She stood, reaching out her hand. “Ready?” She smiled down at me.

“I guess it’s that time,” I said, and inwardly cringed. Get it together, Jensen.

My heart took off beneath my breastbone as I stood and took her hand. It felt small in mine, warm and soft, but solid somehow, too. It was her reassuring me, just like this morning, and my feet almost came to a stop when my brain made the connection that to anyone watching, this was supposed to be our honeymoon.

That was not helping.

Hand in hand, we walked down the hall and up the stairs. We were going to our room, and I had no idea what came next.

Jensen opened the door to our room, wordlessly gesturing for me to lead us inside. The door closed behind him with a heavy click.

The entire walk up the stairs, neither of us had said a word. Down the hall—still silent. With nearly every step, I wanted to turn to him and do a tiny dance and say, This doesn’t have to happen. We could just tell scary stories and clean out the minibar snacks and pretend it’s a slumber party.

But sometimes, I felt with Jensen, saying it out loud nearly made it more awkward.

We’d hardly spent any time in here since we’d brought our bags up earlier, and at that time, the rush of the marriage game and the knowledge that we had the entire evening before we had to face this moment had made the bed somehow seem so much bigger.

But no. It was minuscule.

Was there a size in the US between a twin and a full?

He was the first to break the silence as we both stared at it. “I can absolutely sleep on the floor.”

I didn’t want that, though. In truth, I wanted his long frame around me, arms holding me tight with my back to his front. I wanted to hear his sleeping breaths and feel the heat of him all night long.

It wasn’t just that I liked sex—which I did—or enjoyed cuddling—absolutely. It was that I felt safe with him. I felt important, especially today, when I’d been able to do something to help him and it seemed that tiny favor opened up so much of him to me.

But here we were, with his shutters back in place.

“Don’t be silly.” I turned to my suitcase, pulling out my pajamas. “I’m just going to go change . . .”

He coughed down at his own suitcase, open on a chair in the corner of the room. “Of course.”

I changed, washed my face, put my hair up, pulled my hair back down, put it up again. Moisturized. I brushed my teeth, used the loo, washed my hands, moisturized again. Brushed my teeth again. I stalled. And then, stepping out, I let him past me to do the same routine, realizing as he walked into the loo that he had only a pair of shorts in his hand.

However, when he finally came out of the restroom, Jensen was still wearing his T-shirt, to my enormous dismay.

What did I just say?

He looked up at me in surprise. “I mean, I usually do, but . . .”

I swear my heart was beating so hard I could barely take in a steady breath. “I think I was hoping you would.” I licked my lips, begging him not to move his eyes away from mine. “I’m sorry. My filter seems to have broken.”

A tiny smile pulled at his lips. “You say that like it’s happened only now.”

Somehow this joke—and the forgiveness embedded in his voice—let the rest of my thoughts tumble free: “I realize that we were just playing a game today. But the past few days, I’ve been open to something happening between us. It’s loaded now, and there’s absolutely no way to change that, but I didn’t want you to think that I would dislike sharing a bed.” I paused and then opened my mouth to continue, but stopped myself, giving him a chance to reply.

He didn’t seem to expect my silence after such a short ramble, apparently, because he stood there, staring at me expectantly for a few breaths.

“Go ahead,” I whispered, sitting down on the bed and scooting toward the headboard. “I’m done. For now.”

Jensen came toward me slowly, sitting down at the corner of the mattress, just at the edge. “I was thinking about this before Becky showed up, too.”

He nodded. “Of course I was. You’re beautiful, and only half as irritating as I initially thought.”

A laugh burst out of me. “You think I’m pretty?”

A slow grin took over his face and he finally asked, “Do you think I’m pretty?”

Reaching behind me, I pulled a pillow free and lobbed it at him. “I think you’re stunning,” I echoed, and the rest of it tumbled out of me: “I like you.”

He laughed, eyes shining. “I like you, too.”

And the famous Pippa Cox mouth was off and running: “Before this trip, I’d never been to a proper winery. My friend Lucy had a party a few years back. It was meant to be a classy evening—wine, cheese—but what’s the saying? ‘You can’t put lipstick on a pig’ . . . ? We just aren’t those people. The night is still a bit of a blur: wine stains on the carpet and people snogging in corners—it wasn’t a big enough party for covert snogging, so it was rather awkward, really. Johnny Tripton ended up on the patio naked, waving the Brazilian flag. Lucy passed out on the kitchen floor and people sort of just . . . stepped around her to refill their glasses. I woke up with blue hair—I often dye my hair red, sometimes even pink, but never blue—and I swore off wine for eternity. Or at least until the next weekend.” I smiled up at him. “My point is, this trip is a bit classier than my last wine tour, and today has been about a million times more fun than I could have ever expected.”