I draw a deep breath and swallow. “In the nightmares, it’s never really the way it happened. I’m usually there twice. One of me is watching, and the other is with him. He usually ties me up. Or makes me stand a certain way. Or he’s more forceful. Shoving his hand into my shirt. Making harsher threats. He just traps me somehow.” I lick dry lips. “But it wasn’t really like that. I mean, I know—knew—what he was doing was wrong. But it was all sort of clean.”

I lift my head long enough to look up, and I can see on Jackson’s face that he wants to slap that word right out of the air, but I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. Because that’s part of what I hate so much.

“That makes it worse,” I say. “Because the thing is—the thing is—”

“You responded. You climaxed.”

I press my face back against his chest and nod. “I hated what he did—hated it—but I liked the way it felt. I couldn’t control it. It was intense. Overwhelming. And no matter how hard I tried to hang on, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to, but I—”

“He stole your control,” Jackson says. His words, tight and measured, are so full of fury I fear that one wrong word from me and they will go nuclear. “He perverted your pleasure. That fucker scarred you as deeply as if he’d had a knife, Sylvia.”

He gently tilts my head up so that I am looking at him. And now his voice is as soft as a kiss. “You did nothing wrong, baby, while he was a monster. And I swear to god, if I ever find him, I’ll kill the son of a bitch.”


It’s getting late by the time Jackson ties the boat up at the dock. I’d considered going onto the island tonight, but the only lights are at the dock and the area around the helipad, and stumbling around with flashlights seems silly.

Besides, at the moment I’m more interested in being in Jackson’s arms than being on my island. And it is Sunday, after all. A girl has a right to enjoy her weekend.

I am in Jackson’s cabin, wrapped up tight in his bathrobe as all those thoughts run through my head. And, frankly, the only thing I want right now is Jackson.

As if my wish conjured him, he appears in the doorway. His grin is a little crooked and his eyes a little mischievous, and all I can think is how happy I am that we have reached the island and the boat is tied off and we don’t have to be concerned about the autopilot putting us in the path of a cruise liner.

In other words, time for the evening’s fun.

“I like seeing you in my robe.” He leans against the doorjamb. “I like it a lot.”

“You might like it even better when I’m out of the robe.”

“I might at that.” The room is small, so he is at my side in only three long strides. “Why don’t you take it off and get under the covers?”

“I could do that,” I agree.

I start to undo the tie, when his words still my hands: “We should get some sleep.”

I cinch the robe tight again and look up at him. “Sleep?”

He brushes my lips with a butterfly soft kiss. “After everything you told me—”

I grab his hand. “After everything I told you, I need this. Please, Jackson, don’t make me sleep with those memories in my head. I want you. I want what you promised me.”

He studies me for a moment, his expression unreadable. Then he points to the bed. “Take off the robe.”


“No.” He holds up a finger in a gesture of silence. “No argument. No objection. Are we clear?”

We are. Very. And I have to fight my smile of victory. Instead, I look up at him, my face bland, as I take the robe off and let it drop to the floor. I don’t move, waiting for him to tell me what to do next.

He says nothing, though. He simply stands there, right beside me, the heat he is emitting so intense I fear it will burn us. His eyes rake over me, and I see the bulge of his erection beneath the denim of his jeans. “Christ, you’re beautiful. I could spend the rest of my life looking at you and still not have my fill.”

He moves closer, then traces my lip with his fingertip before ordering me to suck. I do, and with every tug I feel the heat between my legs grow more and more demanding.

“That’s right, baby.” He uses his free hand to take one of mine, then slides it between my legs. He guides me, so that I am touching myself, my fingers sliding over my slick heat, and that would be erotic enough, but the combination of his hand, mine, the sucking, is all building up inside of me, growing and growing until I am so close that all I want to do is thrust our joint hands inside myself as I come.

Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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