Sweet Temptation(8)

By: Maya Banks


“Are you all right?” he asked quietly. “Did I hurt you badly?”

She sucked in her breath when his palm met her bare flesh and soothed over the welts that still heated her back.

“No, you didn’t hurt me,” she said huskily.

His hand stilled on her back, and he hastily arranged her shirt. There was too much tension emanating from him. It was thick and unwieldy between them.

She turned and without giving him any warning pushed into his arms, hugging him tight. He tensed even more but didn’t push her away.

“I missed you so much,” she choked out.

“Hell,” he muttered as he wrapped his arms around her.

“Why did you leave?”

It burst from her before she could call it back. She rested her forehead on his shoulder thinking how badly she’d screwed up this entire reunion  .

He grasped her shoulders and gently pulled her away from him. “Listen to me, honey. You and I have a hell of a lot to discuss. I want you to sit down and talk to me, okay?”

She allowed him to guide her down onto the couch.

“Are you hungry? Thirsty?”

She shook her head.

He retreated to an armchair diagonal to the couch and sank down with a heavy sigh. His unruly hair dangled below his ears, and he dragged a hand through the slight curls until it pulled them away from his face. The diamond in his left ear glinted in the light, an earring she’d given him for Christmas. Would he even remember that fact?

“I couldn’t stay, Angel. You of all people should know that.”

“No, I don’t know that. Or maybe I do and I’m still angry,” she admitted. “I had no one, Micah. You, David and Hannah were my only family. They died and you left. Can you even try to understand how that made me feel? I was alone, scared to death, and my world had been turned upside down.”

“You had the force,” Micah said gruffly. “They never turned their back on family. They would have done anything you needed.”

Anger heated her veins, and her pulse thrummed fiercely. “Would they? They all thought David betrayed you, that he was leaving with your wife when they had their accident. They weren’t lining up to offer me anything. To them I was the sister of the cop who betrayed another cop, and I couldn’t tell them any different. I couldn’t tell them the truth about what Hannah was to both of you because then I would have been betraying you.”

He stared at her, his eyes raw with regret. “God, Angel, I’m sorry. I won’t lie. I wasn’t even thinking about you or how it must have looked when David and Hannah died together. I just had to go or go crazy. I couldn’t stay there after losing them both. I never thought ...”

He closed his eyes. “I never meant to hurt you, Angel. You’re David’s sister. I should have taken care of you, protected you. How did you—?” His voice cracked. “How did you make it? What did you do?”

She blew out her breath. “I didn’t intend to make this a guilt fest, Micah. What’s done is done. I survived. I was angry and hurt, maybe more than I thought. Seeing you again brought it all back. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that.”

She stood, rubbing her hands down her pant legs. “I should go. It’s late.”

He rose abruptly, his eyes flashing ominously. “We aren’t finished, Angel. Not by a long shot. You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here, why you were at The House, and what the hell you were doing naked in front of all those damn people.”

She smiled faintly as she watched the tension creep back into his face. Despite the fact that he’d abdicated any responsibility toward her, he seemed suddenly gripped by the urge to protect her from all the big bad wolves out there. Only he was the biggest, baddest wolf, and she didn’t want to be protected from him.

“I think it’s best if we don’t discuss that,” she said in an even tone.

His mouth gaped open and then his lips snapped together in anger. “You don’t get to decide what we do and don’t discuss. You’re not going anywhere until you give me some answers, baby doll.”

It made her positively quivery when he got authoritative. She’d always loved that about him, his alpha take-charge attitude. She craved him and that power, had been drawn to it since before she understood what exactly it was that attracted her to him.

Part of her wanted to acquiesce, to offer her submission and give herself over to his keeping, only she knew better than to think it was what he wanted from her. Oh, she knew he wanted her obedience, but he wanted the obedience of a child, not of the woman she was. He was bent on seeing her as the teenage sister of his best friend—a friend he’d shared the woman he’d married with.

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