Lying with my head near the ground and the rest of my body up in the air, I looked at my knees, and they seemed so very far away. Gravity wouldn’t be helping me. He positioned my arms behind my ears.

“Okay, now. Lift. Don’t hunch forward. Fist’s width between your chin and your chest. Go ahead. Count them out. Twenty in each set.”

I grunted and strained upward, but only made it a couple inches. I made it another inch before pure, unadulterated pain set in. All I’d done all my life was crunches, so I should’ve been a pro at this. But this kind of contortion was damn near impossible. The human body was not meant to go this way.

I finally managed one before falling back down to the cushion. “One,” I croaked.

Half of one,” he corrected. “Got to get up higher than that.”

“Damn you to hell,” I gasped, going up for the next one. “I’ll make a deal with you.”

“I’m listening.”

I’ll tell you where I’m ticklish.”

He didn’t hesitate. He put out his hand, and we shook on it.

The next nine weren’t so hard. Once I got used to the blood rushing to my head, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought, and I did feel it deep in my abdominals.

“Good,” he said when I was done. He shifted the weight bench so that it was level again, and I sat up, straddling the bench, leaning forward to stretch out my core. No way in hell was I doing another exercise for the rest of the night. I grabbed a towel and began to swab off my forehead as he watched me intently.

I loved it. I loved seeing all his control flagging. I could’ve waited all day like this, just to see him sweat it out, the way he’d made me sweat.

Finally, he said, “And?”

“And what?”

His voice was calm, but there was tension in his features. “Our deal?”

“Oh, that.” I grinned up at him and batted my eyelashes. “Everywhere.”

He narrowed his eyes, disbelieving. “Really?”

“I’m serious. I don’t do so good with tickling.”

“Yeah?” He leaned forward, eyes roving over my body. I knew what that look was. He was going to test out that notion.

And I couldn’t wait.

“So, if I touched you on someplace like… here?” He reached out and touched the top of my hand.

No, it wasn’t ticklish. It was electric. I held in a breath, let it out slow. “Yes.”

His fingers walked lighter than a breeze up my forearm. “Here?”

I could’ve pulled away, told him to stop, but I didn’t want to. I felt heavy, like gravity was pressing me down harder than before. Pressing me toward him. “Yes,” I managed to breathe out, wiggling into his touch.

His fingers skirted my waist, and he gave it a little tweak. I burst out laughing, grabbed for his hand, but he was too quick. He took that wrist first, then the other, rendering me immobile. He dragged me up to standing, and as I stood there, with barely an inch between us, I felt the heat rushing off his body.

He stared down at me, his eyes dark with desire, hands holding me firm.

Then he lowered his mouth onto mine. There was no tentativeness. I got the feeling he never hesitated when he claimed what was his. No, he kissed me savagely from the first. I gasped against his mouth in surprise, but that didn’t stop him.

“You drive me crazy,” he said against my mouth as he walked me backward until a bench hit the back of my legs. “Crazy. Hard as I try, I can’t think of anything but you.”

I moved my hands to his face, pulling his mouth back down on mine. I knew exactly what he meant. I felt the same. A moment of sanity entered my mind and I pushed against his chest. “Are you sure?”

His nostrils flared as he shook his head. “I’m not sure about any of this. Emma.”

It was the first time he’d ever said my name. I leaned into it, loving the way the M sound vibrated on his lips, long and low and sexy.

I wasn’t sure about any of this, either, but at that point, I no longer cared.

Hands on my shoulders, he pressed me down until I sat on the bench before kneeling in front of me. I was surprised when he did nothing more. He just buried his face in my neck, not doing anything but breathing into my sweaty skin.

And I understood. He was still at war with himself. He was trying to find the willpower to leave. A part of him felt like what we were doing was wrong. Because he was a good man. An honorable man. I knew that down in my core.

Across the way, in the workout mirror, I saw him kneeling before me, his strong back muscles rippling under his shirt. I ran my hands under the sweaty material and up his spine to his shoulder blades, just relishing him as he held me. I felt his heat and his breath and was powerless to do anything but be his.

“I want you too, Locke,” I whispered, pressing my lips to his temple. “I don’t think it’s wrong. I think it’s inevitable.”

His only movement was to squeeze me tighter, and I watched his muscles flex in the mirror. “I’ve tried to stay away for you. I may own you, but not like this,” he murmured, not even a whisper, just a breath I felt on my ear. “But dammit, I can’t help it.”

Taking his face in my hands, I pushed until he broke free of me. I gave him a gentle smile before peeling my bra top over my head. I was sweaty, and a part of me wanted to rush to the shower before anything went further. But the other part of me knew this was exactly how our love making should be. Sweaty. Raw. Real.

“I want this,” I told him as I tossed the top to the side. “I want you. Ever since that night at my apartment, you’ve been all I can think about.”

His eyes darkened as they roved down my body, and he licked his lips. He ran a finger down my side, and it flirted with the edge of my gym shorts. “Emma, I need to taste you. Now. All I can think about is tasting you. Take these off.”

I let out a shaky breath. I looked down at my gym shorts and slipped them off, kicking them and my shoes into a pile beside my workout bra, leaving me naked while he was completely clothed. His eyes raked over my body, and I started to tremble. I was so hot, an unbearable need coiling in my belly.

There could be no mistaking it. It was desire, and only Locke Cage could quench it.

He reached out, sliding his fingers down my belly, which clenched at his touch. He positioned me in front of the weight bench and gently nudged me down. “Lie back,” he instructed. “Spread your legs.”

I did, anticipation causing me to tremble as he settled between my thighs. Our eyes met over the length of my body. When he hesitated, I whispered, “Please.” The word had barely formed and disappeared before his tongue, his amazing hot tongue, flicked over my clit. “Oh!” I gasped.

I lifted my head to watch in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. There, I saw his muscular back straining, his arms wrapped around my legs, pulling me closer to him. It was the most sensual moment of my life, watching his head bobbing as he ate me, moving in a steady rhythm, like he couldn’t get enough. Like I was his very last meal.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he breathed into my folds. “Damn, you’re sweet.”

I blushed at first at his words, but then all shame fell away. He liked this. I tossed my head back as he lapped away at my clit, unrelenting. I stifled a moan that wanted to be a scream because, god, I’d never felt anything like what he was doing to me.

I threw back my head. I writhed on the bench, arching and bucking in time to his tongue’s lapping. I coiled my fingers in his thick hair and pushed his face into me harder. And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, he slid a finger, then two into my depths.

And holy shit, I went insane. I screamed and bit down hard on my hand. “No!” I mumbled hoarsely. “Oh, god, no! No more!”

“You want me to stop?” he breathed into my folds, and I saw the effort it took him to pull away.

“No. Please, no.”

He grinned and slowly eased another finger into me, making me shudder uncontrollably. He slid them in and out in time to my thrusts against him as his mouth did wonderful things to my clit. I felt myself being pushed to the edge, to the point of no return, where resistance was impossible. Stifling what was inside me was impossible. I keened, arching and bucking against his face in a whirlwind.

“Oh God, Locke, please…” I found myself begging. Please, what? I didn’t even know what I wanted from him. Just more of this.

Suddenly, I was exploding. Screaming and sobbing and falling to pieces, with his fingers buried deep inside me. He carried me over to oblivion, holding tight to me as I spasmed and trembled uncontrollably.

Then he climbed up my shuddering body, the stubble around his mouth glistening. I blushed, hard and hot.

“Oh my god,” I mumbled. “Fuck.”

“Emma,” he said with a grin, and he kissed me again. “I’ve never tasted anything as sweet as you.”


Guilt surged through me, followed quickly by shame.

What would my brother think if he knew what I was doing?

What if this was my stupid mistake?

Locke felt amazing. He was hot, and irresistible, and… clearly a good lover. But entangling with my boss was so stupid. At best, it could cause all sorts of sticky feelings, resentment, awkwardness.

At worst, it could bring this whole thing down.

He lifted me off the bench to kiss him again, and I knew what came next. I looked at my naked body in the mirror and was so ashamed.

I pushed him away and leapt to my feet, panic seizing me. “You know…” I backed away, not even bothering to pick up my discarded clothes. “I think I don’t feel so well. I’d better…”

He reached for me, and every part of me wanted to step back into his arms. But I couldn’t. We couldn’t. I had to go.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered and fled to the locker room…

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