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Because it most certainly wasn’t the way I could practically see the flames dancing in King’s burning gaze as it penetrated my fucking soul. It couldn’t have been the way his hard lines of muscle rose and fell with his quick breaths, stretching the fabric of his already tight wife-beater across his chest.

Panting. He was panting.

We stood like that for what seemed like an eternity, daring the other to make the first move, frozen in the moment. I didn’t feel one thing for him.

I felt everything.

Anger, confusion, love…lust, and it all swam around us in the water as we stared each other down.

The sky opened up. A thunder clap boomed so loud and deep I felt it in my chest. The surface of the water rippled, and them came the rain, cold and relentless. Every drop sent the river water splashing back up at us, but it still wasn’t enough to interrupt the staring contest that was so much more than just two sets of eyes staring at each other, it was a challenge. A warning.

A power struggle.

“You could have told me—” I started to argue again, fully prepared to keep up the fight. I needed it. It’d been too long since we had a true blow out, not since the night of the carnival and I craved the back and forth between us that needed to happen.

The night I gave him my heart.

“No,” he barked. “I couldn’t have told you.” He raised his voice over mine, pulling me so close, that I could feel he was as affected by me as I was by him. He was hard, thick and ready against my thigh. And like the stupid girl I am, my knees trembled and started to buckle.

“Why?” I spat. It was hard to concentrate on our words when I knew what was going on just beneath the surface. The rain was pouring down so hard it muffled our voices as if we were talking underwater. “Why couldn’t you?”

“Because I couldn’t risk it! If you knew the truth, you would’ve… I just couldn’t risk it,” King said.

“Risk what? What couldn’t you risk?” I prodded.

“Losing you!” He boomed. “I couldn’t risk losing you!” King wrapped an arm around my waist and pressed his erection against the soft spot between my legs that was reacting to his every word, his every touch. A place that craved him almost as much as my heart did.

He cupped my ass and lifted me up, wrapping my legs around his waist. “There was one point I’d made the decision to tell you the truth. I owed you that much. But then all the shit went down with Isaac and Preppy, so when I made the deal with your father for Max, I thought I was doing you a favor by giving you your life back and getting you out of all the shit that came with being in mine.”

I squeezed my thighs around his waist, rubbing myself against his hardness. I moaned. “But you weren’t giving me my life back.” I corrected. I placed my palms on his cheeks and held his face in my hands, searching for any sign in his eyes that what I felt for him might have been wrong, but instead what I found was a resounding need to fix what was broken between us. Tears formed in my eyes. “You were taking it away.” King’s lips parted. He ran his thumb across my lower lip, turning his head he kissed his way up my arm.

“Goosebumps,” King observed, running his fingertips across my already stimulated skin. I bit my lip and stifled a moan.

“It’s just the heat,” I lied.

“You’ve got that fucking right,” King growled, bending my wrist behind my back, his lips came crashing down over mine. We were a tangling of lips, clanking of teeth, sloshing through the water to better line ourselves up with each other. It wasn’t pretty.

It was need.

“I’m still fucking mad at you for letting me go,” I said into his mouth, while our tongues did things other parts of me throbbed to do.

King stilled and held my face away from his, our chests heaving in unison, my erect nipples rubbing against his hot hard skin as we panted together. Our breaths mingled in the air. He ran his hand down the side of my face and cupped my cheek in his palm. “I didn’t give you away, Pup. I released you.”

I stilled. “You released me?” I couldn’t hide the hurt in my voice. For some reason, releasing me sounded worse than letting me go.

King ran his tongue across the tip of my earlobe, holding me tightly against his warmth. Chills ran down my spine and into my very core and they had nothing to do with the temperature of the rain.

“I tried to release you, Pup. For Max. But there was a major problem with that plan, and no matter what happened, it would never have worked,” King confessed.

“Why is that?” I asked, needing to know, but at the same time acutely aware of the pulsing between my legs. Relief and release was only a scrap or two of fabric away. Throbbing for me.

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