Crushed Page 65

“Sure,” I say. I set the bottles on the counter, then move toward her as I shrug into my coat.

She bounces on her toes twice, her eyes all glittery. “I’ve lost two sizes. Two.” She holds up two fingers in a V sign.


She nods happily.

“Well. Good for you.”

Her smile slips a little and she looks at me. “You don’t sound all that happy for me. You’re the one that started me on this.”

“Yeah, but not to get you down to a certain size.” My voice sounds rougher than I mean it to, and she crosses her arms across her chest defensively.

“I’m not being unhealthy about it. I’m eating right, and exercising the recommended amount, and—”

“Hey, hey,” I say, moving toward her, feeling a little panicked. “I know, Chloe. And I am happy for you. I’m sure you look great underneath that dreadful tarp you’re wearing.”

She takes a little breath. “Why do I sense a but coming?”

“No but.” I smile. “Just … don’t change, ’K?”

She rolls her eyes, and I move closer. “I’m serious. Stay just the way you are. Don’t change for anyone.”

What I’m really saying is don’t change for Devon Patterson, and when she looks away, I know she knows what I mean.

I should stop there. I’ve already said too much. But then my hand lifts, and I’m touching her hair. Her wild, beautiful hair. “That other night at the bar, when you had this all flat and boring …”

“Um, you mean shiny and straight,” she says, her voice testy.

“I hated it.” My voice is hoarse. “I like it like this.”

Her eyes search my face, and there’s so much confusion in them. I know the feeling. I’m confused, too.

And somewhere from the vicinity of my chest, the truth sneaks up on me. I know what I really mean is I like you like this. I like you so much more than I should.

“Okay,” she says, her voice not quite a whisper, not exactly steady, either. “I look crappy with my hair straightened. Got it.”

“Good,” I say softly.

I should let go of her hair. I really should let go of her hair. But instead, my hand moves in the wrong direction, moving closer to her scalp until my hand is cupping her head.

I don’t know if I pull or if she leans, but now we’re chest to chest. Her breath is hot and fast against my chest, and I’m not certain my own breath is all that steady.

She tilts her head up.

Don’t do this, Michael.

But I do it anyway.

My head tilts down.

My mouth finds hers.

And I kiss Chloe.

Chapter 28


Michael’s mouth is perfect.

Why does it have to be perfect?

We just finally got back on track. This kiss will ruin everything all over again.

But, oh, what a way to ruin it.

The kiss is tentative at first. Not like the fake-pretend one. Not like the accidental one on the Fourth of July.

This kiss might be a mistake, but it’s an on-purpose mistake.

My eyes flutter closed as his mouth sips at mine in soft, open-mouth caresses. And when his tongue swipes my bottom lip, I open. I let him in.

His hand is still tangled in my hair and the other moves to my hip, his fingers digging in, while my own hands wind around his back and do some grasping of their own.

He moves his head, deepening the kiss, and I press closer, my tongue sliding against his in blatant invitation.


My hands slide up, under the neck of his leather jacket—which is too damn hot for summer, but also damn sexy—and I try to push it off his shoulders. He untangles from me long enough to lose the coat, and then he’s on me again, his mouth harder this time as he slams me back against the wall.

“Yes,” I gasp, tilting my head back and giving him access to my neck. “Yes.”

His mouth moves down my throat, his hands sliding up under the hem of my shirt to palm my back before sliding back down over my hips, butt, as he lifts me.

I am not a small girl, but he makes me feel tiny as he pins me to the wall, lifting my legs until they’re around his waist, his erection hard against my stomach as his mouth reclaims mine.

I hold his head, reveling that for this moment—this one perfect moment—Michael St. Claire is mine.

When we break to breathe, he rests his forehead against mine, his brown eyes locking on mine.

“Please don’t stop,” I whisper. Beg.

He kisses my nose. My cheeks. My mouth. “Not even if I wanted to.”

Then he spins me around, my arms latched on to his neck as he moves in a few steps to that chronically unmade bed. When we’re beside it, he lets me slide down his body, until my feet hit the ground, his hands still resting on my waist.

Feeling brave, I lift my hands over his head.

Slowly, his eyes on mine, he reaches for the hem of my shirt before tugging it slowly upward. And then it’s up and off, and on the floor, and I’m standing in only my bra.

Only then do his eyes drift downward, and the way they darken to smoke makes my nipples pucker beneath my polka-dot demi bra.

His eyes drift back up to mine. “Better even than my fantasies.”

My mouth goes dry. “You had fantasies about this?”

He bends his knees so we’re eye level, then grabs my lower lip with his teeth and nips before he growls. “You have no fucking idea.”

Then his hands are on me, caressing me through the fabric of my bra before sliding around and undoing the clasp before I even know what’s happening.

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