Mia Thrush placed her phone on the table and hit play. Soft grunts emitted from the video, followed by a tirade of dirty insults gradually gaining in both intensity and shocking graphic verbal details. “I had no idea there was a huge demand for men who like to be spanked. Of course, I could care less what game he plays in his personal time, or who he pays. Doesn’t look like his wife, though. Odd, don’t you think?”
She gazed at the stout, ruddy faced man dressed in the too-expensive suit and smiled slow. Adrenalin bubbled in her veins like a frothy glass of champagne, but she made sure not to show it. It had taken her weeks to find the ammunition needed to blow this egotist off his golden throne of smugness. Now that her time had arrived, she refused to rush.
She liked to toy with her prey before gutting them.
“You’re bluffing.” Bernard Worthington leaned over the table, his features twisted just enough for her to glimpse the rage banked beneath the cultivated surface. He refused to pick it up like it was a drug bust, but at this angle, he got a nice view of his client’s naked backside, sprawled over the knees of a sexy woman in a leather catsuit. Thank goodness his head was thrown back in a parody of pain and pleasure, clearly outlining his handsome, polished features of the Conservative, outspoken court judge.
Mia sipped her skinny vanilla Latte and pried the plastic lid open on her organic Greek yogurt with five blueberries. “I don’t bluff. You know that.”
Bernard clenched his jaw, staring at her phone in furious silence. She could practically hear the clickety click clack of keys in his brain as he sifted through his options. “Photoshopped,” he flicked out. “Happens all the time. A smear campaign.”
She popped one perfect spoonful in her mouth, chewing slowly to savor the first tartness of the fruit. She wasn’t allowed to eat again for another four hours, so she had to relish breakfast. This time, she’d rid herself of those pesky ten pounds with sheer grit and torturous intent. “Kitty will testify.”
His mouth fell halfway open before he quickly snapped it shut. “You’ll never get a prostitute to be a credible witness, or convince her to let the press feed on her in a frenzy.”
“Kitty isn’t a prostitute. She just likes to role play, but when this guy got all evangelistic on her after their encounter, promising her hell for leading men astray, let’s just say she got a bit ticked.” Ah, the redness in his cheeks was nicely replaced by the pasty white color of fear. She crossed her legs, squeezing her thighs together in sheer pleasure. It was like perfect foreplay.
“We’ll deny. You won’t win.”
His words contradicted the tone of his voice. She was a master at pinning down the exact moment of surrender from a competitor. On impulse, she spooned two blueberries at once in pure celebration. “We already have won. The press loves a good denial, especially when accompanied by colored proof. Plus, Kitty agreed to go public if necessary. He called her a slut. And it wasn’t during role play.”
His eyes bulged. “Are you nuts? She’s upset about being called a slut when she’s a prostitute from a sex club?”
She clucked her tongue and shook her head in warning. “I told you, Kitty is not a prostitute.”
“Bullshit. Then who’s taking the picture?”
Oh, she loved when justice served all. “Seems like the hotel owner kept some extra insurance for his special customers. Let’s just say Kitty found out, confiscated the photo, and kept it safe. For now.”
A vicious curse escaped his tight lips. “You want to ruin a man with a wife and family? Drag his name through the mud and destroy his career? Is that what this is about?”
She narrowed her gaze, refusing to take on guilt for the dirty part of the job they both did. “Actually, no. It doesn’t please me to ruin lives, especially with his children as the casualties. I want one simple thing, Bernard, and this whole thing can go away.”
She bit into her last blueberry, already mourning the end of her meager meal. Maybe she could throw an extra olive into her salad later. A small one. She had to look up the calories.
“Mia? What do you want?”
She dug deep and connected with the core of iciness that had served her well in this industry. Then she wrapped it around her real tight. Her reputation for ruthlessness was well known, but it was the coldness that allowed her to keep the necessary distance when doing her job.
“I want your client to stop trying to destroy Jonathan Lake. He will become the next New York Mayor, whether Judge Halloway likes it or not. Personally, I think it will be a lot easier if he supports Jonathan in the upcoming race instead of trying to smear him on social media as the ‘devil incarnate to family values in New York City’.” She mimicked the quotes in the air and rolled her eyes. “Honestly, I’m surprised he couldn’t come up with something more catchy. It has no real hook.”
Bernard looked at her in amazement. His voice faded against the daily morning chaos in Starbucks, forcing her to lean across the table to catch his remark. “You represent Jonathan Lake now?”
She tilted her head in mock surprise. “Of course. I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that?”
Steam rose from his head. Unfortunately, it was more the fact that he’d gotten beat by a woman than losing the skirmish. He was such a chauvinistic pig, just like his judge client. “No, you didn’t mention it. I thought this whole meeting was about that crazy musician guy who’s giving the city a hard time for being blocked at playing in Central Park? Figured you wanted the judge’s connections.”
“No, I took care of that a while ago. He’ll be playing in August. Maybe we’ll see you there?”
The rage was back, making his eyes seem beady and almost feral. He kind of reminded her of a rat, but not the cute one from Ratatouille. “Be careful, Mia. You’re getting a reputation for being a class A bitch. Soon, you may not have as many colleagues that have your back.”
“And you’ve always been a bastard, Bernard,” she said cheerfully. She scooped up her phone and pocketed it in her sky-blue Michael Kors purse in one smooth motion. “Guess that means we’re both good at our jobs, just like we should be. Shall I expect Judge Holloway to make a public statement supporting Jonathan’s run for Mayor?”
She could practically hear his teeth gnash together above the sounds of grinding coffee beans, whooshing cappuccino machines, and the endless chatter of the fast-moving crowd. “I’ll talk to him.”
“I’ll be in touch.” He stood, scraping back his chair, and shooting her a look she’d normally relish. The look that said she had finally arrived and was a good enough competitor to play.
Unfortunately, the satisfaction came twisted with a hint of guilt. This was the main reason she hated taking on political clients, but she had to admit, since Jonathan Lake had signed on to her publicity firm, her client list and profits had begun to skyrocket.
At this point, it was too late. She’d made a commitment and refused to fail. No matter what the cost.
Holding back a sigh, she threw out her empty yogurt container, grabbed her coffee, and strode back out into the streets. The June morning was muggy, and the stale city air clung to her skin and clogged her lungs. Her nude Prada heels clicked steadily over the pavement while she pushed her way through the crowds milling around street corners and crammed by food trucks, her mind furiously working on the next step of her plan.
Now that she’d gotten a handle on the latest smear campaign, she could focus on building more social friendly media posts. Lake’s work as District Attorney was heavy on reducing crime, but he lacked the well-rounded family dynamics of his competitor. As a widower, the public was more sympathetic, but eventually they’d want to see his softer side, especially with his daughter. At least, summer was close. She’d be home for two months from college and Mia could plan some family time to remind the public Jonathan Lake believed in core values. Nothing was better than the city watching his teen daughter stand by his side. Mia was already planning a bunch of events that piggybacked on his stellar record of convictions. At this point in the campaign, other than a sex scandal, she was poised to get Lake elected.
The sound of a car pulling up interrupted them. He stepped in front of her. A fierce protective energy beat from his figure in waves. “If they’re back I’m about to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”
She peered around his muscled body and watched an elegant white limousine stop a few feet from the door. “Is Ophelia hosting a celebrity?” she asked curiously. The smoked windows blocked her view. Selfishly, she hoped not. She was looking for the next few days to be quiet around the Inn and not interrupt their nightly family dinners and routine with demanding guests. The Inn was becoming more like her second home. Funny, how things had changed since the first day she checked in and thought she’d be trapped in hell.
The door swung open. A pair of gorgeous, sleek legs clad in four inch stilettos hit the ground. The woman that unfolded herself from the limo was strikingly gorgeous. Golden hair like a waterfall flowed down her back to her waist. She wore gold Versace sunglasses and a wraparound red jersey dress that accented every perfect, gorgeous curve. A giant diamond on her ring finger flashed brilliantly in the sunlight.
Yep, definitely famous and vaguely familiar. Was she a popular tv actress? Mia could swear she’d seen her somewhere. High maintenance, too. Mia knew the type immediately but she’d be nice if the woman was staying at Ophelia’s. “I think I know her. Is she on some popular series that’s getting a lot of buzz? I’m terrible remembering names but—Ethan, what’s wrong?”
Frozen in place, his gaze locked on the mysterious visitor like he’d been confronted by a ghost. A touch of nausea hit her gut when she realized Ethan knew this woman. It was in the shock glinting in his blue eyes; the clench of his jaw; the defensive stance as he watched. Still, she tamped down the panic and asked again. “Ethan, who is that?”
“Ah, fuck.” He broke out of his trance and plowed his fingers through his hair in sheer frustration. “She is unbelievable.”
“Who?” she demanded, her voice a few shades too high.
He faced her with a resolution that warned his answer was going to be bad. Very, very bad.
The words fired like gunshots, shredding flesh and bone and vulnerable organs. Time stilled, then re-started in slow motion. Mia stared at him. He said something else, his lips kept moving, but her ears roared and popped like she was trapped in an airplane crashing toward the ground. She stumbled the few steps it took to reach him, blinking up at his gorgeous face she’d fallen in love with.
Then she pulled back her fist and punched him in the eye.
He stumbled back with a vicious curse. “You fucking bastard!” she screamed. “Stay away from me or I’ll blacken the other eye!”
Hand throbbing, Mia ran toward the Inn and sanctuary,
Ethan watched the woman he loved run away while he clutched his swollen right eye. Holy shit, she had a wicked hook. The pain and betrayal on her face ripped at his heart, urging him to go after her, but he had to take care of this situation before he could make it right with Mia.
“Still breaking hearts around the world, I see.” The smooth, seductive voice came a few inches away. Ethan turned to face her, along with the rest of her entourage currently pouring out of the limo. Delilah never travelled without her stylist, PR person, and personal assistant. A camera was always on to catch every last moment of her celebrity. Why hadn’t that ever bothered him?
Because he’d never questioned the lifestyle. Their brief engagement had been as fun and frothy as their affair, but not real. When he left on various missions, she’d welcomed him back with open arms, but they had never really tested their relationship. He’d popped the question during a party with Bradley Cooper, under a full moon, on the deck at a multi-million-dollar estate. Drunk on champagne and romance, she’d said yes.
A week later, he was called out to his mission and returned home a different man.
She’d visited him in the hospital, but they quickly realized they didn’t love each other enough. Shattered by the event, he’d withdrawn into himself, and she had no motivation to fight for them.
Neither did he.
She kept the ring and went back to Hollywood. He agreed to the spin-off story of her broken-hearted betrayal when he called off the engagement in a cruel move to distance himself. He knew he’d been in the papers for a while, but after a week, another major Hollywood split took off the heat and he slipped back into anonymity.
He pulled his focus from the past and back to their conversation.
“You saying I broke your heart, Delilah?” he asked, arms crossed in front of his chest.
“Didn’t you?” she shot back, tossing her golden hair. With a heart-stopping smile, she moved toward him in an animal type prowl he used to find sexy.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, refusing to engage in her games.
She clucked her tongue. “Darling, your eye looks horrific. When did you start getting involved with such primitive women?”
“Passionate, not primitive. And I’m not going to stand here and banter with you. Now, I’d suggest you tell me why you’re here.”
Temper snapped in her crystal green eyes, but she hid it quickly. She turned to her crew and asked them to give her some privacy, then turned back to him. “I need to talk to you. It’s important. Can we go someplace?”
He held back a groan. He needed to get his ass over to Mia and explain this shit, but the best way to get rid of Delilah was to hear her out. He gave a sharp nod. “Follow me. I don’t have much time.”
She tried to keep pace in those ridiculous shoes, which again reminded him of Mia. Sickness twisted in his gut. She believed he’d betrayed her. He needed to tell her the whole damn story—which he should’ve done before—and get her to understand. Finally, he reached the bungalow.
Sweat glowed on her face. “Dear Lord, Ethan, you live in the woods? I can’t believe things have gotten this bad and—what is that!”
Hei Hei came charging out from behind the house, crowing in excitement, then stopped short when he realized it wasn’t Mia. The chicken practically glared at the intruder and shook out his crazy head feathers in warning.
Ethan bit back a grin. “That’s Hei Hei. He’s my chicken.”
“Oh, my God, get him away from me, he’s absolutely disgusting.”
Hei Hei scratched the ground with his clawed feet and let out an irritated squawk. Delilah put her hands out, face pale with fear. “Get that thing away from me, Ethan, I mean it.”
“Hei Hei, Mia’s not here. Go back to the hen house.” The chicken rolled his eyes, turned, and stalked off in fowl temper. “Now, talk. I don’t have much time. I need to explain to the woman I love why you’re here and wearing an engagement ring from our past.”
She screwed up her face to reflect an expression of hurt. “This ring means something to me. Haven’t you ever thought about us, Ethan? Thought we deserve a second chance? We were both confused from the accident but now that time has gone by, maybe we should reconsider our relationship?”
“I wasn’t confused. I was fucked up, but we both recognized there was something lacking in our relationship. You had no interest in staying with me and fled as fast as possible.”
“That wasn’t my fault! I had an important audition and I ended up getting the part. I planned to come back later and work it out.”
“It’s been months and not even a phone call? I’m not blaming you, Delilah. It was my fault, too. Didn’t the story for the press work out well enough for you?”
“I take offense to that statement. We can make it right again.”
Slowly, the true knowledge of her visit dawned on him. “You need to get yourself back in the spotlight,” he breathed out in astonishment. “You want some big attention for a specific reason and figured re-establishing our engagement would give that to you. Is it for the new season you’re taping? HBO?”
He’d read here and there about the new up and coming season premiere on the cable company she’d starred in. They wanted another season, but with all the competition with other network shows, good or bad press was an important factor to increase viewers.
The anger was back in spades. She practically spit out her denial. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m doing fine and we’ve just begun taping for the second season.”
Delilah had always doubted her talents, preferring gossip to help drive sales rather than her acting ability. “You don’t need me to whip up audience interest. You’re enough pull to get the viewers you need. Don’t you realize that?”
She took a step forward, her voice an impassioned plea. “I’ve been thinking of you lately and want you to return with me to Hollywood. Give us some time to heal. We were so good together, Ethan. Things were so easy between us, remember?”
His temper drained away. That was the exact reason he’d asked her to marry him. His heart had never been at risk, and Delilah never asked for more. She was happy to live a surface life that looked good on camera. The moment it got messy, they’d both run with no apology.
Shame burned through him at his shallowness. How could he have been a man to care so much about saving others, but ask so little for his personal life? Had he really believed this was the best type of relationship for him to build a future? No wonder it had been so easy after his accident to walk away with no regrets. All this time, he assumed he’d been lacking in an emotional depth that allowed him to really open up and love someone. With Mia, it was so natural to want to give. To be vulnerable. To be the best man he could, even when he still doubted his worth, because the look in her eyes made him feel like a God. Made him believe in himself once again. Their relationship was the start of something good he intended to nurture and keep burning bright, because Mia was too important to lose.
He had to tell her. But first he needed Delilah to understand the truth.
He shook his head and smiled with a touch of sadness. “That was the whole problem. It was so easy, we didn’t really care enough. Don’t you think there’s something wrong with that? Don’t you think we deserve better? Cause I do. Delilah, you need to do this on your own and not rely on a fake engagement to land yourself on Entertainment Tonight. And I can’t allow you to wreck a relationship that gives me what I need by hurting her with lies. Take your camera crew and your posse and go home. Let’s keep our memories of what we had without dragging them through the mud. We’re just different people. Don’t you see?”
Ethan stared into her eyes, willing her to listen. She held his gaze for a while, not moving. When she finally spoke, her voice held a faraway longing. “It was good at the time though, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah. It just wasn’t meant to be long term.”
“You really think I’m a good actress?”
He grinned. “I always did.”
She nodded. “I’m sorry about your leg, Ethan. About not being there. I really do care about you. Are you sure you want to bury yourself out in the boondocks? You have many friends in Hollywood, you know. They’d hire you.”
“It’s okay. This is my home now, and I’m happy here. To be honest, I have everything I ever wanted.”
A faint smile touched her lips. “I’m glad. Goodbye, Ethan.”
He watched her walk away, gingerly picking her way up the path in her high heels, and once again disappear from his life. Like last time, there was no regret, just knowledge a marriage between them would’ve been disastrous.
But now he had a bigger problem.
He had to make Mia listen to him without bashing up his other eye. Or worse, another more important part of his anatomy.
With a long groan, he headed toward the Inn.
* * *
She couldn’t wait in her room.
Ophelia had gone to the market to shop for dinner, and no guests lingered to watch the unfolding drama and humiliation. Thank God. She grabbed her phone, snuck down the stairs, out the back kitchen door, and ran into the woods. She headed away from the bungalow and stables and Inn. She needed time alone to think and decide how she going to handle this.
He’d betrayed her.
Her heart still throbbed like a thorn stuck under the skin. Nausea threatened to force her to pause, but she kept going, heading toward the creek where she’d hiked with Chloe. So stupid. She’d trusted him, believing he spoke the truth about loving her. The whole time he was seducing her every night, he had a famous fiancé tucked away on the sidelines. It had just been a summer fling after all. He’d counted on her leaving in a week, and then he’d go back to his real life.
Her past humiliations flickered past her vision, blurring the path ahead. Twice she’d been lied to and cheated on. She hadn’t seen this one coming. His sisters had never ratted him out or seemed like it was a betrayal to seduce a woman after giving an engagement ring to another. Had they all been laughing at her? What made her the type of person others didn’t care about hurting?
She walked and raged and tortured herself until every inch of skin felt bruised. Finally, she reached the rushing creek, and rested against a large rock caked in mud and moss. Tears stung her eyes but she was too enraged to allow them to fall.
His ruse was officially over. She had a job to do and a real life to get back to. Jonathan was arriving tomorrow night, and would be ready to yank both her and his daughter back to the city. She’d promised herself to try and help Chloe stay and she would. But Mia intended to drive home tomorrow night. Chloe’s community service was over, and she’d be back in her father’s care.
It was time for her to leave this summer behind her.
The rustle of brush and a low bark echoed in the air. Jerking around, she squinted and caught a glimpse of Wheezy heading down the hill toward her. He gave an excited bark and picked up his pace as her scent seemed to sharpen. “What are you doing down here, baby?” she called out.
“I gave him your sweater and told him to find you.”
A ragged cry escaped her lips. Ethan hiked down the hall, right behind the dog, his face steeled in determination.
“Get away from me,” she managed to snap out. “If you take one more step, I’ll make sure those family jewels are permanently broken.”
He stopped a good few feet before her. His gaze searched her face, those blue eyes filled with an anguish that confirmed his guilt. “I figured you’d say that. I’ll stay here but you have to listen.”
“I don’t have to do anything. You lied to me and played me for an idiot. You must’ve had a good laugh over this one. Keeping a famous fiancé hidden away while you have a hot summer affair. Now I know who she is. It’s Delilah Lace—the big tv actress. It makes so much sense now. You said you were a bodyguard in Hollywood. Was she your client?”
His lips set in a straight line. “Yes.”
The world spun. “I’m going to be sick.”
He started marching forward, but she stumbled back to avoid him. He stopped, his eyes filled with frustration. “Mia, sit down right now,” he snapped out. “Head between your knees.”
Wheezy whined and licked her leg. As ridiculous as she felt taking his orders, she squatted to her knees and began to breathe, slowing down her heartbeat. Finally, her vision cleared. The dog nuzzled her cheek in comfort, bringing tears to her eyes.
“Okay?” he asked.
“I want you to leave right now, before I lose it.”
“No. You have to hear this first, dammit. We were engaged for three weeks before I left on a mission. When I got back, I was fucked up—both my brain and my leg. She came to see me in the hospital, and we realized immediately everything had changed. She wanted things to go back to the way they were, Mia. Hollywood parties and red carpets and fun. She wanted me to be her bodyguard again and leave the military behind, along with my memories. She couldn’t understand I was too damaged. I had changed. I could never go back to the man I was. To what we were.”
“What was her response to that?” she said cooly, trying desperately to stave the open, bloody wound of her heart.
“She was concerned about how it would look—not about losing me. I told her it was okay to spin the story so it looked like I broke up with her and that I was a cold-hearted bastard. We didn’t care about each other enough to fight for the relationship. We ended it months ago. She’s no longer my fiancée, and hasn’t been for months. You have to believe me.”
“She had a ring on her finger! You called her your fiancée right to my face!”
He spit out a curse, tunneling his fingers through his hair. “Crap, it came out wrong, okay? I corrected it immediately and told you she was my ex. Didn’t you hear me?”
She hadn’t, but it didn’t mean anything. He was probably desperate to deflect. “Why was she here, seeking you out then?”
“Because she had some harebrained scheme to ramp up publicity for the next season of her series. She’s addicted to social media and those ridiculous entertainment shows. She figured if she got me to play along with the possibility of a second chance, it would hit the papers and tv and put her in the spotlight. I had told her to keep the ring but it means nothing. I swear to God, Mia, I just told her about you and that I wasn’t about to screw up the best thing in my life. She left, and she won’t bother us again.”
Her thoughts came in choppy bursts, trying to piece together his story. It made no sense. This was his last-ditch attempt to save himself from being outed by his fiancée and her. Right? Hadn’t she gone through this exact type of episode twice before, only to be humiliated?
Then why, oh, why did he seem like he was telling the truth?
She forced the words from her choked throat. “All those nights we lay together talking. I told you about my last two relationships. We shared so much but not once did you mention you’d once been engaged to a famous actress. You’d already told me about being a bodyguard. Why did you leave it out?”
His strong features looked ravaged. “Because I was an asshole, believing it didn’t matter.”
She narrowed her gaze and embraced the icy coldness settling deep in her gut. Finally, she sensed he was full of bull-shit. Her voice came out cool and clipped. “Lie. We’re done here.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked again, her body shaking.
“Because I fucked up! I was ashamed of myself, okay.”
The silence shattered around them. She hugged her arms tight around her body, fighting the urge to go to him, even when he’d betrayed her. God, she was so stupid. Even now, she loved him with every inch of her being, but she refused to soften.
“Why would you be ashamed to tell me you had a previous relationship? Do you know what it feels like, right now, Ethan? Like you lied on purpose because you were still in love with her and hoped you’d get back together. Or that you had completely broken her heart and can’t face up to it. Is that what this is about?”
Pain radiated from his figure in waves, whipping out in an effort to touch her. “I was ashamed to tell you, but not because of what I did to her. I never hurt her, Mia. She never loved me enough for that, and I never truly loved her. I was ashamed at what I did to myself. What I believed love really was.”
Before she could process, he’d closed the distance between them. Her back hit the wall of rock behind her, but kept moving forward until he was in her space; until his hands had closed around her shoulders and his warm breath rushed over her lips and his eyes, those burning pale blue eyes, captured hers in a visual embrace that shook her very core. Trapped against the rock and his hard, muscled chest, she shuddered. Mia clung to his last words, desperate to understand. “What do you mean?”
His jaw clenched. “I never knew until you,” he grit out. “I thought love was fun and frothy, like a fucking cocktail you get on a remote beach. I thought it was easy and neat and tidy. But it’s nothing like that. My feelings for Delilah never scratched the surface. I didn’t know what love meant until I met you, Mia.”
Her heart stopped beating. Terrified, she shook her head, moaning in denial at his words. This lie could destroy her, and she didn’t have the strength to fight. She was too weak around him, too vulnerable. “Don’t,” she broke out. “Please, don’t.”
“I have to.” He tipped her chin up, forcing her to look at him. “Love isn’t anything like I thought. It’s raw and messy and carnal. It strips you down and builds you back up, until you become someone you always dreamed of being, but never thought you could. It steals your soul and rips you open.”
A sob caught in her throat. “What are you doing to me?” she whispered.
“There’s nothing I need more than you, Mia. Not my breath or my heart or my soul. All I need is you to say you believe me. That you know I love you. That I’m not lying and this is all me, telling you my truth.”
Her voice broke. “I don’t know.”
“Then let me show you.”
His mouth crashed over hers.
* * *
She stood still under the storm of emotion that crashed over her in a violent type tornado. Slammed by the sheer male power of the sensual kiss demanding her response, she rose up to meet him, digging her nails into his shoulders and kissed him back with a feminine fury no man could handle.
Except Ethan Bishop.
He took it all and whipped it back, dragging her under a spell with his tongue and teeth and lips, while his hands cupped her face, thumbs stroking her cheeks as he ravaged her without apology.
He swallowed her throaty moan, nipping at her bottom lip, soothing with his tongue. “I love you, Mia,” he said again, his mouth whispering over her jaw, peppering kisses on her neck, biting deep in the sensitive curve of her shoulder. “There’s no one else. I would never lie to you, baby. I need you. Right now.”
She was frantic for the connection, to drown in his kisses and heat, to be taken to a place where nothing else existed except for the raw hunger to be assuaged. He tore down her jeans and she frantically unbuckled his belt, shoving her hands under denim to cup his hard, throbbing erection. With a groan, he quickly covered himself with a condom, then lifted her high against the rock. Panting with desperation, she gazed into those seething blue eyes and knew this moment would change everything. In this very moment, he was about to claim her at the most basic, primitive level.
With a savage growl, he slammed her down and impaled her on his cock.
She screamed. He kissed her, swallowing the sound, jerking his hips so her clit scraped against the hard ridges with every controlled motion. Up, down, up, down, she rode him with a primal violence that stripped away all civilities, stripping her soul down to her pure, naked form.
“All for you, baby,” he growled in her ear. His hand slipped between them, and strummed her clit. “Now, come for me.”
Her body spasmed in fierce waves of pleasure. She sunk her teeth into his shoulder. He took it all, waiting till she was just coming down to pinch her clit hard.
She came again.
When she finally slumped in his arms, she lay her head on his shoulder and allowed the tears to stream down her cheeks.
She believed him. He loved her. His truth was in every thrust of his cock, every kiss of his lips, every stroke of his fingers. He held her for a long time, murmuring in her ear, rubbing her back and Mia knew it was time to decide what came next.
“Let me take you home, baby,” he whispered.
He cleaned them up and straightened out their clothes. With his arms wrapped around her and Wheezy trotting by their side, they made their way back to the bungalow.