I fight an internal war daily as my desire for her spreads like a wildfire through me -my cravings to protect her just as powerful as my need to taste her, touch her. Never has anyone held this kind of power over my need to rule, but I would risk my power in a heartbeat to have her.
Regardless of the cost, I will have her. I’ll sacrifice everything to ensure it.
And, I’ll destroy anyone who stands in my way.
“You ready for this, gorgeous?” I ask, with unexplainable uncertainty.
She gives a forced smile and a tense nod of consent before looking away, but it isn’t enough for me. Moving my hand under chin, I gently turn her face back to me.
“Elianna, you’re safe with me. I can promise you, I’ll be close even if I’m not by your side. Do you trust me?” I inquire. She looks at me as if she’s weighing the question.
“Lucas, am I in danger?” she asks, trying to put the pieces together and avoiding my question. Smart girl.
“I don’t know, Sunshine, but I’m not willing to take the chance. There are too many unknowns and until I know anything with certainty, I want to be the one keeping you safe.”
“Why you? Why not the Nicchi family? Do you feel responsible for me because your brother isn’t here?” She interrogates. She’s right to question my motives. Trust is a betraying bitch and a mistake can get you or someone you love killed. I don’t trust anyone to have my back completely, and because of that I’ll never be able to stop looking over my shoulder. Eli is different though. She’s safe with me and I want her to trust me, but I know it’s a lot to ask of people like us so I understand.
Even if my motive to stand beside her at the service was initially for Matteo, that changed the second she let the shield of hers down. Elianna is strong, gorgeous, confident, and too smart for her own good, but once she showed me her vulnerability, I was done.
“Let’s just say I have trust issues, sunshine. That’s why it has to be me. I would’ve done anything my brother asked of me, but he wouldn’t have ever had to ask me to keep you close,” I tell her truthfully. It seems the harder I try to ignore the facts in front of me, the more they come back to slap me in the face.
“So I should just trust you, Lucas . . . with my life? What do you really want from me?” Her voice drifts to almost a whisper.
“Everything, Elianna. Every. Single. Thing. If you aren’t ready to trust me, I’ll wait. Until then though, I’m still going to be the one to keep you safe,” I pause, measuring her for a moment, before continuing. “I want you to give me a code word in case you need a second to regroup or want an out. What will it be?” I probe, not allowing my hand to fall from under her chin. Even this small connection somehow seems to be bigger than we are.
“Liability,” she answers, her voice sounding fragile. It’s the first outward sign of weakness she’s shown me, other than the minutes we shared at Matteo’s service, when I was her comfort and shield of support.
Her eyes betray her confidence, and the instinct to reassure her is too strong to avoid. I drop my hand from her chin and move it, wrapping my fingers around her tiny waist, letting my free hand mimic the same on her other side. I tug her a step closer to me. Bending my head slightly forward, I rest my forehead on hers so that we’re eye-to-eye. Earning her trust isn’t going to be easy, but it’s necessary.
“Liability,” I repeat, my tone gentle and still somehow apologetic. I’m not sure what I want more from her. There’s a part of me that wants to push her away and keep my distance, but on the other half, knows I’ll never get her close enough to satisfy my desires. I can’t let her be my weakness though. Men like me would never survive in this this life with weaknesses. Elianna deserves better, and I know it, but knowing and accepting are two completely different things.
~Meet the Author~
Felicia Lynn, author of The Learning Curve series and Heartstrings series, is a transplanted Florida girl, born and raised, who lives just north of Atlanta, GA. She spends most of her days holed up in a cozy chair with her laptop, writing about the characters that live in her head. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hanging out with her family and friends or interacting with her readers and fellow book lovers on social media! She loves traveling, reading, live music, baseball, good food and great company.
Felicia writes contemporary romance and co-wrote The List, a mystery/suspense book she collaborated on with professional poker player, Chris Bell.