I felt a little sad as I retreated to my bedroom after settling the boys for the night. At ten my oldest was starting to protest good night kisses and his little brother would follow suite. They were growing up too fast for me but all I could do was savour every moment.

With an hour to kill until I left for the bus I sat down at the small desk I used and opened the book I’d started earlier that day. A moment later I heard my name and had to fight a smile at the summons. Turned out good night kisses were still required. Back at the desk I reached for my book, at the same time knocking the mouse and waking up the computer screen.

I’d obviously forgotten to shut it down emailing Tyler earlier! Since it was on I could see if he had replied yet. I quickly logged into my email account watching nervously as the new messages loaded. Several alerts from authors I followed, a chance to win a million dollars, an invitation to meet from someone who thought I was ‘a nice guy’. How did I get on that mailing list? Lastly, I sucked in a breath, a new message from Tyler.

I read it, then read it again. Okay, he preferred texts, I could do that, right? What did he mean we could talk about it in a couple of hours? I frowned as I checked the time the message had come in, around 6pm. I looked at the time in the corner of the screen; 8.22pm. I wondered about his next questions, worried about how I’d answer them. I was out of practise, having a conversation seemed like a lost art to me. Something I’d known how to do once but had forgotten.

I glanced at my cell phone where it sat near my book. Maybe I should text him now, let him know I’d received his email? That was the polite thing to do wasn’t it? It took me three attempts and a lot of typing as my fingers shook the whole time.

Thanks for the email, here I am texting as instructed 😛 What favours would you be interested in trading, this is new ground for me! Questions are fine, so long as I get to ask some too and maybe I’ll educate you on music … have you heard of Michael Buble?

I smiled as I sent it off, pleased with my version of teasing and borderline flirting. I wasn’t a Michael Buble fan but I figured if Tyler was into hard rock, he wouldn’t be either. My sense of humour was a bit odd, I hope he liked it. Before I could set it down, the device vibrated in my hand and the new message icon appeared.

Michael who? You are a cruel woman 😛 I think questions and favours should be discussed in person so why don’t you come on out and talk to me?

Come on out and talk? I looked at the time, 8.29pm and I’d told him I could leave at 8.30pm. He could only mean one thing! I quickly closed my email program and shut down the computer then shoved my book into my bag. I took five seconds to look at myself in the mirror, no time to primp but I applied some sheer lip gloss. It only took a moment to pull on my boots and I was ready to go.

I looked in on the boys, happy to see them both asleep, then stopped in the kitchen to get the snacks I took with me to work and pushed them into my bag too. It was habit to let Paul know I was leaving but he wasn’t in his office where he usually was when I left.

I walked through to the front of the house where the master suite and living area were then stopped in my tracks at finding him standing at the window looking out.

“Your ride’s here,” he said without turning around, his voice full of scorn.

I’d long ago decided not to engage him so I just said,  “Thanks. The boys are asleep.” And let myself out of the house. I pulled the door shut, pausing on the stoop as my heart raced then I turned to take in the car sitting at the curb, the same truck he’d been driving the night before.

As I watched he climbed out and circled around to open the door for me, the street lights cast him in shadows as I started towards him.

“Evening Lily.” His voice casual, his mouth kicked into a smile as I stopped beside him and he lifted a hand to me, rubbing the back of his fingers along my jaw line. “I really want to kiss you right now but I don’t think the man standing at the window would appreciate that.”

I looked back at the house, saw the curtain twitch and shrugged. “I don’t care what he thinks,” I said, my voice suddenly husky, my throat tight with arousal.

“Really?” His green eyes locked with mine and I gave a jerky nod, licked my lips nervously. I wanted his kiss so badly, wanted the sensations only he could give me. He growled and his eyes narrowed. “Fuck Lily, don’t look at me like that. I’m hanging on by a thread.”

“Tyler.” I didn’t recognise my own voice, so wanton and needy. I wanted to touch, him, I reached up, my fingers brushing his stubbled cheek and he jerked away, his rejection making me flinch, embarrassed heat rushing through me.

His eyes closed and he shook his head, muttered, “Get in the car Lily.”

“It’s fine,” I said as I took a step away. I wouldn’t inflict myself on him. Why was I getting it all so wrong? What had I done to make him go from wanting to kiss me to not even wanting me to touch him. “The bus will- ” I broke off with  gasp as Tyler lifted me into the seat.

“For fuck’s sake,” he muttered as he leaned over me, fastening the seat belt. I pushed myself as far into the seat as I could so he wouldn’t have to touch me then sat in silence when he shut the door with  a hard thud and stomped around the front.

As his door closed, I opened my mouth to tell him he could just drop me at the bus stop but he didn’t give me the chance. “Not one word,” he snapped as he started the car and pulled away from the curb.

I looked over at his profile, his jaw tense and I bit my lip. I didn’t know why he was angry but I’d lived for too many years with a man who didn’t communicate, who was controlling and overbearing, and I refused to do it again.  wouldn’t be pushed around or told what to do ever again.

I took a breath, did my best to ignore the trembling of my hands and spoke up. “I don’t know what I did to make you so angry but I don’t feel comfortable with you,” I said then had to stop to swallow before I could finish. “Please drop me at the bus stop.”

“No.” He shook his head and clenched his jaw.

“Tyler, I’m not -”

“I’m sorry Lily,” he interrupted, his voice soft but firm. “I’m not angry, I promise. I just need a minute.”

I watched the bus stop go by but knew there was another one in a couple of blocks. “You can have all the minutes you want once you drop me off,” I said. “There’s a stop just ahead.”

He sighed heavily, shot me a quick look before turning his attention back to the road. “Why would I want to drop you off?”

So he was going to make me say it? I’d endured worse humiliations. “You made it obvious you didn’t want me to touch you. Just let me out and we can put this all down to … bad judgement.” I shrugged as if I didn’t care.

The next bus stop flashed by as Tyler gave a harsh laugh. I cringed internally but kept my face neutral. I was an expert at keeping my feelings hidden.

“You really have no idea do you Lily?” He said curiously.

“No I don’t, I’m a clueless idiot, thanks for pointing that out,” I said sarcastically.

“Ah Lily,” he said my name tenderly, as if he really cared. I wouldn’t be fooled, I averted my gaze, stared unseeing out the window. He’d have to stop eventually and I could walk back to the nearest bus stop. I had plenty of time. A couple of minutes later I was proven right as he pulled into a driveway, his driveway I realised, but he didn’t open the garage, just pulled in front of it.

One hand was on the door handle immediately, the other went to release the seatbelt as I said, “Great, thanks for the lift.”

“Lily stop.” His hand covered mine on the seatbelt latch and I jerked away. With a soft click it released and I grabbed the strap to guide it as it wound back.

“I have to go,” I said as I fumbled for the door handle, why wouldn’t it open.

“Lily you’ve got it all wrong. Please baby, stop and talk to me,” his husky voice wrapped around me and I shuddered as his hand brushed my cheek then cupped my chin, turning my face towards him so I met his gaze. His hand then dropping to rest on my knee.

“Tyler I don’t understand?” Was that my desperate voice begging for him to explain.

“I wasn’t angry, I was … ” he shook his head. “Let’s go with desperate.” He read the confusion on my face and shrugged. “Truth is, I wanted your touch too much. You shred my control Lily, if you’d touched me, kissed me? I might have lost it and not given a fuck who was watching.”

“You wanted …” I shook my head, not getting it. He had been angry, I knew it. “You were angry,” I said a little angry myself now. “Don’t lie to me about it.”

“I was,” he agreed instantly and something inside me relaxed, maybe I could trust my instincts after all. “Because of your reaction. Because of why you have that reaction. It kills me that you thought I was rejecting you.” His hand contracted on my leg then slid up from my knee to grip my thigh and his gaze dropped to follow his progress.. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He lifted his head and my breath caught in my throat at the heat in his eyes.

“I want you Lily, I want in here.” I gasped as his hand cupped me between my legs but before I could react he was moving. “I want in here.” He pressed his open hand to my chest, over my heart. “I want in here.” He smiled that half smile as he lifted his hand and tapped my temple. “I want the complete Lily experience.”

I wanted that too, I wanted him to know me and I wanted to know him in the same ways. I only hope he knew what he was asking for. The smile spread across his face and his hand slid to cup my neck as I whispered, “Okay.”

“Okay,” he repeated and I nodded. “Let’s start here.” My eyes drifted closed as his lips brushed mine.

He had the best ideas.