“What’re they, anywhmm?” I slurred, resting my head on the toilet seat. “The flowers.”
He scooped me in his arms with frightening ease, walking across the room, and dumping me onto the bed. I was stark naked, save for a skin-colored thong.
I heard him rummaging through the cabinets. My eyes fluttered open. Grabbing a first-aid kit, he produced a small bottle of medicine and a syringe, frowning at the tiny instructions on the vial as he spoke.
“Bleeding Hearts. Known for being beautiful, rare, and toxic.”
“Just like you,” I murmured. Was I seriously cracking jokes on my deathbed?
He ignored my riveting observation.
“You were about to poison an entire chapel, Emmalynne.”
“I’m Persephone.” My eyebrows pinched.
Funny how I could barely breathe, but I still managed to take offense at being confused with my sister. “And my sister’s name is Emmabelle, not Emmalynne.”
“Are you sure?” he asked without looking up, sticking the syringe into the bottle and drawing the liquid into it. “I don’t remember the younger one being so mouthy.”
I was filed under The Younger One in his memory. Great.
“Am I sure I am who I am, or what my sister’s name is?” I resumed my scratching, about as demure as a wild ogre. “Either way, the answer is yes. I’m positive.”
My older sister was the memorable one.
She was louder, taller, more voluptuous; her hair was the dazzling shade of champagne. Normally, I didn’t mind being overshadowed. But I hated that Kill remembered Emmabelle and not me, even if he got her name wrong.
It was the first time in my life I resented my sister.
Kill lowered himself to the edge of the bed, slapping his knee.
“On my lap, Flower Girl.”
“The word shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary with me.”
“Turns out I’m full of surprises.” My mouth moved over the linen. I knew I was drooling. Now that I was breathing better, I noticed the stench of puke from my breath.
I turned my head in the other direction on the bed. Maybe dying wasn’t such a bad idea. The man I’d been obsessed with for years was a massive prick and didn’t even know my name.
“I don’t care if I die,” I croaked.
“Ditto, sweetheart. Unfortunately, you’ll have to do it on someone else’s watch.”
His arms came around my body, and he draped me over his legs. My breasts spilled over his muscular thigh, my nipples brushing against his pants. My butt was aligned with his face, allowing him a perfect view. Luckily, I was too weak to feel embarrassed.
He eased the needle into my right buttock, slowly releasing the liquid into my bloodstream. The steroids hit my system immediately, and I sucked in a lungful of oxygen, my mouth opening against his thigh. I moaned in relief, my back arching. I felt a bulge nestling against my body. It was thick and long, splaying across most of my belly. That thing belonged in a rifle case, not a vagina.
And the plot thickens.
It wasn’t the only thing that did just that.
We stayed like this for ten seconds, with me regaining my breath, gulping precious air, and him picking the flowers from my hair with surprising tenderness. He disposed of the flowers inside a napkin, then folded it a few times. He put one hand on my butt cheek and pulled the syringe out slowly, causing ripples of desire to run along my body.
My head dropped to the bed.
I was shamefully close to an orgasm.
“Thank you,” I said quietly, pushing my palms up on the bed to rise. He plastered a hand over my back, lowering me down to lie across his lap.
“Don’t move. Your bath should be ready any minute.”
He had the eerie, irritating ability to treat me like dirt while saving me at the same time. Stuck in a state of drunkenness, gratefulness, and mortification, I followed his instructions.
“So. Persephone.” He tasted my name on his tongue, rolling my panties down my legs with his strong, long fingers. “Did your parents know you were going to be insufferable and punished you in advance with a stripper’s name, or were they on a Greek mythology kick?”
“My Auntie Tilda named me. She battled breast cancer, on and off. The week I was born, she got the all clear after her first round of chemo. My mother let her name me as a present.”
In hindsight, they were too quick to celebrate. The cancer came back in full force a few years later, claiming my aunt’s life. At least I had a few good years with her.
“They couldn’t say no.” Cillian tossed my panties on the floor.
“I love my name.”
“It means something.”
“Nothing means anything.”
I whipped my head to flash him an angry look, my cheeks hot with anger. “Whatever you say, Dr. Seuss.”
Cillian took off my heels, leaving me completely naked. He discarded me on the bed to stand up and turn off the faucet, then he took a seat on the edge of the bathtub.
“Lady-in-bath.” He swirled his finger in the water, checking the temperature.
I cocked my head from my position on the bed.
“That’s another name for the bleeding heart,” he explained aloofly. “Get in.”
He turned his back to me, allowing me some privacy. I stepped into the bath, sucking in a breath. The water was ice-cold.
Cillian texted on his phone while the arctic water soothed my skin. I was already feeling much better after the shot. Despite throwing up most of what I’d eaten and drank that morning, I was still lush. Silence stretched between us, punctuated by staff and event coordinators barking instructions beyond the suite’s walls. I knew that despite the awkward situation, I only had one chance to tell him how I felt. The odds were against me. Other than his erection at having me buck naked on his lap, he seemed turned off by my very existence.
But it was now or never, and never was too long a time to live without the man I loved.
“I want you.” I propped my head against the cool surface of the bath. The words soaked the walls and ceiling, and the truth filled the air, charging it with electricity. Using the L-word was too intimate. Too scary. I knew what I felt for him was love—despite his rude behavior—but I also knew he would never believe me.
His hands busied over his phone. Maybe he didn’t hear me.