I laid my hands flat on the clean sheets I had just put on his mattress. I kept my eyes locked on the swirling black void in his eyes and refused to move, to give him any kind of reaction as he moved over me. His mouth was too hard, his hands were too rough, and it was the first time since I decided I could handle the trouble he represented that I actually felt like I was in over my head. I had just learned I had narrowly escaped a professional hit on my life thanks to dear old dad; Bax should be coddling me, trying to soothe me. Instead he was trying to push me, trying to scare me into begging him to stop. I wasn’t going to play his game, but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of winning it either.
I felt the scrape of his teeth across the sensitive skin of my neck as he bent over me. He pulled his shirt off by the collar and I fixated my gaze on the pulse thundering at the base of his throat. I wanted to kiss him, to let him know it would all be all right, but I wasn’t going to lie to him. If he kept this up, as soon as it was over, I was leaving this apartment, leaving all the darkness and danger that was Bax and taking my chances on my own. I knew Race wouldn’t let me down. I just had to stay alive long enough for him to let his plans play out.
The hard planes of Bax’s chest pressed against the soft curves of my own. My body reacted. How could it not? I wanted him, had wanted him from the get-go, and now that I knew the way he used his mouth, the way he used his hands when he wanted to bring pleasure and light instead of pain and darkness, there was no way my ni**les weren’t going to perk up, no way my skin wasn’t going to pebble in arousal, and no way my core wasn’t going to go slick and hot when he gathered both of my lifeless hands in his own and pulled them up above my head.
He used his jean-clad knee to force my legs apart and settled himself in the cradle of my hips. I just stared up at him, pleading with my eyes for him to stop. He wasn’t Shane, he wasn’t Bax, he was just a cold stranger who didn’t care that this was all wrong. I focused on the star on his face. It should be ugly, should make him look ridiculous, but right now I felt like it was my only navigation in a pitch-black sky.
He was waiting for me to stop it, waiting for me to tell him to do the right thing. I could feel him shaking, and not because he was turned on, but because he was forcing himself to hold on to me, to threaten the tenuous threads of the fabric that was holding us together. He was quaking in such a way that had those chains inked around his wrists been real, they would have been rattling and clanking together. I didn’t utter a protest when he pressed his lips to the crest of my cheek and drew them along the ridge until he reached my mouth. I was going to have bruises around my wrists from how hard he was holding me, and I could feel his heart thundering against my own.
His lips settled firmly over mine. It wasn’t a kiss so much as it was an assault. I was pliant. I was still. I refused to give him what he wanted, even when I was tempted, because it felt so good when he ran his tongue along the sealed seam. I wanted him, just not like this.
His chest heaved and billowed against mine, and belatedly I realized the normally insistent erection that was typically trapped between us by this point was missing. He didn’t want to be doing this any more than I did, but I wasn’t going to stop him. He had to stop himself, or really, all there was in Shane Baxter was badness, and whatever part of him I thought I saw when his guard was down, when he kissed me, when he looked at me like I was his reward, was only going to be a figment of my imagination.
He growled against me, his mouth too hard, too fierce, and I couldn’t stop the single tear that slid out of my eye. We were so close together that he felt the tear when it touched his cheek.
“Tell me to stop.” He whispered it against my mouth, the same conversation we had the first night he put those diabolical hands on me.
Last time I had given in to the demand, even though I didn’t mean it.
“No.” I whispered it right back.
“Tell me to stop, Dovie.” His fingers opened and closed in a spasm around my wrists and I had to flinch a little. I saw his reaction flare in the velvet color of his eyes. He didn’t want to hurt me, but he couldn’t stop it either.
“You can make everything better.”
He sounded so lost and my heart broke for him. He was a guy who was never going to have a chance at a typical life. There was never going to be a desk job in his future, no simple road with redemption at the end. He was always going to be a guy who had a criminal record, was too wild, too rough not to have a reputation that went along with his ragged persona. He was equal parts Bax and Shane, one was never going to exist without the other, and he was just going to have to find the balance between the two. I didn’t mind helping him figure it out, as long as he didn’t destroy me in the process.
“So can you, Bax, but if you do this, I’m done. There is no going back.”
His eyes flashed at me and my hands were suddenly free and he was levering himself up off of me, the muscles in his arms and shoulders shaking.
“Isn’t that the point?”
He was going to run, I could see it clear as day. He didn’t know what to do next and he was going to bolt. He wanted to make me be the one to do it, so that his conscience was clear, but I hadn’t cooperated and now he was going to go out and unleash all that turbulent emotion on an unsuspecting city. I was tempted to let him.
“Bax . . .”
I thought he was going to get up and head for the door, but he surprised me by twisting at the waist and trapping me back between his stripped torso and the bed. This time when he kissed me, it was for real. His lips moved across mine with force, but not in a way that was punishing. When he demanded entrance this time, I let him have it, and even went as far as to wrap my arms around the strong cords of his neck. His tongue danced with mine, his teeth scraped with the intent to arouse not to punish, and his hands were shaking when he used them to push all my hair back off of my face. His black eyes burned into my own, and I saw an eternity of regret and remorse flood the dark pools.
“You’re a nice girl, Dovie. You should be anywhere but here with anyone but me. This shit with Race and Novak, your old man being the scum of the earth . . . you deserve so much more than all of it. Your life should look different than this, and sooner or later you’re going to hate me.”
I put my thumb on the center of his bottom lip and sucked in a breath when he pulled it into the moist cavern of his mouth.
“Or maybe the opposite of that.” His eyebrows shot up and he used his tongue to swirl around the edge of my thumb before letting it go with a pop.