Ruby’s lips were full, and warm, tasting of Sprite and the little chocolate mint that had been placed beside our dinner plates. Her mouth opened, tongue sliding out across her lips to mine, dipping into my mouth and letting me feel the small, sweet vibrations of her moan.

I was thinking too much; I was always thinking too bloody much. I slid my hand up her ribs, over her breasts, and back to the button that had made my entire brain hit pause.

I slipped the first one free, and then the next, and the next, until Ruby was shrugging out of her shirt and lying beneath me in a pale yellow bra.

Sweet Lord, I could lay my face on that skin and never need for anything more.

“You have the most perfect breasts I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

She stilled beneath me and then brought her hands to her face, hiding.

I stared down at her. What had I said? That she had perfect breasts? Were we meant to do this without comment?

“I’m having a moment, just give me a second,” she said, her voice muffled by her palms.

“No,” she said, dropping her hands and looking up at me with these crazy, beautiful eyes. “I just had an out-of-body experience. Niall Stella just took off my shirt and admired my chest.”

“Do you need to text someone?” I said, stifling a laugh.

“I just need to remember to add it to my spreadsheet of Niall Stella Moments,” she joked, and reached for my head again, pulling me down.

I traced the straight line of her collarbone, across to the middle and over to the other shoulder.

Her bra strap was silky and thin, a wisp of fabric holding up such plump, perfect breasts. I almost didn’t want to reveal them; the anticipation was too sublime.

“You’ve seen me completely naked,” she reminded me.

“But I haven’t touched you when you were completely naked.” Looking up at her face, I smiled. “I have never been directly responsible for making you completely naked.”

She gave me a playfully exasperated look, but behind her eyes I could see her urgency and it set a fire inside me. “Can you make me completely naked now?”

“You aren’t something to rush through.” I bent, smelling her neck. “Your skin is meant to be savored. Your pleasure is meant to be drawn out, stretched thin, seduced from within you.” Looking up at her I told her, “I’m not making love to you tonight with anything but my hands—but I want you to come so violently on my fingers that you’ll wake in the middle of the night, desperate to re-create it . . .” I kissed her shoulder, murmuring, “only to fail.”

“You won’t have the right angle, you see.” I ran a finger along her jaw. “Or the right size of finger, or depth. But mostly you’ll fail at making yourself feel as good as I will because you won’t be patient.”

She growled, digging her hands into my hair and pulling.

I drew my finger down from the hollow of her throat to her breastbone. “You won’t want to linger at these perfect spots: the warm skin here, the sole freckle on your torso just there. You won’t be able to kiss your own rib.”

I bent kissing her just beneath her bra before sliding my hand beneath her, releasing the clasp and leaving it there to loosen as she arched for me, as she wiggled and whined on the bed. The left strap fell from her shoulder, looping down over her bicep, and I kissed the tiny new spot it revealed.

“Take it off?” she whispered, back lifted from the mattress.

She paused, breathing heavily while I sucked at the skin just beneath her breast, my hand working to unbutton her skirt, to slide it down her hips. “Niall?”

My laugh came out as a small breath on her skin. “Do you?”

“You can linger all you want just put your hand on me.”

“I’ll put my hands all over you when I’m ready. Trust me.” I’d never been able to take my time like this, to enjoy and relish and taste. Compared to my time with Ruby, my sexual experience to date felt like digital code entered bleakly into a program.

I bent, sucking at the top swell of her breast. So full and firm. I pressed my teeth into the skin, groaning. I wanted to bite and suck and consume. Her breasts made me want to turn savage, groping and biting and . . . Christ, just fucking. I imagined myself crawling up her body, pressing her breasts around my cock, and shifting over her, selfishly chasing the pleasure I craved being this close to her skin, her scent, her hoarse, gasping noises.

A small part of me curled instinctively at such a crude, bare thought, but Ruby’s voice in my mind was louder: Let go, she said. Show me what you need. Take what you want.

With a growl, I climbed over her, cupping her breasts over her bra and pressing them together, sucking at the skin where they met, sliding my tongue in and around the delicious crevasse.

Beneath me she gasped, arching, her hands working their way back into my hair, her legs wrapping around me, pulling my hips to hers so she could rock up into me.

I pulled her bra straps down her arm, tossing the garment aside before returning to her. Her nipples were the same warm pink as her lips, and without thinking—without even a moment of hesitation—I bent, pulling one into my mouth, sucking hungrily while my palm gripped her other breast.