Burn Me Once - Page 63

I stare at her and, fuck it, I know I need to roll the dice.

I gamble. I gamble in the only way I can think of because I’m all in.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

‘I LOVE YOU.’

The words drop over me as he thrusts into me, his possession complete. I reject the words at the same time as I welcome him. I am fevered and frantic, afraid and so aware of every pulsing need inside my body.

He grabs my hands, lacing his fingers through mine and pinning them wide on either side of my head. His eyes stare down at me.

He thrusts again, harder, deeper, and he says it again.

‘I love you.’

He drops his mouth and kisses the words into me, swirling them into me, pushing them through me as he moves, each three-word bomb detonating in time with his body’s possession, so that I am being stirred to the height of desire even as I want to scream and push him away. Even as I am terrified and innately rejecting his sentiment.

‘Don’t!’ I say, sobbing, and he pauses, his body still, as if I’m rejecting the sex.

I’m not. The sex is what I want.

‘Don’t say that.’

‘I love you,’ he challenges, his eyes locked to mine. Something inside me flutters. Hope? Pleasure? Relief?

But I shake my head. ‘This isn’t love.’

He thrusts into me again. ‘It is for me.’

I shouldn’t be able to function in the midst of this, and yet I’m climbing higher and higher. My body is so sensitive that even the air around me is making me shiver with awareness. I can feel it waving over my body. I arch my back, tilting my hips, and he moves inside me again.

‘I love you.’

I don’t fight it. I don’t reject the words. I let them fill me up. I let them curl around my heart and for a moment I pretend they’re what I want. Just for a moment.

It is a coming together ruled by animalistic passion, and yet there is a raw emotionalism to it as well. His fingers squeeze mine as we come together, and he kisses me, and I know what he’s thinking without him saying it.

He loves me.

Words that so many people find joyous and welcome fill me with dread. They are tainted by past misuse and all its negative associations. Ethan tells me he loves me but I hear Jeremy, and I instantly recall the disaster that followed.

I lie beneath Ethan, his weight on me, his body beautiful and warm, strong and hard. I feel his warmth and strength and I wish it would bleed into me. I am going to need to be strong.

‘Excuse me.’

The words come out cold and crisp. He’s still inside me and suddenly I need space and I need it now.

All I can think, as his words hover in the air like deceptive little bullets, is what an asshole he is. Why would he do this? Love is not why I’m here! Love is not what I want!

I pull my hands; he doesn’t argue. I push at his chest and roll him away from me, out of me, and then I stand up in one movement. I am shaking with desire and with anger. My negligee is ripped so I grab one of his shirts. It smells like him and my chest groans under the weight of certainty that soon it will be all I have of him.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks, watching me as I step into my jeans without bothering to put my undies back on. I tuck them into the back pocket and then run my hands through my hair.

‘What do you think?’ I respond with the same arctic chill.

‘Listen.’ He stands, the word soothing and gentle. ‘Don’t run off.’

I glare at him. ‘Does it look like I’m running off?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I’m not,’ I snap back, storming into the lounge area and scooping up my bag.

I’m struck by the similarities to that first morning when I said goodbye to him—when I thought it would be the last goodbye.

I push my clutch under my arm and am instantly steadied by its presence. ‘I’m walking away.’

‘Alicia...’ he groans, and when I spin back to him I see he’s pulled a pair of low-slung jeans on. They sit on his hips, so I can see the protrusion of where his bones meet the sinew and strength of his shape.

It dries my mouth.

I have kissed every part of him. And I’ll never touch him again.

‘Don’t.’ It’s a shaky, hollow plea. ‘Don’t say it again. If it’s really how you feel, then please respect that I don’t want to hear it.’

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