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Tormentor Mine(95)

By:Anna Zaires

“We should be fine then,” Peter says, stepping closer to me. “Though…” He pauses, staring down at me with a speculative expression.

“Though what?” I ask when he remains silent. My heart is hammering with a dull, fast rhythm. “Though what?”

“Though I wouldn’t mind.” His words are light, casual, but there’s no trace of humor in his voice. “Not with you.”

“You—what?” My headache intensifies, my skull feeling like it wants to implode. He can’t possibly mean what he’s saying. “Why wouldn’t you—? That makes no sense!”

“Does it not?” A glimmer of amusement now appears in his eyes. “Why, ptichka?”

“Because… because you’re you.” My voice is choked with disbelief. “You drugged and tortured me before killing my husband and forcing your way into my life. I don’t know what you’re imagining here, but we’re not dating. This is not some kind of love story—”

“No?” His expression hardens, all hints of amusement disappearing. “Then what do you think it is that I feel for you? Why can’t I go a single hour without thinking about you, wanting you… fucking craving you? You think it’s lust that keeps me here, day after day, when the whole world is out for my head and my men are crawling up the walls from boredom?” He steps even closer, and my breathing speeds up as his palms slap against the counter on both sides of me, caging me against the sink. His eyes glitter fiercely as he leans in, his voice roughening. “You think I’m here instead of hunting down the last ublyudok on my list because I can’t get enough of your tight little pussy?”

My face burns as I stare up at him, the vulgarity of his words intensifying my confusion. I don’t know what to say, how to take it all in. He sounds angry, yet what he’s saying makes it seem almost as though—

“Yes, I see you understand.” His mouth curves in a dark, mocking smile. “It might not be a love story for you, ptichka, but as fucked up as it is, that’s precisely what this is for me. I started off hating you, but somewhere along the way, you’ve become the only thing that matters to me, the only person I still care about. And yes, that means I love you, as wrong as that may be. I love you, even though you were his… even though you think I’m a monster. I love you more than life itself, Sara, because when I’m with you, I feel more than agony and rage—and I want more than death and vengeance.” His chest expands with a deep breath, his expression turning somber as he says quietly, “When I’m with you, ptichka, I’m living.”

I’m not aware that I’m crying until his face blurs in front of my eyes. My chest is too tight, my breaths too shallow. I’ve known that Peter is obsessed with me, but I’ve never imagined that in his mind, that obsession equals love, that he wants some kind of real future with me… one where we’re together as a family.

A future where FBI agents aren’t about to storm through the door.

“Don’t cry, ptichka.” His thumb strokes over my wet cheek, and I see the mocking smile return to his lips. “This doesn’t change anything. You can still hate me. Just because I love you, I’m not any less of a monster—and I’m not going to disappear from your life.”

But you are. I want to scream out the truth, but I can’t. I can’t warn him, even though my heart feels like it’s tearing apart. I don’t love him—I can’t—but it hurts as though I do, as though losing him will be the worst thing ever. A choked sob rips from my throat, then another, and then I’m in his arms, clasped securely against his chest as he carries me out of the bathroom.

When he reaches my bed, he sits down, holding me on his lap, and I cry, my face buried against his neck as he strokes my back, slowly, soothingly. He’s right; his confession of love shouldn’t change anything, but somehow, it makes things worse. It makes me feel like I’m losing something real… like I’m betraying him and us.

How can a monster hold me so tenderly? How can a psychopath love?

My skull feels like it’s being sawed open from the inside, my headache worsened by my crying, and I push at Peter’s chest, twisting out of his embrace—only to fall onto the bed, whimpering as I clutch my temples.

He leans over me, concern darkening his features. “What’s the matter, ptichka?” he asks, stroking my arm, and I manage to mutter something about a headache before squeezing my eyes shut. What I’m feeling is more along the lines of a migraine, but I’m in too much pain to explain.