“I’ve thought of you like this since we came back from Hawaii,” he admits in this low, rumbly whisper that sets my nerve endings on fire.

“Same,” I confess, my brain so scrambled by his touch I can hardly speak. Despite everything he did to me and how angry I was, he always lingered in the back of my mind. Driving me crazy with wanting him and frustrated because I was supposed to hate him.

“At night I’d lie in bed alone and jerk off to thoughts of you. Those memories we made in Maui.” A shiver steals over me at his admission. His mouth is level with mine, and he’s murmuring against my lips as he stares deep into my eyes. “The way you sucked my cock so hard I came in your mouth. The taste of your pussy, how easy I could make you come, make you scream. How good it felt, my cock buried inside you, fucking you.”

I shudder at his words. God, he says the best things. So blunt, so dirty. I love it. “Aren’t we wasting time talking when we could be in your bed doing?” I ask.

He smiles, the sight of it stealing my breath, hurting my heart. He’s so gorgeous, so sexy, and all mine. I disentangle myself from his grip and start for his bedroom but not before he crowds in behind me, his hands on my waist, his mouth at my neck. “Max,” I chastise and I feel him smile against my neck, his arms sliding around me completely so he squeezes me close.

“What, princess? Am I too much of a distraction?” He splays his hands across my stomach, his fingers brushing my breasts, and I bite back the moan that wants to escape.

His touch feels so good, but God, I’m still so unsure …

“You make me nervous,” I admit.

“Why?” He pushes my hair away from my nape to rain kisses there, making me shiver harder. “I won’t hurt you.”

“Maybe not physically,” I say, wincing the moment the words pass my lips.

Damn it. That was something I didn’t necessarily want to admit, though he has to know how I feel, how afraid I am to let him get close.

Max freezes for a moment, his mouth still pressed against my neck, his hands spanning my stomach. I stiffen as well, afraid of what he might say, worried that he’ll walk away from me and never once look back.

I’m laying everything on the line here tonight and so is he. I’m normally a risk taker. Not too long ago I would take chances with my life every single day. Acting like a fool with various men, drinking, partying, traveling the world, never caring who I hurt, how my actions might affect another person. I was careless. Stupid. Yet this moment, this night with Max, feels like the biggest risk of all.

And if he pushes me away, I’ll be devastated.

Slowly he turns me within his embrace so my back is pressed against the wall, his hands resting at my waist. I stare up at him, shifting my position so my hips thrust out and I brush against his front. I can feel his erection beneath his pants and I want to touch him. Stroke him there.

But I wait for him to make the first move.

“Princess.” He removes one hand from my waist and rests it on the wall beside my head, caging me in. “I’m stepping into uncharted territory here, but I’m going to do my damnedest to keep you safe. Especially that pretty little body of yours.” He squeezes my waist with his other hand and I smile at him, pleased at his words. Somewhat.

His expression remains serious as he stares at me and I realize he has more to say. “And your heart. I promise to keep that as safe as I can, too,” he whispers just before he presses the gentlest, sweetest kiss to my lips I’ve ever experienced.

So sweet, I almost want to cry. It takes everything within me not to fall completely apart and I let my lips linger on his, not wanting to break the tentative connection we’re sharing at this very moment.

It feels so … fragile.

So real.

I can’t speak. I don’t know what to say and it sounds like he’s having a conversation with just himself, though I think he knows what I’m feeling, what I want to say.

“Now get your sweet ass in my bed, baby,” he murmurs against my lips, and I start to laugh.

“Let me go so I can,” I urge him and he does so, his hand loosening about my waist so I can break free. He releases me and I enter his bedroom, about to lean down and turn on the lamp on the bedside table.

But then he’s on me, hands everywhere again, mouth locked with mine, tongue thrusting deep. He devours me, consumes me with his mouth and tongue and teeth, his hands, his entire body engulfing me. I moan and clutch him close, hating how restrictive the skirt of my dress is, wishing I could wrap my legs around his hips and hang on. Grind against him shamelessly, making the throbbing between my legs grow even more, until I’m overcome, obsessed with claiming my orgasm.

Because I am obsessed. The man turns me into a freak, a needy, unmanageable, uncontrollable little freak that wants nothing more than to get off. And the only who can satisfy my needs is him.

Max.

My cheeks, my neck, my everything goes hot at the realization and he breaks the kiss, withdrawing slightly to study me, as if sensing my change in temperature, in mood, in whatever. I crack open my eyes and stare up at him, yet again unsure of what to say, what to do. This man still makes me so nervous and usually I hate that sort of thing. I don’t want anyone to ever have the upper hand, especially in the bedroom.

Yet with Max, I want him to take over. Take ownership. I want to surrender and let him do whatever he wants. Command me and order me around. I love the feeling of being at his mercy.

I crave it.

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