Suddenly I have the urge to try it on and I quickly undress. I’m down to my bra and panties, my back to the door, when my skin prickles with that warm awareness that always washes over me when Liam enters the room. I whirl around to find him standing in the doorway, his jacket gone. His hair is rumpled as if he lost his ironclad control and ran his hand through it. He’s power. He’s masculinity. He’s leaning on the frame, his broad shoulders consuming the entryway, his presence consuming me.
And despite my anger at him, when his lashes lower, his gaze sweeping hotly up and down my body, a wave of tingly sensation washes over me.
“Don’t look at me like that, Liam Stone,” I scold. “I’m angry with you and we are not having sex.”
He arches one of those dark, arrogant brows. “Is that a challenge?”
“I’m angry at you.”
“Is that all you can say?” I demand.
“Do you see this dress?” I all but growl at him, yanking the pink skirt in front of me. “This dress is what someone living a fairy tale wears, to marry the man she loves. And you know what? Earlier today, I could have convinced myself that was what I was about to do. But now we’re running again, after you told me not to run.”
I’ve barely finished my words before I’m pressed against the wall, his big body trapping me all over again. “Don’t bully me, Liam,” I order, shoving at the wall of his chest. “Don’t use your size to make me listen to you. It won’t work. I need control right now—you can’t have it.”
“Amy, listen to me.”
“Let go, and I will.”
He stares at me for several heavy seconds, seeming to weigh my seriousness. I tilt my chin up, letting him test my will with his own intense stare, but I do not waver. He notices, his body lifting from mine, his hands pressing against the wall on either side of me. I’m so out of my mind right now I want to pull him back. I know I’m lucky to have someone who loves me enough to want to protect me, but I’m angry with him. I’m hurt. I grab his shirt.
“We have no reason to believe we’re in danger. Not yet. So we’re staying until we do. We’re starting our life. End of story. Meg was a part of taking my brother from me. She’s not ruining my holiday or my wedding. I won’t let her.”
His expression softens. “Amy, baby.”
“Don’t ‘Amy baby’ me right now,” I warn.
“You wanted to leave after your nightmare.”
“And you convinced me to stay,” I remind him. “It worked.”
“We’ll do the holiday and our wedding, no matter where we are.”
“I need it to be here. I need a home I share with you. You can’t tell me I finally have the freedom I’ve craved for six years, and then take it away.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Then don’t. We have no solid evidence of danger. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.”
He pushes off the wall and covers my hands with his, settling them between us, the shadows of his past etched in his eyes and fighting this battle for him. “Amy—”
“I need to stay,” I repeat. “And so do you. You aren’t even working, Liam. When was the last time you picked up a pencil to design?”
“I’ll design again when you’re safe.”
“I managed fine for six years. I’m not with you for protection. I’m with you because I love you.”
The shadows in his eyes deepen. They’re the kind of shadows created by heartache, loss, and something else I know all too well. “I can’t lose you, Amy.”
His voice is pure anguish, and any hint of anger left inside me vanishes instantly. “You can’t defeat fear without facing it,” I whisper, repeating what he’d once told me.
I watch his face harden, darkness swimming in his eyes, and this time, it’s him that snaps. His fingers tunnel into my hair, his mouth closing down on mine, his tongue caressing mine with hot demand. The taste of him is pure darkness and torment, and his need to drive it away is downright primal. His body presses into me. I melt into him and one of his hands splays on my back, molding me closer. In an instant, my bra is unhooked, his hands cupping my breasts and teasing my nipples. I feel the energy between us, the shift in Liam, and even in myself. We’ve solved nothing about going or staying in the city, but there is a wall falling from between us, a part of Liam he fights, which he’s unleashed for me to see, feel, and experience.
He tears his mouth from mine, staring down at me with a vow. “I won’t lose you.”
In the next second he’s turned me to face the wall and my hands flatten on the hard surface to right myself. He steps to me, leaning close, his hips anchoring mine. “Losing you is my fear,” he confesses, his voice roughened by emotion.
“You won’t lose me,” I pant, my sex clenching as one of his hands slides into my panties and strokes my clit.
“You’re right,” he assures me. “I won’t. I won’t let someone else take you from me.” He moves my hands up the wall. “Don’t move them.”
He’s gone then, and I’m cold where he’s no longer touching me, hot where I want him to touch me. I can feel him, though. Everywhere, in every part of me, and my skin tingles from the heat of his stare, my nerves prickle with the sound of him undressing. And I realize, too, that I know this man. I understand his need to take me, to control me now, because he feels he has none. He’s afraid he can’t protect me. He’s tormented by the idea that the nightmare I brought to him will never truly be over, no matter how much he’s willed it to be gone. And I get it. Oh how I get it. This is my world he’s living in now. The one where control is hard to come by and we take what we can, where we can. Like he’s doing now.