I jerk awake and sit up, gasping for air, my fingers curling around the blankets as my gaze rips around the dark room, reality coming back to me in a welcome flood of information. I’m in the bedroom, back in the city, with the faint hue of moonlight just beyond the wall of curtains before me. I reach for Liam but find him missing and I flash back to the moment in the nightmare when he faded away. A tingling sensation starts in my head, a familiar prelude to the blackouts that have haunted me for six years, when I haven’t had one in months. No. No. No. I can’t black out.
Inhaling deeply, I will myself to calm down. Breathe, Amy, I tell myself, repeating the words in my mind several times, relieved when I blink the room back into view. And I see Liam standing in the parted curtains I’d scanned moments before without truly seeing what was before me. Dressed in only pajama pants, he’s unmoving, like the stone that is his name. I glance at the clock, seeing that it’s four in the morning. I’m now officially concerned. Never in all of the months that I’ve slept with him have I found him awake like this.
Throwing off the blankets, I climb out of the bed, tugging at the hem of my T-shirt as I soundlessly pad toward him, the heated wood floor warming my bare feet, though fear chills my body. Always fear. I cannot escape it no matter how Liam tries to make me feel safe, because that nightmare says it all. It’s not about me. It’s about the danger that he and Chad will forever be in because of the cylinder.
The instant I’m behind him, in true Liam form he proves that he’s always aware and in control, turning just enough to pull me in front of him. In a blink, I’m against the cold window, and when his powerful thighs encase mine, I’m overwhelmed in the best of ways by his raw masculinity.
“Why are you awake?” he demands, his dark hair rumpled, his fingers snug at my waist, holding me in place, my anchor when the world spins beneath my feet.
“Because you’re awake, and it worried me. Is Chad—”
“I haven’t talked to him since you did, but I’m sure he’s fine. He’s a survivor, just like his sister.” He strokes the hair from my eyes, his piercing gaze glinting in the moonlight, penetrating the shadows of the barely lit room. “You had another nightmare.”
“Yes. How did you know that? I haven’t had one in weeks.”
“It’s in your eyes.”
“Dr. Murphy says they’re about control. You know that.”
“And being back in the city makes you feel we don’t have it.”
I think about the nightmare, and shake my head. “I think it was the funeral. A waking nightmare that created a sleeping one.”
“It would be unreasonable to expect anything else, but I’d hoped maybe we’d overcome that before you went to sleep.”
“It wasn’t on my mind at all when I went to sleep.” My fingers curl in the dark, springy hair on his chest. “Why are you awake at four in the morning?”
“Thinking about you.”
“I want you to feel safe, and I know that’s going to take time.”
“I’ll be fine if you’re fine, Liam. That nightmare wasn’t just about Chad or my past. It was about you. It was a warning. You have to get out of this.”
His fingers flex on my waist. “I’m not going anywhere, Amy.”
“No,” I say, hating what I know has to happen. “I am. I’m the connecting dot between you, Chad, and the cylinder. If I’m not in the equation, you can escape this and put it behind you.”
He wraps his fingers around the back of my neck and pulls me closer. “You’re in every equation for me, baby—now and forever. What happened to starting our life together and creating new traditions?”
“I want those things because you make me selfish. You’re the Prince Charming every girl wants, but in a fairy tale, the prince doesn’t die. That nightmare reminded me that my life is no fairy tale. You can die. They will kill you to get that cylinder if they think you’re in the way. And you will be, Liam, because that’s who you are. You won’t let good lose the war with evil.” I think of what I’d felt last night, how I’d wondered who would protect him when he was protecting me, and I know now where my mind was going. “I have to fight for you.”
“If you leave, I’ll come after you. I will find you. I will marry you and damn it, we will live happily ever after.” His words are vehement, his voice tight.
And before I can argue, his mouth closes over mine. The kiss is hot, demanding, a claiming that says he will not let me go. Not now or ever. I know this, I even need it, but I love Liam too much to ignore the risk I am to him.
His tongue strokes deeper, and panicked at my rapidly waning willpower, my hands press against his chest in an attempt to free myself and force him to talk to me. Instead, another caress of his tongue has me moaning, my elbows softening, and Liam is winning the battle of the moment. I can taste his rejection of any reality that he doesn’t fully control. And God, how I suddenly want to reject it with him.
My hands travel up the hard wall of his chest, settling on his shoulders, and he cups my breasts, his thumbs rubbing against my nipples. I reach down and cover his hands, panting into his mouth, unsure of how I’ve gone from resisting him to being desperate to live in the moment and drive everything else away. He knows it, too, the pure, dominant sex appeal radiating off of him as he responds, pushing me for more, when it’s me who wants more. He tugs my sleep shirt upward and I finish the job, tossing it away as he shoves his pants off, leaving him naked, his body hard and his cock harder.