His nostrils flare, but he pulls back instead of moving closer. “It’s not a requirement, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“That’s not what I’m asking.” I look him over as thoroughly as he was studying the mannequin in the window. “It might be worth letting you spoil me if you’re spending the night thinking about what’s underneath my clothes.”

“Done,” he says. He gets the attention of a svelte brunette salesclerk with little more than the lift of his chin, and she comes scurrying over like a puppy greedy for attention. He leans over and whispers in her ear. She nods and shoots me a smile. He tucks something in her hand—cash, a credit card? Hell, for all I know, he’s handing over his phone number, but . . . no. I’m beginning to realize that, for tonight at least, I don’t need to worry about other women.

“I’ll get a dressing room ready for you,” the clerk says.

When she disappears into the back of the store, Marston turns his attention on me again.

His eyes are so hungry as they skim over me that I feel five inches taller. I’ve dated on and off over the last decade, but my first priority has been and will always be Cami. Somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling desirable. I didn’t realize until this moment just how much I missed that feeling. Or maybe I missed him.

“And what are you going to do while I try on lingerie?”

He shrugs. “I need to go run an errand. I’ll meet you back here in fifteen minutes.”

It’s ridiculous, but my stomach sinks with disappointment. Never, ever would I think I’d be the kind of woman who’d model lingerie for a man in a public dressing room, but the way he was looking at me? The things he was saying? If he’d wanted to come back to that dressing room with me, I don’t think I would’ve denied him. Instead, he’s running an errand while I shop.

“Thirty-four C?” the saleswoman asks when she appears again.

“Wow. Yeah. How do you do that?”

She smiles. “Your husband. He had a few ideas, but he said you can get whatever you like.”

“Oh, he’s not—”

“Lucky girl,” the woman next to me says, and I follow her gaze to Marston’s retreating form. “A generous husband who looks at you like you’re the object of his every fantasy and is also that fine? You’ve found yourself a unicorn. Don’t let him go.”

I swallow hard and dare to imagine—for a few beats of my heart—that it could be that simple. Just don’t let him go. Just love him and let him love you. Just trust that what we once had is powerful enough to pave the way for forgiveness he doesn’t know I need.

But looking too far down the road wakes my anxiety and makes panic claw its way up my throat, so I shake those fantasies off and focus on tonight.

I think of Marston with every piece of lingerie I try on. I think of him when the soft lace scrapes the sensitive peaks of my breasts and when I tie the little bow at the front of the bra. And I think of him when I ask the dressing room attendant if I can give her the tags and wear the lingerie out of the store.

“Ready?” Marston asks when I finally emerge from the dressing room. He tucks his wallet into his back pocket, and when I glance to the register, he says, “It’s taken care of, Brinley.”

My stomach flutters at the warmth in his eyes. “Thank you. I hope you didn’t wait long.”

“Not at all.”

I wave goodbye to the saleslady and follow Marston to the hall. He takes the bag from me.

It should come as no surprise that Marston grew into a man with impeccable manners. Even though he was raised without being taught any sort of etiquette, he was always a gentleman. And he still is today.

“Can I look?” he asks, parting the tissue paper.

I laugh. “You can, but that’s just the stuff I was wearing earlier.”

He arches a brow. “So you . . .?”

I grin and give a little shimmy as I head down the hall. “I like it,” I call over my shoulder. “It feels good.”

After he picks his jaw up off the floor, he catches up quickly. “Where to next?”

“Back to the club?”

“You sure? It’s your birthday.”

“I’m not going to spend my night with you in a shopping mall.”

His tongue darts out to touch his bottom lip, and he takes in every inch of me. The heat in his eyes is so intense, it’s as if he can see right through my clothes to the new lingerie underneath. “I’m enjoying myself.”

“Me too.” I grab his free hand in mine. “But now I want to dance.”

Chapter Six


October 12th, before

I’m on Aunt Lori’s shit list. My crimes? Not being where I said I’d be, exploiting her trust, and—the worst, and possibly more foreign to me—making her worry.

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