“I don’t think there are sharks in Switzerland.”

“Then I’ll find an aquarium!”

“I’m sorry. I should have paid more attention when she gave me the itinerary. I was just concentrated on getting there. But it’s going to be okay. We’ll kill some time. Maybe go get some food.”

“It’s one in the morning, Hunt.”

We did manage to find a McDonald’s that was open, though. So, I had to eat my words.

I said, “McDonalds in Switzerland is not exactly my idea of an adventure.”

He didn’t have to know how much I was worshiping these fries at the moment, though. After our last food adventure with apple mashed potatoes and blood soup, McDonald’s fries were more valuable than gold. When we’d approached the restaurant and gotten our first whiff of fried goodness, I was two minutes away from falling on my knees and proposing to the pimply counter attendant just to get some freaking fries.

I made myself eat slowly, but every time Hunt looked away I did a Hoover vacuum impression and inhaled the stuff.

With my stomach achingly full, we made our way back to the train platform. It was summer, so it wasn’t exactly cold, but the night wind blew in from the openings on the tracks, and I shivered. We found a bench on the platform our train would leave from roughly four hours later, and started making camp. Hunt pulled a jacket from his backpack, and handed it to me. I turned it around backward, and used it like a blanket.

“Come here.” Hunt took a seat and pulled me closer to him, his hands reaching underneath the coat to touch my shoulders.

“What are you doing?”


“Just relax. You’re tense and tired.”

And bitchy. That was the word he didn’t and probably wouldn’t say.

“You wanted a professional masseuse in Italy. Well, this is Switzerland, and I’m no professional, but I bet I can get the job done.”

His thumbs pressed into muscles that ran from my shoulders to my neck, and I swear my whole body went numb for a few seconds. Words fled my mouth, and all I managed was an unintelligible noise of approval.

Screw having a professional masseuse. It was so much better when he touched me.

“Is that okay?”

Okay was beyond my vocabulary at the moment. My eyes nearly rolled back in my head and I said, “Huh?”


I groaned. He was so not helping my sexually starved brain.

“It’s perfect.”

His hands traveled the landscape of my back from the path of my spine to valley of my waist. I melted in his arms until I felt like I was no longer solid, as insubstantial as water cupped between his hands.

Those hands skated across the sides of my rib cage, and my body jerked in an involuntary shiver.

“You okay?”

Yeah, there was no way I was managing words right now. I was just as turned on now as I was by that kiss in the bathroom. Maybe more now that I’d brought up that particular memory. So, I nodded.

I pulled my legs up to my chest and rested my cheek against my knees. Then I gave myself up to the glorious manipulation of his hands, and I let myself imagine what might happen if I turned around and straddled his lap and kissed him senseless like I wanted to. I imagined it so much that I fell from wishes into a dream.

When I woke, I wasn’t leaned forward against my knees, but back against Hunt’s chest, settled between his legs. We were turned sideways on the bench, and he was propped up against his backpack, and I was propped up against him. My knees were still bunched up because the bench was too short, and the armrest at the end of the bench kept me from stretching out my legs. But it wasn’t the mildly uncomfortable position that woke me.

It was the gentle stroke of Jackson’s fingers along my ribs from just below my bra to my waist and back again. It was soothing and maddening, and I was hyperaware of everywhere that our bodies touched. The rise and fall of his chest beneath me was like the rise and fall of ocean waves, and my feelings for him were just as tumultuous. I’d given up trying to decide what was the right thing to do in this situation or what I thought was best. The truth was . . . I didn’t want to think. And when we were touching like this, I didn’t have to. I could just feel.

While his hand was stroking down to my waist, I shifted and turned onto my side. I laid my head against his upper body, pulled one arm up to my chest, and casually tucked the other around his waist. When I’d turned, his hand had shifted from my side to my stomach, dragging my shirt up on accident.

I held my breath, hoping that he would stay exactly where he was, that he wouldn’t pull his hand away. The second stretched on until I was wound so tight from anticipation that I thought I might explode. Then his tentative touch turned sure and his hand pressed closer to my stomach, half his hand touching bare skin.

We both knew the other was awake, but we lay still as if we weren’t. It was like a game to see how close we could get to the line without crossing it. The hand that I had so casually wrapped around his waist slipped underneath the back of his shirt, pressing into the same skin that I had dragged my fingernails across a few hours ago. I didn’t push further, not yet. And neither did he. But I lay there, my heart beating wildly, staring out at the empty train tracks and absorbing the warmth from where our bodies aligned. Still cradled between his legs, my hip was even with the juncture of his thighs but not quite touching. After a few minutes of stillness, I slowly edged my way closer to him. Our bodies pressed more intimately together, and my head rested higher on his chest so that my lips were nearly at his neck.

His head moved, his cheek pressed against my forehead. I could feel him looking down at me, but I couldn’t meet his gaze. If we didn’t look at each other, neither of us had to think. I didn’t have to think of how I could screw this up, and neither of us had to think about whatever it was that made him keep pushing me away. We didn’t have to do anything more than touch. His touch was all I needed to erase the rest of the world.

I could still feel his eyes on me, and I willed him to turn away. After a few more long moments, I felt him exhale, and I seemed to sink further into him. He turned his face more so that the edge of his lips touched my forehead, and the hand on my waist began the same slow stroking motion that he’d started on my side, but this time his hand slipped completely beneath my shirt.

That was where it started. Those soft touches. Each one pulled us a little closer. Each one gradually smudged that imaginary line between us.

And soon, the pull between us wouldn’t just erase that line. It would obliterate it.


When our train came, we didn’t talk about what was happening between us. I slipped Hunt’s coat all the way on, we gathered our things and boarded. On the train, I sat next to him, he lifted the armrest, and we wordlessly fell back into each other’s arms.

We did the same on the next train that took us from Brig, Switzerland, to Milan, Italy. I assumed that was our final stop, but when we boarded one last train to Firenze, in Florence, I was glad for one more chance to touch him. Because I wasn’t sure this weird peace would last once we emerged back into the real world.

But despite my intentions to savor our closeness, fatigue caught up to me and I was asleep within ten minutes of the train taking off. I didn’t stir again until we were pulling into the station a little over an hour and a half later.

Hunt’s fingers were combing through my hair and he said, “We’re here.”

I yawned and pushed myself up off his chest. His eyelids were heavy, and I knew he probably hadn’t slept at all. His face was normally all angles and hard edges, but sleepy, he looked younger, less intimidating.

He yawned, and I laughed because he was just so damn cute.

“I thought we’d start by just walking around the city. Maybe go see the statue of David. Eat some gelato.”

I caught his yawn and said, “Sounds good, but . . .”

I trailed off, unwilling to admit how exhausted I was. Thankfully he did it for me.

“But sleep first?”

“Oh, please God, yes.”

He laughed and agreed.

We stumbled from the train station, little better than zombies. A hostel was out of the question. It was almost impossible to sleep during the day at those because you shared a room with so many people, so we stopped at the first decent hotel we found a few blocks south of the station. I didn’t even have the energy to read the name. It was too long. It started with a B and ended with hotel, and that was all that mattered.

I leaned my head into Hunt’s back as he spoke to the concierge, and then handed over my credit card.

I didn’t think about much at all until we arrived at our room, and found a giant king bed in the middle of it.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think to ask for two beds,” Hunt said. “I’ll go back down.”

“No, don’t. That bed looks amazing, and I’m going to collapse if I don’t get into it right now.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

I didn’t bother answering. Instead, I kicked off my shoes and collapsed onto the bed still fully clothed.

“Oh God, I have never been happier than I am in this moment.”

I heard Hunt’s faint laughter, and then I was out.

I woke later as Hunt pulled back the covers and maneuvered me beneath them. A certain familiarity crept through my bones, like this had happened before. I peeled my eyes open, and found Hunt. He must have showered because his face was still slightly damp, and he was wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants that hung low on his hips. His abs could have rivaled all of Tuscany for the most gorgeous rolling hills I had ever seen.

He pulled the covers up to my neck, and then stepped away from the bed. He settled onto the burgundy sofa situated across the room on the opposite wall.

I said, “What are you doing?”

“Ssh. Just go back to sleep.”

“No, I’m not letting you sleep on the couch, not after the night we’ve had. If you’re too afraid to sleep in the same bed as me, we’ll go downstairs and get a different room.”

I pushed back the covers and started crawling out of bed. He was off the couch and in front of me before my feet even settled on the floor.

“Don’t, Kelsey. Just go back to sleep.”

I set my lips in a firm line and scooted over, leaving space for him to climb in.

“You’re not going to let this go?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“The couch is actually pretty comfortable. And it’s not a good idea to—”

Tired of the same old argument, I grabbed his hand and tugged hard. He toppled on the bed next to me, and I said, “No more excuses.”

My patience had been brushed away by every smoothing stroke of his hand across my waist last night. It disappeared like sand in the wind bit by bit until all that was left was the longing underneath.

Still gripping his hand, I laid back and turned on my side, facing away from him. I tugged on his hand until he lay behind me, and then I let his hand drop onto my stomach.

I wasn’t going back to how we were before. I was sick of the will he–won’t he. I just wanted to be close to him. The consequences be damned.

His body was stiff behind me at first, and he was holding his arm so that it made as little contact with me as possible. I snuggled back into him, and he froze.

“Jackson . . .”

I let his name hang in the air, and after a few moments he relaxed. His arm curled around my waist, and the movement of his chest grew to match my own as we fell into sleep.

I woke again in the afternoon, and sunlight was pouring through the window, stronger than a jack and coke, hold the coke. I rolled over to get away from the light, and abruptly met the wall that was Hunt. He lay on his back, completely dead to the world. I’d only ever seen him sleep on that first train ride to Prague, and then it had only been a few seconds before he woke up.

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