"I know I fucked up by keeping my marriage from you. In my eyes, it’s over, and has been for years. The only thing missing is a couple of signatures on a piece of paper. But still, I see now how that hurt you. It was a dick move." She nods, meeting my eyes. I lick my lips and continue. "But I don’t think that my past means all this has to come to an end."

"What are you proposing?" she asks, her voice is tentative and slightly breathless.

I want to fuck you. To dominate your days and nights, and occupy your every waking thought – just like you occupy mine. "I want you to stay."

Her brows pinch together as she quietly watches me. She’s not flat out rejecting the idea –it’s a start.

Sophie

I watch Colton sitting across from me, his tall frame neatly folded into the arm chair. His breathing remains deep and steady while my own heart thumps like a hammer, causing my chest to heave.

The truth is I have no idea what I’m doing here, why I’ve agreed to come. If I’m honest it’s because this man has some magnetic pull over me. I’m totally and completely unable to give him up, despite my intentions to stay away. And for some strange reason, I feel the slightest bit guilty that I'd walked out on our agreement before fulfilling my obligation. He never got what he paid for and that little detail is something I cannot easily forget.

He pulls a fortifying breath into his lungs and leans in slightly toward me. I know if he pulled me into his arms and kissed me, I’d be unable to resist and I find my gaze fluttering between his lips and his eyes as I wait for him to speak.

Finally, he does.

"I recall you saying that you liked having something of your own – living away from home and being independent for the first time," Colton says.

I remember the conversation well. It was one of the first times we sat down to a dinner prepared by his chef in the quiet dining room. I spoke too freely, bared too much of myself. But something in me likes that he remembers it with such detail. Not that I’m surprised, Colton exercises such authority over every facet of his life, of course he remembers.

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"And I think you know that I liked having you here," he admits.

I nod in silent acknowledgement. What is he saying? We can’t possibly continue dating, if that’s even what we were doing. He’s married. And he lied to me about it. Can I even trust him?

"And I know Kylie would love for you to come back to work with her."

"Colton?" I ask, finally, my brows pinching together.

"There’s no reason we can’t remain friends."

"Friends?" My voice comes out too high as the shock of his suggestion whips through me.

His dark eyes roam over my face and he gives a slight nod, his mouth only hinting at a smile.

I have no idea what game he’s playing at, but friends? Is that even possible for two people so attracted to each other?

As if reading my thoughts, Colton continues. "There’s no reason this needs to come to an end, Sophie. I enjoy your company, and I think you feel the same. You can continue living here, we can take things between us slowly while I sort out my past and see where this goes."

"And our arrangement?" I ask.

His impish grin lights up his entire face. "Friends, as in no sex. Our agreement is off."

My belly twists as I realize I am no longer a hired sex slave, and  an unwelcome sense of disappointment startles me. "I’m returning the money then."

"The money is yours. I never wanted to pay for sex, Sophie. I just didn’t want that asshole bidding on you at the auction to go home with you. You were too good, too pure and beautiful to belong to him." His admission takes my breath away. I feel helpless and out of control and I want to cry.

"I’ve spent a good chunk of the money on Becca’s treatment, and I have no way to repay you, but the rest I could return to you," I stammer.

"First off, I would never accept repayment. Had I known Becca before all this started, I would have gladly paid to enroll her in the experimental treatment program. And I’d never expect you to return the money."

"I don’t feel right keeping the remainder of the money."

"It’s yours to do with what you wish."

This conversation is like a game of ping-pong and my brain feels fuzzy.  "So how would this work?" I ask, shocked to see I’m actually considering it.

"You agreed to give me six months," he reminds me.

"I also agreed to give you my virginity," I add.

"But I didn’t take that."

"No, you didn’t," I agree. A fact that I’m painfully aware of.

"Are you still intact?" he asks, his tone raspy and deep.

A warm current zips through me, flushing my cheeks and soaking my panties. "Of c-course." My voice is hoarse and Colton’s dark eyes roaming on mine make it impossible to speak clearly.

I see the vein throb at the base of his throat. "Good girl," he admonishes.

I’d waited twenty-one years, did he really think I’d just thrown it away with some random guy in the two weeks we’d been apart? Why do I sense this is all some carefully crafted ploy to keep me here in his bed? "Where will I sleep?" I ask.

His mouth turns down just a fraction. "Wherever you like."

"A guest room I suppose," I say more to myself than to him as I think of his strange proposition.

"If you prefer."