Hope is a dangerous thing, though, because the more you hope for something, the more painful it is when it all comes crashing down.

But I don’t think about that. Not now. Not while he’s in my bed and he’s looking at me like I’m the only thing in the world.

“What would you do if you didn’t have football?” I ask. Snuggled in his arms, I play idly with one of his chest hairs.

“I’d take over Chris Pratt’s role in Guardians of the Galaxy.” He grins.

I tug at one of the hairs, making him yelp.

“What’s that for?” His tone is indignant.

“Because you’re not giving me a serious answer.”

He laughs, looking over at me. “Okay, serious answer: football is it. I love the game and the high I get from being on the field. If I lost it…I don’t know. Maybe coach. What about you?”

“I’m the same. It’s writing or nothing for me. Like you said, Walter isn’t the only agent around.”

He nods, playing with a strand of my hair, twisting it around his fingers. “You know, your dad has given me some pretty good advice about the NFL.”


He thinks for a moment, his eyes holding mine. “And I’ve been thinking…if I got you pregnant, I would never leave you.”

He delivers the words softly, and I suck in a sharp breath.

We both lie there and stare up at the ceiling, the dim light from the den, which I never turned off, softly illuminating the room.

It’s an easy silence, the kind where barriers are let down and there’s hope and promise. Ryker takes my hand in his and laces our fingers together.

I prop my head up on my arm. My hand rests on his chest, still amazed that his heart is racing because of me.

“Make love to me, Ryker.”

He freezes, his hand tightening in my hair. He tugs me down until we’re nose to nose. There’s earnestness in his eyes. “I mean, I’m dying to make this official, but are you sure?”

I nod.

His face is undecided, and I pop him on the arm. “What? You came over here for the booty call, remember?”

“This isn’t a booty call,” he says.

“Are you going to ravish me or not, Lord Ryker?”

He bursts out laughing, and before long, we’re both chuckling, but soon his hands are on my skin, brushing against my face as he stares into my eyes. He kisses me languidly and long, his tongue toying with me, teasing me.

“There are condoms in the nightstand,” I tell him as I push down his shorts and take in his cock as it bounces against his abdomen. It is magnificent and better than I ever imagined, long and deliciously hard. I curl my fingers around the mushroom-shaped bulbous head and stroke.

He closes his eyes and moans. “Fuck.”

Emotion and desire guide me as I take him in my mouth and lavish attention on him, my fingers holding him steady. He calls my name, asking me to stop, but his voice is needy, and I don’t. I feel a heady sense of power over him. He’s intoxicating. Or the feeling is. I don’t know because I can’t even define it. I’m a vast vortex of sensation, and he’s the only thing I want to fill me up.

His hands are everywhere, on my breasts, my ass, my hips, my core. Stroking. Caressing. Making me moan. I don’t know where he ends and I begin. I do what he indicates and touch him wherever my fingers decide to go. It’s mind-altering, and when I tell him to, he maneuvers me underneath him.

His hands tremble as he slides the condom onto his shaft. “You okay?” Sweat beads on his forehead as he hovers above me.


There’s a look of hesitation on his face, and for a moment, I think he might jump out of bed and leave.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he says. “Ever.”

“You won’t.”

His body cages me in as he props himself up and gets in position. Guiding his cock, he slides in slowly, pushing with an easy pump. He stops and watches me.

“More,” I say, and he goes in farther. I wince at the bite of pain that vibrates in my center. We’re truly one. Connected.

“Fuck, you feel so good. I want to go slow, but…” His voice is jagged.

I nod because I can’t speak.

He eases out and then back in, his thickness stretching me, and I feel every hard inch as he glides back and forth. I move against him, wanting the friction, wanting him. With his free hand, he tilts my chin up so we’re face to face. He’s panting and his arm quivers from holding himself taut.

I’m bombarded by intense sensations, by a million bolts of fire that are currently coursing through my skin.

Why did I wait so long? I was waiting on him.

Guided by instinct, I lift my leg and crook it around his back while his hips thrust inside me. His tempo speeds up, his chest heaving with exertion. I twitch from the primal pleasure of it and writhe underneath him, pain turned to pleasure as I urge him on with my hands. I lick his nipple and suck, and he tosses his head back, his cock velvet steel as he makes me his.

I reach up and run my tongue up his neck, tasting his sweat. He bites his lip and gives me a searching look that defies explanation and emotion.

I’m lost in heady desire. Him. All him. I stand at the edge of a cliff, tall above a beautiful blue-green ocean, and with one little step I’m diving in headfirst until I shatter upon hitting the warm waters. Pleasure blooms over my skin, taking me deeper.

“Ryker,” I say as I come and my body clenches around him, milking his.

I’ve never been so alive; yet, I’m dying at the same time.

My orgasm sends him into a tailspin. His breathing quickens, his eyelashes fluttering as he strokes inside me, fast and hard, my name a litany on his lips. Cupping my ass in his hands, he lifts me to get deeper. We’re up against the headboard, and it bangs against the wall. His shoulder hits the nightstand and my wine glass and book fall. The sound of our sex, the smell of him in my nose…this is everything.

Drenched in sweat, he looks down at me. “I could stare at you for a hundred years.”

“Ryker,” I whisper as he throws his head back and increases his tempo, his hands adjusting me for deeper friction.

“Red, yes. Fuck yes.” His cock thickens, and I groan as he roars his release, his body clenching and shaking as he strokes inside me.

He collapses on top of me as if he’s just sprinted a thousand yards.

His beautiful, hard body is the best thing I’ve ever felt. I cling to him as we wrap our arms around each other, and for the first time since my mom passed, it feels like everything really does have meaning. A purpose. There really is fate. There really is emotion that transcends sorrow and sadness, those pains merely preparing you to accept the sweetness in life. Love.

“That was better than any chocolate I’ve ever eaten,” I say to him a few minutes later as I lay propped up on his bicep with my leg thrown over his thigh.

He chuckles and looks down at me with a gleam in his gaze. “It’s not always like this.”

I come to attention. “Is it because we have…something?”

“Hmmm.” He plays with a strand of my hair, twisting and twining it around his fingers.

It’s not the answer I want, but I can tell he’s teasing me by the little smirk that plays around his mouth.

I pluck at one of the springy hairs on his chest. Laughing, he shoots up and pins me beneath him. “Woman, if you’re going to pull my beautiful chest hairs out, I’m going to make you pay.”

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