“Nerd.” She shook her head at me, amusement lighting up her eyes. “I probably shouldn’t risk sneaking into your room tonight.”

I started to protest but stopped when I caught the sly grin curving her lips.

“You’re the devil, do you know that?” I murmured, reaching out to glide my thumb across her nipple. “No wonder Jesus didn’t want to be in your cleavage.”

With a sharp gasp, she smacked my hand and looked over her shoulder.

We were all alone in the kitchen, could hear the others’ voices trailing in through from the other room, and all I wanted to do was pull her into a kiss.

“Don’t.” Her eyes grew serious and the next words came out shaking, as if she couldn’t catch her breath: “I won’t be able to stop.”

After staying up for a few hours to catch up with Jensen, I finally headed to bed. I stared at the wall for an hour or so before giving up on waiting for the quiet padding of Hanna’s feet from down the hall or the creak of the door as she snuck into my room.

So I drifted off and missed it when she actually did slip in, get undressed, and climb na**d under the blankets with me. I woke only to the feel of her smooth, bare body curling around mine.

Her hands ran up my chest, mouth sucking at my neck, my jaw, my bottom lip. I was hard and ready to go before I was entirely conscious, and when I groaned, Hanna pressed a hand over my lips, reminding me, “Shh.”

“What time is it?” I murmured, inhaling the sweet smell of her hair.

“Are you sure no one heard you?” I asked.

“The only people who could hear me at this end of the hall are Jensen and Liv. Jensen’s fan is on, so I know he’s asleep. He can barely stay awake for ten seconds once that thing starts.”

I laughed because she was right. I’d been his roommate for years, and I hated that f**king fan.

“And Rob is snoring,” she murmured, kissing my jaw. “Liv has to fall asleep before him or else his snoring will keep her awake.”

Satisfied that she’d been sufficiently stealthy—and that no one would be likely to knock on the door again while we were making love—I rolled to my side, pulling her close.

She snuck in for sex, clearly, but it didn’t feel like all she wanted was a quick fuck. There was something else there, something brewing beneath the surface. I saw it in the way she kept her eyes open in the darkness, the way she kissed me so earnestly, each touch offered tentatively, as if she were asking a question. I saw it in the way she pulled my hand where she wanted it: over her neck, down across her breasts, coming to rest over her heart. It was pounding. Her bedroom was only a few doors down the hall; she wasn’t winded from the effort. She was worked up over something, her mouth opening and closing a few times in the moonlight, as if she wanted to speak but couldn’t find air.

“Are there still others?” she asked.

I pulled back and stared at her, confused. Other women? I’d wanted to have this conversation again a hundred times, but her subtle evasion had finally worn down my need for clarity. She wanted to date around, didn’t trust me, and didn’t think we should try to be exclusive. Or had I misunderstood? For me, there was no one else.

She stretched to kiss me; her mouth felt so familiar already, molding to mine in the easy rhythm of soft kisses that grew heated, and I wondered for a fevered beat how she could ever imagine sharing herself with anyone else.

She pulled me over her, reaching between us to slide me across her skin. “Is there a rule about having unprotected sex twice in a day?”

I sucked on the skin below her ear, and whispered, “I think the rule should be that there aren’t any other lovers.”

“So we break that rule then?” she asked, lifting her hips.

I opened my mouth to protest, to put my foot down and tell her I’d had enough of this circular nondiscussion, but then she made a quiet, hungry sound and arched into me so that I slipped all the way inside her and I bit my lip to stifle a groan. It was unreal; I’d had sex thousands of times and it had never, ever been like this.

I tasted blood on my lip and fire beneath my skin wherever she touched me. But then she began to circle her hips, finding her pleasure beneath me, and I felt the words dissolve from my mind.

I’m only one man, for Christ’s sake. I’m not a god. I can’t resist taking Hanna now and figuring out everything afterward.

It felt like cheating; she wouldn’t give me her heart but she’d give me her body, and maybe if I took enough of her pleasure, stored it up, I could pretend it was more.

It didn’t matter at the time how much I might regret it later.

It had never been like this, ever. Slow. Almost so slow that I wasn’t sure either of us could get there, or that I even cared. Our lips were only millimeters apart, sharing breaths and noises and the whispered pleas to Feel that? Do you feel that?

I did feel it. I felt every one of his stuttering heartbeats under my palm, and the way his shoulders shook above me. I felt the unformed words on his lips, how he seemed to be trying to say something . . . maybe the same something I’d been skirting around since I snuck into his dark room. Even before that.

He didn’t seem to understand what I was asking.

I’d never expected it to be so hard to put myself on the line. We’d made love—what felt like the true meaning of the phrase earlier; his skin, my skin, nothing else between us. He called me Hanna at the dinner table. . . . I don’t think anyone had ever said that name out loud in this house before that. And even though Jensen—Will’s best friend—was in the other room, Will had stayed with me to do dishes. He’d given me a meaningful look before I headed to bed, and texted me good night, saying, In case there’s any question, my bedroom door shall remain unlocked.

It seemed like he was mine when we were in a room full of people. But here, alone behind his closed door, it was suddenly so unclear.

Are there others? . . .

The rule should be that there aren’t other lovers . . .

So we break this rule then?

But what was I expecting? I closed my eyes, wrapping my arms tighter around him as he pulled almost all the way out and then slid slowly back inside, inch by perfect inch, and groaned quietly in my ear.

“So good, Plum.” His h*ps rolled over me, one hand sliding down my ribs and back up to cup my breast and simply hold it, his thumb sweeping over the tight peak.

I loved the deep, molten sounds of his pleasure, and it helped distract me from the truth that he hadn’t given me the words I’d wanted tonight. I’d wanted him to say, There are no other women anymore. I’d wanted him to say, Now that we’re doing this without protection, we don’t break that rule, ever.

But he’d been the one to open this conversation before, only to have me shut it closed. Was it true that he really wasn’t interested in being more than friends-who-fuck? Or was he unwilling to be the one to start the conversation again? And why was I being so passive? It was as if my fear of messing things up with him had stolen all of my words.

He arched his neck back, groaning quietly as he slid in and out of me, achingly slow. I closed my eyes, pressing my teeth into his neck, biting down, giving him every bit of pleasure I could think. I wanted him to want me so much that it didn’t matter that I was inexperienced or unsure. I wanted to find a way to erase the memory of every woman who came before me. I wanted to feel—to know—that he belonged to me.

I wondered for a sharp, painful beat how many other women had thought the exact same thing.

I want to feel like you’re mine. I pushed on his chest so he had to roll off me and I could climb over him. I’d never been on top with Will, not for sex, and looked down at him, feeling unsure, guiding his hands to my hips. “I’ve never done this.”

He gripped his base with one hand and guided me over him, grunting as I sunk down. “Just find what feels good,” he murmured, watching me. “This is where you get to drive.”

I closed my eyes, trying different things and struggling to not feel foolish in my inexperience. I was so hyperaware of this earnest feeling pulling my ribs tight, I wondered if I moved differently, more clunky, less carefree and sexy. I had no idea if it felt good to him.

“Show me,” I whispered. “I feel like I’m doing it wrong.”

“You’re perfect, are you f**king kidding?” he mumbled into my neck. “I want to last all night.”

I grew sweaty, not from exertion but from being so wound up I thought I might burst from my skin. The bed was old and squeaky; we couldn’t move the way we were used to—roughly for hours and using the entire mattress and frame and pillows. Before I realized what was happening, Will lifted me off him, carried me to the floor, and sat up beneath me so I could lower myself back onto him. He went so much deeper this way; he was so hard I could feel the press of him in some unknown, tender place. His open mouth moved across my chest and he ducked his head to suck and blow on my nipple.

“Just f**k me,” he growled. “Down here you won’t have to worry about the noise.”

He thought I was worried about the creaky bed frame. I closed my eyes, rocking self-consciously, and just when I thought I would stop, tell him this position wasn’t working for me, tell him I was choking on words and unanswered questions, he kissed my jaw, my cheek, my lips and whispered, “Where are you right now? Come back to me.”

I stilled over him and rested my forehead on his shoulder. “I’m thinking too much.”

“I’m nervous all of a sudden, and I just feel like you’re mine only for these little bits of time. I guess I don’t like that as much as I thought I would.”

He slid his finger under my chin and tilted my face up so I had to look at him. His mouth pressed against mine, once, before he told me, “I’ll be yours every second if that’s what you want. You just have to tell me, Plum.”

Even in the darkness I could see his brows pull together. “You said that before. Why do you think I would break you? Do you think I even could?” His voice sounded so pained, it plucked at something raw and taut in me, too.

“I think you could. Even if you didn’t want to, I think you could now.”

He sighed, pressing his face into my neck. “Why won’t you give me what I want?”

“What do you want?” I asked, shifting so that my knees were more comfortable, but in the process, I slid up his c**k and back down. He stilled me with forceful hands on my hips.

“I can’t think when you’re doing that.” Taking several deep breaths, he whispered, “I just want you.”

“So . . .” I whispered, running my hands into the hair at the nape of his neck. “Are there going to be others?”

“I think you need to tell me that, Hanna.”

I closed my eyes, wondering if that would be good enough. I could tell him I wouldn’t date anyone else, and I imagined he would agree to the same. But I didn’t want it to be up to me. If Will was going to do this, to be with one person, it had to be something that wasn’t negotiable for him—it had to be him wanting to call it off with the others because of how he felt for me. It couldn’t be some loose decision, a maybe-maybe-not, a whatever-you-decide.

His mouth found mine then, and he gave me the sweetest, most gentle kiss I’d ever felt from him. “I told you I wanted to try,” he whispered. “You were the one who said you thought it wouldn’t work. You know who I am; you know I want to be different for you.”

“Okay then.” He kissed me and our pace started again, small thrusts from him beneath me, tiny circles from me on top. His exhales were my inhales; his teeth slid deliciously over my lips.

I’d never felt so close to another human in my life. His hands were everywhere: my breasts, my face, my thighs, my hips, between my legs. His voice rumbled low and encouraging in my ear, telling me how good I felt, how close he was, how he needed this so much he felt like he worked every day just to get back to me. He told me being with me felt like being home.

And when I fell, I didn’t care whether I was awkward or jagged, whether I was inexperienced or na?ve. I cared only that his lips were pressed firmly to my neck and his arms were wrapped around me so tight the only way I could move was closer to him.“You ready?” Will asked Sunday afternoon, slipping into my bedroom and pressing a quick kiss to my cheek. The majority of the morning had played out this way: a covert kiss in an empty hallway, a rushed grope session in the kitchen.

“Almost. Just packing a few things Mom is sending home with me.” I felt his arms fold solid around my waist and I leaned back, melting into him. I’d never noticed how much Will touched me until he couldn’t do it freely. He’d always been tactile—small brushes of his fingers, a hand lingering at my hip, his shoulder bumping against mine—but I’d grown so used to it, so comfortable, I hardly noticed anymore. This weekend I’d felt the loss of every one of those small moments, and now I couldn’t get enough. I was already debating how many miles we’d need to put between the car and this place before I could tell him to pull over and make good on his offer to take me in the backseat.

He pushed my ponytail out of the way as his lips moved along my neck, stopping just below my ear. I heard the tinkling of his keys in his hand, felt the cool metal against my stomach where my shirt had ridden up the tiniest bit.