No. It’s the shark. My worst nightmare is now Naomi in the path of the shark.

I throw my legs over the side of the bed, doubling over into a coughing fit. One second she was there, the next she was gone. Not so different from reality, is it? She’s as good as vanished. Lost to me. Going somewhere I can’t protect her. Love her.

Frustration sends me lunging to my feet, stripping off my soaked boxers and sweatpants, leaving them draped over my open windowsill to dry. Have to run. Energy crackles in my veins, turning me jumpy. I drag on a new pair of sweatpants, not bothering with a shirt. With moisture still forming on my forehead even in the air-conditioned room, I shove my feet into sneakers and leave the house, unable to resist a look up at Naomi’s dark window. How dare she sleep while I dream of her being devoured right in front of my eyes? At the same time, I savor this last night of knowing she’s safe in bed, close by.

My feet eat up the pavement, carrying me farther and faster than ever before. I don’t even recognize the neighborhood I’ve ended up in when I force myself to turn around and go back. Not a single car passes me as I sprint home, already knowing the run isn’t going to be enough to stop the thoughts of another man’s hands on my woman’s skin. Thoughts of waking up every morning for the rest of my life and knowing she’s out of my reach. That she always will be.

By the time I skid to a stop in the driveway, I’m a snarling beast. My shoulders are bunched up at my ears, hands in fists. No way I can get through the day like this. I can’t even make it through the next hour. I’m preparing to leave the driveway and go for another run—farther this time—when the door opens at the top of the stairs. Naomi’s door. She steps out into the night, her white nightshirt a beacon in the darkness.

Hunger takes flight inside me. Maybe it was there from the moment I woke up and I disguised it as something else. My need for this woman is monstrous on a regular basis. Throw in the fact that this is the final night she’ll be near to me? I need to be inside Naomi so bad, my cock is already turning thick and ready in my pants, sweat molding the material to my growing flesh. And when Naomi starts to descend the stairs in a hurry, her blonde hair flying out behind her, a growl of relief and stupefying desire leaves me.

Proof she needs me, too. I want to drown in it.

We meet at the bottom of the stairs and I haul her up into my arms, almost falling to my knees at the sublime fit of her. Somehow I remain standing as her legs lock in place around my waist and we fall headlong into a kiss. It’s noisy and wet and we’re both breathing heavily—it’s heaven. It’s heaven. I delve one hand into the back of her panties to get a good handful of her ass, my other hand tangling in her unbrushed hair, tilting it left and right as I demolish her mouth. The sounds I’m making into her mouth barely sound human, but I don’t care. I care about nothing but getting as close to Naomi as possible and to that end, I stumble in the inky blackness of the night, searching for a place to get inside of my woman.

She gasps up at the sky a second later as I throw her up against the side of the house, my mouth finding her neck and licking straight up the smooth column of it. Her pussy clenches where it presses to my erection. I can feel her response right through the wet material of my sweatpants. I’m damp all over from running, I remember vaguely, but she seems disinclined to care, her fingernails already ripping a path down my back. She needs this cock as badly as I need to give it to her. Thank God. There is something here. Maybe it’s only physical for her, but goddammit, I’ll take anything I can get.

“Nightmare?” Naomi breathes as I return to the kiss, twining our tongues together, pressing her chin down with my own so I can get it deep.

“Yes,” I grate, thrusting my hips into the cradle of her thighs, driving her up against the house. “You were there and then gone, baby. The shark took you and I couldn’t stop it. I tried and I couldn’t.” The truth comes out of me in a rush, so fast I’m unable to stem the flow. Maybe it’s the complete darkness, the fact that we can barely see each other’s faces. Or maybe it’s the animalistic nature of what’s happening right now. We’ve fought, she’s broken off what’s between us, but our bodies aren’t done. If it seems like our bodies are communicating something deeper, I have to ignore it now. I can’t take having my hope smothered one more time.