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“You want to hurt me, don’t you? You want revenge?”
“Yes.” She breathed.
“I’m going to reject you, Maddox. I can’t see any other way.”
“My gosh…” He put his head in his hands. “You’re serious.”
He opened his mouth, closed it, and shook his head. “Why haven’t you done it then?” His tone turned harder.
“I’m not finished hurting you. I haven’t even started.”
“So we’re enemies then?”
He smiled, catching her off guard, and causing her disquiet.
“Why are you smiling?”
His smile grew. “Was I?”
She got her feet. “See? This is why I hate you. You’re terrible.”
“Are you leaving then? Is your pain manageable?”
She hesitated. He stood and reached for her before she could think, taking her forearms in his hands. The pain was shoved back. She caught her lip between her teeth and fought to not moan. The only defense she had was to close her eyes and not look at him.
“You can hurt me, but I won’t hurt you. I’ve done enough of that already. I’m sorry about Selena. I did treat her badly. I wish I could take it back… But you don’t know me. You don’t know my family…I believe in us, Erin. I have hope.”
Her eyes snapped open. “I didn’t think you a fool, but you are. Why would you say that?”
“I trust destiny doesn’t make mistakes. So you go ahead and strike at me. I deserve it. I won’t dodge my guilt, and I won’t retaliate.”
“What about Melina?”
“It’s not quite as it appears…like a few other things you’re so sure of. There.” He released her and stepped back. “Same time tomorrow?”
“Fine.” She glared.
“I have something for you.”
“I’m not interested in gifts from the likes of you.”
“Sure. You’ve made yourself clear how you feel. And it’s not so much a gift as…a necessity I think. Hold on.”
She sighed and held still as he walked into the other room. He was back in a second, holding a small box and a watch.
“This is for you,” he wrapped the watch around her wrist. She was so taken with it she didn’t even think to object. The band felt like a second skin and snaked around her wrist like a flowering vine. The surface of the face trembled and the words Hello, Erin swirled in the middle. She touched it, scrolled through it.
“I’ve never seen tech like this.”
“It hasn’t hit the market yet. I had Tesla make it for you today. It’s connected to mine, in case you actually need me sometime. And you can’t delete or block me, so forget those thoughts. I can see you were already plotting.”
“Okay. I’ll keep it. Now I can at least respond with venom when you drunk dial me, like earlier.”
“I wasn’t drunk. Not from lack of trying. Getting burned repeatedly has a sobering effect.”
He handed her the box. “Don’t open it until you’re home. It’s a portal. It will connect your room to mine. Wait!” he grabbed her hand as she was about to throw the box. “You can close it on your end. I won’t be able to come through it unless you open it on your side. Even then, I won’t unless you ask me. My side will always be open to you.”
“This is pointless.”
“Oh? I thought it would make things more convenient for you. I can go where I want when I want. This way you don’t have to come on foot for our next appointment, since you’ve made it clear you don’t want me at your house…Just take it with you. You can think about it.”
“I’ll take it, but it will be a cold day in hell when I open it.”
He shrugged. “It’s yours. You decide what to do with it.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I meant everything I said. I’m going to hurt you. It’s not a game.”
“Oh no? Sounds like a game. And just because I said I won’t hurt you, doesn’t mean I won’t be making moves to achieve what I want. And here’s my first move.”
“What, the watch?”
“No,” he wrapped his hand around her wrist and pulled her closer. “If I was the person you’ve accused me of being, I would take you right now.”
Her eyes widened. “You wouldn’t…I’d fight.”
“You think so?” He moved in, his voice dropping. “I have the connection on my side. You’re already lit up for me. You can’t hide it, Erin. I feel it. Your body will tell me the truth, even when your mouth lies. If I was that person, I’d kiss you. I’d put my hands on you. You might fight, but I’d take you under in seconds, and you’d surrender. You’d fight me to give you more, like you did the first time.”
She trembled, trying to hold herself strong. He was right. “You’ve made it all about you. Your choice. Your power. You can’t ever have me like that.”
“No. I won’t ever have you like that. It’s not that I can’t.” He let go and stepped back from her.
She headed to the door and stopped. “Bad move, Maddox.”
“Go home.” His voice was cold and he turned his back on her.
She closed the door behind her, but she didn’t leave immediately. Fury slid molten under her skin. Was she in over her head with him? She faced the house again.
“I hate you!” she shouted at the door.
“Yeah, yeah,” he called back from the other side. “You’re mine.”
Oh! She wanted to kick things. She marched home, burning in more than one way. She would make him pay for that tomorrow.