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I didn’t understand it. How could he elicit such an immediate response from me? Other boys had tried what he was doing, but there was only him. Just Shaw. I was ready to go again, but instead of his mouth and hand, I wanted him there. That hardness pressing against my thigh. I wanted our bodies locked and rocking together.

He thrust a finger inside me, then followed with a second, stretching me, filling me, plunging deep inside me where some hidden, indefinable target existed. It was indescribable. Even better than before, and something told me that every time with him would be like that. Better. More intense than before.

I cried out, grabbing his shoulders as his voice continued to lash me like hot wind. “Do any of them make you feel like this?” His fingers stilled, poised just at the mouth of my entrance, stalling my pleasure, torturing me. “Answer me, Emerson.”

“N-no.” I beat a fist on his shoulder.

“Tell me,” he commanded.

“None of them do this.”

“Do what?” he pushed, just barely moving his fingers inside me.

“Make me . . . come.” And I was so close. Again. That tightly coiled spring in my belly was about to snap.

He smiled slowly. “Good. “ His hand left me then. “Remember that.” He pulled back from me and stood up.

For a moment, I could do nothing but blink, astonished and bewildered. He looked down at me, his sexy mouth curving almost grimly. But there was satisfaction there. He was pleased with himself . . . as if he had just proved something.

Cool air wafted over my exposed skin and it dawned on me that I wasn’t moving. I remained sprawled before him with my skirt bunched up around my hips, my girl parts on display. And I hated him right then.

Mortified, I sat up, shoving my skirt back down. “Get out!” The words launched out of me at missile speed.

He grabbed his shirt from where he’d dropped it on the edge of the bed. He moved with unhurried movements, collecting his jacket where he had discarded it on the chair.

“I never want to see you again.” My voice trembled on the air with barely suppressed emotion, and I hoped he did not mistake the sound of it for fear. That would be humiliating, and he had already humiliated me enough for one night.

He paused at the door. Still bare chested, he turned to look at me, apparently unconcerned about stepping out of my room partially dressed.

I stood up from the bed and turned my back to him, trying to dismiss him from my sight if not from my mind. Crossing my arms, I fixed my gaze on the blinds and waited for the sound of the door shutting behind him.

“Don’t think this is over, Emerson.”

I swung around at these words, my eyes snapping to him, startled by the determination I heard in his voice. He stood with one hand on my doorknob, the other one clutching his crumpled shirt. The line of his shoulders was rigid and tense, and I knew I wasn’t the only one angry. He looked huge in the cramped space of my suite. Even now, looking at the sculpted expanse of his chest made my face flush hotly.

I lifted my chin. “Well, I say this is finished.” Whatever this even was. It was too complicated, too full of emotions and feelings that I’d never felt before. That I never wanted to feel. “We are done.”

“You keep telling yourself that, princess.” He pulled the door wide open. “See you later.”

Then he shut the door, plunging the room into muffled silence . . . leaving me staring after him, wondering what precisely in the hell had just happened.

Chapter 9

THE NEXT MORNING I woke to the smell of coffee. Espresso, to be precise. Wafting deliciously close to my nose. I crept one eyelid open to find Pepper standing in front of me, holding a large-size cup from the Java Hut.

Georgia sat propped in her bed across the way, already cupping her drink in both palms. I barely remembered her coming in the night before. It must have been late though because I had stared into the dark long after Shaw left me.

Georgia smiled at me. She had one of the sweetest smiles. Natural and unaffected. She really was the modern southern woman. Sophisticated but still clinging to a certain gentility and wholesomeness that eluded the rest of the female population of Dartford. I could well imagine her waltzing at all those high school cotillions her mother made her attend. “Pepper brought us coffee.”

“Hmm.” Pushing myself up on one elbow, I accepted the proffered cup. “You’re an angel.”

“Not really.” Pepper settled in the beanbag chair in the corner, plunking her own drink down on the floor, near her feet. With her free hand, she rattled a brown paper bag. “Scones?”

I nodded and she tossed me one, which I managed to catch without crumbs flying all over me.

Pepper continued.“I’m just dying to know what’s going on between you and Shaw.”

Georgia turned interested eyes on me. “Shaw? Who’s Shaw?”

“No one,” I mumbled. The chocolate chip scone was still warm as I bit into it. “Yum. This is delicious.” I chased the flaky goodness with a drink. Heaven.

“Who’s Shaw?” Georgia repeated.

“Shaw is a guy that Reece went to high school with. Just back from the Marines.”

“Oh.” Georgia’s eyebrows, several shades darker than her blond hair, winged high over her expressive eyes.

I wagged my scone at her. “ ‘Oh’ nothing. It’s not like that.”

“Is he hot?” she asked, looking back and forth from me to Pepper.

I squared my shoulders. “What difference—”

“He’s smoking,” Pepper interjected.

I glared at her. “You have a boyfriend.”

“What? I can’t look? It’s hard not to notice something like that. He either is or isn’t. And yeah, he definitely is.”

Georgia nodded, absorbing this as she rose to investigate the bag of scones. She selected a scone and sat back, crossing her legs Indian style. She was still wearing her pajamas with little red Santas even though Christmas was over. She probably grabbed them because they were her warmest pair.

“So this Shaw, Reece’s old high school buddy . . . is hot.”

I nodded once, reluctantly.

“And you left with him last night,” Pepper chimed in, as if I needed reminding. If I inhaled I could still catch a lingering whiff of him on my bed.

“Where’d ya’ll go?” Georgia asked, her soft Alabama accent rolling through me like warm honey.