I rein in a grin that threatens to overtake my face. He’s just as aware of how many hours we have left as I am.

I take his hand, clasping mine around it. “I won’t use it in anger. But I do think it’s hot as fuck. Much like you are.” A rumble works its way through my throat as I savor the feel of his full name on my lips. “Dean Collins.” I don’t let go of his hand. Instead, I yank him to me, his chest inches from mine, his pelvis so close. “Dean Collins,” I say again, his name heating me up. “I’m going to fuck you so good tonight.”

In a flash, he’s back. The heat in his eyes. The parting of his lips. The signs that he wants me.

“Show me,” he says in that challenging tone he uses. “Kiss me right now the way you want to tonight.”

“Gladly.” I grab the back of his head and plant a hot, fierce kiss on his lips, on Tower Bridge in front of everyone walking by, not caring in the least.

When we separate, I wiggle my brows. “Okay, you ready to take my picture?”

He laughs. “Yes, I want to be completely turned on when I snap your pic.”

I clap his back. “Just think of tea cakes or the queen, mate,” I toss back at him.

More laughter. Then Dean schools his expression, clears his throat, and mutters, “God save the queen.” He gestures to his crotch. “Voilà. Done.”

“So impressive, your deflation technique.”

“Thank you very much.”

I snap a quick selfie in the middle of the bridge to show London Bridge – not falling down – up the river. Then we walk to the other side of the bridge as it wraps around the water. “More pics. Amelia will like this one better anyway since it looks more like a bridge in a book and she loves to read. I practically read her a whole Calvin and Hobbes book at a softball game earlier this summer when we were sitting in the bleachers while everyone else was playing.”

“Because softball wasn’t her thing either?” Dean teases.

“Ha. No. Because I’m a good guy and I was watching my friend’s kid.”

He flashes me a smile. “She likes you. That’s sweet.”

“She likes Calvin and Hobbes now too. And hockey. I’ve been training her to like hockey from a young age.”

“And you’ve succeeded?”

I give him my best cocky grin. “I have. Don’t worry.” I curl a hand around his shoulder. “I’ll convert you next.”

He grins. “Stranger things have happened. All right. Let’s get on this.”

Lining up the shot, I stand on the walkway, the bridge behind us, the water too. It’s a good shot, but the thing is, it’d be better with both of us. It just would.

“Join me in the pic.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t think your friend’s daughter wants to see me.”

“Get in here,” I say, motioning him closer. “She’ll be impressed I’m on the bridge with a real Londoner.”

He arches a brow. “You truly want me to join you?”

“It’s a photo. It’s not a promise ring.”

“You ass,” he mutters under his breath, but he’s smiling again, and we’re us, having a good time, riling each other up.

Dean slides in by my side. I angle my phone out so that I can see both of us perfectly positioned in front of the famous landmark.

And we look good together.

Damn good.

For a flash of a second, before I take the pic, a series of images flicker before my eyes.

Unbidden.

Out of nowhere.

I don’t ask for them, but they arrive fully formed, and I can see us like this. Checking out the world. Going to Amsterdam. To Copenhagen. To Paris. Taking pictures in front of tourist icons.

Pictures for my sisters, for Amelia, for my mom.

And for me. Most of all, for me.

That’s why I want this shot.

Amelia doesn’t care. That was a half-truth. I wanted to see how I looked here with him, with this man I can’t get enough of.

Something about the way the two of us are together makes me feel like we could have that life. Those times. Those days and nights.

That he could be my man.

Then I blink the insane thought away.

Because what the hell?

That’s not me. That’s not what I want.

That won’t happen.

And as soon as I’m fully aware of that thought, I squash it, keeping it far, far away.

I snap a couple of pictures.

“There. Done,” I say, then tuck my phone away before even looking at them. “I’m starving. Want to grab some lunch?”

He says yes, and I focus on food, not on the runaway thoughts that briefly, only briefly, invaded my brain.

They return later that day, and I do my best to quell them, to keep everything light and breezy.

But it’s not as easy as it was even a few hours ago.

19

Dean

After we eat, we roam around the city. I ask him about hockey. Even though I don’t see myself becoming a fan, I’m genuinely curious how the game works, what the best strategies are. I like learning new things, and Fitz is an excellent teacher when it comes to his sport.


Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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