Page 10

Author: Pepper Winters

“I’m refusing you because you’re an overbearing psycho who can’t take no for an answer and stole my freedom and my knife. Your scar has nothing to do with it.”

My temper built. “I know you need money for something. The way you look at the wealth around us screams the truth.”

She froze.

“I’m guessing you need a sizeable sum.” I glared harder, deciphering the greed and hunger in her eyes. She didn’t seem the type to want frivolous things. It was for something deeper…something….

The answer appeared from nowhere—like it always did when I let myself delve deep.

“You need it for someone you care about. I’m also guessing you’d do almost anything to get it.” I delivered it like a threat, a curse. “All I’m asking is for you to let me fuck you. And I’ll give you what you need. Name a figure and it’s yours to spend however you fucking want.”

My lifeless heart stuttered as her fight faded and her green eyes shimmered with tears. “You arrogant prick.” The spark and intense awareness between us shifted from lust-filled-competition to grief-ridden. “You don’t know a thing about me. You don’t deserve any part of me.”


I didn’t know what to do. Standing there like an idiot, I offered no condolences as she sniffed and gritted her teeth. No tears fell, but the glossy look never fully disappeared. “You truly are a bastard. For your information I felt what you did. I found you intriguing and don’t mind admitting I entertained the thought of what it would be like to kiss you. You could’ve had me. All you had to do was be a gentlemen and ask me on a fucking date. But you ruined it, and now you’ve used my one weakness and made me feel like shit.” Her shoulders fell, and I knew I’d won.

I’d won, but I didn’t feel victorious. I felt like fucking scum.

Being able to read what people tried to keep hidden meant I could intimidate and influence. Up till now, I didn’t give a rats-ass about hurting anyone, but this woman… this woman….Shit.

Sighing, I muttered, “Tell me about your ear, then maybe I’ll let you go.” Give me one piece of you. I placed my hands in my pockets and backed off a little, giving the illusion of freedom and safety.

She shook her head, balling her fists. “What sort of mind games are you playing? Why do you want to know anything about me?” Her voice was soft but strong, lyrical but brave. Something twinged deep inside, recognising the fight in her—the same fight that lived in me.

Spreading my arms, I said, “No games. You were honest with me, so I’ll be honest with you. I’ve lived a lonely life—not through my own choice—and for the first time I connected with someone. I like the lust flowing in my veins. I love the anticipation of fucking you. And I love your fierceness.” I waited for her to look up—to make eye contact—but she never did.

“If I tell you about my ear, you’ll let me go?” she asked softly.

I stifled my growl. After my honesty, admitting I was drawn to her, all she wanted to do was leave. Fine. I crossed my arms. “I said maybe.”

Silence pulsed between us, thickening with tension. The ache in my cock was overshadowed by an ache for something different. I needed pain. I needed a fight. Only pain could eliminate the confusion and give me room to breathe. I hated suffering such intense emotions, all while hoping they’d never leave.

I felt alive. And annoyed and horny and frustrated.

The fight with Everest had done nothing. His fists hadn’t hurt; he’d been too easy to defeat. Arrogant bastard hadn’t lived up to his boasting and now I’d have to find another way to self-medicate with pain.

I didn’t think Zel would answer, but finally she said, “It was my foster-sister. They were my ninth foster family, and I was more like a feral cat than a little girl. For the first day, I was a novelty, same as always, same as before, but then by the third or fourth day, I was the toy that got pulled apart. Her and her brother coaxed me into the garage, saying they’d seen a kitten running around.

“I related more to animals and only the thought of having a feline friend made me follow. Once we were there, they threw me to the ground and duct-taped my legs and arms.”

She paused, unconsciously tracing the piece missing from her ear. “They used their father’s tin-snips to cut me, saying I should be tagged like a wild animal seeing as I would never be a real girl. Afterward, they left me to bleed until their father arrived home from work. Instead of rushing me to the hospital, he attempted to sew it up himself. If child services had found out his own children hurt me, he would’ve been taken off the list for carers and denied the weekly paycheque.

“Thing was, he did such a bad job, I ended up looking like I’d been mauled by a dog.” Her body tensed, morphing from victim to fighter. “That night, I ran. It was the first time I ran away. I had no money or idea where I was going, but it was the best thing that happened to me. Running, that is.”

I hadn’t noticed my fists had curled and every muscle tensed. The urge to find pain mixed with the urge to take retribution on those bastard’s children. I had no qualms about hurting minors. “How old were you?”


My respect for her increased. Not only was she a strong woman, but she’d been a strong child, too. A bit like me in a way. I ran, but unfortunately ran in the wrong direction.

I wanted to ask about her other flaws. I needed to know every secret but I wanted to savour them—try and unravel them before learning the truth from her. And I would find the truth because she wasn’t leaving.

“Thank you for telling me.”

She raised her eyes; the green was darker, more forest than grass. “Now will you let me go?”

I smiled, forcing the scar on my cheek into a grimace. “No. I have no choice. I can’t let someone go who intrigues me this much. Who makes my cock ache this hard. I don’t even know you, yet you invoke more questions and urges than anyone before.” Shrugging, I encroached on her space, pushing her back. “I won’t let you go until I’ve had you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

She looked at me as if I were the devil asking for her soul.

My stomach roiled with sick satisfaction. Too long I’d been the one being used. It would be nice to use someone else for change. To use her body, her mind, her soul to fix everything inside me.

Zel took a step back, eyes flashing with green embers. “You’re unhinged. Do you honestly think I want you after that? Whatever attraction I felt has flown away thanks to your caveman demands. You’re an imbecile, and I’m done. Let me go.”

I ghosted forward, heart racing with the thought of taking her against her will. You can’t do that. You know what it feels like too clearly.

Standing still, I straightened my shoulders. “How much?”

She slammed hands onto her hips glaring as if she could incinerate me with her gaze. “Are you fucking deaf? There is no price. There is no deal. I’m leaving, and you can’t stop me.” Her face tightened; her lithe body trembled. Everything about her made me want to taste.

Balling my hands, I winced at the small cuts on my knuckles from the fight. “What’s your full name?” I decided to go a different tact—confusion. Wear her down with insinuations and endless questions.

Scowling, she exhaled heavily; anger flushed her cheeks turning her skin from cream to roses. Her eyes darted around the space—over my shoulder, at the statues, toward the stairs. Every flick of her gaze cut me off from seeing her thoughts.

Goddammit, look into my eyes. I’d never realized how much I relied on seeing into someone’s soul. It gave me clues and insights I couldn’t get otherwise.

“If you’re looking for a weapon you won’t find one, and I doubt you’re strong enough to throw a fifty kilo statue at my face.” I patted my pocket where her knife lay. “Agree to a sum and as an act of good faith, I’ll give you back your blade.”

She froze as deliberations played over her face. “Let me get this straight. You want to pay me to fuck you, even though you own a monstrosity of a mansion and could get any woman into bed if you actually learned some tact and charm.” Her perfect pouty lips quirked into half a smile. “Rather sad when I think about it. Shame I don’t sleep with men out of pity or for money or for any reason so shut up and let me leave.”

My eyes couldn’t stop looking at her condescending half smile. Mocking me. Belittling me. Half smiles were lazy. They were fake. Either smile with your fucking soul or don’t bother.

Probably why I hadn’t smiled since I was six. My soul was dead.

I’d had enough. Anger frothed in my blood, and I needed her beneath me. No more fucking games.

“I don’t just want any woman. I want you. So stop fucking me around. Name your price and I’ll pay it.”

I may own a mansion and a tempting club, but I hadn’t shared my bed with anyone. Sure, I’d fucked before, but never had the responsibility or pleasure of sleeping beside another. To sleep with someone was the sign of ultimate trust. To be defenceless in the presence of another? No. It wasn’t an option with my past.

Zel pursed her lips, not saying a word.

“Give in. This is one business transaction I’ll win, dobycha.”

“Whatever you’re calling me. Stop it,” she snarled, her eyes lighting with green fire. “Don’t call me that.”

Her strength and blatant disregard of my request stoked my temper until my body ran hot with feral energy. I wanted this woman to fear me, yet she stood regal and taunting—untouchable.

My eyes fell to her breasts, rising and falling rapidly. “This could’ve been so simple. I’m not asking to hurt you. I’m asking to give you pleasure while taking my own and pay you a handsome sum.” I licked my lips loving the tightness in my belly and pangs in my cock. “I need to fuck you, and the more you fight the worse it gets.”

I moved forward and captured her chin, holding her tight. The intense spark between us returned like a lightning bolt, whizzing and searing, turning my fucking thoughts to mush.

Goddammit, I wanted her.

Her skin glistened, mouth parted. The angry flush faded only to be replaced with colour full of erotic need. I dropped my hand from her chin to her breast.

She froze even as her back arched, forcing more flesh into my palm. Rage battled with flaming lust in her eyes, and I forgot how to fucking breathe as I fondled her, completely consumed by the way her nipple hardened and peaked.

The argument and refusal only hiked my need. My head filled with images of how wet she’d be, how soft she’d feel, how sweet she’d taste.

I couldn’t take it anymore. “I’ll pay you one hundred thousand dollars.”

Her mouth plopped wide; she didn’t breathe.

I had a sudden psychotic urge to kiss her. Every second I spent touching her brought me back to life, wrenching me from the bones and ashes of my past. She was ambrosia, utopia—a cure.

Fuck, I couldn’t wait much longer. I’d take her over the balcony in full view of the fighters below if she refused. Closing my eyes briefly, I muttered one word but it throbbed with everything I needed. “Please…”

Zel sucked in a shaky breath, her breast still hot in my hand. “One hundred thousand dollars? To do what exactly?”

I had no idea.

Suck my cock; let me do untold things to you. Let me touch you. Fuck you.

A plan formed rapidly in my head. I could keep her for a certain amount of time. By locking her into a contract it would give me time to figure out what the fuck I was doing.

“One month. You’d stay here. With me.”

A thrill of fear shot through me at the thought of her sleeping beside me. Precautions would have to be taken, but it was doable.