There was no doubt he’d realized she was awake.
Chest tight, Mara turned over and buried her face against the pillow, shutting her eyes against the sting of tears. She’d screwed things up so badly and there was nothing she could do to fix it.
No, screw that. There was something she could do. She had to try.
Blowing out a ragged breath, she sat up and left the guestroom in search of Harrison. She’d lost too much already. She’d be damned if she’d lose the man she loved.
It was time to lay it all on the line once and for all and let the consequences fall where they may. Practically marching to their bedroom, she felt as if someone had punched her in the gut when she tried the handle only to find their door locked. She knocked lightly once, but when Harrison didn’t respond, she sucked in a deep breath and headed back to the guestroom.
It was definitely going to be a sleepless night.
Weapon in hand, Harrison stilled outside the guestroom door Mara was sleeping in. He’d heard a muffled cry so he slowly eased the door open. The alarm that had surged through him subsided, replaced by longing as he watched her.
Mara had kicked the covers off and two of the pillows were on the floor. Though her eyes were closed, her expression was pinched and frustrated. And maybe a little afraid.
He should be in his own bed, far away from her. She’d lied to him and for his own sanity he knew putting distance between them was the best thing until he could wrap his head around everything. Especially until this bullshit with Neville Perdue was settled. He’d already been in contact with his father—who was out of the country—and his former handler with the Agency. When he and Mara had returned home he’d hidden out in his gym and pulled up every bit of research he could find on the guy. Since Harrison still had secret clearance there were some files at the CIA he had access to. While the CIA and MI6 didn’t go out of their way to share information, the Agency had a small file on Perdue courtesy of the Brits. Still, it pissed him off that no one had let the CIA know about the man’s entry into the country once they’d realized the breach.
When Mara twisted against the sheet, the long shirt she wore bunched up, revealing more of her legs and the scrap of lace covering her mound. Even though she was on her back he knew she was wearing a thong. It was all she ever wore.
His cock jerked to life at the thought of her wearing only a thong and nothing else right now. Go back to your room, he ordered himself.
His feet and legs ignored the order as he closed the door behind him. He wanted her so bad the need to hold her was like a live thing growing inside him. It made him feel out of control, something he loathed. It wasn’t just physical either, though that was definitely part of it. He had no clue what the future held for them. He didn’t know whether he should leave or if he could get past this.
After placing his weapon on the dresser, he silently strode to the bed. Mara didn’t stir. Light from the moon streamed in from the cracked blinds, bathing her in an iridescent glow. When it came to her, he was addicted. He loved dominating her, holding her close, comforting her, pleasuring her… Fuck, he just loved her. She’d turned their house into an actual home he looked forward to coming to every night, she went out of her way to help those in need, not just at the shelter, but she volunteered other places too, always taking up a cause for people in trouble. And when she made a friend, she was incredibly loyal. She was so easy to love and he couldn’t get enough of her.
At that moment he hated himself for that, but he’d be damned if he could walk away. Mara had such a quiet strength to her. Her decision to leave without telling him still pissed him off beyond belief, but looking at her now, splayed out and so damn fragile, it was hard to hold on to his anger.
As he sat on the edge of the bed, Mara’s eyes flew open and her hand shot out to grab for her own weapon.
There was blind panic in her gaze for an instant until she recognized him and drew her arm back. She glanced around the room, eyeing the digital clock that read two a.m., then looked back at him. “What’s wrong?” she rasped.
Instead of responding, he went at her like a man starving. Covering her mouth with his, he couldn’t fight the hunger surging through him. She’d planned to leave. He could have lost her and spent God knew how long hunting her down until he figured things out. Some primal part of him needed to stake a claim, if only for himself.
Mara didn’t even pause, just slid her arms around him and clutched at his back, digging in with her fingers. She met his tongue stroke for stroke until his body covered hers and her legs were around his waist. She grinded herself against his cock, her actions frantic. All he wanted to do was shred the material between them and push deep inside her.
Somehow he pulled back to stare down at her. In the darkness her green eyes appeared almost midnight, but the need in them was real. “I’m so angry at you, Mara,” he whispered harshly, his voice and even his hands shaking slightly.
She swallowed hard and nodded. “I know. You’re right to be. I’m angry at myself.”
“Why the fuck couldn’t you trust me?” That was what hurt more than anything. The knowledge that he’d trusted her with all of himself but she’d still held back something so huge. As if he was no different than anyone else in her life, and didn’t have her trust. Didn’t she know he’d do anything it took to protect her? That he would have stood beside her this whole time and shouldered the burden with her? It stung that she hadn’t even reached out to him when her life was in danger.
“I haven’t trusted anyone since I was ten years old.” She swallowed again, the sound seeming to echo in the still room.
Mara had told him about her past, but he wasn’t sure now what was true and what wasn’t. “The stuff with your mother and her boyfriends’?” He didn’t spell it out because she’d know what he meant.
Her eyes flashed with raw pain before her gaze became completely shuttered. “All true. She never believed me when one of them got too handsy or decided to beat on me. The one time I told a teacher at school, the woman thought I was lying in an attempt to get attention. She told my mother and I paid for it at home from her and her current guy.” She cleared her throat and surprised him by continuing. “My second year with MI6 I became involved with a coworker. He was bright, driven and…” She trailed off and Harrison realized he’d made an annoyed growl.
A ghost of a smile played on her lips before she said, “Anyway, I thought I was in love. We were both workaholics and knew the risks so there was never any guilt associated over work. I thought everything between us was perfect. A post opened up in France that I’d been dying for. Everyone wanted it, including him, but they offered it to me. Stupid woman that I am, I turned it down because I knew the distance would kill our relationship. They offered it to him next and he took it. Up and left me without a second thought. It showed me how little I’d learned.”
Though he didn’t want to feel anything, understanding swept through him. They’d had such different childhoods. He’d lost his mother when he was young, but he’d always had a strong foundation of family. Two brothers and a loving father to support him. She’d had no one once her father had died and at every turn, people betrayed her. He was silent as he watched her struggle to talk. When it was clear she was done, he laid his forehead against hers. “So you lumped me in with your past?”
“I trust you more than I’ve ever trusted anyone. I wouldn’t have married you otherwise, but my past experiences are all I have. They’re what shaped me into who I am today,” she whispered. “I don’t…I don’t know how to be different. I want to so desperately, but I think I’m too screwed up…”
“Is your name even Mara?” It was the one question he’d been holding on to.
“Yes. It’s my given name. When they recruited me I became Cait Chilcott, but after I left I resumed my identity. They helped me build a work and life history with my real name then let me go.” Her voice was soft and she didn’t take her gaze off him.
From what little he knew about MI6 that sounded about right. “Will you answer any of my questions?”
She nodded, her expression earnest, if a little frightened.
“What’s changed?” he demanded.
“I can’t stand the thought of losing you. I thought I was prepared for that when I left, but…I can’t do it. It would kill me.” Her voice cracked on the last word.
He wanted to ask if she loved him, but if he saw even a moment of hesitation in her eyes, it would destroy him. Harrison had never thought he’d settle down or get married, but meeting Mara had been like getting punched right between the eyes. She’d taken him completely by surprise in every way, especially when he’d told her about his past. The sexy woman took everything in stride and was such a calming influence in his life. Not only that, but she was incredibly giving of her time to the women and children at the local shelter she volunteered at. It was her way of helping those that couldn’t help themselves, the innocent victims like she had been.
She might have lied to him about her former profession, her training and what forged her, but he loved the woman in his arms. He had no idea if he could let her lies go, but his heart wanted to. “I want to know why you left your job, but not now.” He didn’t form it as a question, but she nodded.
“I’ll tell you everything.” Her voice was so quiet he barely heard her.
He paused for a long moment, watching her, before he decided to do what every fiber inside him was screaming at him to do. “I’m going to make you come.” His words were practically a growl, the harsh sound reverberating around the room.
Her eyes widened in surprise and her lips parted seductively. Right now he needed to make her come. Needed to know that he affected her like no one else did. No matter what the future held for them, some primal part of him needed to know he could play her body any way he chose. At least there’d always been honesty between them in this.