“You don’t know what you’re going to want when—”
I cut him off before he can say those words I despise. “I’m warning you. Don’t dare say it again.”
“You’re being close-minded. Letting your heart do the thinking. You need to be realistic.”
“Bastien. Auguste. Pascal. You are the only man I’ll ever want. Ever. You won’t convince me otherwise. No reason to try so just stop. You’re only managing to piss me off.”
“I’m the only man you’ll ever want, huh?”
I step into my panties and yank them up. “Yeah. Although I’m so mad at you right now, I’m rethinking that.”
“How pissed off are you right now?”
“Exceptionally pissed off.”
He grabs my face and kisses me hard, almost painfully, before pulling away to look into my eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Convincing you to have angry sex.”
He’ll have to work at convincing me better than this. “No. I’m mad at you.”
“That’s the whole point of angry sex.”
Bastien spins me around so my back is pressed to his front. He puts his hands on my hips and uses them to steer me toward the bed. “I’m angry too, Rose. Angry I won’t get to have all the things I want out of this life. And all the things I want with you.”
This is the first time Bastien has ever mentioned a future with me. I want to hear more. “What kind of things do you want with me?”
“A long, normal, healthy, happy life. Maybe with little Cajun babies.”
Oh my God. My heart and panties both just melted. “I want that too.”
He puts his forehead against my back and squeezes my body to his. “We can yearn for it all we want but it’ll never be.”
Hearing him admit that he wants me and a family is simultaneously wonderful and awful. Bastien wants things on his terms and nothing less is acceptable. It’s the one thing I can’t stand about him.
He fists the waistband of my panties and drags them down my legs. “Tell me this is okay. Tell me I can show you my anger and frustration and disappointment and how much it hurts inside because I’ll never have that life with you.”
He needs this—an outlet for his agony—and I want to be that for him. The remedy to take away his pain. The fire to warm him when he’s cold. The words when he has nothing to say.
I turn around and cradle my palms around his face. “It’s okay. You never have to be afraid with me. Because I’m never afraid with you.”
I sit on the bed and scoot back so I’m lying in the middle. “Show me everything. Be as aggressive as you need to be. I’ll tell you if it becomes too much. And when you’re finished, show me your soft kisses and gentle hands and loving touch.”
You've been my shadow, following me through childhood—filling my days and nights with terror and uncertainty. You cleverly disguised yourself as some form of pain or suffering as I grew into a young woman. We were unwavering companions … until I severed our ties.
I traded homelessness on the streets of New Orleans for a luxurious bed covered by the finest linens.
I traded dumpster diving for dinner in the finest restaurants.
I traded myself to a stranger—Bastien Pascal.
I have a good life within my platonic and mutually beneficial companionship with Bash.
He’s my friend. My mentor. My roommate.
Until everything changes.
I’m not supposed to get goosebumps when his hand brushes my skin.
I’m not supposed to be eager for his soothing touch following one of my nightmares.
I’m not supposed to think about what might happen if I reached out to him in the darkness.
Falling in love with him? Preposterous . . . unavoidable.
Agony, why are you back with a vengeance to rob me of this life I’ve come to love so dearly?
I’m finally happy. Don’t ruin this for me.