I refuse to let this woman have any power over me.
She’s just my prisoner.
But once my Muse is in trouble, I’ll do anything to save her.
Anything to protect her.
She was supposed to inspire me, please me.
She was never supposed to care about me.
Or make me care about her.Books in Series:Lingerie Series by Penelope SkyBooks by Author:Penelope Sky Books
Carter poured himself a glass of scotch and made himself comfortable on the sofa in my office. Darkness had settled a long time ago. I had dinner with Muse on the terrace, and then she went to bed. Carter stopped by shortly afterward, and now we were hidden away in my office.
He lit his cigar and let the smoke rise from his mouth toward the ceiling. "Your family loves Muse more than you do."
My eyes darted to his face, the lethal daggers practically bursting from my irises.
Carter chuckled before he took another puff of his cigar. "Sorry. Sapphire."
No one called her Muse but me. "Yes, I"m aware."
"Honestly, I like her more than you, too."
"Jump on the bandwagon," I said with indifference. "You"ve always been the type."
"I make my own way in life. If not, I wouldn"t be a self-made billionaire." He switched off between enjoying his scotch and his cigar.
My office always smelled like cigars for days afterward, but I didn"t mind because I liked the smell. None of my pieces were in here, so I didn"t have to worry about ruining the fabric with the carcinogen.
"So, is she still your prisoner or what"" he asked. "Because it seems like you actually like the woman."
I did like her"a little too much. "I don"t know what the fuck is going on, man."
He set his cigar on the ashtray and stared at me with his arms resting on his thighs. "Meaning""
"My father asked when I was going to ask her to marry me."
Carter stopped making jokes when he knew I was being dead serious. He must have sensed the conflict inside my soul. We grew up together, so we understood each other on an innate level other people couldn"t understand. It reminded me of my connection with Muse, but in a different way. "And what did you say""
"That I wasn"t ready for that kind of commitment. But my father never asks me stuff like that. And then he told me I shouldn"t drag my feet because women like Sapphire are rare. He said she has spunk."
"She does have spunk," he said in agreement.
"But she also has class and beauty. She"s got it all." I drank from my glass, letting the ice cubes hit my lips when the glass turned empty. "Then my mother told me how proud she was" That I"d become a man she was proud of. Made me fucking sick to my stomach."
"That"s the kind of affection every son wants to hear from his parents."
"But I don"t deserve it." I slammed my empty glass on the table, nearly shattering it. "I hate lying to my parents. Makes me feel like shit."
Carter shifted his gaze down to his glass. "Then what are you going to do""
"I don"t fucking know. But now I hate myself. I hate the way I collected Sapphire like a piece of property rather than a person. I hate the way I"ve treated her. Hate the things I said to her. My family adores her, and somehow, that makes me feel worse. If they knew what I did, my parents would never forgive me. Vanessa would never look at me the same."
"Then don"t let them find out."
I turned my gaze out the window, my fingers resting against my temple. "Secrets always come out"in time."
"Then what choice do you have"" He picked up his cigar again and breathed in the smoke. "You could let her go. You"d be out a hundred million dollars, but then you wouldn"t be lying anymore. It could clear your conscience."
That was my best option, but I didn"t like it. "I don"t want to let her go"" I wanted her to stay with me. I wanted her in my bed every night. I needed her to inspire me, to pull the best work out of me. What would I be without her" I needed her. "And she wouldn"t be safe if I did. If Knuckles ever figured it out, he would probably come after her."
"That"s her problem, not yours."
My heart thudded harder in my chest. The idea of anyone stripping her naked and using her against her will made me sick. She deserved to be treated with respect, to live her life freely without fear of rape and torture. The only place she would ever be safe was by my side. I was the only one powerful enough to keep the demons away. "If something ever happened to her, I would die."
Carter watched me as he let the smoke out through his nostrils. He had the same hard features as mine, and I felt like I was looking at a brother instead of a cousin. "You care about this woman."
I wasn"t going to deny it anymore. "Deeply."
"Then let it be. She"s safe here with you and seems happy."
"Doesn"t right my wrongs. Doesn"t clear my head."
"Then what other option do you have""