Hold You Against Me(7)

By: Skye Warren

I look up at him. “Gio?”

His hand encircles my neck, forcing my chin up. He just rests his hand there, his palm flush against my skin. Not squeezing. Just holding. “Are you afraid of me?”

I tremble because of the pain in his expression, in his voice. I am afraid—for my sister, for him. I’m afraid I’ll break down and stay just so I can be near him, even if that means condemning my sister for life. But I’m not afraid that he’ll hurt me. “No.”

“You should be.” He leans forward and whispers in my ear. “I’ve done things you couldn’t imagine.”

A tear slides down my cheek. Whatever these things are, they cause him pain. I see it in him. I feel it. And he has no choice—no more than Honor has a choice.

“You’d never hurt me,” I say. My voice is wobbling because I’m hurting for him. But I mean every word. It’s not the first time he’s tried to scare me away. I’m not afraid of him.

The anger I feel in him slides away, replaced by something else. Desire.

His eyes are almost glowing in the moonlight streaming through the window. He removes his hand from my neck. His thumb brushes over my lips, back and forth. Back and forth.

My breath catches. Without even thinking, my lips part.

Then the tip of his thumb is pressing inside my mouth. He gently nudges my lips further apart. I don’t understand all that’s happening, don’t know everything he wants, but I know how to take his lead. This is just like kissing, except instead of his lips and his tongue, it’s his thumb.

He presses until his thumb is half in my mouth, and then it’s only natural to close my lips and suck gently. He makes a soft sound, like a grunt. It sounds like need. Like relief.

The texture of his thumb is rough on my tongue. I slide it against him. He makes a hissing sound and shifts his hips. I never realized my tongue has this much power. Just a flick and the large frame of him tightens.

Before I am ready, he removes his thumb. It’s still wet from my mouth when he rubs it along my lips, painting them, at first hot and then cold when he pulls away completely.

I feel like I’m in a trance when I stare up at him. He could ask me for anything, and I’d give it.

He knows that.

He leans forward and places a chaste kiss on my forehead. “Tomorrow,” he says. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Chapter Three

I stare at the wood paneling, holding my breath. I’m not sure what I think this is going to accomplish. Still, I can’t quite bring myself to knock. My father is waiting on the other side of that door.

Did he notice the cigars I took?

I’d be in trouble then. But even more trouble if he found out I’ve been sneaking out of the house.

My palms are damp, my breathing erratic. Once I knock on the door, I’ll hear my father’s voice. Come in. He answers that way every time. He’s said those words to me more often than my own name. The sound of him saying them is both comforting and scary.

When I got the summons to come downstairs, I considered going to my sister. I needed her to give me a hug and tell me everything is going to be all right. But she has her own problems to deal with, including a puffy eye and split lip.

And I’m old enough now to know those promises are empty.

She can’t make sure this turns out all right. Not for me and not for herself.

I take a deep breath and blow it out. Then I knock.

“Come in.”

Shock races down my spine. I can’t make myself move. I know exactly whose voice that is. Not my father’s.

The door opens in front of me. It’s not sweet, like when Giovanni does it. Not chivalrous. Byron looks impatient. “I said come in,” he snaps.

I jump, imagining that voice snapping at Honor, those hands hurting her. He doesn’t wait to see if I follow him—he already knows that I will. And I do, shutting the door behind me, a hollow feeling in my stomach. I regret not going to see my sister now, even though it wouldn’t have helped. In fact she might have insisted on coming with me as a show of support, and that would just get her hurt even more.

If anyone’s getting hurt now, it will be me.

“Sit down,” Byron says more calmly, perching on the edge of the desk.

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