“Would you go back to whatever it was you were doing before you picked a fight with me? I’m going to take a shower.”

“Not until we finish talking.”

“But we’re not talking. We’re fighting, and I’m really not sure what we’re fighting about,” I grumbled as I opened the door to his room. I tried to close it in his face, but he stopped it and followed me right in. I couldn’t very well kick him out. It was his room.

“We’re trying to have a conversation about you distracting my employees and trying to sow the seeds of love,” he blustered.

“Sow the seeds of love?” I laughed. “Where did you get that from?”

I looked at him hard. Was he blushing?

“Poor choice of words. Why don’t you just admit that you’re the worst kind of person to be giving advice about romance?”

It was time to put an end to this. Dropping my toiletries on the dresser, I whirled around and poked him in his hard chest. “First of all, I’m not giving advice. I’m helping two of your employees sort through their problems, and if you think that those problems aren’t affecting their work, then you’re blind. Secondly, how dare you judge the way I’ve lived my life! You left eight years ago, and you don’t get to talk to me about how I’ve spent it! What do you care anyway? Are you just angry because you don’t have any kind of power over me anymore?!”

“Power? I never wanted power over you, Jillian!”

“Right, so your attempt at seducing me a week ago wasn’t about power? Trying to make me feel insecure?”

His jaw dropped open, and he stared at me. “Power? You think that’s the only reason I want you? Jillian, we might have had a lot of problems, but manipulation was never one of them. How could you even think that?”

I didn’t think that. Not at the beginning, but by the end of our marriage, we were barely speaking, and I just knew that he hated me. That he blamed me. What better way to get back at me than to prove that I would always want him?

“I shouldn’t have said that,” I apologized softly. “I’m sorry.”

He pushed his hat back from his forehead and scratched at his scalp, his face redder than I’d ever seen it. “Jillian, I kiss you because I want to kiss you. Because I enjoy kissing you. Very much,” he murmured as he stepped a little closer to me. “Because I’ve missed kissing you.”

God knows that I’ve missed kissing him.

The atmosphere was shifting toward a very dangerous direction, and gravity felt heavier and more consuming the longer I was quiet. “Okay.” My voice shook just a little bit.

“I touch you because I want to touch you. Because I enjoy touching you. Very much.” He kept moving toward me. “Because—”

“Because you missed touching me?” I finished hesitantly. I should have stepped away from him. Stopped him. All I had to do was say no, and he would leave me alone. I just needed to say it.

“Do you know what else I want to do? What else I enjoyed doing? Very much?” His eyes darkened as his hands circled my waist. My hem lifted, and his calloused thumb caressed my bare skin.

Shivering, I lifted my face toward him. “What’s that?”

“Kiss me, and I’ll show you.”

It was an invitation. A challenge. For him or for me, I didn’t even know, and I didn’t care.

Was it really such a terrible idea to enjoy each other physically while we played at being man and wife? Maybe it would help with our act. Maybe it would help put the past in the past.

Screw it. I was just justifying.

And I didn’t care.

Wrapping my arms around his neck, I lifted up on my toes, knocked off his hat, and pressed my lips to his.

“Finally,” he moaned as he picked me up. His mouth devoured mine as he kicked the bedroom door closed with his foot and walked me over to the bed. We bounced as we fell, and I wasted no time. Grabbing at his t-shirt, I pulled it over his head and reveled in the warm muscles that rippled under my touch. God, he’d always had an amazing body, and his time on the ranch had only improved it.

Desire licked at my skin as his lips moved down my throat and over my chest. Arching my back, I ran my hands through his hair as he slid my tank top up and over my bra. Before I finished getting the top over my head, he’d already undone my bra and was tugging it over my arms.

“Some things haven’t changed,” I gasped as the cool air touched my nipples. He chuckled as he caressed and pinched at them.

“I’m hoping that if I get you naked fast enough, you won’t disappear on me,” Brendan admitted as he slid his tongue down my abdomen to my jeans.

“I’m not going anywhere as long as you promise to fuck me hard and fast,” I moaned as I lifted my hips. What the hell was wrong with me? I hadn’t talked like that in a long time, but I was crazed. I needed him inside of me more than I needed to breathe.

He unsnapped my jeans, and as he tugged them over my hips, he dug his fingers into my skin. “That won’t be a problem. God, I’ve missed this, Jillian. The way you moved under me. The way you moaned.” Pulling the jeans off, he spread my legs and stared at me with a dangerous glint in his eye. “The way you tasted.”

“Please. Please,” I whispered as I squirmed under his examination.

“Simple white cotton. I didn’t think I’d ever live to see the day you’d wear something like that, and yet it’s strangely hot,” he muttered as he tugged my panties down my legs.

Hell, I’d wear cotton every day if it turned him on. Leaning back over me, he kissed me long and deep. “I’ve dreamed of this every night that you’ve been here, Jillian. Fantasies of having you in this bed. Memories.” As he slid his finger over my lips, I quickly took it in my mouth and wet it with my tongue.

Groaning, he pulled back and stroked his wet finger between my legs. The closer he got to my most sensitive part, the crazier I felt.

“Like the time you took me on a midnight picnic and fucked me in the middle of the woods,” I gasped as I tried to wiggle my hips so he was touching me in the right place. His finger danced away, and I groaned in frustration.

“More like that vacation we took to Vegas right after graduation.” He grinned wickedly, and I knew just the memory that he was recalling. We were on the balcony of our hotel room, and he’d slipped his hands down my skirt and cupped me between my legs and…

Suddenly, his lips were on me, and I knew nothing else but the pleasure of his tongue. With a cry, I surrendered to the magic of his talents. He teased and probed and then he attacked until I could barely breathe. I was wound up so tight that I nearly lifted right off the bed when the orgasm exploded inside me. I didn’t even realize how loud I was being until he quickly slid up my body and pressed his mouth to mine.

I could still taste me on his lips, and all it did was stroke the dying embers inside me. Wrapping my legs around him, I rubbed myself against the hardness pressing inside his jeans. The rough fabric against my wetness was driving me insane.

More. I needed more. I needed him.

“Naked. Now,” I moaned as I tried to push at his jeans. He immediately rolled off me and stood. As he unsnapped his jeans, I pushed myself up to my knees and scooted to the edge of the bed to help. Licking his chest, I unzipped him, pushed the pants down, and circled my fists around his pulsing cock.

God, I’d missed this.

“Keep doing that, and it’ll be over before it begins,” he growled as he pushed me back down on the bed and climbed over me.

Just like so many other times before, he slid inside me without a thought. I waited for the fear to hit. The worry that the pill wouldn’t be enough, that I’d conceive and fail once again, but there was only him inside me, and I pushed the thoughts away. He stretched and filled me, bringing me that type of pleasure that I’d long since forgotten.

He stilled, froze, his head falling until his forehead pressed against mine. “Shit.”

“What’s wrong?”

He lifted his head until he could look into my eyes. “Condom. I forgot. I thought it was like before.”

It was like before, so much so I wondered if this was a dream, but reality refused to go away.

“I’m on the pill. I…” I swallowed hard. “I haven’t missed a single one since…”

He pressed his lips to mine, the kiss so gentle tears pricked at my eyes.

“I’m clean, Jillian. I’m not quite the manwhore I used to be, and I’m always safe. I’ve never been bare with anyone but you.”

I should have stopped this. For more than one reason, I knew. But I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to be the old Jillian who followed her heart, who took risks and loved full-on.

Holding his face in my hands, I kissed him this time, lifting my hips so that he angled deeper into my body. He’d always been the perfect fit for me, and even now, when I was so unused to another man, it was nothing but bliss.

The inhibitions were down, and I was freer than I’d ever been before. He gave me everything that he promised, hard and fast. I couldn’t even take a breath without a sound of pleasure escaping, and once again, he muffled me with his lips and tongue.

Time slowed, and I lost myself around him. He drove me higher and higher until I snapped with a lustful cry. When I scored my nails down his back, he lost control and drove into me until he found his own wild release.

When it was over, I was too tired to be ashamed. Too tired for regret. The sun was just starting to set, and I curled up around him as he slumped over next to me.

“Dinner,” I whispered.

“My sister has a date tonight, so I told Janice not to fix us anything. If you’re hungry, I can go down and grab something.”

“No, I’m okay,” I murmured. I lifted my head and stared at the closed door. “I should go.”

“You don’t look like you’re going anywhere.” He pulled me tighter against him. “And I’m not nearly done with you for tonight. Stay with me, Jillian. Just for tonight.”

Just for tonight.

Sated and tired, I agreed. When I started to lay back down, he grabbed me and pulled me over top of him. As I rested my head against his chest, I relaxed just enough to feel a fleeting nostalgia and the love that we used to share.

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