Page 19 of Burn Me Once

‘You were staring at me all night...’

‘Was not!’

I push up onto my elbows and my hair falls over his chest, tumbling across his tanned skin. I drop my lips to the ridge between his pecs and kiss him slowly, tasting the tang of his sweat and the masculinity of his body.

My insides clench. He is warm; he is hot. I could stay here all day.

The very thought is a dangerous electrical current I must immediately subdue.

I don’t do that. I won’t do that. Sex is fine, but anything more is where things get tricky. I swallow, pretty sure confusion is in my smile as I pull away from him.

‘Anyway, Mr Rock Star, I think this is where our time must end.’ I sigh dramatically, doing my best impersonation of a Shakespearean actress, and stand up.

My clothes are spread like confetti over the carpet. I feel his eyes on me as I move through the room, watching me scoop the garments off the floor.

‘Mind if I grab a quick shower?’

He doesn’t answer straight away. His expression is vague, like he’s not concentrating, or perhaps he hasn’t even heard.


‘Sorry—yeah. Right. Go ahead.’ He nods towards the bathroom.

My body feels like it’s been stripped raw. Every nerve-ending vibrates as I rub myself with a loofah, spreading suds across my skin and rinsing them away. In the past, whenever I had one-night stands, I used to feel the after-shower was almost ceremonial. A wiping away of what I’d done.

I don’t feel that now.

Or, if I do, I feel it with regret.

I don’t want to walk away from him. And that’s a serious problem. I’ve only ever felt that one time in my life and it led to a verified disaster.

Jeremy almost broke me. Almost? I forgot how to function for months after it ended.

Following desire to the point of stupidity was almost the end of me.

I will never make that mistake again.

I flick the taps off and stand in the steamy cubicle for a moment, steadying myself for what comes next.

Goodbyes are never nice, are they?

I brace myself for the inevitable swapping of numbers as I dress. The promise to call. The certainty that neither of us will.

When I step out into the lounge area he’s dressed in a pair of low-slung jeans and nothing else. His chest is a piece of art—and I should know, given what I do!—but it’s his bare feet that I find strangely erotic. There’s something so confident about the way he stands, legs wide, arms crossed—seriously gorgeous arms—his eyes fixed on the bathroom door as though he’s been waiting for me to emerge. He’s like a caged lion, and yet there’s something inherently laid-back about him.

The second I step out heat erupts, like wildfire spreading across a desert. It burns all of me, all the way through. I smile brightly, pretending I’m fine. Pretending hard that I don’t feel it.

‘Sooo...’ I move towards him, reaching for my purse. ‘This has been fun.’

‘Fun...yeah.’ He nods, still with that same sense of distraction on his handsome face.

I lift up on tiptoes and kiss his stubbled cheek, then step back.

Goodbyes are never nice.

I fight an urge to say any of the things that people might say in this situation. I’ll call you... Or Let’s do this again sometime... Or, If you’re ever in town let me know...

‘Listen, Ally...’

He drags a hand through his hair and I catch a hint of his beautiful fragrance and almost groan.

How can I want him again?

No, it’s not that I want him again. I still want him. I want to stay curled up in bed, my body wrapped around his. I want to eat ice cream off him until I can’t eat any more.

Every thought like that is a brick against my side. I’ve been stupid before. I’ve lost my heart before. I’ve lost it in a way that taught me the most important lessons about myself and my life. My heart has been broken and I doubt it will ever fit back together again.

He’s searching for words, searching my face too. Looking for a way to tell me what he needs to say.

‘It’s okay.’ I rush the words out, my smile over-bright. ‘Seriously, Ethan, it’s okay. You don’t need to say anything.’ I reach for his hand and squeeze it. ‘I’m not looking for anything more than last night. It was...perfect. Let’s not do the whole swapping numbers thing, okay?’

Tags: Clare Connelly Billionaire Romance