“I don’t relish making love to you on the floor again.”

Sucking at his neck, I said, “Is that what we’re going to do?”

He nodded. “All night, and a good portion of tomorrow.”

I hadn’t really taken the time to examine his bedroom before, having woken up in the room and fleeing almost immediately. The windows were wide and tall, walls white and stark but for a few framed photographs of Ansel Adams prints. Signed. I felt my eyes go wide before looking around at the rest. His bed was enormous, neatly made with dark sheets and a dark blanket. A small bathroom came off at the far end of the room, and a single light was illuminated on a table near the bed. It was a masculine room, not overly decorated.

Niall came up behind me, his hands smoothing from my shoulders down to my naked hips before he pressed his bare chest against my naked back. “Get on the bed.” His quiet command was softened by the kiss he pressed to my neck.

I climbed on the bed and watched him follow me in a predatory crawl, and he settled again between my thighs.

He bent, sliding his tongue between my legs again. It was so different than before, his kisses were slow and gentle, more tender and expressive than directed.

“Either you really like doing this or you’re feeling deeply apologetic.”

“It feels a little wicked, still,” he admitted, kissing the inside of my thigh. “Like it’s naughty to stare at your tits, very naughty to watch you masturbate, exceedingly naughty to put my fingers inside you, but to actually put my tongue just here?” He licked me, humming, “This sweet place only I can see? Well, that feels sublimely naughty.”

“I think you mean possessive.”

“That as well. I admit I like the idea that this body belongs to me.”

“Whatever you say, my love.”

“Careful,” I teased. “You don’t want to veer into the L-word territory.” Could he feel just then how much I needed him to say it?

“Don’t I?” he asked, looking up the length of my body at me. “Did you not hear me say that I love you every time I spoke into your skin just now?”

I smiled, opening my mouth to crack a joke before I realized he wasn’t teasing. And he had. He’d whispered I love you over and over on the floor, with reverence.

His smile was unreal: teasing and mischievous. “Did you need it spoken directly into your ear?”

I bit my lip, shrugging down at him. “I like where your mouth is right now, but I have to admit I wouldn’t exactly mind hearing you say that a little closer . . .”

He kissed up my body, his lips wet from me, hands squeezing, teeth grazing. Every single touch echoed the words.

He was so long, enormous above, blocking out everything else and the safety I felt beneath Niall was unlike anything. He’d seen me at my craziest and my most grounded—both states had been caused by my feelings for him. In the months I loved him from afar and the four short weeks I loved him up close, he’d become more than lover; he was my new best friend.

“I always felt like the only person in my life who didn’t know his own mind from the moment he was born. My siblings—they came out knowing exactly who they were. Not me. But I do with you. I want to trust that. Need to, rather. So yes, it only took a month after we officially met in the elevator”—he smiled down at me—“and I ruined it stupidly and you ran away from me perhaps even more stupidly . . . but here we are. And I love you.”

“I love you,” he repeated in a whisper and kissed my ear lobe. “I adore you.”

I unfastened his belt, and he helped me push his pants down his hips far enough for him to kick them off the end of the bed. I didn’t want to wait anymore; I had this flushed aching need to be with him, filled of him. Wherever it touched mine, his skin was warm and smooth, the soft hair on his legs brushed against my thighs, his chest pressed against my breasts as he climbed over me.

“I know. This . . .” He shook his head. “I feel like I didn’t pay enough attention the first time we were intimate like this,” he admitted, kissing me. “I was too focused on not freaking out. I want to feel every second.”

I reached between us, stroking him and watching his face. His mouth opened, eyes grew heavy.

“You’re still on birth control?” he asked, bending to kiss my neck.

“And you haven’t . . .” He paused, his breath catching as he met my eyes. “You haven’t been with . . . ?”

My heart jerked to a stop. “I’ve barely left my apartment except for work. Is that a serious question?”

“No,” he admitted. “I guess I just wanted to hear it. I’ve been a mess, Ruby. Thinking of you seeing someone else while we were apart . . . it was horribly painful.”

He hovered above me, blocking out all of the light in the room so the only thing I could see or feel or smell was his skin.

“I thought you might make love to Portia that night,” I told him. And why was this conversation so much easier when I could feel the warm, thick slide of him over me, just an inch from where he could slip inside? “I left your office and it was the only thing I could imagine, that you would be with her that night. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard.”