Giving In(4)

By: Maya Banks

But when he looked at her, he saw past that abrasive exterior and what he glimpsed made his heart soften to the point of aching. It made him want to hold her, cherish her, show her how it could be with a man who had her best interests at heart. A man who cared about her.

Hell, did he care? That was the million-dollar question. He cared, but to what extent? Was she, as he’d said, simply a challenge? Something to conquer before he moved on to the next? He was a man who thrived on challenges. It was what had made him successful at a very early age. So just how much did he care about Kylie Breckenridge? Because she wasn’t a woman to trifle with. She’d had enough hurt for two lifetimes, and he damn sure didn’t want to be yet another man who destroyed her.

He didn’t fool himself into thinking he could “fix” her. No one could do that but her. But she had to want to be fixed, and so far she’d shown no signs of doing it herself. Which increased his desire to step in, take over and push her.

The urge to dominate was powerful. It beat like his pulse, strong with anticipation, even as he knew Kylie was not a woman to dominate. She wasn’t a woman who’d submit. Ever. Not physically. But dominance was so much more than the physical trappings that often accompanied such a relationship. Emotional surrender was much more powerful, and perhaps that was what he craved when he looked into those shadowed eyes of hers.

She needed a man who’d cherish her, protect her from any and all hurts, provide shelter for her. A place of refuge from the rest of the world. She needed a man she could turn to and trust unerringly in his ability to shield her from any threat. Even those that weren’t physical, but emotional, because those were hurts far worse than physical ones.

She was infinitely fragile. So very vulnerable. He watched her. He watched her a damn lot, and when she didn’t realize others were observing her, she lost the icy façade and he got a glimpse of the frightened young girl behind the ballsy exterior.

She was complex, a puzzle, one he had every intention of figuring out. But how?

His normal method of operation certainly wouldn’t work with her. There was no approaching her, taking control, laying down the law according to him and telling her the way it would be. He’d attempted to do precisely that just moments ago and it had been like hitting a brick wall.

She’d remove his balls with a rusty knife if he pushed her that way again and, well, he wouldn’t be able to blame her.

She had no reason to trust him whatsoever, but damn if he didn’t want to get behind those carefully erected barriers she threw up. It was only with the people closest to her that she let her guard down and he got a taste of the real Kylie.

Soft. Sweet. Fiercely loyal and protective of her loved ones.

He wanted to teach her that not all men were bastards. He wanted to show her that dominance did not equal pain or humiliation. That dominance was so much more. Emotional surrender was the most powerful of all, but it also made people so much more vulnerable. And that would absolutely frighten her as much as the more physical aspects of dominance and submission.

This was a woman he’d have to tread very lightly with. His old approach would have to be thrown out the window and he’d have to come up with something new. She was, as he’d said, a challenge. One that he had every intention of overcoming. The how hadn’t occurred to him. Yet. But he wasn’t a quitter. He’d been absolutely serious when he’d told her that he went after what he wanted and he didn’t fail. Ever.

There was a first time for everything, or so the saying went. But he’d be damned if his first failure would be Kylie Breckenridge.


“KYLIE, can you come into my office?” Jensen said over the intercom.

He knew the summons would annoy her, but she’d been clear about wanting him to stay out of her office—her space—and so he’d make her come to him. Not an unreasonable request from a boss to his personal assistant.

“Right away, sir,” she said in a crisp tone that made him smile.

She was so determined to keep their relationship, if you could even say they had a relationship, strictly impersonal and confined to boss and employee.

He knew she hated that Dash was out of the office for an extended period of time because Dash usually acted as a buffer between Jensen and Kylie. Most of the requests came from Dash, even ones that involved Jensen, because Dash sought to protect her.