“Let me go, Gael!”
“Never,” I growl. “You belong to me.”
I crush my mouth to hers in a bruising kiss. She bites my lip, hard. I taste blood but I don’t care. She can fight all she wants. Her body knows the truth.
Her defiance only makes me want her more.
My hands tremble as I shove clothes haphazardly into my bag, tears blurring my vision. I have to get out of here. Away from Gael’s obsession.
This was supposed to be a fun, no-strings vacation fling. Just two strangers using each other for pleasure, nothing more. But now…
I zip up the bag with fumbling fingers, heart pounding. I can still feel the ghost of his hands on my body, hear his gravelly voice staking his claim.
Mine. No matter how many times I said no, he refused to listen. He decided we were fated without my input, as if my opinion doesn’t matter.
I’ll show him just how much it matters. I’m not some possession for him to control.
I stomp to the door, my bag in hand. As I grasp the knob, a strong hand slams against the wood, holding it closed.
“Don’t do this,” Gael growls, voice rough with emotion. “I know you feel it too. This connection between us.”
I shake my head, eyes squeezed shut. “Let me go, Gael.”
His touch gentles as lifts my chin to meet his ardent gaze.
“Stay,” he whispers. “Give us a chance.”
My resolve nearly crumbles at the heartbreaking longing in his eyes. But then I remember his possessive grip, his talk of breeding, and I manage to harden my heart.
“I can’t. I’m sorry.” I pull away, walking out the door without looking back.
I quickly stride down the winding path leading away from the cabin, gravel crunching under my boots. I don’t stop, don’t look back, even as I hear the door slam open behind me.
“Halima!” Gael calls out, desperation lacing his voice.
I just keep moving, quickening my pace. My heart pounds as I focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
Behind me, his footsteps echo on the trail as he approaches. But still I don’t stop. There’s no going back.
“Please, mi cielo!” he yells, so close I can almost feel his breath.
The sound of my pulse throbs in my ears, drowning out his cries.
With trembling hands, I unlock my car door and throw herself inside. Tires spit gravel as I peel away, leaving a cloud of dust behind me. In the rearview mirror, I see Gael standing at the edge of the woods, hands fisted at his sides, growing smaller as I drive away.
The look on his face haunts me all the way home.
* * *
The car door slams behind me as I step onto the familiar pavement of my San Francisco neighborhood. But nothing feels familiar now. An emptiness fills my chest, my heart aching with a longing for Gael’s presence.
I climb up the steps to my apartment, assaulted by the sounds of traffic and distant sirens—a stark contrast to the peaceful chirping of birds and rustling of leaves at the cabin.
As I unlock my front door, snippets of our time together flash through my mind: