I can feel my nipples harden at the idea, my sex growing wetter. I want this.

Reaching around, I go to make a grab for him, but he quickly turns, lifts me by my waist, and places me on the kitchen counter like I weigh nothing.

“I told you to stop, Sophie,” he says, removing his hands and leaning into me. He has me caged by his body, yet not a single part of him is touching me. I can feel all of him around me as he surrounds me with his heat. His hands are braced on the counter on either side of me, and he’s only a breath away from making contact.

“What if I don’t want to stop?” I whisper, scared that if I make the slightest move or say the wrong thing he might back away. He might have me caged, but it won’t stop me from poking the beast. He leans in closer, and I swear he’s going to kiss me. I close my eyes in anticipation for what will be my first kiss, but when I feel his breath on my neck, I open them again.

I hear him inhale, like he’s breathing me in. Or maybe he’s smelling me.

“I didn’t wash you off,” I say, reminding him of what he did last night. “That’s you that you’re smelling on me.”

“Fuck!” he growls, pushing away from me. “Why are you doing this? I tell you to stop and you won’t. You won’t even put clothes on.” His words sound pained and make me pause. Maybe I’ve read this all wrong. Last night he seemed like he wanted this, even though he was fighting it. Oh God, here I am again, chasing after someone to be loved and they are clearly pushing me away. Just like everyone else in my life. When would someone chase me? Maybe you aren’t worth fighting to have.

“I’m sorry.” The words slip past my lips, filled with embarrassment. I can feel my face heat with shame. I know nothing about men beyond what I read in books—romance novels filled with happy-ever-afters and men who would fight for their women. Bruce was fighting to keep me away. Take a clue, Sophie.

“Don’t be sorry, just knock it off,” he says, and looks pointedly at me. “Your mother was my wife.”

“Not really,” I remind him. For some reason, I need him to remember that fact, that he and my mother weren’t really together. That this isn’t as bad as it seems.

“You’re right, but on some level I was her friend, and you’re my reasonability for the next week. You’re mine.” His last two words come out in a different tone.


“Yours?” I question.

“You know what I mean, Sophie. Don’t twist my words.”

I let my eyes drop to the floor, not wanting to look at him anymore. I need to keep my mouth shut. Everything he says I want to turn in my favor. Maybe I am twisting his words and hearing what I want.

“Sophie, look at me.”

It takes everything in me to pull my eyes back to him. I can still feel the heat on my face from the embarrassment. That makes this much worse, knowing my fair skin is showing it to him.

“You’re young and beautiful; you don’t want someone like me. Go find yourself a nice young boy who can give you flowers and hearts. I have nothing to give you. My life is my job, and nothing will ever come before it. I worked too hard for it to throw it away on a scandal that would ruin everything.” His jaw clenches likes he’s pissed he had to say the words.

But the reality of what he’s saying hits me harder than it should. At least he’s honest. His job will always come first. My mother always filled me with false promises. It’s like cold water being thrown on me. I can feel the lump in my throat grow, and I know if I speak it’ll all break loose. It would be an uncontrollable flood of tears, and I don’t want him to see them. Without responding, I jump down from the countertop, making a quick dash to leave the kitchen. I feel him reach out for me, but I brush past him, barely missing his grasp, and stumble into Lily.

Shit. Just wonderful. More people to see my embarrassment. I wonder how much she heard, and not wanting to find out, I push past her too, leaving both of them in the kitchen. I hear Bruce call my name, but Lily’s soft words seem to stop him from coming after me.

Slamming the door, I make sure to lock it behind me. God, I feel so stupid. Why am I always pushing myself on people who don’t want me? It’s like I make things up in my head and don’t see things for what they really are, dreaming up these futures that are so far from possible. Back at school, the girls and even a few teachers always said I lived in my head, my nose in a book. Maybe they were right. But is it so wrong to dream of big love? In reality, I’ve never had a taste of it.

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