Each day with Damien is a miracle, each moment with our children a gift. And yet I cannot escape the growing sense that a storm is gathering, threatening to pull me away, to rip us apart. To drag me down, once again, into a darkness to which I swore never to return.
I have to fight it—I know that. And I am waging the battle with of all my heart. But it is Damien who is my strength, and we both know that the only way to push away the darkness is for him to fold me in his arms and claim me completely. And for me to surrender myself, once again, to the fire that burns between us.
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“Please talk to me.”
“It’s work,” he says. He’s still holding my hand, and he releases it now to run his fingers through his hair. “Just some massive fuckery going on, and I’m trying hard not to bring that shit home.”
I almost tell him that the frustration that flows off him in waves pretty much defeats his good intentions, but I stay silent. The truth is that I really do understand. Or, at least, I think I do. He’s been working on an acquisition of a medical tech company for months. The deal recently went sour when the CEO turned out to be an asshole of the #metoo variety, and Damien started getting flack in the press about the fact that the deal would line the asshole’s pockets.
So I understand why he’s frustrated, but in the grand scheme of Stark International, walking away from one acquisition is a minor stumbling block. And that’s why I think that something else went sideways with the deal. Something he’s not sharing with me.
I lick my lips. “I love you so damn much,” I say. “But Damien, I …”
I draw a breath and try again. “You promised me no more secrets.”
He reaches out and cups my cheek. “Baby, I know.”
I swallow. Because knowing isn’t the same as telling. And I’m about to say so when he draws a breath, then speaks. “Nikki, I—”
The pain in his voice is palpable, and I cover his hand on my cheek with my own. My heart pounds against my ribcage as I wait for him to tell me what troubles him.
For a moment, silence lingers. Then he says, very simply, “I just need you.”
My chest tightens, and I want to scream that he can tell me. Whatever it is, doesn’t he know that by now? With everything we’ve been through together? Everything we’ve shared with each other? How can he not understand?
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