Fuck. No, that wasn't right. Good. Her having a boyfriend was good.
Canaan stayed quiet, watching her. He planted his feet and crossed his arms over
his chest, and she kept looking, as though maybe she liked the way that position
stretched the short sleeves of his tee over the bulge of his biceps or something.
The effect was entirely unintentional, not like when she’d done the same and put
her damn breasts on display for him.
Anyway, she shouldn't be looking. She had a boyfriend.
She acted like that was supposed to mean something to him. “Yeah?”
“He wants to have sex.”
Quelle surprise. Unless he was a fucking eunuch.
Wait. Maybe he’d get to kill the dude.
She walked closer, just a little into the light. She stood at the side of his favorite
recliner and rubbed her fingers over the leather on its back.
He could imagine those fingers moving over his skin in the same way.
Then she shamed him by looking up into his eyes and letting him see—fear, hurt.
Shit. He was pretty sure he didn't want to hear this.
“I haven’t had sex with anyone since…”
He finished for her, compelled against his will to put her out of her misery. “Since
you were raped as a child?”
“It wasn't rape.”
“Yes, it was, Josefina. Unless he was fifteen, too. And likely even then.”
She wrapped her arms around herself again, but it was defensive this time. She
wasn't yanking his chain with it. Looking at her feet, she shook her head. “Thirteen.
And he wasn't.”
Jesus. “Was it incest?”
She shook her head again. “Not exactly. He was my mother’s boyfriend.”
Unsurprised, he nodded. Feeling the tug of it, he was pretty sure she’d never told
another soul. Except perhaps her worthless piece of shit mother, who clearly hadn't
put herself out to protect her daughter. Obviously, it had gone on for years.
“Do you still have to see him? Face him?”
“He comes ’round my mother sometimes. If she’s got drugs or booze and he
doesn't. I don’t go there anymore. I don’t…see my mother.”
Sef looked a lot like she needed a hug, but it was entirely possible that the last
thing she wanted would be a man’s touch. And he’d be the last guy to offer one.
Still, his fingers flexed. They wanted to hold her. Or kill the bastard who’d hurt her—
one or the other. Both, really.
He took a deep, steadying breath. “Is your boyfriend pressing you?” ’Cause maybe
that one could still use killing, too.
She was quiet for a minute. “Trevor. No, but…” She chewed her lip, then looked up
at him. Didn't lift her head, but merely peeked up from under her lashes. “I wanted
to ask if you would…”
Suddenly, he was dead certain he didn't want to hear what was coming.
“If you would…make love to me.”
“Christ. You’re an idiot.” He tore his fingers through his hair, then walked away
from her. He left her there in that circle of light and went to stare out into the dark.
Except his gaze didn't go there. It focused on the pane instead. Where he could
see her reflection—her back still turned to him, her head still bowed.
After a long silence, she turned and raised her head. “It would mean a lot to me. I’d
really like to know… I’d like to try it with someone I can trust.”
He looked into the reflection of her eyes. “If you can’t trust Trevor then you
shouldn't be thinking of doing what you’re thinking of doing with him.”
She walked over and stood behind him, enough to the side that their gazes could
connect in the glass. “I have to, sometime. I want to. I want to know if…if I can be
normal that way.”
Canaan dropped his head and pressed, forehead and palms, against the window.
“I want it to be you, Canaan.”
He shook his head. It was possible his whole body shook.
“I’m not the right man for that. It’s crazy anyway, but even if it wasn't, I’m not the
“I think you are. You’d be gentle.”
He let out a breath in a scoff.
She touched his shoulder. “You’d stop if I needed you to.”
Not fucking likely. Canaan pulled away and crossed the room, as far away as he
could get, into the dark. He was silently pleading with his dick to stay put. “It’s not
gonna happen. Sef, you’re crazy to think it.”
Canaan Liberty may spend some time in Nashville picking up
awards for the country music he writes, but his buddies just know
him as the farm hand for a herd of goats. To say the least, his
reentry from the war in Afghanistan, where he was wounded in
more ways than one, has been rocky. The fact that he’s writing
songs, even that fact that he has buddies again, are signs that he’
s getting better.
What Canaan doesn’t need in his life is Josefina Claire. Seffie is
also wounded—left uncared for and unattended at age thirteen,
she was victim to a predator. Seffie is bright and sweet and hot,
and, maybe, she’s getting better, too. But Canaan knows this: two
wounds don’t make a right.
Seffie sees past their pain when she looks at Canaan. She sees
someone to love. When Canaan resists, she’s willing to use a
little subterfuge to get what she wants. But Canaan is determined
to protect her from the danger he believes he represents.
Then real danger is back in Seffie’s life—the predator from her
past. Canaan has the skills to protect her. And Seffie has the love
to keep him from losing himself in the dark again as he does.
When it’s over, Canaan can’t hold back from giving Seffie what
she wants, what she deserves: a better man.
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