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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:53:05

“I know.” She gasped, his breath making all the hair on her body stand up.

“But I will be back,” he said.

“Don’t.” She put her hand over his lips, so close to totally falling apart she couldn’t stand it. “Don’t make promises you might not be able to keep.”

He shook his head, his eyes hot. “I am not your mother,” he said, his voice shot with fire. “And I am neither of your brothers and I am sure as hell not Eric.” His hands gripped her arms. “Did you hear me? I love you. You.” He flung out his hand, indicating the lace and the bed. “I love this ridiculous room. I love you as the prison warden and the ice princess and the sexy librarian. I love you as a mother and a granddaughter. I love you for your perfect skin and beautiful face and your body that makes me crazy.” His hands cupped her head, his fingers pulling the fine hairs at the nape of her neck, the pain so sweet. “I love you for your giant brain.”

God, hope was so painful. It was as though her flesh was ice and it was breaking, cold and sharp.

“I love you for your daughter and all your contradictions and complications. But, most of all I love you for your fierce heart.”

She closed her eyes, overcome. Every gate had been stormed, every defense in ruins.

He started to pull at her clothes, unzipping zippers, undoing buttons and she let him. She would take his body, his sex and his love, she’d take it all because she really didn’t believe that once he left he’d ever cross her threshold again. She would hoard those memories for all the lonely days ahead. “I want that fierce heart to love me back,” he said.

It does, she thought but wasn’t foolish enough to say it.

“And I know,” he continued, kissing her collarbone as he undid her bra, her breasts spilling into his hands. “I know that you love me and I’ll be back so you can say it to me.”

She pressed her lips to his, sealing her mouth, preventing herself from saying all the things she shouldn’t.

HOURS LATER, the kitchen was dark and hushed as they sat side by side on the counter, sweat cooling on their bruised and sated bodies.

Matt had no clue what she was thinking. What was happening behind that still and lovely face.

He took another bite of his ham sandwich and wondered why love had to be so hard, why he felt the pull of her body and the push of her heart and why it all had to hurt so much.

His soul lay between them, a naked offering cold and shivering in all this silence.

“Okay,” she said, holding her uneaten sandwich in her lap. She picked at the crust.

Her eyes were damp, tears and moonlight pooling in the corners. Her smile was shaky and nervous, but still the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen. “Come back to me.”

It wasn’t love, but it was trust, and maybe that was better. From a woman like Savannah, maybe that was the key to her kingdom.

“Savannah,” he whispered, joy pumping into his body like fuel. “You have—”

The violent shattering of glass destroyed the quiet of the night.

MATT LEAPED OFF THE counter as though it was on fire. Savannah was right beside him, her hand a talon on his arm.

“The sleeping porch,” Matt said, turning toward where the crash had come from, adrenaline hammering his system. “Stay here.”

“Like hell,” she muttered and followed him down the dark hallway to the gloomy half-light of the sleeping porch. “So help me,” she whispered, “if it’s Garrett or Owen—”

A small figure, dressed in black from head to toe, crossed the doorway of the sleeping porch, between them and the moonlight.

A ski mask. A flashlight no bigger than a pin.

This was no high-schooler.

He felt the sudden blast of fear roll off of Savannah.

Matt shoved his hand out, pressing her against the wall. She nodded when he looked at her. She’d be quiet. She’d be still.

His fingers traced her cheek for a split second, then he snuck through the shadows of the hallway and stepped into the sleeping porch. The thief was short and thin like a kid—maybe it was a teenager after all. One who’d seen a few too many movies about thieves and knew the costume requirements.