She trembled at the raw lust and darkness in his words. She couldn’t help it. “I trust you.”

He ran a hand over his face and groaned. “Dammit, Daisy. That’s not what you should say.”

“But I do,” she said. “I’ve only been with one man besides you and he only liked certain things, certain ways, so I’m all up for things I haven’t done.”

“Christ. I should’ve beaten your ex’s arse when I had the chance. Selfish bastard.” Water sluiced down his body, plastering his shirt to his skin. His gaze fixed on her. A gaze so full of despair that she simply hugged him.

“It’s okay, Bastian.”

For long minutes, he stood there, his body stiff and his arms at his sides. Slowly, his arms lifted, wrapping around her and holding her tight. “I’m sorry you had to witness that.”

“It’s okay,” she repeated. “You’re not responsible for her.”

Unwrapping her arms from around his waist, she helped him peel off his clothes, and then she washed him. Gently scrubbing at the dirt, the smell of smoke on his skin, and the cuts.

He leaned against the wall and let her, making grunts of appreciation when she ran her hands over his thighs and calves. When she was done, she led him out of the shower and handed him a towel. Then she dried herself off, but he lifted her in his arms before she could dry the ends of her hair.

Without saying a word, he took her to the large couch by the bay window and laid her down on it, then left her, only to return a few seconds later with a box. “I’ve dreamed of doing this,” he said as he adorned her with jewelry. A diamond necklace with emeralds around her neck, a string of pearls around her stomach, and dark rubies for her wrists. “My countess.”

“I don’t need jewels,” she said and he raised a brow. “Okay, so jewelry makes this girl happy, but really all I want right now, at this very moment, is you.

He joined her, touching her reverently, like she was made of glass. Like she’d shatter at his touch, only she knew the truth. She’d shatter if he stopped.

Sebastian didn’t stop. He kissed her passionately, made her moan as he used his hands to bring her to heights she thought unattainable. There wasn’t a place on her body he didn’t leave untouched.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear. Then he kissed his way down her body, pausing at her stomach. “And I love you, too. No matter what happens.” Another kiss and he fixed his gaze on her, a tender smile on his sexy mouth.

Tears fell onto her cheeks. He stretched out beside her, touching her face and he kissing the tears away. “Why are you so sad?”

“Because it feels like you’re trying to tell me good-bye,” she said.

Instead of relieving her fears or even addressing them, he turned her on her side and entered her slowly, cupping a breast and telling her how good she felt, how beautiful she was. “There will never be another woman for me.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m all yours forever.” She pushed her hips back and he lifted her leg up, going deeper. “No piercing tonight?”

“Can’t be too careful with you,” Sebastian said, kissing her neck as he let her words wash over him. All his forever. If only that were possible.

Pulling out of her, he rolled Daisy to her back and slowly pushed inside of her. She made a noise of pleasure in her throat. “I love looking at you, your body.” He gazed down at the jewelry he had given her, though she didn’t know it now belonged to her. “Your sweet smile.”

She smiled at him, and in that smile was the world he wanted.

It was a world he couldn’t have. But he could have this. He could have this last night with her.

He dipped his head, capturing a hard nipple in his mouth. He sucked, bit, and tongued her there as his hips moved, as he plunged in and out of her wet heat.

Tomorrow morning, everything would end between them. Tomorrow morning, he might not ever come back from what he had to do to her.

She gripped his back, her nails biting into him, and he thought of nothing but her. Nothing but right now, while he was inside of her, and while she loved him. She loved him. Yes, she’d seen the best of him, but she’d also seen the worst.

Yet she still loved him.

“Harder.” He had to be marked by her. He had to have some piece of her stay with him. “Mark me. Carve your name into my skin.” It was already permanently carved into his heart.

A slight hesitation and she flexed her fingers, raking her nails down his back. Just like that, he was ready to come. He slipped a hand between them and stroked her swollen clitoris. Her mouth formed a perfect O and she blinked up at him. “Oh my God.”

He surged inside of her, desperate for her, and came endlessly while she stroked his back and whispered how much she loved the feel of him, how good he made her feel. How he was perfect for her in every way.

His body shuddered and trembled. He was powerless in her arms.

“I love you,” she said softly, and his heart nearly beat out of his chest. “Tear up the stupid contract, because I want to be with you without it. Let’s get married and have lots of babies,”—A shy smile graced her lips. — “We’re already ahead of the curve.”

“Are you sure?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“Yes.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “All those emails and texts were love letters, before everything went bad, weren’t they?”

“They were. They are.” He leaned into her touch. “Every time I sent you a text or an email, it was another way of saying I love you.”

“I think I’ve loved you for a while now,” she whispered.

He exhaled, defeated and overjoyed all at once. “I’ll tear up the stupid contact tomorrow.”

Sighing happily, she snuggled against him, the remaining jewelry cold against his skin, almost as cold as he would have to be tomorrow. “Bastian?”


“Why do you have so many unhappy tattoos, you know, after the one your dad gave you?”

Well, that was certainly one way of describing them. “Each one represents something horrible done to my brother, my mother, and my cousin.”

“Oh,” she replied, her expression thoughtful. “What about you?”

“No.” Sitting up, he got to his feet and held out his hand. “Let’s get into bed. The couch isn’t a proper place for you to sleep.”

“Will you sleep with me?” Her dark gaze searched his face.