“Go ahead, Lia. I’ll get started on the compressor. I don’t know the last time I cleaned this off. It’s covered in grease.” He says it like I would mind watching him get all dirty.

I turn to reach for the step ladder and… Wow. The button-down has joined his jacket, and Beck is so muscular I cannot imagine the hours he must spend to keep that sort of physique. There is a faint scattering of hair across his pecs, and his nipples are rosy against his suntanned skin. My mouth waters, and I am an achy mess with the desire to lick and kiss my way down his body. There is a trail of slightly darker hair beneath his navel, disappearing behind his belt, and without the jacket I can see that he hangs to the left and is definitely not small.

“I thought you artist types were used to seeing shirtless men.” Beck sits down on the creeper board I had been on and tugs at the power plug for the air compressor.

“We are, but most of the male models we get in have a ‘dad bod,’ not umm… well, fashion magazine male model bodies.” I try not to stammer out the words, but I know I’m blushing. I think he’s earned at least two points in our game for this exchange.

To hide my embarrassment, I climb up on the ladder and finish readying the board to connect to the base of the sculpture. I will need to tweak the painting to fit the changed design, but that’s how art goes.

It’s hard to not stare at him. Grease from the compressor mar his hands and streak his forearms. I want him to cover me in it and the sweat on his chest. As if hearing my thoughts, he looks over at me. “Careful up there, Lia.” His eyes burn when they look at me, and I climb down to get my sculpture.

“Maybe you could spot me?” I offer. I bite my lip and widen my eyes, trying to look innocent when I feel anything but.

He is hesitant in getting up, visibly fighting the game we’ve been playing since Tasha went inside. I can’t see him acting like this if he weren’t into me.

I climb up two of steps and brace my knees against the frame while I begin hooking the screws into their slots. He moves in behind me to make sure I can’t fall, but I wonder if I would have been safer without him. Beck’s breath is warm on my shoulder, making it hard to focus with him so close, and I lose my grip on the metal. Leaning forward to catch it, I wobble on the ladder, start to fall, and he’s there to steady me—his sweaty chest slick against my back, lips pressed into my hair, hands outstretched to catch the sculpture while his arms cage me in. The strength of his muscles is almost feral in intensity as he saves both me and my hours of progress on my piece of art.

We stay there, locked together long after I could climb down safely. I relish the feeling of him leaning into me, the hardness…

Like a hard ridge pushing insistently against me.

I look down over my shoulder, trying to peer between our bodies. Yeah, Beck is hard. His hard-on is straining the zipper of his slacks.

Beck is breathing on my neck, lips trailing up and down with each breath in an almost-kiss. “It’s safe now, Lia; you can move.” Despite the words, he does not release me. If anything, he is pushing into me harder. I can imagine the feel of him thrusting into me while holding me down on his huge four-poster bed. Years of dirty fantasies started with him taking me to that princess bed.

I push back into him, just a little, and those maddening lips of his part on my neck. The heat sears me. I don’t know what to do. I know what I want to do, but what I should do is something else.

Not wanting my sculpture to crash, I finish hooking the final latches into place and then turn around on the ladder, sitting down on the top seat of it so that Beck and I are eye to eye.

He licks his lips, and his eyes are on my mouth while I watch his. If he doesn’t make the first real move, I fear I might have to. “Please,” I hear myself whisper.

Our gazes meet, and the corners of his eyes crinkle as he smiles. It’s so fast that I don’t have time to even close my eyes before his lips are on mine. Firm but soft, Beck’s mouth parts before his tongue begs permission. I know we shouldn’t do this… I promised we wouldn’t.

But the feeling. Oh, the feeling. His lips press harder into mine, and there’s the heat of his lips, the slick strokes of his tongue as it dances along mine, the hands sliding down to the hem of my shirt only to climb back up to rest on my waist. I part my legs around him, inviting him to lean against me, and I can’t resist the temptation to run my fingers up and down his back and cling to his shoulders. It’s so much better than any of my dreams. Beck groans against my mouth, and I swear it’s the hottest sound I’ve ever heard. He’s thrusting into me with his slacks and my jeans between us. I wrap one leg around his hip, and I am half hanging from his shoulders to change position so I can get the other leg up too.

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