Making her cry hadn’t been his intention.
Locking the door, he put the books down on the small table and moved toward her. Compared to him she was incredibly small, fragile, vulnerable. Everything he loved in a woman.
He scooped her up in his arms and carried her over to his bed. She didn’t wake, and he could only imagine the exhaustion she must be feeling. The world out there wasn’t fit for most men, let alone women.
She’d come a long way, and he would do everything in his power to win her trust. There’s no way he’d ever allow another man to claim her, to touch her. She wouldn’t feel fear.
Putting the blanket over her body, he teased back a few strands of hair. “You will always be taken care of. You have my vow on that, sweetheart.”
He wasn’t a bad man, not really. He only wanted her.
Pressing a kiss to her temple, he sat back and watched her sleep. If she had any nightmares, he’d chase them away. For now, his woman had to sleep soundly.
Ashley lost count of how long she’d been there. The days turned to nights, and nights turned to days. That first night, she’d gone to bed alone, but every single night since then, Draven had joined her. His arm banded around her waist, pulling her against him, demanding so much without a single word.
She felt the evidence of his erection constantly pressing against her back. He wanted her, and each night she expected him to rape her. Every time he came to the room, he always had a book with him. His demands were always the same. A kiss for the book or at least to read some of the book.
It surprised her every time he brought her food. She expected him to want some other form of payment for the pleasure to eat.
Standing at his window, she looked down at the grounds. She saw people, his people, milling around. Some were carrying firewood, and others were working the land. She’d noticed a small patch of earth that had been overturned where they were trying to grow fruit and vegetables.
There was a time she loved to have fresh strawberries dipped in rich, sweet cream.
“Morning,” Draven said, entering his quarters.
She turned to him as he put the tray filled with food down. The two romance books he brought every single morning were still within his grasp. She had yet to read a single page.
Was it selfish of her to just want to sit and read without making any payment? Would it be so bad to give him what he wanted?
Glancing from the book to the owner, she averted her gaze as he watched her. She wrapped her fingers around the ink that claimed her fertile. Whenever he was in the room, it always made her nervous. The ink was what made him choose her, she was sure of it, and she hated it.
This ink didn’t make her any different from Luanna or any other woman.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked.
“Good. I don’t like you having nightmares.”
Since sleeping in his bed, the nightmares had been chased away, but she didn’t tell him that. The last thing she wanted was for him to believe he had some kind of power here.
“I should be downstairs helping everyone,” she said, pointing out of the window.
“Everyone has a job to do, and you’d be bored.”
She turned back to the window. “I’m a hard worker. I was before I got this stupid thing.” She lifted her wrist to see. “I can be useful here. Please, I don’t want to spend my entire life living in this room. I want to help. To do my part.”
“You do enough.”
Slamming her hand against the wall, she whirled around to look at him. “I’m doing nothing. You don’t want me to do anything. Do you really think I’m happy with this? The only thing I’m good for is my fucking womb.”
Rage filled her body. It took her by surprise, but it didn’t stop her as she started to strip the clothes away until she stood before him naked. There was no point wearing a bra and panties. If all he wanted was her body, then fine. She would just have to give herself to the beast and hoped that once it was gone, she would survive it somehow.
“There. This is what you want, right? I’m right here, ready to do my duty.” She stormed toward him. Grabbing the book from his hand, she threw it across the room.
Her hands shook, and tears filled her eyes. She wasn’t ready for this. With her hands on her hips, she waited, daring him.
There was no point in being afraid, and all she could think to do was get this over with.
He stared up from her feet. His gaze went over every inch of her body until he landed on her face. He stood up, and she watched as he adjusted his cock.