“I figured I wanted to see you more, so I did that instead.”

With a little nod, he looked down, intertwining our fingers. “It’s late. You’ve been sitting here for a long time. Are you hungry?”

“Not really,” I admitted. “I just want to . . .”

“Get into my bed?” His voice was a gentle growl.

I whispered, “Yeah. Unless you need to eat.”

It was really that simple, and there wasn’t even a trace of hesitation. I knew I needed to feel him. I needed to be covered in him.

He turned and led me back to his steps and I followed him inside, up the next flight, and to his front door. He pulled me in front of him, pressing my back to the door as he bent to kiss my jaw. “We’ll talk later, yeah?”

His teeth scraped at my neck. “Good, because I know we need to talk. But right now I want to put my mouth on you and sing ‘God Save the Queen.’ ”

Finally, a laugh burst from my throat. Oh, the relief of this. I nearly started crying again. “I think you could lose your citizenship for that.”

“It would be worth it, though. Kissing you between your legs is like kissing your mouth but softer somehow.”

I was tingling from my mouth to my toes. How was it so easy to get back to this place? “Bonus: I orgasm when you kiss me there.”

Niall pulled back and gave me a look of mock scandal. “You mean to tell me you don’t orgasm from my kisses to your mouth?”

“It’s been a little while. Maybe you should try?”

He growled with a predatory smile and here—here—was my playful, sexy man. The version of him only I would get. The world would get his calm, contained exterior. I would get the one here, who reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys, before reaching behind me as he simultaneously bent to kiss me. His hand fumbled with the lock and we laughed against each other’s mouth, teeth knocking, sloppy kissing.

I heard the lock give and his groan of relief as he nibbled at my bottom lip.

“Don’t fucking leave me again,” he said, out of breath as his hand hovered on the doorknob. “It was bloody miserable, Ruby.”

“I didn’t leave you.” I pulled back to meet his eyes. “You did. So if we’re . . .” I shook my head. “Don’t ever go back to Portia.”

I had to say it. Even if it was absurd, it hadn’t even been a fear, until it was.

“I never . . .” He closed his eyes, pained. “Please believe me when I say I am devoted. It was a terrible misstep.”

I gripped his tie and pulled him back down to me, brushing my lips over his. “Okay then.”

His arm slid around my waist, holding me to him so I wouldn’t fall into his apartment when he opened the door.

I didn’t fall, but I was on my back nearly immediately once he got it open, Niall over me as he pushed my skirt up my hips, and before I could remind him that he was meant to be kissing my mouth, his fingers were impatiently sliding my underwear to the side so he could press his open mouth to my clit.

Oh, the wet feel of him, the vibration of the words he said over and over I couldn’t quite make out. The sucking soft kisses and heat of his breath on me. Another jolt of disbelief ran through me and I had to reach down, and dig a hand into his hair to anchor me to this room and this floor and this thing that he was doing with his tongue and lips and—holy fuck—even his teeth.

The door to his apartment wasn’t even closed, and I realized it only when he kicked at it, groaning loudly into my skin. His eyes were closed, though, fingers digging into my hips as he sucked at me and spoke into my skin, and I had to prop myself up on my elbows to watch. It would have been a crime not to. The only thing better than what he was doing was watching him do it, as if each flick of his tongue and quiet sound of relief unknotted something profound in him. I wanted to tell him, this, right now, is how I know you’re mine. You’re not thinking about anything but this. I’m not even sure you’re doing this for my pleasure.

But I couldn’t manage a single word let alone a coherent string of them; all of my sounds were gasps or the stilted words of begging for more and like that, and yes, that, and there, and

His groan in reply shook me, and the way he murmured, “I dreamt of the taste,” made me lose any semblance of control. I fell back, arms above my head, pressing my hips into him, rocking and circling until I went stiff and coiled, my orgasm pulling every muscle together until it consumed me, spreading out from where he kissed me and everywhere; to the tingling tips of my fingers, my flushed face, my curling toes.

I clawed at the back of the suit jacket he hadn’t even bothered to take off, and tried to find the collar to pull him up and over me. I needed him naked and inside. I needed his weight on top, and the feel of his narrow hips between my thighs.

He sat up, not even bothering to wipe his face as he shrugged out of his jacket, loosened his tie, and removed it, followed by his shirt. From where I lay on the floor, I could see the rise and fall of my chest but it was all in my peripheral vision. I wouldn’t be able to tear my eyes from his face until someone physically removed me from this apartment and this man.

I was spent. My skin was humming, muscles loose, brain a giant, blissful, thought-free zone. Niall reached to pull my underwear down my hips, and then my skirt, taking the time to undress me, kissing every bit of skin he revealed. I expected him to climb over me, be inside me immediately—I could feel how hard he was when he kissed my neck and pressed into my thigh. But he surprised me, curling one arm beneath my knees and the other around my shoulders so he could lift and carry me down the narrow hall.