“I’m going . . .” She hiccupped, tightened her hold on my length as I f**ked her fist.

“Will. My God.” Her thighs started to shake and I wrapped my free arm around her waist to keep her from falling. “I’m coming.”

And with a wild jerk of her h*ps she did, shaking and wet. Her orgasm rippled along the lengths of my fingers as she cried out, digging her nails into my shoulders. It was exactly what I needed—how did she f**king know? With a low groan, I felt my second orgasm surge forward, hot and liquid into her hand.

Fuck. My legs shook and I leaned into her, pinning her to the wall.

We’d been loud. Too loud? We were far down the hall, separated from the raging party by a number of rooms, but I still had no sense what the outside world had done while mine had melted in Hanna’s arms.

Her breath came out warm and sweet on my neck and I carefully pulled out my fingers, rubbing along her sex to relish in her warm, sensitive skin.

“Yeah,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and pressing her face into the crook of my neck. “God, so good.”

I left my hand where it was, my mind reeling as I gently ran my fingers up her clit, down back to her entrance and along the soft crease of her pussy. It was quite possibly the best first time I’d ever had with a girl.

And it had only been our hands.

“We should probably get back out to the party,” she said, her voice muffled by my skin.

Reluctantly, I pulled my hand away, and immediately winced as she turned on the light switch behind her back. As I pulled up my pants, I stared at her, completely na**d in the bright room.

Well, fuck. She was smooth and toned, with lush br**sts and gently curved hips. Her skin was still flushed from her orgasm, and I relished the sight of the blush that spread up her neck and across her cheeks as I studied the moisture on her stomach from my orgasm.

“You’re staring,” she said, bending to reach for a box of tissues on the dresser. She looked down, cleaning herself up and then tossing the tissue into a trash can.

I buckled my belt and then sat at the edge of the bed, watching her put her clothes back on. She was unbelievably sexy, and she had no f**king idea.

The room smelled like sex, and I knew she could feel my attention on her but she didn’t rush. In fact, she seemed perfectly content to let me look at every angle, every curve as she slid on her panties, shimmied into her pants, put her bra on, slowly buttoned her shirt.

Looking over at me, she licked her lips and my heart tripped as I registered she could taste herself from my fingers. I wondered if I’d be remembering her taste until the end of time.

“Now”—she reached for my arm, tracing the double helix from my elbow to my wrist—“we go back out there and have another drink.”

My blood cooled a bit, hearing her voice return to steady. No longer breathy and excited, no longer tentative and hopeful. She was back to her regular bubbly self, the same Hanna everyone else saw. No longer mine.

She looked at my face for several long moments, at my eyes and cheeks, chin and lips. “Thanks for not being weird.”

“Are you kidding?” I bent down and kissed her cheek. “What’s there to be weird about?”

“We just touched each other’s private parts,” she whispered.

I laughed, fixing the collar of her shirt. “I noticed that.”

“I think I could totally do the friends-with-benefits thing. It feels so easy, so relaxed. We’re just going to head back out there,” she said, grinning widely up at me. With a little wink, she added, “And we’re the only ones who know you just came all over my stomach and I just came all over your hand.”

She turned the knob, opened the door, and let in the roar of the party. No way would anyone have heard us. We could pretend it didn’t even happen.

I’d done this before, scores of times. Hooked up with a woman and then returned to the throes of a party, blending into the room and losing myself in another form of fun. But despite the genuinely nice crowd of people, I couldn’t ever lose track of where Hanna was and what she was doing. In the living room, talking to the tall Asian guy I remembered as Dylan. Heading down the hall, waving to me before ducking into the restroom. Filling her plastic cup with water in the kitchen. Looking over to me across the room.

Dylan found Hanna again, smiling as he bent and said something to her. He had a wide smile, clothes that suggested he got out enough to be on the cutting edge of grad student chic, and seemed genuinely fond of her. I watched her smile grow, and then turn a little unsure. She hugged him, and watched him head into the kitchen. I had no idea what was happening; I loved seeing her have a good time. But the itch for something else started to spread across my skin, and after two hours of partying post–hand job, I realized I wanted to take her home where we could feel each other for real for the remainder of the night.

I slid my phone from my pocket, typing a text to her. Let’s get out of here. Come to my place tonight and stay with me.

I moved my thumb to the SEND button before I noticed that she was also typing in our iMessage window. I paused, waiting.

Dylan just asked me out, she said.

I stared at my phone before looking up to meet her anxious eyes across the room.

Deleting what I’d written, I typed instead, What did you tell him?

She looked down when her phone buzzed in her hand, and then replied, I told him we could figure it out on Monday.

She was looking for guidance, maybe even looking for permission. Only a month ago I was regularly ha**g s*x with two to three different women every week. I had no idea where my head was concerning Hanna; my own thoughts were too jumbled and complex to help her translate hers right now.

My phone buzzed again and I glanced down. Is this really weird after what we just did?? I don’t know what to do, Will.

This is what she needs, I told myself. Friends, dates, a life outside of school. You can’t be the only thing in it.

For once I was looking for complicated, and she was trying on simple.

Not at all, I typed back. This is called dating.

If I’d ever wondered what a cat in heat sounded like, now I knew. The noises—the meows, the whining, the howls—had started about an hour ago and had only gotten worse until the sexually frustrated animal was practically screeching outside my bedroom window.

I knew exactly how it felt. Thanks, Life, for giving me the living, breathing metaphor for how I was feeling.

With a groan, I rolled to my stomach, reaching blindly for a pillow to drown out the sound. Or to use to smother myself. I hadn’t decided. I’d been home from my date with Dylan for three hours and hadn’t gotten even a few minutes of sleep.

I was a mess, having tossed and turned since I’d climbed into bed, staring up at the ceiling as if the secret to all my problems lay hidden in the mottled plaster overhead. Why did everything feel so complicated? Wasn’t this what I’d wanted? Dates? A social life? To have an orgasm in the company of another person?

So what was the problem?

The way Dylan tripped my only-a-friend vibe was the problem. The fact that we’d gone to one of my favorite restaurants and I’d been completely zoned out, thinking about Will when I should have been swooning over Dylan, was an even bigger one. I wasn’t thinking about Dylan’s smile as he’d picked me up, the way he’d opened my door and the adoring way he’d looked at me all through dinner. Instead, I was obsessing over Will’s teasing smile, the look on his face as he’d watched me touch his cock, his flushed cheeks, how he’d told me exactly what to do, the way he’d sounded when he came, and how it had looked on my skin.

Annoyed, I flopped onto my back and kicked off the blankets. It was March, light snow had been falling all day, and I was sweating. It was two o’clock in the morning and I was wide awake and frustrated. Really, really frustrated.

The hardest part to wrap my head around was how sweet Will had been at the party, how gentle and caring, and how I knew without a doubt how easily all of that would translate into sex. He’d been encouraging, saying everything I’d needed to hear, but never pushing, never asking for more than I’d been willing to give. And holy shit he was hot . . . those hands. That mouth. The way he sucked on my skin, kissing me as if he had years of pent-up need and it was finally unleashed. I wanted him to f**k me, probably more than I ever wanted anything, and it was the most logical next step in the world: we were both there, it was dark, he was worked up and God knows I’d been ready to explode, there’d been a bed . . . but, it hadn’t felt right. I hadn’t felt ready.

And he hadn’t pushed. In fact, when I expected it to be weird, it wasn’t. When he’d been the only person I wanted to talk to about Dylan, he’d encouraged me. On the taxi ride home he’d told me I needed to go out, have fun. He told me he wasn’t going anywhere, and what we’d done was perfect. He told me to explore, and be happy. God, it just made me want him even more.

Deciding this was a losing battle and I would never get to sleep now, I sat up and went into the kitchen. I stared into the fridge, closing my eyes as the cool air floated along my heated skin. I was slick between my legs and even though it had been six days since Will had touched me there, I ached. I’d seen him every day for our run, and we’d had breakfast afterward on three of those days. It had been easy; with Will, it was always easy. But each time he was near, I wanted to ask if he could touch me again, if I could touch him. I could still feel the echo of every stroke of his fingers, but I didn’t trust my memory. It couldn’t possibly have been so good as all that.

I walked into the living room and looked out the window. The sky was dark but silver-gray, the rooftops glittering with frost. I counted the streetlights and calculated how many of them there were between his apartment building and mine. I wondered if there was even a chance he was awake, too, feeling even a fraction of the want I felt now.

My fingers found the pulse in my neck and I closed my eyes, feeling the steady thrum beneath my skin. I told myself to go back to bed. Maybe this was a good opportunity to sample the brandy Dad always kept in the living room. I told myself that calling Will was a bad idea and that there was absolutely no way that anything good could come from this. I was smart and logical and thought everything through.

I was so tired of thinking.

Ignoring the warning inside my head, I grabbed my things, stepped outside, and started walking. The lingering snow had been stomped down during the day and formed a thick crust along the sidewalk. My boots crunched with every step and the closer I got to Will’s apartment, the more the chaos in my thoughts settled into a steady hum in the background.

When I looked up, I was standing in front of his building. My hands shook as I pulled out my phone and found his picture, typing the only thing that came to mind: Are you awake?

I almost dropped the phone in surprise when an answer came only a few seconds later. Unfortunately.

Let me in? I asked, and honestly, did I want him to say yes? Or send me home? At this point I didn’t even know.

Where are you?

I hesitated. In front of your building.

WHAT. Down in a sec.

I’d barely had time to consider what I was doing, turning to look back in the direction I’d come, when the front door flew open and Will stepped outside.

“Holy shit, it’s freezing!” he yelled, and then looked behind me to the empty curb. “For fuck’s sake, Hanna, did you at least take a cab here?”

“At three a.m.? Are you out of your goddamn mind?”

“I know, I know. I just . . .”

He shook his head and pulled me inside. “Get in here. You’re crazy, you know that? I want to strangle you right now. You don’t just walk around Manhattan alone at three in the morning, Hanna.”

My stomach twisted with warmth when he said my name, and I knew I’d stand out in the cold all night if it meant he’d say it again. But he shot me a warning look, and I nodded as he led me to the elevator. The doors closed and he watched me from the opposite wall.

“So did you just get home from your date?” he asked, looking far too sleep-rumpled and sexy for my current state of mind. “The last you texted, you were getting in the cab to meet Dylan at the restaurant.”

I shook my head and blinked down to the carpet, trying to understand what exactly I’d been thinking when deciding to come here. I hadn’t been thinking, that was the problem. “I got home around nine.”

“And?” His tone was even, his face impassive, but the speed of his questions told me he was worked up about something.

I shifted from foot to foot, not sure exactly what to say. The date hadn’t been a complete disaster. Dylan was sweet and interesting, but I’d been totally checked out.

I was saved from answering when we reached Will’s floor. I followed him out of the elevator and down the long hallway, watching his back and shoulders flex with every step. He wore blue pajama bottoms and the outlines of some of his darker tattoos were visible through his thin white T-shirt. I had to push down the urge to reach out and trace them with my fingertip, to take off his shirt and see them all. There were obviously more than there had been all those years ago, but what were they? What stories hid beneath the ink on his skin?

“So are you going to tell me?” he asked.

He’d stopped in front of his door and my eyes shot up to his. “What?” I asked, confused.