Page 30

Author: Pepper Winters

“I want to go outside. I need some sunlight,” Fox said, spinning back from placing the paperwork on the desk. “Come with me?”

Such a simple request. A walk around his property in the sun.

I smiled. “Are you asking me on a date?” Tapping a finger against my lips, I said, “Could this be seen as an improvement to the kidnap by knife routine?”

His hand suddenly captured my elbow, pulling me forward. He kept a small buffer of space between us, but his breathing altered from relaxed to shallow. “Do you know why I’ve avoided you for a week? Why I haven’t begged for your mouth, or dragged you into my bed?” His silver eyes scorched me with acres of pent-up lust.

I bit my lip as a wave of desire spread like wildfire. My core grew liquid at the memories of sucking him: his salty dark taste, the way he came apart in my hands. I liked the power I had over him. I loved bringing him to a body shuddering climax. But for the past week, I walked on knife blades. My body wanted Fox every second of every day and not being able to touch him—to let him know I wanted him—had been torture.

“Why?” I murmured, hypnotised by his bottom lip.

“Because I want to give you what you gave me. I want to make you come so fucking hard that you fall into my arms. I want to be able to catch you and tell you everything you want to know.”

I swayed forward. “Do it then.” My heart raced like a rabbit.

His head dropped, bringing his lips temptingly close to mine. “I would if I could. But I don’t have the strength. I’m a walking battleground between my past and the future I want. And I’m so fucking scared of hurting you again.” His fingers tightened around my elbows. “I just want to be quiet inside. I want normal thoughts and the luxury of just fucking hugging you.”

Fox was unlike any man I knew. I couldn’t hate him. Not with his gigantic heart and the sweetness lurking in his violence. But I did hate that he spoke the truth. It wasn’t a game he played. He honestly couldn’t control whatever lived inside him, and my life would be forfeited if he lost control.

Our eyes locked, green to grey. I stood on tip-toes to kiss him.

He froze as my lips moved on his, and I waited to see if he would push me away. I wasn’t stupid. After what happened before, I now carried a knife in my hair and in my back pocket. I fully intended to deliver my threat if Fox ever overpowered me again and made me choose who lived or died.

His mouth opened beneath mine; he moaned low and deep as my tongue entered and swept over his bottom lip.

My arms wanted nothing more than to wrap him in an embrace and crush myself against him. I wanted friction between us. I wanted his hands on every inch of me.

His head tilted to deepen the kiss, following my lead with his tongue. It was the contradiction that made me hot for him. A dominate male through and through, but beneath that lived a man who only wanted approval. A man who had never had affection or love or a simple kiss.

And that broke my fucking heart.

He pulled away, looking deep into my eyes. “Walk with me?”

I nodded.

Leaving the office, we made our way down the steps and through the fighting rings to the front of the house. Only two fighters had arrived for a morning session and no one disturbed us.

Fox didn’t stop when we reached outside. He lifted his face to bask in the golden warmth. His black clad body looked like a misplaced shadow as we made our way across his gravel driveway to the grass beyond.

He waited for me to walk beside him and gave me a gentle smile. “My life would be a lot easier if the sun shone twenty-four hours a day.”

I played with my fingers, rubbing the need away to hold his hand. I hated that I couldn’t touch him. There was intimacy just waiting to be claimed between us, but without touch it ebbed and faded, leaving a trace of awkwardness. “If you hate the dark so much, why do you wear all black?”

His jaw clenched but we kept walking. “It’s a stupid reason and doesn’t even make sense to me. I should dress in yellows and whites—avoid black completely, but I don’t.”

“Tell me,” I whispered.

He stopped and faced the house. Glaring at the huge gargoyles decorating the mansion, he growled, “I’m free. So why did I build a house on the exact replica where all the hell and evilness occurred? Why do I wear the only colour we were allowed?” His eyes met mine. “Because it’s all I know. The only place and colour that I trust to keep me safe. Everything else terrifies me because I’m not worthy of forgetting my past.”

My heart splintered, the shards poking through my lungs. “You are worthy. Every day I spend with you, you’re improving.”

He laughed darkly. “Only because I keep my distance and don’t touch you. Believe me, if you knew my thoughts you would run.”

“Do you want me to run?”

His eyes narrowed. “You should.”

“But do you want me to?” I stepped forward, cursing the inability to grab his hand and hold him. “Focus on what you’re feeling.”

He shook his head, striding off toward the back garden. “What I want doesn’t matter. It never did.”

I trailed after him, wishing I could crack him open and pull every bad thought from his memory. We didn’t speak again until he led me toward a large greenhouse at the back of his extensive property. The large stone wall barricaded anyone from accessing the space and the sun glinted off the glass walls and roof, warming the budding plants within.

Fox opened the door, and a huge gust of heat slapped me in the face.

“Go in. I have a few things I want to show you.” His voice was rougher, sending my stomach twisting.

Entering the large greenhouse, I glanced around at the seedlings and exotic flowers. Spread out down two aisles with a large chair at the end rested vegetables, herbs, and bonsai. Orchids, in vibrant blues and purples, hung from elongated stems. Tomato plants cast a sharp pungent smell into the space.

Fox walked down the right aisle and stopped in front of a tray of pretty white flowers—tiny, like snowflakes hanging off a bright green stalk. “Do you know what these are?”

I moved closer. Of course, I knew what that was. As a mother, I’d meticulously catalogued every plant, household chemical, and poison that could harm Clara. I also spritzed on the scent every morning. My one luxury.

“It’s lily of the valley.” Staring at the little, innocent plant, I murmured, “Why are you growing it amongst edible and non-toxic plants?”

Fox rolled his shoulders. “We used to take turns maintaining the greenhouses at the compound. Lily of the valley, deadly nightshade, foxglove, all plants that can be turned into weapons.”

I froze, picturing killers tending to such delicate things like flowers all with the intent to murder.

Fox grabbed my hand suddenly and dragged me down the aisle toward the single large chair. It looked well used: a cracked brown leather.

“Do you come here often?” I asked, noticing a few discarded water bottles.

“Yes. I come to sit in the sun. The heat punishes, but also saves. It’s so different from where I’m from. I never want to be cold again.”

Letting me go, he dug into his pocket and held out another chain.

My heart did a weird swoop. He wanted to restrain me and there was only one reason why. He wanted sex.

His shoulders tightened. “This is a modified version. Hold out your hands.”

I didn’t want to, but I obeyed. His fingers whispered over my skin. First my right wrist, securing a separate bracelet, and then my left, repeating.

Once they were clasped, I held them up to inspect. My heart clenched at the dangling silver star on both. “Why did you do that?” I looked up, furious. I didn’t want the precious star necklace I shared with Clara to be anywhere near this world with Fox.

His eyes darkened. “Because it means a lot to you and I wanted to.” Capturing my cheek, he held me firm as he dropped his mouth to mine.

For a second, I wanted to bite him. I needed to argue and tell him it wasn’t okay that he’d trespassed into my life beyond him, but his tongue speared my lips, and I lost coherent thought.

Every shred of lust I’d been living with exploded into life, and I didn’t struggle as he pulled me forward. He sat in the chair, dragging me down until I stood over him.

Breaking the kiss, he murmured, “I need you, Zel and I want you fast. I’m not asking. I’m telling. I paid for a service, and I want you to sit on my cock.”

I should’ve been repulsed, but I was the total opposite. My skin hummed with sexual need; my body boiled in the heat of the greenhouse.

Fox reached forward and pulled my white t-shirt up a little. With a separate thicker chain, he looped it around the jewellery running down my front and brought my wrists to secure it. Once my hands were bound, his fingers fell to his buckle.

My mouth went dry watching him strip. I sucked in a noisy breath as he arched his hips and tugged his trousers down to his quads.

My eyes couldn’t feast fast enough. Fox never wore underwear and the hard equipment between his legs sprang into freedom. Countless silver scars decorated his upper legs. Everything about him enticed me. I’d never been so hungry or physically attracted to anyone as much as him.

“Come closer,” he ordered.

I did as requested, moving between his open legs. I stifled a moan as his fingers brushed my lower belly and dropped to caress my thigh. Trailing down my floaty turquoise skirt, he never broke eye contact.

I surrendered to his snowy gaze; goosebumps scattered over my skin as his touch moved down and down and down until he grazed bare leg. His hand trailed my kneecap, turning inward to begin the journey in the opposite direction.

Every inch was torture and heaven. His fingers were strong and dominating on my inner thigh, creeping higher and higher and higher.

I was panting by the time his knuckles brushed my pussy. His hand cupped me, holding me firm. I jolted in his grip.

He sucked in a heavy breath, eyes flaring wide as he felt how damp I was. “Fuck, you never fail to surprise me, Zel. I’ll never get enough of you. All I can think about is you riding me—of your mouth around my dick again.”

His other hand disappeared up my skirt to ease my knickers down my legs. He removed them quickly, his actions speeding up as his need compounded. The minute they hit my ankles, I kicked them away, thrilling at the hot air against my nakedness.

Sitting forward, Fox grasped my hip with one hand while his other disappeared under my skirt again. There was no hesitation when he reached my pussy. With clenched teeth, he pushed one long, delicious finger inside me.

I wanted to collapse at his feet. He moved his finger, stroking my inner wall.

I shuddered, unable to keep my eyes open. All I could concentrate on was his wondrous touch deep inside. His digit moved again and my pussy rippled around him, begging for more.

He froze. “Fuck, do that again.”

I looked up, a smile teasing my mouth. “Do what?” I tensed around his finger, loving his sharp hiss and wide eyes. He could lie all he wanted, but his wonderment at finger-fucking me told me this was a first for him. My heart pounded at the thought of what I could teach him—what we could learn together. How could a man like Fox be so sexually innocent? It was as if he’d been a recluse all his life.

“Show me. Tell me what to do,” he said in a strangled whisper. “I want to make you come on my finger.”

My hands shot up, desperate to capture his face and kiss the hell out of him. But the chains jangled, keeping me prisoner.

Fox smiled wryly. “See? You naturally want to touch. Did you think you could avoid the urge while I fingered you intimately? This is the only way.” His digit worked deeper and I moaned. “Tell me. Let me know how to make you shatter.”

I swallowed hard, cheeks flushing with excitement and nerves. I’d never had to explain sex. I barely knew the mechanics myself, but I had learned my body. I found the trick to exploding in the dark beneath my covers.

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