Without a word, he reached for me with lightning-quick hands and shredded the panties, and then reached up to my chest, gripped my bra in one hand, and savagely tore it from my body. Reflexively, I crossed my arms in front of me, my pulse hammering.

“You had other things you were going to put on for me tonight?” he asked, nodding to the bag he’d dropped in the entryway.

He was already shaking his head. “You won’t need them. Maybe in the morning, but not right now.”

Bennett kissed my shoulder, running rough, impatient hands over my breasts, my hips, my thighs. “Undress me now.”

It was suddenly surreal to be standing bare before him like this. He’d seen me na**d thousands of times, and God knows he’d bossed me around like this even more often. But this moment felt so loaded. It wasn’t the easy instinctual sex we had every night. This was Bennett, undressing me and demanding to be similarly stripped so we could have Married Sex in a Fancy Bed in an Emotionally Relevant Room.

The words wedding night, wedding night, wedding night pounded through my head. Maybe this is exactly what he felt in the limo: the pressure of doing it right, making it memorable.

I tried to ignore the way my hand shook when I pulled at his tie and slid it from his collar, but he noticed and he grabbed both of my wrists in one hand. The other slid down my front and between my legs, parting me, sliding a long finger over my cl*tand dipping into where I was wettest.

With a flash of irritation, I bit his bottom lip when he leaned closer for a kiss. But then I closed my eyes, enjoying for a few moments the way he slid his finger back and forth over the rise of my cl*tbefore he stopped, patiently waiting for an answer.

His eyes went wide, nostrils flaring as he released my hands from his grip. “You? You’re nervous?” He looked like he was on the verge of yelling or laughing, I wasn’t sure which. “You’re nervous with me?”

“You’re nervous?” His tone had changed this time; amusement curled through the two, short words. He was definitely on the verge of laughing.

I removed his cuff links, dropping them on the carpet at our feet. “Are you making fun of me?”

He shook his head slowly, but with a devilish smile said, “Yes.”

Taking his shirt in my fists, I pulled it open, hearing the pop of the buttons as they tore free and skittered to the floor. “You’re making fun of your bride on her wedding night?”

His expression straightened and his brow smoothed as I ran my greedy hand down his chest. “Of course I am.”

“What kind of monster are you?” I teased, lightly scratching his stomach.

His answering smile tilted up one half of his perfect mouth. “The kind that’s going to f**k you so hard it’ll look like your legs were put on backwards.”

I laughed, playfully shoving him, and he fought his own smile before bending to kiss me roughly, pressing his tongue into my mouth, sucking, and biting at my lips. “Come on, Chlo. I think we both know I’m pretty easy,” he murmured. “Tend to my c**k and the night is a success.”

I ran my hands down his torso, feeling every dip and hard ridge, and shivering when he bent and sucked my jaw, growling into my neck. I pressed into him, loving the feel of his hungry hands down my back, grabbing my ass.

“Get over your ridiculous nerves and f**king undress me,” he hissed, kicking off his shoes and bending to peel off his socks.

I gave his zipper an impatient tug and pushed his dress pants and boxers down to the floor. With his hands on my waist, Bennett backed me to the bed. And then he kneeled in front of me, bracing his hands on my h*ps and leaning forward to kiss my navel. His wedding ring winked in the dim light of the bathroom.

“We’re married,” he said quietly, pressing another kiss to my belly button. “I’m your safe place. I’ve always been your safe place.”

I slid my hands into his hair, pulling gently and knowing he was right. I’d been my best and worst self with this man, and he only loved me more the more real I was with him. No place was safer for me than with Bennett.

He moved his mouth from one hip to the other, up my ribs, tongue sweeping over my breasts, teeth pulling gently at their peaks. And then he rose to his feet as he kissed up my neck until he towered in front of me, hair hanging over his brow, eyes dark and predatory.

“How many times have we been together like this?”

“Are you still nervous?” he asked quietly, lifting my left hand and kissing my wedding ring.

I watched his tongue dart out, licking my finger, and whispered, “Not anymore.”

His expression grew serious. “Are you happy we did this?”

Nodding, I managed a hoarse “I’m giddy.” He bent, kissing me, and I said into his smiling mouth, “I think you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“ ‘You think?’ ” Reaching up, he pressed both hands to my face, sliding a thumb inside my mouth. His lips twisted into a dark, teasing smile. “ ‘You think?’ ”

I nodded, pressing my teeth into his knuckle.

“Suck it,” he growled, and then shivered when I wrapped my lips around him, circling him with my tongue.

Between us, he was so hard his whole body was tense, hands shaking at the sides of my face. “Look at me.”

I shivered, unable to break my attention from where his c**k arched straight up between us.

“Look at me,” he ground out.

I blinked up to him and he slid his thumb deeper into my mouth, pressing down against my tongue. He groaned quietly, watching as he slowly withdrew his digit; I bit down so his skin dragged against my teeth.

A calm silence settled between us. Bennett’s expression straightened and he simply stared down at me, studying every part of my face as he swept the wet pad of his thumb back and forth across my bottom lip.

“Married,” he said quietly, as if only to himself.

I loved his honest, expressive hazel eyes, his smart mouth, and his carved, stubborn jaw. I loved his tousled hair and the heavy dip of his Adam’s apple when he swallowed. I loved his broad chest, sculpted arms, and the world’s best naughty fingers. I loved his abdomen, his hips, and every long, thick inch of him pressing urgently between us.

But more than any of that, I loved his intelligence, his composure, his loyalty, his sense of humor. And I loved how he loved me.

Tilting his head, he asked, “What are you thinking, Mrs. Ryan?”

“I’m thinking how it’s a good thing I love your body so much that I can put up with your disappointing brain.”

He spread his hands around my waist and lifted me, tossing me onto the mattress.

“If you think I’m going to put up with that smart mouth of yours now that we’re married . . .” he began, crawling up the bed and hovering over me.

“Then I’m right?” I finished for him, reaching to wrap my hand around the back of his neck.

He bent to kiss me, giving me a lopsided smile. “Yeah, actually.”

I’d often had this feeling when I was alone with Bennett that time somehow melted and the entire world outside simply dissolved into nothing. I’d been nervous with the anticipation of tonight, but once his weight settled over me—and his mouth moved to my neck, my shoulders, my breasts—instinct took over. I slid my palms up his back and over his shoulders and gasped as he returned to me, his tongue touching mine, pushing and demanding. The sounds of his excitement vibrated inside my mouth and down my neck as he grew wilder, needing to kiss and taste everything, all at once.

I suspected I knew this man better than I knew my own mind. I knew how to touch him, how to love him, how to get him to do anything and everything to my body. And so when his hands spread my thighs apart, thumbs circling and meeting in the middle to glide over my clit, and his eyes focused on my face as his lips clamped over the peak of my breast—studying, commanding, hungry for my pleasure—I lost any sense of anxiety over the night and knew we would forever be the fevered combination of Bennett and Chloe. Mr. Ryan and Miss Mills. Mr. Mills and Mrs. Ryan. Husband and wife. Bastard and bitch.

Kneeling between my legs, his hands framed my h*ps and he watched as he slid over my wet skin, before resting the head of his c**k on my navel. I could feel my pulse thundering in my throat, and I lifted my hips, suddenly impatient for this, wanting to feel his weight on top of me, hear his desperate sounds in my ear.

“Should I say something profound before we begin?” he asked, smiling down at me.

“You can try,” I said, scratching down his stomach. “But I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.”

With a light pinch to my nipple, he bent low, nipping at my jaw. “I love you anyway.”

As he slid into me, I shook, crying out sharply at the relief before gasping, “I love you anyway, too.”

I pressed my palms to his ass, feeling the contracting muscles, pulling him deeper into me and rising to meet his every push. Bennett’s lips moved across my cheeks, aimless, to my ears and my mouth. Down my chin to my neck. His words came out broken and desperate.

Let me hear you

Tell me what you’re feeling, tell me

Tell me what you want

I sucked at his neck, watching his shoulders bunch as he moved and moved and moved over me. “I want faster. Closer. More. Please.”

He pushed up onto his knees between my legs, gripping my thigh and pushing my legs farther apart. “Fucking hell, Chloe, you’re so beautiful.”

I groaned, feeling the heavy drag of him sliding inside me; the pleasure was amplified by the way his eyes seemed to caress my skin.

“Reach down,” he whispered. “Feel where I move in you.”

I did what he asked, letting his c**k move over my fingertip as he slid in and out.

He bent low. “Tell me what you feel.”

“Wet,” I answered, looking up at him. “Hard.”

His gaze burned and he stared down at my fingers on him. When he smiled, he looked dangerous, and it made my heart slam into my chest.

“I know,” he said. He took in my tangled hair, picked up one of my dirty feet, and slid my ankle up his hip. “You’re a mess, you greedy f**king girl.”

He slowed, pulling almost all the way out until I panicked and wrapped my legs around his waist. It felt like a match had been lit inside my belly and it burned, spreading like wildfire down between my legs, serving only to increase the impatient need I felt.

As if sensing how close I was, Bennett pushed back into me, focused now on getting me there. He was sweaty, his hair damp from exertion, and a drop fell from his forehead onto my chest, and then another.

“Tell me how good it is,” he said, his voice low and commanding.

With a sharp jab of his hips, he thrust harder into me. “Tell me, Chloe, how good the f**king is.”

I couldn’t answer, already starting to dissolve. He was wild: rough touches and punishing thrusts, flipping me on the bed and taking, taking, taking. My eyes closed, my cheek resting against the cool blankets when his hands fisted in my hair, forcing my head back as his mouth found my neck, each labored exhale sending waves of warm breath across my dampened skin. He kissed along my shoulders, his tongue reaching out to taste me, his teeth nipping and dragging along my skin. I arched my back, angling my h*ps to meet each push of his hips. My arms reached out, hands twisting in the sheets, my entire body shaking with the need to let go.

But he didn’t give me what I needed. Instead, he teased and took, and took some more, and then finally, with a determined set to his jaw, and more desperate need in his eyes than I’d seen in days, leaned in close, circling over me and giving—giving, giving—me an orgasm so intense it left me shaking and near tears in his arms. What had built in my belly to a low, heavy ache exploded up my spine and spilled like liquid heat into my limbs until my toes were curling. Fuck, it had been so long since I’d felt that: my body coming around him, trying to draw him in, greedy for every commanding inch. I worried my heart might smash through my ribs with how hard it was beating.

The relief in the epiphany—he wouldn’t change, he could only ever be this greedy, demanding Bastard—was such intense relief that I finally did give in to my emotions, shaking in his arms, clutching him until I caught my breath. But when I asked him what he wanted, and he groaned, “I want you to take over. I want you to wreck me,” I smiled, slowly climbing on top of him.

He was sweaty, hair dripping onto the pillow beneath him, and muscles bunched and coiled beneath smooth, tan skin. His eyes saw nothing in the room but me, flaring hotly at the anticipation of what I’d do. I looked him over: freshly f**ked hair, blazing hazel eyes, lips so wrecked from my mouth and skin they were red and chafed. His pulse hammered in his neck, and I dragged one finger down the sweaty center of his chest, over the vulnerability of his solar plexus, down to his belly button, and then followed the trail of hair leading to his cock, still wet from me, still hard and perfect and practically pulsing for my touch.

“No,” I said, running my hands back up his torso, reveling in the feel of him. It really wasn’t fair. In a perfect world, Bennett Ryan would be a manwhore so that more women would get to appreciate this body.

But let’s be honest: Fuck that.