Vulcan's Woman
get that chance, I was going to reveal myself when you woke on my lap
so you wouldn’t be frightened, but―”
    “But you didn’t.”
    “No, Wisteria,” he said as he bent down and wrapped the end
of the rope around his hand. “When you escaped, you became my captive.” He
lifted the leash and shook it. “This is what happens. You get bound. Things
change.”
    “I became your prisoner the instant your men cut me free
from the stoning trees.”
    “You’re wrong. You were still a victim when I placed you on
my lap.” He slowly took a stance, locking his eyes on hers. “Be glad it was me
who disrupted your beating instead of another tribe.”
    Her mouth dropped open. She snapped it shut. “I’m supposed
to be glad a Barbarian captured me? Have you gone berserk?”
    “I’ll say this only once more. You were not my captive until you tried escaping. That’s when you forced me to utilize my position.”
    “Why didn’t you tell me at the lake? You left me there for
your…your Barbarians to find.”
    “I instructed my men to return you unharmed.”
    Was that supposed to make her feel better? “You set me up.”
    “You gave me no choice. I couldn’t let you run free. Nor
could I abandon my duties as chieftain and reveal my identity to my captive
before punishment was delivered. You stripped me of all options.”
    “I never hurt you. How could you do this?”
    “Like your people, we have honor to uphold and rules to
follow. Two of which you broke. Fleeing from captivity and attacking a
tribesman are heavy offenses.”
    “What did you expect? I was fighting for my life.”
    “What did you expect? That you’d actually get away?”
    “I had to try.” She tore her gaze free from his chest. His
magnificent, powerful, Barbarian chest. “I was frightened of you.”
    “You had no reason to be frightened of me.” He tugged on the
belly rope just enough to pull her backside away from the wall. “Have I hurt
you?”
    “Nn-Nn-Nnoo. Not really.”
    Another tug brought her a little closer. “I’m not a monster,
Wisteria.”
    She begged to differ. “Anyone who rips hearts from chests
with their bare hands is not human.”
    “What are you saying? That I’m not worthy of you?” He gave
the rope yet another tug.
    “Please,” she begged. She gulped and locked her hands around
the leash, yanking in opposition. She didn’t want to move any closer. She
didn’t. “Vulcan, please stop,” she whimpered, digging her feet into the ground.
Why’d she even attempt to fight him? She’d witnessed his strength when he’d
lifted Sledge off his feet with his bare fists.
    “Don’t be afraid of me.” His voice lowered and eyes
narrowed. “I won’t harm you.”
    He pulled her within an arm’s reach but didn’t touch her.
Instead he continued to inch her forward and she regretted every single step.
Her belly vaulted. “You’re the enemy,” she said solemnly.
    Another subtle tug brought her nose to nearly touching his
chest. “I’m a man. Did you fear me when you were embraced in my arms?”
    How absurd to even suggest it. She’d felt nothing beyond his
security at that time as his body heat had wrapped around her, like now,
causing a multitude of tingly sensations. She shook her head because at the
moment she couldn’t speak. Strange things happened. Strange, wonderful things.
She inhaled a short, raspy breath, released the leash and lowered her hands at
her sides, squeezing them into fists.
    “Did you fear me when I kissed you?”
    No, she hadn’t feared him then either. How could she when
his lips offered gentle possession? Again she shook her head, indulging in his
warm breath as it caressed her face.
    “Look at me.”
    She did just as he dropped the rope.
    He slid his hands in the hair above her ears and tilted her
face. “I’m human like you. I feel pain and passion.”
    Inhaling sharply, she raised her gaze to his dark,
mysterious eyes as his thumbs began a gentle massage along her brow bones.

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