Because I did see.
I saw it every minute of every awful day, and it stopped all my loathing in its tracks because...I finally knew.
He gave me explicit enlightenment on just how much he’d suffered.
How a single act that ought to be drenched in pleasure and togetherness could be used as the worst weapon of all. An act that ought to bring lovers together had been used against him to smash him apart.
That was the honest to God truth. The only reason I struggled so much with what I should feel toward this man and the reality that I’d gone past pity, past empathy, and I’d stepped entirely into his world.
I’d seen where he’d slept as a slave. I’d witnessed a man scream in his sleep. I’d uncovered a boy who’d given his body to monsters in order to protect his family as much as possible.
He’d sacrificed himself for those he loved.
And now, he had nothing left.
I clawed at his back, my heels kicking his ass as he surged again and again into me. “Please!” My tears caught in my barbed-wire-wrapped throat. “Please, stop, please—”
“That’s right. Beg.” He rutted harder. “You said you always love it when I beg. Let’s see if I can learn to like it too.”
His speed increased to outright war.
He punished me for trying. He proved I was an idiot for caring.
But beneath it all, he proved he was unreachable, even for a girl who wanted so, so much to help him.
He kissed my cheek, softness in his viciousness.
And I spaced a bit.
My mind detached.
I didn’t want to be here anymore.
I couldn’t hate, and I couldn’t forgive.
I didn’t know what that made me. Weak or kind? Brave or stupid?
This wasn’t just a physical overtaking. It was emotional too, leaving me stripped bare and questioning everything. Questioning society and laws and the very foundations of humanity.
“You feel special...more,” he grunted. “You feel...” He gasped as if he was the one being tortured. He cried out as if someone hurt him. He jerked above me with a keening cry.
His pain brought me back.
It locked me to him even as he rode me harder.
And my body reacted.
It sparked, it welcomed, it didn’t follow the same rules as my mind. All it knew was it was being claimed by a male who made me feel, who made me wet, who’d crawled into my head, my core, my heart.
And I forbade it from doing such things.
If I allowed a climax to happen, that would open dangerous doors in my mind to what sort of sex I enjoyed—forcing me to admit confessions I wasn’t ready to face.
“This can’t be happening.” I spoke to the books. I implored leather bindings full of fantasy and fiction, seeking a way to save him and myself.
I couldn’t allow myself to find pleasure from this.
I couldn’t allow him to do this.
Even in his sleep.
I needed magic to cure us. I needed something bigger than both of us.
But the printed words were useless.
It was just us.
Me and him.
Joined in unholy matrimony.
“Kas,” I cried. “Fucking stop!”
He reared up onto his elbows, sinking his hands into my hair, holding me still as he drove into me. His eyes were drenched with grief, with the blackest despair. “I can’t. I can’t stop. I can’t stop until it’s over.” He kissed me as his hips surged upward, sinking every inch inside me, claiming every part of my battered heart, ensuring I knew just how cruelly he’d been tortured, just how much he’d endured.
He’d endured all that he could.
He’d endured until he’d broken.
And this was him, shattered beyond salvation.
His tongue tried to enter my mouth.
I kept my lips tightly closed.
But it didn’t make a damn bit of difference.
He wouldn’t let me say no to him.
Just like no one had let him say no to them.
His cock buried deeper into me, his balls slapping against my ass, his body locking mine against the carpet.
And he kissed me.
Dirty and deep, filthy and feral.
His tongue worshiped me even as his body defiled me. He was still in there, chained in the pits of his mind, screaming for someone strong enough to pull him into the light.
Was I strong enough?
Could I be brave enough to forgive, even while this man took away all of my control?
He whimpered into my mouth.
He nipped at me, clung to me, his violence threaded with utmost sorrow.
And this time, it wasn’t my body that reacted. It was my soul.
A wiser being than me. A celestial power that couldn’t be touched by flesh or fornication. A knowing entity that said if I could survive being locked in a valley and chained to a beast, I could survive a shattered man with no one.
He’d shoved me past my hate, and wisdom had evolved me past rage.
I understood him too much to condemn him.
I gave in.
I went limp.