Chapter 9

Ava’s mind got hooked on the strangest things. Liam’s weight on top of her felt heavier yet more secure than she initially thought possible. She’d never had a man on top of her before, but enjoyed the weight. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she couldn’t help noticing the scratch of his stubble as he kissed her. She wondered at the growing hardness against her thigh…

It was because of all these distractions, her attempts at cataloging and remembering the moment, she was surprised to find herself almost completely naked. As Liam started tugging at her shorts, his mouth on the nape of her neck, Ava stiffened.

“Wait,” she whispered.

Liam leaned onto his elbow, his hair slipping to the side as he peered down. “What’s up?” he asked as he rested his hand on her stomach.

Ava opened her mouth to speak and clapped it shut. The rolled her eyes, unable to meet his as she fought to find the right words. It was like every little thing that was bugging her about that day came flooding in at once. Despite all her questions about his childhood and upbringing, this was the moment she felt the most different. With little warning, a few tears slipped from the corner of her eye.

“Hey,” he whispered with surprise. “What’s going on, darlin’?” He wiped the tear away with his thumb.

Ava’s resolve melted when she saw the genuine concern in his eyes. I can’t fake my way through this, she thought. She squeezed her eyes shut, knowing at the very least she’d have to make one confession. “I’ve never done… I’m a…” Liam chuckled and rolled to the side. Ava’s eyes flew open in a rage. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing! Not that. I thought something serious was wrong,” he replied as he rubbed the side of his face. “Christ, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be laughing. There’s nothing wrong with being a virgin!”

Ava grabbed her discarded shirt and held it across her chest, feeling more vulnerable than ever. “I thought I could pretend but… it just got a little too real,” she sniffed. “I’m sorry.” She sat up and Liam rested a hand on her shoulder.

“You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Did I make you feel like… Ava, really. I don’t care. I don’t expect anything from you.”

“You didn’t!” she quickly insisted. “I didn’t mean… aw, shit. I’ve ruined this completely, haven’t I?” she snickered, shaking her head. “I have a way of doing that.”

Liam leaned back on one hand, his eyes sparkling in the dancing light. “You didn’t ruin anything. You just altered the course a little. It’s no big deal.”

“It is a big deal! I’m in my twenties now and I’ve never… I really want to, though, but I haven’t done… much.” She glanced at him and shook her head again. “I’m being stupid.”

“You aren’t being stupid,” he soothed. The corner of his mouth curled as he tilted his head. “I have an idea for a birthday present I can give you right now, if you want.”

Ava gave him a shy smile and leaned in to kiss him. “What kind of present?”

Liam threaded his fingers through her hair at the back of her head, his lips hot and insistent against hers. He carefully lowered her back to the soft grass and settled into place beside. He brushed a strand of hair away from her brow and smiled. “If you want me to stop, just say.”

Her heart pounding, a lump the size of a peach pit in her throat, Ava could only nod. Liam’s hand worked down her flat stomach to the unbuttoned waist of her shorts, slipping just under the band of her panties. Liam tickled his fingers along the sensitive skin between her hipbones as he studied her reactions. Although she was nervous and utterly overwhelmed with her swinging range of emotions, his touch reignited her desire.

“I’m okay,” she whispered up at him.

He continued to tease her skin before pushing deeper into her shorts. The tips of his fingers traced closer and closer between her legs, yet never delved further. Liam nibbled at the skin on her neck, kissed and nipped her earlobe… yet moved no further until Ava began to relax.

At one pass of the hand, she arched her hips towards his touch, urging him lower. As their eyes met, Liam arched a brow and smiled. Dipping his head, their lips met at the same moment he slid a finger between her thighs. Ava groaned against his mouth, rising higher to meet his hand.

As he worked his magic between her legs, drawing out sensations and a building pressure, he possessed her with his mouth. Their foreheads pressed together as he expertly brought her to the brink faster than she ever thought possible. Their eyes met, lips barely grazing. Her breath came in short bursts as he thrust into her. And then with a gentle sweep across her most sensitive spot, she toppled over the edge, bucking against his hand as wave after wave of pleasure crashed through her.

He held her as she came down, waiting until her breathing returned to normal. Ava opened her eyes to see tiny sparkles of color dancing across the blue sky.

“What about you?” she asked dreamily. “As much as I enjoyed that, I feel a little guilty just taking…”

Liam kissed her softly on the forehead. “Then it’s a good thing I’m such a giver.”


The drive back to the house was filled with a comfortable silence. Apart from needing to shift, Liam held Ava’s hand the entire way back. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t stop smiling. The slick, throbbing sensation between her legs was like a little secret she could share only with him.

As he pulled the car in front of the house, Ava felt a twinge of nerves. Is he going to be weird? How do I say goodbye after something like that?

“So,” he said with a crooked smile as he put the car into park.

“So,” she replied, a growing lump in her throat. “Uh, thanks for coming when I called.”

With one hand resting on the steering wheel, he put his other around the back of her seat. “Any time.”

“And sorry I kinda freaked out… a few times,” she added shyly.

“Didn’t even notice,” he replied with a wink.

Not knowing exactly how to finish a conversation like this, Ava quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door. “I… uh. I hope you don’t get in trouble at your job.”

A shadow swept across his expression briefly. “Don’t worry about it.”

Oh my God, I just need to get out of here. I think I’m going to die with embarrassment. “Thanks again. I guess I’ll see you at the bar,” she said with one leg out of the car.

Liam bit his lower lip and turned the engine off. “Let me walk you to the door at least.”

It was with a rush of excitement and anxiety, Ava turned to him on the front step of the house. Why on Earth am I so nervous around him now? she wondered with frustration. “So, thanks again…”

After a second of hesitation, he cupped the side of her face, wrapped an arm around her waist, and pulled her close. “I’m not real good with stuff like this but… I really like you, Ava. Things are all over the place for me right now, but you… you’re a bright spot in all of it.” She melted into his embrace, succumbing to his kiss.

Just as she did, the front door flew open. “There you are! Where the hell have you been?” Audrey cried.

Ava practically pushed Liam away out of shock. “Damnit, you scared the hell outta…”

Audrey’s eyebrows shot up and in that moment, she looked more like their mother than ever before. “I scared you? I tried to call you, but it wouldn’t go through. You didn’t leave a note. Dee said you called in sick…” Her gaze focused on Liam, expression tightening. She continued speaking directly to Ava. “Who is this?”

Liam thrust out his hand with a broad smile. “Liam Chetworth. Pleased to meet you.”

Audrey tentatively shook it like she suspected he might try to slip the watch off her wrist. “And where did you meet him?” she asked, continuing to act as if he weren’t standing right there.

Ava and Liam exchanged a look before she spoke up. “Again, thank you for taking me out. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

He glanced back and forth between the two sisters, unsure of the dynamic but sensing the obvious tension. “Sure thing. See you tomorrow,” he said as he swiftly kissed her on the cheek. “Miss,” he nodded to Audrey before returning to his car.

Ava’s sister stood in the doorway, arms folded and silent until Liam was a rumble of dust in the distance. She watched him drive away as if she wanted to make sure he wouldn’t turn around and come back.

“What is your problem?” Ava snapped as she pushed past into the house.

“I was worried about you!”

“Well, you don’t have to be. I’m an adult. I have my own money, my own friends. Or am I a prisoner in this house too?”

Audrey shut the door and turned slowly to face her sister. “Really? You think that’s a fair comment?”

Before Ava had a chance to throw another dagger, Dave called in from the kitchen. “Who was that? I didn’t recognize the car.”

Audrey scowled and yelled back, “Some guy. A Liam Setwith, or something.”

Dave and Ava spoke at the same time.

“Chetworth?”

“God, Audrey, you can’t even get his name right.”

Dave looked between the two of them and repeated. “Liam Chetworth? That’s who you were with?” he pointed at Ava.

Suddenly feeling like a teenager cornered by her parents, Ava rounded on him as well. “What the hell does it matter to you if it was?”

She expected him to rise to her temper, to match her level. Instead, he shook his head sadly. “Sweetie, he’s really bad news. Come on, we need to talk.”


Ava stared at the condensation dripping down the glass in front of her. She worried about the droplets on the bottom, unaware and helpless when the heavier drops rolled down to consume them. “I don’t believe any of it,” she whispered.

“Why would Dave lie?” Audrey asked. “It’s not like he has anything to gain from it. We’re just looking out for…”

“I didn’t say he was lying,” Ava snapped. “I said I don’t believe it. How do you know he killed that guy? What you told me is just a bunch of rumors.”

Dave and Audrey shared a look, again giving off a parental air that made Ava’s blood boil. Dave carefully spoke up. “He did die and Liam was the last person to work on his car. Everyone knew those two had been fighting for a long time.”

“You keep saying that, but you don’t even know what they were fighting about. You don’t even know if it was anything someone would kill over.” Ava hated the shrill petulance in her voice.

Dave opened his hands, gesturing that he was willing to acquiesce to that point. “No, you’re right. But everyone in town knew his girlfriend was messing around behind his back…”

“Sarah?” Ava gasped, her gaze meeting his. He merely nodded in response, glancing at Audrey one last time.

Dropping her eyes to the glass once again, Ava wiped all the condensation away, feeling like a small drop of water with a frightening weight hanging over her head.

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