“I didn’t think I’d last seven days before I came to you.” His fingers massaged the back of my head, tugging on my hair, sending pinwheels of fire down my spine. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
“Stop.” I needed distance between us. I needed to breathe.
My hand came up, knife and all, and pressed against his chest.
He swallowed a groan, nudging his nose to mine. “I’ve been achingly hard for you. I’m in fucking agony with wanting you.” He stepped into me, pressing our bodies together, revealing his wasn’t lying. “I know you’ve figured out I can’t touch myself, so imagine my pain when I know you’re in this house. When I know how perfect you feel. When I know just how incredible it is between us.”
Had I figured out he couldn’t touch himself?
When I’d jerked him off in the bathroom, he’d acted as if his cock was contaminated. When I blew him, he broke apart as if I’d given him the greatest gift.
My insides tightened with need. Dark whispers tried to convince me to set aside our war and just be. To be selfish and reckless and give into the unbearable, unexplainable, unsurvivable need between us.
You’re his prisoner, Gem.
Blinking back heavy heat, I struggled against him and myself. “That...that was before you shackled me.”
“Only because you did the same to me.” His lips grazed mine before I shoved hard and put distance between us. In one heartbeat, the games room switched from strained togetherness to outright desperation.
His face went black.
His body tensed to punish me, to prove I couldn’t deny him.
Sucking in a shaky breath, his balance swayed, all while his eyes glowed with hunger. For the longest moment, he wobbled on two things. I visibly saw them in his face. His desire for me almost pushed him into doing something that would only make me hate him further. If he took me now, he would push me into a darkness I didn’t even want to acknowledge. A darkness I wouldn’t swim out of. A darkness that sang to me even now, that lived in my blood and turned greedy for bad things.
But if I gave into him. If he gave into himself. If we gave into the madness binding us together, then...I’ll be broken, just like him.
“Christ.” He groaned under his breath, his nostrils flaring as he called upon whatever self-control he had and swallowed the scorching hunger in his stare.
The air between us suffocated with discarded pleasure and denied connection.
What did that say about me that I’d spent a week hating him, yet now I was...disappointed.
Disappointed that he’d chosen the less likely path and favored abstinence instead.
“If we...” He swallowed again, running a hand over his face. Groaning once, he shook his head as if he couldn’t quite extract himself from the spell we’d cast together. Bracing his shoulders, he let his voice slip back into facts, cracking on lust. “If we get to exceedingly low temperatures—as it did a few years ago—we’ll need water stored instead of relying on the pipes. They freeze over, you see.”
A breath I didn’t even know I was holding exploded from my mouth. I wanted to puddle to the floor. To rock on my knees in relief that I’d avoided being ravaged by a man I was horrendously confused by and shamefully regretting that he hadn’t.
He wasn’t going to touch me.
Wasn’t going to force me.
My mind hissed with ridicule at myself and skepticism at him. Was this another game? Some sick way of making me run the gauntlet of emotions? Hatred, desire, relief, regret, finally to relax in his company from sheer exhaustion only for him to pounce on me when I did?
Would I have the energy to fight him off?
Would I even want to?
And why the hell was I dangerously angry but also disgustingly disappointed that the tension between us hadn’t detonated into all out sexual war?
It was this house, this valley, this man.
I’m losing it.
The knife slipped in my palm, my skin turning slippery with mistrust and misery.
“You okay?” he asked softly.
My rage exploded, causing me to grip the handle harder. “Am I okay? What sort of question is that? As if you care.”
He stilled, familiar temper swirling behind dark eyes. “I care.”
“Yeah, sure. Okay, then, I’m fine. Completely and utterly over the moon that I’m chained to a man who has no intention of letting me go. A man who makes it perfectly clear he can take me whenever he damn well wants.”
“I won’t touch you. Not today.” He caught my livid stare. “I told you, there are more important things.” A twisted chuckle spilled through his lips as he glanced down at his straining erection, trapped inside his jeans. “I won’t lie and say I can barely focus with the pain of needing you, but my head also fucking hurts, and I’m doing my best to do the right thing.”