“No way. You’ll steal it from me.” He brings the cup to his lips and swallows. I watch unabashedly as he drinks, his lips curved around the red plastic, his throat working as he swallows. My mouth goes dry and he offers the cup to me once again. “Thirsty?”

I step closer as does he, and we meet in the middle of the tiny bathroom, Shep holding the cup out toward me as I take it. He doesn’t make any sense, not wanting me to steal his cup but then hands it out to me. Of course, this is probably a ruse so he can get closer and silly me I fall for it.

I take a sip, my gaze never leaving his as I swallow straight vodka on the rocks and I wince at the taste of it. He’s watching me so intensely, his expression softening, his eyes darkening, his mouth falling open ever so slightly.

“Thank you,” I whisper as I hand him his drink back.

“Jade…” His voice trails off and he sets the cup on the bathroom counter, turning to face me fully. He looks serious. Too serious.

I need to get out of here.

“I should go.” I try to push past him but he grabs hold of my arm, his fingers curling around the crook of my elbow, keeping me from leaving.

“Don’t go,” he murmurs, his voice so low I almost don’t hear him. “Please.”

I turn my head to look at him, our gazes locking. I’m shaking. Can he feel it? I should hate him. What he did to me is unforgiveable. I’m self-conscious enough already. His seeming rejection only made it worse. Made me feel worse. “I can’t,” I whisper, trying to withdraw my arm from his grip but he only clamps his fingers tighter. “You hurt me, Shep. I refuse to put myself through that again.”

He looks shocked at my admission and I use his shock to my advantage. I pull out of his hold and lurch toward the bathroom door, reaching up to undo the deadbolt when he’s suddenly there, pressing his big, warm body against mine, trapping me between the door and him.

“Let me explain.” His hand is at my waist, slowly sliding down, over my hip, my thigh, along the edge of my cutoff shorts, sending a spark of heat everywhere he touches me. I close my eyes, hold back the whimper that wants to escape at his assured touch and I press my forehead to the door. His fingers dance along my thigh, stroking upward, beneath the denim and I buck against him, trying to get him off me but it only makes things worse.

Because I can feel him—hard and hot, his erection nudges against my butt and now I’m the one who’s shocked. Did I do that to him? Do I still have that much power over him?

“There’s nothing to explain,” I say to the door, keeping my eyes tightly closed. It’s bad enough I can smell him, feel him, hear him. I don’t want to see him. If I look in his eyes, stare at his beautiful face, I’ll give in. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to take the risk of getting hurt again.

How’s that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on…

Me.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He pushes my hair away from my shoulder and I can feel his breath on my neck right before he kisses it. My knees threaten to buckle at first touch of his lips on my skin and I grip at the door, grasping at nothing but smooth, painted wood. “I swear, Jade. It kills me to know that I ruined this.”

See, there’s the thing that bugs. He did ruin it. But I’m so weak, so attracted to him still, that I would let him back in. Easily. I know I shouldn’t. I’m only asking for trouble. Hearing the pain in his voice, feeling him strain against me though, I want to give in. Right now.

I need to remain strong. Ignore his mouth on my neck…oh God, on that one spot just behind my ear that makes me shiver. I’m shivering right now as his hand slips beneath the hem of my tank, his other hand smoothing my hair back. He’s everywhere, surrounding me with his scent and his touch, his heat and his body. I press closer to the door, plastering myself to it and he follows my lead by plastering his body to mine.

“Let me make it up to you,” he whispers close to my ear just before he kisses it, his mouth lingering, making me shiver even more. I swear to God I’m going to melt into a puddle if he doesn’t stop doing this. “Turn around, baby.”

No. No, no, no. I can’t do it. To turn around would be to give in. And I can’t…

“Jade.” He cups my face with one hand, his long fingers curling around my chin as he turns my head toward him. I keep my eyes tightly closed as he tilts my chin up and I can feel his eyes on me. “Look at me.”

I shake my head, which is difficult considering the grip he has on me and how I’m positioned. “No,” I whisper.

“Please.”

It’s the tone of his voice that breaks me. Reluctantly I open my eyes to find his face in mine, his lips so close…

And then they’re on mine, soft and gentle, tentative and sweet. Again and again he brushes his lips against mine, never pushing. Just simple little kisses that make my skin tighten, my blood languid, my head swim. He relaxes his hold on my chin, moves away the slightest bit from my body and he rests his hands at my hips, slowly turning me around until I’m facing him.

He pulls away and I open my eyes, our gazes locked, the only sound in the tiny bathroom our accelerated breathing. I can hear the party raging on downstairs, the throb of the music, the low roar of voices. It reminds me I can go if I wanted to. My friend is downstairs, probably worried about me. I can run to Kelli right now and ask her to take me home and she would, no questions asked.

I reach out to rest my hand on the door handle, determined to make my escape when he grabs me, his hands on my face, cupping my cheeks, his mouth on mine once again.

Though this time his kiss isn’t gentle or sweet. It’s hard and demanding, his tongue thrusting deep. I force myself to remain impassive, as if his kiss doesn’t matter but I can keep up the pretense for only so long.

Because his kiss does matter. His hands on me matter too and I release the door handle, rest my hand on his chest, tempted to push him away. Until I feel the erratic thump of his heart beneath my palm and I realize he’s just as affected by this, by me, as I am by him.

Everything else falls away and all that matters is me and him in this stupid bathroom, wrapped up in each other’s arms. I slide my hand up until I’m cupping the back of his neck, pulling him into me. Our mouths are busy, tongues busy, hands busy and I know without a doubt that I’m going to give in.

Please. I need to be honest with myself.

I’ve already given in.

I feel like I just won the most awesome prize I’ve ever wanted in all my life. That prize is Jade. Soft and warm in my arms, her mouth responsive, her entire body leaning into mine. This is what I’d missed more than anything in the last week that I’d gone without her. The connection, the attraction that links the two of us together, we can’t deny it. She may hate me but her body doesn’t. She wants me.

And I want her.

Her tongue tangles with mine, a whimper sounds low in her throat when I slide my hands up, tunneling my fingers through her hair. Fuck I could touch her like this all night, kiss her like this all night…

But I’ve already done that. I’ve already withstood the make out session with her and almost didn’t survive it. When she dropped to her knees in front of me, pulled off my shorts and proceeded to give me the best blow job of my life, I…panicked.

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