Roman understood me.
He didn’t try to sway me. Control me. Or tell me he knew what was best for me.
And I may have melted a little more for my best friend right then, just for that simple acceptance, if I wasn’t already a complete puddle for the man.
“Yes,” I said and slanted my lips over his.
He scooped me off the floor, and walked us to his bedroom, barely breaking for a second before he laid me on the bed.
“Since you’re moving out,” he said, trailing his fingers along my thighs as he parted them enough to settle between them. “I better make use of the time I have you here.”
Warm shivers danced over my skin as he crushed his lips on mine, claiming my mouth until I was breathless.
Then he did the same to my body.
Until we were both limp and sated and utterly, truly happy.
* * *
“A walk-out is all you have available?” I asked the leasing agent as she showed me around the modest yet chic two-bedroom apartment.
“Yes,” she said. “This unit just became available, and it’s our only one for now. Another lease is scheduled to end in six months. It’s a third-floor level.”
I chewed on my bottom lip, rolling my shoulders as I checked out the guest bedroom. The Krav Maga class this morning had been brutal, and my muscles were aching because of it. But, at the same time, it had been so damn empowering. I felt stronger with each class, mentally and physically.
Almost strong enough to face Rick on his own territory and get my stuff back.
Or, one thing in particular.
My heart ached for that hidden shoebox, but I placed the thought on the I’ll-deal-with-that-next list. Right now, I needed my own place. And this was the fourth apartment I’d seen today, and quite frankly, it was the only one I wanted.
“There is a coded gate and security on-site?” I asked, mentally picturing the guest bedroom filled with canvases and supplies instead of a bed.
“Yes,” she said, following me as I checked out the master bedroom.
Heat rushed to my cheeks as I envisioned all the ways Roman could make me scream in this room and vice versa. Not that Roman screamed—he did this primal growl thing that was come-worthy in its own right.
And now I wanted him.
“It’s pet friendly?” I asked as we worked our way to the small living room and attached kitchen. The open floor-plan definitely helped make the meager square-footage seem like a lot more.
“There are certain breeds that aren’t allowed, but with deposit and an extra fee, we’re definitely a pet-friendly establishment.”
“German Shepherds?” I asked.
“They’re good to go, here,” she answered.
I nodded, envisioning Walt claiming a spot near the walk-out patio by the sliding glass door when he came over with Roman for sleepovers. I also wanted to get a puppy someday and raise it, train it, just like Walt—they were one of the top-rated protective breeds. Not that I needed protection, but the security Walt had offered while staying at Roman’s was a comforting feeling. I just had to hope when the time came, the apartment wouldn’t up my rent for having two of them technically when Walt visited.
Roman wouldn’t have an objection to a puppy and a full-grown dog living together. And he has all that land...
I shook off the thought, internally telling myself to shut it down. I couldn’t simply fall into Roman’s fairytale life with his beautiful house and perfect kisses in the morning and damn it why did I have to be independent? Wouldn’t it be easier to just move in with him officially and spend the rest of my life worshiping his glorious body and laughing at the wonderfully ridiculous bets we constantly engaged in?
It would be easier, but it wouldn’t be fair.
He needed to know that I wanted him for him. Not for the easy-living he had to offer.
I flicked the deadbolts on the front door, not at all acknowledging the curious stare the leasing agent shot my way. I did the same on the back door that connected to the small patio, then glanced around the space, a smile tugging at my lips.
I’d stand on my own here.
I’d paint here and create here and sell my work here.
And I’d let Roman come over and play house here.
I nearly laughed at the last thought, then sucked in a deep, satisfied breath.
“I’ll take it,” I said, a sense of accomplishment filling me. I’d sold my four commissioned paintings last week, which gave me just enough for a down payment and maybe a week’s worth of groceries. But I’d work hard—I already had an inbox of requests to get started on. Most were fanart pieces—customers wanting mashups of their favorite fictional characters or actors or a scene from a book they were writing. Those were my bread and butter.