Then my soul is Caesar’s to take. He pulls down, he lifts me up.
And then he leaves me in the muck.
If should fall before I fly …
Then they know it was the fault of mine. He taught me better, he led the way.
I just didn’t know how to stay.
And if I should not gain his heart …
Fuck that, he made me this way. Curled my thoughts and twisted me.
He belongs to me, forever.
When had I realized Caesar was beautiful?
Sinister and evil, sure. But beautiful.
I swallowed a whimper as heat spread through me. It was tragic the way Jason had molded me, twisted me into a woman who craved darkness like this. The scent of Caesar’s flesh made me shake, and the strength of his body left me wet. I curled my fingers into a fist over his heart, marking the steady rhythm as he carried me. As a little girl, my father had read me stories of gallant knights slaying demons for the princesses trapped in towers. I’d dream of a knight in shining armor to come rescue me when Trace started getting Momma high, and a sword of fire to cut Jason down. The knight never came, and the sword was absent. Caesar was a black knight, wrapped in dark steel on a steed of death. He came to destroy, and I felt my life with him would be a short, a brilliant spark of blood and pain, but I wanted it. Training, comfort, or knowledge, I didn’t know which to blame, but I clung to it. It’s all I knew, all I believed.
We continued down the hall, and he kicked open a door to a bedroom where Sean waited. This would be my tower, and there would be no going back unless I found a way out. I didn’t let my muscles tense, as I worried why he was there.
“The adjustments are underway. I’ll stay at the door, just in case.”
Fuck. I couldn’t escape right now, which meant I had to keep up the act. I’d have to let Caesar do whatever he had planned. To hide my clenched fist, I unfurled my fingers over his beating heart. With each thump, I felt it deeper in my blood—an echo I recognized but didn’t remember. The odd moment confused me as he took me further in the room, bypassed the bed, and stalked into a bathroom full of steam.
Embarrassment streaked through me.
Of course, he wouldn’t want to fuck a woman smelling of piss and shit.
As he lowered me into the bathtub, hot water licked over my sore muscles. The wounds had healed and had begun fading, but the heat took my breath away. I never knew how much I’d love the idea of being clean until the chance to wash had been taken away. As I sank into the water, Caesar released me and stood tall. My gaze traveled his form, drawn to the artwork and a hint into the man who held me. A bit further away, I could see the indentions of his abs and the slope into his groin muscles. Devil’s Horns, I’d always called them, and they stuck out of Caesar’s jeans. A dragon soared over his right pec, and a raging phoenix coiled around his left arm. In between the two mythological animals, Caesar had stamped himself with bits of imagery. Crows disintegrating into dust, ‘if not me, then who’ was traced in beautiful cursive on his left hip, and even more colorful art decorated him. I couldn’t dare to understand it all; it was as chaotic and confusing as the man before me.
“Took three years for the concept. You’d look good with some ink. Some big pieces, up that right side, from toe to armpit. I’d like to see that,” he said.
His eyes traveled over the flesh he envisioned, and I watched him. An odd, crazy ache brewed in my chest and my heart fluttered. What? We weren’t two people born to come together slowly over candlelight dinners and dates. We sparked, fought, and raged. But here, in the damp, misty interior of the bathroom, the outside world faded and he was just a half-naked man, and I was a broken girl wishing to be saved. His hot gaze burned over me, and deep inside something flared to life.
“Do you find me beautiful?” I asked, and sucked in a breath. I hadn’t meant to speak, to ask, but it floated between us.
He titled his head, and his narrow gaze looked everywhere but at my face. “I find you brilliant and tragic,” he whispered. Brilliant and tragic. He frowned, his brows riding low over his eyes as he shook his head. “A puzzle I can’t figure out.”
Writing professionally since 2008, LeTeisha Newton’s love of romance novels began long before it should have. After spending years sneaking reads from her grandmother’s stash, she finally decided to pen her own tales. As many will do during their youth, she bounced from fantasy, urban literature, mainstream, interracial, paranormal, heterosexual, and LGBT works until she finally rested in contemporary romance.
LeTeisha is all about deep angst and angry heroes who take a bit more loving to smooth their rough edges. Love comes in many sizes, shapes, and colors, as well as with—or without—absolute beauty and fairy tale sweetness. She writes the darker tales because life is hard … but love is harder.