So many times I feel her get close, but then she calms down and doesn’t let go. Damn, I’m so f**king close, but I can’t do anything until she gets her release first. I feel her building back up as she squeezes around me and clenches my hair in her fists, but then she whimpers and holds it in.

In an instant, I have her flipped around so we’re still lying on our sides, but now we’re face-to-face. She appears shocked at the sudden movement. I push back inside of her and we both groan and cry out. I lay my hands on the top of her head so my forearms can craft a barrier around our faces. I use my arms to block out all other distractions around us and I look directly into her darkened eyes.

“You. Are. Killing. Me,” I say, emphasizing each word. “What are you doing?”

“I just… don’t want this to end. I want to delay it as long as possible.”

I lean forward, kiss her perfect lips, and say, “Let go, baby. I’m not going anywhere. There will be so much more for us, I swear.”

Relief encompasses her face at my words, and I feel like a complete jackass for not paying better attention. This is why I demand to be in control. When I release the reins a bit, her needs aren’t being met like they should.

I continue surrounding her face while I kiss her lips hungrily. She matches my desire, kiss for kiss. A slight sheen of sweat covers both of our bodies and together we find our release in the same moment. Mine is amplified by our closeness. She’s directly in front of me, touching almost every inch of my body. The only thing I can see is her. The only thing I can smell is her. The only thing I can feel is...her. Hasn’t it always been her? It should have been.

Slowly, I roll away and simultaneously pull her body partially on top of me. She hikes a leg over mine and lays her small hand over my stomach. Her face tucks in between my chin and shoulder and she snuggles in close. I lean toward her, drawing in the soft, clean scent of her hair.

For the next couple of hours, we fall in and out of a light sleep, as my fingers make small circles on her hipbone. Later when I wake up, the sun is much brighter than it was the first time I looked out the window. I stretch out my arms and feel the empty spaces on either side of me. She cannot be serious. I’d like to wake up just once where she hasn’t either disappeared or kicked me in the nuts.

The door flies open and Audrey quickly tiptoes in, holding two steaming mugs. In only her bra, panties, and my penny necklace. Fumes have to be shooting out of my ears because I swear if Lane saw her, I’ll lose my f**king mind.

She’s distracted with the scalding hot mugs in her hands, so she just smiles and heads toward her desk to set them down. I sit up, scoot to the edge of the futon, and catch the door before it can close behind her.

“Lane! Are you gay?” I shout, loud enough so I can be heard throughout the entire apartment.

“Uh...not the last time I checked,” he hollers, sounding confused. Yeah, I didn’t think so. A slow growl rumbles up through my chest and then I hear Lane’s deep laugh build louder and louder from his room. “Was she walking around na**d again?” he yells. “Did I miss it?” he adds to f**k with me, I’m sure.

“Audrey!” I shout and Lane’s laugh becomes hysterical. Quickly, I slam the door and turn to look at her. Her eyes are wide because of my tone of voice. A look of terror splays across her face, but I quietly wait for it to pass. She needs to learn that there will be times that we’ll yell, argue, and be upset with one another, but I would never, absolutely ever, hurt her. She quickly catches her error and wipes the fright away. Good girl. Now there’s only shock on her face.

I scramble to my feet, trying to untangle myself from the sheets, and stalk toward her. She backs up into the desk and latches onto the edge. Frustration rolls off me in waves as I get a closer look at her tight little body that she just put on parade. Her eyes lick a slow path from my bare feet all the way up to my eyes. Every emotion that was on her face has been replaced with scorching lust.

“Don’t look at me like that, Audrey. Now’s not the time,” I say in a deep, hushed tone. As I advance closer to her, she bites down on her bottom lip and pulls it into her mouth. “Stop, Audrey. I’m not happy with you right now.”

The second the corner of her lip quirks up into a smirk, I’m a goner. What am I doing? Why am I mad? All I can focus on now is that plump lip being abused by her pearly white teeth. Her fingers run up my chest and wrap around my neck, and those big brown eyes gaze up at me with pure innocence.

Forty minutes later, Audrey crumples down onto my chest, panting and out of breath. Her legs are still straddling me on either side of my body, and my hands still have a death grip on her thighs.

“I hope you learned your lesson,” I breathe out.

She chuckles against my skin and says, “Oh, I most definitely learned something.” When I pinch her ass, she yelps and jolts off of my body, landing next to me.

My face becomes solemn and I turn to look at her. “I’m serious. I don’t like you walking around like that for him to see.”

I instantly silence what she’s about to say by swiftly putting my finger over her lips. “Babe, I suggest you not finish that sentence unless you want to see me go nuclear. No more,” I say and quickly add, “Please?”

Her hands cup my face and she nods her head. “I promise.”

I lean in and take her lips forcefully because it’s still hitting me hard that she’s mine. She doesn’t mind though, and she doles it out just as well as she takes it. After a few more minutes of making out like teenagers, she pulls back and releases an exaggerated breath.

“What are your plans for the day?” she asks.

“I seriously have to get to the gym today or Jaxon’s going to be able to kick my ass soon.” I laugh to myself before adding, “Nah, that won’t ever happen, but I do need to get in there.”

Her fingers outline my stomach muscles and she says, “Hmm...well, we wouldn’t want to lose any of this, now would we?” Her voice is low and seductive and starting to amp me up again.

I grasp her fingers tightly. “We’ll never get out of this bed today if you keep this up. Besides, I have to take this hot girl out on a date tonight. I’m kind of hoping she’ll agree to be my girlfriend,” I say, smirking at her.

A sexy blush creeps up her neck and dusts over her cheeks. “And what if she says no?” she challenges.

I lean in and whisper from her neck up to her ear, “Then she must not have heard me right, because I’m pretty sure she’s just as crazy about me as I am about her.”

With a quivering voice, she responds, “I don’t blame the girl. Lucky bitch.”

“If anyone’s the fortunate one here, it’s me, babe.” Slowly, I push myself up to get out of bed because if I don’t, I’ll end up lazing around all day with her in my arms. I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing though. “What are you up to today?” I ask.

“Not much. I have a few errands to run, and I think Em and Quinn wanted to meet up.”

“You’re seriously going to have to tell me how that friendship came about at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I love Em to death so I think it’s fantastic. It’s just not something I ever would have expected.”

“Trust me, it’s still a bit strange for me when I really think about it. Em was just...Em, you know? We hit it off.”

“She is pretty great,” I say, while searching for my clothes.

Her eyes narrow at me and I swear I see a hint of jealousy. “Did you ever have feelings for her? Honestly.” Bingo. Nailed that one on the head.

“Babe, one of the first times I ever heard Em’s name was out my brother’s mouth, who had already practically proclaimed his undying love for this stranger. Which by the way, was on our very first day in California. I never viewed her as anyone but my brother’s girl. Sometimes I like to egg him on, but it has always been purely platonic between us.”

“And what about me? Do you still see me as your brother’s girl?” she asks quietly.

“Never. You were never his girl,” I rush to say. She lets out a sigh of frustration, so I quickly continue. “Babe, I know I’m trying to lay low about us. Trust me, I want to scream it from the rooftops. But I just want to approach this in the right manner with Jax. We made promises to one another. I just need to figure out a way to bring it up without him feeling betrayed.”

“I know you need time, Jace. I said I was willing to give that to you, but I won’t wait long,” she states confidently.

“And I won’t make you wait long.” I lean down and tug gently on her necklace while advancing toward her lips. I kiss her slowly, hoping I can convey how much I feel for her.

“I’ll be back to get you at seven tonight, okay?” When she nods her approval, I head out the door, right after I shout my goodbye to Lane down the hall.

The errands that I briefly mentioned to Jace earlier are a little bit more complicated than I let on. When I step into the shop, the sterile smell is what hits my nose first. I guess that’s a good sign. The clean, black-and-white checkered tile floor catches my eyes as my feet move up to the front counter. The deep blue walls are calming and the decor is tasteful. Definitely not what I expected to find. There are large leather couches and bulky portfolio books scattered on the tables in a waiting area. There aren’t any designs on the walls to choose from like I’ve seen on television.

The receptionist is a tiny little thing with bright purple hair and metal or plastic jewelry in every conceivable place a person could get pierced above the neck. While initially shocked at her appearance, the closer I get to the counter, the more I’m blown away by how beautiful she is. The customers and the guys working here must love having her to greet everyone. Her smile lights up as I put my hands on the counter.

“Do you have an appointment?” she asks, while rifling through the pages of a black notebook.

“No, sorry...I didn’t even think about that...” I trail off. It took enough courage to walk in the door by myself. I almost asked Jace to come with me today, seeing as he now has a ton of tattoos covering his arms, shoulders, and ribs. He probably would have been able to show me the best place to go. I only chose this place because it’s right next to where I work and it looked kind of fun from the outside. God, Lane would kill me if he heard me right now, choosing a tattoo shop because it looked fun from the outside.

“No worries, you might have to wait a bit though. Since it’s Sunday, most of them are about to get off, but I think...” she says, scanning the shop, “Jared should be done soon and he can help you out.” As she pencils something in the notebook, she adds, “I’m Jinx, by the way.”

When she lifts her head to look at me, she laughs at my open-mouthed expression. “Even your name is badass,” I say, because it’s the first thing that pops out of my mouth.

“I’m Audrey. I always liked my name, but now I’m finding it majorly lacking compared to yours.”

“No way. Audrey, like Audrey Hepburn, the classic beauty!” She slips on some big, dark sunglasses and places a pen in her mouth as if it were a cigarette holder from the sixties. I giggle as she acts out the characteristic Hepburn pose. “See? Classic.”

“Okay, you made me feel better,” I say with a smile.

“I’ve got you checked in. Just sign these waivers and then you can wait on the couches for Jared.”

“I got her,” a deep voice says from close by. Jinx and I both turn to gaze at the person who’s quickly approaching the counter. The man that advances is tall and has messy, jet-black hair. His black polo shirt barely contains his large muscled chest and arms. Poor shirt. The first thing I notice besides his easy, handsome smile and eyes that promise trouble is the stranger’s tanned, un-tattooed expanse of skin.

“Max, you’re about to get off. Jared can get her,” Jinx states.

“Yeah, I can get her!” I hear a shout from across the shop and I’m assuming that’s Jared. He pops his head up over his stall and winks at me.

“It’s cool, I got her,” Max repeats. “Besides, I’ll bet you a hundred bucks, Jinxy, that she’s got virgin skin. You know how I love poppin’ cherries.”

My mouth drops open at his blatant flirtation. “ you even have tattoos? How can I expect you to work on me when it looks like you don’t even have any yourself?” I’m not sure why I can’t keep my thoughts inside my head, where they should clearly stay.

Jinx begins to giggle and Max stares at me in fascination. Without missing a beat, he raises his black polo up by the hem and lifts it over his washboard abs and chiseled chest. Beautiful designs swirl and twist over and around his skin. Half a pair of stunning angel wings fill up the entire right side of his upper body, shoulder to waist. The wings are so finely detailed I want to touch them, just to see if they’re real. Over his heart, the words ‘Even Angels Fall’ are scripted into his skin.

It’s amazing how business-like he appears, but under his shirt is this amazing, beautiful artwork. I watch as he pushes up his sleeves and see that the tattoos continue over his shoulders.

“I can keep going, if you’d like,” he smirks devilishly and reaches for his zipper.

“No, no, keep your pants on, buddy. You’re qualified,” I rush to say. Jace would not be okay with this.