I don’t like the way she’s affected by a question about him. “Because he called while you were in the shower.”

She busies herself with adjusting her bra to avoid looking at me. “You answered my phone?”

“The ‘Sex on Fire’ ringtone sort of caught my attention. I answered it because I want to know who the hell Blake Phillips is and what he wants with you.”

She stares blankly at me. I’m not sure if it’s because she doesn’t want to tell me who he is or because I’m acting like a possessive Neanderthal. “I’m not used to this, Laurelyn. You know everything about my previous relationships. Everything! Including what a stretch this is for me, and I know so little about yours. I want to know who he is to you.”

I’m almost certain she’s going to tell me and then I feel a pang of fear. Maybe this isn’t something I want to hear, but it’s too late. “He was my record producer.”

I toss her phone toward her onto the bed so it lands screen side up featuring an affectionate picture of them together. “Does everyone kiss their record producer like that?”

She shuts her eyes and turns away from the phone. “Blake and I were spending a lot of time together while we were working on my album. One thing led to another and we started seeing each other. He told me it wouldn’t look good for him to be in a relationship with someone he was representing, and I believed him. It sounded like a legit reason to me, so we agreed to keep our relationship secret to protect our careers. I later found out he wanted to keep us secret because he was married with three kids. I was devastated. And I walked away from all of it. Him. The record deal. The music career I’d worked so hard for. Everything.”

Now, I really hate the motherfucker. “When did it end?”

“Early December.” That was only a couple of weeks before she came here—not near long enough for her to be over him if she was in love with him.

“Three months.” Almost the same amount of time she’s been with me.

I lean over with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. “Do you love him?”

She doesn’t answer right away and my throat tries to eat my heart. “There was a time I thought I did, but that was before I knew the truth.” I want her to reach out and touch me as a sign of reassurance, but she doesn’t. “I loved a lie, and the truth shattered anything I felt for him.”

I want to look up at her, but I can’t. I’m afraid of what I’ll see. “So, you feel nothing for him now?”

“No. I can’t love a lie and that’s all we were.” Her words are sobering. Hadn’t I asked her for a relationship based on a lie? He tricked her into being his dirty little secret, and I outright asked her to volunteer as mine.

I lift my face to see her standing in front of me, but her eyes avoid mine. That’s when I know it. I’m a motherfucker just like Blake Phillips.

I slide off the bed to my knees in front of her and wrap my arms around her legs. “I’m so sorry for not treating you the way I should have, Laurelyn.”

She strokes her hands across the top of my hair. “What are you talking about? You’ve never treated me poorly. You spoil me rotten.”

I gaze up at her from where I’m on my knees. “I asked you for a relationship based on lies. I kept you as my secret from the world until I decided I needed you when Dad got sick. I’m no better than he is.”

Jack Henry is in front of me on his knees, talking about things that aren’t true. He presses his face against my stomach and I twirl my fingers in his hair. “No, that’s not true at all. Don’t ever compare yourself to him.”

I take his hands and tug on them. “Get up from there.”

He stands and reaches for my face. “I’m so sorry.”

I don’t understand what he means. “Stop this. You’ve never hurt me the way he did.”

He’s stroking his thumbs over my cheekbones. “I’m sorry for all the secrecy, for making you feel like you weren’t important enough to know the real me. But I’m most sorry because I have fucked you—I don’t know how many times—and never made love to you.”

I realize I’m crying when he uses his thumbs to catch tears as they roll down my face. “Please, don’t cry. I never want to be the one to cause you tears.”

He leans down and tenderly presses his lips to mine. I open my mouth and he slips his tongue inside to meet mine for a familiar yet new sensual waltz.

We’ve shared countless kisses. They were almost always heated and demanding, but this one is entirely different. It tells me things he can’t or won’t say because it goes against everything he intends for our relationship.

Jack Henry cares for me. If his kisses don’t tell me, his touch does. His caress is so tender. He handles me as if I’m a precious, delicate treasure.

We move onto the bed and his mouth feathers kisses lightly down my chin and throat. His mouth continues traveling lower as he puts his fingers inside one of the cups and finds my nipple. He rubs and rolls it, causing it to stand at attention for his touch before he pulls my bra down and takes it in his mouth.

I love the feel of his tongue against my sensitive nipple and something between a moan and the sound of his name escapes my mouth as I lace my fingers through his hair.

When his mouth leaves my breast, he unfastens the bra clasp and frees me from my lace entrapment. I grasp his shirt over his stomach and push it up because I want to feel his flesh against mine. He grabs it by the neck and pulls it over his head in one swift motion before he lowers his head and takes my other nipple in his mouth.

It doesn’t matter where he makes contact with my body. Each touch sends a wave of sensation directly between my legs, and I grow wet for him.

His mouth glides lower down my belly and then to my hipbones. He kisses each of them and everything in between before he pulls back on the waistband of my panties to bury his nose inside. I hear him inhale deeply. “Mmm, you smell so good.”

Kneeling between my legs, he grabs the waistband of my panties and pulls downward as I raise my hips. He lifts my feet off the bed to free the lace from my ankles and then tosses them to the floor next to his shirt. I sit up to slip my loose bra from my shoulders and add it to the growing pile of clothes.

I’m naked as he kneels between my bent knees beholding my bareness. He puts his palm on my chest between my breasts and slowly glides it down. “You are so perfect. So beautiful.”

He’s being so sweet, but I can’t stop my thoughts from jumping to what he said. He thinks he’s no better than Blake.

The notion invites my ex into my head. I don’t want him there so I put my hand over my eyes, as if that will help block him out.

Jack Henry knows I’ve gone somewhere else and reaches for my hand. “Look at me, Laurelyn. Leave him out of this. Only think of me.” I open my eyes for him. He kisses the inside of my right knee as he looks up. “See me.” He kisses higher inside my thigh. “Be here with me.”

I throw my head back against the pillow and groan because I know what he is about to do.

He flattens his tongue against me and licks straight up my center. “Ahh!” I groan. Nothing feels better than his mouth on me. He licks several more times and I already feel the onset of my orgasm starting. It isn’t going to take long for him to push me over the edge. I bite my bottom lip as my breathing increases and I feel the waves quickly rising to the surface as he maintains the slow, torturous rhythm of his tongue.

“Mmm, I love the way you taste.” His words vibrate against me and then he stiffens his tongue and pushes it in and out of me against my upper wall, hitting that sensitive spot. I lift my head from the bed to see him buried between my legs and the sight makes my orgasm come on fast and furious. I have no control as I pant and fist his hair in my hand, pulling harder than I should. “Ahh, Jack Henry!”

I lift my hips to bring myself closer to his mouth. I feel the shudder of contractions building deep in my womb and I pull his hair. I go stiff and arch my back from the bed as Jack Henry makes me come undone.

When it’s over, I fall back against the pillow to catch my breath and feel the tiny post-orgasmic quivers again. He scales my body and kisses his way up until he hovers above me. I feel the roughness of his jeans against my skin and remember he’s still dressed from the waist down.

I reach for the button on his jeans and give it a jerk before I slide his zipper down. I put my hand inside his boxer briefs to stroke him. “I want you inside me.”

“No more than I want to be inside you.” He rolls off the bed and my eyes never leave his glorious body. I watch as he kicks off his shoes and pushes his jeans and boxer briefs down at the same time, causing his erection to spring free.

He bypasses his usual stop at the nightstand drawer and crawls back onto the bed. He lowers his body between my legs and stares into my eyes. Everything between us is different. Our eyes share a silent conversation our mouths don’t dare interrupt. I understand what he’s asking without words. He wants to be closer. Skin on skin, nothing between us.

I tell myself it isn’t irresponsible to forgo a condom because it’s what we both want. We’re both clean and the risk of getting pregnant is almost zilch since I’m on reliable birth control.

He swallows hard as he gently presses himself against my slick opening and waits for my answer. It’s his way of asking before he enters my body, and I give him permission by pushing my hips against him. He slides inside my slickness and squeezes his eyes shut as he hisses, “Laurelyn, you feel incredible.”

I tighten my walls around him as he moves in and out with methodical slowness. I savor the full sensation of Jack Henry inside me unsheathed for the first time. I watch his beautiful face dancing over me and I’ve never felt closer to anyone in my life. Ever.

He is gentle with me, as if I’m a virgin. The affection I have for him is overwhelming, and hot tears roll down the sides of my face as I own the feelings I have for this man. I love Jack Henry McLachlan.