Within a few minutes I was on the verge of coming, but felt like my knees were about to buckle any second. I struggled to stay upright, gripping the counter in front of me as the pressure built.

Cohen stopped suddenly and looked up at me. “Breathe, babe.”

I sucked in a breath, my chest rising rapidly. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath, and found it curious that Cohen had noticed even while his attention was otherwise diverted.

He smirked, and then brought his mouth to me again, the broad plain of his tongue darting out to taste me. My groans grew louder, and I tugged at Cohen’s hair, crying out his name with each precious flick of his tongue.

Just as my orgasm came my legs finally gave away, but Cohen was ready for it, holding me securely by my waist as he continued his slow torture, drawing out the last of my pleasure.

Chapter 9

My body hummed with euphoria after that orgasm of epic proportions and I was so dazed that I couldn’t even feel embarrassed about being completely naked. We made our way clumsily into the bedroom and Cohen helped me into one of his T-shirts. He held firmly onto my hips, helping me, while I climbed up the ladder to the top bunk. As I felt a cool breeze tickle my backside, I was suddenly reminded I wasn’t wearing any underpants—and I didn’t even want to know what kind of view Cohen had.

Once I was lying down, Cohen leaned over the side of the bunk and kissed my forehead. “Goodnight Eliza.” He tucked the covers around me securely before retreating to the bed below.

I settled in, drunk on Cohen’s touch and the aftereffects of my crippling orgasm combined with the many glasses of wine I’d consumed. I couldn’t help but notice the light scent of coconut oil was still on my skin and I smiled a sleepy grin. I knew I’d never look at that bottle of tanning oil the same way again. I would always envision Cohen’s parted lips and that string of soft curse words when I coated him in the warm oil. I curled onto my side, still smiling, and drifted off almost instantly.

***

When I woke the following morning, bright light streamed in through the loft windows and I flung the covers off me, sure I had overslept.

I noted Cohen’s bed was rumpled, but empty, and I headed into the bathroom. My discarded bikini lay in the center of the floor and I grinned when I remembered Cohen stripping it off me last night.

I inspected myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. My hair was a hot mess. The steam from the hot tub last night had curled the strands around my face, and it looked like an entire family of rodents had taken up permanent residency somewhere around the back and sides. I shrugged, and flipped off the bathroom light. It was hopeless.

I pulled on a pair of panties and shorts, but left on Cohen’s soft T-shirt, and made my way down the stairs.

It was silent downstairs and I wondered where everyone was. Thankfully there was a pot of coffee already brewed and I poured myself a cup before investigating.

I took a sip of the hot, blissfully strong coffee, and headed out onto the deck. I found the three of them lounging in the cushy club chairs on the deck, mugs in hand.

When I got closer, they erupted in laughter, and Ashlyn was wiping tears from beneath her eyes. I felt like I was intruding, and not privy to their inside joke.

I felt Ashlyn’s eyes appraising me with curiosity and I looked down, surveying myself. I was still in Cohen’s shirt, which was so long it concealed the fact that I was indeed wearing shorts underneath it. I unconsciously tugged at the hem, urging it lower. I could tell Ashlyn was wondering what had happened between Cohen and I that left me exhausted, and dressed in his shirt. I didn’t feel the need to explain myself to her, especially after her and Aiden’s insanely loud fucking.

“Come here, Easy E.” Cohen patted the seat next to him and I slid into it, curling my knees up under me and quietly sipping my coffee.

“How long have you guys been up?” I asked to no one in particular. I couldn’t help but noticed they were all dressed.

“A couple hours,” Ashlyn said, absently trailing her hand along Aiden’s forearm.

Aiden planted a kiss on her palm and then stood. “Come on, Cohen. Let’s make these beautiful ladies some breakfast.” I grinned up at him. I could see how it’d been easy for Ashlyn to fall for him, amnesia or not.

Cohen gave me a smile, and then headed in behind Aiden.

The grin faded from my face the second I met Ashlyn’s eyes. “What the hell was that, Liz?”

“What was what?”

She cocked her head and continued to glare at me. “You wake up late dressed in Cohen’s clothes, and he’s in a damn good mood this morning. What happened between you two last night?”

I ran my fingers through my hair, trying to tame the craziness. “We didn’t have sex if that’s what you mean.”

“But something happened?”

“Yeah, something happened. After listening to your damn moans and bedpost knocking against the wall for thirty minutes straight, we were a little hot and bothered. Cohen got out of the hot tub sporting a giant erection and I followed him inside and… took care of it.”

Her jaw dropped.

I hadn’t meant to make it sound like I was performing an act of public service—trust me, I’d enjoyed taking care of it, of him, way more than I should have. I wanted nothing more than to repeat that every day. And the thought of being his first, having him deep inside me, watching the joy and pleasure on his face was enough to get my mind to dive straight back into the gutter.

I held up my hand. “Don’t start, okay? We didn’t have sex. And I don’t think either of us regrets what happened last night.”

“Fine. But this can’t happen again, Liz. You’re temping him. And I know you don’t have much self-control.”

I set down my coffee mug roughly on the side table. “Enough. Did I counsel you on your relationship with Aiden?”

“Yes.”

I pressed my mouth closed. She was right. But that was different. Aiden was in a mental hospital—under arrest—and I’d been concerned that he was dangerous. It seemed her concern wasn’t for me, but for the innocent Cohen. “I’m going for a walk,” I blurted.

I set off down the deck stairs and stalked off toward the beach. I began walking with no particular destination in mind, just needing some space from Ashlyn and my growing feelings for Cohen. As much as I hated it, Ashlyn was right. I needed to walk away from Cohen before either of us got hurt. But somehow I knew I wouldn’t.

I winced as my pace demonstrated the need for a bra. But I hadn’t really planned on needing to get away this morning. I crossed my arms over my chest and continued my trek down the beach.

I was so lost in my thoughts that when I finally focused on my surroundings I didn’t recognize anything around me. I hadn’t kept track of time, and had no idea how far I’d gone. Feeling weary, I plopped down into the sand and lay back, looking up at the blue sky.

I hated that Ashlyn was probably right. I didn’t know what I was doing with Cohen. He was a good boy, I was a hot mess. I knew it was a very bad idea to use him or lead him on, because ultimately I wasn’t looking for the whole marriage and babies thing, and I was pretty sure he saw that in his future. I thought I was that kind of girl at one time, but not now, not after the accident and everything that followed. Sometimes I wished things had turned out differently, but I knew that was just a wasted effort. I wouldn’t dwell on the past. Doing so would never change how things had turned out for me. It was best to accept it and move on.

I took a deep breath and sat up. I spotted Cohen in the distance, jogging down the beach toward me. When he drew close, he lowered himself onto the sand next to me.

“Water?” He held a bottle out to me.

“Thanks.” I accepted it and took a swig, washing the bitter taste of coffee from my mouth.

“Why’d you take off? Is everything…okay?”

I buried my feet into the damp sand, unsure of what to say.

“Are you mad about last night?”

Mad? At him? God, no. I turned to face him, and his blue eyes locked on mine with such honesty I was taken aback. “Of course not, Cohen. I wanted that. I wanted you.” I still did. “Is that okay…what happened between us?”

He laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle. “Hell, yeah. That was much more than okay.”

I smiled up at him like a giddy idiot.

He shook his head. “Why’d you take off this morning?”

I rolled over and tackled him to the sand, straddling him with my thighs. “It had nothing to do with you. I’d take a repeat of last night right here if you’d let me.”

He laced his fingers behind his head, relaxing. “Go for it, babe. I just wish we had that damn coconut oil.”

I chuckled. “You liked that, didn’t you?”

“Fuck, yeah. I think you’ve spoiled me from jerking off without it from now on.”

Oh God, the image of him alone in his apartment—doing that—I would never be able to sleep alone again, lying in bed imagining him stroking himself.

I snuggled into his neck, the smile still on my lips. “How did you learn how to…” I paused and swallowed, deciding the best way to word my question. “You were really good at going down on me. Way better than most guys.”

“Really?” He met my eyes, smiling.

Jeez, guys could be so cocky. “Yeah.”

“I’ve probably just had enough practice. I haven’t had sex, but I’ve definitely done all the other stuff, Eliza. I am a guy.”

Sometimes I forgot he was regular guy. I wasn’t sure when it began, but I realized now I’d placed him on sort of a pedestal.

He sat up suddenly, hauling me with him. I figured it was my cue to crawl off his lap, but his big, warm arms wound their way around my waist. He pulled me in closer and breathed in against my neck. “What am I doing with you, Eliza?” he whispered against my skin.

I didn’t know if it was a rhetorical question, or if he was expecting an answer, but I remained still and just let me hold me while I could.

“Easy E?” He pulled back and looked at me with confusion. “What is this? What do you want?” His voice was deep and heavy.

I swallowed roughly, and laid my palm on his roughened cheek. “Cohen. I’m not the churchgoing, white-picket-fence type that you’re looking for.”

His eyes never wavered from mine. “Then maybe I’m looking for the wrong thing.”

My stomach dropped.

“Cohen…” Any further protests were cut short, because his mouth made its way to mine and he kissed me passionately, holding the back of my neck, weaving his fingers underneath my hair.

If Cohen wasn’t going to fight this thing between us, then I wasn’t either. I gripped his shoulders and crushed his mouth to mine.

Several minutes later Cohen stood, still holding me against him. He kissed me once more, and set me on my feet. “Come on, we better get back.”

I couldn’t help but grin at him, noting that he had an erection again. I chuckled and laced my fingers with his as we started back to the lake house.

***

Cohen and Aiden were seated at the dining room table playing a heated game of cards, while Ashlyn and I cooked dinner. Well, I cooked salmon and prepared greens for a salad, while Ashlyn fidgeted nervously near the counter. I removed a chef’s knife from her hands, sure she was about to slice one of us open.

“Why don’t you get the guys another beer and a snack? Dinner will be a bit yet.” It didn’t take long at all to prepare salmon and salad, but babysitting Ashlyn was adding time to the meal and I just wanted her out of the room for a minute. She was a major liability in the kitchen. Luckily for her though, Aiden loved to cook.

“I’m on it.” She nodded. She grabbed two bottles of the specialty micro-brewed beer that we’d learned the guys shared in common as their favorite and then began pouring a mixture of different salty snacks into a bowl, balancing it all in her arms to carry it to the table.

I grated lemon rind into a small bowl and added a drizzle of olive oil, adding this flavoring to the salted and peppered pink flesh of the fish.

I glanced up and watched as she delivered the beers and snacks to the table. She exchanged the full beers for the empty bottles and Cohen eagerly dug into the snacks, grabbing a handful and tossing it into his open mouth.

I smiled and hummed to myself, appreciating the cozy domestic vibe this weekend had taken on. I gathered up the empty bags Ashlyn had left on the counter, pretzels, cheese crackers, and salted nuts. Nuts.

I rushed toward Cohen and slapped the handful of snacks from his hand. They scattered all over the floor.

“What the—?” Aiden stood to avoid the scattered mess falling into his lap.

I thumped against the back of Cohen’s head, and held my hand in front of his mouth, coaxing him to spit the half-chewed bite into my palm.

He did so without question, but the collective intake of breath from Aiden and Ashlyn was almost comical.

“Nuts?” Cohen asked once his mouth was clear.

I nodded and disposed of the mess into a napkin.

“Thanks, babe.” He patted my behind.

I released a deep breath I’d been holding, and went back into the kitchen to throw the used napkin away. Ashlyn followed me into the kitchen.

“He’s allergic?”

I nodded, washing my hands.

“I’m so sorry—I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. He’s fine.”

Then why couldn’t I stop my hands from shaking? I thrust them under cold water, and leaned against the sink. I didn’t even notice him at first, but Cohen had come up behind me and leaned in close, brushing my hair from my neck.

“Thank you,” he breathed against my skin.

A chill ran down my spine at the soft whisper of his voice. I shut off the water and grabbed a hand towel, shoving away from him. “Just be more careful.”

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