Page 62 of To Defy a Sheikh

She had to tell him that.

She had to go back.

She pushed away from the door and turned around, immediately falling into a fighting stance when she saw the man in white standing there.

She relaxed when she was able to focus on his face. “Ferran?”

He took a step closer to her, the look on his face unsettled. “I came for you,” he said, his voice unsteady.

“I’m sorry. I was about to come home.”

“No. Do not apologize. I had to release the past’s hold on me before I could come to you. I think…I think that this was the best place for me to do this.”

“To do what?” she asked.

“I am afraid,” he said. “I told myself it was because I had held you captive. Because I am a monster and if I do not keep control I could easily make the same mistakes I had made before.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“I know,” he said. “And…I do not deserve your confidence.”

“You do.”

“You can leave,” he said. “I will release you from this marriage. From me. I will give you whatever you need to start a new life. All of your decisions are your own. You have options. Live life. Live it apart from me.”

She stepped nearer to him, her heart pounding hard. “Don’t you understand? You’re the life I’ve chosen. You’re the one I’ve chosen.”

“I can’t believe that,” he said, his dark eyes haunted. “At my core, I am a murderer.”

“No,” she said, putting her hand on his face. “You’re a survivor. I recognize it. Because it is what I am, too. We have survived the unimaginable. And you know what? It would have broken other people. We aren’t broken.”

“I am,” he said.

“Only because you’re too afraid to put yourself back together.”

“I am,” he said. “Because there is every chance it would reveal a monster.”

“There are no monsters here,” she said, looking around the room. “Not anymore. And we don’t have to let them rule our life anymore. I am not my father. I am not my mother. I am Sheikha Samarah Bashar. My allegiance is to you.”

“I don’t feel I can accept your allegiance,” he said.

“Do not insult me by rejecting it. Not when you already insulted me by rejecting my love.”

“I don’t seek to insult you. It is…this is the only way I know to love you,” he said. “And I find that I do. But I want to be sure that you want to be with me. That you have chosen it. Not because you are a captive. I want… If you choose to stay, I want to be able to trust I can give you passion. That I can give you everything. And you will want it. Not just feel trapped into it.”

“Oh, Ferran.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close, kissing him, deep and long. “I love you, too.”

“I do not deserve it,” he said, his voice rough.

“I tried to kill you. I don’t exactly deserve your love, either.”

“Samarah…I don’t trust myself.”

She stepped back, then reached down and took his hand in hers, lifting it to her throat. “I do,” she said. “I have witnessed your character. The way you treated your would-be assassin. I have heard the story of how you avenged your mother. How much you must have loved her to be so enraged. You are a man of great and beautiful passion.”

“I have never seen passion as beautiful.”

“Neither did I. Before you.” She pressed his hand more firmly against her neck. “Would you ever harm me?”

“Never,” he said, his voice rough, his touch gentle. “Our children…”

“I know you wouldn’t. And you will never harm our children. I know your hands have had blood on them. Blood from the avenging of those you love. Ferran, you would never harm your family. But you would kill for them if it ever came down to it. You would die for them. And there is no shame in that.”

“I…I never saw it that way.”

“I see it. Because I see you. You are a warrior. As am I. Together we can face whatever terrible things come.”

“I’ve always been afraid that I was a terrible thing.”

“There was a time when I thought you were, and I very nearly became terrible, too. But you saved me.”

“We saved each other.”

“There will always be ugliness in the world, Ferran, but loving you is the most beautiful thing that’s ever happened in my life. We have something beautiful for the first time.” A tear rolled down her cheek and splashed onto his hand. “Don’t fear your passion. I want it. I crave it.”

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