“I sense another ‘but.’”
“Don’t ask me why we broke up. I won’t tell you. And you’ll just get pissed. Trust that I’m protecting you in the only way that I know how.”
“And the cheating?” She just had to ask. “The reason you kissed Brooke?”
I shrugged. “I like kissing.”
“You’re an unbelievably horrible human being.”
“And yet you’re still thinking about it . . .” I smirked and started walking toward her. “About how good it was between us, about how good it could be tonight if you just say yes.”
Austin narrowed her eyes. “My hand is literally itching to slap you.”
“May make you feel better.” I shrugged.
I shouldn’t have given her the opportunity. Her hand went sailing through the air and met my cheek with such a loud slap that I stumbled to the side.
And then her little fists were beating at my back, shoving me against the nearest wall.
I let her.
And when she slowed down.
I swept in for the kill.
And kissed her.
Thatch kissed a woman as if he knew her body better than she did. It was like his lips could sense the perfect amount of pressure to apply in any given kissing scenario. Moaning, gasping, begging for more weren’t just options; they were necessary.
It was survival.
I’d been a victim of his kisses.
Just like I’d been a victim of every inch of his sexual prowess, and I knew, if I didn’t stop the kiss, I would be a victim again.
But my body begged me to just linger a bit longer. It told me to wait until I felt his tongue sliding across mine, until he tugged my lower lip and did that thing where he sucked it between his teeth just long enough to get me to gasp and open my mouth wider, where he’d slip in and take advantage, plundering my mouth until his air was mine.
My body trembled beneath his heated touch; he knew exactly where I needed him, where I always craved him, and he took advantage of it, stealing any sort of no that I wanted to speak, and turning it into a yes, yes, yes, holy crap yes!
Finally, his long, passionate kisses stopped, replaced with slow, heated pecks across my lips. I pulled back; his gaze darted between my eyes and my mouth.
He placed a finger across my mouth. “I need you.”
Anything but that.
Any words but those.
Because until Thatch, I’d never really felt needed or even wanted. My parents barely acknowledged my existence.
I’d only ever had Avery.
Her parents were more like parents to me than my own.
And then Thatch had come along, and he was fun, and different, and confident, and suddenly I found myself getting lost in everything he represented, but what hooked me was the day I found out it was all a front.
What hooked me—was his damage.
The glimpses he gave me when he thought I wasn’t really paying attention, the brief spouts of anger, the restless nights, the moments when I’d find him ending a phone call and gripping the phone so hard, I was afraid it was going to break in his hand.
He never talked about his past.
And because of that, I just assumed he wanted to focus on his future—our future.
My biggest mistake in our relationship wasn’t falling for Thatch; it was thinking that he needed me as much as I needed him.
Because when I touched him—my world felt full.
So how could it not feel that way for him?
How could he not feel the same?
“I need you,” he repeated, his eyes wild.
So, like an idiot, I kissed him again—and sealed my fate against his mouth, knowing that his track record proved he was a cheater and that I didn’t have any part of him—even though he still held every part of me.
I was that stupid girl.
The one I’d judged.
And I fully embraced it.
Because when it’s you in that situation, you imagine yourself as the game changer—you imagine you’re different.
Thatch nipped my lips over and over again, his hungry moans making me dizzy as I fought to catch up with his hands as they tugged my clothes away from my body in record time.
Thatch didn’t do slow.
Not with sex.
He took his time with kissing.
But sex had always been aggressive—not quick, but he definitely didn’t wait to get to the point.
So when he slowed down, and leaned his forehead against mine, then pulled me away from the wall and pressed me down against his bed—I knew I was suddenly in over my head.
He peeled his T-shirt from his body, revealing a six-pack cut from stone right along with pecs that I teased him couldn’t be real.
Men like Thatch shouldn’t exist in the real world—they belonged in vampire novels and paranormal movies.
His biceps flexed as he slowly crawled over me, kicking off his jeans in the process. Our lips met in a frenzy while his hands moved behind my neck, tugging my body upward toward his.
“I missed this,” he said between kisses.
“Me too,” I admitted, trying to keep the tears at bay. Sex, I could totally just do sex.
With the man I loved.
With the man who had broken my heart.
With the man who was going to walk away.
“Me too,” I repeated out loud, needing to convince myself more than anything.
With a sigh he kissed down my neck and then stopped, his eyes flashing as he stared at my bare chest. “Never.”
“Ever.” He shook his head.
“Never ever?” My eyes blurred with unshed tears while he continued to suck me in with his laser-like focus.
“I would never cut you here”—he slid his hand down the side of my breast—“and shove anything here.” He smiled. “Because this”—he closed his eyes and cupped my breast, his thumb grazing over my nipple—“is perfection.”
“But what if I begged you?”
“Then I’d silence you with my mouth and keep you so preoccupied, you’d forget your own damn n
ame.” His answers always were a little too wonderful, damn him.
“Touché,” I whispered.
“Seriously, Austin.” He bent over and sucked so hard, I nearly came off the bed. “Never let anyone tell you any different.”
“I guess,” I panted, “since you’re a plastic surgeon, you know your stuff.”
He made a little sound at the back of his throat as he moved to my other breast, taking his sweet time—giving my body way more attention than it had experienced since our breakup.
“You taste the same.” He licked the spot he’d just sucked. “How is it possible that I’m addicted to the way your skin tastes?”
“I think what you’re saying is, you’re addicted to my sweat.”
“You’re not sweating yet.” He winked at me. “But you will be.”
“Really? Because I really don’t want a workout,” I teased.
His injured nostrils flared, and then Thatch did what he did best—he found my weakness and pounced.
He hooked his arms beneath my legs and tugged me down the bed, my back slid against his cool sheets as my feet met the floor, he tugged me to a standing position and then, completely naked, walked over to the door and flipped on the switch.
My initial instinct was to cover my body.
But Thatch saw women’s bodies all the time.
And suddenly he was in front of me again, kissing me, confusing me, digging his fingers into me, sliding his hands down my hips and then lowering himself to the floor, wrapping one arm around the inside of my thigh so his hand pressed against my ass as he kissed and sucked up that same leg.
What was he doing?
My body went hot and cold all at once when his tongue flicked my core and with a moan he pulled me forward, rocking my hips against his mouth. I tried to pull back, first because it felt too good and I was pretty confident I was going to just collapse on his head any minute, and second, because he could see everything.
“I want to taste you forever.” His words buzzed against my skin as I dug my hands into his long mop of hair and held on for dear life. “Love this.”
“You’re so warm.” His tongue did something that I was pretty sure should be outlawed in the bedroom if girls were supposed to stay sane, and then I was coming apart, trying to hold on to all the reasons why this had to stay physical and not take a detour into emotional territory.