Focus on those muscular thighs.

They really are magnificent. Thick and corded and powerful. They flex with every step he takes, along with his jawline. Something is upsetting him and I need to find out what it is…right after I admire his butt. It’s the opposite of flat. It’s juicy, filling out his briefs just past the point of fitting. Although I’m sure what he’s got in front has a lot to do with the snugness of his underwear, too, because…whoa.

Just whoa.

I might have been a virgin but I know Walker’s penis is firmly—lolz—on the above average corner of the spectrum. My soreness only reinforces that fact.

Walker pushes a hand through his dark hair, popping muscles all down his back and I clutch the pillow, fighting back a squeal.

I told him I loved him.

It was in the throes of passion, yes, but…oh God, I think I meant it.

He’s high-handed, jealous, arrogant and a known criminal.

But my heart is thudding louder than it ever has in my life. My stomach is in knots and the thought of leaving him, like I vowed to do, fills me with sadness.

So, maybe…maybe I’ll stay. I’ll throw caution to the wind and love this complicated man despite his faults and his chosen profession.

But I have to make it okay for myself first.

There has to be compromise. Understanding. Trust.

Otherwise one of us won’t be happy—and I’m guessing it’ll be me.

“Walker?” I sit up in bed. “Is something wrong?”

He halts in his journey across the floor to smile at me, but it doesn’t reach his eyes and a nervous hum starts in my belly. “Everything is fine, gorgeous.” He rakes that hand through his hair again and swaggers toward me all loose hipped and confident, stopping at the edge of the bed and rubbing his knuckles along my cheek. “Dinner will be ready soon. You hungry?”

I’m famished, actually. Probably should have gone with that steak instead of cheese toast earlier. I nod. “Can we talk first?”

His expression turns shuttered in the space of a second. Cautious “About what, Meadow?”

Is it my imagination or is there a thread of warning in his tone? It causes me to hesitate, but then I remember I’m not a girl who backs down from anything. I’m a fighter, a smartass and most importantly, I say how I feel. If I start staying quiet now to keep harmony between Walker and me, I’ll keep doing it. That’s so not happening, because I wouldn’t be staying true to myself. I wouldn’t be the girl he says he wants so desperately. Says he loves. “I want to stay here,” I say in a rush. “What I said earlier, what I said about how I feel about you—”

“That you love me,” he says in a firm tone.

“Yes.” I meet his eyes for a heavy moment. “I meant it. I know it’s crazy so soon, but all of this is crazy, so might as well go for broke, you know? And I meant it.”

His expression softens momentarily before turning stony again. “I hear a ‘but’ in there, Meadow, and I don’t like it.”

“Too bad.” I feel extra exposed in no clothes, so I slide out of the bed—on the opposite side from Walker, leaving us facing off across the bed. “I want to stay here with you, but only if you let me come and go as I please.”

His stare is hard. “I think we’ve established you staying is non-negotiable.”

“You can’t really mean to keep me here against my will,” I breathe, winded from his callousness.

He raises an eyebrow at the messy bedding. “Baby, you’ve got a funny way of showing me you want to leave.”

“What happened to you? Stop being like this,” I whisper, heat pressing to the backs of my eyes. “My attraction to you is not the issue. I just don’t want to completely abandon my life. If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask me to do that.”

My strangled whisper seems to get to Walker. His chest starts to heave and he looks as though he wants to reach for me but doesn’t. “Every time I leave this house, I have to look over my shoulder. I won’t have my wife doing the same.” His fingers curl into fists. “Do you have any idea how crazy it makes me? The idea of something happening to you?”

“I’m sorry me living a normal life scares you, but you can’t hold me prisoner!”

“Says who?” Walker shouts, rounding the bed in my direction, backing me up against the wall. “Anything you want, I’ll bring it to you on a silver platter.” He cups my face in his hands. “Right here, where you’re safe.”

Oh my God, he’s serious. He’s serious about never letting me leave. I don’t know why I thought he would see reason. There is enough stubborn conviction on his face to fill ten oceans. “Walker,” I say semi-calmly. “You don’t understand. I’ve spent my whole life trapped. My mother and I shared a trailer and I slept on the couch. I had no control over who came and went—and a lot of people came and went—”

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