Long fingers close around my throat. Not squeezing, not hurting, but commanding. I look at him. This man I love. This devil I adore. Heâs gorgeousâdark hair, darker eyes, olive skin, body and features all chiseled hardness. But thatâs not what makes my veins jump under his hand. Thatâs not what makes my skin slick with sweat.
Thereâs more to this man than meets the eye.
His thumb strokes my pulse, gleaning secrets right out of my blood. His mouth curls to the side, forming a smile that reveals he knows exactly what Iâm thinking.
âDidnât I warn you, Angel,â he says, and his thumb moves up to my chin, âthat itâs not a good idea to love me?â
My pulse leaps from erratic to chaotic. I canât answer, only listen in horrified fascination to what I know will come next.
He traces the groove below my bottom lip. âDidnât I warn you my love would be bad?â
Shivers run hot then cold over my skin.
âDidnât I tell you, youâd pay for my heart?â He touches my mouth, dragging my bottom lip down.
My body sings, my blood hums right down to my womb. I canât resist him. He did warn me. He truly did. But I was greedy. I wanted him anyway.
I didnât understand how bad he could be.
Heâs the devil. Tempting me with what I desire most. Luring me to an irresistible destruction. A destruction Iâm so close to I can smell itâtaste itâtouch it. Pain grips me, my insides bruise with it. My family believes Iâm dead. The life Iâve left behind lies in tatters because of him. Because he keeps me.
He wonât let me go.
He tilts my face, brushing his cheek against my ear. âI promise it will be worth it.â His stubble chafes my earlobe, stinging and electrifying. Iâve felt those bristles scrape against my neck, my breasts, my thighs. Thereâs not an inch of me that hasnât felt the sweet torture of their abrasion. âCanât you see it?â he asks. âThe future where youâre mine?â
My eyelids drift shut. I know itâs only the hand cradling my face thatâs holding me up. I can see that future. I see it with fluorescent intensity. Life with the lights turned on. Life where living means more than existing. For everything heâs taken from me, heâs given me back more. He breathed a soul back into me. Without it, without him, Iâd be a walking corpse.
I see our future. I ache for it, yearn for it, despise myself for it.
âSay it, Angel. Say, Haithem, Iâm yours.â
For all intents and purposes, Iâm a prisonerâcaptiveâperhaps even a slave. Because I have no choices but the ones he gives me. Yet, he gives me this choiceâor at least the illusion of a choiceâto choose him.
To love him.
As if making a choice had ever been an option. The moment I met him, I may as well have been branded.