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I can’t believe the question she just asked. She’s so headstrong. It’s so damn annoying. There’s steel in her eyes as I watch her. She isn’t going to let it go. Staring into her eyes, I find calms me. So that’s what I do until I’m able to answer her question without completely ripping her head off.

“What the fuck, Shy?” I finally say. “Did you not hear anything I just said?”

“Oh, I heard you. Now I want to know about us. Were you willing to sleep with me to get to John?”

I see it in her eyes. She knew the answer before she asked the question. If she needs to hear it out loud, I will gladly oblige.

“You saw what happened with Brianna. What do you think?” I ask, giving her one more chance to avoid this line of questioning.

“I want to hear you say it, Michael, but before you do, I want you to know, I’ve only had one lover in my life. It took me a year before I lost my virginity to him, and I loved him completely,” she confesses.

Her admission catches me off guard. For a split second, I don’t know how to respond. Now I understand why she’s so upset about having to have sex with complete strangers. Sex is a coveted thing for her, and she takes that very seriously. I don’t want to lie to her, but at the same time, I feel the need to protect her feelings. Thinking about it, I go with the former.

“Yes. Had you allowed it, I would’ve made love to you.”

That’s more honest than I planned on being. It’s a funny thing saying, I would’ve made love to you. But after doing so, I know it isn’t only for her benefit. I mean it. There are feelings attached where there have never been before. For once, I’m not pissed about it. Emotions play across her face and I can tell she’s struggling to come to terms with what I said.

“Nice choice of phrasing, Michael, but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Given the chance you would’ve fucked me then disposed of me the way you did Brianna. You’re a master seducer and manipulator of women. That’s your gift.”

“You’re right about one thing, Shy. It is my gift, but it’s also my curse. It has you believing I would use you like that. With Brianna it was just a fuck, but with you it would’ve been more.”

I inhale deeply, hating that we’re having this conversation now. I’ve done so well keeping my emotions in check where she’s concerned, and now, she’s bringing them out of me.

“I know women pretty well. Like you said, it’s my gift. The women I’m used to dealing with don’t feel sex is a sacred act that should be respected. They make it easy for me to do my job. You were different. You made me work for what little you gave me, which wasn’t much if you recall. I had to use a different tactic with you. After meeting you, I never presumed I could get you into bed. You made me respect you, and I still do.”

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