Finally, he picked my hand up again and kissed my palm. “Okay, baby. I can handle just not fighting all the time.”

I stared at his fingers wrapped around mine. After what felt like an eternity, I managed, “Sorry. This all feels a little new.”

“For me too,” he reminded me.

We fell into silence again as we continued to watch the movie, laughing in the same places and slowly shifting until I was practically lying on top of him. Out of the corner of my eye I glanced at the clock on the wall and mentally calculated the hours we had left in San Diego.

Fourteen hours left of this perfect reality where I could have him whenever I wanted him, and it didn’t have to be secret, or dirty, using anger as our only form of foreplay.

“What’s your favorite movie?” he asked, rolling me over so he hovered above me. His skin was hot and I wanted to take off my blouse, but I didn’t want him to move even an inch, for even a second.

“I like comedies,” I began. “There’s Clerks, but Tommy Boy, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Clue; things like that. But I would have to say my all-time favorite movie would probably be Rear Window.”

“Because of Jimmy Stewart or Grace Kelly?” he asked, bending to kiss a trail of fire up my neck.

“I can see that. You have very Grace Kelly–like tendencies about you.” His hand came up and smoothed a piece of my hair that had come loose from my ponytail. “I hear Grace Kelly had a filthy mouth too,” he added.

“True. But I like it better when it’s full,” he said, meaningful smirk in place.

“You know, if you would shut up once in a while you’d be damn near perfect.”

“But I’d be a silent panty ripper, which I think is a lot creepier than the angry-boss panty ripper.”

I dissolved into giggles under him and he dug a finger between my ribs, tickling.

“I know you love it,” he growled.

“Bennett?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. “What do you do with them?”

He gave me a dark, teasing look. “I keep them somewhere safe.”

“Why?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him.

“Because you’ll try and take them back.”

“Why would I want them back? They’re all ruined.”

He grinned at me but didn’t answer.

“Why do you do that anyway?”

He studied me for a moment, obviously considering his answer. Finally, he lifted himself onto his elbow and moved his face to within inches of mine. “For the same reason you like it.”

With that, he stood up and pulled me with him into the bedroom.

I had experience with negotiations, holdouts, bargaining. Here I was in the unfamiliar position of having laid all my chips on the table, but when it came to Chloe, I didn’t care. I was all in.

“Are you looking forward to being home? You’ve been gone for almost three weeks.”

She shrugged, pulling my boxers down without ceremony and wrapping her warm hand around me with a familiarity that made me ache in new places. “I’ve had a nice time here, you know.”

I deliberated over each button of her blouse, kissing every inch of skin as it came into view. “How much time do we have to play before our flight?”

“Thirteen hours,” she said, without looking at a clock. The answer certainly came quickly, and from the way her skin felt when I slid two fingers inside her underwear, I didn’t think she was looking forward to leaving this hotel room anytime soon.

I tickled her thighs with my fingers, teased her tongue with mine, and rubbed myself against her leg until I could feel her arching toward me. Her legs slipped around my waist and she spread her hands against my chest as I reached down and pushed myself inside her, determined to make her come as many times as I could before the sun came up.

For me, there was nothing in the world but her slick skin and the soft air of her moans against my neck. Over and over I moved on her, mute with my need, lost in her. Her hips rolled with mine and her back shifted to press her br**sts against me and I wanted to tell her, “This, what we have, is the most amazing thing I have ever felt. Do you feel it too?”

But I had no words. I had only instinct and desire and the taste of her on my tongue and the memory of her laugh ringing in my ears. I wanted to keep that sound playing over and over. I wanted to be everything for her: her lover and sparring partner and friend. In this bed, I could be everything.

“I don’t know how to do this,” she said in a weird moment—on the verge of coming and holding onto me so tight I thought I might bruise. But I knew what she meant because it was painful to be filled so full of this longing and have no f**king idea how it would play out. I wanted her in a way that made me feel like every second I was sated and starving—and my brain didn’t know what to do with it. So instead of answering her or telling her what I thought we could do, I kissed her neck and put my fingers against the soft skin of her hip, and told her, “I don’t either, but I’m not ready to let it go yet.”

“It feels so good . . .” She whispered this against my throat and I groaned in quiet agony, patently unable to manage one articulate word in response.

I pushed her deeper into the mattress.