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the loser gets to win

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The Georgia motel might just take the prize for the most uncomfortable bed Claire has ever slept in. The mattress is lumpy, the sheets practically threadbare and the pillow sinks into nothingness the second she places her head against it.

But when she wakes up in the morning, it's from the best night's sleep she's had in months.

Because no matter how flat the pillow is, it doesn't matter when her head is resting on Luke's chest, the steady thump of his heart underneath her cheek. Likewise, the sheets could be thin as could be and it wouldn't matter, not when the heat of Luke's body warms her like a furnace, his arms wrapped around her, their legs similarly intertwined.

She's dreamed about this moment, but the reality is even better.

She takes a deep breath before she opens her eyes, intending to savour the moment. That's when her pillow moves underneath her in an unmistakable movement and there's a chuckle from above her head to match.

"Good morning, sleepyhead."

Luke runs his knuckles along her cheek and when she opens her eyes, tilts her head to look up at him, he's staring at her with a smile on her face, looking like he thinks she's the best thing he's ever seen. That look makes her heart skip a beat, which she thought was the kind of cliché that only happened in bad romance novels but apparently not. He's also looking wide awake, which she is most decidedly not and she nuzzles her cheek against his chest, just because she wants to and because she can.

"How long have you been awake?"

He shrugs with the shoulder she's not lying on. "A while."

"You should have woken me."

She tilts her head up as she speaks and she sees him grin. She waits for him to say something along the lines of how it doesn't look like she's actually awake now but instead, he just continues to trace her cheek. "I was too busy enjoying the view."

Another woman would smile at that, melt into his arms and kiss his lips.

Claire rolls her eyes. "So corny."

Luke doesn't blink, almost like he was expecting her to say that. Instead, his response is, "You love it."

At that, she does feel a smile starting to tug at her lips. "No comment," is all she says and he chuckles again, rolls them so that she's on her back and he's lying on top of her. Her arms end up around his neck while his arms are on either side of her head, propping him up.

"I bet I can make you comment," he says, almost thoughtfully. "In fact," he continues, a wicked glint in his eye as he leans down and places a kiss against her neck, "I bet I can make you scream."

She's about to utter what she hopes is a sassy comeback but then he finds a particularly sensitive spot, one he'd discovered last night, and her words turn into a gasp. She feels his lips curl into a smile as he repeats the movement and she realises quickly that this is a bet that she's not going to win.

Still though, she's never been so happy to lose.