This guy is handsome. His jaw is defined and yet he has a hint of a baby face, which is endearing. His messy brown hair is tossed about and damp. I smile and decide to relax. This is what people do in dance clubs. All small talk is thrown out the window. The conversation is spoken with the movement of our bodies. Besides, I don’t feel like trying to break up the ménage in front of me.

When I turn back around, I see that Jace is frozen, staring directly at me with his bright blue eyes. His groupies are practically begging for his attention and becoming needy with their hands. Neither of us makes a move toward one another. We’re locked in a stare-down.

Mason’s hands move from my h*ps to my waist and back down again. I begin to move against him. Jace drives his h*ps forward at the same time. When one of the girls aligns her body with his and grinds up against him, I roll my h*ps and do the same to Mason. I’m instantly turned on when I see Jace’s mouth form the small ‘o’ shape. His eyes never leave mine as he spreads one hand out on the girl’s stomach and I move Mason’s over mine. Fire ignites in Jace’s eyes and I’m spurred on.

Before I realize what’s happening, Jace and I are dancing together, only we’re ten feet apart with different partners. When he rolls forward, I grind back. Every movement Mason makes feels like Jace in my head. I wonder if Jace is thinking the same, since his eyes haven’t budged from my face or my body, not even for a second.

We continue this hypnotizing dance for what feels like an eternity, mirroring our movements with one another. The way his body flows with the music is almost like living art. He’s a masterpiece in the middle of this packed wooden dance floor, a God amongst men. His tall frame should appear out of place, but it draws in all the eyes around him. The black t-shirt he’s wearing is putting up a tough battle against his flexing muscles and I wish it would surrender already. My fingers ache to pull it off over his head to reveal the lines and curves of his chest and stomach that I’ve stroked once before.

He hasn’t put his hands back on the girl in front of him, but that doesn’t stop her from rubbing her body all over his. I’ve never been captivated like this before… it’s almost erotic, and yet I’m envious at the same time. I hate that she’s feeling every ounce of muscle on his solid chest that I should be feeling. However, I don’t move forward and neither does he.

I can’t help but think about the way this whole scene reflects the relationship that Jace and I have always had. So close, yet always so far away.

“You’re a great dancer, gorgeous,” Mason says into my ear. I close my eyes and try to block out his voice. I hold the image behind my eyelids of Jace, who’s not even ten feet away from me, moving his body seductively. I’m lost in the withdrawal from Jace’s intoxicatingly blue eyes, and I have no idea how to respond to Mason. You’re not so bad yourself, but I’ve actually been dancing this whole time with the smokin’ hot heartthrob that’s dancing ten feet away? Might be a mood-killer.

“Need something, Riley?” Mason’s voice shakes me out of my reverie.

I freeze, knowing Jace must be close, but I can’t open my eyes to look. A warm hand touches my hip and his tantalizing voice says, “You found my girl.” I hear the smile in his tone and I tense at his words. “Look at me, gorgeous,” he whispers, too close to my lips.

Because I can’t seem to convince my traitorous body to defy him, my eyes snap open. Just as I imagined, he’s bending down and looking directly at me. If I wanted to, I could move a fraction of an inch and have my mouth on his.

“Did you enjoy teasing me?” he inquires softly so Mason can’t overhear. I’m thankful, because it was rude of me to get lost in Jace while dancing with someone else. I don’t want Mason to know about that.

And because I’m generally honest to a fault, I respond with a simple and breathless, “Yes.” His eyes flare with excitement and his grip on my waist intensifies. He enjoys when I obey him, but he also likes to be teased. Huh… good to know. Not that this will ever happen again.

“Seriously?” Mason groans, interrupting our stare-down. “What’s with you and Jaxon taking the good ones?” he asks Jace. Then he looks at me, saying, “Thanks for the dance, Audrey,” and turns to walk away.

“Thanks, Mason, anytime you want to dance again, let me know. Jace and I aren’t together,” I hurriedly say before he can get out of earshot.

Mason abruptly halts his movement, but Jace quickly stops whatever he might be thinking. “Move it along,” he growls and pulls my h*ps to his.

With a scowl, I turn and say, “It’s time for me to go home. Walk me to my car?” I wish I didn’t even have to ask him, but I promised Lane.

He takes my hand as we leave the bar, and I decide that pulling it away is not a battle I feel like having with him at the moment. He’s gripping me tightly and his eyes haven’t left my face. I feel as if he thinks I’ll run away, which is exactly what I feel like doing right now.

“Are you mad at me?” he questions.

“I can always tell when you lie, Audrey, so don’t.”

“How about you don’t do that again? You’ve made it perfectly clear how you feel about me, so don’t stop me from being with someone else.” I continue walking toward Lane’s SUV and click ‘unlock’ on the key fob when I reach it.

He turns me around and backs me up against the door. “And tell me, how do I feel about you?”

“I think you’re attracted to me sexually,” I admit. He nods his head and I continue, “But you finally got that urge out of your system over winter break. In regards to everything that happened in high school, I don’t care what you think.”

His stare becomes hard and cold when he hears my words. “What the hell?” he practically yells.

I quickly shrink away from him, ducking my head and averting my eyes, but I can’t move too far because he has me blocked in. My conditioned response is the only one I’ve ever known. In my experience, the actions that come after words like that are not pleasant. In fact, they are the furthest thing from pleasant…they are painful. As in black eyes, broken ribs, and bruised arms painful.

A minute passes and no blows are thrown. With my head down, I look back in front of me and see Jace’s shoes. Jace. It’s Jace. What the hell am I thinking? Jace is not my father and he would never hurt me, not physically anyway. I silently berate myself. Knock it off, Audrey; you’re not that girl anymore. Looking up at him again, I cringe at the fear in his eyes.

What the hell just happened? First, she pisses me off by saying that I got an urge out of my system when we were together, and then she recoils away from me as if I would strike her. All of a sudden, she’s the girl I found on the sidewalk again. ‘Approach with Caution’ is back on her chest. Did she really just think I would hurt her? The sight of her withdrawing that way makes me physically nauseous. Why would she react like that around me?

Slowly, I lift up my hands and show them to her, before gently placing them on her arms. Thankfully, she doesn’t flinch so I proceed. I need to calm my voice. I don’t care how angry she made me with her words; this is not the time for a heated argument.

“Audrey?” I ask, and her big brown eyes widen as they look directly at me. “What just happened?”

“Did I scare you?” She nods her head at my question and I have to step away from her. I hate not touching her, but if I frightened her, then I need to step back. Shaking my head back and forth while trying to think, I say, “I would never… I never… shit…” I’m stuttering with frustration. “Have I ever given you the impression that I would hurt you?” I never thought I would have to say those words to a girl. I would absolutely never lay hands on her, or any girl for that matter.

She steps closer to me and says, “No, I know you would never hurt me like that. It wasn’t your fault. That had nothing to do with you. It just… happens.”

“If it had nothing to do with me, who does it have to do with?”

“I need to go home, it’s late.” She turns back toward the car and I lunge for her. I hold on to her h*ps from behind and lean down to whisper in her ear. If she can’t look at me when she says it, that’s fine, but she’s going to say it. She better f**king believe I’m going to find out who did what to her. So help me, God, if it’s Lane, we’ll be attending his funeral by Monday.

“Your dad? What are you talking about? When? How?” My questions begin spilling out.

“I don’t want to discuss this with you. Not here. Not right now.” She reaches out and opens the door to her vehicle.

“Where’s Lane?” I ask, as she climbs into the driver’s seat.

“He left with some girl he met.”

“Shit, he just left you here?” I ask, trying to keep my tone calm. Placing my hands on her thighs, I try to regain my composure. Are we talking about the same guy who always has one eye on her at all times?

“He made me promise that I would ask you to walk me out here.”

“I’ll follow you home then, so I know that you got there okay.”

“I’m following you home, Audrey. I’ll be right behind you.” I close the door, leaving no opportunity for any argument she may attempt.

When I pull up into her parking lot, I’m relieved to see that she’s in a nice part of town and only a few blocks away from me. This is the area where most students live who are attending the university and I wonder if she going to school here now. She parks in her designated spot and I have to force myself to stay in the car. If I get out, I’ll never get back in.

She glances at me on her way out of the car and then walks to unlock her door. A dog dashes out and excitedly greets her when she gets the door open. Damn, that dog just put a smile on her face that could make a grown man drop to his knees and pray for more. If she doesn’t stop, that’s exactly what I’ll end up doing. Damn lucky dog.

With a final look in my direction, she closes the door. She was probably wondering if I would get out and say something. I slam my palm against the steering wheel. Why is she wrapping me around her little finger again? I’m supposed to be over her! But right now, all I can think about is smashing my fist into her dad’s front teeth for whatever he did, locking her away in my bedroom, and keeping her all to myself. Just for good measure, I slam both palms into the steering wheel again.

A light comes on, and I can see her moving around in what must be her bedroom. I fantasize about her peeling off those tight-ass jeans and her button-up shirt with the top three buttons undone. Standing above her while dancing, I had the perfect view down that shirt. Fucking Mason probably saw down it as well. I have to stop before I beat the shit out of my poor leather steering wheel.

Her light switches off and I’ll bet she’s curling up in her bed. Slipping that delectable body under her sheets, turning on her side, and sleeping with her hands tucked up under her cheek. I can picture her beautiful, dark brown hair spread out across her pillow, just waiting for someone to run their fingers through the silky strands.

I step on the gas and pull into a visitor’s parking spot. She has to know I’m still here. Even idling, my V8 can be heard from a block away. My neighbors f**king love me. Ever since Jax handed over the keys to his ’67 Camaro, I’ve been fine-tuning the engine so it purrs, nice and loud.

My body pulls me toward her apartment, even though I should get back in the car and drive home. Out of curiosity, I make my way to her window first. It must be in my blood to check security because I test the lock and push on the metal frame. When it easily glides up, my jaw clenches in anger. Her window is f**king unlocked. Why the hell isn’t Lane checking for these kinds of things? I push her vertical blinds aside and quietly crawl into the darkness, which is not an easy feat when you’re six-three.

I hear a soft, muffled thump, thump, thump on the carpet near my feet. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, taking in her room by the glow of the street lamps. I see that her marvelous guard-dog is still lying on the ground with his tail wagging, despite my illicit approach into his owner’s residence. I bend down and scratch his stomach. I guess I should just be thankful he didn’t bite my head off.

She shuffles in her bed and I’m surprised she hasn’t freaked out by now. Usually when someone starts climbing in your bedroom window, you should have your guard up. I walk over to her bed and see that she’s completely passed out. She has one arm thrown over her head, and the covers are tucked all the way up under her chin. Damn, how did she do that? I literally watched her walk into her house not even ten minutes ago and she’s already dead to the world.

Her body is practically screaming for mine to join her, or maybe it’s just my body doing the screaming. Well… far be it for me to ignore this opportunity. I sit down on a chair and take my shoes off, and then decide to make myself at home by removing my jeans and shirt as well. I leave my boxers on, even though I hate sleeping in clothes, because I should at least be somewhat courteous at this point. I mean, I did just break into her room and now I plan on climbing in bed with her, all while she’s fast asleep. She’s going to be pissed when she wakes up, and I can’t wait to see her cute little angry face.