His fingers wrapped gently around my throat. The tip of his middle finger nearly touched his thumb as he slowly squeezed my breath away. He pulled me close, his molten lead eyes poured into me, the heat of them flushed up from my chest, spread up into my face, setting my cheeks ablaze.
A low growling sigh rumbled in the back of his throat as I gasped sharply. My toes barely touched the ground as he lifted me to his bowed face. For a moment it caught me between panic, *Is he going to kill me now?* and arousal, *He’s so close, why am I so hot and tingly?* His eyes trailed down to my lips, they parted slightly as he moved his thumb from my neck and barely brushed my lips. He paused in the middle of my bottom lip and slid his thumb down to my chin, pulling my lip down tenderly. His thumb flicked down my lip, back around my neck. His left arm encircled my body, pinning my arms to my sides. He kissed me slowly at first. Oh, so gently. Then he growled low in his throat as he deepened the kiss. His tongue thrust between my parted lips, deep and slow. His sweet, deliberate torture drew a tiny whimper of a moan from my throat and he swallowed the sound as he kissed me with strong, languid strokes of his tongue. My hands clenched tightly to his shirt, at first pushing away, but as the kiss continued, they pulled me in closer. My breasts pressed into his firm chest.
I melted away into his warm, dark embrace. I struggled weakly against the abyss, my logical mind drowning in an endless sea. It was warm and felt… somehow safe here, wrapped tightly in his strong, unyielding arms. All the fear that had built up disappeared entirely.
Desire welled up between my legs, and my body ached with yearning. A tightness grew deep within me, a need I was afraid of. My legs trembled and my breath caught in my breast. Flittering gasps managed to slip past his fingers, still gripped tightly ’round my neck. Eternity passed before the kiss ended; the taste of him lingered. As he relinquished my lips from the embrace of his, my eyes fluttered open. I couldn’t remember closing them.
His hand was no longer around my throat, both his arms surrounded me. Hugged me to him harder and harder until my chest constricted too tightly to draw a breath in, and he squeezed all the air from my lungs. His grip loosened and air shuddered back in. Every ounce of tension in my body melted away. A sigh escaped me. My body melted into his. My eyes drooped, then closed. It felt so… right…
My eyes flew open. Panic coursed through my veins, chilling the fire inside me. *Why do I feel so comfortable and safe in his arms? Shouldn’t I fight him? Run far, far away as fast as I can? He’s dangerous. He thinks killing is fun. How can I be attracted to someone like that? Someone like him.*
I shoved away from him with all of my strength. He loosened his grasp, to allow me some distance, but kept me encircled in his arms, trapping me still.
I felt hot, acid tears threaten to spill from my eyes. I knew they were getting darker and greener, burning with a rage drawn from panic. His tenderness frightened me to my core.
Every red flag flew and warning siren in existence blared inside my head. *No! NO, I can’t.*
“I can’t! I-” tears spilled from my eyes.
“Have I done something wrong?” Cain’s voice rumbled low, I could feel it in the palms of my hands. My head shook from side to side, trying to shake the tears away. “Why are you upset?”
“I just can’t… I can’t be with you…” my voice was barely a whisper.
“Why not? I know that you want to be with me. Why do you deny yourself?” He took my chin gently between his thumb and forefinger and lifted my face back up to his. His thumb moved and whisked a tear away from my cheek.
He was always so careful with how he touched me. His hand was calloused and rough, but so warm and gentle.
I felt myself lean into the caress. He held his hand firmly against the side of my head; I pressed my cheek into it. I wanted to stay there. But… I shouldn’t want to.
I still dangled from his embrace. He stood planted to the ground. “Put me down…” I spoke into his hand, my lips brushed his skin. He smelled so good… like campfire and rain all at once.
He lowered me to the floor by slowly dropping to his knees. My feet finally touched the floor again, and now I was almost as tall as him. He kept his arms wrapped around me, but gave me some room to move. “Let go of me.” The words barely made a sound as they slipped past my lips.
“I don’t think you want me to.” He whispered into my ear, his breath tickled my neck. And he was right… I didn’t. I didn’t want him to let go. I wanted to stay. I wanted to be with him. And that terrified me.
His arms loosened their grasp, his hands slid down and away to rest at his sides. My hands still clung to him. My fingers gripped his shirt tightly and wouldn’t let go. My brain struggled to fight the emotions welling up inside me. Fear of staying and abandonment. Desire to be loved, wanted. Lust, even. They all circled around and clashed together. I couldn’t sort my thoughts out.
A ragged breath rattled its way past my throat, tight with holding back sobs, and into my constricted chest. My arms straightened, shoving me away from him, but my fingers tightened their hold. My desires and fears tore me apart. A deep, burning ache grew in my chest, in my mind. It swelled and pushed against me. Split me in two. I wanted to stay. I had to go. I couldn’t do both. I wanted to do both. Why couldn’t I do both? Or at least make a choice… The divide in my mind widened, deepened. I couldn’t bear the pain in my heart. Anything would feel better than this. I slammed my forehead into his chest, the physical pain briefly numbed the agony inside me. Cain’s hands enveloped mine. They applied slight pressure, keeping my hands caged within them. *Maybe I belong h-* No! I can’t go there. I can’t do that… but…
“Stay with me.” His words were so tempting. Maybe…
Maybe… I could stay… if he-… if I-… with really strong boundaries and clear limits… it would be okay…maybe…
“If I stay… you have to respect all of my boundaries… if I tell you ‘stop’ or ‘no” I need you to listen and not push limits…” my words grew weaker as I spoke into his chest. Anxiety threatened to drown out my voice.
“I will listen.” A gleeful smile I could hear in his tone spread across his lips. “Have I pushed your limits yet?”
I stopped to think about his question. Had he pushed limits? Not really… a little bit… but as soon as I said stop he stopped. He liked to tease… and control… but always respected when I said no.
Still, I hesitated.
My mind jumped to a question. Did I really want to know the answer? No… but I have always been the curious cat.
“Cain…” my eyes flicked up to his. He smiled down at me, warmly… for Cain. My words faltered. I knew not to ask. “Why do you… enjoy…” no, nevermind.
“Killing?” He finished the question for me, it clung thickly to the air and hung heavily between us. “I would not ask questions you might not really want the answer to.”
“Oh.” I knew that was true… But … “I still want to know…” I lifted my head from his chest and peered up at him through my lashes.
His smile slipped away, revealing a cold, blank stare. “Killing people is like hunting the most difficult prey.. . I enjoy the challenge and the thrill of the hunt… especially with difficult targets. I enjoy pushing myself and at times there are moments where I might not win… I enjoy those the most.”
“Do you… think of me as prey..?”
“No.” His gaze pierced deep into me. His head tilted as he observed my face. “I think of you as my equal. As my soul mate.”
My eyelids fluttered rapidly, trying to blink away his words. His soul mate? No… I can’t be. His equal? I didn’t want to be. What did that say about me? That a murdering psychopath thought of me as his equal? There must be something deeply wrong with me… Maybe I do belong with him…
My eyes couldn’t meet his again. They flitted around, unable to find a decent place to settle.
“Why..?” Why did I need to know? *Stop asking stupid questions!*
“Why… what?” His voice drew my eyes back to his face. One eyebrow arched high above his dark eyes. “Why do I see you as my soul mate? Or why do I view you as an equal?”
“Both..?” *Shut up, stupid, stupid, stupid…*
“I see you as an equal because of what you are capable of. You can kill just as easily as I can, when you need to. I have seen that there is a beautiful brutality deep inside that you try to keep hidden. You do not have to hide that from me.”
“I don’t… like being like that… I don’t want to be like that… I hate that part of me.”
“It is a part of you, though. And I am not afraid of it. I understand it.” And that… that right there… that someone could not only understand the darkness deep in my soul, but could actually welcome it… meant so much more to me than I had realized.