Aiden Sheffield would rather go to hell than Linx. Who does Emma think she is disrupting his carefully built life? The last thing the Marine needs is to slice open the sealed wounds of his painful past. Yet, as he gets to know the lovely Emma, a woman who manages to smile even though she’s lost everything, he changes his mind. He will not let her go to hell alone.
But neither is prepared for the devastating evil waiting for them at the end of the road. It might just destroy them.
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In some ways, I’m grateful the memory came to me as I lie on the floor. It’s easier to distance myself from Emma when I think back to my childhood. It reminds me we come from two different worlds—not that either of us is normal. She is the girl who lost everything. I am the boy who never had anything. I wake up in the middle of the night, the memory fading away…dying and distant. Emma is lying next to me. She must have draped a sheet over me while I slept. I shake her awake, demanding an answer. “Why are you on the floor?” “You were having a nightmare. I didn’t wake you up this time, but I didn’t want you to be alone, either.” “It’s over.” “I know.” “Get off the floor.” “I want to sleep here.” “Why?” “Because this is where you are.” “Go to bed.” “Maybe I will if you stop waking me up.” “Go. To. The. Bed.” “No.” Her back is to me. She shivers. “You could at least share the sheet, though.” I sigh, throwing the cover over her, trying to summon annoyance I do not feel. God help me, I put my arms around her. She smells of vanilla and rum and sour apple Jolly Ranchers. I bury my face in the silk of her hair. This isn’t real, I tell myself. I am still dreaming. I can do what I want in a dream.
It wasn’t a dream. She’s still on the floor, pressed against me, when I wake. My morning wood stands at attention for her. I shift away. Down, boy, down, I beg.
She stirs, but she doesn’t wake. Once I get a hold of myself, I lift her gently, depositing her on the bed. She stretches and mumbles something about rum as I tuck her in. I should walk away. Instead, I lean down and kiss her forehead. Her skin is warm against my lips. What the fuck is wrong with me? I don’t kiss foreheads. I barely kiss at all. I head down to the hotel gym and run on the treadmill at top speed until every muscle rebels with an aching burn. Emma may not be a virgin, but she’s definitely innocent. I am not. On some level, that distinction attracts me to her, but on another much darker level, I want to steal her innocence. To devour it so whenever she mourns the loss of her purity, she’ll think of me.
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