“I already messaged Alec to let him know,” Marston says. He slides out of the booth and offers me a hand. “Let’s go.”

Maybe the vodka’s getting to me, because it takes me a beat to put it together. “You bought this table for the night, and you’re going to leave to go shoe shopping with me?”

“Getting it for the night means it’ll still be ours when we get back.” He turns his palm up and curls a finger. “Come on.”

I slip my broken heel back on and climb out of the booth. “You surprise me,” I say, taking an awkward hobble-step forward.

“I do?” He steps behind me, and I release a surprised shriek as he scoops me into his arms and strides toward the door.

I throw my arms around his neck. “You cannot carry me all the way out of this club.”

We get a few curious glances, but people turn away just as quickly. As crazy as his behavior seems—as crazy as it’d be anywhere else—apparently it’s not gawk worthy in Vegas.

“I think I’m proving that I can,” he murmurs in my ear, still weaving through the crowd like carrying me is nothing. He’s not even winded. “Maybe we shouldn’t bother with the new shoes.” His breath tickles my ear. “I like having you this close.”

Fireworks detonate in my belly, and I close my eyes and mouth, not trusting myself to answer. He smells different than he used to. The scent of detergent and whatever soap he used as a teen has been replaced with citrus and fresh water, like subtle, expensive cologne. The smell suits him. It’s bold without being overbearing, interesting while still smelling clean. I’m intoxicated by it and want to bury my nose in his neck until I can imprint the smell on my memory.

When we reach the sidewalk, he strides straight to a black limo pulled up along the curb and opens the door. “This is us,” he says, his voice a little deeper than before. My body brushes against his as he lowers me to my feet, and our eyes meet for a beat, his hands still at my waist.

Kiss me. I press my lips together to trap the wish on my tongue.

The next car in line lays on its horn and tears me out of my trance. I duck into the limo and take a seat.

Marston leans in the front and says something to the driver before sliding into the bench seat beside me.

The food and booze have me feeling loose and relaxed, and instinct has me leaning my head on his shoulder. “I remember when you were so intimidated by my parents’ money, but now you ride around in a limo and order people around like you’ve done it all your life.”

His eyes are hooded as he looks down at me. “I’m not the boy you knew in Orchid Valley.” He sweeps two knuckles gently across my cheek then tucks a lock of hair behind my ear. “I worked my ass off to put as much distance between him and me as possible.”

I swallow hard. “That’s too bad.”

“I disagree,” he says, his voice tight.

I slide a hand to the back of his neck. “It’s too bad, because I really liked him.”

Marston’s dark eyes are fixed on my mouth, and there’s so much longing in his gaze that my skin heats.

I’ve spent ten years convinced any reunion would lead to heartbreak and thinking that he must hate me, that he should hate me. But he just carried me in his arms out of a nightclub and is looking down at me now like I’m the most precious thing he’s ever seen.

“Is this real?” I ask.

He searches my face and shakes his head. “I’m still trying to figure that out myself.”

“I missed you.” Then, because I need it like I need air and because I realize he’s holding himself back, I kiss him. It’s a simple brush of lips that, between any other two people, could be nothing more than friendly affection. But we aren’t just any two people. We’re Brinley and Marston, and ten years later, it feels like we were never apart. Ten years later, and it feels like he still owns my heart.

He sighs against my lips, then takes control. He turns toward me just enough to cup my face and tilt it toward him, but he doesn’t devour me. He sips, tasting me in measured sweeps of his mouth. I shift too, angling toward him and pressing closer until I’m practically in his lap. I’m lost as his gentle exploration turns searching.

Yes, I think, find me. I’ve been lost for ten years.

He guides me to straddle his hips. My skirt slides up then bunches around my waist, and I rock forward and feel the hard length of him.

He groans and pulls away. “We’re here.”

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