His hand skimmed down my hair. “Just that I was living in the past. What happened with my father, what happened with you, I could never get over the anger. Yesterday kept following me. And tomorrow, the new day, never seemed to come.”

Until me, he’d written on the note.

“And the lantern on your arm?”

“Oh, you ask too many questions,” Jared complained playfully, and I could tell he was embarrassed.

But I waited, not letting him off the hook.

He pinned me with a resigned smile. “The lantern is you, Tate. The light. I got it after I got in trouble last year. I needed to clean up my act, and my mom decided to do the same thing with her drinking. We both picked one thought that would get us through the day. A dream or a desire…” he shook his head and trailed off.

His confession made me breathless. He had thought of me every day?

“Me?” I asked.

He gazed down at me and stroked my cheek with his thumb. “It’s always been you.” He used my words, and I couldn’t swallow for the lump in my throat.

“I love you, Tate.” Jared looked at me like I was the most important thing in his world.

I closed my eyes and touched his lips to mine. “I love you, too,” I whispered against his mouth before sealing it with a kiss.


Our bodies melted together, and his fingers threaded through my hair as we devoured each other. His lips were soft but strong against mine, and my fingers dug into his back as his hands claimed my body. I wanted him everywhere.

I was insatiable, and guilt reared its ugly head at me. I wanted him here and now, but sex in someone else’s room while a party happened downstairs was not something a nice girl did.

I pressed my h*ps into his, and we were both breathless in between kisses.

I trailed a path to his jaw, and my teeth lightly grazed his chin. “Unzip me,” I panted.

He groaned. “Let’s just get out of here. I’m in the mood for more than a quickie.”

“Well, I’ve never had a quickie,” I pointed out. “Unzip me.”

He complied, but the corners of his mouth lifted in a sexy smile. “Where’d my good girl go?” The question was rhetorical. I knew he loved the way I wanted him.

I felt the draft when Jared’s hand reached behind me to unzip my dress, and I moaned when his hands slipped down and caressed my back. His hands were like a drug, almost as addictive as his mouth. I peeled off his jacket, while he let my dress fall down to my waist.

Jared’s mouth seared my neck in soft kisses, and I worked the buttons of his shirt. I sucked in a breath when his hands went to my br**sts. Tingles spread across my skin, craving more of him.

“Jared,” I whispered and wrapped an arm around his neck, placing my lips to his. “I really am a good girl. But tonight I want to be really, really bad.”

His breath shook against my mouth, and he captured my lips in a fierce kiss. God, he wanted me. And I was thrilled, because I didn’t want to wait until we got home.

Jared tore open the rest of his shirt, sending buttons scattering to the hardwood floor. I let my dress spill to my feet and then peeled off my panties, leaving my high heels on.

“Fuck, Tate.” Jared clenched his jaw, taking in the sight in front of him. And he pulled my lips to his again, devouring almost every part of me with his mouth and hands. “I’m sorry. I want to go slow with you. It’s just so hard. Do you think in ten years I’ll finally get to where I’ll actually need foreplay to get hard with you?”

His eyes questioned me, but I could only smile. There was just something about the way he wanted me, the way his eyes drowned out any doubts, that made me feel powerful.

Jared, from what I’d seen, was a one-nighter kind of guy. He didn’t do sleepovers, and he didn’t take phone numbers. I worried that he’d lose interest or consider it a mission accomplished when we’d first slept together, but instead, he’d become even more hungry.

Every touch this past week, every kiss, every time we’d loved, he acted like everything we were doing was new. Ridiculous, I know. He had more experience than me, so why would anything be different than what he’d experienced before?

Unless he loved me. That was something I was sure he hadn’t had with any other girl. I hoped, anyway.

I wanted to be bold, even though my nerves wanted me to run for the hills. I wanted to experience everything with Jared. No hiding, no fear. I was going to ask for everything I wanted, and be brave about it. Forever or never.

His shirt dropped the floor, followed by his pants.

Be bold.

I put my hand on the swollen proof that he wanted me. He jerked and sucked in a breath while I wrapped my hand around him and stroked. I expected him to close his eyes. Wasn’t he supposed to do that? To concentrate on the feeling more? But instead, he just watched me touching him. He got harder in my hand, and I clenched my thighs, turned on by the smooth length that had been inside of me and would be inside of me again.

He watched me with dark, heated eyes. He watched me touch him, and I thought I would come just from what I was doing to him. The way his hands clenched into fists and his erection jerked when I rubbed a certain way, and the way his breathing got heavier all got me throbbing to the point where I couldn’t take anymore.

He tore open the wrapper of the condom he’d put on the nightstand when he took his pants off and slipped it on.

Thank God!

Melting my body into his, my br**sts rubbing against the smooth skin of his chest, I kissed him long and deep, running my hands all over his back.

Be brave.

“My turn,” I whispered in his ear.

Jared’s eyes widened when he realized what I meant.

I lightly pushed him back on the bed and slid on top of him. Perfect. A shot of adrenaline coursed through me when I felt his hands on my h*ps and his sex pressed against me.

“You’re perfect. Perfect for me.” He ran his hands up and down my thighs.

I moved, gliding his tip along my slit, teasing him. When I came down on him, putting him inside me, my toes curled with the unbelievable feeling. It was so much deeper like this, and I leaned backward a little to be able to absorb every inch. I was filled and stretched, and I wanted him to feel as complete as I did.

Jared put a hand on my breast and used his other hand to guide my h*ps as worked him slowly. “Tell me you like it, Tate.”

“I…” I clenched my thighs tighter at his sides and moved in a front-back motion against him rather than the up-down I’d been doing.

Oh. My. God.

He hit the spot deep inside of me, and my head flipped back as I moaned. Damn! There was nothing better than having him inside of me.

I loved that I could still feel where he was the next day. And I want to feel him tomorrow, too.

He pushed his h*ps up hard against me, sending shudders through my body. “Say it.”

“I love it.” My body had lost control. The ripple inside of me turned into a wave, and I grinded against him faster and harder. “I love it with you.”

Afterwards, we lay collapsed on the bed, too tired to move, and I just wanted to crawl under the covers with him. I couldn’t believe I’d just done that in a strange house. We needed to get out of here before everyone figured out what we were up to. I had to start being more careful. My dad trusted me, but that wouldn’t last if I kept making irresponsible decisions.

Of course, he liked Jared. I was eighteen. My dad knew me having a sex life was bound to happen sooner or later. However, this school year had been full of behavioral mishaps on my part, and ha**ng s*x in a strange house at a party wasn’t on my list of great ideas. It was fun once, but I reminded myself to not try this again.

I kissed Jared, and we both smiled and laughed as we helped each other get dressed.

“I have a question.” I finally broke the blissful silence as I smoothed over his hair. It was the same question I’d tried to ask him before. There was only one more piece of the Jared-puzzle that I needed.


“You didn’t want to tell me about your dad or your brother. But Piper knew where you went on the weekends. Why could she know and not me?” The idea of Jared close enough to that girl to confide in her pissed me off.

“Tate, I didn’t tell Piper anything. Her dad is a cop. The cop that arrested me last year for attacking Jax’s foster dad. She found out through him.” He circled his arms around my waist and held me close.

“So you just happened to be dating the daughter of the cop that arrested you?” I knew it was more than a coincidence without him saying anything. He’d sought out Piper for some silly revenge. Bagging the cop’s daughter was a “screw you” to her father.

He shrugged. “Yeah, I’m not proud of that, but would it make you feel better if I actually liked her?”

I looked away. No. No, it wouldn’t.

Chapter 35

You know that expression—walking on cloud nine? Well, that was me as I strolled down the halls on Monday. Everything was going so great—K.C. and Liam, Jared and me, and school—that I felt like I was on a happy drug and never wanted to come down.

Jared had kissed me good-bye Sunday morning after Homecoming, having to leave for a daytrip to Weston to visit his brother. I hinted that I’d love to join him some weekend and meet Jax, but I didn’t want to push it either. I got the impression that Jared really enjoyed his alone time with his brother, so I’d wait until the time was right.

He hadn’t called or texted all day yesterday, so I started to worry when I hadn’t heard from him. But, at about ten o’clock last night, he’d finally crawled through my window and slid into bed next to me. As he spooned me, we both fell into a deliciously deep sleep.

Between the tickle torture he woke me up with this morning and the rush to school, I had barely talked to him about his visit with his brother.

“So, get your ass out to the parking lot right after school today.” Madoc sauntered up to me as I headed to French class. He was grinning from ear to ear. “We’re going to practice racing out on Route Five. Lots of dirt road and hills.”

I pushed up the sleeves of my thin, black cardigan that I wore over my Avenged Sevenfoldt-shirt. I was hot as hell as I battled the crowd in the hallway. “Why would I want to practice racing? And with you?”

“Because Jared said you were looking at a G8 to buy. We could spend the winter getting it ready to race in the spring. Jared says he’s got work after school, so that means you’re free, and we can bond.” He nodded his filthy-flirtatious head like I should be so excited.

I couldn’t lie and say that I wasn’t interested in buying a car. Jared had seen my internet printouts. A guy in Chicago was selling a Pontiac G8 that had me drooling, but I hadn’t decided to buy it yet.

Madoc raised his eyebrows. His light blue oxford hung open over a dark gray t-shirt, and with his boyish demeanor, it was hard to stay agitated with him. He was trying to be friendly, after all.

But I forced a stern voice. “I have labs twice a week, including today. I have cross country. Not to mention, I have papers due in Themes and French early next week, and a Math and Chemistry test right before Halloween next Friday. Some other time…maybe.” I breathed out the last part as I opened the door to French class.

“Don’t be such a party pooper!” Madoc followed me in and shouted loud enough for the whole classroom to hear. “Those na**d pictures of us skinny dipping were for my eyes only.”

I halted, and closed my eyes as I sensed every student in the room turn to stare at me. Was he seriously doing this to me again?!

Snickers and not-so-subtle laughs erupted, while I took a moment to straighten my shoulders and proceed to my desk. I caught Ben out of the corner of my eye, his long legs crossed at the ankles and one hand tapping a pen on his notebook. His eyes were downcast, but he was clearly trying to hold back a laugh.

Most Popular