Reese: And no I wouldn’t outlaw pervy old business guys. Celebrate them for sure.
Reese: If you ever need to scare off scary dudes again, I’d say up the hyena laugh while you shred their napkins. Side note, were those the two who came up to me first last night?
Reese: Yes. Talking to your barstool would be a good tool to scare them off too. Barstools can have the best conversations.
Reese: Want food? I’ll bring Mediterranean on the way back.
I was laughing, but I flicked something annoying away from my eye too. Rational thought had returned, and there was an ache in my chest. The hole Damian had put there still remained, and I had a feeling some Reese was filtering in there too.
He was being kind. My God, he was so nice, and I was being what? Dramatic? Overreactive? I was the annoying girl people rolled their eyes at—but they didn’t get it. I was just now starting to stand. If I kept falling, sinking more and more into the Reese tsunami, he would spit me out broken in pieces. When did self-preservation kick in?
When did I need to harden my walls so they weren’t completely ripped from me?
I had no answer, because I knew he’d come back. He’d have food with him. That smile would cause my heart to do flip-flops. He’d look at me, smile at me, say my name, and my body would ignite in a happy flame. All the buzzing my phone did from him, that’s what he did to me.
He made me buzz. My heart. My mind. My soul—my inner comedian was gagging at the cheesiness, but it was true. I was a goner, and I was slipping further away each moment Reese was in my world.
My phone went off again.
Grant: You never answered last night. Everything okay? You’re not doing a disappearing act, are you?
I took a deep breath, feeling an instant kick start of nerves, and I forced myself to take the first steps. It was now or I didn’t think I’d ever do it, but I really had no choice.
Me: Things are good. It’s fun, and I’ll take the job.
My phone rang right away. Grant.
I accepted his call, taking the coffee out to Reese’s patio—where, dear Lord, the view was amazing. My knees almost buckled in shock. The waves rolled in and out from the shore.
“Hey.” My voice had gone hoarse for a beat.
He was silent a second. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” I sat down on a patio lounger, coffee on the table in front of me, and I snuggled down, getting comfortable.
“Are you sure about the job? Ball Wonder okay with it?”
I grinned at the nickname. “Ball Wonder doesn’t really have a say. We’re friends—”
“Oh my God, shut the fuck up with that!”
I laughed. “Yeah, yeah. You know what I mean.”
“No. I don’t, actually. Listen, tell me to stay in my lane, but he seemed to have reservations about you taking the job. And he’s not messing around. He cares about you. You sure about saying yes?”
“Don’t you want me there?”
“Hell yes, I want you here. Sophia and Hadley will be over the moon, but I want to make sure you’re not doing it because your back is up against a wall. I know you. I know you’re probably making yourself feel like you are, but you aren’t. Forster seemed serious about making sure you didn’t take a job out of desperation.”
I wanted to scoff at him, but I couldn’t. That made all of this even shittier.
He waited a beat, then asked, “What’s going on, Charlie? For real.”
So many years of silence.
My first instinct was to say nothing, but I had to remember, Damian had wanted me to be quiet. He’d wanted me to hide in our pretend world where nothing real was happening, where his mind wasn’t slowly being taken away from us.
Fuck him. Fuck being silent.
“I won’t recover after Reese.”
There it was, the ugly truth. My voice trembled. “Walking away from Damian was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and when something bad happens—because it will—I won’t be able to stand up again after Reese. It’ll be too much.”
Now it was his turn to be silent. I heard a soft sigh.
“Then come home. I’ll drive down and pick you up at the airport.”
There. Just like that.
I was crying, but I needed to hear this. I needed one other person to give me permission to walk away from someone else.
“But you’re wrong, Charlie. Walking away from Damian wasn’t the hardest thing. Loving him and staying was the hardest thing you did. You stayed. Remember that.”
No. I left.
Everyone leaves, eventually.
“I’ll fly back on Friday,” I told Grant. “And that’ll be it. That’ll be the end.”
“I’m back!” Reese walked into the kitchen and set a bag on the table. “I grabbed some salads, but I have to warn you, I’m starving. I might need to eat something else too.” He tossed his keys and wallet on the counter, then came over to where I was standing by the sink.
His arms wrapped around me and he grinned. “I have to say,” he murmured, dipping closer, “it’s really nice to see you here.”
He caught my lips with his, and a dizzying spell rushed through me. I went with him as his head began to lift, going to my tiptoes, and just as he was going to pull clear, I clasped him by the back of his neck.
“No,” I said, keeping him right where he was.
Maybe it was because of my decision, or maybe it was because I agreed with him—it was really fucking nice to have him come home to me, like we were married. But for whatever reason, need pulsated through me. Demanding need. I needed him. Now. Five minutes ago. My hands turned frenzied.
“Yeah?” He paused, his mouth still on mine, his body arched over me as he leaned against the counters beside me.
“God, yeah.” I moaned, yanking him against me, and after that, it was a mess of limbs, desperation, and hunger.
I was starving for him.
I couldn’t let him go. I just couldn’t, so I turned my brain off. I had to or I would start crying because I was already aching at the thought of what Friday would mean.
“Shit.” He kissed my throat, his hands moving more urgently on me.
He grasped under my thighs and lifted me, moving me toward a spot on the counter that had more space. He pulled off my shirt and kissed down my chest, finding my breast, but I wasn’t the only one getting undressed.
Yanking on his shirt, he pulled back to help me. He tossed it to the floor and was back on me.
“I seriously will never get tired of this.” He caught me in a whirlwind kiss before returning to my breast. “God, do you know how much I love your body? The way you smell, taste, move for me. You’ve made me fucking addicted to you.” He pushed his cock against me, still in his sweatpants.
A growl moved up my throat as I reached for his pants. “I want these off. Now.” I couldn’t help myself as I reached for his dick and took hold of it.
He froze over me. “Fuuuuuuuck, Charlie.”
Fevered. Blind. I moved according to my needs, not thinking at all as I wrapped my legs around his waist. I pressed down and rolled my hips around, grinding on him slowly and goddamn deliciously.
I fell back on the counter, stretching out. My legs kept hold of him, and I just wanted more and more and more.
Reese held himself immobile, letting me do what I wanted, until finally a primal sound came from him. “Okay.” He grasped my hip and took hold of my pants. Shoving a hand inside, he grunted. “You’re having your fun. So am I.” He plunged two fingers inside of me.
I gasped, arching my back.
His mouth came down to my nipple, his tongue rolling around it.
We’d had sex before. We’d screwed, fucked, had fun, as Reese said. We’d had slow sex, feelings sex, and yes, there’d been times it was akin to making love. This, this was different. There was a raw urgency in me, and I knew it had awakened in Reese too.
As if this would be our last time, or perhaps my body was trying to claim him before I left.
It was almost rough and ugly in a way, but I needed to be owned by him. I needed to own him. Feeling that rise up in me, I sat up, released his dick, and shoved his pants down.
His eyes met mine, hungry, smoldering, dark. He continued thrusting his fingers inside of me, and I bucked against his hand. He lifted his other to cup the side of my face. His hold was tender, such a contradiction, and I gasped, freezing in his hold. Tears spilled from my eyes.
He wiped one away with his thumb, a question coming to his eyes, but I leaned in.
Touching my lips to his, gently, I whispered, “Fuck me hard. I don’t want to see by the time you’re done.”
His eyes searched mine, and a hard and feral look slammed over his face. His nostrils flared, and he gripped me once again, but this time, he lifted me and turned me around.
Bending me over the counter, he yanked my hips up and back, and he leaned over me, “Like this?”
“Yesssssssssss,” I breathed.
He stripped me bare, ripping my underwear off along with his clothes, and I felt him against every inch of me from behind. He leaned over me once again, one hand resting on the counter beside my head, the other on my hip as he lined up at my entrance.
“Yes,” I panted.