Numbers Page 63

’’What ’’ He couldn\ even comprehend why she\d do that.

’’You didn\ have chains, but I\m restrained here all the same. They are thick enough that I really had to push to get the door to close. They are really stuck.’’ She bent her knees a little, hanging there when her feet left the floor. ’’I\m not going anywhere unless you free me.’’

’’Why would you do this?’’ It agitated him. She\d effectively restrained herself.

’’It worked before.’’

’’What are you talking about?’’

’’I chained myself to the wall. Remember? I thought about tying myself to your bed this time but figured you\d leave me there. You can\ get out of this room unless you touch me.’’

’’Oh hell.’’ He growled, took a few steps forward, but then stopped.

She grinned. ’’You had that same amazed, yet dismayed look on your face when you woke up on the floor and found that I\d chained myself up the way you\d been.’’

’’I had to call the techs in to unlock the restraints.’’ He remembered. ’’I should have left you there. Nobody wants to be chained to a wall.’’

’’You stopped being angry with me.’’

A jolt of amusement shot through him, ruining his foul mood. He\d forgotten that she had a way of getting into predicaments that left him laughing. ’’What if I left you there?’’

’’We\ e on the third floor. It\s not like you can just climb out a window. The door is the only way out.’’

’’I could jump down to another balcony until I reach the ground,’’ he teased.

She straightened her knees and flatted her bare feet on his carpet. ’’You could, but you won\ .’’

’’What makes you so sure of that?’’

Her smile faded as she licked her lips. ’’You won\ . It would bother you, thinking about how eventually my arms are going to start to hurt.’’

He closed his eyes. ’’Candi...’’

’’Look at me,’’ she whispered. ’’They took your pride away that day and embarrassed you in front of me. You thought I\d see you as the animal they claimed. I showed you that we\ e the same, and there was no reason for you to feel that way. You didn\ think any less of me, seeing me chained to a wall.’’

He opened his eyes and the dark mood returned. He just wasn\ sure what to say. She spoke before he could.

’’I took something from you by the choice I made. I really did it to save your life. I know I hurt you. I\d do anything to take it back if I could.’’ She paused. ’’I\m at your mercy. Leave me here or touch me. You have a choice now.’’

’’Your mind doesn\ work correctly.’’

’’That\s the politest way anyone has ever accused me of being nuts. I\m okay with that. I spent a long time in an asylum when I was sane. I\m due some bad choices now.’’

She could drive a male insane. He advanced. She needed to be set free. He kept back, avoiding touching her directly as he gripped one of the belts. He tugged, but the leather band was really wedged in between the door and the jamb. He frowned, pulling harder.

’’That\s not going to work.’’

He glanced down. She was too close. He could smell the shampoo she\d used in her hair, knew she\d brushed her teeth with something minty, and underneath that, her feminine scent called to him. It always had.

’’Why not?’’

Mischief made those beautiful eyes of hers sparkle. ’’I might have chosen the two belts with the thickest, strongest buckles that stops them from sliding through the door. You\ e actually going to have to move me and then open the door to slide them off the top. Why do you have so many belts? Isn\ one enough?’’

’’I only left you alone for five minutes.’’

’’I have a quick mind.’’

He remembered that about her too. She was always the mastermind when they played pranks. He\d been the one with the strength and height to put them into motion. There had been the time she\d used loose threads from her clothes to braid a thin string. She\d tied a piece of meat on it and then had him lift her up to hang it above the door from an old nail. Dr. C had come in on his daily check, and she\d casually mentioned that a spider was over his head. The doctor had looked up and cried out like a female. He\d realized what it was and glared at both of them. It had been funny. She knew Dr. C feared the eight-legged creatures.

There were a lot of good memories. Warmth spread through him as he continued to stare down at her, flashes of their time together coming back. Some of the drugs Mercile had tested in his system had made him hurt so she\d had him lie with his head on her lap while she sang softly and played with his hair. She\d tell him stories that distracted him from his suffering.

He examined her features. She was his Candi. He could see some changes. A few lines marred her skin near her eyes and mouth. His attention lowered and his cock stiffened. She had filled out in her chest. The soft-looking mounds of her breasts were clearly defined through the thin material of his tank top.

’’You\ e going to have to touch me.’’

Her voice came out a little husky and he growled. He wanted to feel her. He opened his hand without thinking, almost touching the skin that was revealed over her ribs. She was too pale and looked so soft. She arched her back, as if to encourage him. It unsettled him. He lifted his gaze to stare deeply into her eyes.

’’You want my touch?’’

’’More than anything.’’

’’I\m angry.’’

’’I know.’’

’’I could hurt you.’’

She relaxed, keeping her gaze locked with his. ’’I\d rather feel your temper than nothing at all.’’

He curled his hands into fists and flattened his knuckles on the door next to her chest and closed his eyes. It was easy to inch closer until he pressed lightly against her body. She pushed her face forward to rest her forehead against his chest. He just stood there, feeling her warm breath through the thin material of his shirt. She felt small, but that was nothing new. His Candi had always been tiny but fierce. It also made it real. She was alive.

’’Do you remember what you did when you woke up after they first brought you into my cell?’’

’’I cried,’’ she murmured. ’’I knew my mother was dead and Christopher had taken her from me. He abandoned me in a cold room, and I knew he wouldn\ ever let me out. I didn\ even think I\d see him again.’’


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