By: Megan Hart

Just across the river. Fifteen minutes, tops, if you drove really slow or got stuck in traffic. The world fell out from under my fuck-me pumps, but Austin was there to catch me. The crowd moved and danced around us, but we stayed still. I looked deep into his blue, blue eyes, made bluer by the strobe lights.

"What the fuck," I said evenly, "did you do that for?"

"New job," he reminded. "Remember?"

I tried to recall if he'd said where McClaron and Sons was, and couldn't. He should've told me, I thought, and hated myself for being irrationally angry. I tugged my arm from his grip. "I have to go check on Kira."

"She's fine. She's with Ethan."

I tried to level him with a glare, but I'd never been able to level Austin. He'd laid me out cold a thousand times with a look, but though I'd practiced and perfected my steely-eyed look of cold disdain, it slid off him like oil. I bit my lower lip and lifted my chin.

"If he's anything like you, I'd better make sure she's okay."

"Paige." Austin's hand snagged my wrist. Pulled me close. "If she's anything like you, she can handle him."

The night it ended between us, we'd fucked up against the wall of our shitty, third-floor apartment on Cumberland Street in Lebanon. The red-blue lights of a cop car outside on the street had painted the ceiling and wall over our heads. He'd torn away my panties, tossed them to the side, used his body to pin mine to the wall while his hands held my ass.

I bore the marks of that last encounter on my back for a few weeks where a nail from a fallen picture had gouged me. I hadn't noticed the pain or the blood while we were going at it. I never had found my panties.

It had ended but wasn't over. The plain truth is, with a few drinks in me there was little chance of my resisting Austin. Not drunk. Not sober, either. Why else had I moved so far away?

"Hell, no," Kira said when I found her downstairs and brought up the subject. She shook her head and looked over my shoulder to where I was sure Austin was watching. "You told me to never, never, never let you fuck him again!"

I made myself stare at her, not look back at him. "I know. But that was before."

"Before what?" Kira's lip curled.

"Before you thought it would be fun to invite him out with us. I haven't talked to him in months. Since before I moved here. But now here he is."

"And looking utterly fuckable." Kira didn't lose the sneer, but her gaze flickered back and forth to my face and over my shoulder. "You know, Paige, I've known him as long as you have. He moved up here, wanted to know where the good places to go were. I told him we were coming here. I didn't know you were going to go home with him. I thought you were over him."

"I am over him!" I looked over my shoulder and caught his gaze, then turned away with hot cheeks and fast-beating heart.


"I'll give you my key." I looked back at Austin, now bent in conversation with Ethan.

"Fuck, no. I'll get Tony to come pick me up!" Kira shook her head and stumbled a little bit.

I reached to steady her and she clutched at my hand. "Will he come for you?"

"He will if I fucking tell him to." Kira straightened, then swiped at her hair.

"I'll wait with you until he comes."

"Don't do me any favors," Kira said, then slung her arm around my shoulder. "Paige. Don't forget what happened."

As if I ever could. "I'll be fine!"

"Don't let your pussy get you into trouble," she continued, warning me off what she'd fallen prey to many times herself. "He made you cry."

"Yeah." I let Austin's gaze catch mine when it turned toward me and didn't look away. "Well, he won't make me cry anymore."

"He'll always make you cry," Kira said. "But go. Whatever. He's got a magic cock. I get it."

Remembering the times she'd left me stranded so she could go home with someone she met in a bar, I didn't feel nearly as bad as she wanted me to. "I'll wait until Tony gets here."

I could do that, at least.

Going to Austin's place was one thing, driving with him another. I wasn't going to get in the car with him after he'd been drinking, for one, and for another, I wasn't going to be stuck at his house without knowing for sure I'd be able to get home.

He grinned when I went over to him, but I fended off his kiss. "I have to wait for Kira to get picked up. I'll meet you there."

Austin pulled me close and nuzzled my neck exactly how he knew I liked it best. "Just come with me."

"No." I pushed him slightly away. Drunker, I'd have given in. More sober, I'm sure I'd have gone home alone. Stuck in this midway point where I wanted to taste him again and knowing lust is never as pretty the morning after, I shook my head. "I'll meet you there. Give me the address."

Maybe things were different, after all.

Austin kissed me again, harder, and this time I let him. He knew just how to do it, where to put his hands and his tongue and how to bump me with his groin to make my breath catch in my throat. My nipples throbbed, poking the silk of my shirt.

"Don't take too long." He stepped back, steady on his feet and not slurring his words. He reached as I turned and at the last moment, captured my wrist with his fingers. I let him tug me closer. "You're not going to bail on me, are you? Like last time?"