“Until I came here. Until I found you.”
He stifled a groan, briefly closing his eyes. She had no idea how much pleasure her words carried. He didn’t want to let her down. And he wouldn’t.
He’d been given a herculean challenge, one almost impossible to accomplish. But he’d managed to behave, even though his patience had been tested since her arrival.
Sleeping in the same bed. Listening to her giggle as she’d read. The way she licked her lips when she played shy.
The curvy little virgin with the fertile band was driving him close to insanity. He swore she knew what affected him, how to make his cock hard with just a look. Her innocence was morphing, and her flirting was becoming incessant. The time for playing the gentleman was quickly growing old.
He’d already claimed her as his, and very soon he’d make that official. Fill her with his seed. Know every inch of her lush body.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you,” he said.
“No, something’s wrong.”
He shook his head. “I’m just being cautious. I’ve heard some talk, so I’d rather keep you with me for a while. The only person a man can trust is himself. I’ve learned that the hard way many times. Never again.”
“What kind of talk?”
“Men planning to take what’s mine.”
Her mouth parted slightly. “I thought this was a safe haven.”
“It is … or it will be once I find out who’s plotting against me.” He ran his hands from her shoulders, down her arms until he could interlock their fingers together. “They have no idea what they’re up against.”
“And if they win?”
He chuckled. “They can try to take you from me, but I’ll never allow it. I won’t be threatened by any man, Ashley. And I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.”
Not only was he ready to take on any threat, he knew things about the group of traitors, and their next moves. He’d use the information to his advantage and slowly root them out. It wouldn’t be long until he knew exactly who’d infected his perfect little world.
“I keep wondering why I’m still here. I mean, shouldn’t I be afraid of you, too? Don’t you want the same thing as other men? Money, power, legacy?”
“The government is broken, Ashley. It’s struggling to gain any foothold in this shitfest, so it’ll promise the world for a woman like you. You represent hope, a future—both things lacking in the world. They’ll use you like a pawn.” He took a breath. “Look around you. What good is money anymore? What can it buy? I don’t need money or power … legacy, that’s something else.”
She gasped when he stepped forward.
“Do you think men want me for money or for my body?”
“Not you, though.” She reached up and fiddled with the button at his collar. “You just like to have me around like some kind of collectible toy. I think you like having something that everyone else wants.”
He smirked, unfastening a few buttons on his shirt. “You’re intuitive.”
“But don’t mistake my obsession. I do want something more from you.”
She dragged one finger along the bare skin where his shirt had parted. A crackle of thunder echoed in the distance. “Tell me what you want from me.”
Draven groaned. “I want the legacy. You can give me that.”
“So, you want my body.”
“Yes, I fucking want your body, but unlike other men, I want the woman, too.”
“Really?” She narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “There’s nothing special about me beyond this band. I’m not unlike other women.” She held up her wrist. He leaned over and kissed it, making her breath catch in her throat.
“You’re wrong, little Ashley. You’re very unlike other women. And I’ve been using more self-control the past many weeks than you can imagine.”
“Why not just take what you want? You’re the king of this castle, after all.”
“You’re right. I could have already filled you with my seed. My progeny would be growing inside your womb.”
“You’ve barely touched me.”
“I told you I can be a patient man. The world may be a cold place now, but I still hold out hope that one day you can love me.”
She didn’t expect a man like Draven to consider anything beyond power and desire. And she never expected to experience what she read about in the romance novels. It seemed the notion of love disappeared once survival took over people’s basic values. It was a black and white world, void of color. There was no room for love and devotion when thoughts were focused on meeting their basic needs. The world was a scary place, and now Draven had changed everything with those few words.
Ashley realized she hadn’t said a thing. Her thoughts were scattered, so many possibilities filling her head. Could she love Draven? Could she not?
For all her complaining, she savored being sheltered and coddled. It felt like a weight off her shoulders to be able to forget about foraging and safety, and enjoy the simple things. Draven made all that possible.