I needed to be in her, now.

“Tell me you want me,” she said, the words coming out as exhales, only air. She was trembling; her eyes were squeezed closed.

“You have no idea. I want everything you’ll give me.”

“Tell me we can do this.” She shoved my pants and boxers down past my knees and wrapped her legs around my waist, digging the heel of her shoe into my ass. When my dick slipped against her, pushing just inside, I covered her mouth as she let out a small, keening noise. Almost a moan.

I pulled back, inspecting her face. Tears ran down her cheeks.

“Don’t stop,” she said, hiccupping, leaning to suck at my neck. Hiding. With one hand, she tried to dig between us and reach for me. It was a weird kind of desperation. We knew frenzied f**king, and we knew covert quickies, but this was something else entirely.

“Stop.” I pressed closer, pinning her tightly to the wall. “Baby, what are you doing?”

Finally, she opened her eyes, focusing on my collar. She slipped a button loose, and then one more. “I just need to feel you one more time.”

“What are you talking about, ‘one more time’?”

She wouldn’t look at me, wouldn’t say anything.

“Chloe, when we leave this room, we can leave everything here. Or we can take everything we have with us. I believe we can figure it out . . . but do you?”

She nodded, her lip pinned between her teeth so tightly the pink flesh was white. When she released it, it flushed a decadent, tempting red. “I want to.”

“I told you, I want more than this. I want to be with you. I want to be your lover.” I swore, digging my hands into my hair. “I’m falling for you, Chloe.”

She bent over, laughing, relief spreading through her body. When she stood, she pulled me close again, pressing her lips to my cheek. “You’re serious?”

“Totally serious. I want to be the only guy who f**ks you against windows, and also the first person you see in the morning—from where you lie, having stolen my pillow. I’d also like to be the person who gets you lime Popsicles when you’ve had bad sushi. We only have a few months left where it’s potentially complicated.”

With my mouth on hers, and my hands on her face, I think she finally started to understand. “Promise me you’ll take me to bed when we get back,” she said.

“Fuck yes, my bed. My bed is huge, with a headboard I can tie you to and spank you silly for being so ridiculous.”

And in that moment, we were completely perfect.

In the hall, after one final kiss to her palm, I dropped her hand and led her down to the lobby.

Bennett went to get the car while I checked us out at reception. With one final glance around the lobby, I tried to download every memory of the trip. When I stepped outside I saw Bennett standing near the valet. My heart felt like a wild drum beneath my ribs. I was still reeling. I realized he’d given me so many chances to tell him what I wanted, and I’d just been too unsure of whether we could ever make it work. Apparently, his spine was stronger than mine.

Mr. Gugliotti spotted Bennett from the sidewalk and moved to him. They shook hands, seemed to exchange pleasantries. I wanted to walk up, join the discussion as a peer, but was worried that I wouldn’t be able to contain what was presently happening to my heart, and my feelings for Bennett would show all over my face.

Mr. Gugliotti looked up at me but didn’t seem to recognize me out of context. He blinked back to Bennett, nodding at something he said, and that lack of recognition made me hesitate even more. I wasn’t someone to be noticed yet. The checkout paperwork, Bennett’s to-do list, and his briefcase were all in my hand. I hovered at the periphery: an intern.

Hanging back, I tried to enjoy the last few moments of ocean breeze. Bennett’s rich voice carried across the few feet separating us.

“Sounds like you all threw around some good ideas. I’m glad Chloe had the chance to go through the exercise.”

Nodding, Mr. Gugliotti said, “Chloe is sharp. It went just fine.”

“I’m sure we can telecon soon to start the process of handing it over.”

Exercise? Start? Isn’t that what I’d done? I had given Gugliotti papers from legal to sign and FedEx back.

“Sounds good. I’ll have Annie call to set something up. I’d like to go over the terms with you. I wasn’t comfortable signing them quite yet.”

My heart sped up as the spiral of panic and humiliation rose in my veins. It was as if the meeting that took place had been a mere performance for my benefit and the real work would happen between these two men, back in the real world.

Was this entire conference one giant fantasy? I felt ridiculous, remembering the details I’d shared with Bennett. How proud I’d been to have crossed this off his list and taken care of it so he could get better.

“Henry mentioned that Chloe’s got a Miller scholarship. That’s fantastic. Is she staying on at Ryan Media after she finishes?” Gugliotti asked.

“Not sure yet. She’s a great kid. Definitely needs some seasoning, though.”

I lost my breath in a rush, as if it’d been pulled out by a vacuum. Bennett had to be kidding. I knew, without Elliott having to tell me (and he had, countless times), that I could have my pick of jobs when I finished. I’d worked at Ryan Media for years, working my ass off to both do my job and get a graduate degree. I knew some of the accounts better than the people managing them. Bennett knew this.