“Yeah, he did. I didn’t ask him to, though. That was all him, and probably Rush, from the look on his face.”

Harlow glanced over at them and they both quickly looked away from us.

“Guess it’s nice to have friends in high places,” she said, turning back to me.

I had been ready to thank Woods but if she was pissed, I wasn’t gonna be thanking him. “I had nothing to do with that,” I repeated.

She sighed and relaxed. “I think I believe you. And honestly, I don’t know how Adam was going to eat with you rubbing on me and glaring at him anyway.”

“I didn’t glare,” I replied with a relieved grin.

She rolled her eyes and picked up her glass. “Yes, Grant, you did.”

Maybe I had, but I didn’t like the guy. He wanted what I wanted. “I want to talk about this morning and I want to show you my place. You’ve never been there and I want you there.”

She took a sip of her water, then set it back down before looking at me. “I acted like a jealous girlfriend and I hate that. I’ve never acted like that before. I’m sorry. We aren’t exclusive. You have a past that isn’t my business, and when Nan threw the bait out there I took it. I shouldn’t have.”

Not what I’d been expecting her to say. Again, Harlow wasn’t like the other girls I knew. Also, we needed to discuss that “exclusive” comment. Because lunch with Adam was one thing, but I’d be damned if she intended to go out with that prick again. “What Nan said was mean and bitter. You didn’t like it and that’s normal. As for exclusive, I am very, very exclusive. Since yesterday on that plane, I knew I wasn’t touching anybody else.”

Harlow tilted her head to the side and studied me silently. Had she thought I was going to go screw other people now? Really? Was my reputation that bad?


“Okay” was all she said. If there one was thing about Harlow that drove me nuts, it was her one-word answers, like “okay,” when I wanted a few lengthy sentences. Dammit. Girls liked to hear themselves talk. Why didn’t she?

“Could you elaborate on that?” I asked, reaching over to take her hand in her lap because I just needed to touch her.

The corner of her mouth turned up. “What else do you want me to say? You aren’t going to sleep with anyone else while we’re doing . . . this thing we’re doing. And I won’t have lunch with anyone else,” she replied.

I needed more than that. “Lunch? That’s it?”

She shrugged. “It isn’t like you have to worry about me sleeping with anyone else. I don’t do that.”

No, she didn’t. And damned if that didn’t make me want to pull her into my lap and growl at anyone who looked her way like a damn dog with a bone. “Dates?” I asked. She’d been on a date with Adam.

She frowned. “I said no lunch. That meant dates, too.”

“Just wanted to clarify,” I told her, and leaned over to press a kiss to her lips. I had sat here and stared at them long enough. My eyes lifted and I saw Woods and Rush watching me. They were enjoying this a little too much.


Grant’s apartment was just outside Rosemary. It was small and I was surprised by that, but then again I wasn’t. His place looked like him. The furniture was worn and it was everything a bachelor pad should be, from the dartboard on the wall to the empty pizza boxes on the counter.

“I should’ve cleaned up before I brought you here,” he said, walking up behind me. I stepped back until I was touching him.

“I like it just like this,” I replied.

Grant’s head dipped to my shoulder and he kissed my neck. “And why is that?” he asked.

“Because it’s you. It’s comfortable and real.”

Grant’s arms came around me and held me. “I don’t know if I want you thinking of me as comfortable. That sounds real close to boring.”

Grant was anything but boring. “Well, you’re not that.”

He moved a hand down to the bottom of my skirt and tugged it up. “I feel the need to prove just how exciting I can be,” he whispered in my ear.

I didn’t want what we were doing to be all about sex. I wanted something deeper than that. But then maybe that was what Grant wanted. I liked it . . . no, I loved it. He made me feel amazing, but was that all we would ever be? When this was over, would I have been just another girl he had sex with? Or would he remember me for other things?

“You tensed up. What’s wrong?” he asked.

Nan’s words replayed in my head. He would get bored with me. He would want something exciting. Was she the exciting one he wanted? Did I even want to be that? I wanted Grant. Who wouldn’t want Grant? That was a given.

I had always been boring. I was sick of being boring. I was sick of being forgettable. No. I wouldn’t bore Grant. When we ended it, it would be mutual, not because I’d been the boring prude that Nan accused me of being.

I reached for his hand and slipped it up higher as I spread my legs.

“Make me forget the image of you on that counter with Nan,” I told him boldly.

Grant looked pained, and he moved his hand from between my legs and cupped my face instead. “I’ve already forgotten it. I’m sorry she said that to you.”

He was taking care of me again. Treating me as if I would break. I shook my head. “No. I haven’t forgotten. I can’t get it out of my head. I don’t like thinking about you and Nan together. I’m jealous that she had you first. I want to be more . . . I don’t want to be forgettable.”

Grant scowled. “You could never be forgettable. You’ve claimed me in ways Nan never did. Nothing about you, Harlow . . . nothing is forgettable. Don’t ever think that.”

His words were always so sweet. His way with words was his greatest talent. “Then do this for me. I want to see a kitchen counter and remember us on it. Not you and Nan. That hurts too bad.”

A low growl came from Grant’s chest and he grabbed my panties and pulled them down, “I can’t stand the idea of you ever hurting because of me. I f**king hate that. I want to make you happy. I wish I’d never been with anyone before you.” He stopped and took a deep breath. “I’ll make you forget it but know that I forgot every other woman I’ve ever been with the moment I slid inside you the first time.”

Before I could react, he ran a finger along the edge of my heat. “Do you know why she told you about the counter?” he asked in a husky voice that always made me shiver.

Yes. To hurt me. But I didn’t say that. Instead, I shook my head.

“Because I had taken her and closed my eyes,” he breathed against my neck. “And when I came it wasn’t her name I yelled. It wasn’t her I was f**king.”

My breathing became heavy and I let my head fall back on his chest. His finger pushed up inside me. “It was your name I cried out. I was drunk, but even drunk it was you I was fantasizing about. Once I got a taste of you, nothing else worked for me. You were all I could think about.”

That wasn’t what I expected to hear, but it helped make that image in my head much more bearable. I let my panties shimmy down my legs and stepped out of them.

“I don’t want you fantasizing about me with her or anyone,” I said, turning to look at him as I pulled my shirt off.

Grant picked me up and sat me on the counter before he started unbuttoning his jeans. His eyes never left mine. I reached around and unsnapped my bra, then let it fall forward slowly. His eyes dropped to watch me and the heat in them made me smile. It eased the jealousy of him touching Nan.

He didn’t even step out of his jeans. He pulled me to him and started to sink in before he stopped. “Motherfucker, I almost did it again,” he swore.

He reached over to a drawer that was full of junk and pulled out a condom. I didn’t want to know why the heck he had a condom jammed in there, but then again this was Grant we were talking about.

“I don’t like condoms,” I said.

Grant took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I don’t either, but I need to get checked again, then we need to get you on birth control before we go without one.”

He was right and I was glad he was strong enough to think about it. Truthfully, I was so ready to feel him inside me I wouldn’t have remembered.

This time when he grabbed my h*ps he sank inside me and bit down on my shoulder with a loud groan. That was exciting. Really exciting. He licked where he had bitten me then looked into my eyes. “I don’t have to pretend. I’m right where I want to be,” he said and slid his hands up my sides and covered my breasts. “Damn, these are nice.”

I leaned back on my hands and lifted my knees up his sides. “Don’t be gentle with me. You want to fulfill a fantasy, then use me to do it,” I told him. I didn’t want him using someone else to take my place. I was burning that out of his mind right now.

Grant swore and his hands clamped onto my h*ps and he began slamming into me over and over, his eyes never leaving mine. I slid a leg up and draped it over his shoulder.

“Holy fuck!” he yelled and grabbed my leg. He was losing his control, and the wild look in his eyes made me want to push him further.

I lay back until I was lying on the countertop and put my other leg over his shoulders. He turned his face and bit my leg while holding my gaze. I cried out. This was better than I imagined. Having sex in the kitchen was a major turn-on.

“Come here,” Grant ordered, pulling my h*ps up so close that my legs were draped over his back completely now. “You drive me f**king insane. Your plump little lips and big, round nipples, and these long-as-hell legs. All I want to do is stay buried inside you. You got me, Harlow. You f**king got me, baby. I . . .” he paused and groaned as the tremors of my approaching orgasm squeezed him. “I can’t fight this. I don’t f**king want to,” he finished, then both his hands landed on each side of my head. “Come with me,” he whispered, and I broke apart into a million pieces. I screamed his name and bucked underneath him while he chanted things about how tight I was and how good I felt. Every word out of his mouth sent me crying out in pleasure again. He had magic words. That was the only way to explain it.


Iwatched as Harlow stood outside on my balcony in nothing but one of my T-shirts. Her back was to me and the wind was making her hair dance around her shoulders. I had held her before I’d gone to clean up after our counter sex. Then I had to catch my breath.

I’d almost told her . . . I had almost f**king told her I loved her. Never. Had I ever. Almost. Told a girl. I loved her. Not even if the sex was hot. It had never even come to my mind, much less my mouth.

So now I had to figure something out.

Did I?

Was I in love with her?

She wrapped her arms around her front and leaned over to look down, causing the T-shirt to ride up and give me a glimpse of her ass. I was in love with that ass. I was in love with those legs of hers, too. But was I in love with her?

I watched her silently and felt the protective streak in me roar to life when I thought of someone looking up and seeing her in my T-shirt, looking like a sex goddess. I didn’t want anyone looking at her. She was mine.

She was mine.

Holy fuck.

She was mine.

I wasn’t ever letting her go, and I sure as hell didn’t want anyone else touching her. I wanted to hold her and keep her safely with me. It was irrational. It was . . . it was . . . I was in love with her.

I took a deep breath, preparing for the moment of panic to come along with this realization. But it didn’t come. I felt complete. The heavy weight I thought would come with this feeling wasn’t there. Instead, I could breathe deeper.

I moved from around the counter and went straight for the door. When I opened it, Harlow turned to smile at me. It was that perfect smile that could fix the world’s problems. I picked her up and carried her over to the lounger and sat down, cuddling her against my chest. I was feeling a little like a caveman at the moment, and I just hoped I didn’t beat my damn chest.

Harlow didn’t ask questions; she just tucked herself under my chin and wrapped her arms around me. Mine. All mine.

I was just going to have to convince her of this first, because although I had this figured out, I knew she didn’t. She didn’t trust me. Not with her heart. Even if she owned mine.

“Thank you,” I said into her hair.

“For what? Hot counter sex?” she asked with a smile in her voice.

“For you,” I replied.

She didn’t say anything else. That was Harlow. She didn’t ask a lot of questions. She didn’t want to always talk about things. She just took it in and accepted it. I just hoped she accepted that she was mine. Or more accurately, I was hers.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting there, talking. She told me about her grandmama. There was no wonder she was special. She’d been raised very differently from the other females in my life. She also did an adorable impersonation of her grandmother.

I told her about my dad and what it was I did exactly. Back when Dad married Georgianna, he had worked in construction. Now he owned his own construction company. His company was all over the Southeast. I helped him handle the Florida Panhandle. I managed things and checked on things when he needed me. I also dealt with phone calls he didn’t have time for.

I left out the fact I had ignored two of my father’s phone calls today. I wasn’t in the mind-set to talk business, especially when I’d just figured out I was in love. I needed to adjust to that first.

“I’m hungry,” Harlow said as she sat with her legs in my lap on the sofa.

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