“You know how some clothes look better at second glance?” Damian asked.
“Your choice of sleepwear isn’t one of them.”
Sarah burst into laughter.
“And unfortunately, I am not kidding.”
The way his lip curled was just too much, and she ended up literally rolling on the bed while clutching her stomach.
“That’s better, love.”
She gasped, caught by surprise by how dangerously near he sounded, and when she opened her eyes, it was to realize that she had somehow ended up flat on her back on the bed while an impossibly sexy Damian loomed over her.
She immediately tried rolling away, but his hands had suddenly landed on each side of her body, caging her in an instant.
Dark eyes full of disbelief flew up to him. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I want to talk,” Damian said tautly, “and I need you to hear me out.”
“I promise I’ll listen, just let me—-”
“Unfortunately, little Sarah, I don’t trust you to keep your word.”
“I’m going to shout for help,” she threatened.
Damian laughed. “And what exactly do you think will happen when you do?”
“Will spread the word that I’ve compromised you,” he finished dryly, “and you’ll find yourself walking down the aisle in a shotgun wedding.”
Her mouth opened and closed. Shit. He was right. “Naomi—-”
“Will never dream to interfere.”
“Are a bunch of romantics.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. Everything he said was true, which meant she was completely left to his mercies.
Damian’s blue eyes narrowed. “You get it now, don’t you?”
“Just say what you want,” she muttered, “and then get the—-”
“Stop that.” Damian’s voice was gentle but firm. “You’re only hurting yourself more than you’re hurting me.”
“You’ve never been the type to find pleasure in being rude to people,” he said evenly, “and you never will.”
Sarah’s chest started hurting. Why, God, why did this man have to know her so well—-
“You give me too much credit, love. If I had known you as well as you think I did, then I’d have trusted you more…” His voice was light, but his gaze sober, and the pain in her chest grew at just how foolishly easy he found it to read her mind.
“I don’t get why you’re talking about trust,” Sarah said jerkily. “It was never an issue between us—-‘
“It was. You just didn’t know it.”
And then he was pulling away, and as she quickly scrambled up to a sitting position, he retreated to sit at the edge of her bed, his form rigid stiff.
“I grew up missing and loving and hating my mother. Did you know that?”
Sarah shook her head. She knew precious little about his mother since neither Damian nor Josiah had ever seemed inclined to talk about the woman that had once been an important part of their lives.
“She never asked about me, never gave a damn about me, and even though I knew I was being stupid, I even went to college in London just to be near her. But I didn’t even get a fucking single call, and for a long fucking time, I blamed myself for her inability to love me. There must be something wrong with me, something that no woman could be capable of loving. She was my mother, Sarah. She gave birth to me, and she couldn’t even be bothered to remember my birthday. And then you came…someone who hadn’t any obligation to love me…”
Damian turned to her then, and the emptiness in his gaze made Sarah’s chest start hurting again.
“Do you understand now,” he asked tonelessly, “why I still don’t believe you could’ve been in love with me all those years?”
Sarah couldn’t speak. She was lost in the past, memories of the times they were together streaming into her mind. Those memories used to hurt, and what she remembered the most was the last day she had seen each other, and she had asked, Why can’t you love me?
Now, she knew.
But too much time had passed, and he had hurt her far too much to matter.
“All this time, I forced myself to stay away—-”
“I tried to convince myself it was for the better.”
“I don’t want to hear another word,” she said jerkily.
“But when I saw you again—-”
She tried covering her ears, and God, it was just like before. He was suddenly close, too painfully close, and she fell back against the headboard of her bed as he pushed her arms down.
“I can’t fucking pretend anymore,” Damian said rawly. “I love you—-”
A sob escaped her.
“I love you—-”
“It’s too late,” she whispered brokenly.
But she could no longer speak, with his mouth cutting her words off with a deep, hard kiss.
The kiss stunned Sarah to the core, rendering her frozen in his hold. It had been so long. So, so long, and oh, the feel of his lips…it was even agonizingly sweeter than she had ever allowed herself to remember, and if she had still been the old Sarah, she would’ve let the kiss do its usual job and have it sweep her off her feet. But things had changed. She knew better now, knew and remembered enough that she couldn’t afford to let the past happen all over again.