I was only a small girl. Scared and frightened, I was taken from my home and held against my will. His father hurt me, but he protected me and kept me safe as best he could.
Until I left him.
I ran the first chance I got and even though I knew he wasn’t behind me, I didn’t stop. The branches lashed out at me, punishing me for leaving him in the hands of a monster.
I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.
Although I survived, the boy was never found. I prayed for him to be safe. I dreamed he’d be alright and come back to me. Even as a young girl I knew I loved him, but I betrayed him.
Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.
But the boy came back a man. With a grip strong enough to keep me close and a look in his eyes that warned me to never dare leave him again. I was his to keep after all.
Twenty years after leaving one hell, I entered another. Our tale was only just getting started.
It’s dark and twisted.
But that doesn’t make it any less of what it is.
A love story. Our love story.
The only solace I have is lying beside me. I speak without thinking, just saying what’s on my mind to break up the silence in the cold room.
“I wish I were a bird.” I blink at the faint light shining through the small window so high up on the cinder block wall. “Then I could fly away.” My voice lowers to nearly a whisper and I turn on the hard ground, facing the boy at my side. I tuck my arm under my head and swallow the lump in my throat as I avoid his gaze. It’s such a serious look in his light gray eyes. I can hardly stand the chill that runs through me.
Some days I think he’s angry with me. I can’t shake the thought that he hates me; that he hates being stuck here with me, both of us helpless and at the hands of his heartless father.
“Both of us.” I clear my throat and chance a look up at him as I add, “I mean I wish we were both birds.” I turn to gesture toward the far wall as I explain, “So we could fly through that window.”
The boy smiles at me, although I don’t think it’s genuine. “But it’s closed,” he says in a voice so rough and low it makes goosebumps spread across my skin. He clears his own throat, propping up his head in his hand and leaning on his elbow to look down at me. My heart does a weird flip in my chest, fluttering when he leans closer to me. I can feel the heat of his body. He’s older than me. He looks it, too. I feel my cheeks heat with a blush and I look away, turning back to the window and pulling at the thin gown I have on. It’s not enough to keep me warm down here and I know if I were just a bit closer to the boy, I’d be more comfortable, but I keep my distance.
“Well, what animal then?” I ask the boy, curling on my side and tucking both arms beneath my head.
He’s quiet for a moment, but then he answers, “A wolf could break it.”
I resist the urge to turn to face him, closing my eyes as they roll and a small smile forms on my lips. A wolf could never fit through that window.
I decide to play along, feeling a warmth run through me as I hear him scoot closer to me. He never touches me, but he likes to be close to me. And I like it too although I don’t tell him. “Well, you be a wolf and break the window, and I’ll be a bird. Together we can run away.”
“I saw a wolf kill a bird once on TV,” he says, but the boy’s voice is devoid of emotion and the shock of what he said makes me turn to face him, sitting up and pulling my knees into my chest.
“Why would a wolf do that?” I feel my brows pinch and my lips turn down; I know it’s obvious I’m horrified from what he said, and it only makes him laugh.
He shrugs his shoulders and picks at a spot on the concrete floor, a satisfied smirk on his lips. Something about the look on his face makes my heart do that fluttering motion again and I find myself inching forward, my toes barely touching his thigh. But we both notice that they touch.
“A wolf doesn’t have any reason to hurt a bird.” I stare at him, but he still doesn’t look up at me. “I don’t understand.”
The boy tilts his head to look at me and this time, the expression is something I’ve never seen before. There’s a rawness in the light gray flecks, a heat on the outer edge where his eyes get darker. Almost like a flicker of a flame giving his gaze an intensity that makes my body freeze, but not with a coldness, with a burning heat.
“I think he did it,” the boy starts to say, licking his lower lip and staring right through me, not caring that I can’t even breathe when he looks at me like that, “I think he did it just because he wanted to.”
Willow Winters is so happy to be a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Contemporary Bestselling Romance Author. She likes her action hot and her bad boys hotter. She certainly doesn’t hold back on either one in her writing!
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Willow started writing after having her little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during her pregnancy with Evie she continued to read and she only wanted to read romance. She was reading a book a day — sometimes two.
In January 2016 Willow was staying up late with Evie and just thinking of all these stories. They came to her constantly so she finally sat down and just started writing. She always wanted to do it so she figured, why not? Today Willow cannot be happier for making that decision!