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"Oh, please," I tease, hiding his effect on me. "That's pillow talk for someone like you."

Sean's face shifts and the dark man living inside of him merges with the one who loves me. He steps toward me, and I step back. "Do I need to take you to the shed, Miss Smith?"

I shrug as if he doesn't faze me even though my heart races wildly and the spot between my legs heats way too fast. "That depends. What will we do in there?"

Sean's trying not to show that predatory smile. The corners of his mouth twitch as he steps toward me. His hand juts out and grabs my waist, pulling me forward, slamming me into his hips. There's no mistaking the hard shaft beneath those slacks now pressing substantially against my stomach. I gasp as we collide.

He dips me back slightly, one hand behind my back and the other at my neck. That hot gaze is erratic, darting from my eyes to my lips. He tips my head back, brushing his lips to my ear and I feel his arousal increase.

The warm air and the caress of his mouth make it hard to hide my reaction. I gasp at the sensation of his lips on my skin, wanting more as he pulls away.

His face hosts a carnal look that once terrified me. Honestly, it's still scary. Sean drags me upright and crushes me against his chest. "First, I'll rip this slip from your body, tearing it down the middle and using it to tie your arms above your head. The rafters are low in the shed. You could stand like that, naked, arms bound above your head, those perfect breasts and hot, wet pussy exposed for me to do as I like."

Flutters fill my stomach, but I manage a bored yawn. "Really? Is that all you've got, Box Boy? No dark fantasies you'd rather explore?" I shift my weight, pulling back slightly, letting my breasts brush his chest. Even with the fabric between us, I can tell what it does to him. Though my words are freeing, my actions commit me.

Sean's chest rises and falls as he tries to control his breathing. His body tenses, as if he knows precisely what he wants to do to me. I see it in his eyes, in the way his lips curve into a seductive smile he only uses on his prey. He wets the dark pink skin with his tongue and, as they part, his eyes devour me. A dark fantasy plays out behind his eyes.

"Tell me." My voice catches in my throat. It's not intentional, it's a reaction to his dominance, to the way he's looking at me. A chill slips down my spine, and I shiver.

Sean pulls me to him, slowly, taking one arm at a time, leading me so I rest them on his narrow hips. He holds one hand against my back, palm open, and leans in placing his lips on my ear.

My pulse pounds in my ears, as this provocative scene plays out. My face is blank, staring at him, challenging him in that way he doesn't like, but secretly loves. An alpha asserts control and forces his authority. It thrills me. I admit I like feeling so vulnerable that all I have is trust. It's rare. I don't trust anyone the way I trust him and I never surrender all of myself except in moments when he makes me.

It's a strange feeling I didn't realize I liked at first. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I was appalled that I enjoyed it. I wanted to be dominated by him, but had no idea why. Now I do—it's trust. I know he can push me too far. I know he can break me. But he won't. He'll make my heart pound with ecstasy, forcing me to my limits, commanding me to come harder and feel higher than I thought possible.

I feel his lips part as he prepares to speak. "No," he whispers.

Ah! Fine, if that's how he wants to play it. I pull away, shrug, and smile coyly. "Just as well, I didn't want it anyway."

He grabs me, pulls my front to his, his fingers sliding up my inner thigh, forcing my legs apart. He doesn't ask, he doesn't wait. His fingers slip inside me, pulsing, stroking, teasing. Sean's eyes bore into me. I'm panting, reacting visibly as my body betrays my lie. "Really? Not into it? You could have fooled me. You're dripping. You're so wet that I could drink you." The way he says those last few words is so sexy. His mouth wraps around them slowly, carefully caressing every syllable. It's the pre-show for what he plans to do to me.

I arch my back and push against his hand, lips parted in an "O." A voice too breathy to belong to me teases, "Don't be silly. I get this way around all the guys."

The response is immediate. Sean pushes into me harder, adding another finger, stretching me. My knee rises as I straddle his hip. "You're mine, and I'm the only one who can affect you like this." He moves his fingers inside me, pressing them to a place that steals my breath and weakens my knees. I lean against him as he pulls his hand away.

I'm so turned on I don't see the guy standing a few feet away, beet red, not sure if he should speak or run away. Sean says nothing. It's as if he knew the guy was standing there. I straighten my slip and feel my face flame up.

Slip. Lawn. Nerd. Sean.

Oh, God!

Sean gestures for the guy to come over. When he gets here, my eyes widen. "Asthma Attack, are you okay? Do you need an inhaler?" I'm not trying to be a bitch. I forgot his name. Hell, I forgot my name!

"I'm fine, Miss." He doesn't sound fine.

Then again, neither do I.

My jaw drops. I lean in and whisper-yell, "You knew he was there, didn't you?"

He hears me and hastily says, "I didn't see a damned thing." His face is so red he could be a crayon.

"Then why are you blushing?" I blink at him like he has two heads. He totally saw.

Justin clears his throat and looks at Sean. "The, uh, boulder holder bra provides a nice view for you, but it's a little awkward for me. Of course, I don't have to look." He adds the last part swiftly, and backs up like Sean might break his face.

My slip is smooth silk adorned with lace sewn along the upper cup and hem, an amazing push-up bra up top. When I look down, I blanch. All that flirting left me hot. I didn't notice the lace line on the cups shifted down, exposing the tops of my nipples. Even in the dark, the tops of my nips are clearly visible. I squeak and turn around, adjusting things back where they go. The truth is, when you wear your breasts up around your neck, the girls look great, but they can pop out. It's not like I can tell unless one falls. I'd notice wonky boobs, one up one down—but a popped tit, not so much. It was still in the bra—well, on it.

I'm pretty sure I can smell my makeup burning into smoke and wafting off my face in a little cloud.

Sean's hand is on my shoulder. "He didn't see anything."

I give Sean an incredulous look. "He just said—" I'm jabbing my finger at the guy, horrified when they both cut me off.

Justin is shaking his head like crazy, avoiding my eyes. "I didn't see anything."

"He didn't see that," Sean says, alluding to the thing he did with his hand that had me so hot. Sean smacks the kid in the back of the head. "Anyway, it's not that bad. He was staring at your rack and noticed you're pretty."

They're both lying to me. I laugh, shrugging my shoulders. "It's weird, right? A prude hooker."

Before Sean can reply, Justin says, "You're not a prude, and you're not a hooker. You're Avery Stanz, the woman with balls the size of Texas, the woman taking out Vic Jr. without a second thought." He gets a bashful expression on his face and adds, "Furthermore, you're so beautiful, it's hard to not notice." He flinches. "Sorry, boss."

Sean looks like he wants to kill Justin, but I take Sean's hand in mine, lift it to my lips and press a kiss to the back of his hand. Addressing Justin, I say, "Thank you."

"No problem." He gazes up at me from under his lashes, gets a goofy grin, and resumes avoiding eye contact with Sean. He swallows hard and manages to straighten. "So, are we doing this?"

"Doing what?" I glance between them, not understanding.

"Yes," he says to Justin. "It'll only be a moment, Avery." Sean's voice isn't tense the way I thought it'd be. His expression instantly softens as his eyes cut to the side, to me. The way the moonlight illuminates his face is surreal. It's like he's been kissed by a star on each cheek. Those eyes that undo me are soft and pure. He watches me from behind dark lashes, caught in a moment of bliss.


Tall oak trees tower above me ca

sting a lacy pattern on the lawn. I kick off my hooker heels because this grass demands bare feet. Sean follows my lead before walking a few paces away with Justin.

Their heads nearly touch, their shoulders leaning forward, and they speak almost noiselessly. The exchange is brief. When Sean turns back around, Justin leaves quickly in the opposite direction. If there were a dog on his heels, he'd be moving slower.

Sean Ferro is a scary man.

He walks toward me, a swagger in his step, and sex in his eyes. He devours me with his gaze and sends a spark up my spine. When he reaches me, Sean laces his fingers with mine. I lean my head on his shoulder for a moment as we walk further into the property, losing ourselves amongst the gnarled trees. I don't trust myself to speak. My throat is too tight. I'm that happy, that emotional.

Sean squeezes my hand as if he knows what I'm thinking. I glance up at him. The hollows of his cheeks are in shadow, making him look delicious. My mind drifts to his threats from a few moments ago.

"Avery?" Sean turns to peer down at me.

"Hmm?" I feel light in that moment, like I could float away on a happy cloud.

Sean laughs softly, and we stop walking. He takes my other hand and tries to hide his smile. He drops to one knee and holds up a ring. "I want to ask you properly. I want you to know how much I love you, how much I will always love you. I want to spend every day with you, and love you every night. I want you by my side, but more than anything, I want to be by yours. You mean everything to me. You're my best friend and lover, mending my fractured soul in a way no one else could. You're my soul mate, my everything. Avery Stanz, will you be my wife?"

I don't mean to, but a deep laugh escapes from somewhere inside my chest. It jumps out of my mouth, and I grin. "That never gets old."

He beams up at me, waiting.

From experience, I know waiting is a bad thing and rush to tell him. "Yes! I would love to be your wife." I feel something swelling inside my chest that's been absent for such a long time. I have trouble identifying it at first. It's not joy or happiness. It's more like a lingering sense of wellbeing, like this will somehow work out.

It's hope.

Sean stands, and when his mouth comes down on mine, I lose myself in him. Our lips burn on contact, igniting everything good within me. I wrap my arms around his neck basking in the moment.