He frowned and set down his wine glass. “I live alone in a loft just north of the city. It’s cold and sterile. You’d hate it. Hell, I hate it. I’ve grown used to your messy, lived-in apartment.”

“Did you just call me messy?” I teased.

“Not you.” He squeezed my hand. “Your apartment.”

“How could no one have been looking for you? I don’t understand.”

A pained expression crossed his face for a brief second before his eyes found mine and cleared again. “I grew up in foster care, so I don’t really have a family. I’m still connected with a few of my foster siblings, but we don’t talk often. And I was on sabbatical from the university, so my colleagues didn’t think anything of it.”

He truly was alone. I wondered if that made it harder or easier for him to slip back into his old life.

The conversation was flowing so well between us, that I almost didn’t want to bring her up. Almost. “And Logan?”

He let out a deep sigh. “Where to begin…” He strummed against the tabletop with his long fingers.

“At the beginning?” I suggested, helpfully.

He smiled at me. “Are you sure you want to hear about this?”

I nodded. I didn’t so much want to as I needed to.

“I met her in Memphis that summer I worked down there, and it turned out she was from Chicago too, which sort of bonded us together in a place far from home for the summer. She was taking a metal works seminar, and neither of us knew a soul there.

“It turned out she fled to Memphis trying to get away from an ex-boyfriend with a drug problem. She was clean, had been for a while, but she admitted she had a weakness for alpha males and cocaine. At first, I wanted nothing to do with her, but as we spent time together, I began to trust that all of that was really behind her.

“We dated for three years. I guess I thought I could save her, change her.” He shook his head. “And I did. For a while. But then she started slipping. About two years in to our relationship, she hit a mental block with her art, and everything started to fall apart.

“She started using again, and began hanging out with her old crowd. That day in the warehouse, we’d broken up and she’d called me frantically, asking me to help her. She owed money to a dealer. That’s how I ended up at that warehouse that day, trying to bail her out of trouble. I don’t remember exactly what happened when I got there. But …I guess you know how it ended.”

I nodded. “Did she come looking for you?”

“I’d told her during that last phone call that I was done, not to call me again. She went back to rehab and had no idea what had happened to me.”

I swallowed another gulp of wine, hoping to dislodge the lump from my throat before asking my next question. “So if you guys were…broken up…does that mean…?”

His brows pulled together. “I’m not with Logan. That’s what you thought this was about? Me leaving?”

I nodded, tears filling my eyes at the mention of the way he’d left me.

“Christ, Ashlyn, no.”

He squeezed my hand and waited for me to regain my composure, not wanting to upset me any further. I appreciated that. I didn’t cry in public.

“I’ve talked to her pretty much every day for the last month, but only because she seems to know me, I mean the old me, better than anyone. I don’t feel anything for her.”

My body visibly sagged with relief. The effects of the wine and seeing Aiden again after so long had left my emotions frayed and raw. I knew if he left again it would take a hell of a lot more than crying on Liz’s shoulder and a few shots of vodka to fix me. Everything was clicking into place. Memphis. The street sign we couldn’t place in Chicago. Even the blues music.

I gripped my hands in my lap and stared up at him. “Why did you come back?” We might as well end this little charade of the happy reunion now. I couldn’t betray my feelings for him until I knew exactly why he was here. I couldn’t be rejected again.

He rubbed the back of his neck the way I’d seen him do when he got nervous. What did he have to be nervous about?

“I know I don’t deserve a woman like you. My upbringing was less than stellar, and my past relationships were…questionable, but keeping myself away from you for the last month was the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done. And I know there’s still so much you don’t know about me…”

I knew him better than anyone. I knew he was kind, and sweet, and hard working. And that he liked steamed milk in his coffee and that if I was ever in a trivia game involving history questions, I’d make damn sure he was on my team. I knew that he made me incredibly hot, and nothing would change my mind about wanting to be with him.

“When two people begin dating, do they know every little detail about one another?” I challenged.

“No,” he answered sheepishly.

“Then what is it that you think I need to know?”

He thought about it for a second, then smirked. “My middle name is James,” he said simply. “And I’m twenty-seven.”

I smiled. “Aiden James York.” It had a nice ring to it. “It’s nice to meet you.”

He brought my outstretched hand to his lips and laid a damp kiss on my palm.

Chapter Twenty-one

If I didn’t get the key in the lock on this next try, I thought Aiden would break the damn door down. Although if he wasn’t pressed up against my backside grinding his erection against me, I might not be so distracted.

“Move,” he growled, taking the key from my hand. He thrust it into the lock and turned. I nearly moaned in relief. My entire body needed him. We’d made out in the backseat of the cab the entire ride back, happy and drunk from our shared conversation and bottle of wine.

Once inside, he flipped on the lights and took my face in his big warm hands, and just looked at me lovingly. “Being here with you, this tiny apartment, you were everything I needed. I thought I needed more – to know everything about my past. I was wrong. You were all I thought about, all I needed. Nothing compared to you. Not the money in my bank account, my job at the university, my lavish apartment. I’d trade it all to have you back.”

“Yes. Please.”

We began a disjointed dance of tugging at each other’s clothing, desperate to be closer. First, my boots were removed, Aiden seemed reluctant to take those off, but my jeans were tucked inside them, so it was necessary. Then he knelt before me and peeled off my socks, kissing the soles of both feet before standing to remove my shirt. In my jeans, bra and bare feet, I felt more beautiful than ever. His hooded gaze never left me. He slid his fingertip under the waistband of my jeans and circled my hipbone, his finger lightly dancing over my tattoo, sending a delicate flush all the way up to my chest.

I pulled his jacket off his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor and he pulled his shirt off over his head. His bare chest was one of my favorite things. I could stare at his muscled pecs and stomach all day. He was grinning at me expectantly, like he was waiting for something. I looked down and surveyed him.

The tattoo on his bicep that once said Logan had been covered up with an intricate tribal design that hid the text underneath it entirely. I ran my fingertips across it and stared at him in awe.

“Do you like it, sweetheart?”

I nodded.

We would both still know it was there, but maybe that was okay. Logan was part of our shared history. I didn’t want to admit it, but sometimes it was still hard for me to think of him as Aiden. Aiden James, I reminded myself.

Once we were undressed, he lowered me to the living room floor, arranging the throw pillows and blanket from the sofa underneath me. He placed his hand on my belly and gently pushed me back until I was lying down. Despite our one-month separation, he took his time, gently suckling and kissing my breasts before heading south.

I was wet and needy by the time his mouth reached my sex. I moaned in sweet relief when he finally kissed me there. I opened my eyes and watched as he made love to me with his mouth. His tongue swirled in a memorized pattern, delivering as much pleasure as he could. He gently nibbled and sucked, seemingly enamored with this activity. I loved watching him, and soon I was moaning and arching against his mouth with each delicious flick of his tongue.

“Aiden,” I groaned as my release came.

He kissed my bare mound several more times before removing himself from in between my legs. I loved how I no longer felt self-conscious about being completely exposed to him.

I crawled to my knees to take him into my mouth, but his hand on my elbow stopped me. He shook his head. “Come here, beautiful. I need to be inside you.”

I smiled at his words.

He pulled me to his lap so I was straddling him. He held my hips just above his dick and encouraged me to sink down onto him. “I want you to fuck me, baby.”

I lowered myself down and immediately felt the resistance of his thick erection trying to penetrate me. He reached between us and grabbed his cock, dipping and swirling it in my wetness to try and ease its entrance. “You okay, sweetheart?”

I nodded.

He pushed inside me slowly, inch by delicious inch until I was stretched to capacity and my head dropped back, arching against the mix of pleasure and slight sting of pain.

Once he had buried himself in me fully, he let out a deep moan from the back of his throat and I opened my eyes to watch him. His pupils dilated with pleasure and desire. He was beautiful. And he was mine.

His pace slowed to an easy rhythm, and he grinned as he met my eyes. “I love you, Ashlyn.”

“I love you too.”

He pulled me close, nuzzling into my neck and planting kisses up and down my throat.

I lifted myself off him and began sliding up and down.

“Ahh..” he breathed. “Fuck, baby, that’s good.”

His sexy murmurings spurred me on and I moved faster against him.

His hands roamed my skin, fingertips running along my arms, tickling down my sides, and then trailing lightly up my naked spine. He cupped the back of my neck and brought my mouth to his in a crushing kiss. I loved his forwardness and the way he took command of my body. It was his for the taking.

His gripped my waist, his fingers biting into the skin as he pulled me in closer. I cried out and let him move me into whichever position suited him best. He clutched my ass in his palms and nibbled on my bare shoulder.

I was completely uninhibited and let my body have its way. With each downward thrust, I felt him bump against me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off my orgasm long. He gripped my hips and guided me up and down, breathing louder, and letting breathy moans escape his parted lips.

“Aiden, I’m going to come.”

“Me too, baby.” He kissed my lips quickly, holding onto the back of my neck as he guided his mouth to mine.

I tossed my head back and whimpered. I continued thrusting against him, and felt as he released into me. My relief quickly followed, with an intense throbbing pleasure deep inside me.

After I had finished bouncing against him, he held me firmly against his chest and brushed my hair back from my face. I was about to apologize or at least try to say something cute about my uninhibited performance when he bit his lip and tilted his head toward the door.

“Um, baby…” he said.

I glanced up and met his concerned expression. Then I heard a throat clear from across the room.

Liz was leaning against the far wall, a box of crackers in her hand, happily munching away while she watched us put on a show.

“Liz! What the hell?”

Aiden only chuckled. He pulled out from inside me and covered me with his discarded T-shirt that lay next to us on the floor. Only that meant he was left completely exposed, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Liz’s lips curled up in a devilish grin. “Damn. You let him put that whole thing inside you?” she asked, eyeing his still hard cock.

“Liz!” I screamed. It was so not okay that she was nearly drooling over his erection. A surge of jealousy swelled up inside me. “Cover that damn thing up,” I shouted at Aiden. I mean I got that he was proud of it, and rightly so, but that didn’t mean anyone but me was allowed to see it. And damn if it wasn’t standing there in all its glory, proudly announcing that Aiden and I were back together.

“How long have you been here?” I demanded, tugging his T-shirt over my head. My hair was currently sporting a just fucked look, but that was the least of my worries.

“A few minutes, tops. And damn, you guys were hot.”

“A few minutes!” I released a frustrated huff.

“I didn’t want to interrupt your orgasm,” she explained, pouring herself a glass of wine from the bottle on my counter. “It’s what any good friend would do in this situation.”

Aiden chuckled again and grabbed his jeans and boxer briefs, holding them in front of his manhood and shuffled off for the bathroom. He reemerged from the bathroom with his pants riding low on his hips, still looking entirely too sexy for Liz’s viewing pleasure. Of course he was still smiling, like none of this even remotely bothered him.

“What are you doing here?” I’d forgotten about the spare key I’d given to her when Aiden moved out. I snatched the box of crackers from her and set them harshly on the counter.

“You sort of bailed out on me without an explanation tonight. Then you weren’t answering your phone. I came to check on you. Make sure you hadn’t slit your wrists or done anything stupid.”

Aiden winced and immediately pulled me closer to him.

“Sorry, um, I was…”

“Having hot, sweaty sex. Yeah, I saw that and you’re forgiven.” She finished the wine in a single gulp. “But you.” She pointed at Aiden. “If you ever hurt her like that again, I’ll personally hunt you down and cut your balls off with a rusty butter knife.”

He gulped and held me protectively in front of him.

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