Here we are, fifteen years later, and now we finally have that chance to hold each other. It feels so right, being here in his strong arms. I know I’m the luckiest woman alive, because in Collins I have the best of both worlds. He’s my closest friend, and now my lover. He knows me better than anyone—inside and out.

“Three.” I say and smile at him through half closed eyes.

“Three times,” he grumbles and smiles back. He knows exactly what I’m counting. “I owed you one or two, for the time back on my father’s boat.” He dips down and kisses me gently on the lips.

I kiss him back. “You don’t owe me anything. I told you, that night was perfect.”

A relaxed smile spreads across his face and fills me with joy. “This is perfect too.”

As I lie in his arms, we talk together about old times, between stealing kisses. He brushes my hair back from my face so gently, I can feel his concern for me in every movement, every tender gesture.

“Thank you for coming out with us on the boat today. It means a lot that you’re here spending time with my family.”

I giggle. “I wouldn’t call what we’re doing right now ‘spending time with your family,’” I say, drawing a line down his firm chest with my finger. I’m tempted to bring my hand down lower, and see if I can entice him for more. But I feel a pang of guilt and stop my hand short, instead saying, “Speaking of your family, maybe we should go back out there and rejoin the group. You being the host and all.” Thank God he has a captain to drive the boat.

I can tell he’s not ready to end our time alone, neither am I, but he sees reason. “Fine, let’s get cleaned up.” He growls as he sits up, and pulls me into his arms. I squeal and wrap my arms around his neck as he carries me into the bathroom.

In the shower we lather the soap together and first he helps me clean off, his rough hands slip smoothly over my back, my arms, my hips. I savor every touch from him, and his hands relish my body’s every curve. Next I help him clean up. My hands slide along his smooth muscular body, appreciating his hard muscles. His six-pack abs are too much for me to resist and I run my fingers down his stomach.

He pulls back laughing.


“Sorry,” I say. “I forgot you’re ticklish, too.”

He quickly pulls me back to him. “You don’t ever need to apologize for touching me,” he says. He reaches behind me and turns the water off, then reaches out and grabs a towel, wrapping it around me.

As we get dressed, there is a knock on the door. “You guys got it out of your system yet?” It’s Pace.

Collins’ eyes darken, and I can see in his reaction that Pace has just broken some guy code, but then Collins meets my eyes and his expression softens once again.

Collins tugs his shorts back on, and checks to make sure I’m covered by my bikini before he answers the door. “This isn’t Dad’s small boat, plenty of other bedrooms to choose from.” His voice drops at the last word as if he’s not seeing who he’d expected beyond the open door. I peak around him and find Pace holding Max’s hand and giggle.

“Hey, little guy,” Collins turns to Max. “What’s up?”

“Max and I were exploring and found the theater room. He was wondering if we could watch a movie. We tried to figure it out without you, but we can’t seem to find the remote, and nothing works without that thing.”

“Of course we can watch a movie,” Collins says. He slips his hand around mine, and we all head to the theater to find everyone else already in there. Sophie and Colton have claimed one of the four love seats, Kylie is sitting on another, and Max runs over to join her.

“What movie should we watch?” Collins asks as he pulls the remote out of a hidden panel in the wall. We take one of the unclaimed seats and he wraps his arm around me. I curl up against his side.

“Gremlins!” Max shouts. I realize it’s an odd request right away. I was born the year the movie came out, and only know about it because of my old thrift store shirt, the one I wore the first time Collins saved me.

Sophie giggles, “What’s Gremlins?”

Kylie turns back to her, “It’s the movie Collins named his boat after.”

Pace laugh-snorts. “Yeah, that’s right, Collins named his boat after an eighties movie.” His voice drips with sarcasm.

Colton joins him laughing. “Yeah, he just can’t get enough of those cute furry creatures.”

Sophie jabs Colton in the side. “What? What’s so funny?”

Pace is laughing so hard he can’t answer, but Colton finally manages. “He named his boat after his first love.” His voice is teasing.

Sophie and Kylie look at the guys as if they’re nuts.

I feel my cheeks flush and attempt to hide my face in Collins’ chest.

“Gremlin is his nickname for Mia,” Colton finishes.

“Awe,” Sophie and Kylie both sing out at the same time. Their eyes are full of envy.

I give them both a meek grin. Then look up at Collins, expecting him to be angry at his brothers for breaking the guy code again. I’m surprised to find his eyes, kind and caring, staring lovingly back into mine. He chuckles and kisses the top of my head. Apparently, he’s totally okay with this round of jabs. And more than that, he’s not denying it. He’s not even embarrassed by his brothers calling me his first love. My heartbeat kicks up, and I reach up and kiss him.