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The blanket dipped lower, tantalizing him with a glimpse of the upper swells of her bum, and he sucked in a breath.

He could well understand the siren’s call, because before he could wrap his mind around it, he was out of bed and striding to her, as if gravity compelled him.

“Do you have room for one more?” he asked, and she peered up at him.

Her eyes were shadowed as she answered, “As long as you don’t mind me not talking.”

“I don’t mind at all,” he said as he threw one leg over the back of the chair, picked her up, and settled her in his lap. “Be as quiet as you like.”

She didn’t answer him. Instead, she leaned against him and he breathed in her flowery scent. Needing to touch her, he began to lightly rub her shoulders. He lowered his head, pressing a kiss to the back of her neck.

“I wanted to leave,” she said suddenly. “I was ready to get my things and leave so I wouldn’t have to face you tomorrow morning.”

Her comment was so unexpected that his hands froze. “What stopped you?”

She turned to him. “Nothing’s stopping me. I can still leave, at any time.”

He blinked. “Why would you?”

She gave him a helpless look.

“Are you embarrassed, Bella?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know.”

“Perhaps you could help me understand,” he said.

She sighed. “I don’t think I can.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Beautiful lass, what will I do with you?” Nibbling on her ear, he whispered, “If you wish to leave, I won’t stop you, but I’d rather you stay with me.”

“Prove it,” she said.

He smiled against her skin. “My pleasure.”

Then he led her inside, the blanket falling to the floor as soon as he lifted her. He cut on the light and placed her gorgeous body in the center of the bed, and then simply looked his fill.

“Your ex was a stupid man,” he said flatly.

She smiled shyly. “He never saw me like this.”

“Then he was a really stupid man.”

Bella laughed, her breasts bouncing. “Oh Liam, you say the sweetest things.”

He put one knee on the bed, and her laughter stopped. “You deserve sweet words. You deserve a man who appreciates a woman like you.”

“And you deserve a woman who appreciates a man like you. I’m sorry she left you, but if she hadn’t… then who would be here with me now, when I needed someone the most?”

Jealousy surged through his body at the thought of Bella with another man. Another man touching her body, seeing her like this, all vulnerable and sexy, lying nude in his bed.

It wasn’t rational, it wasn’t civilized, and it certainly wasn’t like him, but in that moment, he wanted to mark her as his.

The mattress barely moved as he crawled on the bed and crouched over her. “Who would you have asked, Bella?”

“I don’t know,” she said, and then let out a little squeak when he bit the side of her hip. “Liam!”

“That’s the name I wanted to hear.” He trailed a wet path down the center of her stomach. “It’s the only name you’re allowed to say.” Spreading her, he teased her pink flesh with the tip of his tongue.

“Oh God,” she cried.

“Nay, lass. It’s Liam,” he said with a confident grin. “But I can see how you might be confusing the two.”

Her beautiful eyes widened, and then closed when he put his mouth at the very heart of her. He kissed and sucked and stroked until her entire body shook. Until her hands were in his hair and she was mindless, saying things that made no sense to anyone but him.

“More. Liam. Love me like that. I want… yes, there. Do it again. Just like that.”

He crawled up her body, lifted her hips, and thrust deep. Her bare walls surrounded him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the sensible side of him shouted that he was mad, taking her like this.

But then she cried out his name, begged him to never stop, and he quit listening to anything—sensible or not.

*

The next morning they dressed, for lack of a better phrase, in rather awkward, angry silence. What had started out as a promising weekend of hot sex had gone straight to hell with one innocent comment.

Perhaps not so innocent, but bloody hell, what was he supposed to say when she turned on a blatantly conservative cable news channel while they ate breakfast, and left it there? She even agreed with the anchor at one point!

“You know, just because you don’t like something, doesn’t make it wrong for everyone else,” she said, breaking the silence. She smoothed down her dress and began to pull her hair up into a messy bun.

“It’s pure propaganda.”

Bella snorted. “And the other networks aren’t? Please, they all have an agenda.”

Fair enough, he supposed, but still… “You should think for yourself instead of watching that crap.”

“By allowing you to dictate to me what I should watch?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She raised a brow.

“No.” He came to her then, grabbing her by the elbows and pulling her to him. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Look, I’m not trying to be hurtful. It just seems that an educated woman, such as yourself, would be more interested in—”

“I think you should stop while you’re ahead,” she said, walking away. “I don’t need your condescension. My opinions are my own.”

His eyes narrowed. “Don’t tell me you agree with their drivel?”

Bella crossed her arms. “I’m not telling you anything.”

“Of course not. Why should a conservative ever have to explain anything?” He finished buttoning his shirt.

She shook her head. “You don’t know me.”

“That’s for certain.” He did know her, though, in other ways. He knew she was loyal, kind, intelligent, beautiful, and felt like heaven. But that wasn’t enough to overlook the fact that they were opposites in every way. Class, political beliefs, religion, geography… everything.

It wasn’t enough that Bella was the exact opposite of his ex-fiancée, a woman who he’d thought was perfect for him. They’d shared the same beliefs, opinions… nearly everything.

Except views of honesty, apparently, because Verity had cheated on him, and then married that man, with the barest of apologies.

“You. Are. A. Snob,” she pronounced while turning up her nose.

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