Destiny Mine (Tormentor Mine #3)

Destiny Mine (Tormentor Mine #3)

Anna Zaires & Dima Zales

Part I



Warm lips press against my cheek, the kiss soft and tender even as day-old stubble rasps across my jaw.

“Wake up, ptichka,” a familiar accented voice murmurs in my ear as I mutter a sleepy protest and snuggle deeper into the pillow. “It’s time to go.”

“Hmm-mm.” I keep my eyes closed, reluctant to let go of my dream. It was a pleasant one for once, involving a sunny lake, a pair of romping dogs, and Peter playing chess with my dad. The specifics are already fading from my mind, but the light, euphoric feeling remains, even as reality, along with bitter awareness of the impossibility of the dream, is creeping in.

“Come on, my love.” He presses a gentle kiss to the sensitive underside of my ear, sending pleasurable shivers through me. “The plane is waiting. You can sleep on the way home.”

The last of the dream fades, and I roll over onto my back, suppressing a wince at the lingering soreness in my left shoulder as I open my eyes to meet my captor’s warm, silver gaze. He’s leaning over me, a tender smile curving his sculpted lips, and for a moment, the euphoric lightness intensifies.

We’re alive, and he’s here with me. I can touch him, kiss him, feel him. His face is leaner than before, hollowed out by stress and sleep deprivation, but the weight loss just enhances his stark male beauty, sharpening the slant of those exotically angled cheekbones and highlighting the strong line of his jaw.

He’s gorgeous, this assassin who loves me.

My husband’s killer, who’ll never set me free.

My chest tightens, my joy tainted by the familiar squeeze of self-loathing and guilt. Maybe there will come a day when I won’t feel so conflicted, so torn about needing the man looking at me like I’m his heart, but for now, I can’t forget what he is and what he’s done.

I can’t let go of the shame of knowing I’m falling for my tormentor.

Peter’s smile fades, and I know he senses my thoughts, reads the guilt and tension on my face. For the past two weeks, ever since I woke up here at the clinic, I’ve been avoiding thinking about the future and dwelling on what led to the crash. I needed Peter too much to push him away, and he needed me. This morning, though, we’re returning to his safe house in Japan, and I can’t hide my head in the sand any longer.

I can’t pretend the man I’ve been clinging to like he’s my lifeline doesn’t intend to keep me captive for the rest of my life.

“Don’t, Sara.” His voice is deep and soft, even as the warm silver of his gaze cools to icy steel. “Don’t go there.”

I blink and smooth out my expression. He’s right: now is not the time. Pushing up onto my right elbow, I say evenly, “I should get dressed. If you’ll excuse me…”

He straightens, giving me space to sit up. Grateful for my hospital gown, I slither out of bed and hurry to the bathroom before he changes his mind and decides to have the discussion after all. We do need to talk about what happened—the confrontation is long overdue, in fact—but I’m not ready for it. Over these past two weeks, we’ve been closer than ever, and I don’t want to give that up.

I don’t want to go back to seeing Peter as my adversary.

As I brush my teeth, I study the diagonal scar on my forehead, where a shard of glass left a long gash. The plastic surgeons at the clinic did a good job fixing what could’ve been a disfiguring mark, and with the stitches out, the scar is already looking less angry. In another few weeks, it’ll be a thin white line, and in a couple more years, it might be completely undetectable, like the faint bruises that still decorate my face.

By the time the child Peter wants to force on me is old enough to notice and ask questions, there should be no traces left of my disastrous escape attempt.

My breath seizes at the thought, and I press my hand against my stomach, counting the days with growing dread. It’s been two and a half weeks since we had unprotected sex during a potentially fertile window, which means my period should’ve started a few days ago. Between the surgeries and the drugs, I wasn’t paying much attention to the calendar, but now that I’m doing the math, I realize I’m late. Not so late that I have to go into complete panic mode, but late enough to seriously worry.

I could already be pregnant.

My first impulse is to rush out, find the nearest nurse, and demand a blood test. I’m sure they tested me for pregnancy two weeks ago, when I was brought to the clinic after the crash, but the first traces of hCG in my bloodstream wouldn’t appear until seven to twelve days after conception. I undoubtedly tested negative, and they would’ve had no reason to test me again.

No reason except that my period is now late.

I’m already reaching for the doorknob when I stop myself. The minute I take that blood test, Peter will know. He’ll have access to the results before I do, and something in me recoils at the thought. I’ve had no choice, no control over anything in our relationship thus far, and I need to feel like I do, even if it’s only in this one instance.

If there’s a child, it’s growing in my body, and I want to decide when to share the news.

It’s not a rational decision, I know. Peter isn’t stupid. He can also count the days. If he hasn’t realized my period is late yet, he will soon, and then he’ll know he’s won, that for better or worse, we’re bound together by the bundle of cells that might already be growing inside me.

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