His Desert Bride By Demand - Page 59

‘My mother should have died at home, in her own country, in the desert where her heart belonged. And I am the reason she didn’t.’

‘Well, if that’s true...’ She blew out a heavy breath. ‘Then we both killed our parents.’

‘Nonsense. Your father killed himself.’

‘We could go all the way back to my conception—’

‘Stop it.’

‘Or to my birth that drove my mother to drink more—’

‘Stop.’

‘Or we could go back to a few weeks ago, when I took an extra shift, didn’t come home... I left him all alone and he died.’

‘His death was not your responsibility—’

‘And neither was your mother’s yours. It wasn’t your responsibility to protect your mother from herself. From her choices. You were a child. You are their child. But you are also your own man, and you’re afraid to embrace that.’

‘I fear nothing,’ he lied—because he feared this. Her love. Her ability to look beneath his armour and make him question his mode of survival. ‘I know the facts. The story does not matter. My story does not matter here.’

‘Of course your story matters. It matters to me. So tell me and I will listen—like you listened to mine. Accepted mine. You are the son of a king, but you’re also a man. A kind man. Just as you were a kind boy.’

‘He was weak—’

‘No,’ she said firmly. ‘That boy was kind.’ She pointed at his chest. ‘You are kind. You took me to your secret haven. You gifted me my dream. My art. Knowing I was all alone, you travelled to London to get me. You forgot your duty and dropped everything for me. You are everything that came before in your story. Not theirs—not your parents’ story.’

She moved into his space and grabbed his hand. He let her take it.

‘That is the man I love,’ she said, ‘and I don’t care what his name is any more. Because you are him and I lo—’

‘Do not say it again.’

She ignored him. ‘I love you.’

She must be all out of bullets because they did not penetrate his skin. Her presence. Her words. He wouldn’t allow them in. He would not be that man in the studio, roaring his secrets into her body. He would not be the man thrusting into his wife against the wall.

He could only be one man, and she wouldn’t let him be him.

There was only one choice to be made.

He would let her go.

‘You might care,’ he said. ‘And you might choose a completely different name when I tell you why I came to London.’

‘For me,’ she answered. ‘For closure.’

‘I came for you,’ he agreed, ‘but not for closure.’

‘Then for what?’

‘I came to crush you.’

Instinct told him to draw her nearer, but he pushed her away. She could take her love with her.

‘Crush me how?’

Her voice was small, but it needled him. The strength in her eyes was telling him she could take what he gave her. That she knew what he was doing and wouldn’t allow it. But he wouldn’t give her a choice. This hunger, this desperation between them, was...weakness.

‘Revenge.’

He let the word sit with her. Watched it penetrate. Felt the tremble of her fingers in his palm.

‘My dad—’

‘You pushed for this, Charlotte. Ever since you arrived here you have pushed me to confront the past—what it means to me, how it shaped me. So you will take it. You will understand how the past—our shared past—drove me dizzy with the need to pluck you from your life and thrust everything I am in your face. To tease you—tempt you—and then snatch it all back when what you craved was me. Throw you back into your pitiful life. I wanted to crush you under the weight of my power. The power of the Crown Prince. Of the King. Of me.’

‘That’s not who you are.’

‘That is exactly who I am.’

He knew it now, and he knew what he must do to become the King his people needed. No temptations from the past. No whispers in the night about a person he could never be again. Because she was right. He was a man in his own right, and today he would embrace it.

Today he would let them all go.

‘Are you sufficiently crushed, qalbi?’

‘No.’

Her response was barely audible. Everything he had become over the last nine years stared at her. Not at the girl she was. Not at the Queen he had made her. But at the woman in a wedding dress. The woman determined to change him. To make him feel...

He felt nothing.

‘You won’t be free until you confront what hurts you,’ she said. ‘And I want to be here when you do. But if you can’t...if you can’t reach out and take what’s in front of you...me—all of me.’ She swallowed, the delicate tendons in her throat tightening. ‘Then I’ll walk away.’

He would not reach out.

Tags: Lela May Wight Billionaire Romance
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