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Home > Complete Me (Stark Trilogy #3)(6)

Complete Me (Stark Trilogy #3)(6)
Author: J. Kenner

A tremor ripples through my body, and I turn away. I’ve fallen so fast for this man, and I am terrified of losing him. Terrified that whatever good we’ve discovered together despite our shitty pasts will be ripped away. I press my lips together to hold back an anguished scream, because that is all I want to do right now—scream and yell and cry until Damien does whatever he has to do to fix this and make all the horror go away.

But I don’t. Instead I stand firm like a rock, knowing that the slightest motion could set me off. I feel wild and volatile and dangerous. And right now, the last thing either of us needs is an explosion.

“Nikki.” My name is soft upon his lips, and he lets go of my hand as he moves to stand behind me. His palms press down on my shoulders, the pressure warm and sweet. I feel the gentle touch of his lips upon the top of my head, and the soft squeeze of his fingers as he strokes my arms, bare in the sleeveless dress. “I pissed you off that first night at Evelyn’s, remember? I should have let you stay pissed. I should have walked away from you and never looked back.”

My mouth is dry, and my chest feels tight. I do not want to hear these words. I don’t want to believe that there is even some tiny part of him that would prefer to have never been with me, not even if that fantasy springs from a desire to protect me. “No,” I say. It’s the only word I can manage, and it sounds strangled and raw.

He turns me gently, then presses his palm to my cheek. “It rips me apart to see the fear in your eyes.”

His words are soft and gentle, but they hit me with as much force as a kick in the chest, and I respond in kind, surprising both of us when I lash out and slap him across the face.

“Stop it!” I shout, all of my self-control exploding out in a maelstrom of wild emotions. “Just fucking stop it! You think that’s a solution? Wishing that we’d never gotten together? Goddammit, Damien, I’m so in love with you it hurts, but you’re going to fucking coddle me? I don’t need you to soothe me, I need you to do something.” I smack him in the chest with both palms, then gasp when he grabs my wrists and holds me still, his hands painfully tight against my skin.

“Nikki.” His voice isn’t soothing now. It’s raw and dangerous and I know that I’ve pushed him too far, but I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t push him far enough, because right then, all I want is to break him. To break through that goddamned stubbornness and somehow get through his head that the only way to save himself—to save us—is to put forward a defense.

“They’re going to put you away for life.” My voice is clipped and precise. “Christ, Damien, how can you not be scared shitless? I’m so scared I can barely get out of bed every day!”

He stares at me as if I’m speaking Greek. “Not afraid?” His words are heavy with barely contained fury. I don’t know if it’s directed at me or not, but it is strong enough that it makes him tremble. “Is that what you think?”

I take an involuntary step back, but he stops me, his hands clutching my arms, his fingers digging into my flesh and holding me firmly in place. “Is that really what you think? Jesus Christ, Nikki, I’m terrified of being ripped away from you. Of not being able to touch you. To kiss you. To hear you laugh, to look at you. To be with you.”

I am so lost in his words that I do not realize that he has been easing me backward and now I am pressed up against a tree, the bark rough through the thin material of my dress. His hands slide possessively down my arms, then back up my torso to roughly cup my breasts. I gasp as desire, hot and demanding, cuts through me.

He leans in closer, his lips brushing my cheek. “I can handle anything except the thought of losing you.” His mouth burns against my ear. His hand slides down, then slowly up my thigh, taking the thin material of the skirt with him.

“Not scared?” he whispers as his palm cups my sex. I’m not wearing underwear, and he slips easily inside me. I bite my lower lip, grateful that he is there to hold me up because my entire body feels like liquid fire.

“I’m more terrified than I’ve ever been in my life,” he says, and then his mouth closes over mine and his fingers inside me move slowly in time with the deepening rhythm of his kiss. For one beautiful, blissful moment I am lost in his kiss, in his arms. I’ve forgotten where we are and why we are here. There is only Damien and the sensual, comforting warmth of his body pressed against mine.

Then something snaps inside me, bursting past the desire and this desperate need that has my pulse pounding and my sex drawing tight around his fingers. I press my palms up hard against his chest and push him back again.

“How dare you be afraid. Goddammit, Damien, how dare you say that you’re afraid of losing me when you could make it all go away. You could make this be over. You could end it and we could go home.”

He’s staring at me, and there is infinite sadness in his eyes. “Oh, baby. If I could take away your fear, I would.”

“If you could?” I repeat. “You can, and you damn well know it, and I’m fucking pissed off that you won’t do anything about it.”

I’m screaming at him. I’m like a shrewish harpy and I hate it. Hate myself. But dammit, right now I hate Damien, too.

Tears stream down my face, and my legs seem to fall out from under me. I start to collapse and Damien catches me, easing me down to my knees. The irony isn’t lost on me; Damien will always be there to catch me. At least I thought he would. Now I don’t know, and for the first time, I feel alone in Damien’s arms.

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