Burn Me Once - Page 46

‘Hey. Sleeping Beauty’s up.’

He smiles at me at the exact moment the sun beams from behind a cloud and his face glows gold. He places the guitar down as he stands and moves towards me.

He’s wearing his favourite jeans—and now, let’s face it, my favourite jeans—low on his hips. His feet are bare. So is his chest.

And suddenly my breath is lost. My throat is dry.

He wraps his arms around my waist, pulling me to him. ‘How’d you sleep?’

‘I think I passed out.’ I smile up at him. ‘That is one comfy bed.’

‘You should stay over more,’ he says with a grin.

It’s just a throwaway comment, yet prickles of danger flush my spine. I ignore the suggestion.


‘Yeah.’ He nods towards the machine. ‘You don’t like the idea?’

‘Of coffee?’ I wilfully misunderstand. ‘Of course I do. I live for the stuff.’

‘Of staying over.’

I meet his eyes and I know my expression holds a warning. ‘Ethan...’

His phone rings, interrupting whatever the hell I had been going to say.

He shoots me a look that speaks volumes. This isn’t over.

I gnaw at my lip, half watching as he moves across the room and lifts his phone off the coffee table, where he left it the night before. Something crosses his face—an emotion I don’t comprehend—and then he drops the phone again.

‘Dodging someone?’

His eyes meet mine. He’s distracted. ‘No.’

I remember the message he sent the night before. Or whatever it was he did. Was it to a friend? Or another woman? Or Sienna?

Something like alarm bells sound in my mind. I have to silence them. Not care. Because it’s not what we are. And he’s not Jeremy.

‘You were saying?’

I push a pod into thecoffee machine and wait for the light to show that it’s ready to wor.

‘I had fun last night. But I think it’s really important to remember—’

‘That we’re just fucking,’ he interrupts. Tersely.

I am irrationally emotional in the face of his obvious annoyance. ‘Well, yeah. I wasn’t going to put it quite so crudely. I just mean that we should remember what we’re doing here.’

‘Right. The rules.’ He nods.

He is keeping a grip on his temper but I know him better than that. I know he is tense and cross.

‘And what are they again?’

I force a light smile. ‘Fun! No-strings!’

‘Right. And we can’t do that if you stay over with me?’

‘You’re the one who said no sleepovers.’

He laughs—a harsh sound of disbelief—then drags his fingers through his hair. Of all the tools in his arsenal, this and this alone has the power to weaken the last threads of my resolve. He looks impossibly, edibly hot, his chest rippling, his hair spiking, and yet there is such an air of sweet helplessness in the gesture that I ache to go to him and properly explain. To tell him everything.

His eyes lock to mine and it’s almost as though I have.

‘Who hurt you?’

The machine whirls into life, pushing coffee through with its reliable hum. I drop my attention to it, pretending fascination with the dark brown liquid that is running into the bone-china cup. But my chest is moving too fast as each breath struggles for release.


God. Hearing my full name is such a weakness. When he says it I melt.


He thrusts his hands on his hips, staring at me, and I blink my eyes shut.

‘This isn’t a request for state secrets. It’s not that hard.’

I bite down on my lip. ‘Yeah, it is.’

I swallow and force myself to look at him. I see the interest. The speculation. The sympathy.

‘It was serious with you and him?’

My nod is barely a tick. A slow lift of my head. Yet it’s all the confirmation he needs.

‘Yeah. We were... It was.’

‘And it ended badly?’

I nod again.

He moves towards me and runs his thumb over my cheek. ‘What kind of asshole would ever hurt you?’

My heart jumps. My body throbs. I don’t know what to say.

‘I’m not going to hurt you.’

‘God! Don’t do that, please.’ I pull away from him. ‘Don’t be so perfect. We both know you will hurt me, unless I’m very careful. Don’t...don’t make promises you can’t keep.’

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