Hate to Lose You

By: Penny Wylder

No matter how surreally perfect this month has been. No matter how easily I could picture folding into a lifestyle here—picking Daisy up after work every day, grocery shopping for dinner while we both flash each other grins as we pass our parking spot under the tree out back, decorating a house together on the weekends, watching scary movies until she hides under the blanket and needs me to hug her all night long (which might be my motive for always choosing scary movies in the first place)…

No matter how fast I’m falling for her, I know this can’t last. Sooner or later, my past will catch up with me. And then I’ll need to move on. No matter how perfect a life it is, I’ll be leaving it behind.

And yet. Here I am.

“Hello? Earth to Bronson.” Daisy waves a hand in front of my face. “Did you have a stroke at the idea of more than a single decorative element in your minimal apartment paradise or something?”

I laugh and roll my eyes. “I was just debating the pink shag. You know, now that you’ve brought it up, I do think it would add a fun pop of color to the room. Maybe we should go look at it again.”

She scowls. I laugh again. Daisy hates pink even more than I do. “I said be serious, Bron! This is your home we’re talking about. How do you want to feel when you walk into it?”

I reach out and wrap my hands around her waist. Tug her toward me. She moves with me, steps right up so her body is flush against mine, and the soft touch of her belly against my hard abs makes my blood run south. “How do I want to feel when I come home? Turned-on, does that count?”

She snorts. “So you want us to find you one of those sexy leg lamps, is that what you’re saying?” She wriggles against me, and I tighten my grip on her waist, sliding one hand down dangerously close to her ass in this public a space.

She bats her eyes at me. I grin at her. “Only if it’s a model of your legs,” I counter. Then, with a quick glance around—the aisle we’re in is deserted—I drop my hand to squeeze a handful of her pert ass, hard. “Your ass, too, would look fantastic as a light fixture.”

She slaps my chest with a groan. But her cheeks are going red, too. I know she’s getting just as turned on as I already am. Yet this time, she twists out of my grasp. “How come you always do that?” she asks.

“Do what, grab your ass? It’s magnetic, Daisy, hardly my fault if I can’t keep my hands off you.”

She snorts and rolls her eyes again. “No, that.” She waves a hand at me. “Deflecting. Every time I try to get you to talk about your place in any serious kind of way, you dodge my questions.”

“Interior decorating just isn’t my thing.” I shrug one shoulder.

“And what exactly is your thing?” She rests one hand on her hip, and cocks it to one side. My eyes drop right to the target zone. I hate that she knows exactly how to use this weapons-grade body of hers.

Well. Hate it and love it in equal measure, actually.

“What are you talking about?” I lift one eyebrow.

“You never tell me about your work. ‘Work from home,’ you always say, but whenever I try to ask more about it you just say—”

“It’s classified,” I reply with a shrug of one shoulder. I try my best to look apologetic.

“Even CIA operatives and FBI agents get to tell their partners hints about what they do, you know. ‘Criminal counter-intelligence for the government,’ or something. You’ve given me absolutely no idea whatsoever.”

“I’ve been told women like a man of mystery.”

“I don’t even know what your plans are.” She flings her hands wide. “What are your dreams, your aspirations, anything?”

“We talked about that Sunday, remember?” I flash my winning grin. The half-smile that always distracts her. “You and I are going to learn how to sail, and then we’re going to sail down to the private island we’ll buy in the Caribbean after we win the MegaMillions—”

“I’m talking about real dreams, Bronson.” She takes a step closer to me. Reaches up, as if she’s going to catch my hands. But before I can grab hers, she lets them drop to her sides again. “I’ve told you everything. How I want to work in marketing, make enough to save up for one of the nicer houses out in the countryside around here—”

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