“I should go. Thanks for letting me cry on your shoulder. It wasn’t my intention when I came over here.”
“We love you, Swayze. You’re family to us, so don’t ever hesitate to come see us.”
I give her one last hug. Just as I open the door, the loud rumble of a Harley draws near sending my heart back into my throat.
“See, he’s already looking for you,” Sherri says as I step outside.
“He doesn’t know I’m here,” I murmur to myself.
When he takes off his helmet, I’m certain Sherri sees he’s surprised to see me too. And the downward turn of his lips proves I’m not a good surprise.
“I’ll be inside if you need me,” she whispers in my ear before retreating to the house.
I want him so bad right now. It’s the strangest feeling. My attraction to him has never waned, but right now I want to devour him. Not being able to have him magnifies my desire for him, so does that tight black T-shirt and his jeans hugging his muscular legs. He looks rough and sexy and so forbidden at this very moment.
“Hey …” My weak voice sounds like the insecure book nerd talking to the captain of the football team for the first time. “Did you get the fruit arrangement?”
“I gave it to my neighbor.”
I flinch, but it doesn’t soften his expression one bit.
“Why are you here?”
“I wanted to apologize to your parents for Friday.”
He narrows his eyes a fraction like I’ve overstepped some line. “Is that so? Did they forgive you?”
“Yes,” I say with zero confidence.
“Well, lucky you.” He brushes past me.
Taking a courageous breath, I turn. “I want you to forgive me.”
He stops, keeping his back to me.
“What if you ignore my birthday and Christmas and … Valentine’s Day? And I don’t say anything because I deserve to not have you acknowledge me on any special occasion. But on every other day we’re still us … together.”
He blows out a long breath. I cross my fingers that it’s a sign of him surrendering.
“What if you find someone else to jerk around?” He continues to walk toward the house, carrying my heart crumpled in his hand.
Just as he opens the door, Sherri greets him with a disapproving look.
“For fuck’s sake.” He shakes his head and storms past me again to his motorcycle. Before I can try to stop him, he peels out.
“Here.” Sherri dangles a keychain in front of me as I watch my world drive off.
“Eventually, he’ll go home.”
I take the keychain.
“One is to his house. The other is to his garage. Don’t take no for an answer. He may be two hundred and thirty pounds of muscle and intimidation, but I know my boy … he won’t hurt you. Get in his face until he surrenders. He wants to … he’s just too stubborn to see it right now.”
I leave my car parked a block away for fear he won’t come home if he sees it in his driveway or across the street.
Two hours later the rumble of his bike pulling into the driveway sets my pulse racing out of control. The hard part is I still don’t know what to say to make this right. When he comes in the side door, I stand up from my spot on the couch.
He doesn’t see me as he shrugs off his sweaty shirt, but then he stops when he catches me out of the corner of his eye.
“The answer was no on Friday. No yesterday. It’s no today. And it will be no tomorrow.”
“It was a birthday. Our whole relationship is over because of a forgotten birthday?” I chase him down the hallway. “Would you just listen to me!”
He turns so fast, I bump into his chest. My eyes widen and and I open my mouth to speak, but … nothing.
“Good talk.” Griffin turns into the bathroom and removes his jeans. “Now get the fuck out.” He turns on the water to the shower.
Sherri’s words run through my head. We’re young and immature at relationships. He won’t hurt me. Don’t take no for an answer. But nothing I say matters. “I love you.” “I’m sorry.” They are meaningless to him right now.
Fine. No more words.
I slip off my sundress. Griffin glances over his naked shoulder just as he slides open the shower curtain. His eyes make a quick assessment of me.
“No,” he says then steps into the shower and closes the curtain.
My fingers unhook my bra, and I slide off my panties. “Yes.” I whip open the shower curtain and step into his tiny shower before shutting it.
He glares down at me, the dim light and water running down his body only make him that much more intimidating. Taking a step forward, he backs me into the wall of the shower, sucking up all the oxygen in this tiny space.
I can’t find a single breath, but I keep my chin tipped up in defiance.
“I’ll fuck you, but it won’t be gentle and it won’t change anything.”
I swallow hard. “It was a birthday. One day.”
“It’s not just my fucking birthday!”
My heart stops. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this.
He won’t hurt me. I keep reminding myself of this very important fact because Griffin is a beast towering over me with every muscle in his body flexed and quivering like he could snap something—possibly me—in half.
“You’ve blown me off all fucking week like the whole goddamn world revolves around you. I got a job promotion. Did you know that? No. Because you haven’t given me the time of day. Friday was just the icing on my fucking birthday cake. So if you want to know what ‘crawled up my butt and died’ … it’s you.”
There are no tears. Where are my tears? He’s throwing verbal punch after punch. The pain is real, but I can’t move. I can’t blink. I can’t even find a single emotion because he’s destroyed me.
“Dry off. Get dressed. And go home. Or I’m going to fuck you and it won’t mean—”
My hand covers his mouth. His jaw clenches and his eyes redden, but he doesn’t push me away.
“It will mean everything,” I say calmly, but with an equal edge to my own voice. “Because what we have is so much more than a missed birthday, a bad week, a good week, a string of misspoken words, a few bad decisions, or the whole goddamn world coming to an end.” With my other hand, I shove his chest, but my brick of a man doesn’t budge. And he doesn’t look pleased that I just tried to shove him.
“So you don’t have to forgive me right now. And you don’t have to be gentle with me. But don’t you ever try to tell me that you inside of me won’t mean something.”
I think I’ve waited my whole life for this girl to come out of my body and speak her mind.
The second I move my hand from his mouth, he grabs my legs and lifts me up. Before I can find a breath, he buries his cock in me while releasing a low growl. He lifts me up again and slams me back down onto him while keeping his gaze affixed to mine.
Again and again … he fucks me while doing nothing else but pinning me to the wall of the shower with his heavy body and piercing gaze. I need his mouth. I need something to make this moment intimate. I need an emotional connection. So I lean in to kiss him, but he pulls back, eyes dark, each thrust unforgiving.
My eyes drift shut. I let him have this, whatever he needs this to be. Loving him means trusting him to love me back in his darkest moments.
“God …” He grunts on a final thrust, warmth spilling into me.
I open my eyes to his neck straining back, eyes pinched shut, fingers digging into my legs as he finds a release that seems to reach beyond the sex.
Blinking the shower water out of his eyes, he drops his chin and looks at me.
Now a million emotions come to the surface. I bite my lips together and will them away. For the first time in days, Griffin’s face softens into something reminiscent of my grocery store guy.
“I need you to love me,” I whisper, baring every ounce of my vulnerability to him. “More than anything.”
He flinches like what just happened has seeped through a crack in his anger and settled into his conscience—his heart. His grip on my legs loosens, but he keeps me pinned with his body.
“I do love you,” he says with raw pain, surrendering to his emotionally strangled words. “More than anything.” His mouth covers mine. It’s gentle at first, then it builds into something demanding as his hand slides between us. My eyes roll back under heavy eyelids as I let him take me to another dimension, one that’s seductive, erotic, beautiful, and heartbreaking … and I don’t want it—I don’t want us—to ever end.
We lie tangled in Griffin’s bedsheets with moonlight filtering in through his blinds. I turn onto my side and trace the lines of his tattoos and perfectly-cut body as he sleeps in his usual position on his stomach with an arm draped possessively over my waist. It’s crazy to think of the big things that couples weather together and the little things that can undermine everything over time. These little things multiply like cancer and ruin even the strongest relationships.
Since we got out of the shower several hours ago, we haven’t said more than a handful of words to each other. There’s still too much pain that words can’t fix yet. Every time I try to say something, Griff silences me with his mouth on mine, his hands possessing my skin, his body claiming me completely. Maybe words can’t fix some things.