Or, the other option, which I’m banking on…Seleme emerges, and I explain to her father that I’m not leaving. Tell him he can beat me bloody if he needs to, but I love his daughter.
He can take my life, but he can’t take my heart.
It already belongs to Seleme.
If that doesn’t break his resolve, I don’t know what will.
I march to the front door and take hold of the handle, my heart slamming in my chest, my pulse deafening in my ears. As I swing the door open, I nearly fall backward as those ice-blue eyes spear my soul.
“I’m sorry…” Seleme is standing there, her hand still raised in a frozen knock while her sweet scent swirls around me, taking my breath and driving hot blood through my veins into my already raging erection.
“Get in here.” I reach out and tug her arm down, grasping her hands and pulling her inside, harder than I should, but I can’t help myself. I need her here, in my house, and until she stepped inside, it was just that.
But now, within two seconds in her presence, it’s become a home.
A home I’m going to create for us both, so help me God, if it takes a hundred lifetimes. I will not let her go.
I take her warm hand and twine my fingers with hers, pulling her down the hallway into the living room, lit with a few candles — the only lights I’ve wanted in the house since I met her.
“Where have you been? I’ve been watching…” I admit, expecting anger but seeing only a knowing look in her eyes. “I can’t stop thinking about you. About us.”
“I know.” She looks at me, then at the floor, but her fingers tighten around mine. “It’s complicated. I only have a bit of time. I needed to talk to you. To explain some things.”
“There’s nothing to explain. I fucked it up. I rushed you. It was too fast. But you need to know it was so much more than just my fucked-up need to be with you. I’ve waited so long, Seleme, it’s more than just wanting sex. I’ve been watching you. From the first night I moved in here and I saw you running with that cat. Since I looked out through my binoculars and watched you. I don’t know.” I rub my hand over my mouth, trying to find the words. “I was addicted to you. I’m a fucking crazy, stalking asshole, I know. But then, when…the other night. I’ve never felt anything like that. For anyone. I’ve never touched another woman before, and now, you’re driving me fucking crazy.”
I’m breathless after spitting out so many words, and I fall silent, staring into her wide eyes, the whites nearly glowing and the blue shimmering like the water in a secret tropical cove.
“It’s just…” She pauses, and I brace for what’s coming because I can tell it’s not going to be good. “There are complications in my life.”
I shake my head. “I don’t care. Are you married? Are you in love with someone else?”
She pinches her lips tight, and I go cold. Then she shakes her head and gives me the answer I need. “No.” A beat passes, then the cold knife is delivered directly to my heart. “Not yet. But I will be. In a few hours. Married that is.”
Tears seep from the corners of her eyes, and I want to rain down hellfire on the world. “No.” I shake my head. It’s all I can manage to say, and my hands go to her face, my fingers clutching at her cheeks, thumbs feeling the pulse under her jaw.
“Yes.” She tries not to look at me, but I put my nose to hers and give her eyes nowhere to hide.
“Tell me you love him. Tell me you want to marry him.” It’s a challenge to her, a dare to tell me the truth I already know, because the sorrow in her eyes has already told me.
“I don’t. I don’t love him. I don’t want to marry him. But I can’t explain it all. It’s been arranged for a long time. It’s what I have to do.”
“Fuck that.” Rage boils inside of me. “You can’t force a human being to do that. There’s a way out. And you know what it is?”
My words thunder around the room as she lets out a defeated sigh, a single shoulder raising in a shrug. “There’s no way out.”
“Yes, there is. And it’s standing right here, looking into eyes that I’ve dreamed about for so long but never believed could be real. Now, here you are, and I’m not giving up. Not on you. Not on us.”
Her hands hook over my forearms as my muscle turns to stone.
“Maxim.” She whispers my name, and I hear the pain in each syllable. “This isn’t possible. We barely know each other. It’s not real.”