I couldn’t recall a time when I’d enjoyed such simple pleasures. As sweet as it had been for Molly to throw me a going-away party, this was the best way to spend my last night here. It felt so right.
“You cold?” Luke asked, draping a heavy arm around me and pulling me close.
“A little.” I nodded.
“I’ll fix that.”
After he threw another log onto the fire, he stood up and grabbed a faded flannel shirt from his truck, then draped it around my shoulders. The shirt was soft and smelled like him, and I slipped my arms into the sleeves and buttoned it up.
“I’m a mess,” I said, smoothing my wavy air-dried hair into a ponytail high on my head. I could only imagine what I must look like.
“I like you like this,” Luke murmured, tilting my chin toward his to kiss my lips.
“You’re being awfully sweet. Are you trying to get lucky?” I whispered, pressing my lips to his again.
“That depends . . .”
Luke lifted me into his lap, settling me over the firm ridge in his pants. “On if you can handle riding this all night long.” He thrust upward, forcing the breath from my lungs. “Because I don’t plan on stopping until the sun comes up.”
His mouth crashed against mine in a hungry kiss. The pressure building between my legs demanded attention, and I couldn’t help the whimper that fell from my lips.
He groaned when I shifted my hips, gripping my ass to work me over his straining cock as he kissed me again. After unbuttoning the flannel shirt, Luke let it drop from my shoulders and then stripped off my T-shirt and bra.
His warm, calloused palms covered my breasts, his thumbs stroking my nipples. “What do you say, sweetheart? Are you ready to ride my cock?”
Rising to my feet, I quickly stripped out of my shorts and underwear. Luke wasted no time unfastening his pants and shoving them down his hips. By the time I was back in his lap, he’d already sheathed himself in a condom.
“Come here, beautiful. Need to make sure you’re ready for me.”
While his mouth feasted on my breasts—kissing and nibbling and licking—his hand moved between us where he discovered that I was, in fact, already ready for him.
“I love it when you taste like my whiskey.” He groaned again, sliding one finger inside me.
Gripping his shoulders, I buried my face against his neck, kissing all the warm skin I could reach. “Luke . . .” I moaned his name, the need in my voice unmistakable.
Positioning me in his lap, he pressed forward slowly until our bodies were joined.
“Christ . . . you’re perfect,” he said, grunting as he pumped into me.
“Let me,” I whispered.
Placing his hands on my jaw, he brought my lips to his while I took control of our speed. I rocked my hips in his lap, finding the angle that suited me.
I patted his chest. “Lean back, big boy.”
Luke obeyed, resting on his elbows while he watched me with hooded eyes. “Just like that, baby. Nice and slow.”
Under the moon and stars with a fire crackling beside us, we found new ways to bring each other pleasure. And after we had both reached our climax, we lay spooned together under a blanket for a long time, his breathing slow and even as he stroked my hair.
I kept waiting for Luke to ask me to stay, waited for him to ask what was so important about getting to LA.
But he didn’t.
And I didn’t bring it up, even though I felt the weight of my secret pressing down on me with each passing heartbeat. Because now that we’d grown closer, keeping the truth from him this whole time suddenly felt very, very wrong.
“Luke, there’s something I never told you about back home . . . about why I left.”
“Shh.” He stroked my hair. “You don’t owe me an explanation. You wanted a fresh start, right?”
I nodded, my head still nestled against his chest. Tears welled in my eyes at how perfect and sweet this man was. He’d bared his soul to me in just one week’s time, and I hadn’t even been brave enough to return the favor. But for now, I knew he was right. I didn’t want to sully our last night together by talking about Prescott or any of the other stuff in my life. Compared to the man beside me, it was all meaningless.
Tomorrow had the power to change everything, so I kept my mouth shut and simply enjoyed being with him.
But I couldn’t help but wonder, come morning, would he ask me to stay, or would he let me go without a fight?
Last night had been perfect. Charlotte and I had lain together under the stars until the moon was high, but when the temperature started to drop, we packed up for home, making love once more in my bed.
The day had been filled with sunshine and laughs and the hottest sex of my life, but in the end, it hadn’t really changed anything. Charlotte didn’t mention the future, and though I wondered where her head was at, I didn’t have the balls to bring it up.
If I had, I knew I’d probably end up begging her to stay, and I’d only come to regret it. Just like I had with my mom, and just like I had with Sarah. There were sayings about this exact situation—about being burned, or fool me once, shit like that—and I didn’t care to see history repeat itself.
Charlotte rose early, and I made coffee while she showered. When she was dressed, she came downstairs with her suitcase, her expression unreadable. She hugged Molly good-bye one last time while my sister shot me a questioning scowl.
Leave it, my expression said.
“Ready?” I asked after they exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch.
I tossed her suitcase in the back of my truck and we got in, the silence hanging around us nearly deafening.
Without a word, Duke got in his truck to follow us over to Wayne’s. He knew without my saying that if she got in that car today, I’d be gutted. He also knew I’d head over to the bar and drink until I couldn’t walk anymore. He’d be there to drive me home, and later, to help me pick up the pieces.
When we pulled up, her shiny black Audi was parked out front. As we climbed out of my truck, Wayne came strolling out of the shop, and an impending sense of doom settled over me.
This was it.
We pulled to a stop in the same dusty gravel driveway I’d broken down in ten days ago. It was crazy how fast my life had changed since meeting Luke. It was crazy how deeply he, his family, and this little town had affected me.
I followed Wayne inside the shop to settle my bill and collect my key while Luke and his brother exchanged some tense words in the parking lot. I didn’t know why Duke was here, maybe just to say good-bye one last time, but it felt like something more than that. I tried not to think about it.
After giving my parents’ black credit card a healthy workout, there was no other reason to delay. Inhaling one last deep breath of fresh country air as I walked through the parking lot, I realized this was it.
While Duke helped me load my suitcase into the trunk of the car, Wayne and Luke stood and talked at the edge of the parking lot.
I could barely stand to look at Luke—it hurt too much. The thought that I might be speaking my last words to him cut me to the core. Yesterday had been incredible, probably the best day of my entire life, but that was all it was. One last day to enjoy each other before it all came to an end because he hadn’t asked me to stay, and I certainly wasn’t going to invite myself to.
If he really wanted me here, he would have made that clear. Luke wasn’t a man who minced words.
“You sure you have to go, sweetheart?” Duke asked, drawing me out of my thoughts.
I closed the trunk and turned to face him. Anger and frustration were etched into his features, but I sensed all his anger was directed at his brother, not me.
I gave him a sad smile.
“He’s an idiot to let you go,” Duke said, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze. “If you won’t stay for him, stay for me.”
His sensitivity touched me. I’d never seen the softer, more serious side of Duke, but it was obvious there was one.
“It’s not that simple,” I said.
Shielding my eyes from the sun, I took a deep breath, forcing from my throat the words I didn’t want to say out loud. “First of all, he never asked me to stay.”