“Attempted murder, also referred to as Murder 1, is when one, say the defendant, commits the heinous act of murder. Is that correct?”
My heart thumps when Cleo’s wide eyes stray to mine. Her eyes are the color of baked clay. They are bright and entrancing, but utterly lifeless. The last part of my assessment makes my cock swell. The broken are the most beautiful. They are fractured souls left defenseless to the people who don’t understand the beauty of their cracks. I see past the damage, past their wilted, pained looks. I see the exquisiteness behind the ugliness.
The broken are the most beautiful as the strength required to fix them is nothing less than miraculous. It separates men into two groups: cowards and gods. I belong in the latter.
My pulse rages in my ears when Cleo licks her cracked lips, reminding me of how plump they are. She wordlessly consults with the DA, hoping he will advise her how the man sitting behind him wants her to answer my question.
Although annoyed she is seeking his opinion, I’m not shocked at her ability to express herself without words. We’ve communicated in the same manner many times during the three weeks of my trial. The sneaky glances, the peering at me when she loses his unforgiving glare proves she is watching me as closely as I’m monitoring her.
That is why I chose to defend myself. I don’t need pompous, insolent men telling me I’m “misconstruing the facts.” I can’t misread the way her pulse quickens when she captures my steel-blue gaze, or the extra layer of sweat that mists her brow when my observant watch has her squirming in her seat. Cleo isn’t panicked about my undivided attention. As long as her needy gaze isn’t caught by the man who believes he owns her, she’s thrilled by it.
The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or heard. They are felt. Whether it is an invisible pull or the stars aligning just right, when you find your other half, you never give up the hunt until they are yours. I erased the evidence of Cleo’s betrayal. I forgave her for her error in judgment. Now, we just have this last hurdle to jump, then we’ll be free to be with one another.
This trial isn’t Cleo’s choice. He forced her into it. He is threatened by my looks and unreachable wealth. Rightfully so. I don’t just have the brains; I also have the brawn. I could have had Cleo eating out of my palm years ago, but a change in game plan added an additional thrill.
My relationship with Shelley was exhilarating. It occurred at a rate three times the speed of my usual liaisons. But with the thrill of the hunt weakened by the ease of the game, the spark fueling our connection dwindled. I tried to re-ignite the flame—I gave it everything I had—but her death ended our game before I could woo her with my god-like stamina and cunning intellect.
News of her demise rocked me in a way I’ve never experienced. Seeing the life in her eyes vanish at the hands of another man was not a game I had ever played. When you are the man responsible for relighting the flame in one’s eyes, it is only right you’re the one who extinguishes it.
Cleo’s dad stole that right from me. When his car veered across the black ice and crashed into Shelley’s vehicle head-on, he took my game and flipped it on its head. He awoke a beast.
I was raised believing I had complete control. He proved I didn’t. The fall from my tower was eye-opening and painstakingly long.
I will admit, I was a little lost the week following Shelley’s death. Power isn’t something that is given. You take it; you steal it; you go to the ends of the earth to find it. You do not have it stolen from you.
For the first time in twenty-four years, the devil beat me at my game. He snatched the prize from beneath my nose. He played me for a fool. So it was only fair I returned the favor.
The game Cleo and I are playing is long, but the prize will be worthy. Cleo is even more broken now than when I stumbled upon her at her brother’s funeral. Her eyes are wet from the tears she shed when questioned about the death of her unborn child. The contents of her nose precariously pool in the crevices of her nostrils when the jury is shown the fresh scar in her lower abdomen. Her hands are still shaking from when she was forced to point to me when asked who “allegedly” assaulted her.
She is beautiful—utterly breathtaking. She is also mine.
Hoping to break the fog our eight-week absence has caused to Cleo’s mind, I step into her line of sight, blocking him from her view. The veins in her neck twang as her pulse quickens. She is so pleased to have secured my utmost devotion, she struggles to breathe. Every ragged gasp she takes doubles the thickness of the blood in my veins.
I understand her struggle.
I feel her pain.
I will once again save her from her nightmare.
“Is that correct?” I ask Cleo again, my voice raspier than earlier.
Her looks do that