27| Trust and Tenderness

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He held out his hand for me to take, my palm slipping into his before I could think through what I was doing. It was an instinctive move, the connection between us sparking with the tenderness of our thoughts, the roughened feel of his hands brushing against the softness of my skin as his fingers clutched around my acceptance.

It was an odd thing to have him holding onto me like this, standing near the front of a supermarket in the shadows of the night, knowing with unwavering certainty that he had never done anything like this with anyone else before.

I'd be a liar if my heart didn't lurch under the gentleness that had suddenly appeared between us, the vulnerability of his words echoing inside the hollow parts of my ribcage, tumbling with a familiarity that tied us together like a thread. There was so much understanding in his gaze and it warmed me to the core, the harsh features of his face settling slowly with his sympathy as I came to terms with the tension that tightened around my own heart.

I had seen the edges of this feeling before, he had kept it guarded as much as he could—hiding behind his aggression and his authority, dipping his hands into his well of hate as he did his best to smother the compassion he held in default towards the ways in which he wanted me. I had wanted to believe that his treatment of me didn't hold a deeper meaning, wishing that if I didn't give a reason for his actions that then I could hate him just as everybody else did—except that wasn't the case, and I was a coward for even trying.

My heart fluttered as his grip pulled along the length of my arm, helping me out of his car and then tugging me to his chest. He made quick work of closing the door behind me, engaging the locks as the succinct beeping echoed around us in the air. For a moment, I held my breath as I wondered what he would do to me next, how he would manipulate my feelings to warp around whatever he wanted from me—expecting the pain of everything because that was what I was used to. From life, from family, from him.

Logic was screaming at me to pull away, to create some distance between us, but my hands had a mind of their own.

There was something that drew me to him, something that I couldn't control—something that I didn't know how to describe with words. My touch was tentative as my palms curved around his sides, clinging to him like my soul knew something that I hadn't earnt the right to know just yet. My heart jolted as I felt his sharp intake of breath, our bodies brushing together as a shiver shuddered down my spine, the cold air picking up in strength around us.

"Lola—" His voice tethered, filling with the same ache that was thrumming through my veins. "Do you even know what you're doing to me right now?" He whispered, his own hand moving to my face as he clasped my chin, using his fingers to tilt my head so that my attention was focused solely on him.

My anger had washed away now, twisting into something that felt like affection as I watched the way his mouth curved into a sweet smile.

My breath caught in my throat as I fought back the urge to trace his lips with mine, to remember every line and bury it all into my memories.

When he looked at me like this, it was easier to forget the reality of who he was—easier to find myself falling for all the things that could be, but even still, my mind wasn't the easiest to convince when it came to letting go of my inhibitions, especially when it was being enticed by someone as dangerous as him.

"Maybe I might have misunderstood your hunger before, especially now that you're looking at me like you want to fuck me." He chuckled as his thumb tugged at my bottom lip, "Shall we play our game again, Lola—the one where you tell me how you want me to touch you?" My breathing stagnated as I took in the promise of his words, his other hand moving around my waist before it rested over the curve of my ass.

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