I’d also never been so hard, or greedy to grab and feel and consume. Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be more, she moved forward or leaned back, taking me further, drawing me in. I pulled her nipple into my mouth, sucking and cupping the other breast in my hand, wild for her to ride me recklessly, but wanting her to continue to chase the euphoria I could see all over her face, to get there before I would lose it.

Because I knew, with Ruby, I would.

I could feel the tension building in my thighs, the need to shove up and fuck, and take, and let go. I could feel this raw beast, clawing out of me, wanting sex like I’d never had but always needed: uninhibited and sweaty and hard.

Ruby’s movements became irregular and she pulled my mouth to hers, lips parted and pressed to mine, simply rocking over me, feeding me her moans and gasps and jagged exhales as she fucked me. Her hips faltered, hands clutching at me, and I felt her tighten just before she arched away, crying out as she came. Her warmth, the slick feel of her stuttering on top of me, and finally—fucking finally—the way she rode me hard as her orgasm began to peak unleashed the last bit of my control. The pleasure for me was impossible and I bent, pressing my teeth into the firm swell of her breast, groaning into her skin.

She collapsed into my chest and in a breath I lifted her, lowered her back to the plush carpet, and pulled her hips off the floor, sliding into her with a long, rough stab of my hips.

Ruby’s breath caught—she was so tight, a fist around me—and she watched as I began to lose my mind, lose my heart. I didn’t know myself in this moment: this man who kneeled between her legs and held her hips in my hands to keep from fucking her across the floor. I hardly recognized the man who told her,

Look right where I’m fucking you

Fucking hell you’re so warm and wet you feel so fucking perfect

Pleasure cascaded down my back, clawed out of me and she was reaching between us, touching me where I pulled from her with every stroke, begging me with her eyes to let go, to show her how good it felt.

I couldn’t close my eyes. Not in a million years could I close my eyes the first time she watched me come, over her, inside her. My thrusts were coarse, exhales sharp and harshly pulling grunts of exertion from my throat. I gave into the spiral, losing my rhythm, as I bellowed into the quiet room.

Never before had I known a pleasure so intense.

I stilled, chest sweaty and heaving as I looked down at her. Her breasts were flushed and glistening, cheeks splotchy and lips parted as she struggled to catch her breath.

“Niall . . .” she said, running a shaking hand up my chest.

Instinct kicked in: a panicky sense of obligation. I pulled from her, standing on shaky legs and jogging to the bathroom to retrieve a cloth, hold it under the warm tap.

Returning to her, I bent, pressing the warm cloth between her legs, soothing and wiping away my—

“Niall,” she said, stilling my hand with her fingers around my wrist.

I sat back on my heels, looking up at her face. “Do you hurt?”

Her brow pulled together in confusion. “No?” She took the cloth from my hand and pulled me back over her. “You didn’t have to run off to clean me up. I wanted to enjoy some postcoital kisses. I want to be messy because of you.”

Embarrassed, I winced, bending to kiss her lightly on the cheek. “Right. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Seriously, kudos, sir.” Her legs slid around my hips and I propped myself on my elbows above her. “Missionary is clearly your superpower. Noted.”

I smiled. “It should be. It’s all I did for eleven years. Honestly, having you on top—” I stopped, feeling my stomach fall into an abyss when I registered what I’d just said.

“Bloody hell . . . Ruby. That was a terrible thing to say and at the most inopportune moment. I am an imbecile.”

She ran her hands up the back of my neck, lifting to kiss, possibly in an attempt to shut me up. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not,” I said into another kiss.

“It is,” she insisted, her voice uncharacteristically stiff. “I’m sure it’s weird to be with someone for the first time after only having been with her before.”

“It’s not that . . .” I began, and then trailed off, leaving the thought unfinished. I needed to fix this. It was bad enough that I’d gone mute when she’d said she loved me; I couldn’t let this be a disaster, too. “Ruby, my timing may be horrendous and I apologize for that, but I feel I need to explain how different this is for me.”

She nodded, relaxing a bit beneath me. As I searched for words, I struggled to hold on to the clarity of only minutes before, when I felt completely joined to her, knowing her. She’d given me something so rare—true insight into what it was to make love—and I’d fucked it up immediately.

“At some early point in our relationship, Portia read some article explaining that men needed sex at least once a week in order to not cheat. It was bollocks, but it became part of her mental relationship canon. Sex once a week. No more, no less. She was very organized, you see,” I said, hoping to add a bit of levity. “Staff meeting Mondays. Sex with husband Tuesdays. Rubbish pickup Thursdays.”

Her eyes went soft with sympathy. “Ouch.”

“It wasn’t so bad,” I said, and then tilted my head, considering this. “It simply wasn’t very good, either.” I met her eyes, swallowing thickly as the words took shape in my mind. “And see . . . that, right there. Please understand I feel uncomfortable even saying this much, particularly given our current circumstances.” I made a show of looking down the length of our bodies, as if to emphasize the point, to which she smiled. “As a general rule I don’t discuss my personal life. But now you are my personal life. I want you to know every facet of me, and how different I am with you. And unfortunately that often means knowing things about my relationship with Portia. Somehow her view on it made sex both a special occasion and a chore.”