I wanted to know why this was happening.

Except there were no answers, and the police had no idea who or why someone was doing this or when it would be over. No one even knew if Brock was on the run or dead. No one knew anything.

I rose, my gaze falling to the bed, to the messy sheets. What Jensen and I had done felt like hours ago, another lifetime ago.

“I’m done,” I said, shoving my clothes into the bag.

Jensen arched a brow. “Are you sure? Any other clothes you want to punch?”


One side of his mouth quirked. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”

I picked up my tote from the bed, slinging it over my shoulder. As we left the room, I glanced up at the fan and then to the window. No matter how any of this turned out, things would never, ever be the same again.

And my blood boiled because of that.

I left my room and tried not to kick a wall as I did so. The cordless phone was still off the charger in the hall. I placed it back in its holder. Who knew why the phone in the kitchen had been taken off the receiver. Just some other way to mess with our heads.

“We can go to my house for a little while. Mom and Dad won’t be home till late. Both are at the office,” he said as we headed down the stairs.


“Okay.” I breathed out. “That’ll be fine.”

He stared at me when we hit the foyer and then nodded. Turning, I walked into the kitchen and said goodbye to Mom. She promised not to hang around the house too long. I hugged her twice before I left.

It felt kind of lame driving the three blocks to Jensen’s house. Overcast clouds looked ready to dump rain again. I left my tote in his truck and slid out of the seat, closing the door behind me. I looked over the yard, biting my lip. Thick hedges blocked the street, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.

Could be something.

Could be paranoia.

We passed under the old black walnut tree, watching so we didn’t step on any of the shells. Jensen fished out his keys. “Stick close to me. I want to check out the house.”

My stomach did a flip. “You think he could be here?”

“I don’t think so, but I want to be careful.”

That was smart. Come to think of it, we should’ve had one of the officers scope out the place. A little too late for that, though. I stuck close to Jensen as he checked everywhere in the house, the doors, and the windows. By the time we made it upstairs to the last room, his bedroom, there was about an hour left until my dad would get home.

It had been so long since I’d been in his bedroom that I took the time to check out his room to settle my thoughts.

The walls were bare of any sports’ posters, but a WVU flag was tacked to the wall above his headboard. As Jensen brushed past me, picking up socks and God knows what else, I turned to his desk. Papers covered the top, and I recognized an English assignment. Sticking out from the bottom of the notebooks was a University of Maryland handbook.

My breath caught.

Jensen was kicking a pair of sneakers into the closet when I turned around. The center of his cheeks were pink as he straightened and walked to his bed. Plopping down, he patted the spot next to him.

I pressed my lips together, thinking of the handbook. “Do you think we’ll make it there?”

His brows knitted. “Make it to where? Your dad’s house?”

“No.” I wished it were that simple. “To University of Maryland.”

“What? Oh babe . . .” He sat up. “I promise you we’ll make it there.”

“That’s . . .” That was sweet, but he couldn’t promise that. No one could. And graduating and going away to college seemed so far away. Hell, Thanksgiving break didn’t seem possible.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were running out of time. That the fake dummy was more than just a warning, more like a prelude.

God, I didn’t want to think about anything, and the only thing I wanted to feel was that crazy warmth I’d felt earlier in the afternoon, because who knew if we’d get a chance to feel it again?

I don’t know what made me do what I did next, but when I met Jensen’s questioning stare, I just stopped thinking altogether.

Standing in front of him, I took a breath I didn’t need and reached down, pulling my shirt off over my head before I could think twice.

“Ella.” Jensen gripped the edges of the bed as his gaze dipped from my face. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I whispered.

His gaze dropped again. “That sure does not look like nothing.”

My legs felt like jelly as I walked forward and placed my hands on his shoulders. He tipped his head back, his throat working as I climbed onto his lap, putting a knee on either side of his hips. His hands settled on my waist as I lowered myself down.

He opened his mouth, but before he could say something that would surely introduce logic into what I was doing, I kissed him. Making a deep sound, his hands flattened against my lower back. Our lips parted, the kiss deepening. And I wasn’t thinking. All I was doing was feeling.

Breaking contact long enough to pull back, I grabbed his shirt, and he lifted his arms, helping me pull it off. My gaze traveled over the golden skin of his shoulders, across his chest, and the ridges of his stomach.

Wow. Me likey.

When I dragged my eyes back up, he grinned at me.

I pressed against him, practically climbing inside him. His skin was so much warmer than mine, tighter. I reached a hand up, threading my fingers through his hair. Heat swept through my veins, and if I could stay here with him like this, I could almost believe that we were two normal teenagers facing everyday stuff.

The kiss deepened, his lips parting. A deep, sexy sound rumbled up from his chest, and his other hand wrapped around the back of my head.

“Ella.” His voice was soft against my lips.

“Don’t,” I whispered as I shifted my hips closer to his.

His hand tightened on the back of my head and then he rolled. I was on my back in a second, and the feel of his body pressing against mine was a shock to my system.

My stomach dipped in a pleasant way, but then he started to pull back. An almost desperate edge rode me. I gripped his arms, holding him close, wanting to get lost in the feelings from earlier, wanting not to think.

Our eyes locked. His were like the ocean in the morning, glittering under the sunlight. My breath caught in my throat. The intensity in his stare . . . it almost undid me. Jensen’s mouth crashed into mine, his kiss sweeping me up into that place I wanted to be, where there was only him and me. Our legs tangled together. His hands skimmed over my body and we kissed like we’d never done it before, kissing like it might be our last. I trailed my hand down his chest, the tips of my fingers traveling over the dips and planes of his stomach. I reached the button on his jeans and went for it.

He caught my wrist. “Ella . . .”

“What?” I tried again, but he pulled my hand away. Rolling his weight onto one arm that trembled, he pressed my hand against the center of his chest. His heart pounded under my palm. “Jensen?”

“What we did this afternoon was . . . was perfect, Ella. And God knows I want you again,” he said, lifting himself. “But not like this.”

He was speaking a different language. “What?”

Jensen closed his eyes. “We can’t do this now.”

Damn if we couldn’t. “Why? We already did, and I’m okay. I can do it again. I really would like to do it again.”

He groaned. “I’m sure I’m going to be asking myself that question over and over again.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “So?”

“So . . .” He made another deep sound as he let go of my hand. I kept it there because I liked feeling the steady pound. He smoothed his thumb along my jaw. “It’s really simple.”

“It doesn’t seem simple. I want this, but you—”

“Oh, I wanted it this afternoon. I totally want it again, and I want it more than anything else. God, I can’t believe I’m saying this.” He shook his head. “But this isn’t right. Not like this. Never like this, when you’re scared and angry and confused. Because you’re the first girl I’ve ever fallen in love with, Ella, and you’ll be the last girl I ever love.”

Most Popular