"Careful. Don't hurt yourself over me, gattina." His eyes gleamed, victorious.

Her body tensed at his voice, and if she was bleeding from clenching the knife beneath her pillow, she couldn't feel it. "Gattina?"

His smile deepened...dark and sexual. "Italian for 'kitten.' Tiny, small, inconsequential." He's taunting me. She rolled away from him and onto her feet at the other side of the bed, unbalanced.

He gave her a flat look, eyes taking a moment to register the butcher knife clenched in her white fist. "You want to fight me?" He chortled deep in his throat. "Sweetheart, you don't want to fight me."

Be brave. Her hands didn't get the message though, and shook uncontrollably. She convinced herself it was her rage.

"I bet you don't even know how to use one of those," he said, gesturing leisurely with his hand to the knife. "First, you have to move it—well, first you have to have muscle to move it fast enough, which, from my examination earlier of your body, you lack. Immensely. Second—"

"I can move it!" she hollered, slicing the blade up and down. He was getting under her skin, and his satisfied expression told her he knew it.

He clapped mockingly. "Bravo. Well, I'm thrilled we solved that dilemma. Now let's solve another." He took one large stride and she panicked.

"Don't come any closer." She pointed the knife at him, and he slowed. "I swear, I'll do it."

His eyes flickered over her trembling stance, and he stifled a laugh as his thumb traced his bottom lip. She couldn't look away from the way he thumbed the sensitive, soft flesh. He had a mouth meant for speaking sweet nothings, and he misused it terribly. "You're shaking, ciccia."

She scanned his toned stomach, the dark happy trail leading to the band of his slacks. Dangerously low, revealing the sharp "V" of his pelvic bone. Any lower—Stop it. When her eyes aligned with his again, a dark humor permeated his grey irises. "I'll stab you. I'm not afraid of you."

"I'd say you have nothing to fear." He tilted his head to the side. "But that'd be a lie." He was in front of her in a blur and she jolted backwards, stumbling into her dresser and sending the picture frames full of awkward high school photos to the ground. God, he's fast! Now they were toe-to-toe—her bare-footed and him in his laced-up Gucci dress shoes. "C'mon, Princess. Hit me, ciccia." Her eyes widened at his burning gaze. Stop calling me things in Italian, dickhead. "A little something? Maybe a little bite, no?"

His breath played with her hair as he leaned closer, and she couldn't hide a low moan when she felt his bare chest brush against her hardened nipples, hidden underneath a camisole.

Why the hell am I aroused now, of all times? Pull yourself together!

His low laughter rumbled in his chest. "All talk, are we? You can't hurt a thing. You that soft? Do you even have a backbone? Or is that, too, made out of Jell-O?"

She couldn't stab him, but she could make him back off.

She pressed the point of the knife to her own throat hard enough that it broke the skin, suppressing a cry of pain.

His playful expression vanished.

"Step back or I'll do it," she cautioned.

A large, strong hand encaged her wrist. "Drop it." Her eyes dug into his, challenging him. When Molly didn't obey, Tensley shoved her against the dresser, prying her fingers away from the knife's base with practiced ease. It thudded loudly on the wooden floor at the same moment Tensley took his free hand and wrapped it around the delicate curve of her neck, choking her. It wasn't a tight grip, but a command to obey.

"You won't hurt me because you have a conscience. A delicate, weak heart. And I have—

well, since you rummaged through my stuff, why don't you tell me?"

She swallowed, attempting to analyze his darkened features. Anger and annoyance laced his voice. Piss off the beast, Molly. Good plan.

She thought back to his books. "You're heartless."

"And you know what that means?" He lowered toher ear, hot breath hitting her chilled flesh. "That I don't give a damn abouta hair on your innocent little head."   

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