You under me.

Your laugh in my ears.

Your voice in my chest.

Your wet on my fingers.

Your taste on my tongue.

I think I want to know you feel the way I do.

“I just want you to enjoy this tonight.” I leaned forward, pressing my mouth between her legs. She smelled dizzying, tasted too good, looked too beautiful. Sara’s sounds were quiet and aching and seemed to be tailored entirely for my ear. Her fingers ran over my head, scratching my scalp lightly before she let go and pulled her leg higher, spreading wider, giving me better access. She didn’t move with exaggerated sexuality; she was slow and calm and easily the most accidentally sensual being in history.

And as I focused on making her feel good, I imagined how she looked from outside this room, with my fingers in her and my mouth devouring her and her back arching up from the couch. I was so used to seeing her with the mask now that it wasn’t jarring or distancing; the way she looked at me from behind it made me feel like I’d just been given the entire world. The silky black wig framed her face, made her skin paler, her lips redder. Those same lips parted as she began to beg quietly, instructing me to move faster, to not stop sucking on her, to f**k her harder with my fingers.

As she began to fall, her hand moved up her torso, over her breast and up her neck to her face, where she slipped her mask off, exposing the last bit of her skin that had been covered.

Her huge brown eyes were trained on my face, her lips still parted in a quiet pant.

When she came, she never once looked away, never once even blinked her attention to the windows behind me.

Someone was on the other side of that glass. I could feel it. But I don’t think we could have been any more alone in this room even if we really were at my flat. Nothing in this world existed other than the way she pressed into my mouth, crying out when she came.

Then she sighed, tugged on my hair, and laughed. “Holy shit.”

So maybe if I ever met this Andy twat I wouldn’t actually punch his smug face after all. Maybe I’d shake his hand for messing things up with Sara so epically that she moved to New York and stopped being the woman who did what she was supposed to do, and started to be the woman who did what she bloody well wanted.

I kissed my way up her torso, let her suck her taste from my mouth, my tongue, my jaw. Beneath me she was warm and slow; her arms curled lazily around me, her laugh faded into my neck.

“I think that was the most fun I’ve ever had,” she whispered.

And I suspected I’d do almost anything to spend the rest of my life making this woman happy.

I knew it wouldn’t be good to have every night of the week filled with Max, because it would shatter my ability to think about anything else. On my morning run, I thought back on what we’d done together, and came up with some of the wildest fantasies I’d ever had in my life: crawling under Max’s desk and sucking him off while he spoke on the phone, or having him in the elevator on the way up to his apartment.

It was fun to finally let myself indulge in these sorts of daydreams, and I was starting not to care that he disrupted so much of my structured life. And after what he did for me at the club, I was beginning to realize I’d walk across flaming coals for the man.

I’d been nervous, no doubt. The club felt darkly indulgent and was supported by patrons who’d been thinking about this kind of sexual fantasy maybe longer than I’d been alive. I wasn’t sure if there were unspoken rules I was meant to follow. Don’t speak too loudly. Don’t cross your legs. Don’t look anyone in the eye. Don’t drink your cocktail too fast.

My parents were so wholly innocent next to this world. Their idea of a wild night out was seeing The Va**na Monologues and dinner at some trendy Asian-fusion restaurant. To this day, my father considered sushi just a little too adventurous for him.

And here I was, walking into a secret sex club, and on my first night there, letting Max go down on me where anyone present could watch.

I had no idea, in the end, if anyone had in fact been watching. We left through the back door to the room, where Max’s friend Johnny met us and let us leave through a service entrance. Max watched me carefully the rest of the night, like he was wondering if I was ready to bolt or break down. But in reality, I was shaking so hard because everything about it had felt right. Max had been on his knees, between my legs, and had refused to let me reciprocate. Instead he kissed me for long minutes, helped me dress, and gave me a look so pregnant with meaning that goose bumps spread across my skin.

It was one thing to play in a library, but compared to the club last night, that felt tame. And on the way home after, with Max’s hand on my knee and his lips on my neck, my ears, my mouth, and—finally—his body over and inside me, completely wild on the backseat, I realized how crazy my life had become.

It’d been so long since I’d been infatuated like this that . . . I had forgotten how fun it was.

“You’re swooning,” George said Thursday morning as I approached his desk. He stuck the end of his pen back between his teeth, murmuring around it. “You’re thinking about your Max.”

How the hell did he know that? Was I grinning like an idiot? “What?”

“I saw how he looked at you when he came in here Monday. He’d let you carry his balls around in your pocket.”

Grimacing, I opened my office door. “I’d rather they stay where they are, but thanks for the idea.”

“He was here this morning,” George offered, casually.

“Seemed sad to have missed you, but I told him you’re kind of a bear in the morning before you’ve finished your seventeen cups of coffee and rarely get in before eight.”

“No problem.” He sat up and pulled an envelope off his desk. “He left this.”

I took the envelope into my office to read. Max’s handwriting was tiny, scribbly.

I’m leaving Friday morning for San Francisco for a week for a conference. Might I see you tonight?

Lifting my phone, I swiped my thumb across the screen and pressed his name.

He answered after only half a ring. “Are you still in bear mode?”

“Your assistant is a character. We had quite a lovely chat about you. I’m pleased to know he’s unlikely to be hitting on you while I’m away.”

“I think he’s more of a Max fanboy, if you want the truth. If you had any inclinations to play for the other team you might never be able to get rid of him.”

“Then stop eavesdropping!” I yelled back, and then smiled into the phone. “And yes, I’m free tonight.”

I heard the smile in Max’s voice when he finally growled, “For a bed?”

“Yeah.” My hands were shaking. Hell, everything had changed last night. The idea of being with Max in a bed felt like the wildest adventure yet. I almost wondered if we would survive it.

“Meet you there at eight? I have a late call with the west coast.”

I changed my outfit three times before eight—casual? sexy? casual? sexy?—before finally changing back into the outfit I’d worn to work. I straightened my bed, dusted my entire apartment, and brushed my teeth twice. I had no idea what I was doing and was pretty sure I hadn’t been this nervous on the night I’d actually lost my virginity.

I was still shaking when he knocked at my door. He’d never seen my place, but when he walked in, he barely looked around. His hands went to my face, and he pushed me back against the wall, mouth firm on mine, opening, sucking on my lips and tongue. There was nothing gentle about the way he kissed me. It was hard and desperate, hands gripping shoulders and pulling ineffectually at clothes that just seemed to be in the way, lips that almost felt bruised with how real it all was. He had a messenger bag slung across his chest and it slid forward, hitting the wall with a heavy thump.

“I’m losing my f**king mind,” he said into my mouth. “Losing my f**king brain, Sara. Where’s your bedroom?”

I walked backward, pulling him and his wild kisses down the short hall with me. I only had my bedside lamp on, and it cast a small cone of warm yellow light around the space. White walls, big bed, giant windows—all within a minuscule floor plan.

He laughed, looking around and letting his hands drop from my face. “Your flat is tiny.”

Slipping his bag over his head, he dropped it onto my bed. “Why? You could afford more.”

I shrugged, mesmerized by the way his pulse hammered in his throat. Why were we talking about the size of my apartment? I wanted to know what was in the bag. He only ever carried his wallet, phone, and a house key. “I don’t need more right now.”

His eyes moved to mine and he nodded once, lips tilting in a half smile. “You’re a complicated woman, Sara Dillon.”

Sometimes after I went for a long run, I was so high afterward that I couldn’t do anything but go back out and run some more. I would have so much energy in my blood, I couldn’t stand to be still. I felt like that now.

“Max, I’m . . .” I held up my hand to show him how much it was shaking. “I don’t know what to do right now.”

“Undress for me.” He dug into his bag and pulled out a huge, fancy camera. “I want pictures of everything tonight,” he said, gazing at me through the lens. The sound of the shutter set my heart racing inside my chest. I felt dizzy, lightheaded.

I looked down at my clothes: ivory silk shirt with small, pearl buttons, and a straight, black skirt.

I liked having a task to focus on. The weight of last night still pressed on my heart, and the sight of him in my bedroom almost broke me.

I lifted my hands to the top button of my blouse.

It was different like this, in my apartment with no one but his camera to witness. What was I showing him tonight? My body? Or everything beneath my skin: my heart and fears and wild, thrumming longing for him?

I heard the click of the shutter followed by Max’s deep voice. “The way you seem nervous makes me think you don’t know that I’m in love with you.”

I looked up at him, eyes wide and hands frozen.

“I love you, Petal. I’ve known it for a while now, but everything changed for me last night.”

He bit his lip and then released it to give me a wicked grin. “Okay?”

“Yeah.” I returned to my buttons, slipping each one free at a time. I fought the world’s most enormous smile.

“You have nothing to say but ‘okay’?” he asked, looking up from behind the camera. “I tell you I love you, and I don’t even get a ‘thanks’ or ‘how lovely’?”

I let the shirt fall to the floor and turned my back to him, reaching behind me to unhook my bra—click—and dropping it.

I unzipped my skirt, and it joined the other items on the floor as I turned back to face him.

He lowered the camera, eyes on me.

“I didn’t want to fall in love with you,” I said.

He took a step closer. “If it makes you feel any better, you put up a very impressive fight.”

He didn’t put the camera down when he stepped forward again to kiss me. He just moved his hand to the side and cupped my face with the other, pressing his mouth to mine.

“I’m scared, too, Sara. I’m scared I’m your rebound. I’m scared we’ll c**k it up somehow. I’m scared you’ll tire of me. But the thing is,” he said, smiling, “I don’t want anyone else. You’ve rather ruined me for other women.”

He must have taken hundreds of pictures of me as I finished undressing, climbed back on the bed, watched him prowl over me and tell me more of how he felt: distracted, insatiable, like he could thank Andy then kill him, like he was sincerely worried he wouldn’t ever be able to get enough of me. Every reaction I had, he captured, obsessed over.

Hovering above me, he trained the camera on my torso, where his body brushed against mine. I closed my eyes, lost in the way he felt and in the soft sounds of the camera clicking. When I opened them again, my eyes met his.

I reached out, angling the camera toward my neck. He took the shot, letting me lead as I positioned it higher, and higher still. He looked at me through the lens.

His hands shook as he adjusted the focus, taking shot after shot of my face, of his fingers tracing my jaw or cupping my cheek, as he held the camera away to capture us kissing.

And then everything in the moment became about the feeling of his mouth on me, and the feeling of his hair in my hands, his tongue moving over me, his lips pressing words into my skin. I felt every breath he took and every small sound he made. I could feel his mouth get hungrier and more urgent as he moved down my body. Slowly, he pressed two fingers inside me and sucked on my cl*tin earnest, pushing me to come. I stayed quiet. I didn’t want to hear my voice in my head. I wanted to only feel him.