And just like every time before, I’m proven so fucking wrong.

My strokes are steady and long, more demanding, harsher than they should be. I cradle Chelsea’s head in my hands, my fingers pulling her hair free so it cascades down her flawless back. Her feet lock around my waist, pulling me closer, and our chests meld together. The solid swell of her stomach, where our child sleeps, presses against my lower abdomen. Chelsea tilts her head back, holding on to my gaze for as long as she can—until it’s too much. And the feverish, rising, fucking sublime pleasure forces her lids to close and her lips to part.

I curl over her, my hand tightening in her hair, my hips driving faster.

“Jake . . . Jake . . .” She comes hard, her muscles contracting, the gasp of my name on her perfect lips.

Then Chelsea goes slack, cradled safely against my chest. I slip my hands under her ass, lifting her off the table—plunging inside her again and again with wild, barely controlled abandon. Her hands cling to my shoulders. Trusting me, taking me, giving me everything I could ever need.

My hips circle, drag, and then with a final thrust and ragged groan, I come so deep inside her.

For several long moments, my lips rest against the top of her head, smelling the sweet clean of her hair, while her hands trace up and down my spine. The storm of guilt and apprehension churning in my gut quiets. Because that’s the power she has, this lithe wisp of a woman—her voice calms me, and her touch gives me peace.

“Good. Now I need another bath. You got me all dirty.”

My lips smile easily now. “I like you dirty.”

She nips at my shoulder. “Feel like joining me?”

I let her go just long enough to grab our clothes from the floor. Then she’s back in my arms and I’m guiding us down the hall. “Absolutely.”

Chelsea came home late from work again last night—after nine. Not that I mind doing my part with the kids—but being five months pregnant she should be taking it easier. So early the next morning, I head over to the museum to chat with her moron of a boss. I know Chelsea won’t be in until the afternoon.

I’ve only met the guy once, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s just a moron—not a total dickwad—who doesn’t realize the extra projects, the staying later to “help out” shit needs to stop. Chelsea loves this job, so I’ll be nice about it.

At least—nice is the plan.

That plan goes up in smoke when I stand outside Gavin Debralty’s open office door, out of sight, but within earshot of the two men inside.

“Chelsea getting knocked up sucks for you, Gavin—I know how badly you wanted to get up in there.”

I hear a slimy-sounding snort in reply, and then, “Oh, I’m still getting up in there—count on it. Just need to speed things up before she gets too fat.” They chuckle, and my blood turns to ice. “Though I guess it won’t make a difference if she’s a hundred pounds or three hundred—those lips will feel just as good around my cock.”

Some people talk about their anger like an explosion—boiling lava, blistering fury. But I don’t work that way. My rage is cold. Detached, callous, brutally unyielding.

You know the difference between a scalding and frostbite?

A burn takes off skin. Frostbite will take your whole fucking limb off.

I step into the doorway, my fists clenched at my sides like two hammers. The piece of shit Gavin was talking with—a coworker of Chelsea’s I met at the Christmas party—pales to a sickly white when he spots me.

Gavin turns around and meets my gaze. For a second he looks surprised, maybe even afraid, then his expression slides slack with indifference. The kind of countenance that says he thinks he can do anything, say anything, and tough tits to anyone who doesn’t like it.

He should enjoy that feeling. Won’t last long.

His companion mumbles an excuse and smartly scurries around me out the door. Gavin turns to face me as I step into the room, rolling his blond head on his neck, lifting his average-size shoulders, like he’s loosening up for a fight.

Too stupid to realize he’ll never have the chance to take a swing.

“Listen,” he starts, “sorry you had to hear that, but—bro to bro—I gotta tell you, your little wifey has been on my jock since day one. The way she—”

His words cut off—along with his air—when my hand lashes out and wraps around his windpipe. I press him back against the nearest wall. Squeezing.

“Another word,” I tell him softly, “and I’ll rip your throat out.”

Before the Judge took me under his wing, I had a nasty temper. With his help, I learned to lock it down. But that’s the thing about rage—it never really goes away; it just sleeps. Mine’s wide awake at the moment, pounding against the bars of its cold cage, begging to be set loose.

Just for a few minutes. That’s all it needs.

Gavin’s face starts to redden and his fingers claw pathetically at my hand as I lean in close and tell him, “I’m going to ask you some questions—you’ll nod or shake your head to respond. If you lie, I’ll know, and I’ll hurt you.”

His struggle lessens and I take that to mean he understands.