I stare up at her as she points the gun at me while she speaks.

“Could you please aim the gun elsewhere?” I mutter.

My mother sighs in irritation and lowers her arm. Matt pushes himself up off the floor when he sees it’s safe to do so, reaches down, and pulls me up next to him. “What exactly is this stakeout you speak of?”

Brushing myself off, I stare at Matt’s ass as he turns away from me, bends over, and picks up my bag that fell to the ground during my dive to safety.

He really has a great ass.

My eyes flick away guiltily as he turns around and smirks at me.

“I found out where Vinnie DeMarco lives. I’m going to park down the street and see if Melanie shows up.”

Matt stares at me in shock. “Wait, you’ve still been working on this even after everything that happened?”

I shrug. “Well, yeah. It’s not fair, what she’s doing to you. I couldn’t just let that go.”

He has a really good poker face right now and doesn’t give away anything that he’s thinking. I hope this goes a little way toward proving to him that he can trust me.

“I’m coming with you.”

It’s not even a question. He just tells me what he’s going to do. With my sense of independence since I kicked Andy’s ass to the curb, I don’t take too kindly to people telling me what to do. Matt leans in close to me and brushes a lock of hair off of my cheek. “If that’s okay with you.”

Son of a bitch.

A gun with an arm attached to it suddenly shoves its way between our bodies. “Save room for the Holy Ghost. Let’s get a move on. I need to get some food in my stomach so I can take my arthritis medication.”

My mom pushes her way between the two of us and walks out into the sunshine.

I grudgingly follow behind her, leading the way for Matt to follow. I close and lock the door behind us and slide my hand into his as we walk down the front steps toward the parking lot, where my mother is already tapping her foot next to the passenger-side door.

I can’t help being a little embarrassed. This whole thing with Matt didn’t exactly start off under great circumstances, and now I’m dragging him out for an afternoon with my insane mother. Even if I did still believe in fairy tales and happily ever after, I’d have to light that romantic notion on fire at this point. I’m a little shocked he didn’t crash through the front door like a cartoon character as soon as she pulled her gun from her bag.

“If this is too weird for you, you don’t have to come with us,” I tell him, stopping far enough away from my car so my mother doesn’t hear us.

“I’m not going to lie—this is all a little crazy right now. I like you. A lot. And that scares the shit out of me because I don’t know if I can trust you. You’re going out on a limb to help me and I don’t know if it’s because you have feelings for me or you just feel guilty.”

When I open my mouth to tell him it has absolutely nothing to do with guilt and everything to do with how I feel about him, he holds a hand up to stop me.

“Don’t. Just . . . not yet. I’m not trying to be mean or ungrateful for what you’re doing. I just need time for my brain to process everything,” he admits.

I put on my big-girl panties and nod at him, not letting his words cut a hole in my heart. I know what he’s going through. I know what it’s like to lose your trust in someone and struggle to find it again. I just never thought I would be the one someone didn’t trust. At least he still thinks about kissing me, so there’s that.

“Well, a stakeout in my VW Bug with my seventy-year-old, gun-toting, arthritic mother sounds like a great way for you to start processing things, doesn’t it?” I ask dryly.

“As long as you don’t leave me alone with Margaret and her gun, I think this will be a good start.” Matt smiles at me as I hit the button on my key chain to unlock the doors to my car.


Am I the first person ever to stare at you blankly when you told me your name? You must have thought I was an idiot.”

Leaning my head back against the seat, I stare over at Matt. He mirrors my pose and I scoot my body a little closer to him.

“I told you, I’m not offended, believe me. I was serious when I said I liked it that you didn’t know who I was. It was nice being able to talk to someone who didn’t know anything about me,” I admit to him.

Matt slides over to the edge of his seat as well until there are only a few inches and a gearshift separating us. “I really can’t thank you enough that you’re doing this for me. Are your friends going to hate you when they find out what happened?”

The concern in his voice melts my heart. He’s about to lose the company his father worked hard for all his life, his ex is dating a mobster who might fit us for cement shoes if he finds us trailing him, and he’s worried about my well-being.

Where did this guy come from?

“Lorelei already knows, sort of. She hasn’t told Kennedy yet, and that’s a little concerning. Kennedy is the one we need to worry about. She carries a gun,” I tell him with a smile. “But seriously, once we get this all figured out and I can explain to her what happened, she’s going to understand. I know it.”

Matt leans across the gearshift, meeting me in the middle until I can feel his breath on my face. “But this is the Mob we’re dealing with. I don’t want anything to happen to you because of me.”

I’ve never wanted to kiss someone so badly in my entire life. I still remember how soft his lips were and how he tasted. I remember the feel of his tongue sliding against mine and how tightly his arms wrapped around my body, holding me close to him. Memories aren’t doing it for me right now, though. I need the real thing.

Staring into his gorgeous eyes, I start to close the distance between us, the sound of my heartbeat thumping in my ears with excitement.

“How long are we going to just sit here? My bursitis is acting up.”

With a sigh, I pull away from Matt and glare at my mother as she opens the rear door and gets back in from stretching her legs. I guess that wasn’t my heart I heard pounding a few moments ago. It was her stomping her foot against the ground trying to get some feeling back in her legs.

“I didn’t ask you to come with us. You could have stayed at my place,” I remind her.

“I thought this stakeout thing would be a little more exciting.”

Turning away from her, I give Matt an apologetic look and he smiles back at me. Even with my mother complaining in the backseat, I still can’t stop thinking about kissing him again. Or imagining him naked. Is it wrong that my mother is two feet away and I’m wondering what it would feel like to run my hands all over his naked body? Matt’s eyes darken as he stares back at me, almost like he knows what I’m thinking.

“So that’s what a shameful walk looks like. I’ve always wondered.”

Breaking from my lustful thoughts, I look back at my mother and see her staring out her window. Whipping my head around, I see Melanie coming down the front steps of Vinnie DeMarco’s home. She’s carrying a pair of heels in her hand, she’s got mascara smudged under her eyes, and her hair looks like a rat’s nest.

“It’s ‘walk of shame,’ Mom,” I mutter as all three of us stare silently at Melanie while she stands at the end of the driveway, looking up and down the street.

A few minutes later, a taxi pulls up and she hops into the backseat. Matt and I duck down at the same time as the taxi slowly drives past my car.

“The coast is clear,” my mother informs us.

As I sit up I look over at Matt to see how he’s doing. “Are you okay?”

He rights himself in his seat and stares straight out the front window to the end of Vinnie’s driveway, which Melanie just vacated.

Shit. Why in the hell do I do this to myself? I shouldn’t be lusting after someone who’s still hung up on his ex.

He just witnessed her leaving another man’s home. I mean, he had a feeling she was seeing someone else, but now he pretty much has proof since she just left the guy’s house with her hair looking like it spent plenty of hours on another man’s pillow.

“Matt?” I whisper his name and he finally blinks out of his daze and looks over at me. When he sees the worry on my face, he smiles reassuringly at me.

“It’s just weird. I mean, I’ve known her since college. At one time she was my best friend. I knew this was happening, but it’s just . . . I don’t know. Hard to see it with my own eyes.”

I swallow roughly and try not to let it bother me that he’s hurt over that lying skank.

I remove my hand from its death grip on the steering wheel. I slide my fingers through his and give his hand a gentle squeeze.

“I didn’t even get to use my gun.” Mom sniffs irritably from the backseat, and just like that, I stop feeling sorry for myself. “Can we get some food now? I need to take my pills.”

After stopping at a diner on our way home, my mom hops out of my car as soon as I pull into my parking spot, telling me to keep her posted and that if I need her help, to give her a call.

Matt and I stand silently next to my car, and watch her pull out of the parking lot and drive away.

“Well, that was informative,” Matt says with a laugh.

“Sorry about all of those childhood stories she bored you with. I swear I don’t make up dances to Madonna songs anymore and force my mother and her friends to watch me perform them over dinner.”

Matt moves in front of me and brushes a strand of hair out of my eyes with his fingertips.

“I don’t know; I think I’d kind of like to see you shaking your thing to ‘Like a Virgin,’” he laughs.

I smack him playfully in the chest, leaving my hand to rest over his heart. When I feel the muscles of his pecs under my hands, my brain immediately goes right into lusty territory, and I wonder again what he looks like naked. And how soon I can get a glimpse of said nakedness.

We stare silently at each other for several minutes. The butterflies in my stomach are threatening to escape if he doesn’t do something soon. Something like kiss the ever-living hell out of me.

I know I should back away. I can tell he’s trying to forget about what he saw earlier and there’s an internal war going on inside of him right now. Before I can move away from him, he shakes his head and curses.

“Fuck it.”

He grabs my face in his hands and pulls me to him. As soon as our lips touch, I know I’m never going to pass up a chance to kiss this man. Matt doesn’t waste any time deepening the kiss and I moan into his mouth when his tongue skims against mine. Bringing my arms up to his shoulders, I pull him closer. He leans his body against mine, pressing me against the side of my car.

This man knows how to kiss. His lips are soft, yet firm, and his tongue does delicious things to me as it swirls though my mouth. Desire pools in my stomach and my hips instinctively shift against him. I want to feel him everywhere. I want his hands on my naked body and I want him inside me. I’ve never craved anyone this much, not even Andy. I was attracted to him, and sex with him was always good, but I never felt like I would die if I didn’t have him.

Matt’s hands drop from my face and slide around my hips to cup my ass, pulling me harder against him. I can feel the evidence of his need for me and it just makes everything sweeter. Every slide of his tongue, every press of his lips, every whisper of air he breathes into me is so delectable that I never want it to end.

He gently sucks my tongue into his mouth and thrusts his hips between my legs. I can feel his erection sliding against me and my need for him climbs to new heights. I can’t stop myself from pushing back against him, the desire I feel taking over where common sense left off. We’re dry humping each other against the side of my car in broad daylight, and his kiss made me completely forget that just an hour ago, he was saddened by the sight of seeing his ex leaving another man’s house.

A car honks in the distance, and Matt pulls his mouth away from mine. “I really, really need to leave,” he tells me softly, pressing his forehead against mine.

“Oh, okay.” I can’t keep the dejection out of my voice.

I really don’t understand why he can’t just bang me on the hood of the car.

Oh, that’s right, because I’m better than this and I need him to want me for me and not just as a distraction.

“I don’t want to go, I swear. But if I don’t leave right now, I’m going to take you upstairs, lock the door, and refuse to come out until we’re both naked, sweaty, and exhausted.”

I’m sorry, what’s the problem again?

I nod my head like I completely understand what he’s talking about. Why can’t he just forget about Melanie already?

“I know as soon as I walk away from you I’m going to regret saying this, but I just think we need to take this slow. I’ve already got one fucked-up relationship under my belt. I want things to be different this time.”

I can’t fault him for his honesty. I need to prove to him that he can trust me, and I suppose slow and truthful is better than hurried and naked. For now.

“It’s okay, I get it. But just know, when we finally are naked and sweaty, I’ll make sure you won’t have anything on your mind except for what I’m doing to you,” I tell him with a wink.

He groans, and by the look on his face, I’m pretty sure he’s second-guessing his noble efforts. I laugh and kiss him quickly on the lips and then move back before I take him against his will on the sidewalk. While fun, I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate the show.

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