Before I could really dwell on that realization, he spoke. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.” I wished he’d ask if he could kiss me. That would’ve been a resounding yes.

The hand on my hip shifted and his thumb smoothed over the hem of my cami, and I shivered. “What were you thinking when you threw that book, Roxy?”

Whoa. Total change of subject I wasn’t prepared for. Here I was thinking about him kissing me. I opened my mouth, but it took me a few seconds to answer. “I really . . . really wasn’t thinking.”

He picked up a strand of my hair, twisting it around his fingers. “Babe, I don’t think there’s ever truly a moment when we’re not thinking.”

I averted my gaze as I chewed on my lower lip. Thinking back to the moment Henry had grabbed my arm, there was a lot in my head. So much that it felt like there was nothing. My chest tightened.

Reece dropped my hair and ran his finger over my lower lip, startling a gasp out of me . . . and a response. “I hate him,” I blurted out, feeling the words swell inside me like a blood promise. “I seriously hate him, Reece. I never really hated someone before, but when I see him, I want . . . I want him to hurt like Charlie hurt. That’s what I was thinking when I threw the book.”

The lines of his face softened. “Roxy . . .”

“I know it’s wrong.” I closed my eyes, exhaling slowly. “I know what I did wasn’t that much different than what Henry did.”

“No,” he argued, and when I opened my eyes, he was staring at me intently. “What you did was throw a book at a windshield, not at him. Henry picked up a rock and threw it at the back of Charlie’s head when you two walked away.”

I flinched.


“You never had any intentions of harming Henry,” he went on as he kept swiping his thumb along the hem of my cami. “And if Henry really didn’t mean to do the kind of damage he did to Charlie, he still made the conscious decision to throw that rock at him. Not at the ground or a nearby car. He threw it at another living being. You’d never do that.”

Cold air whirled its way down my chest, into my stomach. The thing was, I wasn’t too sure of that. When I had tasted that anger, that red-hot bitter anger, I knew I was capable of doing something heinous. Everyone was capable of it; some moral compass ingrained in me had prevented it, but would it always stop me? If I saw Henry again, there was a good chance I’d lose my cool once more, and really, how did that make me any better than him?

“Deep thoughts,” I murmured, edgy from where my thoughts were heading.

His lips quirked up at the corners as his thumb brushed against the thin sliver of skin exposed under the hem now. The touch was like an electric shot. “Yeah, too deep for four in the morning.”

Reece’s tone was light, but everything in me was heavy. It was like a door being unlocked inside my head. Painful memories of the night with Charlie and Henry were unleashed. They stacked up inside me, like a tower about to topple over. They started with what I had done, the verbal rock I had thrown, that had started it all.

And here I was, lying in the lap of the man I’d . . . well, I’d been lying to for eleven months. A man who hated nothing more than he did a liar. That wasn’t right.

Pushing myself up, I started to roll onto my side so I could pretend to go to the bathroom, to give myself time to clear my head, but I didn’t make it.

Reece curved his hand behind my neck and the hand on my hip slid up my waist, stopping just below my breast. My eyes popped wide as he held me there, my shoulder pressed against his chest.

“Don’t,” he said, voice rough.

That one word was like a lightning bolt. Sometimes I forgot how well he did know me. Even though we hadn’t spoken for almost a year, he still knew when I was getting cagey, recognized that my mood could flip as quickly as a coin spinning through the air.

Our eyes locked as I placed my hand on his shoulder. I started to push off, but then he lowered his head. I looked up as his lips brushed mine. It was a slow sweep. He made the pass with his lips once and then twice. I couldn’t breathe as I felt the heat of his mouth increasing the most gentle pressure as he held me in place. There was an almost questioning feel to how his lips moved over mine, as if it were for the very first time. And it wasn’t, but the night at his place, he hadn’t kissed me like this—not as tender, not so sweet that a ball of stupid emotion formed in the back of my throat. That kiss . . . it was like he cherished me.

My fingers curled into his shoulder, bunching the thin cotton of his shirt as my heart raced. When I thought about him kissing me, I didn’t think it would be like this. No guy had ever kissed me like I was a treasure.

“Reece,” I whispered against his mouth.

Something about hearing his name snapped a part of him. The hand along the back of my neck tightened, as did the one at my waist, and the kiss . . . oh wow, the kiss deepened. I remembered this kind of kissing, but it was different, stronger and deeper. There was no hint of liquor on his tongue, just sugar and tea and 100 percent male. He nipped at my lower lip, wringing out a soft moan that echoed straight to my core, then he parted my lips, tasting me. The kiss was like touching fire, igniting a deep-seated desire. I no longer needed the space to clear my thoughts. My head was an empty road with one destination in mind.


Sitting up, I wiggled around until I managed to get a knee on either side of his legs. He watched me with heavy hooded eyes. “I like where this is going,” he said, grasping my hips. “I really fucking do, but I want—”

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