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07.03.2019

Kate’s hands find mine. Our fingers fold together, and I bring them, joined, up over her head. Our foreheads touch—every pant, every breath mixing and mingling. Her h*ps move with mine, like the flow of the ocean. Back and forth. In frenzied unison. Together.

Our eyes lock. “God, Drew…don’t stop…please, don’t ever stop.”

I’m drowning in her. I can barely draw a breath. But somehow I grind out, “I won’t. I’ll never stop.”

I feel it when she comes. Every scorching wet inch of her tightens blissfully around me. And it’s so good…so savagely intense I want to f**king weep from the pleasure. I bury my face in her neck, inhaling her, devouring her. And then I’m coming with her—within her. Bathing her insides with each carnal thrust. Sweet electricity races through me as one word falls from my lips over and over again:

“Kate…Kate…Kate…Kate.”

It’s miraculous.

After several moments, our bodies still. The only sounds in the room are our rapid breaths and pounding heartbeats.

Then Kate whispers, “Drew? Are you all right?” I lift my head and find her beautiful eyes looking at me with concern. Her hand cups my cheek gently. “You’re shaking.”

Have you ever tried to take a picture of something really far away? And you look through the lens and the whole scene is a blurry blob? So you mess with the focus; you zoom in and out. And then the camera whirls and seconds later—boom—instant clarity.

Everything snaps into place.

The picture is as clear as crystal.

That’s what it’s like for me—right now—looking at Kate. Suddenly, it’s all so obvious. So frigging clear.

I’m in love with her. Totally. Helplessly. Pathetically.

In love.

Kate owns me. Body and soul.

She’s all I think about. She’s everything I never thought I wanted. She’s not just perfect—she’s perfect for me.

I’d do anything for her.

Anything.

I want her near me, with me. All the time.

Forever.

It’s not just the sex. It’s not just her gorgeous body or her brilliant mind. It’s not just that she makes me think or how eager she is to challenge me. It’s more than any of that.

It’s all of it.

It’s her.

I’ve broken every goddamn rule I’ve ever set for myself to be with her. And it wasn’t just to f**k her.

It was to have her. To keep her.

How did I not see it before? How come I didn’t know?

“Hey?” She kisses me softly on the lips. “Where’d you go? I lost you for a minute. Are you okay?”

“I…” I swallow harshly. “Kate, I…” I take a deep breath. “I…I’m fine.” I smile and kiss her back. “I think you just wore me out.”

She laughs. “Wow. Never thought that would happen.”

Yeah—tell me about it.

Chapter 17

I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING: What the fuck?

If I realized that I’m in love with Kate, and she’s obviously infatuated with me—how does she end up back with Billy Why-Don’t-You-Just-Die-Already Warren?

Excellent question. We’re almost there. But first: a science lesson. What do you know about frogs?

Yes. I said frogs.

Did you know that if you put a frog in boiling water, he’ll jump out? But, if you put one in cold water and heat it slowly, he’ll stay in. And boil to death. He won’t even try to get out. He won’t even know he’s dying. Until it’s too late.

Men are a lot like frogs.

Was I freaked out by my little epiphany? Of course I was. It was huge. Life-changing. No more strange p**sy. No more stories for the guys. No more Saturday nights. But none of that mattered anymore. Honestly.

Because it was too late. I was already boiling—for Kate.

That whole night I watched her sleep. And made plans…for us. The things we’d do together, the places we’d go—tomorrow and next weekend and next year. I practiced what I would say, how I would tell her my feelings. I imagined her reaction and how she would confess she felt the same way. It was like a movie, some horrible chick flick that I would never go see. The dashing playboy meets the take-no-prisoners girl of his dreams, and she snags his heart forever.

I should have known then that it was too good to be true. The best things usually are: Santa Claus, the male G-spot, heaven—the list is endless.

You’ll see.

We’re walking down Fifth Avenue. Instead of wasting precious time driving across town to Kate’s apartment, we stopped at Saks on the way to work, where I bought Kate a new navy Chanel suit. Can’t have her doing the Walk of Shame into the office, now can I? When she was trying on clothes for me, I swear, I felt just like Richard f**king Gere in Pretty Woman. Kate even bought me a tie.

See?

Then she insisted on stopping by the lingerie department to replace the panties I’d so erotically destroyed. I put up a good fight over that one, but I lost. You ladies ought to know—going commando? That’s sexier than leather and lace and whips and chains all put together.

We stop by Starbucks and grab some much-needed caffeine. As we walk back outside, I pull Kate close. I cup her cheek and kiss her. She tastes like coffee—light and sweet. She pushes my hair back out of my eyes and smiles.

I’ll never get tired of looking at her. Or kissing her. Pussy whipped, thy name is Drew. Yeah I know. It’s okay. I don’t mind. ’Cause if this is the Dark Side? Sign me up. Seriously. Don’t be surprised if I start skipping down the street singing, “Zip-a-Dee-f**king-Doo-Dah.” I’m that happy.

Kate and I turn the corner. Holding hands and smiling at each other like two idiots who popped one too many antidepressants. Nauseating, isn’t it?

We need to stop here for just a minute. You should look at us. How we are right here, right now—hand in hand. You should remember this moment. I do.

We were…perfect.

Then we get to our building. I open the door for Kate and walk in behind her.

And the first thing I see are daisies. Large white daisies with cheerful yellow centers. Some in vases on the security desk, others in bunches tied with ribbon. Some are scattered singly all over the floor, random petals here and there. In the middle of the lobby is a circle of even more daisies. In the center of that circle, is Billy Warren. And he’s got his guitar.

Fuck. Me.

No, that doesn’t quite cover it.

Fuck me with a chainsaw.

Yeah—that’s about right.

You ever see a singing a**hole? Here’s your chance:

I was so blind I didn’t know

How much it would hurt to let you go

I want to heal us, want to mend

Come back, come back to me again

If I didn’t hate him so much—and the jackal who spawned him—I’d have to admit he’s not half bad. I watch Kate closely. Every emotion that crosses her face, each feeling that dances in her eyes.

You know when you have a stomach virus? And you lay around all day with a bucket at your side because you feel like you’re going to puke at any second? But then there’s that moment—when you know it’s coming. You break out in that cold, full-body sweat. Your head pounds, and you feel your throat expand to make room for the bile that’s charging up from your stomach.

That’s me. Right now.

I actually put my coffee down and look around for the nearest garbage can just to be sure I’ll make it there in time.

And I need to say I’m sorry

For all the pain I caused

Please give your heart back to me

I’ll keep it safe for eternity

We belong together

We’ve always known it’s true

There will never be another

My soul cries out for you.

Any other time, any other girl, I would bury Warren. Without even trying. He can’t hold a candle to me. I’m a goddamn Porsche; he’s a frigging pickup truck that can’t pass inspection.

But this is Kate. They have a history, a decade’s worth. And that, kiddies, makes him some major-league competition.

In the dark of night, it’s your name I call

I can’t believe I almost lost it all

One more chance, one breath, one try

No more reasons to say goodbye

I want to pick Kate up, caveman style, and carry her out of here. I want to lock her in my apartment where he can’t see her. Can’t touch her. Can’t touch us. The whole time I stare at her, but she doesn’t turn to look at me.

Not one f**king time.

And I need to say I’m sorry

For all the pain I caused

Please give your heart back to me

I’ll keep it safe for eternity

We belong together

We’ve always known it’s true

There will never be another

My soul cries out for you

Why didn’t I learn to play an instrument? When I was nine, my mother wanted me to play the trumpet. After two lessons, the tutor quit ’cause I let the dog piss on his mouthpiece.

Why the hell didn’t I listen to my mother?

You are my beginning, you’ll be my end

More than lovers, more than friends

I want you, I want you

He can’t have her. Go ahead and want all day long, douchebag. Sing from the motherf**king rooftops. Play until your fingers fall off. It’s too little, too late. She’s already mine. Kate isn’t the type to have sex with just anyone. And she f**ked me all weekend like the world was ending. That has to count for something.

Doesn’t it?

And I need to say I’m sorry

For all the pain I caused

Please give your heart back to me

I’ll keep it safe for eternity

For eternity

You and me

The small crowd that’s gathered in the lobby applauds. Dickhead puts his guitar down and walks up to Kate.

If he touches her, I will break his f**king hand. I swear to God.

He doesn’t acknowledge me at all. He’s focused only on Kate. “I’ve been calling you since Friday night…and I stopped by the apartment a few times this weekend, but you were out.”

That’s right. She wasn’t home. She was busy. Now ask her what she was doing.

Who she was doing.

“I know this is work…but do you think we could go somewhere? To talk? Maybe your office?”

Say no.

Say no.

Say no, say no, say no, say no, say no, say no, say no, say no…

“Okay.”

Shit.

As she starts to walk away, I grab Kate’s arm. “I need to talk to you.”

Her eyes question me. “I’ll just be a—”

“There’s something I have to tell you. Now. It’s important.” I know I sound desperate, but I really don’t give a damn.

She puts her hand over mine, the one still clasping her arm. She’s calm—condescending, like she’s talking to a child. “All right, Drew. Let me talk to Billy first and I’ll meet you in your office, okay?”

I want to stomp my foot like a two-year-old. No. It’s so not f**king okay. She needs to know where I stand. I have to stake my claim. Throw my hat in the ring. Get my car in the goddamn race.

But I drop my hand anyway. “Fine. You two have a nice chat.”

❮❯