“Did you want a prize for cuddling?” she countered.
“Are you handing them out?” I tried joking.
I held up my hands. “If you must know, I was across the hall.”
Confusion marred her angry features. “Okay,” she said, drawing out the word. “Doing what? Borrowing a cup of sugar? Pancake mix? What?”
I scratched my head. “My neighbor came home drunk, he was banging on all the doors, and he’d given me a spare key for emergencies, because sometimes . . .” Think, Thatch, think. “Sometimes I water his plants and feed his dog.”
Her eyes narrowed. “And both the plants and dog are still alive?”
“So you helped him into his apartment.” She put her hands on her hips. I could tell she was mulling over the information to see if I was being honest or just trying to get out of trouble.
“I swear.” I took a step toward her. “The last thing I wanted to do at five in the morning was leave my bed, with you sleeping in it.”
She nodded, exhaling a breath that she must have been holding in. Austin leaned her body against the door and broke off all eye contact. “If I ask you a question, will you be completely honest with me?”
“Yes.” Depends on the question. Please don’t ask about my family, and don’t tell me about yours.
“Have I gained weight?”
Yeah, so not what I was expecting. “What?”
“Weight.” Her eyes locked on mine. “Have I gained weight?”
“Where is this coming from?” I had a sneaking suspicion I knew—her father valued the illusion of perfection above all else. How ironic that the world around him was crumbling, and he had no freaking clue.
“Nothing, never mind, you answered already.” She reached for the door again, getting it only about an inch open before I slammed it closed and turned the lock.
“Hell no.” I placed my hands on her hips and turned her toward me. “Look at me.”
Slowly she tilted her chin up.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about you.”
Her lower lip wobbled.
“No, you haven’t gained weight, Austin, but if you had? Who the hell cares? Life is about living, it’s about being happy, and if you want extra dessert, eat the extra fucking dessert, alright? It’s not like I don’t know about your MoonPie stash or the fact that your drink of choice is Mountain Dew over wine. In fact, I bet you even had some this morning—it’s your thing when you get stressed, and it’s okay.” A tear slid down her cheek; I wiped it away with my thumb. “Do you hear what I’m saying to you? It’s okay. You’re beautiful because you’re you. Don’t let a size define perfection, when it’s your heart that I love the most.”
I just said love.
I didn’t mean to.
I meant it.
I didn’t mean to say it.
Her eyes widened just a fraction before she crushed her mouth against mine—and I just.
I was overcome with a swell of rightness when her mouth moved over mine, and—as much as logic told me I needed to push her the hell away—my body refused to listen, just like my brain, and my heart, the useless vessel she’d owned the minute she weaseled her way into my life and refused to back down even when I was a complete jackass to her.
An electric current of lust pulsed between us as I tugged at her knit dress, exposing her breasts; my tongue dipped and swirled inside her mouth, welcoming a deeper kiss—needing more of her as I wrestled off the rest of her dress and left it as a pool on the floor.
Chest heaving, I pulled away from her briefly to catch my breath, to see if this was still okay—what we were doing.
But she clawed at my back and kept thrusting her tongue inside my mouth like she was going to die if I stopped kissing her.
So I didn’t.
It wasn’t really an option for us anymore.
God knew it was the best option—it just meant I finally had to come clean, and I was so damn afraid that if I told her the truth, she really would walk away on her own accord and destroy me in the process.
I sucked in a greedy inhale of her skin like a complete lunatic; I could have sworn my testosterone was kicking into such high gear that I was ready to explode on the spot from a simple make-out session. It had always been that way with Austin, though—complete sexual madness.
“I’ve always wanted you naked in my office,” I confessed, walking her back toward my desk.
“Interesting.” She gave me a coy smile. “Since I’ve always wanted to do this!” She pushed off a stapler and my phone.
“Wow, don’t go too wild,” I teased.
“Well, I knew you’d have to clean it up, so . . .” She shrugged and then grabbed me by the neck and skimmed my lips with her tongue before opening her mouth up to me.
I took full advantage of her vulnerability, straddling her against the desk and slowly turning her around. I bent her forward and tugged her ear with my teeth. “Is this okay?”
“No, it’s horrible, please stop,” she panted in a raspy voice. “It’s more than okay.”
I slid her palms forward, pressing them flat against the surface of my desk before I quickly unbuttoned my jeans and freed myself.
My body throbbed as I strained toward her. The view of her ass was out of this world, her skin pulsing beneath my hands as I jerked her against my body and thrust deep inside.
Austin slammed her hands against the desk, arching her body back as I pulled almost completely out, then pumped into her again, unable to control the possessive urge to claim her—in my office—to mark her and show her that I wasn’t ever letting her go—no matter the cost.
I silenced her with another thrust and cupped her breasts, my blood pounding in my ears as I felt her body respond.
“Dr. Holloway?” It was Mia on the other side of the door.
I ignored her.
r /> “Dr. Holloway?”
“Son of a bitch,” I muttered, and then yelled, “One minute.”
“I’d say at least three,” came Austin’s response.
I nuzzled her neck and slowed my thrusts, our bodies moving in sync with each other, her eyes closed as her head fell back against my chest. “Just like that.”
“Like this?” I swiveled my hips and kissed her below her ear, then peppered kisses down her jaw as I continued to move inside her—I would never get enough of her, of this feeling.
I was in too deep.
“Fire her,” Austin moaned. “I’m so close.”
“Well, in that case . . .” I started to pull away.
“Don’t you dare!” she hissed. “I’ll slit your tires again and get you a pet frog.”
“Oh look, my erection’s gone,” I joked, my tongue teasing her ear as I pulled completely out and flipped her around, pulling her leg around my waist and entering her again, our gazes locked.
There was still so much fear in her eyes.
Fear I’d put there.
“You’re beautiful.” I kissed her forehead and felt her body come apart around mine.
“Coming,” I said through clenched teeth while Austin burst out laughing.
“This is a business establishment, Doctor.” Austin cupped my face with her hands and pressed a tender kiss to my lips. “I love you.”
“What?” All the air left the room. “What did you just say?”
Tears filled her eyes. “I love you.”
Tell her, damn it!
“I love you too.” I shoved the guilty voice away.
I’d tell her later.
Because the last thing I wanted was to ruin the moment.
The moment I did the one thing I’d sworn I’d never do.
Fall in love.
And allow myself to be vulnerable to heartache. But quitting her? It was impossible, I’d learned that in a few short weeks.
And now, the thought of her walking away felt like a crack in the chest.