I pick the knife I want him to use on me and I lie down without a weighted blanket at my feet, without cuffs, without rope this time, although I tell him I miss the rough feeling when it’s all over.

We’re both moths to each other’s flames, ignited by our touch. We’re drawn together, destroyed together. It used to scare me, but there’s no fighting it. Isn’t that what love is?

You can say chemistry was never our problem. Take away the drugs, his brothers, the feeling of loss and betrayal, and all that’s left is the simple truth that’s he’s mine and I’m his. In the most primitive way, we make perfect sense. We’re drawn to one another in a way where nothing else matters. It all fades to a blur when I stare into his eyes.

But that’s where the problem truly lies. He wasn’t meant for my world and I wasn’t meant for his. Everything else matters with him in a world where every step is dangerous, and we should have accounted for that. I’ll never be able to escape Jase Cross or his merciless world.

This attraction will never allow it.


The light of the fire dances across her skin in the darkness, and the shadows from the flame beckon me to touch her. The sight of the dip in her waist is an image that would start wars. Her breathing is steady in her deep sleep and part of me wants to leave her here, resting on her side on the luxurious rug with the only covers being the warmth of the raging fire. The other part wants to have her again in my bed.

The low hum of a vibration steals my attention. My muscles stretch with a beautiful pain as I pull myself away from Bethany and get my phone. Still naked and still hungry for more of her and the promise of keeping her here, I check my messages.

It’s a text from Seth, just the person I need to speak with.

Anger has a way of destroying the calm, even when Bethany stirs with a feminine sigh in her sleep. Her hand reaches right where I just was and it seals her fate.

I text Seth back. Meet me first thing tomorrow. We have things to discuss.


It only takes one deep breath in the massive kitchen and a long stretch of my back to release the tension from last night. Things are better. It feels like a huge step forward, but something’s still holding me back. The nightmares haven’t stopped; they’ve only changed.

Last night, my mother reminded me that everyone I loved would die before me and that it was okay. It’s not the first time I’ve dreamed about being back at the home, with my mother looking me directly in the eyes and telling me what felt like a message from death. The terror gripped me the same way she did all those years ago. It was like I was back there, but not really. We were on my porch and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak either. My sister came to help me, ripping our mother away and yelling at her, screaming at her. It was so unlike her, but somehow I believed it.

When they were done fighting with each other, my sister turned to me and looked me in the eyes. She said my mother was right. They would all die before me.

That’s when I woke up. At 5:00 a.m. in the morning, in an empty bed that held the faint, masculine scent of Jase Cross.

I can walk around pretending I’m not uneasy, but I’ve never been good with pretending.

As my gaze falls to the slick counters and I hear the thump of footsteps getting louder, cuing someone’s incoming arrival, I put away my thoughts of my family, or what used to be family.

Carter’s deep voice reverberates in the expansive space. “Bethany.”

His gaze is narrowed and even harsh. Even the air around him warns me not to mess with the man. Some men are just like that; the feel of danger comes with their strong posture and chiseled jaw.

“Cross,” I answer him tersely with a cocked brow.

I find myself comparing him to Jase, but even though they look alike, Jase is nothing like him. He’s charming and approachable in a way I don’t think I’ll ever find Carter to be.

An asymmetric grin pulls at his lips. “Funny you should call me Cross when you’re with my brother and he’s also a Cross.”

“Suits you though.”

He huffs a short chuckle and lets the smile grow as I pull the fridge door open, searching for a can of Coke or something with caffeine in it. “Something funny?” I ask him.

There’s a case of Dr. Pepper and the hint of a smile appears on my face too. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these and they’re in glass bottles… that makes it even better.

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