“It was harmless. Something people say to avoid hurting feelings.”

“Lying to me is never harmless.”

She shuddered. “Neither is telling people we’re getting married.”

“We should go upstairs. And we’ll need condoms.”

Fortunately there were only a few choices, unlike the displays she’d seen at the local drugstore. She pretended to look at a magazine while he made his selection. Extra—large of course.

After paying, he slid the box into his front pocket before capturing her elbow and guiding her toward the valet stand. “I have a bag in my car. Can you have someone get it for me?” He slid a twenty-dollar bill onto the counter.

“Right away, sir.”

He gave the room number and information on his car. “Oh, and a bucket of ice.”

Heat rushed through her, as if the man knew what Jax intended.

With a wicked grin, he said, “Ready?”

During the ride up, she cast furtive glances his way, but he focused on the button for each floor as it lit up.

“It was before we had sex, you know. The fib, I mean. A polite way to end the evening.”

He didn’t respond.

“Uhm, how about if I promise never to do that again?”

“I’d appreciate that.” He looked at her. “I will never lie to you. The truth stings once, and it can be damn brutal. Lies sting with every memory. So I promise you, I will be honest with you. Even if you don’t like it.”

She nodded. “And in return, the nature of our relationship is private from the outside world.”

“I was protecting your reputation.”

Willow almost argued. Almost. But he was alpha enough, stubborn enough, to spend the rest of the night insisting there was a difference.

As soon they were in the room, he had her against the door. “I don’t want anyone looking at you.”

How much was about her reputation, and how much was about him staking a claim? His eyes were intent, and he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. All of her concerns vanished.

He stroked the side of her breast, and desire slammed into her. “Yes,” she whispered.