He saw it then. A flash of fire in her eyes. Almost a sense of frustration or anger. Okay. So this was about hints.
“Marly, tell me what you want,” he chided her gently. “I’m not good at the hint, baby. You know that.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She shrugged, but he could feel a sense of hurt involved.
She knew damned good and well what he was talking about and she had no intention of enlightening him. Something tightened in Cade. A sense of fear. Could he be wrong? Maybe this wasn’t about Christmas after all. Was he losing her? He had heard horror stories of the changes in women after the birth of a child. Marly was young. Had she really been too young to know what she wanted? To understand the commitment it had taken to love him? Had he destroyed it all?
He tried to still the rush of agony that resonated through him at the thought. The need to take her, hard and deep, to make certain he still held at least that part of her. He tightened his body instead. Steeled himself against the nightmares that rose inside his soul.
She had lost everything he had tried to give her from the moment she had been brought to him. Her innocence. Her fairy tale dreams of love and marriage. Her fantasy of her mother and a mother’s love. It would be enough to destroy anyone. Especially someone as gentle, as filled with love, as his Marly.
“Look at you,” she sighed. “You’re closing up on me. Freezing me out, just like you always do. I hate it when you do that, Cade.”
He watched her quietly. He saw love in her eyes. They were soft, shimmering. But there was something more, and that unknown quality had the potential to be his worst nightmare.
“What do you want, Marly?” He kept his voice cool, kept a tight rein on the emotions clashing inside him.
Her gaze flashed with anger. “I want you to stop expecting the worst,” she snapped. “Any time you don’t understand something going on inside me you lock up. Like you expect me to start spouting hatred and judgmental accusations. It’s like, even now, you can’t accept just how much I do love you.”
The pain in her voice robbed him of breath.
“Marly, no.” He strode to her instantly, his heart breaking at the tears suddenly shimmering in her eyes. “Baby, you can’t cry,” he whispered desperately. “Whatever you want, I swear, you can have it. But you have to tell me.”
She surprised him by shaking her head, moving away from him.
“Not this time.” She breathed in roughly. “This time, Cade, you have to figure it out.”
He blinked in surprise. “Figure what out, Marly? Dammit, I’m not a mind reader.”
“Too bad.” She shrugged.
“Too bad?” he asked her softly, his lust rising sharply at the deliberate challenge he could feel pulsing in the air now.
“Figure it out, Cade.” She wasn’t angry, but she wasn’t far from it.
He watched as she paced over to the wi
ndow, staring out at the wintry night, tucking her hands into the pockets of her jeans, refusing to say anything more. Refusing to acknowledge him.
Cade realized then that she had been doing this a lot lately. All three of the women had been. Distancing themselves in very subtle ways, making him, Brock and Sam crazy as they fought to figure out the problem. He’d had enough. Since Drace’s birth he had tried to be gentle, tried to be the lover a young, innocent woman should have. Tried to make up for the way he had taken her, pushed her, in the beginning of their relationship. She might not tell him what the hell she wanted, but he was damned sick and tired of trying to guess, trying to make up for something he wasn’t totally certain anymore that she regretted.
“The hell I will,” he muttered, jerking his shirt off, determined that if he wasn’t going to get answers, he was at least going to get that tight little ass she was driving him crazy with. First she would submit, then he would get answers.
She turned back, her eyes wide as he stripped. Shirt, boots, pants. His cock was like a length of hot steel, driving him mad with the lust sweeping through his body. And there she stood, her gaze surprised. As though she didn’t know what he was pushing her toward.
“Cade.” Her voice was hesitant. “The baby…”
“Is asleep,” he growled, the fingers of one hand going to his cock as he watched her. Damn, he was going to explode just watching her. “Strip.”
“Excuse me?” He would have laughed at the offended shock in her tone if he didn’t know damned well that was lust glittering in her eyes rather than fear.
“Now!” He kept his voice hard, visions of her naked, on her knees, his cock tunneling between her lips suddenly driving him insane.
“I don’t have time for this, Cade. I’m tired.”
“Damned good thing I’m not.” He walked to her, grabbing her close, his lips grinding down on hers as he ripped the sweater in half.
She groaned beneath the kiss, but her lips opened, her tongue tangling immediately with his as the pent up violence of his need swept through them both. God, how long had it been since he had taken her like this? Since he had driven them both crazy with the hunger building inside him?