Ah. The beast stared at her thoughtfully. Was that truly what was bothering her – or something else?
“Nothing changes,” he said finally. “You signed yourself over to me, and so you are mine.”
Something inside of her stirred at the words, but she fought to ignore this, saying sharply, “You do understand that by saying those things, you’re not earning yourself any brownie points?”
A strange kind of shiver ran down her spine, something that did not come from being cold – but from being hot.
“I rather think it does.”
She gasped. “Excuse me?”
Her caramel brown eyes flashed fire at the shadows, but her ample chest was also heaving—-
The beast’s nostrils flared.
He knew that scent.
It was the scent of lust. Of arousal. Of desire.
And it was coming from her.
“You heard me,” the beast rasped. “I think you like hearing me say that you’re mine.”
“You—-” Something hotter than fire blazed over her skin at the words, and she instinctively crossed her arms over her chest when she actually felt her nipples start to pucker.
“I think deep inside, you want a man who is stronger than you.”
“And you’re that man?” Her laugh was supposed to be scornful, but it came out all shaking and breathless. Oh God, what was happening to her?
“Yes, ma belle. Believe me when I say that no man is stronger than me.” And the beast’s lips twisted, for there was both truth and irony in its words.
“H-ha!” Oh God, that sounded so lame!
“It is the truth.”
A low, husky laugh followed and Arabella almost covered her ears at how sinfully beautiful it sounded. He had sounded so utterly convinced – so utterly complacent – when he said that he was the strongest man in the world. It was crazy! But oh God, it was sexy!
Abruptly turning away from the shadows, she marched towards the bed. “I’m tired,” she said shortly. “I’m going to bed.”
“Perhaps one night, I may be able to join you—-”
Arabella tripped over her own feet, and her face flamed as Aurélien Sauvage asked very politely, “Do you need assistance?”
“Shut up!” Face flaming, she quickly got under the covers, making a show of ignoring him, but even so she could still feel his hatefully intense gaze on her, and oh, how her body ached because of it.
This was so crazy!
Arabella pulled the covers higher over her head, snarling, “Go away!”
“Are you certain you wish me to go away?”
The mocking concern in the voice – that tone which implied, deep inside, she wanted him to stay – got to her, propelled Arabella into a rage. Sitting up, she snapped at the shadows, “I will never sleep with you! Do you hear me? Never!”
There was the faintest chuckle, and her teeth gnashed.
“Do not say that word, ma belle. Has no one taught you that never is only a naughty girl’s way of saying yes?”
Arabella threw her pillow into the shadows. “Asshole!”
But all she got was another chuckle.
“I will speak to you again tomorrow. Bonne nuit, Arabella.”
“Go to hell.” She lay back down with a loud huff and pulled the covers over her. Then and only then did she allow her mask of anger to fade – and for her very real panic to settle in.
Even now, the way her name sounded on his lips made her breasts ache and feel restless inside.
This was crazy. This was wrong. This was only supposed to be about her being practical, of them being just friends. Just friends. But why did her body seem to want more?
Of Captors and Captives
Arabella waited for Aurélien to visit her the following night. Even though she wouldn’t admit it to anyone, she had stayed up all night, waiting for him to come and hating herself for doing so.
His absence puzzled and frustrated her, and for the rest of the day, she found herself obsessing over it. Why have her brought to the island – only to ignore her? It didn’t make any sense. None of this new life of hers made any sense.
When darkness fell, she had to drag her feet just to get back to the tower room, and as she opened the door, she was already warning herself not to be disappointed –
No, no, relieved was the word she should be using.
If he was not there, then good riddance!
But as she closed the doors behind her, she heard the voice from beyond the shadows say oh so softly, “Bonjour, ma belle.”
Arabella whirled around, but of course all she could see were shadows. Even so, her heart continued to thunder against her chest, the heat of his presence telling her that she had not imagined the words. He was here. Finally.
“You didn’t come last night.” The words were out before she could stop herself.
“I had wanted to come, but there was an emergency at work that I had to take care of.”