SUN FILTERED INTO THE elegant master bedroom, waking up Sarah Olivia Adler on a bright Saturday in March. She stretched, a smile spreading across her face as she recalled the events of the previous night.

Alexander loved her, and she loved him. She was able to say those three words that had scared her most of her life. Her heart felt as if it would explode when the image flashed through her mind of Alexander dropping down on one knee, asking her to be his wife. It all made perfect sense. The dream she had all those months ago in Newport that scared her to death, causing her to flee, was suddenly clear. She firmly believed that her mama was sending her a message, from wherever she was, with that dream. Once Alexander sang that song, the song Olivia remembered so well from her childhood, the song her mama was singing in her dream as she danced with the green-eyed boy, she knew it was meant to be. She knew it was useless to fight it anymore.

“Thank you, Mama,” she whispered, glancing at the large diamond on her ring finger. Turning over, she reached her arm across the mattress, surprised when all she felt was the cold of the bed. Alexander wasn’t there.

She looked at the clock on the nightstand and sat straight up. It was almost noon! Olivia couldn’t remember the last time she had slept the entire night and woken up so late. She grabbed Alexander’s white suit shirt that he had been wearing the night before and threw it on, remembering the first weekend she stayed with him and how turned on he got when she walked around wearing his clothes. She barely recognized the girl she was all those months ago, and she knew that she had Alexander to thank for finally breaking down her walls.

After pulling her wavy brown hair into a messy bun, she made her way downstairs, searching for her fiancé. An infectious smile crossed her face when she spotted him sitting at the breakfast bar, drinking his coffee and reading the newspaper. She sauntered up to him and kissed him full on the lips as he slinked his arm around her slender waist.

Alexander closed his eyes and moaned, pulling her against his body, and slipped his hand under the shirt she wore. “I love the feel of your skin, Olivia,” he said quietly.

Her eyes became aglow at his affectionate words and she curved toward him, her lips poised on his. “And I love it when you feel my skin, Alexander,” she replied, kissing him once more.

“You look hot,” he commented, his voice raspy and sexy. “I like you in my clothes. Coffee?” He ran a finger up and down Olivia’s spine, causing her to shiver before pulling back.

“I can get it. You sit,” she replied, giving him a quick kiss on his neck and walking around the kitchen island. She grabbed a mug and made herself a cup of coffee before returning to the breakfast bar and sitting next to him.

“So, there are a few things we should probably discuss.” His voice was firm as he turned to her with an austere expression on his face.

“What’s that?” Olivia asked, raising her coffee mug to her lips.

“Have you spoken to my sister?” He lifted his eyebrows, already knowing what her response would most likely be.

She hid her eyes from him, recalling how she had spent the past several days since running out on Alexander after he declared his love for her. “No, I’m sorry. I just kind of ignored life this week.”

He exhaled loudly. “I figured as much.” He took a sip of coffee. When he put his mug down, a stern look crossed his face, his vibrant green eyes intense.

Crap, Olivia thought to herself.

“Well, Simon was released from prison yesterday.”

“So, let me guess,” she said loudly, standing up from her barstool. “Now you’re going to assign an army to watch me? Is that what this is about, Alex?” She glared at him, her hands on her hips in irritation.

“Hey. Relax,” he responded, caressing her arm. “That’s not what this is about at all.” His eyes pleaded with her not to be upset.

She stared at him for several long moments before a small smile crossed her expression. How could she stay mad at that adorable face? Her aggravation waning, she sat back down and waited for him to continue.

He raised his hand and pushed an errant curl that had fallen out of her bun behind her ear, gently brushing her forehead where her scar was. “I know I can be overbearing at times…”

“Ya’ think?” Olivia interrupted with a sarcastic tone.

“Don’t get fresh with me,” he growled into her ear. “Or I’ll teach that mouth of yours a lesson.”

His words sent a primal desire through her body. All she could do was stare at him with her mouth open, thinking how much she wanted him to teach her a lesson. Moisture pooled between her legs at the thought.

“I’m just trying to keep you safe, Olivia. That’s all,” he said, immediately switching from the passionate lover to the concerned fiancé. “I protect the people I care about who are important to me. That’s why I need to be in control…to keep everyone close to me safe. You’re the most important person in my life.” Grabbing her chin, he forced her to look him in the eyes to see the truth in his words. “So if I’m overbearing at times, I apologize. I just want to make sure that nothing bad happens to you.”

“I’m sorry,” she responded, her voice husky. She wondered if Alexander would always have that effect on her. She loved how caring and compassionate he was. Guilt spread through her conscience for jumping down his throat about protecting her when all he was trying to do was keep her safe from someone who had a history of attacking her. She knew he had issues with control. She guessed it went back to his childhood when he lost his friend all those years ago. He had admitted how helpless he felt after her death.

“So, back to Simon.” He cleared his throat, releasing his grasp on Olivia’s chin. She took a sip of her coffee and listened. “Like I said, he’s out of prison. You probably have a notice sitting in your mailbox about all of this. Anyway, the protective order has been lifted. He is free to contact you if he wants.”

Olivia glanced at Alexander, his face weary.

“Do you understand what that means, love?”

“It’s just a piece of paper anyway, Alexander. Even if it hadn’t been lifted, it wouldn’t change anything. If he really wanted to see me, that protective order wasn’t going to stop him,” she said, withholding from him that Simon had already violated the protective order not even a week after he was arrested for attacking her back in August.