Page 58

Twenty-one days ago, he made love to me and I told him the truth of why I had cut him out of my life. I watched him weep for a loss that was new and raw while I had had years to cope. I received his understanding and forgiveness. He let go of his hurt, and I decided to let go of mine. At that time, my heart threw caution to the wind and became enslaved to him once more. In just three short weeks, it belonged to the only man who should have it. This was despite Michelle surprising us that night, which is something we ultimately ended up laughing about, and Hawke was right…she was cool. But it was also made clear to her that he had no more place in her life. I was back and intending to stay.

“Let me stay,” Hawke whispers in my ear as his hand moves from my hip to my belly.

What? Huh?

His hand snakes under my T-shirt, skims his fingers in such a way over my skin that a wake of prickly bumps remains behind. Sliding farther upward, his hand reaches for and cups my breast, squeezing gently. His lips brush my ear, and he asks again, “Please, Vale. Let me stay the night.”

I shake my head in denial, because it would be just too weird him sleeping here with my father across the hall. And if we were just sleeping, fine, he can stay. But I know Hawke. I know me. We wouldn’t be just sleeping. We’d be all over and up in each other, and that gets noisy. We’re a noisy couple. Always have been. I’d die if my dad heard that.

“Come on, baby,” he implores, his hand now moving south. He bypasses the waistband of my jeans, ignores the button and zipper, and goes straight in between my legs, grinding his palm against me.

“Oh, God,” I whisper out on a long exhale of breath.

He chuckles, bites my earlobe, and grinds again. “See…you want me to stay. You want this.”

Oh, holy hell did I want it!

But my hand went to his, grabbed his wrist, and halted his actions. “I do want it, but not here. My dad will hear us.”

“We can be quiet,” he cajoles, but keeps his hand still.

“There’s no way we can be quiet,” I tell him firmly. “You know that. You know it gets loud. I can’t help but scream when you make me come.”

My words pour out quickly and with a near-panicked tinge at the thought of my dad listening to us. I mean, realistically, I’m an adult and I can certainly have sex with Hawke without an ounce of shame, but ewww…just no. I can’t do it with my dad in the apartment.

“We can go to your house,” I say as I’m struck with sudden brilliance, because I do want him badly.

Hawke’s hand pulls away from between my legs, his arm comes around my stomach, and he squeezes me in a hug. “No. It’s getting late and we’re not driving all the way to my house just to fuck, and then turn around and have you come back home.”

“But—” I argue, because I really, really want him. Hawke has to know that my reluctance is due solely to the proximity of my dad and not because I don’t want it. I’m pretty sure I’ll always want it where he’s concerned.

“No buts,” he says, and then squeezes me again. “And I think we can go one night without having sex.”

“No! No we can’t,” I argue, and that starts us both laughing softly so as not to wake up my father.

For a moment, we lay like that.




And everything is perfect in my world.

I can’t believe how strong my feelings have become over the last few weeks. While my heart decided to give up its freedom that night we first made love, the feelings have only grown stronger over the last few weeks. Our days are filled with a sweet normalcy. We see each other at work. We joke. We text each other. He asks how my day is going, and he worries over how hard I work. I praise his game play, take joy in his reconnection to old friends like Oliver, and continually admire the man he has become.

I’m falling in love all over again, and it’s just beautiful to me.

“So,” Hawke drawls out, a means to introduce another idea to me. “If we just slept together, no sex, no hanky-panky, no nothing to cause you to scream out…I can stay the night?”

And I didn’t think my heart could get any more gooey where he’s concerned, but it literally flops over and melts at the fact he wants to just sleep with me tonight.

“Yeah, you can stay the night,” I whisper, my voice clogged with embarrassing emotion, so I cough to clear it.

“Awesome,” he says in a surfer dude’s exaggerated accent. “And for the record, I can control myself, unlike you, and be quiet during any type of…um…sexual ministrations you might want to perform on me.”

“Is that right?” I ask with a laugh.

I flip over on the couch so I’m facing him, and drape my left arm over his waist. I have to tilt my head back a little to meet his gaze, and his smile is bright and his eyes sparking with amusement.

“This is cool,” I say carefully, not wanting to get too sappy with him, but wanting to push around the edges to see if I can glean anything about the state of his own attitude toward me. While we have spent the last few weeks reconnecting and falling into some patterns as a couple, we’ve also diligently stayed away from the topic of our feelings. I try to remember back to the first time Hawke and I said the L-word to each other, and I remember vividly that I said it first. We were on a free period from school, it was a crisp fall day, and we were sitting under a large elm tree on campus. We were both studying for a calculus test. He was sitting cross-legged on a blanket, and I was on my stomach, my book opened up before me. He reached over and tucked a lock of hair behind my ear—the side that wasn’t shaved—and said, “You are the most beautiful girl in the world.”

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