Oh, that can’t be fucking good.

Pressing in closer, like a predator moving in on its prey, he curls himself around me until he’s blocking out the light. He’s so damn tall, so damn wide, I can’t see around him.

He’s literally a wall of ink-covered muscle.

His entire being, his entire presence fills my shrinking little world. Narrowing it down until I’m solely focused on him. His every breath, his every twitch.

“Is that why you’re doing this?” he asks.

I just stare at him stupidly. I don’t even understand the fucking question.

“You doubt my commitment to this marriage. You doubt the sincerity of my actions,” he supplies, his bright, burning gaze locking on my mouth.

What the fuck?

“What?! No…” I immediately try to deny, that’s not why I’m doing this.

I’m doing this because I want to be free…

But a little nagging, little fucking annoying voice in my head suggests he may be onto something.

I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around this arrangement. I don’t understand the point of it. It doesn’t make any damn sense.

Why bother protecting me or trying to take care of me? If he wants revenge, or bedlam and mayhem, he could have gotten that by killing me, torturing me, or locking me up.

Keeping me alive is a huge liability.

As if he can read my mind, he says almost accusingly, “You do…”

“I just don’t understand why you’re doing this,” I finally admit in frustration, bristled by his tone. “What’s in it for you?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asks, rocking his hips forward.

His erection rubs against my soaked panties, intentionally or unintentionally finding my clit.

“No,” I grit out, trying my best not to moan.

Grinning, he rocks his hips again. “I get you.”

Those three words—I get you—stab right through the core of my fucking soul.

He’s doing all of this because he wants me? He doesn’t even know me…

Before I can even start coming to terms with his revelation, his mouth crushes against my mouth in a bruising kiss, cutting off my thoughts.

He kisses me hard and deep, so hard and deep I feel it all the way down to my toes.

My knees go weak, the will to fight back draining out of me.

“I get you, to have and to hold…” he says between pulls from my mouth.

I’m so lost in his kiss, so far gone in his taste, in his touch, I don’t even realize that he’s grabbing the knife out of my hand, wrestling it easily from my slick fingers, before it’s too late.

It’s not even a contest. One moment I have the knife and the next he has it.

Breaking the kiss, he points the knife at me and says, “From this day forward.”

Panting for air, I stare at him in confusion until he fists the front of my dress, pulling it away from my skin.

As he begins to saw through the black fabric, “You’re crazy,” just slips past my lips.

And he is. To go through all this trouble just because he wants me… it’s insane.

“Yes, we’ve already established that,” he smirks, not even trying to deny it.

The dress splits open under the knife as Gabriel guides it down my chest. The blade comes dangerously close to my skin, but he wields it with such carefully controlled precision it never touches me.

Once he reaches my bellybutton, he tosses the knife away. It clangs loudly against the tub as he grabs the fabric in both hands and uses his brute strength to rip it the rest of the way open.

I’m not wearing a bra. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one under my wedding dress, most likely due to the corset. And I’m quite a bit bigger than Lily in the chest department.

“Meghan…”

Gabriel sucks in a sharp breath through his teeth, his entire body stiffening.

There’s nothing between me and his hungry, feral eyes now except for the tiny, pathetic strip of white fabric acting as my panties. I tremble against the wall, once again trapped somewhere between arousal and fear from the way he looks at me

“Goddamn,” he hisses, releasing the breath he sucked in. “You should have never walked into this bathroom…”

Still gripping the tattered remains of the dress in his fists, he yanks it down my arms, letting it fall to the bottom of the tub.

“Gabriel—” I start to protest but he cuts me off with another kiss.

Using his mouth to push me back into that foggy place of pleasure and confusion.

Once I begin to melt against the tile, he nips at my bottom lip.

“For better or for worse,” he murmurs, then he begins to work his way down my neck.

A coiled weakness blooms in my veins as he kisses and suckles on the tender skin of my throat.

This is wrong in so many ways, but the way he’s kissing me, as if he’s worshipping me with his mouth, makes it feel too right.

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