“Men?”

“Yes. Her boyfriends. Not mine. And you don’t get to be jealous over anything that happened before today!”

“Watch me,” he growls.

A close-mouthed scream rips out of me. “My point being, I slept on a couch. I had no money. No other family. No way out until I made one for myself. I could have easily ended up living in the trailer forever, but I wanted to decide how to decorate my bathroom, what to eat for dinner—and above all else, I wanted to have my own money. Money that I worked to make.” I place my hands on his bare chest, his skin hot to the touch. “I love what I do. I worked so hard to get here. Don’t take it away from me.”

Misery swims in his countenance. He’s affected by the story of my past, but he’s steeling himself, forcing his humanity into hiding in favor of whatever cold creature he’s become. “You’re asking me permission to continue being a masseuse?”

“I don’t need your permission.”

His laughter is made of coal. “Your hands will touch me and no one else, Meadow. That is final.”

I see the warm man who held me in his arms earlier. I see him right there under the surface, but there’s a layer of madness preventing me from reaching him. “You’re killing what I feel for you, Walker,” I say brokenly. “You’re killing it.”

He makes a wounded sound and in a flash, I’m backed against the wall. “You said you loved me. You will not take it back.”

My chin lifts. “You might be able to control me, but not my feelings.”

“Meadow,” he snaps, punching the wall above my head. “Why can’t you understand that I need to keep you safe? Why can’t you understand that if something happened to you, it would break me?”

“I do. I felt it today, when you were in danger.” I run my fingers through his hair and he groans at the contact. “There has to be a compromise. We’ll land on it, but you can’t just lock me up and throw away the key.”

“I have to.”

“Walker.”

He’s lost to me. I didn’t reach him in time and whatever madness took hold of him has swallowed him whole. And still, still, my body turns pliant against him when he kisses me, hard and thorough. When he wedges his thigh between my legs, my body betrays me and I rock against him, my bare sex grinding on the hard sinew. His mouth on mine prevents me from protesting—I’m not even sure if I could—when he drags me off the wall and walks me toward the bed.

“Bend over for your king.”

I’m not given a choice. He spins me around pins my upper half to the mattress with a hand on the back of my neck. “Walker, please,” I manage, though I’m not sure if I’m asking him to stop or go faster. I answer my own question when I lift my backside in response to his growl. “Please. Please.”

He spanks me.

My lungs seize, my whole body numbing with the shock of his hard slap, before a rush of unabashed delight takes over. Explosions go off along my nerve endings and the flesh between my thighs contracts with yearning. Yearning for more punishment from his hand. From his body. Because it only leads to unimaginable pleasure.

“This is what happens when you torment the king, little girl. You get your sweet ass spanked.” My wetness aids him in filling me with his thickness—and he does it with one rough, cursing shove of rigid flesh into soft. “And then your pussy gets taken for a fucking ride. Spread your legs.”

“Yes!” I swear I mean to shout no, but my body is in control—and it loves, craves, requires Walker and his savage thrusts. Every slam of his hips against my buttocks sends another peal of euphoria ringing through my body. He’s deep inside me, finding the sensitive spot inside me and massaging it with his shaft. My own fingers fly to my clit and play with it in desperate little circles, whimpers and pleas falling from my lips.

I feel Walker’s breath on my shoulder and I automatically tilt my head, giving him room to attack my neck and he does so with a lustful fervor, running his tongue up my neck and groaning against my ear as he pumps, pumps, pumps. “This is for life, Meadow. This isn’t going away. You really think we could live without each other now?” His fingers replace mine on my clit, teasing a gasp out of me with his skilled middle finger. “I’m going to keep you safe and happy and roughly fucked, my tight little instant addiction. My sanity depends on it, baby. Give in.”

Some sense of pride or self-preservation won’t let me say yes.

I bite down on my bottom lip to prevent the word from escaping and Walker roars a curse at the ceiling.

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