Folks in town call him a monster—say he’s dangerous. But I know him simply as Elijah Hays, the quiet, gentle giant who works with the horses on my ranch. I can feel him watching me, that steady intense gaze making me crave things I don’t quite understand, burn in a way that frightens me. He’s always kept his distance…until that night.I remember him coming to my rescue, me following him into the barn, giving him his first taste of a woman, and his inexperienced yet barely reined touch turning me to ash.
Now all I can think about is exposing the dark desire I see deep inside him—having him turn those dark desires on me. That low, gritty voice rasping orders in my ear. Those huge, rough hands holding me down when a storm blows in.
I want his surrender. His control. I want to break him…and have him break me…
His bulging biceps danced as he plowed his fists into the worn leather. I moved in close and reached out, touching his back. He jerked away from me like I’d struck him. “Eli, please stop.”
He finally quit whaling on the sandbag and dropped his hands, but he didn’t turn to face me. The muscles in his wide back twitched, expanding with every panted breath.
I closed the space between us, moving in behind him, and reached up, resting my hands on his shoulder blades, breathing in his scent—clean sweat and leather. He stilled, like he often did, like I now knew he’d been doing since he was a little boy. Did he wish I couldn’t see him, that I’d go away? The idea was a pitchfork through the chest.
Biting my lip, I slid my hands up to his shoulders and leaned in, kissing the center of his bare back, his skin fevered and slick. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
I didn’t know exactly what I was apologizing for. That I’d been talking about him, that he’d heard what Cassie said, or that the whole town knew what he’d suffered and hadn’t lifted a finger to help him. They were small insignificant words, but they were all I had right then, all I could force past my dry, tight throat.
A tremor traveled through him, but he stayed where he was, broad back to me. He was in pain, and I hated that I’d been a part of the cause. It tore me up, and all I could think about was easing his hurt.
I moved to his side, my breasts grazing his bulging biceps as I came around to his front. His jaw was tight, eyes closed, locking me out, keeping me at a distance. I hated it, loathed it. Leaning in, I kissed his chest. His body went tight, every muscle hardening. I continued to whisper my apologies between kisses, tasting the salty, clean sweat on his chest, his ribs, his ridged abs as I dropped to my knees.
Fingers trembling, I reached for the front of his jeans. He jolted but kept his eyes closed when I undid the button and slid down the zipper, when I slid my hand inside and took his quickly hardening cock in my hand, pumping the length of him several times. His nostrils flared, but he kept his jaw clamped shut.
Releasing him, I worked the denim at his hips lower. I wanted to make this better, but I had no idea how to do that. My gut told me this was what he needed from me. I just hoped I was right.
The metallic scent of blood reached my nose, and I noticed his raw, bleeding knuckles. Taking one of his hands, I pressed my lips to his damaged skin, kissing it tenderly, and that’s when his eyes opened and he stared down at me. My own stung at what I saw. There was no anger, not even a little bit. No, there was only shame. He was ashamed of his past, and I could see he hated that I knew.
Sherilee Gray writes sexy, edgy contemporary and paranormal romance. Stories full of heat and high emotion, following stubborn characters as they fight against the odds… and their happily ever after. She’s a kiwi girl and lives in beautiful NZ with her husband and their two children. When not writing or fueling her voracious book addiction, she can be found dreaming of far off places with a mug of tea in one hand and a bar of Cadburys Rocky Road chocolate in the other.
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