Feeling like a psycho serial killer from a bad horror movie, I stalk toward the bathroom and decide to hide the knife behind my back at the last second.

Thankfully, the door doesn’t creak as I push it open until I can squeeze past it. A blast of warm, steamy air hits me in the face as soon as I step into the bathroom, and after the cool night air it feels downright oppressive.

Making my way to the shower curtain, it’s everything I can do not to pant and give myself away.

There’s no time to waste, no time to steel myself again, so I just grab the shower curtain and rip it open.

Gabriel stands on the other side in all his wet, naked glory. He’s already turned toward me as if he expected me.

The sight of all his damp, glistening skin threatens to dazzle me, and I have to shake my head to clear it.

I have a mission, dammit.

“Meghan?” Gabriel asks, sounding more confused than worried.

I take a step forward and do my best to keep my expression blank.

Stiffening, his eyes narrow at me suspiciously. “What are you doing in here?”

Lowering my lashes, I try to ignore how all his muscles clench and bulge as he tenses. He’s truly a work of art. A mouth-watering combination of ink and pure, brutal man.

I take another step forward and another, until he’s moving back.

Stepping into the tub with him, I say, “I think it’s time we had a heart to heart.”

Just as I bring the knife up, I’m grabbed and shoved into the tile wall.

Gabriel’s fingers wrap around my throat as I push the tip of the knife into his left pec, above his heart.

Gaze darkening, his eyes flick down to the blade and back up to my face. “A heart to heart, huh?”

9

Meghan

“Yes,” I exhale roughly as Gabriel’s fingers squeeze around me.

The force of his hold grinds my spine into the hard tile wall and I stretch up on my tiptoes, seeking some relief.

I’m definitely starting to have second thoughts about this.

Maybe I didn’t think this through, but fuck it. I have to do something. I can’t just sit around, playing the helpless damsel in distress.

I fucking refuse to. This is my life and I will have a say in it, and if he refuses to cooperate…

Well, only one of us will be leaving this bathroom unscathed.

As I see it, we’re locked in a stalemate.

When his fingers don’t let up, I poke the knife harder into his chest in warning. I don’t want to hurt him, I really don’t, but I will if he pushes me.

The poke of the knife seems to amuse him. Lips curling with a smirk, his fingers relax enough to let me take another breath, only to squeeze around me harder after I do.

“If you want to talk,” he says, leaning forward and pushing himself on the knife. “Then talk.”

Unable to stop myself, I look down as his grip around my throat loosens and watch a trickle of blood roll down his chest.

This fucker is definitely crazier than I am.

I think he has a death wish.

Shit.

Looking back up, I try to remember what the hell I wanted to say, but nothing is playing out like I thought it would in my head.

Does he have no sense of self-preservation?

“Well?” Gabriel asks expectantly.

“I can’t do this,” I gasp, though I don’t know who I’m answering, me or him.

“Do what?”

Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more disturbed by his actions, his thumb begins to stroke against my throat in a way that could be considered tender.

I’m holding a knife to his heart and the fucker is practically petting me…

“Any of this!” I hiss, trying to remember the whole purpose of this mess.

Gabriel has me so flustered though, everything is turning to shit. How the hell am I supposed to intimidate him into giving me what I want if he’s not the least bit afraid of me?

“I can’t do this Gabriel, I can’t. I won’t be your fucking captive or your tool for revenge.”

Something sparks in his eyes. “Is that so?”

“Yes,” I nearly growl and shake my head, trying to dislodge his thumb.

His fingers tighten around me in warning and I stop.

I take a deep breath to calm myself and hate that it burns a little. The weight of his hand around my throat is starting to feel more and more like a collar.

It’s definitely a mark of possession.

This whole stupid plan wasn’t supposed to go down like this. I was supposed to have the upper hand. I was supposed to be the one in control.

How did he turn this around on me? Especially when I’m the one holding a knife to him?

“I won’t be your fucking bedlam and mayhem, Gabriel,” I finally remember, and watch with satisfaction as the smirk slides right off his face.

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