“What if I give you assurances?” he asked.

“Like what? And don’t tell me it’s love. We met last month.”

“We’re not like everyone else, Liis. We spend every day together—sometimes, all day and then evenings and even weekends. If we’re keeping track, we’ve put in the time.”

I thought about that for a moment.

“Stop overthinking it. You want assurances? This is not guesswork for me, Liis. I loved someone before, but the way I feel about you…it’s that feeling, a thousand times over.”

“I have feelings for you, too. But feelings aren’t always enough.” I chewed on my lip. “I’m worried that if we don’t work out, the job will be miserable. That’s impossible for me to accept, Thomas, because I love my job.”

“I love mine, too, but being with you is worth the risk.”

“I know that it won’t be boring. I know that I’ll never begrudge you a promotion even if it’ll take you elsewhere. Maybe I’ll get tired of San Diego. I like DC.”

“You would come to DC,” I deadpanned.

“That is why I can’t promise that I’ll stay.”

“I don’t want you to promise to stay in San Diego. I just want you to stay with me.”

I swallowed. “Oh. Then…I could…probably do that,” I said, my eyes flitting around the tiny room.

“Pretending is over, Liis.” Thomas took a step toward me and gently pulled at my towel. It fell to the floor, and then he tugged at his own. “Say it,” he said, his voice low and controlled. He cupped each side of my face in his hands. He leaned down but stopped less than an inch from my lips.

He pressed his mouth against mine. His fingers tangled in my hair as he jerked me against his body. He took a step, guiding me backward, until my back collided with the wall. I gasped, and his tongue slid through my parted lips, brushing gently against mine as if he were searching for the answer. He pulled away, leaving me breathless and craving another taste.

“Okay,” I breathed, unashamed of the begging in my voice. “We can stop pretending.”

He lifted me, and I wrapped my legs around his backside. He held me just high enough that I could feel the tip of his hardness against the tender pink skin between my thighs.

I sank my fingers into his shoulders, bracing myself for the same overwhelming feeling he’d sent through my body the first night we met. Just lowering me another inch, he would satisfy every fantasy I’d had for the last three weeks.

But he didn’t move. He was waiting for something.

I touched my lips to his ear, biting my lip at the anticipation of what I was about to say and what it would lead to. “We can stop pretending, sir.”

Thomas relaxed, and then in a slow, controlled movement, he lowered my body down. I moaned the moment he entered me, letting the soft hum escape my lips until his length completely filled me. I pressed my cheek hard against his as my nails bit into the flesh of his thick shoulders. With little effort, he lifted me and then pulled me down again, groaning in reaction.

“Fuck,” he said simply, his eyes closed.

Each thrust became more rhythmic, sending flashes of the most wonderful, overwhelming pain through every nerve in my body. He struggled to keep quiet, his muffled grunts getting louder with each passing minute.

“You feel too good,” he whispered, setting me down on my feet.

Before I could protest, he flipped me around and pushed me toward the wall. My chest and palms were flat against the paint, and I grinned.

Thomas put his hand on my cheek, and I turned just enough to kiss his fingertips. Then, I opened my mouth, letting him slip a finger inside. I pulled back, sucking lightly, and he sighed.

He gently ran his thumb down the line of my jaw, my neck, and then my shoulder. From there, he slid his palm down the length of my spine, over the curves of my backside, and then settled between my thighs. He put gentle pressure on one of my legs, guiding it away from the other. I gladly spread them apart and then placed my palms on the wall, bracing myself, as he yanked my hips back.

With his hand, he slowly guided himself inside me. He didn’t pull out. Instead, he moved his hips in a subtle circular motion, savoring the warm sensation of my embrace.

He gripped my hip with one hand and reached around with the other, touching the most sensitive parts of my skin. He moved his middle finger in small circles, and then he pulled back his hips. He groaned as he rocked against me.

I bent over, pressing my backside against him, allowing Thomas to sink himself as deeply as he wanted.

With every thrust, his thick fingers dug into my thighs, guiding me to the very edge of pleasure. I bit my lip, forbidding myself to cry out, and just as a thin sheen of sweat formed on my skin, we tumbled over together.

I REACHED ACROSS THOMAS’S BARE CHEST to turn off the obnoxious noise coming from his cell phone. The movement made evident the soreness and swelling between my legs from the hours of sex the night before, and I rested my head on his rippled abdomen, smiling at the memories flashing in my mind.

Thomas stretched, his legs too long for the bed. The sheets rustled as he stirred, and I ran my fingers over his soft skin, surrounded by the trinkets and trophies of his childhood.

With sleepy eyes, he took one look at me and smiled. He tugged on me until we were face-to-face, and then he wrapped both of his arms around my shoulders, burying his face in the crook of my neck.

I kissed the crown of his head and hummed in total satisfaction. No one had ever made me feel so right about being wrong.

“Morning, baby,” Thomas said, his voice sounding strained and hoarse. He rubbed his feet on mine as he carefully raked my ratted hair away from my face. “I probably shouldn’t assume, but being a woman married to her career…”

“Yes,” I said. “Birth control is in place and good for five years.”

He kissed my cheek. “Just checking. I might have gotten a little carried away last night.”

“I’m not complaining,” I said with a tired smile. “Flight leaves in four hours.”

He stretched again, still keeping one arm hooked around my neck. He pulled me to him and kissed my temple. “If this weekend wasn’t so important, I’d make you stay in bed with me all day.”

“We can do that when we get back to San Diego.”

He squeezed me. “Does that mean you’re finally available?”

I hugged him back. “No,” I said, smiling at his reaction. “I’m with someone.”

Thomas pressed his head back against his pillow to look me in the eyes. “Last night, I realized when I was talking to Camille…those relationships didn’t work out, but it wasn’t because of the job. It’s because we weren’t invested enough in them.”

I eyed him, feigning suspicion. “Are you invested in me?”

“I’m pleading the fifth but only in the interest of not scaring you off with the answer.”

He touched my hair. “I like this look on you.”

“I’m completely serious. I’ve never seen you so beautiful, and that’s saying something. The first time I saw you…I mean, the very moment I looked over from my barstool and saw your face, I panicked, wondering how in the hell I was going to get your attention and then worrying how I would keep it when I did.”