‘Better than good.’ He licked his lips, as if tasting her would be just as sweet and luscious. ‘Fabulous.’
‘Wow, considering how we ended up in bed the first time…’ In short, she’d had to beguile him into undressing her—not exactly ladylike behaviour. ‘Your repertoire for seduction skills really has come on.’
His smile was full of virile disrepute. ‘You only have yourself to blame. I was inaugurated and taught by the best, after all.’
Imagine who’d been slain in his bed ever since he speared her with a warped arrow of pain and pique. ‘Then clearly I created a monster.’
Laughter rumbled up from the depths of his chest. ‘I think you did, angel.’
With that, he glanced up at the canvas stretched across the wall and his smile faltered.
‘Right there. It’s a good likeness—a stunning rendition. Don’t you think?’
She had to swallow around the great lump in her throat. ‘Yes, it is. It’s…beautiful, Thane.’
Why? Why did he have a painting of their favourite spot in Zurich? Where they’d stayed. A dramatic panorama of the Rhine Falls. Luciana could virtually hear the roaring rush of water, feel the moist mist peppering her skin, see the craggy jutting rocks, the Prussian blue lakes.
‘Do you remember the day we met?’ he asked distractedly. He stared at the scene with a deep frown. As if it was the first time he’d allowed himself to really look at it.
To remember was to open a vault she’d bolted shut years ago. A perilous endeavour, just as dangerous as he was. But, as always, this man silenced the screams of her self-preservation.
‘If you hadn’t walked by that day…’ Scary to think what might have happened.
‘What were you doing there, Luciana?’
‘Celebrating the end of finals.’
She’d caved in to temptation and jetted across Europe with some trusted friends from her politics class. And while her father had been under the illusion that she’d remain in London for another month, Luciana had gone incognito and ventured into her first foray into rebellion.
She’d been intoxicated by the heady taste of absolute freedom. One she’d failed to find at university, as she’d hoped. Eyes had still watched and reported back to her parents. Gossip had still fuelled the press. But in Zurich, for the first time in her life, she’d been a normal person. A woman the paparazzi wouldn’t look at twice. Lost in the crowd and having the time of her life.
Until a two-hundred-pound strung-out Viking had cornered her behind a tour bus, the foul scent of beer leaching from his every pore, wanting some ‘fun’ of his own. And in those terrifying moments she’d cursed her naïve recklessness and prayed for someone to appear. For this man to appear.
It had been Thane who’d torn him off her and knocked him clean out with one punch. Thane, who’d locked onto her eyes and never let her go. Thane, who’d kept a careful distance as he’d walked her back to her apartment as if she were some fragile fawn.
The romantic little girl in her had called it serendipity. Thinking about it, dark and dangerous should have screamed at her to run, yet she’d been petrified that he’d leave. Take that awesome powerful protection with him. So she’d finagled him into having a coffee, then dinner, and drinks after that. And suddenly she’d been dependent, hooked on him like a drug, and all she’d craved was the next fix.
She’d been addicted to the intense highs. Though she’d do well to remember the aftermath. Horrendous heart-wrenching lows. Lost. Unfocused. She’d sworn she would never be dependent on another man.
Still… ‘You saved me.’
‘He is lucky to still walk the earth,’ he said scathingly, in a fierce, low, dominant tone.
And she couldn’t help it. She smiled wide—big and genuine and just for him. Because she’d been terrified and he’d been…awesome.
Eyes locked with his once more, she couldn’t break free of his hold. They were drawn together like powerful magnets. As it had been from the start.
His initial confusion at their combustible attraction was unforgettable. As if he’d never known such passion and lust could exist. Endearing. Dazzling. He’d enslaved her in seconds.
Do you remember our first time? her heart whispered. Yours? Mine? Teaching one another how to give pleasure and take? I remember every tender, evocative touch, every blissful second in your arms. The longing. The delirium as you drove deeper and deeper into my body until I felt indelibly marked. Branded. Claimed. Wanted. Desired.