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A pretend relationship.
I’m just a girl, with dreams too big, and hopes verging on hopeless.
He took a big gamble, lying to protect me.
But when his lips touch mine, I taste only truth.
It can’t just be the ruse and the danger of getting caught.
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She shouldn’t be here.
This has to end.
Pain blossoms in my chest at the thought as my hand curls into a fist. I knew letting someone close to me could lead to this. My downfall. My end. Yet, I did it anyway.
The damning words thunder in my mind as my shoes tap against the polished marble stairs.
My dark thoughts continue as I reach the second floor and fling open the ornate double doors, revealing an opulent master bedroom bathed in gray and white.
“You have to go . . . now.”
The words die on my lips at the sight before me, and my cock instantly hardens in my slacks.
Fuck, she’s so beautiful. Enchanting. Bewitching.
And I am definitely under her spell.
She’s lying on my king-sized bed, garbed in black lingerie that graces over her lush curves, highlighting every hill and valley, stark against the creamy white satin of my sheets. Her lips are parted in a sensual O as she looks at me, her eyes brimming with a vulnerability that reaches across the space between us, squeezing my heart in her iron fist and giving me hopes for something other than the future I am destined for.
“Nathan,” she moans, her voice filled with a desperate need that pulls me to her like a magnet. She knows she has this power over me. She must know, and she has to know how much I both hate and love every tug she gives, her tendrils slithering through the distance to entwine her magic around my groin and my heart at her whim.
She arches her back, her breasts pressing against the flimsy fabric, her nipples pebbling beneath the sheer fabric. “Please, I need you. Now.”
Lust rages through my blood, even as my mind screams for me to deny her, to tell her no, that this can’t happen. Not now, not again.
I open my mouth but the words won’t come, my body forcing my brain to let the traitorous thought go.
It’s then that I see little sparkly fireflies of light surrounding her body, and I realize that she’s lying on the gifts I gave her earlier, the light from the chandelier causing them to shine and glitter.
My heart rages inside my chest like a caged animal as I make my way to the bed. To her.
With each step, my heart pounds harder, faster, with every beat a drum reinforcing that she has to go. I have to tell her to go.
But as I reach the bed, my hand reaches out without my consent, tracing a line from her ankle up to her thigh. Her skin is satin warmth, and I want to drown in her, bury my face in her lush center as I sip from her.
The reverberation in my mind changes, no longer saying go, go, go, but instead repeating mine, mine, mine.
She is mine, and as I fall onto her, covering her body with my own, I know that she always will be.
Nathan – Six Weeks Prior
“Here are your damn diamonds,” my brother Caleb announces as he bursts through my door, a snide hint subtly cached in the crass words.
I turn from the window of my office, leaving behind the idyllic view of some of the most breathtaking scenery this side of the Mississippi to take in his appearance with a barely repressed sigh.
He’s in baggy jeans and a tank top, his hair mussed in a way intended to look careless but which takes him numerous products to achieve.
It’s a cultivated casual look that I suspect he adopted mostly to annoy our more formal father when he was alive.
And now, he continues it as a rebellion to differentiate himself from me, the older brother whose shadow he both loathes and relishes in equal measure.
Though Caleb has come in on his own, Grant stands in the doorway, ever a bastion of propriety as he needlessly announces, “Sir, Mr. Stone wishes to see you.”
The experienced professional face is carefully neutral, but I can see the hint of distaste in his eyes, even from across the room.
He served my father for decades, and along with the business, I inherited Grant’s employ as a house manager and personal assistant. He cares for both Caleb and me in his distant way, but he decidedly doesn’t care for manners to be glossed over or skipped altogether, so Caleb drives him a bit batty.
“Would you like me to pour you two a scotch?”
“No thank you, Grant. That won’t be necessary.” He hears the discreet dismissal and with a nod, closes the door behind him. Despite saying no, I move toward the bar, pouring a generous tumbler for myself and one for Caleb.
Though Caleb takes the offered drink and trades me for the small bag he’s brought, he’s still surly. “Do you know we almost lost Jake to get you these? What makes them so important anyway? You said you’d explain once we had them in hand, so time’s up. Explain. I don’t think any of our men are worth losing over a fucking rock.”