Was it possible the man I lost, the one I couldn’t let myself love again, was the only one who could chase away the fear from the fire?
I spent a year fighting to forget him.
I tossed and turned every night denying my desire for him.
I refused to let my heart break for him.
And it was all for nothing.
Maddox descended on me. His lips crashed against mine in a blind fury, ravenous, unrivaled by the times in our past when he was so desperate to make me his. He was the first man to take me, the only one who’d ever had me. Maddox transformed me from an innocent virgin into wanton woman, transfixed by his strength and eager for his grip upon my hips.
He grabbed me. Time stilled. I counted.
One second, and my gasp blended into a gentle mew.
Two seconds, and he pressed me hard against the wall.
Three seconds, and I was his again.
His lips didn’t nibble, and his kiss wasn’t kind or slow. Maddox was ravenous.
When he wanted me, he took me, and nothing prevented us from exploring that pleasure. A man as fierce as him should have terrified me. Instead, I was only overwhelmed by his lust. A year of separation only made that need worse.
His tongue flicked against mine, quick and insistent. This wasn’t a tease. I clawed at him, pulled him closer, and waited for that moment when I might have caught my breath. I should have stopped him from leading us into a temptation beyond what we could handle.
But I’d missed him. I ached for him.
I wanted Maddox more than anything—more than my store, more than finding the real criminal who destroyed my life with this perfectly imperfect man.
“Did you…” Maddox broke the kiss. He stared, challenging me to deny him. “Did you think about me?”
He smiled. A look of vindication didn’t belong in the bedroom. Good thing he pinned me to the hallway wall.
Maddox seized my mouth once more. He stole my breath and nipped my bottom lip. His hand dragged along my face, his fingers calloused. I didn’t expect him to be gentle. He never was.
“You didn’t come to see me.” His words were harsh. If he expected an answer, he didn’t give me time. His lips crushed mine, and he ripped the leather jacket from his shoulders.
My heart fluttered and broke.
His arms and hands were covered in scars. Burns. He didn’t hide them. Every silvered strike against his flesh came from the night he saved me.
I didn’t have time to move away. My lips tingled from his kiss, but even they couldn’t move, couldn’t speak to tell him what a mistake we made. I pressed my hands to chest. Pushed.
He grasped my wrists. I murmured as he forced my hands over my head. Now I was in trouble, but my core clenched, hard. Wanting. Needing.
“You never visited me.” Maddox grunted between kisses, his lips heating a trail as he captured the soft hollow of my neck. “You never came to check on me. To make sure I was okay.”
No. I hadn’t visited him in prison. I couldn’t.
What was I supposed to say?
His kiss became a bite, pinching the sensitive skin of my neck. It’d leave a mark. Always did.
Maddox loomed over me, pinning me to the wall and savoring the view of my body exposed for his amusement. His pleasure. He forced me still. I once loved knowing that his strength controlled every part of me.
That desire had never faded.
“I was innocent, Josie.”
We both knew that. Difference was, I couldn’t say it.
“We’d broken up,” I whispered.
“You still loved me as much as I loved you.” He reached for me, brushing my cheek, pushing me too hard into the wall. “Don’t lie. You’re still in love with me.”
I shook my head. “We can’t do this.”
His touch cascaded shivers over my body. “Can’t do what? Love each other? Be together? Feel each other?”
Yes, yes, and yes.
I wasn’t ready to face him again. I couldn’t prepare for the heat of his breath on my neck or his rough fingers tugging on the hem of my shirt. He didn’t strip me to see what he had missed this past year. He was after something more…rewarding.
His fingers flicked the button of my jeans. My heart raced my flipping stomach, daring the other to punk out first. This was too much. Too fast.
I had no idea the prison released Maddox, but I should have known he’d find me the instant he gained his freedom. He got drunk on the words I offered, the kisses he took. It would only get worse and better and out of control.
Why was this so hard? I fought every instinct to surrender to my wild, emotionally crazed ex-boyfriend who had taken me so many times before. We couldn’t do this.
My lips refused to breathe the word no, but what would happen if I didn’t refuse him? If I let him back into my life? My bed?