Measure For Measure by E.M. Denning

“Holy shit. I did it.” I sank to my knees next to Ryker.

He stretched and put his hands behind his head. “I’m a pretty good teacher.”

I put my hands on his chest, leaned in and pressed my lips to his. It was only going to be a quick kiss, a thank you, but it quickly deepened when he slid his tongue along my lower lip. I opened for him and let his tongue slide in and caress mine. My fingers gathered fistfuls of his shirt. He pushed himself up with one arm and hauled me closer with the other.

He pulled away so fast my head almost spun.

“We can’t do this,” he proclaimed as he shot to his feet and headed for the cabin.

“What? Why?” I followed him.

He spun around to face me. Anger danced in his eyes, and my heart stopped beating for a moment when he spoke. “I’m supposed to be protecting you. Not fucking you.”

“Can’t you do both?” I forced a smile.

“This isn’t funny, Millie. This is your life we’re talking about. If I’ve got my head all wrapped up in you, wondering what this is or isn’t, I’m not going to be able to protect you. I need to focus. I can’t protect you if I’m spending all my time wondering if you’re going to stick around when all this is over.”

“So, to keep me safe, you’re pushing me away?” I crossed my arms in front of myself. “Makes sense.” I turned to walk away, but Ryker reached for me. He grabbed my arm and pulled me into him. He held me for a moment, as if he wasn’t sure what to do with me now that he had me.

“I need my head in the game.” His lips brushed past my ear when he spoke. Then he let go of me and vanished into the cabin. The door slammed shut behind him.
My heart felt like it had whiplash. With all that had gone on in the past week, it’d been nice to connect with Ryker again. It felt normal, and I so desperately needed something normal, something to keep me grounded and remind me that I still had so much to lose.

I walked to the edge of the dock and slipped out of my shoes. I dangled my feet in the water for a while and stared out at the lake. It was a beautiful place. The sun sparkled off the top of the water. The green trees popped against the cobalt sky. It was a warm, perfect, windless day.

It was too still, too calm.

I turned my head when the sound of a phone ringing shattered the silence.

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