His gaze raked her, so hot she burned. His fingers touched her sex first. Trailing over the straining flesh. Pressing against her clit. Then one finger, two, worked inside.

And his mouth took her. His lips feathered over her. Caressed, kissed, sent just the right pressure to her core. More.

His tongue swiped over her clit.

She moaned, her heels digging into the mattress.

Again. Again. His tongue worked her, stroking that aching flesh, licking, tasting, taking. His fingers plunged, his tongue took.


Her fingers fisted in his hair, and her hips arched toward him. The pleasure built, flushing her body, tightening her muscles, so close she could feel the quiver of her climax coming.

So close.

His fingers pulled out.

“No!” Dammit, no, not when she—

His tongue thrust inside.

She came against his mouth.

The first time.

Because the tremors hadn’t even ended before he was rising up to cover her body. Her breath choked out, and she realized she’d screamed his name.

“This way.” His demand.

He pushed her into the middle of the bed. Rolled her onto her stomach.

Monica froze, understanding burning like acid in her veins.

No, no, he can see—

She pushed up immediately, rising onto her knees, shoving her hands flat against the mattress.

“Perfect.” His growl.

His c**k brushed between her legs.

Slick, open, and greedy, her sex took him right away, and they both groaned at the pleasure from that first deep thrust.

She was swollen, tender from her climax, and the slide of his thick length had her muscles clenching desperately around him.

His mouth feathered over her back.


“You’re the… most—ah, damn that’s good—beautiful thing… I’ve ever… seen.…” No hint of the smooth southern charm. Just raw need. His flesh pounded into her. And she loved it. Monica rolled her hips, taking more, taking him in as deep as she could as his arms curled around her body and his fingers stroked her clit.

He kissed her shoulder.

She should stop him, tell him not to—

His mouth pressed over the ragged flesh.…


“The… strongest… the sexiest…” Thrust. Slow glide out… driving thrust. One that shook the bed, and her. “I’d f**king… kill for you.”

Monica threw back her head. Her climax slammed through her. Pleasure so intense it hurt.

He came in her, a long hot splash, as her sex contracted around him.

Her fingers dug into the mattress. She closed her eyes and tried to suck in as much air as she could.

He held her tight. His legs trembled against her. Not the only one who’s weak.

She licked her lips and tried to swallow.

Luke’s still firm length slid out of her.

Flesh to flesh.

“I’m…” A long expulsion of air. “I’m safe, Monica, you don’t have to worry about—”

No condom. Her eyes flew right back open as reality reared its head.

But she wouldn’t lie to herself. At that first hot touch of his cock, she’d wanted him. Bare. In her, just as he was. “I’m safe too. There’s no… risk.” She’d been on the pill for years. A backup. Just in case.

“Monica, we have to talk.” Gruff.

But she didn’t want to. She wanted to f**k, and she wanted to forget. The last thing she wanted was to talk.

She rolled away from him. “I-I have to clean up.” She walked to the bathroom on legs that weren’t quite steady. The door closed behind her with a click, and she stared into the mirror at the glassy-eyed woman with the flushed cheeks.

A woman who looked alive now, when she’d once looked like a ghost.

Monica turned her shoulder and saw the raised skin that marked her. Anger coiled in her belly. “Screw you, ass**le,” she whispered. He wasn’t going to hurt her, not anymore.

Luke had taken her in the darkness, and in the light. He’d treated her like his woman, not some freak.

She stared into the mirror and let her shoulders drop.

Not a victim.

Just a woman.

And Luke was just a man. One who’d stood by her for so long, without knowing the darkness she carried.

That bastard attacked him. She’d left Luke alone in that alley, run because she was afraid of him knowing the truth about her past, and she’d left him for the killer.

Her fingers curved around the sharp edges of the sink. What would I have done if he’d killed Luke?

Her heart seemed to stop. Fear. For so long, it had been her companion. Awake. Asleep. So afraid… what if others find out? What will they think of me? How will they look at me?

She looked at herself in the mirror. Saw the same image she’d always seen. And the fear was still there, inside, lodged above her heart. But it was different now. Because now, she wondered… What will I do if something happens to him?


He’d broken through the ice.

He’d screwed up. Luke lay on the bed, his forearm thrown over his eyes, and realized that he was one serious jackass.

The woman had needed tenderness. Care.

She’d gotten hard, fast, and desperate.

He’d taken her with the raw lust that always rode him when she was near. Always.

But just once, dammit, just once, he wished he’d been able to show her more than lust and fury.

He raised his arm and glared down at the c**k that was still aroused for her. “Idiot.” The throb in his head was back. When he’d been with Monica, he hadn’t even noticed the dull ache. But then, he hadn’t noticed anything but her.

Oh, Christ, what she must have gone through all those years ago. When she’d gone into the shower, he’d used her computer to log onto the FBI’s site and access the Romeo files. He’d hit the files after he first found that clipping, but now, knowing Monica was the victim, he had to read everything again. Had to know every single detail.

Five minutes later, sweat beaded his forehead. He’d seen the pictures of the other vics. Seen that pit Romeo had kept her in.

Fuck. His hands were shaking.

The shower shut off. He sucked in a breath so hard his chest hurt. After he’d finished checking the files, he’d turned the lights off, for her, because he knew she’d want it that way. So now he lay still and quiet, waiting for Monica to come to him.

When the door opened, steam drifted lazily into the room. The light spilled onto the floor. She’d leave that on, just a hint of—

Monica turned off the light.

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