I left them. She wanted me. She wasn’t begging him to stay. Proclaiming she loved him. Crying over him. I hadn’t lost her yet. It wasn’t too late for us. I would worry about my secrets later. The shit I still had to end. Deal with. I’d handle it. For now, I just needed Lila Kate.

The smell of bacon filled the apartment when I reached the top stair. The large area was a great space. Open, roomy, and Lila Kate had put her touch on it. I smiled at all the reds and yellows. She loved bright colors. Somehow, she made colors that I normally wouldn’t care for attractive.

There were pancakes on the bar along with blueberries and bacon. She had made him breakfast. Jealousy ate at me. The only thing keeping me sane was the fact the sofa bed was out and used. They hadn’t slept together. The idea of them wrapped up together last night had been what sent me to drinking. At one point, I’d drunk enough that I’d passed out. Only slept three hours before I was awake again tortured over the idea of them together.

I picked up a piece of bacon and ate it, then went to see if there was milk in the fridge. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten all night, and the more I thought about Lila Kate cooking all this for Eli, the more I wanted to eat it. Take what he thought was his. It was mine first, dammit.

“I can’t keep doing this with you, Cruz,” Lila Kate said the moment she entered the apartment. She wasn’t crying anymore. She was more intense. Serious. “This is messing with my head. I’m a wreck. That guy you just ran off is a good guy. He’s sweet and kind. He likes me. He doesn’t need women everywhere to fawn over him to make him feel like a man. He is perfect. Completely perfect. So why is it that the moment you show up I forget all that? Why can’t you see that this is ruining me? This back and forth.” Her hands were on her hips, and she was keeping her distance. I wanted her here with me. Eating this food. Smiling at me. Up on this bar with her legs spread while I fucked her. There was a lot I wanted from her. But only one thing was important.

“Do you love me?” I asked her. It was simple. It was what I needed to know.

She sighed and closed her eyes tightly. “Yes. You already know I do.”

That was what I needed to hear. I walked around the bar and straight to her. She opened her eyes when she heard me approach. They were haunted with pain. Pain that I had caused. Pain that she didn’t deserve. I’d make that up to her. I would spend my life doing it.

“Then forgive me. Please. Give me another chance. Because Lila Kate Carter, I’m completely in love with you. I can’t see my life without you in it. All I want when I open my eyes every morning is to see you there beside me. And at night to sleep with you in my arms. Just, let me show you I can be that guy. The one you thought you had found in Eli. I can be him. Just a little more fucking exciting because he is too damn structured and you’d soon be bored as hell.”

“Why now? What changed?” she asked. Still cautious and unsure.

“Because I can’t fight this anymore. I thought I was protecting you from me, but I can be the guy you deserve. I love you so fucking much there will never be a man that loves you more. That much I can guarantee you.”

She smiled. It was small and soft then she shook her head in disbelief. “I’m a fool.”

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

She tilted her head back. Her chin lifted. “Yes. I am. Because as I stand here and argue with you, I know that I am going to forgive you. I’ll do it again too if I have to. Why can’t I shake you, Cruz? Why? What is the insane hold you have on me?”

My heart felt so damn full I wanted to do a fist pump and let out a shout of victory. “I’m pretty damn sweet,” I teased her.

“Okay. fine. Maybe not sweet. But I can be. I’m going to be. I am going to be all you need me to be. I swear it.”

“What happens when you get bored with me?”

I reached for her then. “I’ve known you all my life. Never once have you bored me. Not even when you were so uptight you could barely walk,” I grinned as I said it.

She laughed. That had been what I was trying for. “That’s not exactly smooth talking.”

I held her back and pressed her up against me. “No? I’ll work on that then.”

Bending down I kissed her lips softly. She leaned into me and kissed back. A soft, pleased moan came from her mouth, and I tasted deeper. Held her closer. This was all I was going to need. It made all the other times, all the other girls and women pale. They were forgettable. Lila Kate had claimed my soul.

THE LAST OF the blueberry pancakes I’d made for Eli were finished off by Cruz as he sat beside me at the bar. His left hand was on my thigh while he used his right hand to eat. He’d kept me close. Even after our kiss, he hadn’t wanted to stop touching me. As if I were going to vanish.

As unreal as this all was, I was dealing with guilt over the way Eli had left. I’d tried to talk to him and convince him to stay but he’d been right. He and I never stood a chance as long as Cruz was taking up so much space in my heart.

“This was amazing. I was starving. A night full of regret and Jack Daniels will do that to you.”

I smiled and started to move, but his hand clamped down on my leg. “Don’t go.”

“I was just going to clean up.”

He turned to face me and captured my legs between his thighs. “It will keep. You don’t have to clean it just yet.”

The way he looked at me had me worried this was a dream and I was about to wake up. It was hard to accept. “You just want to sit here and look at each other then?” I asked him enjoying this. In case I did wake up soon and had to be heartbroken over it.

“We could,” he said then his hands went to my pajama top and pulled it over my head. I hadn’t put on a bra this morning since my pajamas were baggy. My breasts were bared to him. His focus on those and nothing else. “Or I could continue to get you naked, carry you over to that sofa bed and sink my dick into that silky hot pussy of yours,” his voice had lowered to his sexy growl.

He chuckled. “Yeah, oh,” he repeated and then I was in his arms and we were headed to the sofa bed.

He nibbled on my ear causing me to squirm in his arms and started whispering exactly what he wanted to do to me. Just like in New Orleans he was focused on me. How he could make me feel. But when he put me down I didn’t lie back. I wasn’t nervous. Not now.

I reached up and began to undo his jeans. He watched me. He didn’t speak or move. I got them undone and pulled them down his hips until they fell to the ground and he stepped out of them. I then jerked his boxer briefs down and his larger than I remembered thick penis of his sprang free.

“You keep looking at my cock like that, and we aren’t gonna have any foreplay,” he warned.

I got on my knees and ran my hands up the front of his thighs. The muscles under my hands tensed. His body went completely still as if frozen. When my right hand wrapped around his hard shaft he groaned. I didn’t give him time to react. My mouth covered the head, and I pulled as much into my mouth with one suck as possible.

“Fuuuuck,” he groaned and his knees buckling. A hand was on my head, and his thighs were trembled. “Lila, Jesus.”

As my mouth covered the smooth skin, my hand began to easily slide up and down it with a pump after each lick and pull of my mouth. Cruz began panting. His breath was uneven and hard. I could hear it, and I savored the way he was completely under my control.