Authors: BETH KERY
Because You Are Mine
PART I: BECAUSE YOU TEMPT ME
PART II: BECAUSE I COULD NOT RESIST
PART III: BECAUSE YOU HAUNT ME
PART IV: BECAUSE YOU MUST LEARN
PART V: BECAUSE I SAID SO
PART VI: BECAUSE YOU TORMENT ME
PART VII: BECAUSE I NEED TO
Berkley Sensation titles by Beth Kery
Berkley Heat titles by Beth Kery
One Night of Passion series
ADDICTED TO YOU (WRITING AS BETHANY KANE)
EXPOSED TO YOU
One Night of Passion eSpecials
BOUND TO YOU
CAPTURED BY YOU
Because You Are Mine
Because I Need To
InterMix Books, New York
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
BECAUSE I NEED TO
An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author
InterMix eBook edition / September 2012
Because You Are Mine
Copyright © 2012 by Beth Kery.
Copyright © 2012 by Beth Kery.
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Ian unbound her, then gently helped her out of the harnesses, still raw from shattering climax and a brew of emotion he couldn’t quite identify. When her feet touched the floor, he immediately took her into his arms, wincing in pleasure at the sensation of her silky naked skin pressed against his.
He placed his hand on her jaw and tilted her face up to his. He kissed her deeply, wondering how he could feel so much driving, almost harsh, desire for her and this swelling tenderness all at once. Had he been too hard on her? She was so soft, so feminine, so exquisite, he thought dazedly as he caressed her firm, taut curves. He’d been gauging his reaction from hers. When she’d squeezed his cock rhythmically as she whimpered in orgasm minutes ago, he’d hardly thought of her as delicate.
She was a mystery to him—a compelling, tormenting, sweet one that he couldn’t resist.
He lifted his head a moment later and grabbed her hand. He shut the door behind them as they left the room, and then led her to the bathroom. Without speaking, he opened the glass door to the steam shower and twisted the handle. When the temperature was comfortable, he stepped aside and nodded for her to get in. He followed her, shutting the door behind them.
She seemed to have caught his subdued mood, because she said nothing as he meticulously washed her beautiful body in the minutes that followed. He felt her gaze on him, though, as his lathered hands whisked over satiny skin. Steam curled around his knuckles as he washed . . . worshipped. A small part of him still wanted to withdraw like he had in Paris, when he’d been so overwhelmed by her sweetness and generous response.
The experience tonight had choked his defenses, though, making it impossible for him to maintain his sanity and resist her.
He washed himself in a much more cursory, if thorough, fashion and shut off the water. After drying them both with a towel, he again took her hand and led her to his bed. He whipped back the duvet and turned to her, releasing the clip on her hair. The heavy weight of it fell, tumbling around her shoulders and back. His fingers immediately furrowed into the silky, unbound glory.
Her large dark eyes made something clench tight inside his gut.
“Get into the bed,” he murmured.
She lay down, curling onto her side, her front facing him. He came down next to her, his belly brushing against hers, and whipped the sheet and cover over them. He stroked the silky length of her hip as the heavy, pregnant silence settled upon them. Neither of them spoke for a moment or two, even though he sensed her alert attention on him.
Then she touched his mouth with soft fingertips. He closed his eyes, trying and failing to shelter himself from a rising tide of unwanted but unstoppable feeling.
He rarely allowed a woman to touch him so intimately, but he let Francesca. Her eager, searching fingertips tormented him for the next several minutes as she charted his face, neck, shoulders, chest, and belly. When she gently scraped a nipple with her nails, he hissed in a burst of sublime pleasure. He held her stare as she wrapped her hand around his cock a moment later.
Her touch was so gentle. Why did it feel like she ripped a bandage off a wound deep inside him when she began to move her arm, pumping him?
Unable to take anymore of her sweet torture, he twisted around and located a condom in the bedside drawer, longing for the day when Francesca had been on the pill long enough, when he could be inside her naked.
A moment later, he lay on top of her, their bellies heaving against each other in tandem, his cock fully sheathed in her warm, clasping pussy. He opened his clenched eyelids and saw her staring up at him.
“Do I wrong you, Francesca?” he demanded toughly.
She didn’t answer for a moment, but he knew from the somber expression in her eyes that she understood he’d meant not just tonight but everything—his inability to resist this vibrant, talented, beautiful woman despite the fact that he’d inevitably taint her brilliance with his darkness . . . eventually make her turn away in hurt.
The thought of seeing rejection of him on her beautiful face sliced at him deep.
“Does it matter?”
A spasm clenched his facial muscles at her soft reply. He began to move, fucking her with long, thorough strokes, shuddering at the distilled blast of pleasure.
. It didn’t matter.
He couldn’t stay away from her, no matter the consequence to her . . . or to himself.
* * *
After they made love again, he held her and they talked like lovers—or at least that’s what Francesca suspected lovers talked like, not having any experience herself. It was a heady experience, listening to him talk about his childhood growing up at Belford Hall, his grandfather’s estate in East Sussex. She wanted to ask him about what his experience had been like with his mother in northern France—surely it had been a night-and-day experience in comparison with the luxury and privilege of an earl’s grandson—but she couldn’t muster the courage.
She anxiously brought up the topic of Xander LaGrange again. Ian was adamant, however, that her behavior hadn’t been the primary issue with the business deal going sour.
“It was just the final straw,” Ian said. “I hated having to court him in order to get that software. I’ve always despised him, ever since I was seventeen years old. It grated, having to smarm up to him. I’ve been avoiding meeting with him in person for weeks now.” He blinked as if in memory. “Actually, I was supposed to meet with him that first night we met, the night of your cocktail party at Fusion. I asked Lin to cancel.”
Her heart jumped at that. “I thought you looked annoyed when Lin approached you at Fusion because you didn’t want to have to waste time with meeting me.”
He nudged her chin softly as she looked up at him. “Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know. I just imagined you had a lot better things to do than meet me.”
His low chuckle warmed her. He pressed gently on her head, and she contentedly rested it back on his chest.
“I don’t say things I don’t mean, Francesca. I had been looking forward to meeting you ever since I saw your entry painting and recognized you as the artist who painted
,” he said, shortening the name of the painting that hung in his library . . . the painting she’d inadvertently done of him. She pressed her mouth to his skin and kissed him, thrilled to the core by this little revealed truth. His fingers tightened in her hair.
“But what will you do about the software you need for your start-up company?” she asked after a moment.
“I’ll do what I should have done to begin with,” he said briskly, his fingertips massaging her scalp, making her shiver in delicious pleasure. “I’ll design my own. It’ll be an effort, and it’ll take extra time, but I should have gone that route to begin with instead of bothering with that ass. It’s never good business to deal with a man like LaGrange. I’d been kidding myself.”
Later, she told him about when she first began to understand she was an artist, during a camp for overweight children when she was eight years old.
“I didn’t lose a pound at that camp, much to my parents’ dismay, but I learned that I was an ace at sketching and painting,” she murmured, lying still with her head on his chest and feeling content and drowsy as Ian stroked her hair.
“Your parents seemed obsessed with your weight,” he commented, his deep voice vibrating up through his hard chest and tickling her ear. She stroked his biceps with curious fingertips, wondering at how dense and hard the muscle was.
“They were obsessed with controlling me. My weight was one of the few things they couldn’t manipulate.”
Did his muscles tense when she said that?
“Your body became a battleground,” Ian said.
“That’s what all those psychologists used to say.”
“I can just imagine what those same psychologists would say about you becoming involved with me.”
She lifted her head from his chest and met his stare. The lighting was at a dim setting in his bedroom suite. She couldn’t quite make out his expression.
“You mean because you’re so controlling?” she asked.
He nodded once. “I told you that I practically drove my former wife over the edge.”
Francesca’s pulse began to throb as she stared at his stark male beauty. She knew how rare it was for him to speak of his past. “Did you . . . did you care about her so much that you were always worried about her well-being?”
She blinked at his rapid, absolute response. He winced slightly and glanced away. “I wasn’t in love with her or anything, if that’s what you’re asking. I was twenty-one years old, still in college, and a fool for having gotten involved with her. I’d had an argument with my grandparents at around that time. A big one. We hadn’t spoken for months. I suppose I was a little vulnerable for the possibility of being blinded by a woman like Elizabeth. I met her at a fund-raiser at the University of Chicago—one that my grandmother happened to attend while trying to mend fences with me. Elizabeth was a gifted ballet dancer who came from an affluent American family. She was taught to crave the type of status my grandmother represents.”
“And you,” Francesca said softly.
“That’s what Elizabeth thought at first—before we married and she actually got to know me, and she came to realize what a mistake she’d made. She wanted a prince charming and got stuck with a bastard devil,” he said, a small, mirthless smile twisting his mouth. “Elizabeth may have been a virgin, but she was far from innocent in the art of getting what she wanted. She designed to snare me in her trap, and I was stupid enough to let her.”
“She . . . she got pregnant on purpose?”
Ian nodded, his gaze flickering over her face. “I know a lot of men say that, but in our case, it was a proven truth. After she became pregnant and we married, I discovered her old pill packs in the bathroom. She appeared to be taking them very irregularly. When I confronted her about it, she admitted that she’d stopped taking the pill once we began seeing each other. She claimed it was because she wanted to have my child, but I didn’t believe her. Or I should say, she did want to become pregnant in order to marry, but I don’t believe she truly wanted the experience of motherhood.”
She experienced a sinking feeling. “Aren’t you worried about the possibility of me doing the same thing? With the birth control, I mean?”
“Why are you so certain?” Francesca asked, although warmth flooded her at his quick, confident reply.
“Because I’m a much better reader of character at thirty than I was at twenty-one,” he stated dryly.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “So what happened after you confronted Elizabeth?”
“I was convinced she would do something to harm the child once I discovered how she’d manipulated me. The pregnancy had served its purpose. We were married. She was very beautiful, physically anyway, and a dedicated dancer. Despite her need for a pregnancy, I think she despised the idea of what it would do to her body . . . how it would change her life. She was hardly the maternal type. I thought she might do something to end the pregnancy. I wouldn’t have put it past her, anyway.” He met her stare steadily. “It wasn’t Elizabeth I was so worried about protecting. It was the child she carried. So yes, I did become overly controlling. You know how I can be.”
“But you said once that she tried to blame
for the loss of the child,” she recalled.
He nodded. “She said it was because I rode her so hard about taking care of herself, because I was so controlling about her daily activities and schedule. She felt I restricted her freedom . . . made her a prisoner to my anxiety. She was undoubtedly right about that. It’s what I do when I care about someone, and I cared about that child.”
“Even so, that doesn’t sound like a viable reason for someone to lose a child. One out of five women miscarry, right? Why couldn’t it have just been a natural thing versus something
did?” Francesca asked, puzzled and little annoyed with this Elizabeth. She sounded like a manipulative wimp.
“We’ll never really know for certain. It doesn’t matter anyway,” he said.
Francesca thought it
matter—very much. It related to why he considered himself so tainted when it came to relationships, so broken.
“Why did you
her if you didn’t really love her?” she couldn’t resist asking.
He gave a small shrug, and she couldn’t help but touch a muscular shoulder. She wanted to soothe him. She couldn’t keep her hands off him. Who knew when he’d let her touch him so freely again?
“I would never allow a child of mine to be a bastard,” he said.
Her caressing fingers stilled at that. It was only the second time he’d ever mentioned his illegitimacy to her. She recalled that he’d called himself a bastard the first night they’d met, at the cocktail party in her honor.
“Your father,” she whispered, noticing the gleam in his blue eyes. Was that a warning glint, a silent message for her to tread carefully? She continued despite the potential risk. “Do you know who he is?”
He shook his head. She definitely felt the tension in his muscles now, but he stayed put in the bed. She decided to take courage that he didn’t excuse himself and walk away, as she suspected he might have before tonight.
“Were you curious about who he is?
“Only insofar as I’d like the knowledge in order to kill the bloody bastard.”
Her mouth fell open in shock. She hadn’t expected his focused, intense aggression. “
He closed his eyes briefly, and she wondered if she’d gone too far. Would he retreat now?
“Whoever he was, he must have taken advantage of my mother. I don’t know if that means out-and-out rape or the seduction of a very vulnerable, sick woman, but whatever the case, I definitely carry the genes of a fucking degenerate.”
“Oh, Ian,” she whispered, her heart swelling with compassion. What a nightmare for a young boy to live with. What a nightmare for an adult man. “And you never saw him, he never came around?”
He shook his head, his eyelids still closed.