Self-assured. Smooth. That’s how Damon Scott looks every other second, wearing his three-piece suits and that devastating smile. Even yesterday morning, his muscled body reclining in bed, he was the epitome of strength and masculinity.
Only now he’s covered in a sheen of sweat, ropes of scar tissue standing in stark relief to his flushed skin. He throws his head back on the pillow, his mouth in a grimace, teeth glinting.
He looks like a wild animal. He sounds like one, both menacing and afraid at once.
I’m trembling as I move a step closer. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’s dangerous like this, dangerous always, but his pain calls to me. It’s too much like my own.
I reach for him in the dark.
His skin feels clammy. Muscles twitch beneath my touch.
He moves in a blur of flesh and fury. A hard pull on my wrist. A heavy weight on my body. The bed is somehow at my back. I’m staring up into eyes so black they seem limitless. The city sky without a single star in sight. His lips are pulled back, chest heaving.
The bar of his arm presses against my throat.
I suck in a breath, but there’s not much room. Panic clenches around my stomach, making it hard to breathe. Between his body bearing down on me and his forearm on my windpipe, I don’t have very long. Dark spots dance in front of my eyes. Struggle burns through me, desperate, desolate.
“Please,” I whisper, my lips strangely swollen.
His eyes focus on me. They widen in shock.
The next instant he’s off me, standing five feet away from the bed. I gasp in ragged breaths. The air is sharper now, sweeter. I kneel on the bed, panting and shaking.
“What the fuck?” he says, low, his voice raw.
“You were—” I draw in another fortifying breath. “You were having a nightmare.”
He looks incredulous. “I could have killed you.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, but that’s a lie.
I’m sorry he’s going through this alone. I’m sorry he feels guilty for pinning me down. I’m sorry for a lot of things in my life, but not waking him from a nightmare.
He gives a hollow laugh, devoid of humor. “Christ.”
My lungs don’t seem to work correctly anymore. They can’t bring in enough air. Can’t push the air all the way out. It’s too hard to form words. I can only look at him, pleading with my eyes.
Then he’s by my side, rubbing my back in gentle circles, holding me with a tenderness I wouldn’t have thought possible. “Breathe, baby. Breathe. I’ve got you. I’ve got you for as long as it takes.”
Empty nothings. That’s what Mama used to say about words like that. They were just things people say without meaning them, but they don’t feel like nothing. They feel like everything.
I’ve got you for as long as it takes.
My breath slows down, evens out. And true to his word, Damon doesn’t leave my side. A final shot of panic eases out of me.
And just like that I become aware that Damon is naked. That he’s naked and touching me.
My gaze snaps away from him, but it’s too late. I saw the column of his cock against his thigh. I saw the darker tip. Is it always that big? My cheeks burn hot. Even without looking at him, his cock is all I can see. It’s emblazoned in my mind, dark and hard and intimidating.
His hand on my back stills. The circles were comforting. Maybe even fatherly.
When his hand rests against my upper back, there’s nothing fatherly about it. There’s warmth and tension. A beautiful tautness that promises so much more than this.
About Skye Warren
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.