But until then, there’s this.

This raw, sexual energy vibrating between the sexy-as-sin Brit and me.

“Yeah, it’s a fantastic view,” I say, my eyes on him.

For a few seconds, we stare at each other like we’re going to pounce, like he wants to tear off my clothes and get his mouth all over me. It’s a great look.

But we’re surrounded by people and water and landmarks, and everything is getting in the way of what I want—alone time with this man.

Dean breaks our gaze and slides his arm around my waist. “Now, before we maul each other on this boat, tell me something innocuous. Why did you want to take this cruise?”

I laugh. “I’ve always liked boats. My dad worked in shipping. Maybe it’s in my blood.”

“I bet it is. A connection to him.”

“Yeah. I think so.” I take a beat. “My turn. Why do you like London so much?”

He gives a shrug and a smile. “It’s home. It feels right. Like where I belong. Is New York that way for you?”

“I think I’ll always be a California guy, but New York suits me now. I love the energy, the pace, the people. It’s loud and dirty and awesome, and you can find anything and do anything.” I survey the city unfolding before me, the view of Big Ben, the iconic city skyline. “It’s a lot like London, I suppose. And I like it here. A helluva lot.”

“It’s the good-sex effect.”

I shake my head. “Get it right, man. It’s the great-sex effect.”

“Excuse me. It’s the hashtag Best-Sex-Ever effect.”

“Yes. Thank you for the clarification.” I pat the railing of the boat. “Looks like we both popped our Thames riverboat cruise cherries,” I say, letting my tongue loll out like a dog’s.

“We’re no longer riverboat virgins.”

Which raises an interesting topic. “Speaking of, when did you . . .?”

Dean shoots me a wry grin. “I was eighteen. Just finishing school. You?”

“Same. Summer before college.”

“Was it good for you?”

“Eh.” I shrug. “It was necessary.”

“That’s a fair way of putting it.”

“I know where I’d like to put it right now,” I whisper.

He shoots me an oh no, you didn’t stare. “You picked an hour-long cruise. You’re not shagging me on a boat.”

I slide a hand up his back. “I know. I just want to. Remember?” With my other hand, I tap my chest. “Insatiable.”

“Yes. I know. And yes, I like it. Now, enjoy the cruise, because before you know it, we’ll be getting off.” Dean’s lips curve up in a grin as he takes a deliberate beat, then adds, “And then getting off.”

An hour later, we dock, grab a cab, and head back to my hotel, where we get naked so quickly, we set a record.

Then he’s bent over the bed, I’m inside him, and I’m so fucking happy and so damn horny that I decide it’s official—I’m living my best life ever.

When we’re done and recovering from the #BestSexEver effect, Dean’s phone rings.

Lazily, he reaches for it, then when he sees who’s calling, he sits up quickly.

“Shit, I almost forgot.” He answers with “Hi, Dad.”

I listen as he laughs with his father, drops his face into his hand, and then covers his phone and looks at me. “We’re having takeaway at my flat. He wants you to join us for dinner.”

“Hell, yeah,” I say, and after a shower, I leave the hotel with my lover to meet his father.

It’s completely surreal and completely real at the same damn time.



Not gonna lie.

I feel like I just gained entry to a secret land.

A special place.

And it is awesome. When Dean unlocks the green door to his flat, I want to pump a fist because I get to see inside.

Instead, I turn around, drink in the view of the quiet side street where he lives, then follow him into the foyer.

“It’s just like Notting Hill,” I remark.

“Except it’s in Bankside. And I don’t live with a crazy man who wears goggles and eats expired apricots.”

I poke his side. “Dean. Are you a closet rom-com fan?”

He swivels around, stopping on the steps, arching a brow. “Closeted? Oh no, not at all. I’m totally out on that front and all fronts.”

I laugh. “Yeah, Notting Hill is just a good flick.”

“That it is.”

I follow him up the stairs to the third floor, and he unlocks the door to his place. It opens with a faint groan, and I catalog that sound.

It’s like the opening theme song to a movie, and as the credits roll, I step into the world of the man I want to spend all my time with.

“It’s small, but it’s home,” he says, almost like he’s apologizing for it.

And it is tiny.

A kitchen with a sliver of space that opens right into a living room with exposed brick walls.

My eyes are wide, and I take it all in, like I can learn even more about him from the place he lives. It’s neat, tidy. His couch is dark gray, and there are books on the coffee table—nonfiction, from the looks of it, current titles on scandals and business. His walls are minimalist but decorated with prints of artwork—one looks like a Rothko, and another a Vermeer—and I smile privately, knowing where this comes from. His mom. Even if he’s not close to her, she left a mark on him, on something he loves.

Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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