“You say you love me, but you have made me into some kind of superhero in your mind. What happens when you see me for the man I really am, unsentimental, ruthless tycoon and all?”

“First of all, I do see you for who you are, Zephyr Nikos.” No matter how naive she had been with her ex, she hated that Zephyr thought her judgment regarding him could be skewed. It was not the same at all. It wasn’t. “We were friends before we were lovers,” she reminded him. “I’ve seen you in every aspect of life from your most impatient day on the job to the moment when you realized your mom didn’t give you up without immense regret.”


Sheesh, did he really think stuff like that didn’t matter? But then not loving her, maybe it didn’t to him. “So, I know you can be ruthless, but I also know you aren’t obsessed with revenge. If you were, you would have done something to your mother’s husband, but you never did. You bought them a house, put his children through school. You never did a single thing to hurt him. You’re just not that ruthless.”

“But I am.”

“Oh, really?”

“You are being deliberately obtuse.”

She pulled away from him, crossed her arms and glared. “No, that would be you.”

“Is this our first fight?” he asked, as if the concept amused him.

She was not laughing. “No. We argued before.” He was too fond of getting his own way for even their friendship to have been all smooth sailing.

And maybe so was she.

“Not since we got engaged.” He tugged her toward the couch.

She put up token resistance, but grudgingly allowed herself to be maneuvered into a spot beside him. She refused to sit on his lap, however, and kept her arms crossed. “Considering how recent that is, that’s not saying much.”

“You said first of all.”


“That implies you have more to say on the subject. You might as well get it all out now.”

Her first reaction was to accuse him of fishing, but then she realized this whole discussion might have taken the turn it did because he needed reassurance. And no way would Mr. Arrogant Alpha think to simply ask for it.

If Zephyr needed reassurance, she was happy to give it to him. Even if he was being more than a little annoying, but it was odd how she had told him she loved him and he was the one needing proof.

She was the one marrying a man who had told her he could not love her, and she had no fears she was not doing the right thing for her. Almost no fears. All right. Fine. No fears she was willing to give voice to. But what woman in her situation wouldn’t be at least a little nervous?

“Maybe you aren’t sentimental by nature, but you are just sappy enough for me, all right? You may not see yourself as romantic, but the way you are with me, the things you say and do, are all I ever wanted in that department. Art pretended to be the kind of man I could love. You are that man. You don’t pretend to be anything. In fact, you are almost brutally honest at times.”

“And that does not give you pause?” His tone doubted her sanity.

She did her best not to take offense. “No. Trust comes hard for me now. Knowing just how unwilling you are to lie, even when a lie would serve you well, is a great comfort to me. I know I can trust you, and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say that to a man I loved again.”

“What is love without trust?”

“I don’t know.” Why didn’t he ask her something easy like what the meaning of life was, or something? “I’m not a philosopher. I never pretended to be. All I know is that I do love you. I do trust you because of who you are. And nothing is going to change the way I see you. So, you might as well get used to it.”

“I suppose I don’t have much choice.”

“Not if you still want to marry me.”

“That is never up for discussion.”


“Can we progress to the makeup sex now?” he asked with a leer that should have irritated her. But it just made her laugh. She uncrossed her arms. “I think maybe we can.”

They were soaking in a bubble bath after a tender session of lovemaking that had wrung every ounce of emotion and pleasure from her.

“I thought makeup sex was supposed to be all hot, sweaty and urgent.”

“We have that without the lively discussions beforehand.”


“Besides, I do not like to fit the stereotypes.”

“No worries there. You are very much your own man, Zephyr.”

“And you are a very special woman, Piper Madison.”

“Be careful, you’re sliding into sentimentality there.”

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