I turned toward the oven and set the fish inside to broil, needing something to keep me busy and distracted from the rush of emotions I was feeling.

***

After dinner the guys cleaned up the kitchen while Ashlyn opened another bottle of wine. I wouldn’t have thought it’d be possible to drink all the bottles we’d brought, but we were already opening our last one at eight o’clock on Saturday night.

I curled up on the couch, using Cohen’s Chicago Fire Department sweatshirt like a blanket. I accepted a glass of white wine from Ashlyn and leaned back, settling in to the couch. This weekend wasn’t at all what I had been expecting. I had developed deeper feelings for Cohen, if that was even possible, which left me feeling confused and irritable. And on top of that, each time Cohen did something sweet or thoughtful for me, or each time my eyes lingered on his for too long, I’d catch Ashlyn narrowing her eyes at me.

When the dishes were done, Aiden joined Ashlyn on the couch, and I forced myself to remain facing forward, rather than turn and search for Cohen like I desperately wanted to. A second later, I felt his warm breath at my ear.

“Come upstairs with me.”

My pulse jumped. His silent invitation and everything it implied set my skin on fire. I leaned forward and set my glass of wine down on the coffee table while Cohen disappeared upstairs.

Ashlyn and Aiden were cuddling on the sectional sofa across from me, and I made a show of stretching my arms above my head and yawning. “I’m beat.”

“It’s early still,” Ashlyn said. “Where’s Cohen?” She peeked around the corner into the empty kitchen.

Rather than answering, I stood, leaving the sweatshirt on the couch. “Well, I think I’m going to call it a night.”

“You can’t do this,” Ashlyn hissed under her breath.

Aiden’s hand on her forearm relaxed her just slightly. “Leave them alone. They’re both adults.”

I smiled at Aiden and headed for the stairs. My pulse quickened with each riser and when I finally reached the top, I found Cohen lying on the bottom bunk, his hands folded behind his head and a huge smile on his face.

“What are you doing?”

“Shh. Come here.” He moved over in the tiny bed, making room for me.

I slid in next to him, very aware that the loft was open all the way to the lower floor where Aiden and the very disapproving Ashlyn were currently sitting. I snuggled close to his body and his arm snaked its way around me, holding me securely against his side.

He held my hand in his and gently caressed my palm, running his thumb along the creases there. I remembered back to our conversation about my love line, and when he first found out I was damaged goods. Not that I had told him anything useful. Nor would I. He brought my palm to his mouth and placed a kiss directly in the center.

“So…what should we do?”

I faked a yawn. “I’m pretty tired. Guess I’ll just get some sleep.” I closed my eyes, fighting off a smile.

Cohen tickled my sides wickedly, causing me to bite back a squeal and buck off the bed.

“Cohen!” I struggled to maintain my composure and swatted at his chest. The last thing I needed was Ashlyn hearing noises like that coming from up here. I was convinced she wouldn’t be above sprinting up here and physically separating me form Cohen. And somehow, that was the most depressing thought ever—one I didn’t want to reflect on any longer than was necessary. He caught my hand in his and pressed it firmly against his muscled chest. He chuckled softly. “Relax, babe.”

I pressed my hand over his mouth. “Shush.” But his smile was contagious, and soon I was grinning back at him like an idiot. Our eyes met and held for several moments, his filled with something that pulled at my chest. I pushed the feeling aside. I only wanted the physical with him—not the emotional. I couldn’t handle going there again. With anyone. Especially someone as perfect and loveable as Cohen. It would only end in heartbreak for us both.

I leaned in closer to him and let my hand fall away from his mouth. “Are you going to be good?” I whispered seductively against his lips.

He nodded, eagerly. “Anything for you.”

Oh, and I knew he would be good. He was sexy as hell without even trying. All his lean muscle and manly goodness were almost more than I could handle. Almost.

I pressed my lips to his and kissed him softly. He worked his hand under my hair, holding me firmly to him and parting my lips with his tongue.

I could already tell tonight would be different from last night. It was more of a slow build—every touch meant to soothe, every caress meant to tease, and every kiss meant to excite just a little more than the one before, but there was no catalyst like last night. In some ways I liked it more, because I knew it meant we would explore each other’s bodies for longer, without the need for a quick release, but in another way, I didn’t like that it felt like something more—something tender to be savored.

Needing to take control and change the emotion of the situation, I pushed Cohen’s shoulders down to the bed and climbed on top of him, straddling his lap.

He ran his hands up my sides, lifting my shirt as he went. I raised my arms, encouraging him to remove it completely like I knew he wanted to.

His fingers skimmed lightly over the pale-pink bra I wore, dipping in between the curves, and tracing the hardened nubs beneath the fabric. My breaths came in shallow, more ragged, bursts. He watched my eyes the entire time, seeming to like the reaction he got from me, but I could tell this slow build was affecting him too. His jeans were tight across his hips and straining between us.

He finally reached back to release the clasp. My bra fell free and his sharp inhale caused a swell of pride to surge through me. Cohen’s callused hands covered my breasts with less finesse than before, as if he couldn’t restrain himself any longer, but his touch was no less exquisite. I let out a barely contained moan, not because of the sensation itself, but because of how thoroughly Cohen was enjoying himself. He leaned up on one elbow, and pressed his other hand into the small of my back, urging me to lower my breasts to his mouth. When his warm, wet tongue met my nipple and he sucked, hard, the groan that escaped my lips was most definitely of pleasure.

“Cohen,” I breathed.

His mouth pulled from my nipple with a suckling sound and he met my eyes. “Shh,” he reminded me.

I bit my lips, my cheeks reddening. I had forgotten about our surroundings—the open loft and the bedroom that was within earshot of our friends downstairs.

“Do you like it, babe?”

“Yes. Please keep going.”

He grinned and brought his mouth to my other breast, licking and teasing me while still meeting my eyes. But when I pressed my hips against his, his eyes fell closed and he released a strangled groan before pulling my nipple into his mouth.

I continued to writhe against him, teasing his hard cock between us and wishing we were naked.

After he had thoroughly feasted on my breasts and they were damp with his kisses and pinkened from the stubble of his jaw, I lowered myself, wiggling down his body until I was face-to-face with his belt buckle.

He swallowed roughly and lifted up on his elbows to watch me.

I took my time, tracing the outline of his erection with a single fingertip, before slowly unbuckling his belt, and tugging down his zipper inch by inch in anticipation of the mouthwateringly delicious cock waiting for me.

Even though I was sure that what I was doing could probably be described as a form of torture, Cohen didn’t complain. He didn’t help free his cock from his boxers, or push me to move me along faster. He just continued to watch me as though he was captivated, both lust and wonder reflected in his beautiful blue eyes.

I nibbled at the outline of his erection through the boxer briefs, using my teeth to lightly nip and tease him. His breathing quickened and his chest rose and fell more rapidly.

I finally tugged his boxers down with both hands, and he lifted his hips to allow me to pull both them and his jeans off his legs. He yanked his T-shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor.

He was completely naked, and his body was holy-God-wow. I sucked in a deep breath, noticing that my panties were already soaking wet, and probably even my shorts too.

His fingers skimmed across my belly and danced along to the waistband of my little jean shorts, toying and teasing me with his leisurely pace. I’d never hated a button so much in my damn life. He finally freed the button and I lifted my hips so he could pull the shorts down my legs. Then he dropped them to the floor with the rest of his clothes.

I was now only wearing a tiny scrap of fabric—the black g-string I’d packed. It was meant to tempt him, but it was also succeeding in making me feel like a sexy seductress. I didn’t trust myself around Cohen. I bent at the waist, lifting my bottom into the air and lowering my mouth to his beautiful cock. He held himself in place with one hand gripped around his shaft while I lovingly stroked my tongue from base to tip, spending more time at the head, noticing that when I flicked my tongue he cursed under his breath, and fisted his other hand into the blanket.

I kissed the back of his hand and removed it from his shaft, then I wrapped both hands firmly around him and began pumping up and down, suckling the head at the same time. He groaned and closed his eyes. “Fuck, babe. Fuck, fuck,” he whispered.

I smiled at the naughty endearments.

I felt Cohen grab my ass and squeeze, gripping one fleshy cheek as I bobbed up and down with my mouth around his cock. His fingers worked their way under the string on my panties and he began tugging them down.

I stopped suddenly and sat up. “Cohen, those have to stay on, or nothing is going to stop me from riding your cock.”

He groaned and his head fell back against the pillow. “Fuck,” his chest rumbled with the curse. “Don’t say stuff like that, babe.”

“Cohen.” My voice was a plea, only I didn’t know what for. He was supposed to be the strong one. I wasn’t known for my willpower, but for him, I would try.

He left my panties in place, but pulled me onto his lap again. I wanted the contact against him just as much as he did. He rocked his hips against mine, and pressed his cock against my soaked panties with each thrust. I leaned over him, and let my breasts sway gently against his chest while we kissed. The feel of my nipples skimming over his pecs was another of the sensations that I normally wouldn’t have noticed. His kisses were rough and desperate, his tongue matching the pace of his thrusts. It was hypnotic and sensual. Another thing to love about Cohen.

I’d never come just from dry humping before, but damn if I wasn’t close to orgasm already. I could tell from his breathing that he was too.

Just one tiny little piece of dampened fabric separated us, and I imagined what it would be like to have his impressive cock sink inside me. I would only need to push the panties aside and he could fill my empty pussy. “Cohen, I want you inside me,” I blurted without thinking.

His entire body went stiff and I could read the conflicting emotions on his face as clear as day. He pressed his lips to mine one last time, and then sat up and moved me off him.

Shit. Had I said the wrong thing?

He flipped us over, so that I was lying flat against the bed, and he was hovering over me. He spread my thighs, forcing them apart and kneeled on the bed between my legs.

He pulled my panties aside, but left them on. The strings cut into my hips, but I didn’t even really notice. He rubbed his thumb along my clit, gently stroking and teasing. Oh Lord, I was so close. He brought one finger to my entrance and slowly pressed forward. I sucked in a breath and held it as he gently eased his finger out and in, out and in, adding a second finger to the first. I groaned at the pressure, and his version of being inside of me. This wasn’t what I had in mind, but I realized it would have to do. And damn if it didn’t feel amazing.

I reached between us and stroked him while he continued to pump his fingers in and out of me. I watched his movements as he continued thrusting, the veins in his forearm standing out, his muscles tense. God, was he sexy.

Only a few thrusts later and I was there. I released a breathy moan and called out his name. Cohen clamped one hand down over my mouth to silence my cries as I came. The feel of his hand pressed firmly over my mouth while his other hand continued to drive forward inside me was enough to make me come unglued. I’d never had so much fun not having sex.

He let out a soft curse word, and a few seconds later he came, hot and sticky all over my stomach and panties. It was insanely sexy to feel him mark me as his, to feel his juices and mine mingle between my legs.

He collapsed down on top of me and I nestled into his neck and breathed in his masculine scent, knowing that spending much more time around Cohen without fucking him was soon going to be impossible.

Chapter 10

Ashlyn didn’t speak to me much in the morning as we packed up the lake house. And by the time we were in the car, with my head resting against Cohen’s shoulder, I no longer cared. She wrongly assumed that we were having sex, that I was a heartless hussy stealing poor Cohen’s virginity, and I just couldn’t find the energy to try to convince her otherwise. Her distrust in me bothered me. Was I not good enough for Cohen?

I closed my eyes and was drifting in and out of sleep to the sounds of the highway humming beneath us and the gentle vibration of the car when we came to a screeching halt.

I sat up quickly, looking around, unable at first to process the chaos around us. Ahead on the highway a car had flipped over on its roof, steam seeping from the engine. Not far away a truck was down in the ditch, lying on its side. A man and a woman were climbing from the cab of the truck, looking battered and shocked.

Before I even realized what was happening, Cohen was no longer beside me. He had dashed from the car and was running toward the scene of the accident, shouting something at Aiden who trailed behind him, already talking on his cell phone.

My heartbeat pounded in my ears and I couldn’t tell if I was imagining the sounds of the screams and sirens I heard echoing in the distance.

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