Too little, too late.

There’s not one single thing he could say to me now that would make me change my mind. This wasn’t a rash decision. I took these four weeks away from him to really sit down and think about our life together. I was with him for so long. We grew up together and he’s all I’ve ever known. It’s a scary thing to realize that I stayed for so long because I was in love with the idea of our relationship, not with him. I was seduced by the idea of showing everyone that we could defy the odds, that a couple who met and fell in love in high school could live happily ever after. Walking into the courthouse today, I knew I’d made the right decision when I didn’t mourn the future we might have had if things had been different. Instead, it made me sad to think about all the time I wasted trying to fight for something that was clearly never meant to be.

After a few hours of work, I suck it up and head into an empty conference room to listen to his voicemails. The first couple of them were just as I expected. Jordan pleading and apologizing for screwing up, promising that he’ll get help and he’ll make it up to me. Each one grows increasingly more desperate until I can pinpoint the exact moment when he stops being upset and just gets angry. He calls me every insult he can think of, curses and yells and then apologizes for his behavior the very next message. It’s an emotional tidal wave that I’ve dealt with from him for years. His words cut like a knife and he thinks that an apology can staunch the bleeding. He has no idea that those words have piled up until the scars on my heart are so jagged there is no sewing them back together.

I feel like a fool for the guilt that’s consumed me since Collin’s kiss and my almost-orgasm Saturday night at the bar. Once the residual effects of tequila overload dissipated, I was filled with regret over my response to Collin on what was my first night out without my husband. Even though I feel nothing in my heart anymore for Jordan, he was still my best friend and the man I’d loved for half of my life. I was more than a little ashamed at having let things get so out of hand with Collin, even though I knew the combination of tequila and nostalgia were mostly to blame. Seeing him again brought back a lot of memories and took me back to a time when I was young and carefree and had my whole life ahead of me. It made me remember what it felt like to get butterflies in my stomach during a first kiss and how exciting it was to experience all of those firsts.

Listening to Jordan berate me and call me a heartless bitch almost makes me wish I would have dragged Collin into a dark, empty room at the bar and let him fuck me up against the wall. Hearing Jordan’s last voicemail announce in a threatening voice that he spoke to his attorney and I can’t keep him out of his house has me storming out of the conference room with my phone clutched so tightly in my hand that I’m surprised it doesn’t snap in half. The loud, high-pitched shriek of the building’s fire alarm starts to blare through the office right before I make it to my desk. I look around to see everyone grabbing his or her things and making a hasty exit towards the stairwell. Usually, we get some sort of notice from building management when we’re going to have a drill. The shocked look on everyone’s faces has me quickly snatching up my purse from the bottom drawer of my desk and following behind them, down four flights of stairs to join the few hundred other people out on the sidewalk from various companies throughout the building.

Moving away from the small group of work friends I usually hang out with, I find some shade under a tree down on the corner and lean my shoulder against the trunk. I knew Jordan would behave this way. I anticipated it and yet, it doesn’t make it any easier. Maybe it’s cruel of me to just want him gone from my life when he so obviously has a problem with addiction. Maybe I should be helping him instead of shutting him out completely. At this point though, I just can’t find it in myself to care. It’s been too many years of the same thing, too much time dealing with one addiction after another. All of my emotions where Jordan is concerned have long been dead and buried.

I make a conscious decision not to spend another second beating myself up over his failures and my guilt. As I close my eyes and take in a few breaths of fresh spring air, my thoughts immediately turn to the hallway at Slammers and the feel of Collin’s body against mine. I can still recall the sensation of his warm tongue gliding through my mouth and how it felt to have another man moving between my legs. Despite the warmth of the air blowing across my skin, a shiver races up in spine as I wonder just how much further things would have progressed in that dimly lit hallway with the music from the jukebox blaring all around us. If that woman hadn’t interrupted us, would he have slid his hands up the bare skin of my thigh wrapped around him? Would he have edged his fingers inside the hem of my shorts and slid them across the lacy edge of my thong to feel I how wet he’d made me with just one kiss? My nipples harden through my white lace bra and the thin silk of my white blouse and I clench my thighs together beneath the black pencil skirt when I think about how exciting and illicit it would have been if he’d pushed his fingers inside me and brought me to orgasm just a few feet away from the crowds of people who could have seen us at any time.

“You’re thinking about me, aren’t you?”

I jerk away from the tree and my eyes fly open in shock at the sound of a deep masculine voice right by my ear.

Like some sort of twisted dream come true, the object of my current fantasy is standing right in front of me, one muscular arm extended above my head so that his hand is resting against the tree as he looks down at me and smiles.

“Collin! Wh-what are you doing here?” I stutter, trying to hide the quiver in my voice at the sight of him and hope the thoughts I was just having aren’t written all over my face.


He stares down at me, his eyes taking me in from head to toe, stopping briefly when he gets to my breasts and I almost bring my arms up to cover my traitorous nipples. Jordan’s voice calling me an uncaring bitch flashes through my head and I force myself to keep my hands down by my sides, my anger at his attitude pushing a newfound boldness through me.

“Small electrical fire in the basement of your building,” Collin finally answers, moving his body closer to mine. “I’m training the new captain for your town’s fire department so I’m going out on all their calls with them today. The men have it under control now, so you should be able to get back to work in a few minutes.”

I finally take the time to look him over myself. He’s got on a short-sleeved version of the shirt he was wearing at Slammers, the thin cotton material clinging to his skin and the cut of his biceps on full display. I watch the muscles in his upper arms tighten under my gaze as I check out the tattoo on his left bicep and it takes everything in me not to reach up and trace my fingers over the ink. My eyes wander down his abs to his tapered waist where his shirt is tucked in to a pair of belted cargo pants before moving back up to his face. The smirk that turns up the corner of his mouth should make me feel mortified that he’s standing here watching me ogle his body, but it doesn’t. It pushes my confidence up a few notches and makes me want to do whatever I can to wipe it off of his face and see if I can make him trip over his words.

Aside from that make-out session on Saturday night, he’s only ever known teenage Finnley, a girl who had no clue what she was doing when it came to pleasing a man. He’s definitely proven that his skills have matured over the years, and I feel like it’s only fair to reciprocate.

At this point, I don’t even care about his reasons for kissing me the other night. I don’t care if it’s some misplaced infatuation he’s had for me all these years (which is highly unlikely) or if it was just the excitement of seeing each other again after all that time. I want to watch his pupils dilate with desire and I want to see him try and hide his erection behind those cargo pants when he goes back to work. I’ve been in a near-constant state of arousal since Saturday night, unable to stop thinking about the feel of his lips or what it would be like to have any part of him inside my body.

If I have to suffer, dammit, I want him right there with me.

Glancing around to make sure no one is watching, I step closer until my breasts are pressed up against his chest, sliding my hands up his bare arms until my fingers are wrapped around the hard muscles of his biceps. Even in four-inch stilettos, I still have to stand up on my tiptoes to bring our mouths together. I realize he’s holding his breath when I don’t feel it against my lips. When I feel the muscles under my fingers tightening as Collin attempts to hold himself perfectly still, I realize I’m not alone in my attraction.

Using just the tips of my front teeth, I gently tug on his bottom lip, bringing my tongue out afterwards to gently slide over and soothe the spot I just nipped. He’s statue still, the only indications that my ministrations have any affect at all are in the slight narrowing of his eyes as they bore into mine and the movement of his Adam’s apple as he swallows thickly.

I slide my hands up across his shoulders and down to his chest, stopping when I can feel his heart thumping against my palms and the heat from his skin burning through the material of his shirt.

“You’re playing with fire, Lee,” he growls as I shift my hips against him until I can feel the hardness of his obvious arousal.

It’s my turn to smirk at him before I slide my cheek against his until my lips are ghosting against his ear. Back when we were teenagers, he used to turn into a boneless mass of horny boy whenever I did anything to his ears. Wondering if that still holds true, I do the same thing to the soft skin of his earlobe that I just did to his bottom lip, gently biting down on the sensitive flesh with the tips of my teeth before sucking it into my mouth and letting my tongue swirl around the skin against my lips.

A low, muttered “fuck” comes out of his mouth, so deep and gravelly that it sounded like it had been ripped from the depths of his chest. The arm braced against the tree comes down to wrap around my waist as Collin holds me tightly against him.

I place my lips right into the hollow of his ear and puff out a warm breath of air before I speak. “Lucky for me, you’re a fireman and you can put out the fire.”

His arm tightens around me until I’m molded to his body from hips to shoulders. I haven’t felt this wicked or sensual in a long time. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt like this. This raw, all-consuming need flowing through my body makes me forget about everything going on in my life. My thoughts are filled with visions of us naked and the feel of his smooth, hard body against my own. I have a brief flash of what him taking me would look like, of gazing down between our bodies and watching him thrust inside of me, of seeing my wetness coating the skin of his cock as he takes me hard, pushing into me until I’m screaming his name and clawing at his back.

The shouts of my co-workers in the distance break me out of my lust- induced stupor and I reach behind me to remove Collin’s arm from my waist, stepping back a few inches so I can think rationally.

Turning away from him, I begin heading back into the building. I only make it a few feet when I hear him call my name and, without turning back, I quickly rattle off my address. I put a little extra swing in my hips as I make my way down the sidewalk, confident in the fact that he’s most likely staring at my ass as I go.

I have no idea when or even if he’ll actually show up at my house. The only thing I’m certain of right now is that if I don’t find out what it feels like to have sex with Collin McDaniels, I’m going to spontaneously combust from desire.

Chapter 7—Burn With You

I COULDN’T BRING myself to care that Finnley was still technically married. When she told me Saturday night at the bar she was separated, it was the only confirmation I needed to stop feeling guilty about wanting her so much I ache with it and take the kiss I’d been thinking about ever since I saw her again. One kiss, that’s all I told myself I wanted, just a single taste of her lips to see if my memory had served me well. As soon as I felt her tongue against mine, I was thrown back in time seventeen years, my dick hardening in my jeans immediately when she opened her mouth and let me in. It started off as a test to see if she had the same affect on me. We’ve been apart a long time and we’ve grown and both changed. Just the sight of her got my blood pumping, but who knew if kissing her would still have the same results? I quickly found out that my memory of Finnley was total bullshit compared to the real thing. She’d always been tall and slender and I remember loving the feel of her thin hips in my hands and her smooth skin beneath my palms. All those years changed Finnley for the better. She had curves now that made my head spin and tits that I knew would be more than a handful.

When the truck pulled up to the office building, I jumped down from the back giving orders to my men, more than a little surprised when I caught a glimpse of her leaning up against a tree not far from the building. My mom had given me regular updates on Finnley throughout the years, so I knew where she worked, but in the sea of people milling around the area, I never expected to run into her.

She ran off so quickly after that kiss Saturday night I figured I’d scared the shit out of her. I always thought the first time I saw her again would be spent apologizing for my dick behavior when I was young and dumb, not pushing her up against a wall in a bar, wishing she was wearing a skirt so I could slide it up her thighs and fuck her hard enough to make the ache go away. I wanted to kiss her just once as an adult to see if I could finally put all of these obsessive thoughts I’d had about her for seventeen years to bed once and for all.

Unfortunately, that kiss only ignited the flame and now I just want to take her—on the floor, against the wall, in my bed—anywhere and everywhere I could finally experience the heat of being inside the body she’d always denied me when we were younger.

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