“I know what you’re doing,” he whispered.

He leaned down, running his tongue from the tender skin behind my ear to the collar of my shirt, then planting tiny kisses all the way up. His hands slid to my back, and he pulled me closer, lifting the shirt so our stomachs touched.

His fingertips ran along my spine, then down to my ass, pulling me closer to him with a gentle squeeze. “Say it, Ellie. I know you do.”

I kneeled down in front of him, and he blew out a flustered breath, perching his hands on his hips. He was instantly hard, stretching from the confines of his boxer briefs. I gripped the elastic waistband and tugged, wet my palm with my tongue, and then reached for him. He groaned as I began from the bottom and licked my way to the base of his shaft.

He involuntarily arched his back and leaned his pelvis forward. My tongue slid, smooth but firm, all the way to his tip, and then I took him into my mouth, humming when I felt his tip graze the back of my throat.

I cupped the base with my right hand, and as I leaned back, I followed with my fingers.

“Fuck,” Tyler said, dragging out the word.

I smiled, leaning down again, taking all of him into my mouth, gagging a bit when his hand cupped the back of my head to press himself deeper. I lightly scraped his skin with my teeth as I came up, relishing the low, guttural sounds he was involuntarily making.

Before I could really get started, he pulled away, sitting on the bed. He shook his head. “You sure know how to change the subject. But I’m not letting you do it this time.”

I took the few steps to stand in front of him, tucking my thumb under the waistband of my underwear, pushing them down and grinning when they gently landed on the floor.

Tyler didn’t move, so I reached for his hand, sliding his fingers between my skin. As I moved his fingers in circles, I leaned my head back and moaned. His fingertips slid more easily the wetter I became, and I could tell his resolve was weakening.

I inserted two of his fingers and two of mine, moaning loudly. He grabbed my ass, and in one motion, turned us and fell on top of me in his childhood bed.

“Say it,” he said, his tip grazing my tender skin.

I looked away from his intense gaze and closed my eyes, my body begging for him to be inside me. “Fuck me,” I said, returning my eyes to his. I reached around, pressing his backside toward me, but he resisted.

“Do you care about me at all?” he asked. “Do you hate me? Is it lukewarm feelings, or we’re really just friends? Whatever it is, Ellie, fucking say it.”

“Why can’t we just do this?” I said, lifting my hips.

He reacted, pulling away. He grazed my jaw line with his lips. “I’ll make you come all night,” he whispered into my ear. “I just need a little honesty.”

“I love you,” I breathed. Before I could finish my sentence, he was sliding inside me and moaning at the same time. I bit his shoulder, trying to muffle my cry as he rocked into me.

His rhythm slowed as he leaned down to kiss me. “Say it again.”

Tyler lifted my knee until it was propped against his chest, sinking deeper inside me. He licked two fingertips and then reached down between my legs, circling my tender skin while his thrusts accelerated. Something began to build inside me, familiar but somehow different. As my insides relentlessly spasmed, Tyler cupped his hand over my mouth to muffle my cries, at the same time overcome and growling into the crook of my neck.

He shuddered, his breath as labored as mine. My neck was arched back as my chest heaved, trying to pull in as much air as I could. Tyler shifted his weight, setting my sensitive insides on fire, causing me to whimper.

He kissed the corner of my mouth, collapsing next to me.

“You can have it. You can have every night.”

He buried his face in my hair, and I stared at the wooden underbelly of the top bunk, hoping Abby was right. I didn’t want to be too crazy to love.

“I feel like we live here,” I said. I hung my legs over Tyler’s lap and wiggled against the uncomfortable armrest digging into my back.

We sat in the terminal with full suitcases in addition to our backpacks, Christmas gifts from Travis and Abby. It was a brilliant gift idea, because neither Tyler nor I had thought about needing extra space for the gifts we would inevitably receive from his brothers.

“Did you call Fin?” Tyler asked. He said the words like second nature, reminding me at least once a week since Thanksgiving to check in with my sister.

“They still mad that you didn’t come east for Christmas?”

“I did go east for Christmas.”

“Ellie. When are you going to see them?”

“I’m just not ready. I will when I’m ready.”

“That’s the tenth time I’ve heard that in three weeks,” he grumbled.

“Really? I’ve already told you. I like my apartment, and Wick isn’t going to let you move in.”

He nodded, plugging an earbud into the ear farthest from me. I smiled, knowing he wanted to keep the other free in case I had anything more to say. He tapped on his phone display with his thumb, chose a song, and then leaned back, holding my legs on his lap with his free hand.

The attendant at the desk called for anyone needing extra time to board, and then for first-class. That was strangely amusing to me, remembering the days when I would already be standing in line with my family, waiting to occupy one of the first seats—and that was before our private jet.

When she called our group, Tyler stood, grabbing my backpack and his, and his rolling luggage. I pulled up the handle on my suitcase and pulled it behind me, giggling at how weighed down Tyler looked.

I stopped mid-step, watching him take a few steps before he realized what he’d said and turned back. “What?”

“You just … haven’t said that since at the diner with Sterling.”

“When I kissed your cheek?” He chuckled, lost in the memory.

“Yeah, when I told the waitress you had the clap?”

We checked our luggage at the gate and then followed the line down the jetway and onto the plane. We were herded like cattle to 20C and 20D, and Tyler struggled to find empty spaces for our backpacks. He resorted to stuffing mine into the overhead bin across and one row back, and then putting his under the seat in front of him. He collapsed into his seat and sighed.

“I’m tired. You kept me up all night.”

I pressed my nose gently against his cheek, giggling. “You weren’t exactly objecting.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Why would I do something stupid like that?”

“It’s not about flying. You’ve been on edge all morning.”

He thought about what he wanted to say and then sighed. “Just something on my mind.”

“Sort of. Well, yeah, but something I want to talk about later.”