Surrender the Dark
aren’t you telling me, Rae?” He lifted a hand to her face, but she stepped away. Still, she caught his expression before he masked it. She’d expected anger, but what she saw in his eyes was hurt. That almost undid her resolve right there.
    She, Rae Gannon, had the power to hurt him? Jarrett McCullough, the machine? The invincible one?
    The very idea frightened her to death.
    This time when she looked him in the eyes, she told him the truth. As much as she could, anyway. “I won’t lie and say I didn’t want you. That I don’t want you still.” She tensed against the dark light that flared in his eyes. “But I’ve spent a long time up here getting myselfback.” She looked down at her hands as she twisted her fingers together, then finally back at him. Her voice softened. “I’ve seen a side of you in the last few days I didn’t know existed. A side maybe you didn’t know existed. And I think you need a break for more than just physical healing.”
    She lifted her hands, palms up. “I’ve found that here. And I’m willing to share that with you. But that’s all I can share.” She wished she had anger as fuel, as she’d had the day before when she’d raged at him and spilled her guts. This was harder, much harder. Standing there, looking at him, and saying these things when she really wanted nothing more than to step into his arms and let him hold her tightly against his strong warm body, let him move his mouth and hands over her, let him make her forget all the ugliness …
    But that was precisely why she couldn’t. She struggled to keep the pleading tone out of her voice. “I can’t live on just the physical level anymore and shut off the emotional. I know you’re leaving here as soon as you heal. You’ll go back to a world I can’t even think about, much less deal with or live in.” She took a deep breath. “And I won’t hand you a part of me to take with you when you leave. I just don’t have that many parts left to lose.”
    She stood there, praying he’d leave. If he pushed her any further, she didn’t think she’d be strong enough to hold out. She might have the ability to hurt him, but he had the ability to destroy her.
    Jarrett couldn’t move. He doubted he was even breathing. He simply stared at her, accepting the baldtruths she’d just ruthlessly cast at his feet. She was so damn strong.
    And he’d never felt weaker. He wanted desperately to climb back into the safe, emotionless void he’d inhabited for more years than he could remember. He craved the blessed relief of not allowing himself to feel, or want, or need.
    She wasn’t going to let him.
    He looked at her and ached. Ached in places he didn’t know had feelings.
    “I’ll leave you alone, Rae,” he said quietly, wondering even as he said it if this would be the first time he’d break his word. “I won’t touch you again.” Damn but that hurt to say. He drew in a ragged breath and moved away from her. “But that’s all. Whether I want to or not, I have to complete this mission. And you’re still my best bet.”
    She folded her arms, her jaw rigid. “Well then, this is one bet you just lost, McCullough.”
    He turned to leave, knowing it was pointless to press the matter now. It wouldn’t wait for long, though. He’d already lost four days.
    “I’ll cook,” he said over his shoulder. “You finish up out here.”
    He expected a sharp reply, or none at all. What he didn’t expect was for her to walk up behind him. He stilled even before she spoke, and it took an inordinate amount of control not to turn and yank her back into his arms. She wasn’t the only one who required some time and space to cool down.
    “Here, take this with you,” she said.
    He had to turn around then. When he did, she pushed a wooden pole into his hand. On closer examination, he realized she’d constructed a crude walking stick for him. It was nothing more than a thick dowel with a large wooden knob screwed into one end and

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