"Why do I feel like I'm going to need the whole bottle?" He remarked, sitting beside me at the edge of the pool.
I kicked my feet in the water, watching the small ripples increase in size.
"I don't have to tell you, maybe it's better not to know..."
"Every time you tell me something; I know you're dropping your guard and letting me in. I want you to be mine, Soph. That won't happen if we have secrets."
I wondered how true that would be once he knew the secrets I was hiding.
"I guess I should start with my real name. I was born Cara Fraser. My dad chose it because it means beloved."
I paused, emotion choking my throat. I'd loved both of my parents, but I'd always been more of a daddy's girl. My mum had often teased him about how I had him wrapped around my little finger.
"We lived in Debden. It's a small village about an hour out of London. It was close enough for my father to work, but far enough away for us to be safe."
"Why would you not be safe in London?"
My palms felt clammy, and I wiped them on the side of my dress.
"Every big city has a dark side, an underground network of organised crime. That's where the streets are really controlled from, and that's where my dad worked. He was a prominent figure, well respected, but feared by many."
James exhaled slowly, reaching for his drink and knocking it back in one.
"He worked with Tommy's dad, they ran a business together. We called it The Firm."
"What kind of work are we talking?" He asked, his voice quiet.
Now that was a loaded question. I picked up my glass and drained the contents, the burn of alcohol firing through my blood.
"Drug dealing, extortion and robbery to name a few. I wasn't directly involved. My dad never liked the idea of me getting my hands dirty."
"Fucking hell." James breathed, shaking his head.
"I know, it's wrong. I'd never try to justify any of it, but I loved my father. He was a good parent and husband. My mum and I had everything we could ever want, we were his world."
James didn't say anything, which I guess was better than him telling me how twisted my logic was.
"Your dad approved of Tommy?" He asked, raising his eyebrows.
I took a deep breath, preparing myself to talk about the most painful part of my life.
"Yes, he encouraged our relationship. Tommy wasn't always a bad person. We were inseparable from a young age."
James snorted. I couldn't blame him for not believing me. I still struggled to comprehend how he could turn into such a monster.
"It was always planned that Tommy would take over the business when he was older. Unfortunately, his dad was murdered by one of our enemies, and then everything changed..."
I put my empty glass down, preparing myself for his reaction.
"Suddenly Tommy had all this power and influence. He was angry and obsessed with getting revenge. I tried to reign him in, but he turned against me."
"Why didn't you end the relationship? Surely your dad would have helped you get away." He said, his face confused.
I licked my lips, wishing I had more alcohol.
"It wasn't that simple. My father was trying to keep control of the business, as well as keep a vengeful Tommy in line. He had enough on his plate. I didn't want to burden him."
I hesitated, staring out at the night sky. I didn't want to see the look on James's face when I said my next sentence.
"There's something else I need to tell you. Tommy and I got married when we were eighteen."
"You're still married to him, aren't you?"
I managed a small nod, jumping when he cursed loudly.
"Look at me."
"I'm sorry." I whispered, peering up at him.
My heart sank as I took in his hurt expression.
"Why the fuck wouldn't you tell me something like that?"
I shook my head.
"I didn't know how to say it."
He laughed dryly, climbing to his feet.
"How about 'Hey, I know you're falling for me, but I'm married.' Or "I'm actually another man's wife.' IT ISN'T THAT DIFFICULT!"
I winced as he shouted, his voice bouncing off the walls.
"I know you're angry-"
"Angry? I'm not just angry, I'm fucking hurt! You let me believe we had something special. How could you fail to tell me such important things about your life?" He spat, pacing across the terrace.
I fought back my tears as I stood up, my legs like jelly.
"This doesn't have to change anything. I'm still the same person, and you said my past was of no consequence to what we have."
James's jaw locked tight, his breathing heavy.
"I need to think about that."
Something inside of me shattered. I watched in silence as he disappeared into the kitchen and returned with the bottle of whiskey.
"Where are you going?" I asked, my chest tight.
"I don't know, for a walk." He muttered, marching past me. "I need to clear my head."
I lunged forward and grabbed his arm.
"I didn't think anyone would ever make my heart come to life again, but you did. I loved Tommy enough to marry him, but that was then. I'm madly, deeply in love with you now."
His eyes searched my face, his expression not giving anything away. As I turned, the sound of shattering glass filled the air. Then I was being lifted and shoved against the side of the villa.
I just gasped his name before his mouth crushed into mine. It was scorching hot, the best kiss I'd ever had. If I'd been standing, my knees would have given out. They were shaking and weak just wrapped around him.
His tongue invaded my mouth, moving with mine. I clasped his hair in my fingers, trying to ground myself and gain some control. His desire was fuelled by anger. I could tell the difference, but I was desperate to feel like he still wanted me.
James dropped me to my feet, his breathing heavy as he yanked my dress off my shoulders.
It fell to the ground, and I watched as he lowered himself before me. My heart was thumping so loudly I was certain he could hear it. I wanted to say something, anything to ease my uncertainty, but his mouth closed over my clit and I moaned.
I dug my fingers into his shoulders as his tongue slid over my flesh. He twisted and flicked it in the way I liked best.
"I'm going to come." I hissed, closing my eyes and arching my back against the bricks.
Instantly, he moved away, his eyes burning with a fire I'd never seen before. I opened my mouth to talk, but he shoved me around.
His warm breath tickled my shoulder as he exhaled slowly, his hand reaching between my legs. I pressed myself into it, grinding against his palm. My face and breasts were being crushed against the wall, the cool and rough brick scratching my skin.
"Tell me what you want me to do." He whispered, his teeth clamping down on the shell of my ear.
I was so intoxicated with lust that I couldn't think clearly. Did he mean right now or was he talking about the future of our relationship?
"I need to know that you still want me, that I'm still yours." I begged, my body trembling.
"You can't be mine, you're another man's wife." He growled.
His hand moved to my back, bending me over. I grappled to get my palms against the wall as he kicked my legs apart.
"I'm yours." I cried, the exact moment he slammed into me.
I squeezed my eyes shut as a trail of heat shot up my spine and through my body. His hands clutched my hips as he fucked me hard.
"I… want… you… not... him..." I muttered, my breathing laboured as he pounded into me.
He grabbed my hair and guided me up, shoving me back against the wall and kissing me roughly. I tried to turn my head away, but he gripped my jaw, stopping me from being able to speak.
Then he was back inside me, both my legs hooked around his waist. His hand replaced his mouth, his thumb sliding between my bruised lips. I didn't hesitate to suck, to roll my tongue over it the same way I would his cock.
I was so close, my orgasm building to epic proportions. James continued drilling into me, his pace not slowing. He tilted my head to the side and began biting my neck, his stubble scraping my skin.
Tears rolled down my cheeks, the growing pleasure and emotion taking hold.
"How close?" James breathed, circling his hips as he thrust into me and stilled.
My voice trailed off as he pulled out, dropping me to my feet. I stared at him in confusion, and he leaned forward, resting his forehead against mine.
"Now you know how it feels to almost have something you want."
I closed my eyes, tears rolling down my face.
"Are you madly in love with me now? Or are you reconsidering every fucking thing you thought you knew? Because I know I am."
I felt him move back, and when I finally opened my eyes, he was getting dressed.
"James, please... I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I wish I had..."
He shook his head, a tightness to his expression.
"I wish I hadn't opened my heart so damn easily."
"I'm still me-"
"Just stop! I deserved the truth. I deserved to know what loving you really meant."
I fell silent, unable to disagree with what he was saying. I'd fucked up, I should have been honest as soon as I knew the depth of his feelings for me.
A sob wracked through my body, robbing me of the ability to do anything except slide to the ground. James stared at me for a moment, his eyes glistening with tears.
"I love you." I cried, clamping my hand over my chest. "That is real, that is the truth. Doesn't that mean something?"
He ignored my question, instead marching off through the garden and out of my sight.