I heard movement and took a step back from the door. My imagination was spinning out of control, filled with wild scenarios of what was taking place beyond my view. Every vision involved Sophia, her hands on Blake, seducing him into succumbing to her desperate pleas. What if he weakened? She had a habit of touching him like she had a right to. But she didn’t. Never again would she have the right to lay hands on the man who would soon be my husband. I harnessed all my willpower not to barge in and tell her so.

“You need to go. It’s done.”

“What can she do for you that I can’t?”

Blake hesitated before saying his next words. “Sophia…we’re getting married.”

A heavy silence fell. I closed my eyes.

She didn’t know.

“When were you going to tell me?” Her voice trembled.

He sighed heavily. “I don’t know. Does it matter?”

A short laugh escaped her, a delirious sound that made me worry about what she might do next.

“I guess not. So that’s it? She’s everything you’ve ever wanted.”

I read his silence as an affirmation. I prayed that it was.

“I imagine she’s come a long way since you whipped her then. Does she know about the club?”

“No, and she never will,” he shot back.

That soft, ingenuous laugh again. “You’re kidding me. You’re ready to spend forever with her, and she doesn’t even know who you are.”

“She does, trust me.”

“Don’t you think she should know?”

“Enough.” The word came out like a threat.

“Blake…”  She was pleading again.

I imagined her on her knees, begging him, like the natural submissive she’d been for him. Ready to surrender everything to him if he’d only give in to her.

“You never gave us a chance,” she whispered.

“We never had a chance.” The low timbre of his voice was barely audible.

“Don’t do this to us,” she sobbed. 

“Leave, Sophia. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.”

The movement came closer to the door, and I took a step back, my heart racing in anticipation of seeing Sophia in the flesh.

“Whatever you want, Blake, but I don’t think it’s this,” she snapped. “You’re going to regret this. We both know you will.”

The door swung open and she gasped. Her shocked eyes narrowed quickly, the bleeding mascara the only imperfection on her flawless face. Her pin-straight brown hair flowed over her shoulders and the top of her designer leather jacket.

“You.” The single word seemed to hold inside of it all of her spite. Tears shone in her eyes. Tears of frustration maybe, but whatever I saw there I recognized. A wild and untamed love. A love that breached the barrier of reason. “You’re the one he wants.”

“Leave, Sophia. Now.” Blake gripped the edges of the doorway behind her.

The look of pure disdain on his countenance both satisfied and sickened me. I wanted him to shun her. I wanted her to be the dirt under his feet. But I couldn’t deny that to have him look at me the way he was looking at her now would destroy me.

She took a quick step toward me, but I held my ground. As much as her words tore at me, threatening to expose every insecurity I had about belonging with Blake, I couldn’t let her see it. The man who could have anyone wanted me, only me. I lifted my chin, grateful for the heels I’d worn that gave me the height to look her in the eye.

“That’s right. I’m the one he wants. Now why don’t you be a good girl and leave?”

“Fuck you,” she spat.

“He just did. Now leave us be. He doesn't want you here.”

A sneer marred the perfect planes of her face. “I made him who he is, Erica. The years that he was inside of me will be the years he’ll never be able to forget, no matter what you do. Think of that when you’re saying your vows.”

“Sophia!” Blake’s face twisted into an angry grimace as he took an intimidating step toward her.

Without looking back, Sophia disappeared down the hallway, leaving us there alone. I wanted relief, but rage and uncertainty rattled through me, making my hands tremble at my sides.

When Blake turned back into his office, I followed him in. I shut the door and leaned against it, needing its support. I stared at his silhouette as he looked out the window to the sprawling city skyline beyond. 

I wanted to talk to him but wondered how I could possibly keep my emotions from bubbling to the surface afterward. I wanted him to make this right, to erase the terrible things that she’d said. Her words still stung, as if she’d physically hit me with them. The shallow part of me wanted to believe my words had done the same to her.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said.


He turned back, pinning me with the same green eyes that had me at his mercy only moments ago. “For her being here. For upsetting you.”

“Why was she here?” I had my suspicions, but I wanted him to confirm it. I needed to know they were done, completely and irrevocably. 

“I’m pulling my investment from her agency, making her buy me out.” He shoved a hand through his hair. “That’s what you wanted, right?”


“Well, there you have it.”

“Do you wish you hadn’t?” I couldn’t hide the challenge in my tone. I didn’t want to hear regret.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. “It had to be done, sooner or later. Sometimes it’s just easier to appease certain people than to face off with them. She’s one of those people.”

“It’s better than being held hostage by her forever, isn’t it?”

“We’ll see. She’s used to getting what she wants.”

“What did she mean by...” I let out a breath, questioning how far I wanted to push him after the morning we’d already had. “The club,” I said quietly.

His eyes never left me. “What about it?”

I studied him. The twitch in his tightened jaw betrayed everything I’d heard, but he couldn’t possibly want to tell me.

“Tell me about it.”

He stalked closer, careful steps that brought us face to face. My back was against the door as he placed a flat palm beside my head. He towered over me, wordless empty seconds passing between us. “That place is in the past, and that’s where it’ll stay. Do you understand me?”

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