I’m wet, so wet, almost from the moment I realized the knock on the door had to be his.

His mouth takes mine, and he’s so familiar, and I’m so relieved, that my eyes smart with emotion.

His hands move up my thighs until his thumbs press into me.

I gasp against his mouth.

The circular motion makes me tingle all over. I clutch his neck, my legs giving out.

He releases me to swing me up into his arms and carry me to the narrow bed. One hand returns to where he was, his gaze on my face as he works me.

It’s different here, cushioned and secure, than in the sand and unknown night. I close my eyes, an arm thrown over my forehead.

His fingers pull at me, drawing out the need. Lightning bolts of pleasure dart up my body.

Then he spreads my knees wider and his warm mouth closes over that well-worked part of me. His hair tickles my exposed belly, and I look down.

My white dress is bunched at my waist. I can only see the top of his head. I reach down to thread my fingers through his hair.

He sucks hard, and I cry out. Then I clap my hand over my mouth. I don’t know who my neighbors are, but I definitely can’t be shouting the boss’s name.

Rhett slides fingers in to increase the intensity. I hold on to his hair with one hand and the sheets with the other — so much better than sand — and begin that climb. My muscles clench. I stare up at the fancy ceiling. I didn’t expect to be seeing them like this.

Then all those thoughts are blown out by the rhythmic pulsing down below.

I try to be aware of what I’m saying, how loud I might be. But the bed tilts, like the ship is capsizing. I hang on for dear life as my body thrums with the waves inside me, making everything slide off kilter.

I’m still sideways as Rhett kisses his way up my belly, moving the dress out of his way as he goes. I realize it’s only me going sideways. My body. My world. The ship is fine.

Only as he lifts me to tug the dress over my head do I start to feel like the world has righted itself.

I sink onto the sheets, looking up at him.

“Beds are better,” he says, and he’s so like himself from the beach, so different from that strident knock, that I have to laugh.

“They are.” I draw him down to me, his cotton clothes against my bare body. I want to hold on to this moment, hold on to him.

We’re going to be all right.

After a moment, his presses his lips against my cheek and starts working his way down again. “Now I get the less gritty version,” he says, then closes his mouth on a breast.

I arch to him, happy and sated and ready for more all at the same time.

He breaks away a moment to get rid of his shirt.

I touch everything I got to know in the island. The indention in the center of his chest. The lines between the muscles of his abs.

His swim trunks are loose enough to contain what’s down there, but I swiftly untie them and push the shorts down.

There he is.

I hold on to him, hot and hard. I was so worried, but here we are, back where we were. It was never the time or the place.

It had been misunderstanding that kept us apart.

And now nothing does.

I draw him down and into me.

He fills my body and I gasp, enjoying the smooth feel of our skin without the humidity and sand.

“We’re so clean!” I have to say.

Rhett chuckles in my ear, and I swear I will never tire of that sound.

He moves inside me with a leisurely pace that we didn’t experience in the previous two days.

His gaze meets mine and the connection locks. I find myself paying tight attention to his face, to each tiny detail of his expression.

His eyes soften as he braces himself over me on his elbows.

We take our time, moving together, and I wrap my legs around his waist.

“Bailey,” he says, and it’s a whisper, reverent, like a prayer.

“Rhett.” I match him, my voice catching.

We’re safe now. No wondering when the boat will come, what we will eat, keeping the fire going.

It shows in how we relax into each other, savoring the feel of our bodies, the comfort of the bed, the protection from the elements.

He pushes my hair back from my forehead and plants a soft kiss just above my eyebrow. The pleasure of his movements unfurls slowly, like a flower blooming.

Then the fire kicks in, and both of our breathing speeds up. Rhett grasps my head and moves with more deliberation.

I want him so deep, so hard. I tighten my legs on his hips.

He thrusts powerfully inside me, making me gasp.

I clutch his shoulders, feeling reality start to slip again.

This one is different, so far down, so broad and wide. When the tightening begins, it takes over more of my body. My moan is low and guttural, from my very center.

Rhett keeps the pace hard and fast, holding me from beneath my shoulders to keep me steady.

My body clenches, and I have to hold back the volume of my cries.

Rhett buries his face in my hair and says my name, “Bailey, Bailey, Bailey,” over and over again.

We hang onto each other, lashed together like a crew to their boat in a storm.

He pulses into me, warm and wet and comforting.

We hold still a while longer, letting the relief and emotion wash over us.

Then he slides to the side, drawing a sheet over us as he pulls me to his chest.

We’re quiet longer still, listening to the sounds of the boat. The vessel creaks as it carves its way through the water. The footsteps of people walking on the floor above are a distant thud. And the waves splash endlessly against the hull.

Rhett kisses my hair above my ear. “Are we going to go out there as a couple or would you like to stay private?”

I consider his question. “What do you think?”

“I think I’ve made you miserable enough with my bad decisions. I will let you call the shots on this.”

I snuggle into his neck. “We have all the time in the world to be public. Let’s be private a little while longer.”

“Okay.” He draws me more securely against him, and this time when we sleep, it’s the heavy slumber of security, safety, and contentment.

About time! See you next Friday for more Neverending Pickleverse with Juicy Pickle!