I’d tasted every inch of her. But if she needed space, for now I could give that to her. Even if it went against everything in me. Without making eye contact, Staci climbed under the comforter and turned to her side, facing away from me. If she was intentionally trying to push my buttons, it was working. But then her whisper cut through the silence. "Hold me?" I didn't need her to ask twice. Slipping under the comforter next to her, I drew Staci's small body into mine, wrapping an arm around her. The close proximity—her dressed in just my jersey and panties—would have usually had a direct line to my dick, but I was too busy trying to stop myself from trembling. Twenty-six years old and reduced to a sack of nerves by a girl with a sharp tongue, and a heap of baggage I had yet to discover. "Sleep. I've got you," I whispered into her hair while only being able to think one thing. Does she have me as well?
~ Staci ~ My eyes fluttered open and I became aware of the huge, solid body cloaking mine. Kade . A smile graced my lips at how understanding he had been last night. After my pretty shitty attitude at the bar, it was more than I deserved. But after taking an unexpected call from Mikey before Livy and Ethan picked us up, I was slowly drowning in a black hole and only one person was keeping me afloat. Kade. First Joel, then Dad, and now Mikey. It was as if I’d been transported back nine years. When I’d finally placed the hesitant voice on the end of the line, Mikey refused to tell me how he got my number. I didn't give him a chance to explain himself because I wanted nothing to do with him. For the second time in my life, he was ruining everything. And I wanted him to stay where he belonged—in my past. But something didn’t add up. Why now? After all this time. It couldn’t be a coincidence that Joel had called and mentioned his name, and then not even days later, Mikey called me. None of it made sense, but it hurt too much to think about. I just wanted to forget. To continue burying my head in the sand and pretending like everything was fine. That I was fine. “You okay in there?” Kade’s husky voice wrapped itself around me like a blanket. I still didn’t want to acknowledge this thing between us, but somewhere between the night of the wedding and now, he was becoming my person. The person I ran to when things got crazy—and it scared the shit out of me. There was no future for us. The girl damaged by her past; the guy who wanted to be friends with benefits. It was a disaster waiting to happen. But I couldn’t find it in me to run. Not today. “Just thinking.” It wasn’t a total lie. “I don’t suppose you’ll let me into that head of yours? I think I earned it.” Letting out a gasp, I rolled in Kade’s arms and faced him. “Earned it, huh? And exactly how do you figure that, Ford?” His lips curled up into a smile, and he winked. “I let you in, didn’t I? I could’ve walked right by.” Batting his arm off me, I sighed dramatically. “Kade Ford, my knight in shining armor.” My laughter filled the room, but Kade wasn’t laughing along with me. He was too busy watching me. Eyes as blue as the ocean looking right at me, into my soul. I stopped laughing. Silence enveloped us with only the sound of our hearts beating. After a few seconds had passed, the tension was suffocating. “Why are you looking at me like that? Like you’re either about to go Hannibal Lecter on me or kneel down at my feet and pray?” Something flashed in his eyes and he coughed. “Just admiring the view.” He winked again before rolling out of the bed and padding out of the room.
~ Kade ~ I had to get out of there. Things were too intense, and I had no fucking idea what to do with all of the feelings rushing through me. I’d known things were changing between us last night—probably even before that. Staci fit perfectly against me; her petite figure curled into my body as if