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I was gripped by fear – its cruel fingers holding me down as the nightmare took place. It was the worst I’d had in a while, and even though I’d told myself to keep it together, I couldn’t.

It was obvious the memory had been triggered by the events that took place in the alley. Watching Luca beat the snot out of another man and order his death without so much as blinking an eye had me shook.

And yet, I couldn’t stop kissing him. My attraction to him only grew the more time I spent with him and I wasn’t sure what scared me more: the man I ran from or the one I was running to now.

He smelled so good and tasted even better. My mind was clouded by unease, adrenaline, and the lust I’d been fighting from the first time I laid eyes on him. It was obvious he treated me differently than anyone else in his employ. He was softer, gentler. Like he was afraid to break me…

But I couldn’t be broken. Not anymore than I already was, anyway.

It was probably stupid, but I wanted to forget everything and let him sweep me away with a single night of unbridled passion. After tonight, I’d never sleep with him again. It would be all business from here on out.

His hands squeezed my breasts tightly as he kissed me hard, his tongue battling my own. My fingers were tunneled in his dark hair, holding his mouth against mine. I was afraid to let go – afraid to let reason seep in.

If I looked into his eyes, I might have been reminded of exactly who he was. This man was rich beyond my own comprehension and a seasoned killer. That was a dangerous combination – one I was all too familiar with.

He swept his hands over my chest and traced my shoulders and arms, locking his fingers around my wrists and loosening the death-grip I had on him. Pulling back, he broke our kiss and met my gaze. His brows were furrowed – that much I could make out from the low light. The rest of his face was cast in shadows and I was glad for it. Seeing him might have shaken my courage.

I needed to go through with this for several reasons. At the top of that list was the need to abolish the terrors that awaited me in slumber. Coming in at close second was the desire to erase the last man that ever touched me this way. I was tired of seeing his face every time I closed my eyes at night. I was sick of the power he still had over me, even when I’d escaped his merciless clutches over a year ago.

Luca cupped my face and leaned in, his mouth only centimeters away from mine. His warm breath washed over me, sweeping down my neck until goosebumps erupted along my flesh.

“Raven,” he grated, the unspoken command in his voice as usual, “are you sure this is what you want?”

I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, needing a moment to gather my thoughts. I was already wet and desperate for him – a feeling that had been foreign to me for so long. If he didn’t put me out of my misery, I’d probably go crazy.

“Yes, Luca. I’m sure this is what I want.”

I leaned in to kiss him again, but his hands tensed around me – holding me back. He must have read the confusion on my face because he pecked my lips once before he spoke.

“I want to know who you are. Who you really are.”

And we’re back to this…

“Luca, I already told you –”

“Don’t give me that shit, Raven. If we’re gonna do this, I need to know. I wanna know who the woman in my bed is. I think that’s only fair.”

I could see I was fighting a losing battle. Luca wouldn’t listen to my excuses anymore, and I wasn’t willing to budge. I still barely knew him, and until I knew with certainty that I could trust him with my true identity, I wasn’t about to give anything up.

There was only one way to get this show on the road.

Pushing myself off him, I stood before him. The moonlight filtered in through the large window behind him, sliced into strips by the blinds. I’d already done half the work when I pushed the top of my dress down, so I finished the job and forced the garment over my hips until it slid down my legs and hit the floor.

I stood before him, completely exposed. I could hardly make out his face, but I imagined his deep hazel eyes got darker as his pupils dilated. I could hear his sharp intake of breath, even when he maintained perfect composure.

My legs and pussy were freshly shaven from the shower I’d had earlier, so I knew how soft my skin would feel against his. He knew it too – even when he’d never felt my naked body against his.

“This is the woman you’re gonna have in your bed. If that isn’t enough, we don’t have to do this. But this offer is only on the table for tonight.”

I braced myself for the sting of rejection – used to being disappointed at every turn in my life. But it never came. Instead, Luca rose from the sofa and closed the distance between us. His arms curled around my waist and he pressed his hard chest into mine.

He swept his big hands over the steep curve in my spine and grabbed a handful of my ass in each palm. I gasped when he lifted me effortlessly and wrapped my legs around his waist. My hands pressed into his chest for balance and I shuddered when his pectorals flexed beneath my touch. He had the body of a god.

“You’re definitely enough,” he rasped, pressing a kiss to my temple and walking us down the hall toward the master suite.

When he pushed past the half-open door to his room, my heart began to do flips in my chest. I hadn’t been with a man in so long…I barely remembered what sex felt like.

Good sex, that is.

I wouldn’t call what the asshole had done to me sex. It was anything but pleasurable and never with my consent.

I didn’t want that to be my last memory of sex. I’d lived in fear long enough. I’d suffered alone long enough.

I would never find love with Luca, of that I was certain, but maybe he could remind me of how good sex could be. He’d already managed to make me feel desirable and beautiful. He was a man of few words, but his eyes were his most expressive feature.

They darkened every time he looked at me – filled with a hunger and longing I never thought existed in men. The only looks I was used to seeing were filled with malicious intent and a cruelty unknown to humankind.

Maybe because the man that had given me those looks wasn’t human at all, but an absolute monster.

Luca approached the foot of his bed and lowered me onto it, his lips pressing into the curve of my neck as he laid me down on the sheets. I watched him stand and stared shamelessly when he dropped his pants and revealed his iron length.

The heavy weight of his cock caused it to dip slightly, even when it was clear he was painfully hard. His girth startled me, making me wonder whether he’d ever fit inside me.

He was long and thick, at least nine and a half inches of flesh, with a big vein running vertically down the length of his cock. It stood out in stark relief – evidence of his arousal and the blood pumping freely into the organ.

“Spread your legs,” he said, making my nipples tighten into sharp points.

I propped myself up on my elbows so I could see him better and slowly parted my knees. My heart fluttered as adrenaline rushed into my system. I was nervous – so scared that if given the chance, I’d bolt.

But I was excited, too.

“You need to relax, sweetheart.”

The deep baritone of his voice seemed to vibrate through me, stilling my nerves almost instantly. I took a slow breath to control my anxiety and widened my legs farther.

He knelt in front of me, reaching for my left foot and lifting it to face-level. Pressing a kiss to my ankle, he whispered against my skin.

“Every inch of you is perfect…I’ve wanted to fuck you since that night in the alley.”

Definitely not the most romantic thing he could have said in that moment, but it did the trick. My clit was throbbing – begging for any amount of friction to relieve the ache.

Luca kissed a trail up the inside of my leg, lingering at the juncture where my thigh and hip met before passing over my sex completely and kissing his way back down the opposite leg. It was torture.

My skin was on fire, the heat he left in the wake of his warm kisses driving me toward the edge. I mewled, needing his attention elsewhere and feeling no shame about it in that moment.

He hooked my legs over his shoulders and dragged my ass over the edge of the bed. His hot breath blanketed my pussy, making me tingle in a way I hadn’t for so long. My head fell back instantly, my elbows collapsing underneath me until my shoulders hit the bed. He wrapped his long fingers around my thighs and anchored me there, his wide shoulders keeping my legs parted.

I felt his lips press against my mound softly. “Even your pussy is pretty.”

I was fucking dying. He was lewd and blunt as hell – a cocky motherfucker with no filter and entirely too much power. And somehow, that turned me on even more. I could barely maintain control, and he’d hardly touched me.


“Shh,” he cooed, “don’t think. Just feel.

Stars seemed to explode behind my eyes when he stroked his tongue over my slit, flicking and circling around my clitoris. When he did it again, I moaned so loud I surprised even myself. My hands were in my hair, nails digging into my scalp as my back arched off the bed.

He set in, eating my pussy like a man on a mission. My right hand flew down to his head and I wrapped my fingers around the longer strands of his hair while the other remained glued to my scalp. At this rate, we’d both end up with bald spots.

It seemed to go on for hours. Luca took his time, savoring me and bringing me to the edge repeatedly before teasing me back down. My thighs were starting to tremble, and my heart was beating out of my chest. I found myself holding my breath one second and gasping for air the next. I didn’t know how to let go, even when I wanted to come so bad it actually hurt.

“Luca, please…”

He stilled against me, stopping his ministrations altogether. I actually growled out my protest and he laughed.


“What’s the matter, beautiful? Is there something you need?”

Pushing myself up on my elbows I looked down at him. I couldn’t lie…the sight of this devastatingly gorgeous man on his knees and between my legs was otherworldly. His lips were shiny with my arousal, his hair messy from the way I’d been pulling on it.

It made me feel powerful. “You know exactly what I need, Luca. Stop fucking around.”

His face split in two as he grinned widely, flashing me his perfectly straight, white teeth. “There’s my girl. You know I love it when you talk dirty.”

My face heated, and I suppressed a smile, but it was hard not to let it show. He was the only man I’d ever met who could turn arrogance into charm. It was a wonder he was still single. I imagined women must throw themselves at his feet. If I had met him in another life – one where I hadn’t suffered at the hands of a cruel man – he definitely would have been the sort of guy I’d have asked out to dinner.

Stepping away, he yanked open the top drawer to his nightstand and pulled out a foil packet. I watched him rip it open and slip the rubber over his impressive length. He returned to the foot of the bed and pinned me with those deep, alluring eyes.

He brought my legs to his shoulders and climbed over me, pressing me into the mattress. I suddenly felt…unsettled. Even when his lips descended on mine and his hands stroked every curve of my body, I wanted to run. I couldn’t explain it…couldn’t understand it.

I tried to breathe through the panic, forcing myself to enjoy the way he touched and kissed me. He dragged his lips down my throat and sucked on my neck hard. I wanted to scream…but not from the pleasure.

It did feel good. Everything he did felt amazing. But I couldn’t breathe. The walls were closing in around me and I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t think.

I felt his right hand interlock with mine, forcing my arm over my head and into the mattress. His left hand stroked my inner thigh and he parted my legs with his knees. I could feel the thick head of his cock probe my entrance, ready to slide in and stretch me apart.

And then it happened.

The fear, the terror…it had me by the throat. It was too much. I felt trapped, unable to escape. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could, trying to shut it all out. White noise filled my ears as the panic set in, stealing the last thread of control I had.

“Stop!” I screamed, tears already spilling down my cheeks, “Get the fuck off me!”

He did. It was immediate. His hands released me and I felt a rush of cold when the weight of his body no longer pressed me into the soft sheets. I scrambled into a sitting position and brought my knees to my chest, hugging myself tightly in an attempt to calm myself. My breathing was erratic, shallow and choppy. I tried and failed to hold back the tears, but they broke through the surface and a sob literally tore my chest apart.

I heaved, dropping my face into my knees and letting the long strands of my hair shield me like a curtain. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. Even after a year of freedom, my past controlled me, held me back. What the fuck was wrong with me?


His voice was cautious, gentle. Like he was afraid to startle me for fear I might lash out again. It wasn’t his fault. Logically, I knew that. But, emotionally…that was another thing entirely. The bed dipped, and I felt the warmth of his proximity as he sat beside me.

“Did I do something wrong?”

I couldn’t speak, but I managed to shake my head in the negative. He was silent for a moment, letting my answer sink in. His next words were carefully constructed, not the usual unfiltered crap he spewed.

“I don’t know what you’ve been through…and I don’t want to assume. But given your reaction, my guess is you don’t like being held down. Did I get that much right?”

I thought about it for a minute and it made sense. I hadn’t understood what triggered the attack. It had been automatic and out of my control. I thought he was right. The second I felt his weight on me and his hands holding me down, I lost it. I didn’t feel in control anymore, and it brought me back to a place I thought I’d left behind a long time ago.

I lifted my head slowly, clearing the hair away from my face and wiping my tears away. I met his gaze, and the warmth in his eyes made me melt. I nearly crumbled all over again.

“I’m sorry…”

“Stop,” he asserted, shifting a bit closer, “don’t ever apologize. Not to me…not to anyone.”

I nodded, sniffling as more tears cascaded down my cheeks. I’d managed not to cry a single day over the past year and now I couldn’t seem to stop. I was falling apart.

“Can I touch you?”

I wanted that more than anything. His power and ruthlessness terrified me, but also made me feel safe. He made me feel safe.

I threw myself into his chest, wrapping my arms around his neck and burying my face against his shoulder. He held me against him, careful not to grip me too tightly but applying enough pressure to give me a sense of security and belonging.

And he held me that way all night.

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