My heart stutters. “Just being ourselves?”

“Yeah. It’s like a reminder of why it’s good to be out. To be open, you know?”

I nod, more serious now. “I do know. I get it.”

For a moment, we just dance, then Fitz asks, “When did you come out?”

“I was sixteen. And you were fifteen, you said?”

“Yup, and when I was seventeen, I went to prom with Brian Levine. A real catch at the time.”

I smile, loving that he knew then. That he was confident. That his family supported him.

“Lucky Brian,” I say. “How did that come about?”

“I asked him with one of these cheesy signs, and he said yes.”

“And your school was cool with that?”

“Benefits of growing up in San Diego, I guess. When I told my mom I was gay, she hugged me and said, ‘I’m so happy for you,’ then she asked me to mow the lawn.”

This thrills me—the lack of drama, his certainty—and not just for fifteen-year-old Fitz. I’ve been the first for some guys. The experiment. That’s dangerous and sexy. It’s intoxicating for the ego but hell on the heart.

“That’s perfect. And sounds just like my father. He said something like ‘Great, and did you finish your essay?’ then asked if there was anyone I had my eye on, and it’s been that way ever since.”

“We’re lucky,” Fitz says, a massive understatement I don’t take for granted.

“We are.” I tip my head toward the redhead. “Have you ever been with a girl?”

He shakes his head. “No. Never even kissed a girl. You?”

“Same. Unless you count Louise Abernathy during Seven Minutes in Heaven when I was fourteen.”

He growls.

I toss my head back, laughing. “You’re jealous of a girl I didn’t even enjoy kissing, an experience that helped me realize I was and am very, very gay?”

“Fine, when you put it like that,” he grumbles.

“Don’t worry. It was pretty clear she was not my type.”

Fitz smirks. “And your type is?”

“Just this inked, bearded, cocky, charming, and addictive hockey player.”

He smiles, a crooked, delicious grin that makes my heart flip. “Good. Because it turns out I’ve got a thing for this sexy, sarcastic, strong, and stubborn British bartender.” He takes a beat, then adds, “But I’m actually glad you knew nothing about hockey.”

His tone is vulnerable, and I latch onto that sound, asking, “Why’s that?”

“Because my job never factored into this thing between us,” Fitz says.

There’s a look in his eyes telling me he needs something from me. He needs me to answer the question he didn’t ask. Because this fact, this underpinning of the night I met him, is part of what’s happening between us. This is part of the why of what’s happening.

My fingers play with the ends of his hair. “This thing between us was never about that. It was never about a name or a number on your jersey. I don’t even know what your number is, and I’ve never watched a hockey game. You could run a sandwich shop, and I’d still want to see you. You could collect rubbish. You could be the head of a company, or you could work in the post room. I don’t care.” It’s an unexpected rush of words tumbling from my lips, but it feels important to say them, to tell him this truth. “None of this is about what you do. All of it is about you.”

For the first time since I met him, the man is speechless. Maybe I’ve stunned him. Maybe I’ve said too much. But he’s never quiet for long, even if he’s speaking with his body.

Fitz slides his hands tighter around me, and there’s a rumble in his throat, an appreciative sound that seems to say thank you in some wordless language.

He’s so close to me right now, so unbearably close, and yet I still want him closer. I don’t want this moment to end. I don’t want any of this to end.

He slams his mouth onto mine, and it’s heady and wild, and we need to leave really fucking soon.

Fitz breaks the kiss, clearing his throat. “I’ve been thinking about something all night,” he begins in a rough voice full of intent.

“You have?” I ask.

“Been thinking about this since the shower yesterday morning. What you did to me.”

The moment slows. The music warps. Everything comes to a pause with this man and his hands on me and the words he’s saying. What they might mean.

“Yeah?” My mind is buzzing.

“And since last night too. What we talked about,” he adds, a little breathless, a lot hot and bothered.

His blue eyes are intensely focused on me. His hand wraps more tightly around my hip. My skin sizzles.

“Tell me,” I say, desperate to know.

He takes a breath, like it fuels him. “Remember what I said about how I’d let you fuck me?”

All my nerve endings come alive, flickering with possibility, with promise, and the promise of pleasure rushes through me. “I remember it perfectly,” I say in a voice like smoke.

Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance