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“Can I? Can I kiss you?” Benjamin asks his summer crush after their picnic dinner under the full moon.

They’re sitting on a blanket by the lake on their last night of the mission.

Tess stares at him for a long, considering time…then she tentatively nods.

It’s not the Fourth of July, but his chest lights up with fireworks. “Yes?”

“Yes,” Tess confirms. “But Benjamin?”

“Yeah?” he leans forward, giving him her full attention.

“You should know that you’re my first kiss ever,” she says, her voice taking on a shaky note he’s never heard before. “I just don’t have a lot of experience, and I’m really nervous.”

He’s her first kiss? Something in Benjamin’s stomach jumps at that new piece of information. Yeah, he definitely wants to kiss the hell out of this girl. But first he has to make a confession of his own. “Can I tell you something?”

“Sure.” She leans forward too.

“I’ve got more experience than you, sure. But it’s only stupid stuff at parties where nobody should have been drinking.” He swallows and admits, “I’m nervous, too, but I’m trying to act confident—like I know what I’m doing so that you won’t dump me for being a loser.”

“Wow, seriously, that’s the story you’re really trying to sell me, looking all fine under this moonlight?”

He wants to laugh, but he’s got to remind her, “This isn’t going to work unless we listen and validate each other. That’s what you said.”

“Sorry! Sorry! You’re right.” Tess’s disbelieving look becomes an apologetic wince. “I shouldn’t invalidate what you’re feeling. I’m just finding it difficult to believe that someone as good-looking as you is as insecure as me.”

“Oh, I’m way more insecure at this point than you,” Benjamin insists. He ticks off the reasons on his fingers. “You were abandoned by your mom as a baby. Mine did that shit after actually getting to know me. The only parent I have left is an abusive piece of shit who never put in any volunteer work a day in his life. And oh yeah, I’m living in my brother’s shadow, and I might only be sixteen, but I’m already beginning to suspect that situation might stick.”

Tess scrunches her forehead.

“Still don’t believe me?” He raises the other hand, prepared to give her a hell of a lot more examples.

“No, it’s more like I can’t believe I’m just now figuring out how much we had in common from the start.” She peeps up at him shyly. “I really did think we were an opposites-attract romance.”

“Only on the outside.” Benjamin covers her hand with his on the blanket. “Tess?”


“Still nervous?”

“Not so much anymore. Thanks for walking me through it.” She offers him a sweet smile. Then she asks, “Benjamin?”


“Can we kiss now?”

This girl….

More fireworks explode in his chest as he leans forward to capture her mouth.

She tastes as sweet as her smile. Like the cherry Coke she had with dinner.


That innocent word leads to dangerous thoughts. He kisses her even deeper, his cock turning to concrete at the idea of taking her virginity tonight. But go slow…

He gently guides her into a lying-down position on the picnic blanket, even as his mind pops off with lurid images of himself moving between her legs.

He already knows it will be as good as he imagined all those nights he lay in bed alone, yearning for her in the dark. Better, probably.

He groans into her mouth, hips grinding into the front of the pretty light blue jersey dress she wore for their picnic date under the moon. He’s going to ruin her outfit if he’s not careful.

But fuck careful.

“If I buy you another one of these, can I rip this dress off your body?” “he asks, his voice rough with dark desire.

“That’s a thing that actually happens outside of romance novels?” she asks, giggling breathlessly.

Her laughter morphs into a surprised gasp when he rips the pretty-but-offensive barrier down the front.

And Benjamin’s mouth waters when he sees the glorious set of tits she was hiding beneath the dress’s too-high neckline. They strain against the lacy white cups of her bra, begging for his attention.

But they don’t have to beg for that. They’ve got his full devotion along with every other curve on his summer crush’s body.

“Look at you, Tess,” he breathes out. “You need to stop with this low self-esteem shit. You’re the sexiest girl on Earth.”

Her gaze melts. “When you say things like that, I actually believe you. Thank you,”

“No, thank you.” He takes a deep breath and says, “I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but all I want in this world is to be your first. I’m already so far gone over you, Tess. Can I have you? Can I have you tonight?”

She swallows thickly. Then seems to decide right then and there. “Yes…yes, I want you to be my first time. I stand by that decision.”

This girl…

It’s all he can do not to fall on top of her. But no… Control yourself.

Forcing that animal instinct down, he refocuses on Tess. Her pleasure…that’s his only job tonight.

With that in mind, he pulls the cups of her bra aside, freeing her luscious breasts to give them the attention they deserve. This is not a hardship at all. He sucks the dark aureole into his mouth, swirling his tongue around the nub, then bites down just enough to make her release a breathy, “Oh, oh…”

She’s so responsive, and that’s enough to make him linger there. He latches on to the other breast and draws just as hungrily while molding his palm around the first breast. He loves the sounds she makes as he swirls his thumb around its hard black-cherry peak.

“Oh, Benjamin! Oh, God. Why does that feel so good?”

It’s obvious from Tess’s response that her breasts have not been given the respect they deserve over the years. God damn shame really. Luckily, he’s here to put an end to all that neglect.

Her needy whimpers are driving him crazy, not to mention the way she’s wriggling beneath him, driving her hot core into his stomach.

He has to remind himself several times to stay in control as he cups her pussy, using just enough force to keep her still. She whimpers dejectedly, like something unfairly caged.

“Ssh, not yet, baby. Not yet,” Benjamin whispers around her breasts. “I’m so fucking turned on right now, but I’m not going to rush us. I want your first time to be so good you don’t ever think about being with another guy. I’m going to open you up with a couple of fingers. Make sure you’re ready.”

He reaches underneath the band of her cotton panties, and she lets out a soft gasp when he strokes one finger into her virginal tunnel. But then she widens her legs to accommodate the second one he pushes into her. And when he pushes a third one in, she moans brokenly as her pussy contracts around his fingers

“Good, good,” he says thickly. “You’re doing so good….”

She’s getting really close. He could light up her body with just a few more pumps of his hand.

But there’s a presence in the woods with them. And he has to point them out.

“You see Donovan and those other Connecticut asswipes over there? Watching us from the woods?” he asks, nodding toward a point just a few feet away from where he’s fingers-deep in her core. “No, don’t stop. I want them to watch me worship this pussy.”

Tess stiffens underneath his hand. Donovan and his boys watching them was not something they discussed beforehand, and he can see her old insecurities threatening to overtake the lust.”

“I’m going to orgasm you, baby, and you’re going to come for me like you don’t give a fuck whose watching,” he growls. “C’mon. Let them see us. Let them see how good we can b together.”

Lucky for him, Tess was always the kind of girl who settled for nothing less than straight A’s in school. In the end, she gives into her new assignment with a little nod.

She’s already soaking his fingers. But true to his word, Benjamin will settle for nothing less than complete worship. He keeps one hand molded to her breasts but dives his mouth down to the sacred space between her legs, splitting her folds with the flat of his tongue, before thrusting it in for a most reverent kiss.

That’s when the moaning really begins. Tess twists her fingers into his hair as he lathes her core, and her chest heaves under his hand. She looks glassy-eyed toward the spot where Donovan and his boys are standing.

“I can’t believe I’m letting you do this in front of them,” she whispers. “But I can’t tell you to stop. It feels too good.”

Her words nearly unravel him. His cock is so heavy and full it’s pressing painfully into his zipper. But he continues to drink her down like a man dying of thirst. He won’t stop. He refuses to stop. Not until…

Her pussy clamps down hard on his fingers then shudders as she comes with a helpless cry while her thighs flex around his head. Christ, he loves the sounds she makes as she finds her completion.

But it isn’t enough for him. Again. The thirsty man disappears, and he becomes an animal, licking at her soft inner thighs before diving right back into her sodden pussy.

“I can’t, Benjamin,” she half-sobs, her fingers pulling at his hair. “It’s too much. Please…”

Thank fuck they talked about safewords earlier. He continues going because she can. He knows she can show Donovan and company how a real woman receives her just rewards.

And he’s proven right a few moments later when she cries out with a second orgasm before becoming boneless underneath his mouth.

Good, good. She’s nice and soaked. Ready. He pulls his fingers out and rises to his knees.

But the picture she makes lying on the blanket beneath him…eyes glazed with her thick thighs akimbo and her dark breast spilled out over the underwire of her lacy bra. No, he doesn’t ever want to hurt her, but it causes him pain to unzip his jeans and pull out his rigid cock.

“You see what you do to me, baby?” he asks as he picks up the foil package from where he left it on the picnic blanket. “I’m going to have to think about hockey drills when I put on this condom just to keep from blowing early in front of Donovan and company again.”

“Then don’t,” she says softly.

Her words freeze him in place.

“Don’t what?” he asks carefully.

Her lust-filled gaze raises to meet his, “Don’t put on the condom. Take me raw.”

Everything falls away. The woods, the lake, that summer—all the memories they’re trying to undo.

No, Donovan wasn’t in the script they talked about when they decided to try a roleplay dinner date to heal what happened that summer. But neither was this.

“We’ve already proved we can co-parent with me hating you,” she explains into his shocked silence. “I’d like to see what it would be like to do it the opposite way.”

Benjamin blinks.

Because that’s what you do when you suddenly find yourself in a dream, right? And there’s no way, Tess, the woman he’s been yearning after for nearly four years actually wants to try for another kid with him.

That would be too good to be true.

If this is a dream, he doesn’t want to wake up.

Still, he has to do his due diligence. It’s like he promised Tess the night he told her everything in the wake of Stephanie’s departure. No more lies. No more secrets. From now on he follows his conscience and does what’s best for Tess—not himself.

He won’t risk losing her again.

So he has to ask. “You remember the safeword?”

She nods.

Not good enough. Not for this.

“Say it out loud for me, baby.”

“Tommy’s Pizza,” she answers, sitting up on her forearms. The sex glaze is gone, and she looks at him with clear eyes to insist, “I know the safeword, and I don’t want to use it.”

He shakes his head, unable to let himself believe. “Tess, are you serious? You gotta be serious because it’s going to kill me if you take this back.”

She regards him with a sympathetic gaze. Then she sits all the way up and pushes his jeans further down his legs. “I want a baby. One I can keep. Do you want a baby too? With me?”

“Fuck yes,” he rasps out.

“Then come on.” She places her hands on his hips and eases him back down to the blanket with her. “Let’s make a baby.”

He follows her to the ground. “Please don’t regret this.”

He doesn’t realize he’s said that prayer out loud until she answers, “I won’t. I promise I won’t. I never got over you either. Now, please, let’s make this right.”

Let’s make this right.

He lodges himself deep inside of her and crashes his mouth back down on hers. She’s so tight and wet and his. He’s not going to last long if he doesn’t keep kissing her. He needs the separate action to remind him what’s at stake, that he can’t mess this up if he wants forever with her.

For a moment everything is quiet as he concentrates on loving her the way he should have that night, with long, slow strokes that touch her deep inside.

But then she falls out of the kiss to tell him. “Benjamin, I love you. I love you so much. I never stopped, even though I wanted to. Thank you for never giving up on us.”

He’s bid himself so many times tonight to stay in control. But he just loses it after she says that. No more kissing. No more slow loving. He begins thrusting into her, crude and rough.

“I will never give up on us. Never stop loving you,” he snarls into her neck. “You’re going to have to marry me, baby, because I can’t stop. I’m never stopping with you again. Take this baby, Tess. Make us a family.”

He’s too far gone to temper his emotions, but his real talk doesn’t spook her. No…

She pulls him in closer, her arms wrapping so tight around his neck, he can hear the clacking of her teeth as he thrusts into her faster and faster.

Neither of them is in control. They mate like animals on the ground. Too base to do anything but follow a prime directive to reproduce.

She cries out beneath him, “Oh, God, I can’t. I can’t take this! Please, I can’t.”

No safeword.

“You can,” he growls low into her ear. “You are. You will forever.”

No more secrets. He lets her see everything he feels for her. Everything he’s hidden behind carefully-worded suggestions, nice-dad smiles, and invitations on A4 cardstock. The never-ending love. The impatient obsession he’s harbored for three years. The dark entitlement.

“You’re mine, Tess,” he informs her roughly. “You were mine from the moment I laid eyes on you. And when I put this baby in you, we’re never going back to the way it was.”

She should be scared. All the second thoughts—that’s what she should be having right now.

But instead of pushing him away, she screams. Not in fear, but in pleasure. Her face slackens into wonder as another orgasm crests over her.

Thank goodness, Daphne sleeps with noise-canceling headphones. Benjamin couldn’t quell her screams if he wanted to—not with her pussy flexing and contracting around his cock.

Benjamin wanted this to last forever this time. But he can’t…he can’t….

He explodes.

“This is forever, Tess,” he declares, mindlessly pumping as he empties inside of her. “I’m never going to let you go. I’m going to love you until the day I d—”

“Oh my God, Tess! Tess! Are you okay?” Stephanie’s voice calls out, right before the door crashes open and she and Hades come rushing into his bedroom.

Stephanie’s face is frantic with worry—until she sees the picnic scene on the floor. Then she says, “Oh, my God!” again for a much different reason.

Benjamin and Tess tumble out of their lake fantasy, back into the primary bedroom of his three-bedroom condo in Seaport.

And Stephanie slaps a hand over her eyes.

“We heard you screaming, and we thought you were hurt,” she explains. “But maybe that’s not the case. Are you okay?”

“I’d say she’s more than okay, ma belle,” Galen points out with a devilish grin. “It looks like the two of them have made up, just like us.”

“Wait, you took him back,” Tess asks, pushing at Benjamin to let her up. “Even after Operation Birthday Card?”

“Yes, our love is no match for snitching birthday cards.” Galen glares at them as Benjamin re-zips and grabs a robe from the walk-in closet for Tess to put on over her ruined dress.

“I took him back before I lost my memory actually,” Stephanie answers her sister in a much kinder tone. “It’s a super long story which I will be more than happy to share with you in full—after you get dressed.”

“Okay, I mean, sure, I guess. I need to hear that story,” Tess says, pulling on the robe. “But what are you two doing here?”

* * *


His daughter comes awake with a jerk when four adults yell her name loud enough to be heard over the noise-canceling headphones she likes to wear to bed.

“What the…” She lifts her silk mask with an angry look–only to burst into a smile when she sees the two people standing beside her parents. “Steph, Uncle G! What are you doing here?”

Stephanie holds up the phone. “You texted that it was an emergency and that Tess needed my help. Then you never answered my return texts. And your mom was…ah…occupied—all I knew was that Tess needed my help and that the both of you were here in Boston. So we basically dropped everything and flew out here in a private jet.”

“Ooh, you flew here in a private jet.” Daphne clasps her hands and lets out a wistful sigh. “That’s so cool. I tried to get Mom and Dad to fly us out here in one, but they’re, like, agreeing now, and they both said it was wasteful.”

“Environmentally unconscionable actually,” Tess says, throwing Hades another dirty look. “But Daphne, focus. Why didn’t you text your aunt back? You had her really worried and made her fly out here for nothing.”

Daphne appears just as confused as Tess for a moment.  But then she remembers out loud. “Oh yeah, my phone died before I went to bed. But my charger’s all the way out in the living room so, you know…”

She trails off with a shrug as if she expects all the adults in the room to fully understand why, of course, she couldn’t walk all the way to the living room to plug in her phone.

“You might have a point about her being spoiled,” Benjamin concedes to Tess under his breath.

Might?” Tess repeats.

At the same time, Stephanie asks, “What the heck, Daphne? What emergency, even? Tess is fine!”

“Better than fine,” Hades can’t help but add with a secretive grin.

Tess glares at him much in the same way she glared at his brother Keane yesterday when he magnanimously “forgave” her for not forgiving his little brother sixteen years earlier.

“I mean yeah, she’s fine right now,” Daphne answers defensively. “But earlier tonight, she told me she was going to wear Crocs underneath her evening gown to Dad’s Man of the Year ceremony tomorrow. Crocs.I was texting you so that you could talk some sense into her.”

What?” Stephanie stares at Daphne for several disbelieving seconds—before turning to Tess and saying, “Yeah, no, you can’t do that, sis.”

“Why not?” Tess whines, immediately jumping to her own defense. “Keane’s wife never wears heels. She says she can’t anymore after having three kids.”

“You had one kid when you were sixteen,” Daphne argues from the bed. Then she turns to Stephanie with an exasperated look. “See why I needed your help?”

“Totally,” Stephanie says, shaking her head at Tess. “I’m glad you texted, Daphne. I’ve got this. Go back to sleep.”

She strings an arm around Tess’s shoulders and guides her out of the room while sternly informing her, “We’re going to go out tomorrow to find an evening gown for me and a pair of comfortable heels for you.”

“Comfortable heels are an oxymoron!” Tess insists.

To absolutely no avail.

The next night, Tess finds out why her daughter was so insistent on her wearing a cute pair of heels when Benjamin proposes on the Boston Charities red carpet.

But she does have to worry about her make-up smearing when she answers with a tearful yes. With no hesitation whatsoever. They’re not teenagers anymore, and they’re done second-guessing themselves—not when they make each other this happy.

“It stings, it stings,” she says, rubbing at her eyes after he slips the ring on her finger. “But that’s okay. All the pain is worth this.”

Benjamin gets the feeling she’s not necessarily talking about her mascara as he pulls her in for a big kiss with their families clapping and news cameras flashing all around.

No, Tess and he didn’t get their happy ending the first time around when they were teenagers.

But that’s okay.

They’re getting it now, and he already has the feeling they’ll appreciate their true love way more the second time around.

* * *

Oh my gosh, Bono and Tess have been lurking around for years in the background of the 50 Loving States Universe.

All I knew when Bono presented himself for KEANE was that he was deeper than he appeared, and he got someone pregnant while away on a mission trip.

Over the years, Bono’s secret baby came up occasionally in other stories. And I kept on getting glimpses of his first love as someone super practical who ran a shelter—but there was no story to go along with these quick character peeks. So, imagine my surprise when Tess—Stephanie’s secret sister—presented as Bono’s first love and asked for a B story.

I really loved getting to tell a secret baby story that actually included a custody agreement. And I just adored how petty Tess was about not wanting to speak or see Benjamin ever again.

But I’m even happier, Benjamin and Tess figured things out.

Hey, want to meet their baby?

Join my Patreon at any level

for a couple of bonus scenes

featuring an upcoming couple

from the 50 Loving Series!

And thanks so much again for reading HADES: Stephanie and the Ruthless Mogul!

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