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Текст книги "Kian"

Автор книги: Tijan

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Текущая страница: 11 (всего у книги 19 страниц)

She came to me.

That realization reverberated deep within me. I was too scared to say much. I didn’t want to scare her off.

That cab driver…I’d recognized the look in his eyes. It was opportunity.

What I’d told Jordan was correct. A bribe wouldn’t have worked. I’d asked for his name. I’d asked if he knew my name. I’d asked if he knew the name of the hotel, the name of my family’s company, the name of my father. I’d waited once he answered every single question. It hadn’t taken long until he began to connect the dots. I could get to him—through his work, through his boss, through his home. I could get to him. That was the bottom line, so no real threat had been issued. It was just the knowledge that there could be a threat.

It was enough.

He had given me the USB cable along with the reassurance that he wouldn’t say a thing. It was enough—at least until I could call my private investigator.

When we got to the other hotel, we drove to a back entrance. It had been discussed before Jo came to me. We would be taken through a back maintenance shed and through a tunnel that led underground and opened to a far loading garage. From there, an elevator to a penthouse was off to the side. The hotel manager was waiting for us, just to show us the way. There were two elevators for the floor, and this side one was the more private. No cameras were present once near the elevator, but I took a page from Snark’s book.

I gave Jo a sweatshirt to wear with the hood pulled low over her head. Dark sunglasses hid her face, covering most of her cheeks. The hotel manager glanced at her a few times, but didn’t say a word. I was there for privacy and exclusivity. If my presence were leaked, I would sue.

It was one massive floor with a large living room, a kitchen with a dining room that extended against one wall of the floor, a balcony wrapped around the entire floor, one office, three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and our own pool. The walls surrounding were made of glass but tinted so no one could see inside.

Jo’s hand grabbed mine at the sight of the pool. I glanced down, but she had been captivated by the water. She didn’t know she reached for me.

This meant something. It had to mean something.

I struggled against squeezing her hand. Fearful she’d realize what she had done and pull away, I let our hands dangle loosely. And I felt like a schoolboy with a crush. It was ridiculous. It was her effect on me.

When the tour was done and the manager got our orders for food and beverages, Jo wandered through the place. She kept looking up and down. She kept biting down on her lip, trying to hide her smile, but I caught it. I wasn’t surprised.

“I have no idea what to do now.” Jo had wandered back, still hugging herself.

The elevator buzzed.

“Those are my bags. One second.”

Emile brought the bags in, placing them right inside the door. He paused, his gaze sweeping to Jo. “Is there anything else you need, Kian?”

“No, thank you.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Take the night off.”

“Um…” Jo surged forward but stopped herself. Her hand covered her mouth. “Sorry.”

Emile frowned in her direction. He was wondering if he’d need to drive her home later or not.

I explained for both of them, “She can stay here, if she wants, or I can drive her home.”

His gaze snapped to mine. “Kian.”

“It’ll be fine.” I patted his shoulder again. “Go home. Go see your little granddaughter.”

My driver shook his head, giving me a rueful look. “I’m too young to have grandbabies, but—”

I finished for him, hitting the elevator button, “But you do, and I know you’ve been spending all your free time with them since we’ve been in town. It’s nice to have your family here.”

The doors slid open, and he stepped inside. “You sure I have the night off?”

A look passed between us. Emile was worried. He knew who Jo was, and he disapproved of her presence.

“Have fun tonight. I’ll be fine. We’ll be fine,” I said.

“Kian—” he started.

The doors slid shut before he could say any more. I lingered there. Emile’s concern meant more to me than I’d let him know.

“He knows who I am.”

I nodded, turning around. Jo was leaning against the doorframe. One of her arms was crossed over her chest, holding on to her other arm. It was like she was shielding herself from me, but she had come to me.

That said so much.

“Kian?” The corner of her lip dipped down.

“Yes, he knows who you are.”

“And he doesn’t approve that I’m here?”

My eyebrow rose. “Anyone in your camp approve of you being here?”

Her cheeks pinked, and she looked away. “Stark is my camp.”

I raised my eyebrows.

She laughed a small little laugh. “Point taken.” It wasn’t much, but its power spread through me, warming every coldness inside me. I felt myself thawing in places that I hadn’t realized were there. That was the effect she had on me while in my presence, while in my penthouse, where I would be living for the next few weeks.


She bit into the other side of her cheek. I was almost mesmerized, taking in all her little details. Every tiny gesture said so much about her. I wanted to learn all of them. I wanted to understand everything about her—why she kept herself from speaking sometimes, why she was still shielding herself from me, why she’d reached for my hand and had no clue about it.

I forced out a deep breath of air. One thing at a time. “I trust Emile. He’s been my driver since I was little.”

She frowned. “You make it sound like he was the nanny who raised you.”

“He did, in a way.” Hearing the door, I moved past her for the front entrance. I murmured, “He’s the only one who would put up with me. My nannies all hated me.”

“Why?” She laughed, turning so that she could still see me as I went through the living room.

Pausing before I moved down the hallway that went to the front entrance, I flashed her a grin. “They were hired for my father’s bedroom, so I liked to call them does.”


“The plural form for doe. I thought I was so smart, adding Daddy and hoe together.”

Two seconds later, she burst out laughing. I went for the door and opened it to find the food and beverages had been brought up. The manager started to push the cart all the way inside, but I stopped her because Jo had taken my hooded sweatshirt off.

“I can do that. Thank you for bringing all this up yourself.”

The manager moved back from the cart. “Oh. Of course.” She went back to the door. “Is there anything else you’d like?”

“This is fine. Thank you again.”

She lingered before leaving, glancing over her shoulder to me. If I’d been standing beside my father, I would’ve assumed she was hitting on him. I wasn’t, though, and the sexual interest was evident. My eyes flashed a warning. She needed to go. Registering it, she gave me one last professional smile before slipping through the door.

Jo was leaning against the kitchen counter when I brought the cart in. “Let me guess. She slipped you her number?”

I shook my head, lifting one of the covers to reveal a platter of vegetables and fruit. “Uh, no.”

“She was young enough to be interested.”

My eyebrows furrowed together. “I’ve learned that age doesn’t matter. Lots of older women are seduced by my family name.”

“Even though you went to prison?”

“Jordan.” I reached out and touched the bottom of her chin. I couldn’t help myself. I’d been holding off from using her given name, but as it slipped past my lips, it felt good. It felt natural.

A small cleft was there, and it became accentuated when she was worried. I remembered watching her during the entire court proceedings and noticing it.

I said softly, “Sometimes, I think the prison thing turns them on even more. They know I’m not a psychopath. I killed one man, and it was to save a girl.”

She held still, her eyes holding mine.

My gaze fell to her lips. “They’d like to delude themselves into thinking that I’d do the same for them.”

“You wouldn’t?” Her chest rose but never went back down.

I moved closer to her. “No. I did it only for one person.” I looked back up, right into her eyes. “And I’d do it again.”

Her throat constricted, swallowing. Her chest fell abruptly down and jerked back up. I was breathing heavily, too.

Her phone started going off then.

Of course. It was like clockwork.

“Sorry,” she exhaled out, raking a hand through her hair. Crossing the room for her bag, she gestured to one of the bedrooms. “I’m going to take this in here.”

I nodded and waited until she closed the door. She wasn’t the only one who needed to take a call. I went to the back patio and pulled my phone out.

Cal picked up on the first ring, like he always did. He greeted, “How do you like the new digs?”

“So far, they’re working well: small, private, exclusive. As long as the staff remain discreet, I might use them again.”

He grunted, popping something into his mouth and chewing. “You know what else you should use? Security. They’d be useful to have around.”

“I can move around easier on my own.”

Another grunt. He kept chewing. “Don’t be calling my ass in the middle of the night when you have some stalker breaking in to rape your behind. I do a lot of services for you, but personal security is not one of them.”

A small grin formed at the corner of my mouth. “You’re one of the best private investigators I know, but I can hold my own with fighting.”

“Yeah, sure. All that time in prison really hardened you, huh?”

A slight chuckle slipped out. “It didn’t make me softer.”

His own laugh faded, and it was time for business. “So, what’s up? You don’t call for social chats.”

“I had an incident earlier. A cab driver recognized Jordan.”

“Are you kidding me? She’s there?”

I ignored that part. “I got his dash camera and his USB cord, but he could be a problem.”

“You got the number of the car?” After I told him, he said, “All right. I’ll track him down and see if we need to put precautions in place or not.” He was quiet for a beat. “If I were your family or on your legal team or, hell, even on your publicist team, I would advise against having that girl anywhere close to you. But I’m not, and I know that you’re going to do whatever you want. Just be smart, Kian. You’re a good kid. Hell, you’re not a kid with the shit you’ve gone through. You’re damn smart. I wouldn’t want you to throw away your freedom for a piece of vagina.”

I grinned, checking over my shoulder. Jo was in the living room with the television turned on.

“Cal, if I were going to throw away my freedom for a piece of vagina, it’d have to be yours. Shriveled up, smelly—”

“Shut up.” He laughed. “All right. I’ll check on all of this. I mean it, be smart. I know you want to protect this girl. It landed you in trouble, but sometimes, you have to do what’s in your best interest. She doesn’t have anyone hurting her this time.”

After saying good-bye, I waited outside. Jo was sitting on a side couch, so I could see her profile. She didn’t know where I was. She kept glancing toward the front hallway and then to the back hallway leading to the back elevator. She wasn’t guarded in this one instance. I absorbed every inch of her, as much as I could.

Cal was right. There was no Edmund hurting her.

Her current boyfriend, whomever he was to her, wasn’t violent. He came from an upper middle-class background. The worst secret he had was a cheating father, or so Cal’s report had told me. She wasn’t in danger from him or her roommate, the overzealous reporter.

I lied to Jo before. I knew who her roommate was long before I decided to interview with the school’s paper. I set everything in place. No matter what, Jo had to be taken care of.

And here we were.

I was the danger to her now.

I needed to decide what to do—or what not to do. If she stayed at my side, I wouldn’t be able to hold back from touching her. Then again, if I told her the truth about everything, that wouldn’t be a problem.

She’d want nothing to do with me.

Jake was concerned and Erica wanted to make sure everything was fine. Neither of them seemed suspicious, and Snark told me that I’d need to wear a shirt with my old name on it for people to put two and two together.

“Is everything okay?”

Kian appeared from some corner of the place. His phone was in his hand as he sat on the coffee table in front of me.

Fuck. I couldn’t look away from him. Those dark eyes of his could look right into me and know me. With everything about him, I wanted to be right where I was, with him. My mind was telling me to go. Discovery was not imminent—at least, not yet. I’d worked myself up. I’d panicked and bolted for him.

What was I doing?

My legs didn’t move. My arms didn’t move to push myself up from the couch. My feet weren’t going to walk me out of there. My ass stayed in place. I did not want to leave.

Oh, screw it.

I blurted out, “I’m attracted to you.”

His eyebrows shot up, and he leaned back. “Oh.” That was his reaction, that one word. That was it.

I held my breath. That’s it?

I blinked. “Um.” Backpedal. Retreat. Run. “I’m sorry.”

“No.” He shot forward, his hand held up, reaching between us. He looked at it. I looked at it, and it went back to his lap.

“Uh.” He shook his head, blinking a few times. The laughter started with one small chuckle. A second, and a third that was louder. He kept shaking his head before he looked up. He saw the non-laughter coming from me and sighed. “Sorry. I’m laughing at myself, not you. This is…” His hands clasped together on his lap. “I’m so controlled, and you’ve punched right through everything. There it is, and I’m here thinking how much I want to hold you, but I’m too scared to tell you.”


He kept going, “Hearing those words, I’m…at a loss.”

Did he say…

“But this whole thing, with the media, it’s your life now that we’re looking at. My team will get me off. They’re going to argue that I should’ve never been convicted in the first place. It was self-defense—I mean, it was defense for you. That was proven. A dirty judge was the real reason I was convicted, and, yeah, maybe they’ll go the double-jeopardy route. I don’t know their angle, but I trust them. I won’t be convicted again, but, Jordan…”

He kept talking, but his voice became distant and low.

He wanted to hold me. That was what he just said. The warmth of those words began to spread through me. I had known it. I’d thought it, but to hear those words…and he was so close, but still sitting so far away.

He kept talking, something about his legal team’s agenda. His voice grew clear again, and he finished with a final resigned note, “I don’t want anything to happen that could hurt you.”

“What are you talking about?”


I blurted it out again, “I’m attracted to you.”

“I know.”

My eyebrows shot up. That’s it? “You just told me you wanted to hold me. I mean, doesn’t that mean something?”

He grew wary, and his lips moved into a straight line. His hands tightened on to each other, as if he were holding himself back.

I didn’t understand any of this. “I don’t care about the legal aspects. I don’t care about the ramifications—”

“But you should,” he said so softly as he cut me off. He leaned forward again. “This is your life, Jordan. Your. Life. Yes, I am attracted to you. Yes, I want to hold you. Yes, I want to kiss you. Yes, I want to pick you up and carry you into that bedroom.”

My eyes got big. Every word he had said was spoken with conviction. My fingers curved into the bottom cushion of the couch. I wanted to jump into his arms. I was holding myself back. There was a but coming after he had said those beautiful words, and the emotions were building in my throat. Another lump was forming there.

He leaned even closer across the small gap between us. His eyes were peering right into mine as he said in a fierce whisper, “I want to protect you. I want to take care of you…”

I closed my eyes. It was coming.


There it was.

“We have to think long and hard before we do anything.”

I was holding my breath. I knew there was more coming.

There was silence.

I peeked a look at him. He was staring at me, studying every inch of my face, and his gaze dropped down to my lips. He lingered there.

I licked them. His eyes jerked to mine, darkening in lust.

I wanted him. I didn’t give a damn about what else he said. “Kian.” I started to rise from the couch.

He murmured, his voice hoarse, “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”

“I do.”

This was why I kept coming back to him. I should’ve run as soon as he found me, but I went nowhere. I went to him. This was why I ignored Snark’s warnings. I wanted justification—no, I wanted excuses to go to him.

My fingers curled into my palms.

I didn’t even think I’d cared about the cab driver. Maybe a part of me wanted to be caught. It would be done. The running. The hiding. Everything. I wanted it all done, and if it meant I could be with Kian, so be it.

You’re an idiot, Jordan. An inner voice laughed at me.

I hushed her.

“I want you,” I said it again, scooting to the edge of my cushion.

“Jordan.” His head dropped low, but his eyes clung to mine.

His shoulders were tense, and he was fighting himself. I saw the struggle in him. His jaw clenched. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down.

“I don’t care what happens.”

His eyes narrowed. “You should.”

I sucked in my breath and leaned across the last bit of space between us. I was right there, right in front of him. One small inch and his finger would be resting against mine. The heat radiated off him. His eyes were glued to mine, fierce, as they seemed to be daring me to touch him. But his hands never lifted. He didn’t lean toward me. He held himself still, just watching me.

I lifted a hand.

Both of us looked at it and then at each other.

I reached for him, and as I bit down on my lip, I touched his chest. His heart was racing, pounding underneath my hand. He was trembling. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I felt it. This was because of me, of my touch. Power surged through my veins. The adrenaline of knowing that he’d reacted like this to me made my blood flow rapidly through me. I was almost drunk from the feel of it.

He didn’t push me away. I grew bolder, sliding my hand down his chest, feeling the dip of his muscles. My fingers grazed over each of them, and even though his shirt was on, I knew he was a masterpiece. My fingers fell to the top of his jeans, and I looked up. His eyes were closed. His forehead was close to mine, almost resting on top of me if I were to move up on my toes. He was breathing in and out, letting me explore him how I wanted.

My chest rose up and down. I started to breathe deep, and I swallowed as my fingers slipped inside his jeans. I was telling him what I wanted. Hell, I didn’t know what I wanted for sure. I just wanted him. I knew that much, but I wanted him to touch me back. I wanted him to press against me. I wanted him to touch his lips to mine.

His eyes opened. He was looking right into me, his gaze bearing down on me. His eyes turned black, and his hand lifted to cup the side of my face. His thumb rested at the corner of my mouth. He didn’t touch my lips. He held me there, staring into me.

A flashback from the courtroom flitted across my memory. He was always watching for me, and when I stepped inside the room, his eyes would hold mine, and it was like he knew me intimately. It was him and I. We were one.

I saw the same look now.

He could see inside me.

It was like he was a part of me. Again.

He lowered his head, and I closed my eyes. His lips hovered above mine.

My heart was trying to come out of my chest. The room was spinning. My cheeks were bright red. I felt feverish, and damn, I wanted that one touch from him.

It was there, right there…and then it was gone.

Kian ripped himself away. “No, Jordan. No.” He stood, moving toward the kitchen.

“What? What happened?” No way. I rose and went after him. He was about to kiss me. He wanted to kiss me. I felt it from him.

His hand lifted, as if to warn me away, but it changed. Everything about him changed. His face cleared, his eyes found mine again. “No, Jordan—fuck it.” His hands caught my face, and his lips were on mine in the next instant.

I gasped, but his lips were touching mine with a smooth pressure. I was lost in the feelings. His hands were gentle on my face, and then he paused. I felt him grinning against my lips.

He breathed out, “Is this okay?”

Winding my arms around his neck, I surged against him. “Hell, yes.”

He caught my waist and lifted me onto the table. His mouth became more demanding, applying more pressure, and desire was building throughout my body. The flames were licking inside me. They were twirling, rising, and spreading from my face to my toes. He leaned into me, angling his head for better access. My lips opened, and he entered, but I felt him hesitate again. I almost sighed in contentment.

It felt so right.

I didn’t question it, not anymore. This was right. There could be no wrong.

My legs parted, and he moved between them. As his tongue slid against mine, his hand caught the back of my neck to hold me. Even anchored, I was slipping away. My mind was turning off. I was feeling only him, feeling the two of us. This was what I’d wanted to do since I’d learned he had been released.

His other hand fell to my hip, and he strained even more against me. He was still trembling, trying to be gentle. His tongue rested against mine, and his hand went back to cradling my face. His thumb brushed over my cheek. “Jordan.”

I shook my head, my mouth fusing against his. No words. Just him. Just me. Just us.

Grabbing his shirt, I held him close and then slid my hands underneath. He sucked in his breath, and I felt how tense he was. He was still holding himself back. I growled. I wanted to stop thinking. I wanted him to stop thinking.

“Stop.” He pulled back, panting, as he rested his forehead on mine.


“Jordan.” His hand caught the back of my neck again, and he held me still, forcing me to look into his eyes.

Desire swirled there along with fury, regret, and something else…control? I swallowed tightly. He was barely holding on to himself. I saw it then. He wanted me, too, maybe even more than I wanted him. Why—

He roughly answered me, “I want nothing more than to tear into you and fuck you on this counter, but”—his voice gentled—“we have to slow down and think about this.”


His hand tightened on my neck. “Yes,” he ground out.

“No.” I shoved his arm down.

This wasn’t me. I wasn’t hotheaded and demanding, but for some reason, I was liking this new Jordan. For once, I knew what I wanted. For once, I wasn’t holding back. I wanted Kian. He wanted me, too. What was the problem?

I reached for him again, but he caught my hand and held it in a tight grip.

I gasped. A rush went through me. This tug-of-war between us was a battle of who was going to dominate whom. The intoxication from being with him kicked up a notch. My blood was buzzing.

I tried with my other hand. He caught that one, too, and a steel look came over him. His jaw tightened with a new expression, one that brought tension to the air. I stilled, waiting to see what he would do next.

There it was. The dangerous side of Kian was being unmasked to me. He was furious, but he wanted me. I didn’t know why he was mad. Maybe I should’ve, but an innate part of me knew he wouldn’t hurt me. It wasn’t in him. Not toward me. Others, yes, but never me.

“What are you going to do?”

He still had my hands pinned down, and then his eyes moved to slits. He lowered his head, raking me up and down. I felt his gaze, and the lust was almost blinding me to everything. His eyes snapped back to mine, and a predator was looking back at me. If it had been anyone else, I would’ve fought back. I would’ve pushed the person away and ran but not Kian.

I wanted this. Hell, I was relishing this.

He moved into me. Still holding my hands in his, he pulled my hips out to the edge of the table, and then he slowly leaned closer to me, dominating me. I began falling back, but he caught me. He lowered me until I was lying on the table before him. I was displayed to him. He could do anything he wanted.

My one hand was still pinned to the table beside my head as he gripped my other, still on my hip. His thumb began moving up and down over my shirt, sliding over my stomach and jeans. My pulse was racing. An ache had formed between my legs. I wanted more of him there, and as if sensing my last thought, he rubbed himself against me.

I gasped again but bit down on my lip, silencing myself. I didn’t want him to go away. I wanted more.

His hand rested on my zipper. I wanted him to take it down. I wanted his hand to go inside, to touch me. I wanted more, but I was damn near melting just from that intimate touch.

“Kian.” His name slipped from my lips.

His head lifted, and he saw me watching him. A small smirk appeared, and as it did, he transferred my hand to my other one. His left hand took my hands, so I was pinned down and splayed out for him. His free hand went back to my pants, and he pulled the zipper down.

Oh God.

I closed my eyes and tilted my head back. I wanted to get lost in his touch.

“No,” he said, catching my head.

My eyes opened, and he was watching me.

He said, “I want you to see.”

I looked down right as his hand left my chin and flicked my jeans open. The ache was building. His hand rested above my underwear, and then he moved them aside, too. I looked back. He wasn’t looking at what he was doing. He was just looking at me. That sent a surge of new pleasure through me, and I opened my legs even more for him.

His finger rubbed against the top of me.


He bent down, his eyes still holding mine captive. They switched to my lips at the last second. His mouth touched mine again as his finger slid inside me, and I cried out into his mouth. He plunged his finger deep into me, and I almost lifted off the table from the power of it. I screamed into his mouth, and it was the primal kind. I wanted him to go harder, deeper. I didn’t want him to pause, but as he did, I started panting. I wanted to beg him to go again, and he did, in and out. His finger moved into me as he kept kissing me. His tongue slid inside as a second finger entered me. I felt him reach all the way to the back, and he upped the pace.

I was coming undone, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t participate. He held me down with his one hand still. My legs lifted to go around his waist. He shifted, so his hip kept me from closing the distance to bury his fingers in me, but I wanted that. I wanted him inside me.

He kept going, in and out. His mouth kept moving over mine. He was holding me prisoner to his touch. Right before I was going to come, he paused, and his fingers slid out of me.

“No.” I ripped a hand free and grabbed his. I pushed it back. “Do. Not. Stop.”

He lifted his head, gazing down at me in question.

I flashed him a warning. “I mean it.”

The corner of his mouth slowly curved into a delicious grin, but instead of thrusting back inside me, his hand slid under my hip, and he lifted me in one motion. My legs wound tighter around his waist. His left hand released my hands and caught the back of my neck. He held me rigid in his arms as he carried me to the bedroom. He laid me down onto the bed, and I was still panting.

I needed him.

He reached for my shirt but paused, looking at me again. A switch happened. He frowned. A flash of something—regret?—appeared in his eyes, dimming the fury, and he shook his head. He pulled back.

“Kian.” I grabbed his wrist. I was dominating him now. “No.”

“Yes.” His chest was rising up and down.

The need for him was clawing up my throat, but I recognized it in him. He needed me, too, but his hand gentled on my neck.

He stood away from the bed. “What did I do? What if I hurt you?” He began shaking his head.

I sat up and caught his arm. “Kian, no. I still want this. You wouldn’t have.”

He kept shaking his head. “No, I—no, Jordan. I…” He faltered. His eyes closed, and he rubbed at his forehead.

“Stop it, Kian.” I yanked on him. My pulse was still going. My blood was still buzzing.

Holy shit, I still wanted him, but he thought he had hurt me. It was the opposite.

“I could’ve hurt you.” His hand lifted in a helpless gesture before falling back to his side. “I wanted to fuck you. Hard.”

“Good.” I jerked my chin up. “The harder, the better.”

He frowned, and then a grin appeared. “What?” His hand rose to grip his hair, and he held it there. “My God, Jordan. You don’t get it. I don’t think you ever will.”

He wanted to screw.

I didn’t see the problem. “What are you talking about?”

“I could’ve lost control. Me? I can’t lose control. Ever. You don’t get it.”

“Losing control is the whole purpose of fucking. No, I don’t get it. I want you to lose control. I still want you—”

“I lost control once and went to prison.”

I stopped.

A chill went through me now, and I saw the desperation in his eyes. He was still trembling. I shook my head. No, it’s not the same.

“It wouldn’t be the same way.”

“You don’t know what I’m capable of.”

I advanced toward him, touching my chest. “I am the only one who knows what you’re capable of, just like you’re the only one who’s seen me at my most vulnerable. You’ve seen me stripped bare. He could’ve done whatever he wanted. I was the most helpless that I’ll ever be in my life.” A ball grew in my throat.

The words didn’t want to come. Hell, I didn’t want to say them, but this was important. Everything in me was screaming to let this out. It needed to be said, and somehow, I hoped it would help him. Somehow, it had to.

“Kian,” I murmured, moving with caution toward him. I was nearing a cornered wild animal, one that was wounded. I needed to go so carefully. “You lost control with Edmund because he was hurting me. You stopped him. Losing control that day and losing control with me—they’re two very different things. This is something else. It’s life. What you did to Edmund was to punish him. You saved me. You ended a life. Two completely separate things.”

“I can’t ever hurt you.” He shook his head. “I was in prison for two years. Thinking of you…I wanted to be with you even then. You were the first thing I thought about when I got out. I could finally see you. I realized you were hiding, and I had to find you. It felt like it did in high school—” He bit off his next words.

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