Holy shitballs. I didn’t realize how tight my muscles were strung, how much I hated the idea that Stanton had spent these hours with Jenny, until he told me he hadn’t.
What the hell is wrong with me?
When I glance at Stanton’s face, my misplaced emotion dissipates. Because he looks crushed. His shoulders are weighted, eyes downcast, his lips pulled low with mourning.
“I think it’s really over,” he whispers. “I stayed away too long and . . . I’ve lost her.” His voice rises. “Everyone’s so damn fine with it! Wayne, Jenn, Presley, even my own mother—they all think the idea of her gettin’ married is fantastic. Was I the only one who thought we were in it for the long haul? I was game, you know? For life.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmur, stepping forward between his legs, to hug him. His head rests against my breastbone, his breath warm against my chest. Those strong, gentle hands squeeze my waist, then encircle, resting on my lower back.
I put his hat on the bed beside him, running my fingers through his hair comfortingly. His voice is soft, barely audible—lost in the fabric of my nightgown—and my nipples go taut when he adds, “I’m just so fucking glad you’re here, Sofia.”
One of the perks of being close with a bunch of guys is knowing how they think, understanding the underlying meaning of the words they say.
I roll my eyes. “Of course you’re glad I’m here. You’ve been figuratively kicked in the balls. You’re ego’s bruised.”
And after a man’s crashed and burned, nothing soothes that wounded ego faster than climbing into a new, warm welcoming cockpit.
He lifts his head from my chest and gazes up at me looking adorably bleary eyed, yet sincere. “It’s not just that. I’m not only glad someone is here—I’m glad it’s you.”
Slowly, Stanton’s hands slide lower, cupping my ass, squeezing a muffled moan from my lungs. “Of course, if you want to kiss my bruised . . . ego . . . and make it better—I’m on board with that, too.”
He wiggles his eyebrows and I laugh. His thick hair is soft against my palms as I continue to push my fingers through it, thinking. Weighing my options.
I want him. I always want him. Why shouldn’t I have him? I thought keeping things platonic while I was here would help keep things straightforward. Compartmentalized.
But now, gazing down at that handsome face, those full, grinning lips . . . why shouldn’t I enjoy him while I have him? It’s not like I’m the other woman—Jenny turned him down.
His hands skim and knead, fingers searching, knowing my body so well. The rhythm I like, the secret touches that make me clench and gasp and want.
Why shouldn’t I reap the benefits of what she so stupidly threw away?
It’s only sex. Amazing, hot, physical release. I try to think of a reason I should say no.
And can’t come up with a single one.
I pick his hat up from the bed, placing it on my own head.
Ride ’em cowgirl.
He smirks. And my knees go weak.
“My hat looks good on you,” he drawls.
I stare at his mouth, then smile devilishly. “You know what else looks good on me?”
I lean in, close enough to taste him. “You.”
He starts to chuckle, but the chuckle turns into a groan when I kiss him. A tongue-probing, lip-sucking kiss that says I mean business. Stanton’s hands rise, burying in my hair, caressing my face, fingertips brushing my neck. He pulls me closer, moving his mouth across and over mine. He means business, too.
A tender electricity surges between us, and a new, rough affection presses us together. It’s warm and familiar, wild and exciting at the same time and I want to drown in it. I can’t get close enough; I need the contact of his skin more than my lungs need the air they’re screaming for. I tear my mouth away and lift his shirt. As soon as it’s off, he’s pulling at the strap of my nightgown, teeth scraping my shoulder, suctioning the flesh of my collarbone, my neck, hard enough to mar.
I pepper kisses across his bronze chest, running my hands over every sculpted crest, loving how his stomach tightens under my touch as I move lower. My tongue pays homage to the hard nub of his nipple along the way—swirling and flicking—making Stanton hiss. I get on my knees and look up into his eyes as I unbuckle his pants.
He watches me with heavy, hooded lids, knocking the hat from my head, petting my hair, smiling like he has a secret.
There’s a naughty joy—a dirty fucking thrill from being on my knees in front of him, when he yanks at my hair, when he utters the filthiest words. Because Stanton knows exactly what he’s doing—knows what I need. I give him my body, my supplication, and he gives me breath-stealing pleasure in return. He doesn’t rely on my direction. I don’t have to worry about instruction—he’ll get me there gloriously and all on his own.