Endless (Merciless 4) - Page 14

I watch her throat as she swallows, and again she balls the thin cotton of her sleepshirt in her hand. She doesn’t wear it in bed, only when she leaves the bedroom. The tension in the air is thick, and it makes my fingers go numb again and prick with anguish.

“You still want me to?” I ask her and she nods swiftly and without hesitation. I love this submissive side of her, this trusting side. I love that she wants this side of me. Even more, I love that I can so easily give her what she wants.

“I like it when you do things like that,” she answers.

With a single nod, I stand up and make my way to the other side of the desk, swallowing down the lump and remembering that I need to be in control at all times. For her, and for the sake of my family and everyone else relying on me. Aria stands where she is, looking lost and insecure.

I hate it, even though I know I’m the reason for it all. I could easily bring her back into my arms and love her. But it would only end in her hating me, in her breaking me and destroying the last bit of my sanity.

If it ends this way, slowly, and with a growing chasm between us, it’ll be easier to accept. For both of us.

“For you,” I say and hold out the black box for her to take, and only then does she step forward. As the box creaks open, I move the chair to face her and take a seat, explaining as my back hits the smooth leather, “It’s your birthday gift.”

She forces a small smile to her lips, but the sadness lingers there. “It’s beautiful,” she says, although she doesn’t look at me. “What happened to my other… necklace?” Instinctively, her hand reaches for her collar, to the place where the diamonds and pearls used to lay.

“It’s where you left it,” I tell her and then glance at the box, still pushed against the wall but not lined up exactly with where it normally goes. I don’t want it to go back to where it was. I want to remember. I have to remember. My gut churns at the memory of how I felt, sitting in this very chair, while she locked herself in that box. I’m sickened by all the hate and anger I had, but more than that, the realization that what I wanted would never be.

“Are we okay?” Aria’s gentle question, laced with both want and fear, brings my attention to her gorgeous face.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever be okay.” My answer is instant and calmly spoken as if it’s a certainty. “But that doesn’t make you any less mine.”

“I don’t know what I can do, Carter.” Aria’s voice is wretched as she stares at the pearls, her fingertips barely skimming along each one. “I want to make this right.”

“This was never going to be right, Aria. It wasn’t right what I did, and what I’m going to do… it’s not right to you.” I don’t like the way my words come out. As if I’m letting her go, because I’m not. I won’t be the one to break things off, but I know she’ll leave me.

It’s inevitable.

“You don’t get to decide what’s right for me.” Her answer is sharp, that defiance I love slicing through the painful truth even she can’t deny: We were never meant to be.

“You’re still angry at me, aren’t you? For grabbing the gun.” Her voice wavers as she adds, “I’m sorry, Carter.” Her words are rushed and she barely breathes as she takes a single step toward me, closing the space until I reach out to take her waist in my hands. I could pull her into my lap, but I don’t. I keep her right where she is, at arm’s length.

“I know you are,” I tell her solemnly.

“Does this mean you don’t forgive me?” The pain isn’t hidden in the least. Not in her words, or the way her hands hold on to mine, not in the shades of amber and jade in her eyes.

“It’s not about forgiveness, Aria. I understand why. I respect it, even. But it would happen again. You would do it again.” I speak to her without reservations. She’ll come to the same realization I have. She will, even if it hurts her with the same pain it does me.

“You’re the one who put me here. Who put me right in the middle, Carter. You could lock me in the cell, and then I wouldn’t be in the way.” She pleads with me, wanting me to take away her freedom and the woman she was always meant to be just so I can have her.

“You’re the one who wanted out of your cage to fly away. Isn’t that right?” I know it doesn’t change anything. Giving her freedom only to be disappointed with what she does with it, doesn’t change a damn thing between us.

Tags: Willow Winters Merciless Erotic
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