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He moves slowly, gliding in and out of me in an easy rhythm that nonetheless stokes the fire that is always burning between us. Sweat breaks out on our bodies, tension builds, and it isn’t long before we’re falling over the edge of the world together. Just like it’s meant to be.

Ethan cuddles me for long minutes, his body curved protectively around mine as he plays with my out-of-control curls and presses soft kisses to my shoulder and back. At first I’m a little nervous about this position—my back to his front—but after everything that happened last night in just this position, it seems crazy to worry about it now.

So I do my best to let the fear and the panic go. Oh, I know I’ll never be normal, know that there will always be a part of me that Brandon has a hold on no matter how much I wish it weren’t so. But for now, for today, I want to concentrate on Ethan and everything that’s going right in my life—in our lives—for once.

Eventually his stomach growls, though, and he rolls out of bed with a laugh. “Shower, then breakfast?” he asks, reaching a hand down to help me up.

But I’m feeling lazy and sated and I don’t want to move. Not quite yet. The smell of him and me is on the sheets and I want to linger here for a few more minutes and just immerse myself in what we are together.

“You go first,” I tell him. “I’m not ready to get up.”

He smiles indulgently. “All right, then. I’ll shower, then make you breakfast in bed. How does that sound?”

“Are you going to be in the bed with me?”

He arches one of his brows in that way he has that makes me crazy. “That can be arranged.”

“Then I say it sounds very good.”

He bends down and gives me a quick kiss that becomes a not-so-quick kiss. But then my stomach wrecks it by grumbling, too. Ethan pulls away instantly. “I’ll take a quick shower and then feed you. While I’m in there, decide what you want me to make.”

But he’s only been in the shower a few minutes before my plans for a lazy morning in bed get derailed. The doorbell rings, and while at first I ignore it—this isn’t my house—whoever is outside is determined to get some response. And once it registers that whoever it is obviously has the code to Ethan’s gate, I reach for his robe and wrap it around me. Maybe his cleaning lady forgot her key or something.

But when I finally get to the front door and open it, terror slams through me, weakens my knees to the point that I have to reach out and grab on to the door frame to keep myself upright.

“Hey, Chlo. Long time no see.”

My world shatters. Because it’s not Magdalena on the porch waiting to be let in. Instead it’s my worst nightmare, Brandon Jacobs, who’s staring back at me…out of a face that’s a million times more battered and bruised than Ethan’s is.

He steps forward and instinct takes over. I slam the door in his face, lock it, then turn and press my back against it like I need another barrier to keep him out.

As I do, I look up—straight into Ethan’s dark and tormented eyes. And I know that whatever secrets he’s keeping are going to tear me apart.