When he’d proposed getting married in Vegas—after the most intense night of sex she’d ever had—the part of herself she’d kept hidden from everyone had jumped at his offer. He’d never actually said the words ‘I love you’, but then again, neither had she. Hell, she’d never had anyone say them to her. Even thinking the words felt foreign. But deep down, she knew what she felt for him was love.
Wyatt stripped his T-shirt off and tossed it onto the chair tucked under the small teak desk by the expansive windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. Of course the ceiling to floor length drapes were pulled tightly shut and for all he knew Iris had ordered to have the hurricane shutters drawn outside too. Not that he blamed her.
He’d already ordered his regular security to close the house up tight, but Iris had been vigilant when she’d arrived, checking and double-checking everything herself. Going to pick her up with Jay had been a risk, but he’d been willing to take the chance to see her. The poisoning attempt on his life had been subtle, which told him a little about who was coming after him. Well, as much as it could. He was currently in the process of bidding on a company that had just produced a software program that was hack resistant. The truth was, almost everything could be hacked eventually. But if he won this bid he would also gain rights to work with Eldon Osborn, the man who’d designed the program. Since Wyatt hadn’t been able to hire him away from his current employer because of contractual issues, he hoped to get the computer genius this way.
Osborn had written an article six months ago in some obscure science journal about ideas he had on making clean energy more affordable to the masses. And Wyatt was more than a little intrigued. He wanted Osborn on his payroll and he intended to get him.
Shaking those thoughts free, he took a step toward the king-sized bed and as his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he realized Iris was awake and watching him. Her head was lying on the pillow and she had the covers pulled up to her waist. He could see she was wearing a tank top and wondered if she had anything else on under the covers.
She hadn’t moved when he’d first entered the room, but he’d known she’d wake up soon enough. She was a lighter sleeper than he was. Part of him was surprised she was actually waiting in bed for him after the way she’d run from him in the pantry. Not that he blamed her. He was still pissed that Ellie had interrupted them, but she’d just been doing her job. His assistant slept as little as he did, so he couldn’t get too angry.
Iris’s gaze flicked to digital clock on the nightstand, then back to him. It was close to four in the morning. “Everything okay?” Her voice was raspy with sleep.
He nodded, loving the vision of her in his bed. Hair tousled around her face and bleary-eyed, he liked seeing her like this. In an intimate way no one else ever did. “Yeah. Just work stuff that wouldn’t wait.”
She sat up, as if she meant to get out of bed, but he shook his head. “I’m beat. Stay with me tonight? Just to sleep.”
“I’d planned to…only to keep an eye on you in a professional sense.” Her lips quirked up at the corners.
“Is that why you’re waiting in my bed?”
Rolling her eyes, she fell back against the pillow. “I’m not ruining my beauty sleep waiting for you.”
Wyatt stripped off his jeans, but left his boxers on. Normally he slept naked, but if he took off everything, he’d end up throwing his good intentions out the window. He needed to knock down the walls Iris had erected between them and get to the source of the problem. Because he knew it wasn’t the reason she’d given him. Yeah, he’d made a stupid assumption, but there was something else holding her back from him.
He slid into bed behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her tight against him. Her body was pliant, molding perfectly into him. Inwardly he cursed when he realized she was wearing long pajama pants. Okay, so she hadn’t been waiting here naked for him. Leaning closer he buried his face against her neck and inhaled that sweet scent that was purely Iris.
She tensed for a moment, then laid her hand over the one he’d draped across her stomach, expelling a soft chuckle. “Go to sleep, Wyatt,” she murmured. “I know you’re tired.”
He was, which was another reason he wasn’t pushing for things to go further with her tonight—even if he was hard as stone. The next time he had her flat on her back he wanted to spend hours pleasuring her. Not a frantic fucking where they both got off then passed out. Right now was about building trust and deepening that intimacy in the way he should have done back in Vegas.
The house was well insulated so he couldn’t hear anyone else moving around. Of course her security team was quiet and taking care to be invisible. He’d sneaked up on a couple of them just because he could and to remind himself that he might not be in the Marines anymore but he was no less deadly. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Something he and Iris had in common. While he still didn’t know everything she’d done while she’d been in the Corps, he could guess. She’d been part of a secretive intel unit that did…hell, he had no clue. He loved how smart she was though. Smart and lethal. A sexy combination. But then, he loved everything about her. Once he’d proposed marriage and she’d agreed he’d assumed she’d admit her feelings for him. She still hadn’t. Instead she’d given him the most intoxicating, addictive days of sex he’d ever had, then left. Like what they shared hadn’t mattered.
His entire body tensed at the thought and he forced himself to breathe normally. Getting pissed about it wouldn’t do him any good. He just needed to figure out why she’d left and make sure he kept her in his life this time. Because life without her was unthinkable.
“What’s wrong?” she asked quietly. Iris’s breathing was steady, but he’d known she wasn’t sleeping. He didn’t like that she read him so well.
“Nothing.” The answer was automatic.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Just thinking.” Oh yeah, that answer was going to pacify her.
“I thought you told me to go to sleep.”
“Don’t be a smartass.” There was a tiny bite of censure in her words.
Wyatt loved getting her riled up. “You, me, other stuff. My dad died a couple weeks ago.” He’d been planning to tell her, but hadn’t wanted to in front of anyone else.
She sucked in a sharp breath and started to turn around, but he held her tight. The room was dark, their sources of light the digital clock and streams of moonlight coming in through the exposed window in the bathroom. Iris must have left the bathroom door open for a source of visibility. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
They’d done nothing but argue the past month every time they talked and the truth was, he’d emotionally buried his father years ago. “It wasn’t important.” Mainly because he’d known she’d have insisted on going with him to the funeral and it would have been out of pity, nothing else.
She cursed under her breath, then said, “Did you have a funeral?”
“Yeah, it was just me and some of his old war buddies. I didn’t stay long.” His father had been a drunk and a dick. Once Wyatt had become financially secure he’d taken care of all his father’s financials but in the end liver cancer had taken him. Not exactly surprising.
“I don’t blame you. He was an asshole.”
Wyatt smiled into her hair. Iris didn’t sugarcoat things very often and she was right, his father had been that.
“I wish I’d been there for you though, I know that must have been tough,” she whispered, her hand tightening on his.
He wished she’d been there too, but didn’t want to talk about it. “What time are you waking up?”
“Gotta get up at six to get ready and meet with the morning crew. I set the alarm on my phone, but I’ll be quiet when I leave your room.”
“Our room,” he said automatically. When she didn’t respond, he persisted. “Say it.”
She let out a sigh of exasperation. “Only because you won’t let me sleep if I don’t. Fine, our room.”
“You know everything I have is yours.” Something she didn’t seem to understand. He’d tried to give her a diamond ring, but she’d looked so uncomfortable wearing it, he’d had a simple platinum band personalized instead. He could feel it on her now as her fingers interlocked with his. It pleased him more than he’d imagined that she’d put it back on. It meant she’d packed it with her.
“Hmm,” she murmured, snuggling tighter against him. “Go to sleep.”
Wyatt could have pushed her, but there was no point. He sure as hell didn’t want to argue, he just wanted to hold the woman he loved and get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. And love her, he did. More than anything. More than all his fucking money; a knowledge that scared the shit out of him.
He’d grown up dirt poor with a father who’d blown almost every dime on alcohol. Money had been Wyatt’s way of gaining security. Now he had enough to last too many lifetimes to count. Some days he’d worried that it would never be enough.
Until Iris had strolled back into his life. Technically they’d never truly lost contact. She’d stayed in the Corps longer than him and he’d been busy trying to get rich. But after she’d gotten out, they’d been in constant contact for the last two years. While he’d always been attracted to her—since they were teenagers—becoming successful had still been his number one priority. Ending up like his father hadn’t been an option.
But he’d known he loved her a year ago when he couldn’t get in touch with her for two weeks. His entire world had shifted and he’d known without a doubt that he’d give up everything for her. Turned out she’d just been on a job and unable to communicate. But it had been a wakeup call for him. Ever since then he’d been slowly maneuvering his way into getting her to Vegas. He’d known once he got her on his turf it would only be a matter of time before he had her under him. That had happened a hell of a lot sooner than he’d planned, but once it had, he’d needed to lock her down with a ring on the most primal level. He’d needed everyone to know she was taken. By him.