And that . . . that was so Reece. Yeah, he could be bossy and demanding, in and out of the bedroom, but he was also considerate and compassionate. He was strong-willed, but the softer side of him dug deep into my marrow. I loved every side of Reece, no matter how incredibly annoying he could be sometimes.

I thought about what he’d said about how he dealt with the shooting—how he was still dealing. My chest ached. “Are you okay?”

“Perfect,” he mused.

“That you are, but that’s not what I meant.” I took a deep breath. “Everything with the shooting? I knew it had gotten bad, but I didn’t know how bad, and I . . . I just want you to know that you can always talk to me. Okay?”

A small smile appeared. “I know.”

“Don’t forget that,” I demanded softly.

That smile spread. “I won’t.”

Placing my hands on his biceps, I closed the tiny distance between us and kissed his parted lips. The way he sucked the air between his teeth stirred desire deep inside me. Kissing him again, I pulled back just enough so we were eye to eye once more.

I drew in a deep breath. “I love you, Reece.”

His eyes deepened to magnetic blue as he stared at me. For a moment, he didn’t say anything, didn’t move, and I wasn’t even sure if he breathed. Then he sprang into action, clasping my hips. He lifted me up and placed me on my back as he came over me, his body blocking out the entire world.

“I already knew that, babe, but nothing is as good as hearing you say that.”


I started to say it again, but his mouth claimed mine with a blazing kiss that rocked me. There was nothing angry about the way we went at each other, and we really went at each other. Neither was it a slow, seductive joining. We were frantic, but this time because there was nothing between us, no words left unspoken, no walls, and most important, no fear holding us back.

Our clothes came off in a rush, and our hands were everywhere. Reece was everywhere, and what he felt for me, which was something I could not doubt, was in every sweep of his hand and brush of his lips. He worshiped what we had together, and as minutes ticked by and with every kiss and caress, I knew I deserved this with him.

I knew he deserved this.

Reece worked his way down my body, his head between my thighs, his mouth on me, his tongue in me. God, he knew what to do. With every lick, he drew me into him. When his mouth moved to the bundle of nerves and he slid a finger inside, finding that ultrasensitive spot, the sensation was too much. I came, head thrown back and my fingers clenching the short strands of his hair. Those tiny kisses and sweet nips of his teeth eased off as my legs fell to the side, boneless. I was barely aware of him moving to the nightstand, but the rip of the foil drew my eyes open. With a heavy-lidded gaze, I watched him roll the condom on and then he was above me, his hand curving around my jaw as he guided himself into me with one quick, shattering thrust. His mouth silenced my cry, and I could taste me on him, the combination highly erotic. I curled my legs around his waist, relishing in the deep, powerful strokes.

Reece lifted his head, his lips glossy and cheeks flushed. Before he could say a word, I told him again. “I love you,” and I said it over and over, until whatever semblance of control and rhythm were lost, until I threw my arms back and planted the palms of my hands against the headboard, anchoring myself as he slammed into me, hitting every nerve and sending pleasure racing through me. I flew apart again, shattering into a million happy, messy little pieces, but this time, he was right with me, with his head kicked back and my name nothing more than a sexy, throaty growl as he spent himself.

He collapsed when he was done, his breathing erratic. “I can’t move,” he murmured, face buried in my neck.

“That’s okay.”

“I’m going to crush you.”

“That’s also okay.”

Reece chuckled. “I don’t like flat and squishy Roxy.”

I grinned. “I’m pretty flat as it is.”

“You’re fucking perfect.” He rolled off me, flat on his back. “Fuck, babe . . .”

Prying my eyes open, I turned my head toward him. One arm was tossed over his eyes and his other hand was on my thigh, as if he couldn’t stand the idea of us not touching. Maybe that was me just having an orgasm-induced romantic fantasy, but whatever.

“You know,” I said, sighing as I reached down, placing my hand over his. I got a little giddy when he immediately flipped his palm up and threaded his fingers through mine. “I would like to paint you.”

“With me knowing?” he teased.

“With you being naked,” I corrected.

He moved his arm and snapped his head toward mine. Those lips curved up at the corners. “I’m so fucking down for that.”

I left for my place about an hour after Reece headed out to work. It was weird parking in front of my apartment and walking inside. Not because I had to hit a button on my new key fob that disarmed the alarm system and clicked it again to arm it once I was inside or because I was freaked out about being in my place after the break-in.

I wasn’t even thinking about Mr. Friendly Neighborhood Stalker.

No. It was the boxes next to my couch. It was the stack of paintings I knew were in there. It was the reminder that Charlie really was gone.

Setting my keys on the end table, I shuffled over to the boxes, feeling a burn in the back of my throat. A huge part of me wanted to turn around, run back to Reece’s place, and hide under the covers, but I needed to deal with this.

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