“That Amber chick called me a slut today! And you ran after her! Pleaded for her to stay when you thought I wasn’t there!”
“I don’t want Amber,” he says, his lips pursing and his eyes thinning into slits. “I don’t want anyone else. I only want you.”
“You have a funny way of showing it,” I huff—oh, God, since when did I become a huffer?—turning my back to him and walking toward the hallway. He pins me against the wall again, this time bracing his arms above my head and locking me in. I can’t run. I can’t hide. I have to stay here and see this through. His eyes are burning. My body is heaving. There’s an impending storm between us and we’re both exposed.
“She just had a miscarriage,” he growls into my face, his breath laced with beer and cinnamon gum. “We hooked up a few months ago. The condom broke. She wanted to keep it, and I couldn’t exactly tell her not to. She found out last month, and she is a mess about it. That’s why I was running after her. She just found out about us at the library.”
I swallow a bitter lump of tears. Oh, my God. Poor Amber. Poor, poor Amber. And poor Sage. I’ve been so focused on how I feel, I forgot that there were other people around me.
“Sage.” I cup his cheeks with my palms, my chin quivering.
“I’ve never wanted anyone but you, JoJo. Not truly. Not wholly. Not obsessively.” He steps closer to me, his body flush against mine, his leg between my thighs, his lips on mine as he speaks these words. “You want the truth? Here’s the truth: I asked you to be my fake girlfriend because Mark wanted to make a move on you. And it occurred to me, out of fucking nowhere, that I’d rather die than see you with someone else who holds the potential to give you the things that you need. It occurred to me that I would never be able to be happy for you if you married someone else. It occurred to me that I can’t even think of being with anyone but you, and when I do have a child, I want it to be with you. I love you, JoJo. But you already know that. I’m also in love with you. Crazy about you. Can’t live without you.”
I kiss his lips to shut him up and to give him everything he needs, my fingers running through his hair, his hands on my waist, pulling me close. We’re one entity. Whole and broken. Happy and sad. Lost and so unbelievably found.
“I love you so much,” I breathe, the words pouring from my mouth in a rush. “I’ve always loved you. From that day in the meadow, when the rain knocked so hard on our bodies I thought we were going to go back home with bruises on our skin. I loved you ever since, and I never stopped loving you. Even when I tried really hard. Even when I dated other men.”
He hoists me up, my legs wrapped around his narrow waist, and carries me to his bedroom. Not mine—his. It’s a statement. I very rarely wander into his bedroom, and only after I ask and only when I need to take something specific. He lowers me to the bed, ever so carefully, his mouth on mine. Never leaving mine.
He fumbles with his jeans. I fumble with my mini dress. We kiss. We bite. We mess around like the two teenagers who wanted to so bad but never dared. I’m here. All of me. Every single part of me is in the present, and it’s raw and beautiful and everything I’ve ever dreamed about wrapped in a bow made of memories and sweet childhood moments. We strip down in silence, our eyes never leaving one another. We kick our clothes to the foot of the bed and his groin is on mine and our lips are kissing, biting, and caressing. My breasts pop free from my bra, and he takes one of my nipples into his mouth, closing his warm lips over it and circling the areola with his tongue. I arch my back.
“I love you.” His breath tickles my sensitive nipple, and he works his way down my torso, peppering feathery, wet, hot kisses all over my shivering body. “I love you, I love you, I fucking love you. No matter what happens in my life, you’re the constant thing I can count on. The shelter in the storm, the calm in my chaos.”
He bites my inner thigh, and I roll my head onto his pillow that smells of cinnamon and aftershave and him. His tongue meets my sensitive flesh, licking my arousal, but this time he is not demanding and starving. He is sweet and considerate.
“Jesus, Sage. Jesus.”
I can barely breathe. He is teasing me with his mouth to a point of tears before he slides a finger into me, curling it when he is deep enough to reach my magic spot.
“I love you.” He continues kissing my pussy. “And I love you, too, JoJo,” he says, and I laugh, swatting his head softly. My orgasm washes through me like an oasis. I shudder quietly before his corded, muscled body rises up and his lips meet mine again for a deep kiss.
“Love you. Have I said that lately?” He nuzzles into the crook of my neck, and I’m in heaven, I’m sure of it. I might even murder the person who wakes me up from this dream.
“Not lately.” I kiss his temple. “Better tell me again.”
“I love you, Jolie Louis. The kind of love that burns through the skin.”
Hmm. Is it bad that I want to tattoo this on my forehead?
We kiss some more while my hand trails down the dusty line of hair arrowing from his belly button to his cock. I fist it and move my hand back and forth. I could do this all day without getting bored. Admiring his body. Learning what gives him pleasure. After a few minutes, he raises his head and looks me in the eye.
“Not to sound dramatic, but, baby, I think I’ll die if I don’t fuck you right this minute.”