She works her way down my shaft slowly—torturously—but I love every fucking second. She squeezes the base with one hand and works her mouth over me.

I was already so turned on from touching her in the club, and now I’m on that edge too fast.

I slide a hand into her hair, and she lifts her gaze to meet mine. This, this is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen: Brinley Knox on her knees before me, eyes on mine as she sucks my cock.

I don’t guide her with my hand. I don’t want to know what she’s doing next or lead her into the next touch. I just want to feel exactly what she wants to give.

She works me over, again and again, until I think I can’t hold on anymore. Then she pulls her mouth off me and teases me with her tongue before doing it all over again. It’s bliss and torture and something between dream and fantasy.

When she finally takes me there, she ignores my warning and moans around my cock. I come with her name on my lips.

She crawls back onto my lap, straddling me and looping her hands behind my neck. She leans her head against my shoulder and releases a contented sigh. “I don’t want tonight to end.”

“Me neither.” And sitting here with her, it’s easy to forget we needed that decade apart. I needed to get where I am, but part of me will always see it as a stolen chunk of our lives. Time we could’ve been together. “I still can’t believe you tracked me down,” I finally say. My voice is a little shaky. I have a lot of questions about that. Why now? What does this mean? Do you still let your parents rule your life?

But those are landmines, and I can’t risk destroying this night for answers that can wait until tomorrow. Not when I have to fly to L.A. in less than twenty-four hours. Not when I still need to convince her that this—tonight, us—needs to be more than a blip in the timeline of our lives. We need to hold on and make it more.

She presses a kiss to the spot just below my ear. “I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner.”

“Maybe I’m glad you didn’t,” I say. “Maybe I needed a chance to become a better man.” How do I explain that everything I did, I did to be good enough? I didn’t want to be the person everyone looked to first the moment something went missing. I needed to prove myself—to her, to her parents, to the world. I needed to believe I wasn’t that kid who had to be saved by his widowed aunt, the charity case and the thief.

“When I look at you, I still see the boy I fell in love with,” she says, and my gut twists tight. Her eyes skim over every inch of my face, and her gaze is so intense that I feel like she alone can see past this façade of money and luxury and all the way to the broken man beneath.

“I’m not, though.” I grab her by the hips, pulling her tight against me.

She frames my face in her hands. “Still tough on the outside and gooey sweet on the inside.” She grins. “Still irresistible.”

“With one important difference,” I say, voice gruff. “I don’t need a damn thing from anyone anymore.”

She squeezes her eyes shut for a beat before looking at me again. “I don’t think that’s true, either. You’ve always needed someone to see you. I bet you still do. You’ve always needed more—deserved more—and all this money doesn’t change that.”

I don’t know if I deserve shit, but I want her. Fuck, right now, I need her.

I knot a hand into her hair and guide her mouth to mine. Her kiss is open and hungry and . . . giving. It’s simple and complicated. Just like us.

“I bought you one more present,” I say, reaching into my pocket and pulling out the small velvet box. “Happy birthday, Brinley.”

“Marston.” She shakes her head as I place it in her palm. “You’ve already spoiled me too much. I can’t.”

My fingers brush hers as I open the box. “You can.”

The box holds a pair of pearl-and-diamond earrings and a matching necklace. The diamonds sparkle in the low light coming in through the windows, and the pearls seem to glow.

She keeps her eyes glued to the jewelry when she asks, “Why don’t you hate me?”

“I don’t have it in me.” I lift her chin until she’s looking in my eyes. “Never have. Never could.”

Her gaze dips then lifts. Back down. Back up. “Marston . . .”

I run a finger down her bare shoulder. “What is it?”

She shakes her head and gives me a sultry grin. “I want to cram everything we can into tonight. Starting with that club with Savvy.”

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