I’d always understood why women wanted Will in the first place. He wasn’t beautiful in the same way Bennett was, and he wasn’t tender like Max. He was visceral and imperfect, dark and knowing. He gave the sense that he looked at a woman and in an instant read every need she had.

But now I knew why women truly lost their mind over him. Because in the end, he did actually know every need a woman had, that I had. He’d ruined me for any other man, even before the first touch. And when he leaned in behind me, dragging his lips across the shell of my ear—not a kiss, not exactly—and asked, “You think you’ll scream when you come this time, too?”—I was lost.

He reached across me, pulling a condom from the pile. I heard the foil tear, the sound of it as he rolled it over himself. I could still remember what it looked like, that thin piece of rubber stretched impossibly tight around the length of him. I wanted him to hurry. Needed him to hurry and f**k me, make this ache go away.

“I can go deeper this way,” he said, bending to kiss my back again. “But tell me if I hurt you, okay?”

Nodding frantically, I pushed back into his hands, wanting him to quell the frantic hunger inside me.

His palm was surprisingly cool and I gasped in surprise when he pressed it to my lower back, steadying me. Was I shaking? In the darkness I could see my hand against the stark white of the sheet, see the fabric twisted in my grasp, wound tight just like every part of me. “You just feel,” he said as if reading my thoughts, his voice so deep it was more vibration than sound. “I just want to take right now, okay?”

I felt the solid muscle of his legs moving between mine, the tip of his c**k as he positioned himself. With every slide of our skin across each other, I arched back, lifting my ass to change the angle and hoping that this time, this time he might slip inside.

I felt his mouth along my shoulder, down my back and around my ribs. It was still early, still cold in my room, and I shivered as the air landed on skin he’d just kissed, tasted, scraped with his teeth.

And when he whispered against the shell of my ear how amazing I looked from his vantage, how badly he needed me, it seemed like my heart might burst through my ribs. It was so different like this, when he was behind me, out of sight. I couldn’t rely on his overwhelmed expressions and the reassurance of his steady gaze on my face. I had to close my eyes and pay attention to his hands, how they shook, how rigid he felt when he slid forward across my clit. I listened to his choppy breathing and tiny grunts, pressed back into him and felt my chest twist in pleasure when the contact between his thighs and my ass made him moan.

He was so thick, so stiff, and my breath caught as he shifted back so he could position himself against my tender skin, and—finally—slowly inch inside.

“Oh,” I said, a sound that felt like it must have been torn from my throat because it was the only word I could think.

Oh I didn’t know it would feel like this.

Oh it hurts but in the most delicious way.

Oh please don’t ever stop. More, more.

As if I’d said those words aloud, Will nodded against my skin, moving slower, deeper. We’d only just started but it was already too good, too perfect. I felt the drag of him deep inside, so close to that place that brought me to the edge of a tiny explosion.

“Okay?” he asked, and I nodded, overwhelmed. He started to move, small stabs of his h*ps that pushed me farther up the mattress, pushed me closer to that point where everything inside me threatened to shatter. “Fuck, look at you.”

I felt his hand on my shoulder and then in my hair, fingers wrapping in the strands to brace me, keep me just where he wanted. “Spread your legs wider,” he grunted. “Drop to your elbows.”

Immediately I did what he said, crying out at the depth of the position. Heat settled in my stomach and between my legs at the idea of him using my willing body to get off. I was positive I’d never felt sexier in my entire life.

“Knew it would be like this,” he said, and I couldn’t even comprehend the words. I felt like I might collapse and I slid my arms down farther, face pressed to the pillow and my ass in the air as he continued to f**k me. The fabric was cool against my cheek and I closed my eyes, tongue darting out to wet my lips as I listened to the sounds of our bodies moving together, his uneven breaths. He was so good, and I straightened my arms over my head, the tips of my fingers brushing along the headboard and my body stretched so fully beneath him that I felt like I’d been hammered too thin. Like I might snap in half when I finally came.

His damp hair tickled along my back and I imagined what he must look like: hovering above me, arms supporting his weight as he leaned over my shaking body, pushing into me again and again, the bed rocking beneath us.

I remembered when I used to hide under my blankets and imagine this very thing, touching myself, tentative and unpracticed until I came. It felt the same—every bit as dirty and forbidden but even better now, better than all the fantasies and all the secret dreams combined.

“Tell me what you want, Plum,” he managed to say, his voice so hoarse it was almost inaudible.

“Touch yourself,” he rasped. “I’m not going without you.”

I slipped my hand between the mattress and my sweaty body and found my clit, smooth and swollen. He was so close to me, close enough that I could feel the heat of each exhale and the slick of his skin. I could feel the tremble of muscle, note the way his breath changed and his sounds grew louder as he shifted the angle of his hips, drove so deep my spine arched sharply, involuntarily.

“Fucking come for me, Hanna,” he said, h*ps speeding up.

It took only a moment, a few more circles of my fingers before I was coming, choking on sounds that got stuck in my throat and swallowed by a wave that hit me so hard I swore my bones were vibrating.

White noise filled my ears but I felt the slap of his skin against mine and the way he stiffened behind me, muscles growing tense before he groaned, low and long into my neck.

I was exhausted; limbs loose and joints feeling as if they might come apart at the seams. My skin was prickly with heat and I was so tired I couldn’t bring myself to open my eyes. I felt Will reach for the base of the condom, grabbing it securely before pulling out. There was a shuffle before he climbed from the bed and moved to the bathroom, and then the sound of water again.

When the mattress dipped and the heat of him returned, I was barely conscious.I opened my eyes to the smell of coffee, the sound of the dishwasher opening and the clank of dishes. I blinked up to the ceiling, the final remnants of sleep slipping from my brain as the reality of last night hit me.

He’s still here, was my first thought, followed by What the hell happens now?

Last night had come easily; I’d shut off my brain and done what felt good, what I’d wanted. What I’d wanted was him and somehow, he’d wanted me in return. But now, with the sun pouring through the windows and the world awake and breathing outside, I was filled with uncertainty, unsure what our boundaries were or where we stood.

My body was stiff, sore in the most random places. I felt like I’d done a thousand sit-ups. My thighs and shoulders ached. My back was stiff. And between my legs I was throbbing and tender, as if Will had driven into me for hours and hours in the black of night.

I eased myself off the bed, tiptoed to the bathroom, and carefully closed the door, hissing at the way the latch seemed to click too loudly.

I didn’t want things to be weird between us, or to ruin the easy comfort we’d always had. I didn’t know what I’d do if we lost that.

So with my teeth brushed and hair smoothed, I slipped into a pair of boy shorts and a tank and made my way out to the kitchen, intent on letting him know I could do this and that things didn’t have to change.

He was standing in front of the stove in nothing but black boxers, his back to me, flipping what looked to be pancakes.

“Morning,” I said, crossing the room and making a beeline straight for the coffeepot.

“Morning,” he said, grinning down at me. He leaned over and twisted the fabric of my shirt in his hand, using it to pull me toward him for a quick kiss on the lips. I ignored the tiny, girlish flutter in my stomach and reached for a mug, careful to keep a long stretch of counter between us.

My mother had cooked breakfast for us every Sunday we spent on vacation in this kitchen, and had insisted the room be large enough to accommodate her ever-expanding family. The space was twice the size of any other in the building, with gleaming cherry cabinets and warm tile. Wide windows that overlooked 101st Street took up one wall; a large counter with enough stools for all of us filled another. The wide marble expanse of counter had always felt too big for the apartment, and a waste of space now that it was just me using this as a home. But with the memory of last night playing on a loop in my head, and with so much of his perfectly na**d skin on display, I felt like I was in a shoe box, like the walls were closing in and pushing me closer and closer in this strange, sexy man’s direction. I definitely needed some air.

“How long have you been up?” I asked.

He shrugged, the muscles of his shoulders and back flexing with the movement. I could see the edge of the tattoo that wrapped around his ribs. “A while.”

I glanced at the clock. It was early, too early to be awake on a Sunday with no plans, especially after the night we’d had. “Couldn’t sleep?”

He flipped another pancake, placed two others on a plate. “Something like that.”

I poured my coffee, eyes trained on the dark liquid as it filled the mug, the steam as it twisted through a beam of sunlight. The counter was set, placemats and a plate for each of us, glasses of orange juice off to the side. I had a flash of Will with one of his not girlfriends and couldn’t help but wonder if this was part of the well-honed routine: making his ladies breakfast before leaving them in their empty apartments with wobbly legs and dopey smiles.

With a small shake of my head I replaced the carafe, and straightened my shoulders. “I’m glad you’re still here,” I said.

He smiled, and scraped the last bit of batter from the bowl. “Good.”

We stood in comfortable silence while I added sugar and cream, then moved with my coffee to a stool on the other side of the counter. “I mean, I would have felt ridiculous if you’d left. This is easier.”

He flipped the last pancake and spoke to me over his shoulder. “Easier?”

“Less awkward,” I said with a shrug. I knew I needed to keep this casual, keep it from becoming a thing between us. I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t handle it.

“I’m not sure I’m getting you, Hanna.”

“It’s just easier to do this part now, the awkward I’ve seen you na**d part, rather than later when we’re trying to remember how we interact with our clothes on.”

I watched him pause, staring down into the empty pan, obviously confused. He hadn’t nodded or laughed, hadn’t thanked me for saying it before he’d had to. And now I was the one clearly confused.

“You don’t think all that highly of me, do you?” he said, finally turning to face me.

“Please. You know I think you practically walk on water. I don’t want you freaking out or thinking I expect you to change anything.”

“I’m just saying that I know last night meant different things for each of us.”

His brows pulled together. “And what was it to you?”

“Amazing? A reminder that even though I failed miserably with Dylan, I can have fun with a man. I can let go, and enjoy it, I know it probably didn’t change who you are, but it feels a little like it changed me. So, thank you.”

Will’s eyes narrowed. “And who exactly am I, do you think?”

I walked over to him and stretched to kiss his chin. His cell phone buzzed where it sat on the counter, the name Kitty lighting up the screen. So that answered that question. I took a deep breath, gave myself a moment for all the pieces to line up in my head.

And then I laughed, nodding to where it continued to vibrate across the counter. “A man who’s good in bed for a reason.”

He frowned, reaching for the phone and shutting it off. “Hanna,” he said, pulling me back toward him. He placed a lingering kiss on my temple. “Last night—”

I sighed at how easily we slotted together, at how perfectly my name was shaped by his mouth. “You don’t have to explain, Will. I’m sorry I made it weird just now.”

I pressed two fingers to his lips, wincing. “God, you must hate the postsex processing and I don’t need it, I swear. I can handle all of this.”

His eyes searched my face and I wondered what he was looking for. Did he not believe me? I reached for his jaw and kissed him softly, feeling the tension slip from his body.

His hands came to rest on my hips. “I’m glad you’re okay with this,” he said finally.

The only reason I ever skipped a run was if I was deathly ill or on a plane headed somewhere. So Monday morning, I hated myself a little for shutting off my alarm and rolling back over into the pillow. I just had no interest in seeing Hanna.

But as soon as I had the thought, I had to consider its accuracy. I didn’t want to see Ziggy, bouncing and chatting away as if she hadn’t blown me apart two nights ago with her body and words and needs in the guise of Hanna. And I knew if Ziggy showed up this morning, acting like Saturday night never happened, it would wreck me a little.