At this moment, I couldn’t care if the whole world heard us. I’m filled with the primitive need to lash out at him, to hurt him as he hurt me. If I had a gun with me, I would’ve gladly shot him for the agony he put me through.

But I don’t have a gun. I don’t have anything, and he slowly pushes deeper into my vulnerable opening, his thick cock stretching me, penetrating me with its heated hardness. I’m still wet from my earlier ‘dream,’ but I’m also tense with anger, and my body protests the intrusion, all of my muscles tightening to keep him out. It’s like our first time again—except that the twister of emotions in my chest right now is far more complex than the fear I once felt. My struggles gradually dying down, I gaze up at him mutely, reeling from the shock of his return.

When he’s all the way inside me, he stops, slowly lifting his hand from my mouth.

I remain silent, tears spilling out of the corners of my eyes.

Lowering his head, he kisses me gently, as though apologizing for taking me so ruthlessly. My lungs cease to work; as always, this peculiar mix of cruelty and tenderness turns me inside out, wreaking havoc on my already-conflicted mind.

“I’m sorry, baby,” he murmurs, his lips brushing against my tear-wet cheek. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. You were mine to protect and I fucked up. I fucked up so fucking bad . . .” He exhales softly. “I never meant to leave you, never meant to let you go—”

“But you did.” My voice is small and hurt, like that of a wounded child. “You let me think you were dead—”

“No.” He lets go of my wrists and props himself up on his elbows, framing my face with his big hands. His eyes burn into mine so intensely, I feel like he’s consuming me with his gaze. “It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all.”

My hands slowly lower to his shoulders. “What was it like then?” I ask bitterly. How could he have done this to me? How could he have stolen me, taken everything from me, only to abandon me so cruelly?

“I’ll explain everything,” he promises, his voice low and thick with lust. There’s sweat beading up on his brow, and I can feel his cock throbbing deep within me. He’s holding on to his control by a shred. “But right now, I need you, Nora. I need this . . .” He thrusts his hips forward, and I moan as he hits my G-spot, sending a blast of sensation through my nerve endings.

“That’s right,” he whispers harshly, repeating the motion. “I need this. I want to feel your tight little pussy sheathing me like a glove. I want to fuck you, and I want to fucking devour you. Every single inch of you is mine, Nora, only mine . . .” He lowers his head again, taking my mouth in a deep, penetrating kiss as he continues thrusting into me with a slow, relentless rhythm.

My own breathing picks up, a rush of heat flooding my body. My fingers tighten on his shoulders, and my legs wrap around his muscular thighs, taking him deeper into me. After months of abstinence, it’s almost too much, but I welcome the slight burn, the exquisite pleasure-pain of his possession. I can feel the tension growing inside me, the delicious prickling of pre-orgasmic bliss, and then I explode with a strangled cry, my inner muscles clamping tightly around his thick cock.

“Yes, baby, that’s it,” he groans hoarsely, his pace picking up, and then, with one last, powerful thrust, he finds his own peak, his shaft pulsing deep within me. I can feel the warmth of his seed releasing inside me, and I hold him close as he collapses on top of me, his large body heavy and covered with sweat.

“Do you want coffee or tea?” I ask, glancing at Julian as I putter around the tiny kitchen in the corner of my studio. He’s sitting at the table by the wall, wearing a pair of jeans—the only thing he deigned to put on after his shower. His bronzed, rippled torso draws my eyes, and my hand shakes slightly as I reach for a cup. With his hair cut short, his cheekbones appear sharper, his features even more chiseled than before. Frowning, I take a closer look. He seems thinner than I recall him being, almost as if he lost some weight.

Ignoring my staring, Julian leans back in the flimsy chair I bought at IKEA, stretching out his long legs. His feet are bare and strikingly masculine. “Coffee would be great,” he says lazily, watching me with a heavy-lidded gaze.

He reminds me of a panther patiently stalking its prey.

I swallow, placing the cup on the counter and reaching for the coffeemaker. Unlike him, I’m wearing jeans, thick socks, and a fleece sweater. Being fully dressed makes me feel less vulnerable, more in control.

The whole thing is surreal. If it weren’t for the slight soreness between my thighs, I would’ve been convinced that I am hallucinating. But no, my captor—the man who had been the center of my existence for so long—is here in my tiny apartment, dominating it with his powerful presence.

After the coffee is ready, I pour each of us a cup and join him at the table. I feel off-balance, like I’m walking on a tightrope. One second I want to scream with joy that he’s alive, and the next I want to kill him for putting me through this torture. And through it all, at the back of my mind is the knowledge that neither of those is an appropriate response for this situation. By all rights, I should be trying to escape and call the police.

Julian doesn’t seem the least bit afraid of that possibility. He’s as comfortable and self-assured in my studio as he was on his island. Picking up his cup, he takes a sip of the coffee and looks at me, a mesmerizing half-smile playing on his beautiful lips.