I stare up at the ceiling, having an out-of-body experience.
No, that’s not quite right. I’m definitely in my body. I can feel the soreness between my legs and the lingering strain in my calves from all the toe curling I did earlier. My vocal cords feel the trauma of screaming, so yes, I’m in my body. But I might as well be floating up around Jupiter or Mars. Did I really just have sex with Ryan?
Not just sex, though. Based on the conversations I’ve overheard at the hair salon, sex is usually so-so for the woman. There are a lot of toys involved in the female orgasm. Or so I thought. Ryan didn’t need any of that. Just his tongue, his fingers and…
I’m suddenly craving a sandwich.
Right, I’ve just slept with my best friend. Without a condom. And I think…I think I want to do it again, as soon as humanly possible. Like I’m kind of forcing myself not to roll Ryan on his back and find out if I’m a good cowgirl.
Before I do any of that, though, I should probably have a little talk with myself about his, ahem. Admitted stalking habits. Mainly, why does it turn me on? For someone who likes to keep their own personal space and share very little about themselves, I grow decidedly hot thinking of Ryan watching me when I’m not aware. Or ejaculating in his pants without me knowing, simply from witnessing me do the most mundane things.
His own word choice.
Maybe I like not being given a choice. He’s not going anywhere. He can’t. He’s obsessed with me. And God, with every passing moment, I grow a little obsessed with him, too.
His scent swarms around me now, warm and masculine and musky. His strong arm bands around my waist possessively, his leg hair ticking my calf. Slowly, I turn my head and look him over. The rough angle of his chin, the sexy stubble, the sexuality of his mouth—which, how did I not notice that before now? My gaze skates over his muscular shoulders and sturdy neck. I can’t believe he’s honed his body into a powerhouse…for me.
My nipples stiffen in the cool air, my pulse fluttering in my neck.
I think I need to distance myself just a tad from the god that is my best friend while I’m coming to terms with my decisions. He’s way too distracting.
As carefully as possible, I slide out from beneath his arm and get out of bed, padding soundlessly out of the bedroom. The red dress is still bunched around my waist and I hoist it up now, chuckling to myself over how little it covers. I poke through the takeout bag and find a mini baguette to munch on—I do my best thinking when I eat—and I ponder my situation.
In so many words, I’ve agreed to be Ryan’s…girlfriend.
And possibly a mother, since we didn’t use a condom and he came inside me for at least five straight minutes. This possibility should scare me a lot more than it does, but this is Ryan. Ryan is my rock. Today he was my hero. Not to mention, I’ve always had a secret wish to try and give a child a better youth than the one I had. Granted I assumed it would be through the Big Sister program, but hey, now is the time to adapt.
Take a leap.
Goosebumps travel down the entire length of me just thinking about him. How resourceful he was today, when saving me at the robbery. How he’s proven how well he knows me. How understanding he is about my skittishness and…how commanding he was in bed.
I take a bracing breath and set down the baguette, ready to go back to the bedroom. Earlier, I told Ryan I wanted to be with him, but I said that mostly so he would cave and make love to me. Now my whole heart is invested. I want to try and have something real, something committed, with him.
Excitement bubbles in my chest and I make a quick bee-line to the kitchen drawers, planning on unearthing matches so I can light the candles…
What I find instead makes my breath catch in my throat.
It’s a black velvet box with a diamond ring inside.
Blood rushing in my ears, I drop it on the counter. Oh my God. It’s an engagement ring.
Familiar panic floods me and I back away from the counter, knocking into one of the chairs. I just got used to the idea of being his girlfriend—the idea of trying—and now I find this, the proof that he wants me to be his wife. Now. Now, before I’ve even confirmed I’m any good at being in a romantic relationship. Did he bring the ring with him? Or has it been sitting here since last year or the year before?