"You always told me the truth’ he said. "Even when I didn’t want to listen. You told me you had everything you needed. Everything you wanted. You said you weren’t going to change for me. And I don’t want you to. I would never ask you to."
"I know that’ she said. "There was a he."
"Of course there was. You’re beautiful. Brilliant. I’d be stupid to think that I was the first man you’d been with:’
"No, not boyfriends. None of them matter. I’m talking about my father:’
His fists curled. "I’ll kill him:’
"No. He wasn’t like that."
His jaw loosened. "Thank God."
"He didn’t love my mother. Or me." A bitter laugh escaped.
"But he sure as hell loved everybody else he could get his hands on."
Sam shook his head. "Whatever he did to your mom, whoever he cheated with, it didn’t mean he didn’t love you’
But he didn’t know what it had been like for her. He didn’t know that she had spent her whole life trying to please him, to make him proud. Only to finally realize that she wasn’t worth enough to her father to matter at all. Good or bad.
"He only loved himself. I’m a lot like him."
"Then you’re the good part of him’
She laughed, but it was a harsh sound. "There wasn’t a good part."
"He helped make you, didn’t he?"
"You’re full of it, Sam, but I still love you." "I know you do:’
And then she was in his arms, the only place she’d ever truly felt safe. The only place she’d ever felt loved. "I’ve always held myself back from love. I always thought it had to turn out bad. That I’d never find a man that I could trust." She looked into his eyes. "I’m not afraid anymore, Sam."
He smiled, and she fell all the way into him. "I know you’re not:’ "How come you know everything? I used to think I did, but now …
His mouth was almost on hers, but before he kissed her, he pulled away and held her at arm’s length. "Does this mean I’m going to have to take you down off of that pedestal I’ve put you on?"
She snorted. "Good one’ "I was tempted."
"Of course you were’ she said in her patented smug voice.
"I made that mistake once. I’m not stupid enough to make it again. Not even with you."
"You’re not obsessed with me?" she said with an exaggerated pout. "I’m not your every waking thought, your muse for life?"
"Too late. I’m already utterly obsessed." "Good."
”And I always will be:’ "Good"
"But you’ll never stay on the pedestal for long’ "Screw you:’
He grinned. "I hope that’s an invitation."
"Of course it is’ Finally, she unlocked her office door and pulled him inside, behind closed blinds. "Do you want me to take my clothes off?"