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Now what? Fabian thought, unable to stop imagining the detailed scene he had envisioned when she offered him her throat.
Had she realized what she was doing? Had she known how close she was to having her gown ripped off? He would push her down to the Persian rug, and press his weight between her legs, pinning her wrists over her head. She would let him. Fabian knew that, and it made him feel sick that he could barely control his bloodlust. Thankfully, he had kept his eyes from becoming red.
“Why did you stop?” she asked, bewilderment in her hazel eyes.
Stella’s direct question surprised him.
“The truth?” Fabian asked.
“It’s a long story.”
“I’d like to hear it.” She shrugged. “After all, even though I wouldn’t go through with it, you still bid five million euros for me.”
“Does thatdisplease you? That I bid for you?” Fabian gestured for her to take a seat on the white leather sofa by the fireplace. He sat opposite her. The less contact, the better if he wanted to finish this conversation. And they needed to have the talk before anything else happened.
“It makes me wonder.” She lowered herself to the sofa, sitting straight with her legs angled to the side, chin high, and her hands resting on her lap. Regal. Like the princess she was. But she was also nervous. The rapid blinking and elevated heart rate betrayed her inner turmoil.
Sexual tension that could be cut with a knife was also still permeating the air between them, and Fabian was so hard, he didn’t know how long he could resist before his nature took over. Thinking ahead, he had fed earlier in the morning, but having her so close was playing a number on him.
“About what?” Fabian finally asked, focusing back on her question. We need to talk, he reminded himself.
“Why?” She worried her lower lip. “Why would you spend that kind of money on me?”
Fabian almost laughed. he would have spent fifty times that amount for her. Fortunately, he realized she would think he was laughing at her and answered with the truth, “Because I want you—” He leaned back against the backrest of his sofa. “And I made sure nobody else would win you tonight.”
Stella frowned. “You want me?”
Her breasts pushed against the bodice of her elegant dress. It was just a brief gleam of her softness underneath, but the sight aroused him, provoking thoughts of what he would like to do to her.
She narrowed her eyes.
Fabian slowly nodded. “Two years ago—it was a summer afternoon—you were going out as I was coming back home. You wore a yellow sundress and strappy sandals. Your hair was loose. No makeup. A large straw hat. I saw you, and I wanted you. Since then, my longing has only grown.”
It wasn’t the first time Fabian had seen Stella but all of a sudden, she had become a woman. A glance across the street, and she stopped being his responsibility to become so much more.
Stella brought her hand to her mouth. “I—”
Was she going to run for the hills?
“You asked for the truth.”
She nodded. “I did, but—”
Crossing his legs at his ankles, he let her collect her thoughts. Inside, Fabian was dying to leap and press her down onto the cushion.
“You never spoke to me.”
I wanted to so much, it hurt. But you were off-limits. “I thought you were better off without having anything to do with me.” Then he couldn’t resist adding, “But make no mistake, I wanted to do more than talk to you.”
“You’ve always had all those women at your place.”
Fabian liked the way her expression changed, and her chest constricted. “Were you jealous of them?”
“How could I be? We didn’t know each other, and you are this big, famous actor.”
“I was thinking of you.” Fabian left it there, for her to understand he was referring to those times when she saw him on the terrace.
When she realized the meaning behind his words, her eyes widened, and a soft blush pinked her creamy skin. His hands grabbed the edge of the sofa. Fabian mentally counted to twenty. “It was your mouth I imagined on me. Your hands. Your skin.”
“Why didn’t you—” She paused, her breathing irregular and her color rising. “I don’t know, knock on my door, present yourself, stop me in the street, something, anything?”
“Because I can’t afford to care for you.” Fabian tilted his head. “And yet I can’t afford not to.”
“Why can’t you?” she asked.
“Because you are mine.” Would she run now? He was giving her any excuse to stand up and ask to be released.
Stella did stand on uncertain feet, but she didn’t walk to the door. Wordlessly, she kept staring at him.
“Are you scared of me?” Fabian asked, still sitting.
“I should be. I was,” she answered after a prolonged silence.
“But not anymore?”
“No, not anymore.” She shook her head. “And I keep asking myself why.”
“Do you have an answer to your question?”
“The truth,” Fabian reminded her.
Stella lowered her eyes, her hands playing with the fabric of her gown. “I want you. I’ve always wanted you. You scared me, but deep inside I would have given anything to be with you.”
“I am here.” He opened his arms to the side.
She surprised him yet again by taking the first step. “Why are you making me come to you?”
So smart, his princess.
“Because I need you to want me. To desire me as much as I desire you. I don’t want you to come to me under compulsion.” Fabian didn’t lean toward her but wrapped the backrest with his arms. “That’s why I was going to talk you out of being a companion.” He would still deposit the auction money in her bank account, but she didn’t need to know that.
She stopped. “I don’t understand—”
Fabian shook his head. “There’s nothing to understand.”
“You want me to come to you by my free will.” She hugged herself, pushing those soft mounds up.
“That’s what I want.” He sighed.
She slowly nodded. Then, her high heels moved on the floor, her gown brushing the concrete, and she walked toward him as if gliding over the polished surface.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said when she stopped in front of him.
Fabian could have raised his hand and pulled her down, but he did neither. “Sit on my lap.”
Stella obeyed his order. She didn’t have to, but she did.
She finally was where he wanted her, but Fabian needed her to understand the rules. “I want you, but I won’t take anything that isn’t freely given.”
Her eyes were big and liquid, and her heart galloped against her ribcage.
He smiled. “Breathe.” His arms still hugging the sofa, Fabian mimed the action of breathing for her.
She lowered her eyes for a moment, then her lips turned up in a smile, and her chest started working again.
He kept his eyes on her until she looked up. “I want you to say yes to me, to what I am, but you must accept me fully. I can’t be anything different from what I am.”
“Will you hurt me?” she asked.
“Not voluntarily.” She had no way of knowing that he would die to save her from harm.
“Yes,” she whispered.
Fabian didn’t move.
“Yes, I want you,” she said louder.
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