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|16| -  "I don't want to talk about it."

It was late in the evening when I arrived home. Coffee had turned into dinner, which had turned into coffee again. Things between Jess and Jack remained tense, but they both participated in the conversations and even exchanged a few words themselves when Louisa and I went to order at the bar.

Their company had kept me temporarily distracted from the anticipation of seeing Nathan, but as I searched for my key in the depths of my bag, the earlier anger rose to the surface again. Then it disappeared as soon as I pushed open the door.

Nathan was sitting at the kitchen table, typing away on his laptop, still in work clothes. His hair was longer, a similar length to how it had been when we first met, suggesting he'd not had it cut recently. The dark blonde locks were unrulier than usual, too, as if he'd been running his hands through them, and a desire to scrape my own fingers through his hair overcame me.

He didn't turn to greet me, and I noticed the headphone wires trailing over his chest. His chest somehow seemed larger than before, leading up to broader shoulders and arms which were now so muscular that I could see his biceps straining against the fabric of his shirt.

Despite our issues, something much more primitive flooded through my own body, as if my head was starting to compartmentalise of its own accord.

When he reached across for his glass of water, he caught sight of me and jumped, tearing the headphones out of his ears.

"Bella, hey. Sorry, I didn't see you there."

"It's okay. I just got here." My mouth was dry, my voice hoarse, and my fingers gripped the handle of my suitcase as if I was scared to let go.

Noticing, Nathan glanced down at the case before standing from his chair and striding over.

"Here, let me grab that."

His fingers brushed mine as he wound them around the handle, and I jolted my hand away as if I'd been shocked. He recoiled, frowning in concern.

"We're not so bad that you can't bear to touch me, are we?"

I liked that he wasn't shying away from the issues, but I didn't miss the irony. No, I want you to touch me more than you've ever touched me before. I just shouldn't feel that way right now.

"No, not at all. I've just had a lot of coffee this afternoon. I'm twitchy."

He didn't look like he believed me, but he didn't push the matter. Instead, he carried the suitcase into the bedroom and left me stationary by the door, goose bumps prickling my skin and heat building as his familiar aftershave intoxicated me.

To occupy myself, I concentrated on removing my coat and kicking off my shoes. Then I sank down into the armchair. The sofa was too risky; if he sat next to me, I knew I wouldn't be able to hold back. We'd had sex on that sofa far too many times before. It was too easy.

"Have you eaten?" Nathan asked, emerging from the bedroom.

"Yeah, we went to Prezzo."

"Oh, nice. How's Jess?"

"Not great. Her and Alex have split up."

Horror crossed his face. "Shit, really?"

I nodded. "I only found out today. She didn't want to say anything while I was still in Italy. Typical Jess. Always putting other people before herself..."

Nathan sat down on the sofa and flicked at his top button to undo it. My eyes trailed downwards to the patch of skin it revealed—such a small section, but still hugely enticing. When I lifted my gaze to meet his again, he was watching me, but his expression had changed. The tender look in his eye had been replaced with an intense, heated stare. It was like he was looking straight into my head and knew what I was thinking, what I was feeling, what I wanted to do.

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