“Yes, there is. You can trust me.”
“Absolutely not. I don’t trust anyone.”
“Me either. But…” She trails off, licking her lips. “I don’t know. Maybe we have to start somewhere, you know? We’re going to be here together for two weeks.” If she thinks I’m letting her leave in two weeks, she’s dead wrong, but I wisely don’t correct her. “If you don’t tie me up, Caleb, I’ll answer one personal question.”
There’s no way to resist the temptation.
I want to ask her name, but if I do, our jig will be up. She’ll know I’ve been aware all along that she isn’t Sarah. And I’ve already determined she needs to hide a while longer before she reveals where she really came from. What she’s been through.
“Who tied you up?” I rasp.
Her fingers twitch against the pillow. “A doctor. Doctor Taylor.”
Slowly, she shakes her head. “That’s more than one question.”
Frustration burrows beneath my skin. “I will kill him for you one day.”
“Good,” she breathes, seeming shaken by her own response.
Something passes between. An understanding that we both have some darkness. It breeds more trust than the deal we made, the narrowing of my eyes and the answering flicker in hers. I get hard, impossibly so, in my jeans, aching to explore that darkness we share, but I need to make amends first. If she lets me back between her thighs, I’ll be lucky. There might be a little danger lurking in her, but not enough to keep her from crying. To keep her from running from my bedroom like she’d been attacked. She had, in a lot of ways.
Swallowing hard, I drop the rope. “If you run, I’ll find you.”
* * *
When Caleb returns an hour later, he’s white as a sheet. Sweat beads his upper lip, more perspiration soaking a patch of his shirt beneath his throat.
He’s holding two large bags in his hands, his knuckles leached of color around the handles. I couldn’t sleep with him gone, so I found a new shirt and waited for him in the kitchen. When he sees me at the table, a shudder goes through him and he heaves a breath.
He closes the door behind him and carries the bags over to where I’m sitting, setting them down at my feet. One by one, he pulls items from the bags and places them on the table. Three pairs of jeans, a mixture of thongs and bikini panties, a pair of sneakers, white tank tops, a pink hoodie, two casual dresses, some flowery shampoo and conditioner. Deodorant. The last thing he pulls out is a short, gray silk nightgown with thin straps, white lace at the hem.
When he’s done emptying the bags, he drags a chair over beside me and sits in it. We’re just two people sitting in the silent kitchen at one thirty in the morning, not talking. Slowly, he turns his legs toward me, leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees. He turns his head toward me and I can barely breathe at the regret there.
I can’t have you leaving while I’m out buying an apology.
This is his way of saying sorry for what happened in his bedroom.
Emotion punches into my chest. Even though I ultimately got pleasure in his bed, I know I shouldn’t let him off the hook. He was aggressive. Domineering. And he took my virginity like a savage. Maybe it’s because no one has ever said sorry to me before—not for anything—that I find my hand creeping closer to his, stopping just short of holding it.
He stares at my hand, not breathing.
A clock ticks somewhere in the house.
Caleb swallows and scoots his chair an inch closer, turning more in my direction. His big chest lifts and falls, lifts and falls…
And then he does something I could never expect.
He lays his head down in my lap.
I despair over the way my heart seems to expand, fluttering wildly. He greeted me with a shotgun, physically overpowered me and threatened to tie me up—and it hasn’t even been a full day yet. Despite all of that, I think I could have serious feelings for this man, despite his obvious madness.
Does that make me mad, too?
I’ve always denied it, but now I’m not so sure. Because I find myself reaching down and stroking his hair. One stroke and his arms wrap around my entire chair plus my body, dragging me as close I can get, his face burying in my stomach. Pressing there. We remain like this for God knows how long. An hour, maybe more, my fingers trailing up and down his neck, over his shorn black hair, his arms like steel bands around me.
Just as I’m starting to nod off, he picks me up and brings me to his room.
His eyes search mine, desperate, and I nod.
I drift off in his arms, ignoring the fear that I’ve traded one prison for another.