“Lilah, you’re a guest in this room, as well as this house,” Lucas said. “You don’t have to turn down my bed. That’s not why you’re here.”
“No.” Lilah looked at the floor, avoiding his tender gaze. “I’m here because of the nightmare, which, I’ve basically put out of my mind. So, I think it’s time I start sleeping in my own room again.”
Lucas came toward her, taking her hands in his. He lowered his voice. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Of course it wasn’t what she wanted. Dear God, she wanted him to rip the nightgown from her body and kiss every last inch of her skin! But if she stayed with him another night, that was exactly what was going to happen. She was beginning to forget why it was a bad thing.
“Have I done something to upset you?” Lucas asked, brushing her face with the tips of his fingers.
Lilah shook her head, doing her best to ignore how warm he was making her feel. “Not at all. You’ve been wonderful to me, Lucas, nicer than any guy’s ever been. I just can’t stay in this room another night. I’m afraid if I do, that I’ll…”
“If you do, that you’ll what?” He tipped her chin, forcing it upward. It was the first time he’d ever been rough with her, or anything less than gentle for that matter. “You’re afraid I’ll take advantage of you?”
“Of course not. I—”
“Force you to be with me? Coerce you into a marriage and lock you away, like Lena believed I was going to? Maybe I haven’t changed, Lilah, and you saw what you wanted to in me to justify your own feelings. Go ahead. I won’t keep you when it’s obvious you’re no longer comfortable here.”
Her cheeks flamed with anger as she deliberately thought up the meanest thing she could say back. “Maybe you really are the monster everyone says.”
“If that’s true,” Lucas demanded, “then why didn’t it bother you last night? You’ve slept in my bed for two nights, not showing the slightest indication of fear. So why don’t you tell me the real reason you’re reluctant to stay here tonight?”
Lilah was dumbfounded. What could she say? That she couldn’t sleep in the same bed with him because she wanted him so badly it kept her up in the middle of the night? That she thought constantly of touching him, of inching her way against his body, of making the mistake she’d sworn she wouldn’t since the day they’d met?
“Do you think it was easy for me,” Lucas asked, his voice falling to a whisper, “lying next to you the last two nights, knowing you were right there and I could just reach out and touch your soft skin? No other man in his right mind would have undergone that amount of torture. Yet, I behaved like a gentleman. I did that because I care about you.”
His tone grew angered as he released her. “I can’t do it another night. If you stay with me, I won’t hold back. I’m giving you a choice. You can leave right now, and I’ll never pressure you about this again. It’ll be like it never happened.”
Lilah eyed the door, her last chance for escape. The sensible thing to do—the only thing to do—was leave, and never look back. But her legs remained in place. Her body ached with heat at the wicked thought of Lucas touching her, of him kissing her neck and throat, the sensitive spots behind her ears. She was dying for him to hold her against his body, to admire his broad chest. She’d never even seen him without a shirt.
“What are you waiting for?” Lucas asked impatiently.
Lilah took a deep breath. “I’m not leaving,” she said firmly.
“Then you leave me no choice,” he said and pressed his warm, open mouth against hers.