Fable of Happiness (Fable 2) - Page 99

“Let me show you.” I went toward her, fully intending to unbutton her shirt and hold her steady as she climbed in. However, she flinched backward. Her hands flying to the buttons, clutching the fabric as if expecting me to take her against her will again.

And fuck me, that drove a dagger right through my ribs, straight through my heart, and clean through my spine.

I backed up immediately, hands in the air in surrender. “I won’t touch you. Not if you don’t wish it.”

She licked her lips, her gaze flicking from me and back to the bath. “I-I don’t understand.”

I sighed and looked at the earth. I’d already messed this up just by being me.

Giving me yet another mind-altering shrug, she murmured, “Tell me what you want. You have to talk me through this. I’m a little...frayed.”

Of course, she was frayed.

I’d forced her.

I’d been forcing her to survive every single moment since she’d found me.

Staying where I was, giving her the element of choice instead of making her feel trapped, I murmured just as quietly, “I want to give you pleasure.” Such a simple sentence, but just like my name, it was a vow not given lightly.

She shook her head slightly. “You don’t need—”

“I do.” I swallowed hard. “I can’t stand the thought that you’re still dirty...because of me. That I stole whatever innocence you had left. That I left you marked with part of me. That you’re...unclean. Like me.”

She flinched. “You’re not unclean...Kas.” She smiled sadly at the use of my name. “And I told you, what happened between us might have started off against my will, but the ending was my choice. My decision.” She came toward me, letting her hands drop from clutching her shirt. “I’m happy that you found peace. That you—”

“And I’m angry that you haven’t.” I couldn’t help myself. Reaching up, I captured a strand of her golden hair, running the silkiness through my fingers. “I’m angry that I haven’t returned the favor.”

She sucked in a breath. “Is that what this is about? You think you owe me pleasure because you came and I didn’t?”

I winced. “No.”

“Tell the truth.”

“That is the truth.”

Her eyes narrowed, studying me. “I don’t think it is. You’ve been trained to—”

“That training is gone.”

She gave me another sad smile. “Are you so sure?”

“I’m sure that I want to make amends for what I’ve done.”

“There’s nothing to make amends—”

“Please,” I snarled, my hand dropping from her hair and balling by my side. “All I’m asking is...” I looked at the ground, swallowing a harsh laugh. I hadn’t thought this out. I hadn’t rehearsed this, but now that certain words filled my mouth, I heard how ridiculous they’d sound. How stupidly cliché and preposterous.

“What?” she whispered. “What are you asking for?”

It was my turn to shrug, temper tangling with all my flaws. “You to trust me. Just like you said I could trust you.”

Her eyes widened, the truth written all over her face. “You said I shouldn’t trust you.”

“And you shouldn’t.”

“Then why ask—?”

“Just for tonight. Trust me to do the right thing...just for tonight.”

She frowned, no doubt going over what else I’d said in the library. How I’d begged her to kill me before I could make another mistake. How I’d practically beaten it into her that she could never trust a man who couldn’t control his own mind. A man she’d predicted would one day snap and hurt her far worse than anything he’d done before. There was no way she should trust me.

Of course, she couldn’t.

What a moronic thing to ask.

I laughed under my breath. “Forget it. I only meant...” I sighed and looked at the stars. “I want you to feel safe. You’re safe, Gemma...I-I give you my word that I won’t hurt you. Not tonight.”

She nodded once, hearing what I had. Not tonight. She was safe...just for tonight. I couldn’t guarantee all the other days and all the other nights, but for the next few hours before dawn broke, while my mind was stable and completely here, with her, she wouldn’t be molested, bruised, or tormented.

I rolled my eyes, cursing my constant headache. What sort of offer was that? What did that make me when I couldn’t extend that promise because I had no control when sleep claimed me?

Silence thickened between us, and as we stood next to flames with their soft crackle in our ears and starlight above us, I felt as if she saw past all the nightmares I couldn’t face and all the memories I locked up deep inside. She shoved past any connection I might’ve had with my Fable family, elbowed past a childhood I couldn’t remember, and dug deep, deep inside me until she found the core of who I was.

The nucleus that’d given up hope and happiness a long time ago.

She saw me. The eternal me. She didn’t see a man imprisoned with loneliness, not a boy with severe trauma, not even the man I could become thanks to her. She saw past all of that, and I came alive and died beneath her study.

Tags: Pepper Winters Fable Erotic
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