He’d made her fertility band a blessing rather than a curse.
And she was tired of him holding back. How could a grown man sleep with her every night and keep so much self-control? She was starting to get a complex. Ashley had convinced herself he was using her for her womb, and one day he’d force himself on her. To hear talk of love and commitment tossed her expectations out the window.
Was he attracted to her? Or did her extra pounds turn him off?
Draven was hard and chiseled. She’d seen him working his body, the sweat glistening on his back as he did pull-ups in the archway every morning before he showered. Every day she spent with him made her more desperate for his attention. Yes, he talked to her, fed her, and spent time with her around the property, but she needed more.
She wanted him to look at her like a man full of hunger.
She wanted him to take without asking.
To claim her.
To fuck her.
You’re such a freak, Ashley. You’ve been alone too long.
Luanna would be ashamed of her. Her friend refused to rely on a man and continually tried to convince her to leave the compound. Recently, Luanna had been pushing the idea more, saying they’d overstayed their welcome and it was no longer safe.
Ashley didn’t listen because she didn’t want to leave. What awaited her beyond the walls? Rape, starvation, harsh elements, and certain death before long. Why survive when they could live in Draven’s kingdom? Being a fertile without protection meant she’d always have a target on her back, always be hunted by the worst of the worst looking to cash out or use her for their own sick pleasure.
“Have you ever loved a woman?” she finally asked.
He stared at her, his eyes turning black as the light was slowly snuffed from the room. The clouds blocked out the remnants of the sun, creating a foreboding atmosphere. All she could feel was lust.
“I never had time for it before the virus. After things changed, it never entered my mind. I’ve lived here, building and protecting, only focused on keeping out the worst and trying to hold onto the little humanity I had left.”
“Love and survival aren’t a very good mix,” she said.
“No, you’re wrong. These times put love to the test. It’s finding it that’s difficult.”
She swallowed hard.
“With you, little one, I can see myself losing my head … and my heart.” He cupped her cheek with one rough hand, and she instinctively closed her eyes and rested against this touch.
“I’m afraid to believe you.”
“I could have taken everything from you, stripped you of your virginity without consent, or never opened my gates to you and your friend. But I’ve housed and cared for you for weeks in hopes you’d see my sincerity.”
The last thing she wanted to do was push him away or appear ungrateful. He was right. Things could have gone so differently in other circumstances.
“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You have no idea. Before I came here, I’d lost all hope. Every day was a like a waking nightmare, and I kept praying the virus had been a figment of my imagination.”
“You’re appreciative.” His words were clipped. “But you’re not interested in a relationship with me.”
“I never said that. Trust isn’t something I’ve learned to hand over easily. And I may not have experience with men, but I’m here because I want to be.”
He appeared to mull her words over in his mind. “You need more time.”
She shook her head. “I need you to take control.”
He wet his lips, and her stomach did a little flip. She’d seen how he behaved with the other people in the complex. He was strict and didn’t put up with any bullshit. His softer side seemed reserved for her alone, and although she was grateful for the fact, she craved him to command her, to take her, to claim what he wanted.
“Like you’ve said, I’m the king. I’m always in control.”
“Then tell me what you want. I’ll do whatever you ask of me.”
“Out of appreciation?”
“Because I want to be yours.” It was hard to blurt out those words because she feared rejection from him. Feared everything. But for the past month, she’d been happy, and that was a lot more than she could say about her life before finding Draven.
“I like the sound of that.” He walked around her. She stayed rooted in place. “I’ve never wanted anything more.”
“Do you always get everything you want?”
“It seems so.” Once directly behind her, he brushed her hair over one shoulder and kissed the back of her neck. The kiss sparked something inside her, something wanton and desperate. He knew exactly how to touch her, how to arouse her effortlessly.
His breath on her skin.
The scent of his cologne.
The heat of his presence.