she’s a sexy little thing, all rosy and curled up around a pillow. And I’m the man who gets to look. I’m the man who has the privilege of being trusted enough to walk into her bedroom without asking. To get naked and lie down beside her. My pulse is clanging in my ears over the wonder of that. Over the pride it gives me. I’ve wanted to sleep beside her for a very long time, I realize.

“You were with me tonight,” I say into the darkness. “I needed you. And you were there. We’re a team, Addison. Do you realize I’m never letting you go?”

Her fingers twitch on the pillow, her eyes blinking with sleep. “Elijah?”

I can barely hear her over the racket my heart is making. “It’s me.”

She pushes up onto one elbow with a drowsy smile, her tits swaying like the sweetest fruit. “You were amazing tonight.” A yawn takes her by surprise—and so have I. Sleepy Addison is less mean, more full of compliments, is she? That’s good to know. “I’m proud of you for standing up for those schools. The ones that aren’t performing. They just need their curriculum overhauled and some strong leadership.”

I choke a laugh into my fist when she repeats what I said on the panel tonight almost verbatim. “There you go again. Proving you were fake-sleeping all those times we watched Meet the Press on your couch. You like politics.”

“I like anything if you’re a part of it,” she murmurs, sinking back down into the pillows with her eyes closed. “Come to bed.”

“Coming.” Need and affection are vying for the lead inside my chest, but I’m frowning as I climb into bed beside my girl. This half-asleep Addison reminds me a lot of flu-riddled Addison who I carried from the market all those weeks ago. She’s unguarded right now as she was then, telling me things I’m not sure she’d want me to know if she was fully awake. But why does she feel the need to be guarded at all?

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