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I thrust into her like a wild person. I rode her hard and fast until I felt her nails dig into my skin and my body started to break apart around me. The room was spinning. Things were starting to fade in and out around me, but she was coming in white-hot bursts and yelling my name as I collapsed on top of her and followed suit. My body felt wrung dry. My soul felt like it had been scrubbed clean with bleach. My heart felt like it had finally been rewarded for waiting and my mind was so full of rightness and contentment that for once, there was no place in it for all the things I had done, all the things I would do.
She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and whispered in my ear. "Are you alive?"
The truth was, I hadn't been alive until this very moment. "Yeah." I rolled off of her and onto my back with a groan. It felt good to shut my eyes. I felt her shift on the bed next to me. "How about you?"
She snorted and I pried open an eye to look at her as she climbed to her feet and looked down at me with censure.
"I'm great, other than the fact that we just had the world's greatest sex without talking about protection. That's an amateur move on both our parts, Nassir." I sighed and caught her arm, and pulled her down so that she was on the opposite side of the bed from where the obvious wet spot we left must have been.
"You're on the pill. I'm clean. You're clean. Everything is fine. Besides, when I said nothing was getting between us, that includes latex."
I shut my eyes again as she began to sputter indignantly next to me. "How do you know I'm on the pill and how do you know I'm clean?"
I sighed and clamped an arm around her as she tried to wiggle away from me. She should know better than that. I was never letting her go anywhere ever again.
"I know everything there is to know about you, Key. You are the only thing that has ever mattered to me, so I made sure that you were safe. How doesn't matter. Why does."
She didn't like my answer but she stopped fighting to get released. "I'm not property, Nassir."
I smoothed a hand over her hair and curled my fingers around the back of her neck. "You're worth everything, so that means I leave nothing to chance when it comes to you."
Her breath was warm and feathery on the side of my neck as she finally settled in next to me. "You can't do that anymore. We're in this together. I'm in your business, I'm in your home, and I'm in your bed. I'm right in the center of your world right now, Nassir. You have to talk to me and ask me what I want and what I think is best. What you can't do is control me. If you try to lock me up in a cage, this fragile thing we have between us will shatter when I beat it against the bars trying to get free."
I never could control her, and that's why she was perfect for me. I had spent too long being under the thumb of other people. Her fierce independence and thirst to be free of any constraints called to the part of me that had been smashed and destroyed while I was yanked around like a murderous puppet suspended from blood-soaked strings.
"You aren't in my world, Key, you are the center of it. You always have been. That means I want to care for you, not control you, but my methods in everything are extreme. I don't know how to do it any other way. Now, can we enjoy the fact that we waited years and years to fuck and it was everything it was supposed to be if not more? But right now I need to shut it down for a few minutes . My ears are ringing so loud I can hardly hear you."
The pain wasn't actually that bad, but my words got her to be quiet, and before I knew it, her rhythmic breathing and soft weight against my side had me struggling past all my aches and pains into slumber as well.
I woke up the following morning with Key sprawled on top of me. I mean she was completely covering me and her hair was all up in my face. She had a knee between my legs and my morning erection couldn't be happier about the situation; unfortunately, my phone was vibrating somewhere on the hardwood floor in my pants, where they had been carelessly knocked off the bed during my haste to get inside of her last night.
I hated to disturb her but the rattle of the phone against the hard surface was driving me insane, so I rolled her off of me as gently as I could, and felt something inside my chest clench when she whimpered and reached for me in her sleep. A pout puckered her lips and a tiny little frown dipped between her eyebrows, and it made me grin. Even asleep, she was full of fight.
I scowled when I saw Race's information on the phone and pulled on a pair of loose cotton pants as I headed down to the living room.
"What?" We were business partners, but that didn't really mean we had the type of working relationship where we checked up on one another. At least we hadn't before now. I appreciated the guy's smarts and his willingness to get his hands dirty after Novak went down, but he was just a little too slick and far too clever for me to really trust him.
"Tell your guard dog to let me in the gate." He sounded as annoyed as I felt about receiving the early-morning call. I didn't bother to respond, but I did call down to the guardhouse by the gate and tell them to let him in. Within minutes, the younger blond man was strolling through the front door without bothering to knock.
"You don't lock your front door? You have someone messing with your new club and someone trying to run you off the road, and you leave your fortress unsecured?"
My head still hurt but it was more of a dull throb than the sharp slashes of pain from yesterday. The stitches felt itchy and tight on my scalp and my shoulder and upper chest were a delightful shade of purple from where the seat belt had kept me in the car at the moment of impact. I ignored Race and made my way into the kitchen to scrounge up a bottle of water and maybe something for breakfast. He followed me still looking put out.
I chugged the entire bottle and put my hands on the island and stared at him.
"What are you doing here, Race?"
He adopted a similar pose on the opposite side of the island and met me glare for glare. "I want to know what you're going to do about someone messing with the club. It hasn't even been open for two weeks and you're already losing money."
"We're losing money."
Race nodded. "Exactly. As much as it galls me to admit it, we are in this together, Nassir. If things are going south I need to know, and maybe I can help stop the slide. If you fail, I fail, and if I fail, this city fails, and I won't let that happen."

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