She moved over him, with him, and he held her tight, held her against him, tried to brace them both for what was coming.
He thrust up hard as he pulled her down against him and she cried out, his thumb braced against her lips as she shuddered out her release, her internal muscles tightening around him.
He moved his thumb and claimed her mouth in a searing kiss as he thrust inside her one last time and gave in to the need that was battering him, breaking him down. And he gave in to his own need. His own desire washing over him like a blinding wall of cleansing fire. Strong enough to burn away the past. Strong enough to burn away blood.
And when they were done, he pulled her onto the bed with him and held her close, their hearts beating together.
“Don’t make me go,” she said, burying her face in his chest.
“I doubt I could make you do anything you didn’t want to do.”
“I don’t know about that,” she said, moving against him, her breasts against his bare chest sending a fresh shock of desire through him. He couldn’t blame the celibacy. This was all Samarah.
“Maybe someday we can go back to the palace by the ocean, Ferran,” she said. He stiffened, dark memory pouring through him. Like black ink on white, it stained. It couldn’t be stopped. “Maybe together we can make new memories there. Memories that aren’t so sad. I remember loving it. I remember…almost loving you.”
Her words choked him. Made his vision blur. He didn’t deserve this. A man like him. She knew he’d killed her father but she didn’t know how he’d felt. The rage. The decisive, brilliant rage that had made sinking his knife into the other man’s back feel like a glorious triumph…
“I don’t know that we should go back, Samarah.”
“We won’t let the past win, Ferran. You were the one who taught me that. You were the one who made me want more.”
“I should not be the one who inspires you, little viper.” He was her captor, nothing more. A man who went through life ruling with an iron fist and—he envisioned the past washed in a haze of red—when he had to, blood.
And that was the man who held her.
He had enslaved her, and she was thanking him. He had robbed her of her choice, and she gave him her body. He should go. He should leave her.
He started to roll away, but she held tight to him. He felt the hot press of her lips on his back. “Don’t do that,” she said. “Please don’t.”
He put his hand over hers, pinned it to his chest. Then he turned sharply, pulling her naked body against his as he kissed her, hard and deep. He didn’t deserve this. He shouldn’t take it. He had no right.
But he was going to take it anyway. He lowered her back down to the bed and settled between her thighs, kissing her neck, her shoulder, the curve of her breast. “I won’t do it then,” he said. “Why? When we can do this instead.”
“Ferran, we should talk.”
“I don’t want to talk,” he said, his voice rough. “I don’t want to talk.”
“Because…” He kissed her again. “Because words are dangerous, and until I’m not feeling quite so dangerous…I don’t think I should speak.”
“Then we won’t speak,” she said.
And they didn’t for the rest of the night.
THEIR WEDDING DAY was fast approaching and Samarah felt as if she was sleeping with a brick wall.
Ferran Bashar was nothing if not opaque. He didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want her to talk. He wanted to make love. Frequently. Constantly, some might say, and she was okay with that. But she wanted something else. Something more.
She wanted him to feel what she did, and she had no earthly way of knowing if he did. Because she felt as if she was butting up against a brick wall whenever she tried to find out.
She thought of the woman she’d been only a month ago, and she could scarcely remember her. Angry. Hopeless.
Now her whole life stretched before her, a life with Ferran. But she was afraid it would always be like this. He talked to her more before they’d started sleeping together. At least then they’d tried. Now it felt like he only wanted to see her at night.
It could not stand. Because when she’d chosen him, she’d done so with the intent of having a life. A real life. Everything she wanted. So she would damn well have it. She was tired of feeling nothing but hunger, cold and exhaustion. Tired of only seeing to the basics.
She wanted more. Whatever more might be. And she wanted it with him. If she could walk away now and do anything, be anything. Be with anyone, she wouldn’t.