“What?” he asked.

“Do you feel like you’re responsible for me?”

“In what way?”

What was I even asking him? “Forget it.”

“No. I’m curious. What do you mean by that?”

Crap. I should’ve just kept my mouth shut. “I mean, do you do things for me because you feel like you have to because of what happened?”

“What? No. I do them because I want to.”

That...that was the right answer, but it didn’t change anything else. His forehead moved against mine, and that breath was on my lips now, and I wanted so badly to fall headfirst into this, to delve right in and deal with the eventual fallout later. “Is this smart?”

“I think it’s brilliant.” His fingers grazed over the loose sleeve of my nightshirt. “I think the last thing you need to be doing right now is thinking.”

I seriously doubted Dr. Perry would agree to that, but then again, maybe he would. He’d talked about living and moving forward and facing the trauma, the grief, and no one made me feel like I was living as deeply as Sebastian.

Though I wasn’t sure Dr. Perry considered making out as moving forward.

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Drawing back, I saw a muscle flex in his cheek. His eyes searched mine. “You know how I feel about you.”

My heart nearly came out of my chest. “Seb—”

“I love you,” he continued, drawing his hand around to the nape of my neck, and my breath caught and my heart squeezed at those words. “I’ve been in love with you for years.”

“Sebastian,” I pleaded, finding myself close to tears.

“And I know things are twisted up in your head right now and I can only be right here, right next to you, while you untangle them, however long that takes.” His fingers sifted through the wisps of hair. “But there is something I’m going to untwist for you right now. What I feel for you is real, has been real—”

My heart was pounding so fast it hurt. “I need to tell you something.”

“You don’t need to tell me anything.”

Tears clogged my throat. “You don’t understand.”

“I don’t need to.” His thumb moved along my neck, comforting and energizing at the same time.

I shook my head as much as I could. “Why now?” I asked again. “Why—”

“Because we were too stupid to do it before and because we’re still alive right now.”

I don’t know who moved first, if it was him or me or both of us at the same time, but our mouths came together in a clash. His lips. Mine. I tasted him, my fingers landing on his chest and my hand sliding up to his shoulder. And he kissed in a way that consumed me, lit a fire that burned through my skin, turned my muscles into lava and my bones to ash. There was tongue and teeth, and Andre had never kissed me like that. No boy ever had, and that was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.

Sebastian doled out kisses like there was an endless supply and I had a high demand for them, and somehow, without knowing how, I was lying on my back, and he’d lowered me so gently, so carefully.

“My turn,” he murmured against my mouth.

I didn’t want to stop him.

Sebastian mirrored my explorations from last week. As his lips mapped out the curve of mine, his hand trailed down the center of my chest, over my stomach. The flutter was back in my chest, a pounding of wings that met my out-of-control pulse. His fingers slipped under my shirt, fingers splayed against my stomach.

He lifted his head, a question in his eyes, and when I nodded, a promise filled them, a promise I could barely look at because it was...it was almost too much.

I gripped him, tugging on the longer strands of hair, and his hand went up, his touch like a feather over my healing ribs, and his fingers kept moving. I gasped against his mouth, and he made this sound that had my back arching even though it put pressure on my ribs.

Sebastian let out a low, husky laugh when he pulled his hand away and I tugged his hair harder. “I’m not done.”

Oh Lord.

His mouth moved over mine as those clever fingers of his went farther south, over the band of my sleep bottoms, stopping for only a heart-stopping moment. My entire body tensed in anticipation, and then his hand slipped between my legs. A sense of wildness invaded every pore. This was insane, completely crazy, but I didn’t care. The pants were thin, and it was like nothing was between his hand and me. Every part of my body zeroed in on that hand and his fingers. Electricity zipped through my veins and—

A door closed in the hallway. My eyes flew open. Sebastian halted, lips above mine, hand still between my legs as his head turned to the door. I waited for it to fly open and Mom to either congratulate us or kill us. When neither happened and the door stayed closed, I relaxed a little.

“Oh my God,” I whispered, heart now thumping for a whole different reason.

Grinning like a madman, his gaze shifted to mine and he raised his eyebrows. “That would’ve been awkward.”

“You think?” I pushed at his chest with my right hand even though I wanted to pull him back onto me. “You should probably get going.”

“Yeah.” Sebastian chuckled as he rolled onto his side. “But first, I want to ask you to do something.”

“What?”

“You know how we don’t have a late practice on Thursday before the game?” he asked, and I nodded. “So I’ll be home early, and Mom and Dad want to have dinner with my new girlfriend.”

I froze. Did I hear him correctly? No way. But when I turned my head toward him and saw the smile, that sexy, heart-smashing smile, I knew I’d heard him right. A surge of conflicting thoughts and feelings swamped me. Elation was like a balloon lifting me up to the ceiling, but I was popped of all air before I could reach it. Guilt dug in with icy claws, latching itself deep to my chest.

“Girlfriend?” I whispered, sitting up so quickly pain lanced across my ribs.

He rose up on his elbow, grinning. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what guys call girls that they kiss and want to do other things with...” His gaze became heavy hooded. “Girlfriend.”

Oh my God.

How...how could I be doing this right now, lying in bed with him, making out and experiencing all of this, when Megan was just buried and she was dead because I didn’t...I didn’t do enough to stop what happened?

I wanted to peel my own skin off, because I’d never felt more gross, more selfish, than I did right then in my entire life. “No.”

The playful grin slipped from his striking, almost too-beautiful face. “What?”

Pushing off the bed, I stood and backed away. “I can’t... I can’t be your girlfriend.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Sebastian stared at me like I’d spoken in tongues. “Okay,” he said finally. “Maybe I should’ve asked you first. I might’ve gotten a little ahead of myself—”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to ask someone if they want to be your girlfriend.”

The corner of his lips quirked. “Will you be my girlfriend, Lena?” he asked in a sweet, teasing way.

My heart leaped in my chest like it was jumping on a trampoline. How long had I waited to hear that question? Years. Honest to God, years. And now he was asking, after everything that had happened?

I shook my head. “I can’t.”

“You can’t what?”

“I can’t be your girlfriend.”

For a moment Sebastian didn’t move, and then he sat up in one quick fluid move. “Are you being serious?”

“Yes.” I walked around the bed, knocking a strand of hair out of my face. I threw open the balcony door and stepped outside, welcoming the chilly breeze. I walked to the railing, squeezing my eyes shut when I heard his footsteps behind me.

“Okay,” he said. “I’m so confused right now. You can’t be my girlfriend?” When I didn’t answer, he moved to stand beside me. “Is there someone else?”

“What?” I almost had to laugh. “No. There’s no one else.”

“Are you planning to leave tomorrow and never see me again?”