Page 25

I nearly groan at the thought of those lips. The way they used to look as they slid up and down on my…

The doorknob turns and my fingers grip into the casing, holding steady rather than retreating. Vale’s head is down as she steps out, causing her to walk right into me. She bounces back slightly and I resist the urge to reach out and steady her.

She looks up at me standing there, hulking in the doorway, and her eyes flare wide with surprise.

“What are you doing?” she mutters.

“Making sure everything came out okay,” I tell her with a cheesy grin.

Her lips quirk up and she shakes her head. “That’s lame.”

I release my hold on the door casing and then lean one shoulder against it, crossing my arms over my chest. This doesn’t have me towering over her, but still blocks her exit. “You know what’s lame?” I ask her with a smirk.

“What’s that?” she asks, her head tilting to the side and her eyes bright with curiosity.

“Your boyfriend…Tad.”

She narrows her eyes at me and the smile slides from her face. “It’s Todd.”

“More like toad,” I counter.

“What are you like five years old or something?” she asks dryly.

Pushing off from my perch, I take a step into her. She takes a wary step back.

“Seriously…what do you see in that guy?” I ask her as I advance. She continues to walk backward, until her back comes up flat against the door to my shower.

“Todd’s a great guy,” she says firmly. “He’s kind…nice. Devoted.”

“Loyal?” I ask as I take one more step, bringing me to within inches of her body.

She sucks in a breath and whispers, “Yes.”

My hand reaches out, probably fueled by my buzz, but more so by a flare of anger that suddenly hits me square in the chest. I take a lock of her hair in my hand and rub my fingers against it. My eyes slide up to hers. “Does he know you’re not?”

“Not what?” Her voice is quietly full of shame.

“That you’re not loyal.”

Vale’s eyes flare hot with indignation and her hands come up to slap against my chest. She tries to push me back but I don’t budge an inch. “I’ve been loyal to Todd.”

“I’m sure you have been,” I say with a nonchalant shrug as I look down at her. “But you’ll cut him loose too. Break his poor heart. Leave him high and dry.”

Vale lets out a snarl of outrage, but I cut her off, my alcohol consumption lowering my inhibitions and turning me into a supreme asshole.

“Come on, Vale, it’s what you do,” I taunt her, feeling an overwhelming need to make her feel bad about herself. I want her to feel bad so that maybe she feels a tiny bit of what I went through when she cut me loose. I place my hands flat on the shower stall, one on either side of her head, effectively caging her in. “Isn’t that right? When you’ve had enough, you just slam the door tight.”

I see pain and misery flash across her face and I instantly feel like shit. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do this to Vale…not while she was going through all this shit with her dad. I know the alcohol is fueling me on. I know I should say I’m sorry, but I still can’t bring myself to apologize for true feelings, so I let loose any further inhibitions I may have been holding back and let my buzz push me to do something else instead.

I kiss her.

Lean my body in, press my lips to hers, and push them apart.

Vale gives a tiny gasp of surprise, and it’s enough of an opening that my tongue slides fluidly into her mouth.

And I groan, because this right here is fucking heaven.

Vale may have changed into someone virtually unrecognizable to my old self, but this mouth…these lips…her taste. It’s all 100 percent the same, and a jolt of lust seizes me hard.

My hands go to her shoulders first, then slide around to her back so I can pull her in tight to me. I stake my claim by moving one hand to the back of her head, the other to her lower back, and I press her into me so she can feel just how much I want her.

No matter how much I might despise what she did to me, I apparently still want her.

Vale tries to pull her mouth from mine, but I just hold her tighter. She manages to mumble against me, “Hawke…don’t…”

I ignore her but use the opportunity to slide my lips over to her jaw.

“I can’t do this,” Vale whispers, but I choose to believe she doesn’t mean it.

I kiss along her neck, heartened when her fingers curl into the material of my shirt. With my lips now by her ear, I murmur, “Yes, you can.”

She gives a shake of her head and I feel her tense up, so I kiss her again, full on the mouth. My fingers grip into her hair and I tug so her face tilts more toward mine, deepening the kiss. I’m rewarded with a very clear moan from Vale that I can feel bubbling against my tongue.

Then she’s kissing me back.

No holds barred, her teeth knocking against mine as she pushes into me. Tongue rolling over mine, lips soft but insistent. I drop a hand to her waist, grip it for a moment, then start dragging the material of her skirt up her leg. Blood is roaring through my head and I feel dizzy from lust and beer and the taste of Vale.

Suddenly, Vale’s hand is clamped onto my wrist, stilling the motion of me pulling her skirt up. She pulls her mouth free of mine and desperately pleads, “Don’t.”

That’s unacceptable to me. I’m too far gone.

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