He cursed out loud, the words falling harshly into the air about them. And then he cursed again.

He watched her head fall to the side, as if avoiding him.

‘Look at me,’ he commanded. Because he needed her to.

He needed to see it in her eyes. He needed confirmation of the suspicion that, if he was brutally honest with himself, had been creeping up on him since their second kiss.

‘Habibti,’ he said, softening his voice, smoothing over the harshness of his curses. ‘Look at me, please...’ He asked this time.

And when she looked at him he knew. He could see both the truth and the accusation in her gaze.

He made to withdraw, but her hand stopped him.

‘Don’t...please. Just...just a minute more,’ she requested.

And in that moment he probably would have given her the world, had she asked.

* * *

The pain receded as quickly and as suddenly as it had come. She felt him so deeply within her, filling her, joining with her in a way she had never imagined. She felt connected to him in a way that words and promises could never have done.

She flexed her hips experimentally and felt him jerk within her. He cursed again, and she almost smiled. She had never once seen her powerful, proud husband lose control enough to curse in such a way, and within the space of seconds he had turned the very air blue.

She felt him move, reaching further and deeper than before, but so very differently. The movement held none of the recklessness from before—none of the unleashed fury that had risen between them. It was almost caring and honest. And it was all the things that she didn’t want, because it would hurt so much more when this stopped and they were back to sniping at each other. She didn’t think she would survive it—not now that she knew he was capable of this.

She pushed herself up from the desk, still luxuriating in the feel of him inside her. He backed up, giving her room, and lifted the dress over her head and arms and tossed it aside. He circled his arms around her. And finally—after all this time, all the things he had done to her—they were skin to skin, her breasts pressed against the rough hair covering his chest.

His hands lowered and came around her bottom, bringing her closer, impossibly closer, and he was now completely and fully within her. She wrapped her arms around his broad chest, and there in his arms she felt safer than she had ever felt in her entire life. No matter what happened next, no matter what happened later that day, and the day after, and the day after that, they would have this moment. Nothing would take that from her.

He started to rock his hips towards her and she felt the tendrils of another orgasm reach out within her. Her breath came out in harsh gasps, and the sound of a cry—his or hers, she could not tell—wrapped itself around them, weaving a sensuality between them that far exceeded her wildest fantasies.

Every time he moved he pressed against the sensitive nerves at her core, exciting her both within and without. Eloise felt that she was once again on a precipice—on the cusp of something that was just out of her reach. It mirrored the feeling she’d had earlier that night, of how everything she had ever wanted was just beyond her, and she wondered whether with this man she might just find it.

She knew then that it was nothing to do with sex. It wasn’t completion, it wasn’t orgasm, and just before she could finish the thought—just before she could feel the ache and the pain of realising that it was his heart she was looking for, the one thing that he would never let her have—he drove her over the edge, taking her with him as they both found orgasm at the same time.

CHAPTER SEVEN

August 2nd, 02.00-03.00, Heron Tower

ODIR’S MIND WAS completely blank. He’d just been rocked by the most intense orgasm of his entire life, and yet somewhere in his mind coherent thought was trying to break through. But he didn’t want it to. He knew where those thoughts would take him and he wasn’t yet ready for them.

The stirrings of guilt and unease were persistent, though, and he knew he needed space—needed time that he simply didn’t have—to work through the revelations of the past few minutes.

His wife had been a virgin.

That was an inescapable fact. How had he got it so wrong? Had he got it wrong? Just because she’d been an innocent, it didn’t mean that she hadn’t somehow enticed his brother to behave so recklessly—hadn’t bewitched Malik to break his solemn oath to Odir. And it certainly didn’t explain why she had fled Farrehed for another country and effectively disappeared for six months.

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