33| Mothers and Matchmakers

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His words sparked a thrill through my body in a way that they shouldn't have, tethering the impulsivity of our lust together and creating a knot that couldn't be unbound. I could feel it simmering in the base of my stomach as his hands grasped greedily at my hips, his fingers callously curling towards the tops of my thighs, digging into my skin as his possessive touch stained my insides with too much warmth and far too much longing.

It was a compulsive move considering the current situation we were in, my family only a couple of feet away from us as Freddie did his best to try and feel me up. I squirmed in his hold even as my desire for him infiltrated my system, even as it tangled with our limbs and twined with our proximity. Even as it felt like my heart was going to tear through my fucking chest. It was such a simple move—a considerate one even, but his actions and his words should have been warning enough for me to get my shit together. Instead, for a moment, all I could do was bask in the feel of him beneath me.

The heat of his body managed to meld with mine so perfectly, my thighs pressing together and pressing against his, my ass flush against his—

No. No.

I wasn't going to go there.

He wasn't going to manipulate me into thinking about his dick.

I huffed out a breath, my hands tightening around the flimsy cardboard that was holding my food—pulling my thoughts away from something so volatile.

It was already confusing enough to me how a man as cruel as him could still feel so comfortable, and how the threat of his presence could unexpectedly turn so tender. In the past few hours, he had shown me a side to him that I didn't even think he was capable of—there was so much sweetness for someone so sinful, so much compassion for someone so cutthroat. There had to be an underlying motive to it all, there had to be a reason to why he was suddenly acting this way with me. Most of all, there had to be a reason to why he was hellbent on trying to make me feel something for him too.

I knew he didn't need my sympathy—neither did he deserve it, and yet I couldn't stop myself from the way I was becoming attached to him.

His dangerousness was a supplement to the harsh life that I lived, his unexpected kindness a surprising reprieve I should have been more open to savouring before the moments like these were taken away from me. Except, I wasn't naive and I had lived long enough to know that life had never been easy.

The paranoia of his presence was going to eat away at me until I could make sense of it all, but regardless of the ploy I was convinced he was putting in play—this wasn't the time or place for me to figure out any of it.

"My mother is watching you," I told him, my voice too meek for my words to be taken as a warning.

In truth, my mother had been watching this entire situation unfold—her giddiness a contrast to my irritation as I caught her gaze and pleaded with her to do something. Instead, she smiled coyly at the position I'd been pulled into by a man she'd only known for all but ten minutes, and when I expected her to say something to save me, she turned her head back to the tv like she hadn't seen a thing out of the ordinary.

If anything, I only had myself to blame for her reaction.

If anything, I had been the one to bring him into my home and subject her to his charm.

If anything, it was my fault I had ended up in his lap to begin with.

"I'm fully aware of your mother's watchful gaze," He murmured quietly, the deep tenor of his words shooting a shiver down my spine as I straightened it—alerting my body of just how dangerous this all could become. "It's exactly why I couldn't let you end up on the floor. All the effort I've made to be on my best behaviour for you, to leave a good impression for your mother, that would have been ruined—don't you think?" His hold on my hips tightened like he almost thought I would tear his hands away from me, like he thought his words would aggravate me enough to displace the control he had managed to gain over me. Although—in the end, all I could do was try to muster up the courage to accept my fate.

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