Besides, cameras are more effective, and my security feeds are unhackable . . . or as close as they can be.
When I finish taking the turns and climbing the stairs necessary to reach my inner sanctum, the room J refers to as my lair, I expect the remaining insurrection of emotions roiling through me to be put down as effectively as a revolt.
Not so, because when that fireplace spins and my library comes into view, I know I made a massive mistake thinking this refuge would insulate me from what I’m feeling.
All I can see is her. The first night she stood inside these walls, she pulled off that hideous trench coat to reveal her fuckable curves with that ridiculous henna tattoo, and the image is burned in my brain.
She held herself like a queen. Like a woman who could handle the intensity of the king that I have declared myself to be.
No weaknesses, I remind myself again.
My fingers curl into fists, and I’m tempted to put one through the wall. For the first time in longer than I can remember, doubt taunts me.
Maintain control. That’s what I do, and I can’t let Keira Kilgore change that.
I turn toward the table holding the decanters of liquor and reach for my favorite, only to still my hand in midair.
It’s a Seven Sinners whiskey, one I’ve had my associates appropriate from the distillery’s off-site storehouses upon my request, because it’s not yet available for sale to the public, except in small batches in the restaurant atop Seven Sinners Distillery, and I’m not a man willing to be denied. I jerk my hand away from the Spirit of New Orleans and reach for the Scotch. After all, my name comes from the Scots. Lachlan Mount sounded like a man who demanded power, and I was fifteen when I chose it.
For the two years I lived on the streets after ending that miserable fuck Jerry’s life, I didn’t have a name. No one could have cared less about another runaway. The rare nights I slept in shelters, I used a different fake name every time. I lied. I cheated. I stole.
I still do all those things, and what’s more, I do them without remorse.
I am not a good man. My soul is black. My heart is stone. My reputation isn’t legend or myth, but a collection of facts.
If there were a scale to determine the purity of a person, I would send one side crashing to the ground with the weight of my sins, and laugh while I watched.
I’m going to hell. I know that with full certainty, but there’s a long list of people I’ll send there ahead of me.
Keira Kilgore is the opposite. She’s pure. Innocent. Naive as fuck. She still thinks everyone plays by the rules, and good judgment paves the road to success. She’s wrong, but she would never believe me. I never should have brought her into my world, but I’m selfish enough not to care. Selfish enough to keep her here.
“I don’t want this. I didn’t ask for this, and I will never submit willingly. I swear it on everything that’s holy.”
She said those words as she stood naked before me, and her body betrayed her. I made a liar out of her too because every time I took her, she was more than willing. She wanted it as badly as I did.
I swear I can smell her in this room over the leather, old books, and cigar smoke, and it makes me want to stalk back to her room, rip open the door, and make a liar out of her again.