Epoch (Page 36)

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He shrugs off his shirt. I shrug off mine. And we kiss again, leaving it all on the field. His hands fist my hair as my fingernails dig into his back.

It’s not a race. We’re slow to make a pile of clothes on the floor. There are too many kisses to be had to rush anything. The future holds no promises, so we take our time making another memory.

It’s a good one.

He eases my naked body onto the bed beneath his.

“I know every curve of your body … I know what each curve feels like under my hands.”

I love his hands. In my favorite dreams, they were made to touch me. Only me. Always me.

He takes his leisurely time making sure his lips touch every inch of my flesh. I writhe beneath him, committing this feeling to the deepest parts of my soul. If I take something with me when I die, this time it’s going to be how incredibly revered I feel by this man.

*

Griffin

I’m letting her go and it f*****g hurts. Finders keepers doesn’t apply to humans. But she’s here now and so I’m taking now, and I’ll take every minute of later that she gives to me—only me. Then I will walk away. I’ll let her find what’s missing, but I just can’t be here when she realizes it’s not me.

For now, I’m leaving my touch everywhere. When he touches her, I want her to remember my lips were here first.

I roll her onto her stomach. She arches her back, stretching her neck up. “Griff …” she murmurs as I drop kisses down the length of her spine. Her arms stretch over her head, hands clawing at the sheets. She’s never looked more beautiful, bowed beneath my touch.

If this were our life, I could keep her for eternity. She loves me. Swayze loves me.

But this isn’t our life. This is just a small reward for surviving the hard stuff.

As I tease the curve of her a*s with my teeth. She lifts onto her elbows, glancing at me over her shoulder.

I kiss the teeth marks, looking up at her with a grin. She smiles in spite of the glassy emotions held hostage in her eyes.

“Are you marking me?”

“Yes.” I bite a little lower.

Another bite. And another …

She giggles, squirming until she’s escaped to the top of the bed, back pressed to the headboard.

I’m not sure what hurts more, the grenade exploding in my own chest or knowing that beneath that smile of hers, she’s wrecked and lost. And there’s nothing I can do to make it better. Stretching out my legs toward her, I crook a finger.

She bites her lower lip and shakes her head, hugging her knees to her chest. I nod.

She shakes.

My brows lift slightly. She releases a silent sigh and crawls toward me, straddling both of my outstretched legs.

Palming her a*s, I guide her down onto me. Her eyes flutter as she grabs my biceps.

“Baby …” I whisper over her lips.

She brushes her mouth over mine, slowly rocking her pelvis against mine. I resist the burning urge to flip her onto her back and f**k her into some grand apology—until she begs for my forgiveness—until every memory of Daisy and Nate vanish forever. Until … she chooses a life with me.

“I didn’t get in the wrong line at the grocery store.”

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She stills, moving her hands to my cheeks, so much pain on her face. “I can’t go with you.” More emotions pool in her eyes.

“And I can’t stay.” I cover her hands with mine. “But, Swayz … I didn’t get in the wrong line at the grocery store.”

She blinks out another round of tears. “F**k you, Daisy.” It’s something between a sob and a laugh.

I smile and nod once. “F**k you, Daisy.”

We kiss and it’s all us.

I can’t change what’s on the outside. I can’t save her from another life. So I devour her like I may never eat again, or take another breath. And after a few more seconds of this slow build up, I flip her onto her back and try to f**k some sense into her.

I’m not a hero. I’m human. But still … I want the impossible.

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

“No,” Griffin grumbles in a sleepy voice, tightening his hold on me as I try to slide out from underneath his arm hooked around my waist.

“I have to pee and text my mom. She thinks I’m coming over.” I already know I have a gazillion missed messages from her. I’m surprised she hasn’t driven over here. The fact that I let her track my phone location is probably the only thing keeping her home.

“I’m leaving you. You’re not leaving me.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a little too soon and a lot too raw for those words.

He releases me. “Go. I’m kidding. But come back. I’m not done ruining you.”

For another man—Nate.

I’m fine with being Griffin’s ruination. At least I know he can put me back together. The thing is … he’s leaving.

I slip on Griffin’s discarded tee, grab my phone, and go into the bathroom. Yep. Six missed messages and two missed calls.

Me: SO sorry.

Me: Got distracted.

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Me: Staying here.

Me: Talk to you in the morning.

Mom: Oh? That’s good. Yes?

Me: It’s still heartbreaking. But, I want it.

Like a drug, the withdrawal is going to suck. I hope to God I survive.

Mom: Love you.

After I’m done in the bathroom, I tiptoe to the kitchen to get a drink of water. It’s starting to snow again. I watch it for a few minutes.

The floor behind me creaks.

“More snow,” I say.

Griffin towers behind me. He takes my glass and drinks the rest of my water before setting the glass off to the side on the kitchen table in front of me.

“I like you in my shirt. I always have.” His hand slides around me, under the front hem of the shirt.

My jaw relaxes, releasing tiny erratic breaths between my parted lips. His fingers tease me while his other hand finds my breast, pinching my nipple. I jerk back against him until his c**k nudges my back.

“Bend forward.” His words rasp along my ear. “I’m going to f**k you on our table. Because I can.”

Yeah. He’s ruined me because—Lie on your back, I’m going to gently make love to you—will never do it for me. It will never feed my hunger to be physically and emotionally owned by a man like Griffin.

I bend forward and rest my cheek on the cold wood, gripping the opposite side of the table. A cool shiver shoots along my spine when he slides up the shirt, exposing my a*s. His fingers tease me, f*****g me, until I pulse my pelvis against his hand. The head of his c**k replaces that hand, and he drives into me on one hard thrust. Followed by another. And another …

The table scrapes along the floor a fraction every time his hips slam against my backside.

It’s him.

It’s me.

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It’s us.

Swayze and Griffin—sex on demand.

*

“I want to cry. But I think my tear ducts are broken.” I frown at Griffin when he hands me a cup of coffee.

He returns a sad smile before tipping my chin up with his finger and pressing his lips to mine for an easy kiss. “Good morning.”

“Morning.” Good? I can’t say that.

He’s going to work. He has to know I’m going to work too—at Nate’s house. Yet, he’s showing a s**t ton more confidence than I could muster on my best day.

“How do you do that?”

He fills a water bottle at the sink. “Do what?”

“Last night. This morning. The picture. The kiss. The forgotten birthday. Daisy. The returned engagement ring. We’re unraveling and you keep clipping the thread like it’s no big deal. But what’s going to happen when it’s the last piece of the thread?”

“Then I leave.” He slips on his jacket.

I might find a way to squeeze out a few more tears if he keeps saying stuff like that. Shrugging, I shake my head. “So … like no big deal.”

He pulls a beanie onto his head, eyes narrowed a fraction. “It’s a whole f*****g big deal. But at this point, I can’t control you, your thoughts, or our fate. You’ve made up your mind. You want to pursue a life that’s not mine. And I’ve made up my mind. I don’t want to watch you walk off a cliff knowing I will never be able to catch you. I can’t put you back together if I don’t know where the pieces fit.”

“This hurts,” I murmur.

He nods several times, opening the back door. “It sure as hell does.” The door closes behind him.

CHAPTER THIRTY

“Hey,” I say, void of all confidence.

“Hey,” Nate says with his back to me as he washes a few bottles.

“She still asleep?”

“Yeah.”

I ease up onto the barstool. When he turns, I’m going to feel all sorts of pain and regret. But I can’t hide forever.

“Things go okay with your parents watching her yesterday?”

“Yeah.”

I nod. One hey and two yeahs … good thing things aren’t awkward.

“I see Dr. Albright next week. We’re going to try hypnosis.”

Nate dries his hands and turns.

“Jesus …” I stand, making my way to him. “What happened to your face?” When I reach to brush my thumb across the cut on his fat lip, he pulls back and sidesteps me, grabbing his coffee container.

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