Those lips skated along the side of my throat. “Why what?”

I was having trouble forming thoughts. I’d never been touched like this before, and it was barely a touch, but he had my senses spinning. “Why is this going down?”

“Because I want to.” His thumb glided again.

That wasn’t an answer. “But why?”

“I’ve already told you.” He pressed his lips against my pulse, causing me to gasp, and then he lifted his head, resting his weight on the arm next to my side. He stared down at me, his look intense. “It’s the same reason behind why I’m taking you out to dinner tomorrow night.”

My eyes were locked on his and my heart was pounding like it was stuck in a steel drum. That damn thumb of his was on the move again, evoking another wave of tingles.

“I like you, Calla,” he said in a voice barely above a whisper.

I changed up my next question. “But how?”

Jax blinked.

The one word change sounded pathetic even to my own ears, but I seriously didn’t get it. Half of my face was good. Half wasn’t. He hadn’t even seen the rest of me, and he was the kind of guy you wrote home about to your mom, your dad, and every single person you know. And I wasn’t sure if he’d known me long enough to even judge what kind of personality I had or—God, I couldn’t believe I was even going to think this—if I was rocking some inner beauty or not.

“What?” he said, eyes narrowing.

A different kind of heat crept into my cheeks. “I’m a realist, okay? I have been for a long time. I need to be, and you liking me—wanting to take me out on a date and do—”

“Really fun and interesting things to you,” he supplied.

I flushed. “Yeah, that.”

“Naughty things that are going to make you feel so good,” Jax continued, and his words and the way he spoke them turned me on like I’d never been before. “That’s what I want to do to you.”

“Okay,” I breathed. “I get that.”

One side of his lips kicked up. “Good.”

“But it doesn’t make sense,” I pushed on as I fisted handfuls of the blanket. “You’re hot and—”

“Well, thank you.”

I ignored that and tried desperately to ignore how his hand was almost entirely cupping my left breast. I didn’t want to think about that, because it made me think that if I weren’t covered up, he wouldn’t be doing what he was doing now. I drew in a deep breath. “I’m not hot. I’m not—”

My words ended because he dipped his head and his lips brushed mine. “We’ve had this conversation before,” he said, moving his mouth over mine. “And I’ve told you I wouldn’t kiss a girl I didn’t find attractive.”

“But you said that wasn’t a real kiss.”

“It wasn’t. This is.”

And then Jax kissed me, like really kissed me. His lips pressed against mine, moving as if he was getting himself familiar with the layout of them. My fingers unclenched from the blanket and I placed them on his chest, just below his throat, to push him off. His skin was hot and hard and rough. It felt different, but before I could really investigate that, he caught my lower lip between his teeth and nipped. I gasped at the unexpected bite and the rush of sensations erupting. He took advantage of that and deepened the kiss, slipping inside me, and I was no longer thinking about pushing him off.

The kiss . . . it was wet and deep and it wasn’t good or nice. It was great and everything the romance books claimed kisses were. Jax tasted me. There were no other words to describe that kind of kiss. Not when he slanted his head and touched his tongue to mine. Not when he flicked his tongue along the roof of my mouth, dragging up a throaty moan from deep within me.

Jax pulled back to say, “I like that sound. Fuck. I love that sound.”

My eyes stayed closed as my lips tingled. “I . . . I didn’t know you could be kissed like that.”

“Hell,” he groaned.

He kissed me again, and it was just as great as the one before, but this . . . this kiss turned into something more. The hand that had almost been cupping my breast was now seriously cupping my breast, and my body moved on its own. My back arched, and I made that sound again, and he seemed to really like it again, because there was a rich, decadent growl that rumbled through him. Then his fingers moved on my breast, and that damn, skilled thumb of his found the tip of my breast with unnerving accuracy. My head thrust back into the pillow, and his mouth followed me, nipping and kissing as his thumb smoothed over the hardened peak.

His lower body shifted under the covers, settling over mine. Using his thigh, he eased my legs apart and slipped in-between them. I gasped into his mouth as a sharp dart of pleasure pounded through me, centering into one spot.

My brain closed down. I wasn’t thinking about anything, and I did it. I kissed him back. I slid one hand off his upper chest, around to the nape of his neck. My fingers tangled in his hair. I chased after him, wanting to taste him, and I did. He let me take as much as he took, and he let me learn the layout of his lips and mouth. My h*ps moved on their own accord, pressing against his thigh out of primal instinct.

“God, you’re sweet.” He shifted slightly, lifting himself to give enough room to do a slow slide of his hand down my stomach. “You know what I want? I want to see you get sweeter.”

Sweeter? I was breathing heavy, panting really. My lips felt swollen; so did my br**sts. The tension between my legs left me swimming.

“Have you come before?” he asked as his hand reached the hem of my shirt, which was twisted around my hips.

My eyes popped open. What was he doing? I couldn’t let him get his hand under the top. Panic bit into the pleasure as I reached down with my other hand and grabbed his wrist.

His eyes were open, and they were the color of dark chocolate. They made me shiver and want whatever naughty things he was talking about. “Have you come before?” he asked again.

Heat bled into my face and I stuttered out an answer. “Y-Yes. Kinda.”

“Kinda?” He tugged on his arm, and with him being so much stronger than me, I couldn’t stop him. His fingers were below the hem, but not under it. “Meaning no one has ever made you come? No one but yourself?”

Oh my God, I could not believe he was asking me this—that this conversation was even happening. My heart was pounding too fast and I ached; my body literally ached.

His lashes lowered until his gaze turned hooded. “Yeah, I’m going to be the first to give you one.”

Holy hot shivers, he did not just say that. “Jax—”

An instant later, his mouth was on mine again, and he got his hand farther down, way below the hem of my shirt. The back of his knuckles brushed the inside of my thigh, and my back almost came off the bed. His hand was moving up, the slight touch against my inner thigh shocking me. I tried to close my legs, but all I ended up doing was squeezing his legs with mine.

“I’m going to touch you,” he said against my mouth, and my stomach coiled tight. Other parts of my body coiled tight, and I wondered if it was possible for a guy to make you come with just words. “That’s all I’m going to do, okay?”

That’s all? Before I could question that, he was kissing me again, and the back of his hand brushed over me—the center of me. This time my back did come off the bed, and he made a deep sound of approval. My fingers tightened in his hair and my other hand clenched his wrist. Then the tips of his fingers skated across my panties, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

“Calla, babe . . .” He kissed the corner of my lips. “Let me touch you.”

I couldn’t. There was no way. Letting him touch me was dumb.

“Let me,” he said, and his voice was like silk over my skin.

My heart stuttered, and my hand around his wrist loosened and then slipped up his forearm, to his flexed bicep.

I was so dumb.

“That’s my girl.”

My girl? Parts of me trilled at the sound of that, and then my blood really was singing, because his fingers had made a couple more passes, an idle circle over my panties that got closer and closer until I moved my hips, and he was touching the bundle of nerves, pressing down with two fingers. Rolling. Pressing. Rolling.

“Oh God,” I gasped against his mouth.

I felt his lips curve into a smile, and the kiss turned wilder as my h*ps moved against his hand. “That’s it,” he urged, working something like magic with his fingers. “Let me see you get sweeter.”

My head thrust back and his mouth skated over my cheek as I cried out. I might’ve said his name. I wasn’t sure. I was too focused on how the coil deep in the center of me unleashed, whipping out through my system in tight, intense shocks.

I could feel him watching me as the waves of pleasure eased off and my neck straightened. Part of me felt like I should be embarrassed. This was the first time I’d experienced anything like this with someone. As the pleasant haze of release turned my muscles to goo, I didn’t know what to do other than just lie there. I did let go of his hair and my hand slipped to his neck.

“Sweeter than I imagined,” he murmured, kissing the side of my neck. Then he rolled off, easing onto his side, and his hand slowly slid out from between my legs, stopping on my pelvis. “You still alive?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t feel my legs.”

He chuckled. “Just think. That’s really nothing compared to what it’ll be like when I’m in you.”

My eyes popped open and I was staring at the ceiling. His words shocked me, and then I thought about the fact that I had most definitely gotten off, but he hadn’t, and I looked toward him, about to point that out in what would probably be the most awkward thing ever, but all I could do was stare at him.

Jax was reclining on his side, resting his head in his palm. The cover was down by his h*ps and his bottoms were hanging low, showing off those sexy as hell indents on either side of his h*ps and the tightly rolled muscles of his abs. Yeah, he was rocking a six-pack, and yeah, as I slowly dragged my eyes to his pecs, I might’ve drooled a little. Or a lot. My mouth was definitely hanging open, but for different reasons.

His body was chiseled and cut and just wow, but his skin . . . it was another story. There were marks, dozens and dozens of them, all across his chest and over his abs, and I understood now why I’d thought his skin had felt rough.

Sitting up, I glanced at his face—at his lazy, half smile and raised brows—and then back to his body. The marks were like craters in some areas, where pieces of flesh had either been removed or sunken in. Other marks were puckered, healed over.

Without thinking, I reached out to him, and his free hand shot out like lightning, snatching my arm around the wrist. I swallowed hard as I lifted my lashes. “What happened?” I heard myself ask and then I swore under my breath, dipping my chin. Hair slipped over my shoulder, falling between us. “I’m sorry. That’s a damn rude question. I should know.”

“It’s okay.” He brought my hand forward, and the tips of my fingers brushed a scar. “Roadside bomb,” he reminded me. “Shrapnel sucks ass.”

Oh my . . .

I knew he hadn’t been telling everything last night. I lifted my gaze. “So you got Reece out of there, but you had shrapnel in you?”

“Yeah,” he said like it wasn’t a big deal.

But it had to be, because so many of those marks were over his heart and a lot of other vital places. Some were deep. They had to have hurt and bled a lot. And he managed to get Reece out of there? God, he wasn’t just brave. He was crazy brave. Our gazes locked, and I don’t know what made my mouth move. “It was glass exploding that cut my face.”

Jax didn’t respond as he slid his hand down, pressing his fingers over mine, against his skin.

“It . . . it was a backdraft,” I said. “There was a fire and pressure built up in the room . . .” My gaze broke free from his, shifting to his body, to the connect-the-dot map of scars. I’d never told anyone this. Ever. “When I opened the door, oxygen poured in or something like that and the window exploded.”

“You’re lucky.” He rose into a sitting position and his knees knocked mine. He lowered his head and we were face-to-face. “You could’ve lost an eye.”

Or a nipple, but I wasn’t sharing that. “You were lucky, too.”

“Damn straight.”

Neither of us spoke for a long moment, and then he was up and off the bed in like a nanosecond. “Let’s get breakfast. Maybe IHOP today,” he announced while I stared at him. “Then we’ll go looking for your mom. Plan?”

I blinked once, and then twice. “Okay.”

That lopsided grin appeared. “You got to get off the bed.”

Yeah, he made a good point, but . . .

“Wait.” I hobbled off the bed, feeling my cheeks heat as the words rolled right off the tip of my tongue. “What about you?”

He’d stopped at the foot of the bed, head cocked to the side, bottoms hanging so low I could really see that happy trail of his. “What about me?”

“You know . . . I, well, I came and you . . .”

“Didn’t?” The grin was spreading.

“Yeah. That.”

He tipped his head back and laughed.

My lips slipped down at the corners. “What’s so funny?”

“You are. You’re funny. You’re cute.” He came forward and he was right in front of me. “And you’re sweet as hell when you’re coming.”

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