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He pets me, and I sigh like a contented cat as I fall asleep—safe—in his arms.



I wake slowly,a smile spreading across my face. Maverick's arms are wrapped around me, his body pressed against my back. Last night was incredible. I've never felt so connected to someone. It's like our souls are intertwined. I want to wake up like this every morning, tangled in Maverick's strong embrace.

I carefully turn to face him, not wanting to disturb his sleep. His face looks so peaceful, his muscular chest rising and falling with each breath. I lightly trace my fingers across his tattooed bicep. A shiver runs through me as I remember how those arms held me so securely just hours ago. I feel safe with Maverick in a way I've never felt with anyone else before.

After a few minutes, Maverick's eyes flutter open. He gives me a sleepy smile. "Good morning, beautiful," he murmurs, pulling me closer. I melt into him, my lips finding his. The kiss deepens, our passion igniting once more.

A loud knock at the door breaks the moment. I groan in frustration. Maverick sighs, slowly untangling himself from me. "I'll get it. Stay here." I pout playfully as he pulls on his jeans.

After Maverick leaves, I stretch leisurely before climbing out of bed. As I walk to the bathroom, my foot kicks something on the floor. I glance down to see a white envelope. My name is scribbled across it in bold, black letters. Hands trembling, I pick it up and tear it open.

My blood turns to ice as I read the letter's contents. It's from Vincent. He knows intimate details about my schedule, my relationships, my innermost thoughts and fears. The letter is threatening, possessive, disturbing.

I sink to the floor, wrapping my arms around myself. How does he know so much about me? I feel exposed, vulnerable. Like he can see inside my mind. Tears spill down my cheeks.

In an instant, Maverick is by my side. "What happened?" His voice is urgent. I wordlessly hand him the letter. As he reads, his jaw clenches, his eyes flashing with anger. "Fuck," he growls. He pulls me into his arms, holding me tightly. "I'm sorry, Willow, You weren't supposed to see this, little songbird."

I shake my head. "It's not your fault."

"You're safe, Willow. I won't let him hurt you." Maverick's voice is fierce yet gentle. I cling to him, sobbing into his chest. He doesn't say anything, just keeps stroking my hair, anchoring me.

After some time, my tears subside. I take a shaky breath, comforted by Maverick's steady presence. He tilts my chin up, gazing into my eyes. "I've got you, Willow. I promise you. I won't let him get near you."

I manage a small smile, reaching up to caress his stubbled cheek. "I know," I whisper. "I trust you." Maverick pulls me close again, his body warm and solid against mine.

"Come on," Maverick says after a time. He lifts me to my feet and guides me to the plush couch in the dimly lit living room. I sink into the soft leather, my body weary from crying. He sits close beside me, his thigh pressed against mine. I lean into him, seeking his warmth and strength.

His arm comes around me, hand gently stroking my shoulder. The contact is electric, sending little sparks across my skin. I glance up at him through my lashes. His eyes are dark, filled with an emotion I can't quite name. Desire? Concern? Both?

"Talk to me, Willow," he murmurs, his voice a low rumble.

I take a shaky breath, comforted by his nearness. "I just...I feel so violated. The thought of him watching me, following me..." I trail off with a shudder.

Maverick's jaw clenches, his hand tightening on my shoulder. "That bastard won't get near you again. I'll die before I let him touch you."

His vehemence startles me. I search his face, seeing the sincerity in his eyes. Slowly, I nod, some of the tension leaving my body. If anyone can protect me, it's Maverick.

We sit in silence for a moment. Then, unable to resist, I lean forward, brushing my lips against his. Maverick inhales sharply, then his mouth claims mine in a searing kiss. My fingers tangle in his hair as our tongues meet, hot and urgent.

His hands slide down my back, pressing me against his hard chest. I moan softly, every nerve ending igniting. In this moment, it's just us, all my fears fading away. Maverick makes me feel wanted, As long as I'm with him, nothing else matters.

Maverick's hands are like fire on my skin as they slip under my shirt, tracing up my spine. I shiver at his touch, heat pooling low in my belly. Our kisses grow more frantic, both of us consumed by need.

With a low growl, Maverick lifts me onto his lap so I'm straddling him. The evidence of his arousal presses insistently against my inner thigh. I rock my hips, eliciting a ragged groan from him. His fingers dig into my waist, hard enough to bruise. The thought sends a spike of arousal through me.

"Willow," he rasps, his voice strained. "We shouldn't..."

But his protest dies as I capture his mouth again, nibbling at his bottom lip. "I want you," I breathe against his skin.

That's all the encouragement he needs. Deftly, he flips me onto my back on the couch, coming over me like a wave. His stubble scrapes my neck as his lips blaze a trail down to my collarbone. I whimper, clutching at him desperately.

We come together in a clash of passion and heat, losing ourselves in each other. Maverick fills me, his powerful body moving with mine as pleasure crests and breaks over us again and again.

Afterward, I lay curled against him, utterly spent. His heart thuds steadily under my palm. I've never felt as safe, or as satisfied, as I do in this moment. And I know Maverick will do whatever it takes to keep me protected. With him by my side, no stalker can touch me.

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