She’s licking her lips. “I want your mouth on me.”

I grin at her vague request. “You have to tell me where.”

She points at her piercing through her navel. “Start here. Then, I want you to go down.”

“Anything for you.” My American girl is getting braver. This is going to be so much fun.

I kiss her jeweled piercing over her belly button because she’s asked me to, but I know that’s not where she really wants my mouth, so I begin working my way toward the real prize. She relaxes her legs as I go lower, but I stop just before I get to that spot. “Is this low enough?”

“Tell me when I get to where you want me.”

I start again and I hear her direct me. “Go down a little more.”

I know when I hit the spot because she arches her back in response. “Yes. Right there. Don’t stop.”

I lick her center and then use my tongue to circle the stiff nub, but it’s when I slide my fingers inside her below my tongue that she begins to come apart. I feel her hand grab my hair as she squeals out. “Don’t stop doing that, Lachlan.”

When she’s finished coming, I feel her relax and she lets go of my hair. At this rate, I could be snatched bald by the end of our time together.

I reach for the condom on the table and tear into it. She sits up on the couch and watches me roll it on. When I finish, I crawl up her body and search her face. “Now, tell me what you want me to do to you.”

“I want you to … fuck me.” She’s hesitant and soft-spoken.

Not good enough. I grab her thighs and pull her against me.

“Say it like you mean it.” I’m hard against her slick entrance and she’s lifting her hips to rub against me. She wants me to enter her and I will, but not until I hear her say it the way I want.

She grabs me around the neck and pulls me down until we’re eye to eye and there’s nothing gentle about it. “Fuck. Me. Now. Lachlan.”

That’s my girl. “Okay, okay. All you had to do was ask,” I laugh.

I give her what we both want and sink deeply inside her. She brings her legs up around my hips to coax me on. “Harder, Lachlan.”

She tightens her legs around me. “Yes!”

I drive into her, filling her as deeply as I can when I have no choice but to explode. Her legs are wrapped around me tightly and there’s an unfamiliar feeling deep inside her. What was that?

It was neither bad nor good. Just something I’d never felt before.

“Did you feel something different just now?”

“No, but you obviously did by the look on your face.”

“Yeah, I did. I felt something twitch. Or pop.”

I’m still inside her, so I pull out to investigate and see if we have an issue. The condom is busted to hell and back. “Fuck! The rubber broke.”

My first response is to panic, but then I remember that Paige is on the pill. “You’ve been taking your birth control pills, haven’t you?”

Condoms are the one thing I have absolute control over in my sexual relationships. I refuse to depend on anyone else to be responsible. The cost of failure is too great, but now I’m forced to relinquish control to Paige and really need to hear her say she’s been doing what she promised she would.

She sits up and grabs my face. “Yes, Lachlan. I take my pill at the same time every day, so relax. I’ve got us covered.”

She has us covered. Her words work to calm me a little. “You’re right. I just panicked for a minute. When are you supposed to start your period?” I need to know how long I have to worry about this.

“Good. That means we’ll only have to wait a few days to know everything is all right for sure.” God, just thinking about everything not being okay makes me want to throw up.

I work harder to convince him everything is all good. “We’re fine, Lachlan. Even if I weren’t on the pill, I’m not ovulating.”

“Says the woman who gets a surprise pregnancy.”

I didn’t know Lachlan could be anything but cool and collected, but he has shown me a different side of him. Let’s just say he doesn’t deal well with “oh, shit” moments.

He picks up the unused condom from the coffee table and tears the wrapper so he can inspect it for defects. “We’re not using any more out of that box, just in case it’s a defective batch.”

When he finishes inspecting it, he flops back on the couch and stares at the ceiling. He’s thinking—and worrying—although I’ve told him I’m taking my birth control pills. Is it because he thinks I sleep around with a lot of men? I admit that I haven’t given him much reason to think otherwise, but it’s the furthest thing from the truth.

“Before you, I had only been with one person and I was tested for everything under the sun after we ended things, so you don’t have to worry about catching something from me.”

He doesn’t look at me. “I’m not worried about you giving me a sexually transmitted disease. The majority of that stuff can be treated.”

I see that there won’t be any more sex until we get a new box of condoms, so I get off the couch and begin to dress after I toss him his pants and boxer briefs.

When I finish dressing, I kneel between his legs and put my chin on one of his knees. I peer up at him and he caresses the side of my face with his hand. I don’t want this night to be ruined by stress and anxiety. “Don’t. Worry. We’re good.”

His worry has taken him somewhere else, and I want him back here with me. “Want me to play something for you?”

“Yes, that would be nice.”

I get up from the floor and take my new guitar from its case. I stand in front of him and strum several times. “Any requests from the audience tonight?”

I know the perfect song to take his mind off what just happened. I begin to strum a bluegrass version of “Gin and Juice,” but I can tell he isn’t catching on. Maybe Australians aren’t fans of Snoop Dogg.

“‘With so much drama in the L.B.C., it’s kinda hard bein’ Snoop D. O. Double-G … But I … I somehow, someway … keep comin’ up with funky-ass shit nearly every single day.’”

I know the second the song comes to him because he begins to laugh. Hmm. Lachlan thinks I’m funny. It’s feels so strange because Blake never thought anything I did was amusing.

He picks up and begins to sing the chorus with me. “‘Rollin’ down the street … smokin’ endo … sippin’ on gin and juice … Laid back …With my mind on my money and my money on my mind.’”

When I finish, he claps and I curtsy. “That was fantastic.”

“Bluegrass ‘Gin and Juice’ isn’t fantastic; it’s shitastic. There’s a huge difference between the two.”

“That wasn’t exactly the kind of performance I was expecting when I bought the guitar for you, but I loved it. Do something else shitastic for me.”

I don’t have to think about it. I’m going to do “Whatever You Like” by T.I. my way because the song makes me think of us and our bizarro relationship.

“‘I said you can have whatever you like … I said you can have whatever you like … Yeah … Stacks on deck … Patrón on ice … And we can pop bottles all night and baby, you could have whatever you like … I said, you could have whatever you like … Yeah … baby, I can treat you so special, so nice … Gas up a jet for you tonight and baby, you can go wherever you like … I said you can go wherever you like …Yeah.’”

He applauds for me when I finish and I curtsy again. “You’re amazing.”

He thinks that’s amazing? “You know I was just playing around, right? That’s not the kind of stuff I sing for real.”

“Okay, so tell me. What does Paige Beckett sing for real?”

“Music is what feelings sound like out loud. I sing songs that speak from my heart. They tell my story, how I feel.”

“Sing one of those. Pick one that tells me your story.”

“You do know. Come on, tell me your story.”

I’m going to regret this. I know I will. I decide on “According to You” by Orianthi. I strum until I find the desired chord. “‘According to you … I’m stupid, I’m useless … I can’t do anything right … According to you … I’m difficult, hard to please, forever changing my mind … I’m a mess in a dress, can’t show up on time, even if it would save my life. According to you … According to you … But according to him … I’m beautiful, incredible. He can’t get me out of his head … According to him … I’m funny, irresistible … Everything he ever wanted …’”

And that’s as far as I make it before I’m choking on my own words. Shit, I knew I’d regret doing this. I’m mortified as I stand in front of Lachlan with my hands over my face so he doesn’t see the ugly cry.

He gets off the couch and is by my side, arms around me. A moment later, he lifts the guitar over my head and puts it in its case. “I don’t know who he is, but he’s wrong. You are beautiful. And incredible. And funny. And irresistible.”

There’s so much that’s happened in my life to make me feel unworthy of ever being beautiful, incredible, funny, or irresistible. But I don’t want to think of those things. Not now. And certainly not in front of Lachlan.

He lets go of me and takes my hand. “It’s late. Come to bed with me.”

I follow him to his bedroom and shuffle through my bag as he pulls the comforter back. “What did you bring to sleep in?”