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Screamed for help once, twice, but just when she was about to let out a third cry, a vice hold seizing her left arm viciously snatched her away from plain view of the school to the other side of the single storey, then shoved her back against its unrelenting wall.

Sarah gasped as much from the novelty of an intimate touch as the rattled bones in her body, because this shove came from a hand that boldly claimed its place right over the heaving tops of her breasts.

But the life of her awareness to this novelty at the prospect of a new threat gaping wide was only as long as that gasp lasted. Sarah instinctively closed her eyes against it. However, just moments before what had dominated her vision was a tall form clad in all black. The expanse of the chest and shoulders so great, it had blocked her sight of everything else.

“What do we have here?” The deep rasp was mocking.

It’s him, it’s him. She was fighting panic from taking over.

“Look at me.” That rasp commanded, steeled with the certainty of one that had never been refused.

He was close, too close. The heat his body exuded was impossible to deny. She could feel his scalding breath make its leisurely path from the subtle grace of her face to the delicate slope of her neck, then back up to sweep over her one ear.

A knot grew in Sarah’s throat at an ominous pause there.

An intake of a deep, rough breath. Was he smelling her hair?

Then the rasp spoke again, and the chill of Artic iced her veins. “Open your eyes birdie. The lion wants to play.”

If someone were to take her hands then, he would have thought them carved from blocks of ice.

And just so, they lay either side of her, useless.

“Come on,” The demand softened, almost coaxing. “Open your eyes.”

With a shudder, Sarah found his softness far destructive than the mocking coldness of before. The inexplicable reaction it catalysed running over her skin as thousand feathers, frightened her all the more.

Fear in its base form she understood, but this.. It felt as if myriad embers were taking light within her. What was she feeling? Was there even a name for it?

Her eyelids pressed down tighter, too shaken to comply.

“Open. Your. Eyes.” Gruffly, he changed to demanding again.

This terse reversion was vastly welcome, though no less frightening.

“Or else..” His patience had clearly run out of its reserve.

In past, ‘or else’ had always been the precedent of painful punishments from her dad. So it was again arrant fright that had her eyes jumping open.

Surrounding her was Maximus. He was even bigger this close. A need to hyperventilate came over Sarah.

A fall of rakishly dishevelled raven hair hooded above his piercing amber eyes as flecks of gold within blazed with predatory instinct. The nose so straight and proud, it must never have had to look up but down on people. His mouth was taut in the grinding of his teeth that delineated a jaw strong enough to sand rocks.

This clear sign of anger over the lethal angles of his chiselled face profoundly unnerved Sarah. Her eyes immediately darted to his, needing to find what he intended for her.

But in the second she moved her vision from his mouth to his eyes, his whole demeanour had taken a turn.

An inquisitive, too probing a stare was pinned on her. He was studying her with such gravid interest, it appeared the world around had lost its appeal to him.

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