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His sharp tongue commands the hot summer wind swirling between us. The air that simultaneously sucks me into his gravitational pull also cuts me deeply, slicing me to the core with his harsh tone.

The day has been long and grueling. My aching fingers are begging for a break, but Dominic insists I keep going under the guise of my father’s orders.

Truth be told, he’s the one who really likes to see me sweat.

The connection between us is deadly. The closer we are to one another; someone is bound to get hurt.

Hence the reason he’s several yards away barking orders instead of by my side.

Dominic holds my gaze for what feels like an eternity. His dark, shadowy eyes burn into my flesh with only a single look.

My body temperature rises as sweat drips from my skin. It’s hot outside, but when he looks at me with heat in his eyes, it’s like he’s ready to devour me. It makes my body react in ways I can’t control.

“Uh-hmm,” Callum clears his throat, reminding me we’re not alone.

My gaze falls to him as he sweeps a hand through his dirty blonde hair and chuckles. When his hazel eyes meet mine, a knowing grin hits his lips.

I do my best to fight the smirk tugging at the corners of my own mouth.

“You know how he is, Cal. He just wants to get under my skin,” I say, trying to bury the embarrassment creeping up my spine.

I hate being caught with him in moments like this. The bastard’s holding me captive with his eyes, like he’s submerging himself into my soul, searching every dark corner for an ounce of vulnerability inside me.

But he won’t find any.

Not today or any other day, for that matter.

Dominic may be trained in every form of combat known to man, but I’ve learned how to guard my heart since the day my mother died. I’m a pro. The fortress surrounding my heart is impenetrable.

On the outside, Dominic looks cool, calm, and collected. He leans against a tree, running a hand through his short, jet-black hair, looking ever so lax with his sun-kissed skin, broad shoulders, and muscular frame.

On the inside, I can see his darkness stirring and clawing its way to the surface. He hides his demons better than most, but after spending every day with him for the last several years, I can spot them a mile away.

The only downside to that is he can also spot mine, dwelling right under the surface. He calls me on it before I realize what’s happening most days. I guess that comes with being in my guard the longest. He knows my ticks and tells better than the others.

“I said again!” he shouts from the clearing, and Greyson chuckles beside him.

I swear, one day, I’m going to muster the courage to knock that soul-searching, smug look, right off Dom’s stupidly handsome face.

A big piece of me wishes that he would’ve never been assigned to my guard.

Never looked at me the way no one had ever looked at me before.

Never made me feel things I can’t unfeel now.

Then I would still be innocent.

My thoughts would still be virtuous.

But that isn’t the case at all.

He looked.

He searched.

He gave me those eyes of mercy.

And then I fell. Hard.