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Chapter 16 LILY I stare at Marco incredulously, trying to make sense of what I’ve just heard. “B-but I haven’t signed your contract yet.” I whisper. He pulls me harder against him, his gaze burning into my face. “That doesn’t matter right now, cara mia. Move in with me and you’ll sign the contract in my office carly tomorrow morning. It is that simple.” I don’t know why, but I begin to panic. Moving in with Marco will only worsen things between us, I just know it. I’m about to decline his offer when I hear movements behind me. “Lily, do not let him force you into doing anything you do not want to do.” I turn to find Lisa standing behind us, her hands folded beneath her breasts. I force a smile to reassure her. “I’m fine, Lisa. Everything’s okay.” I turn to Marco. “I’m sorry, but I will not be accepting this offer. I will think of a way to pay our rent before tomorrow.” He lets go of me immediately and I stumble backwards in surprise. “I am not someone you want to test, Lily. You will be moving into my house once you sign the contract. What’s the difference between now and a few more hours?”

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“What contract is he talking about?” Lisa asks, her face creased in confusion. “Hold on, Lisa.” I walk over to the landlord and try to get him to agree to my terms. Marco’s gaze is like a physical touch on my skin, following my every move….branding me. “Mr. Lee, please. I just need four hours. Four hours and the money will be in your account. Please, sir.” Mr. Lee shakes his head. “I’m sorry but that is no longer within my power.” 1.5 14:28 Fri, 26 Jan D. Chapter 16 I stare at him, confusion evident in my gaze. “What on earth are you talking about?” OS61% “I’m not the right person whom you should be asking for extra time, Lily. This building belongs to Marco Marcelli now.” I freeze, a strange sense of de ja vu suddenly making me dizzy. I pivot slowly in Marco’s direction. His leans against one wall, his eyes gleaming with annoying smugness.

“Now, come over here and beg me.” He growls. “Make it good and I might actually consider it.”

“When did you even have the time to buy the place?” He shrugs. “Two minutes ago.” Anger shoots through my veins. “Never. I will never beg you for anything, Mr. Marcelli. That first time was the last.” To my chagrin, his expression does not chagge. “We’ll just have to see about that, Miss Carson. Now, I’m asking for the last time. Do you accept my offer? Stay with me tonight and I’ll order these men to return all of your stuff. You do not have to roam around the city in search of a place to sleep tonight, princess. It is all in your hands.” Indecision swamps me. If I do not accept Marco’s offer, Lisa and I might end up not having a place to stay tonight. If I accept…I do not trust myself to behave around this man. Before me, Marco looks down at his watch. “I’m afraid but you have only succeeded in wasting my time. I will only take your silence to mean that you do not accept my offer. That’s fine, but make sure you’re in my office as early as eight AM this morning. Don’t be late.” He turns to leave and panic/grips me. Before I can stop myself, I blurt, “Wait!” Marco comes to a pause. 25 14:28 Fri, 26 Jan Chapter 16 I heave a breath and succumb to a monster once more.. “Fine. I accept your offer.” “Good. Take all of their stuff back inside.” He orders the handy men. I kind of feel sorry for them. To me, he says. “You probably have a few things to say to your friend. Meet me in the car in five minutes.” Then he turns and walk away without another word. I square my shoulders and finally confront my best friend.

We stare at each other silently for a few seconds, then she blurts; “Gosh! The man is intense. Where on earth did you find him?” I smile, relieved that Lisa has chosen not to make this more awkward than it already is. “At school. I cried all over the man the first day I met him.” I still cringe from embarrassment whenever I remember that day. Lisa let’s out a dramatic gasp. “You didn’t.” I laugh. “Yes, I did.” Without another word, she closes the distance between us and wraps me in a hug. “I hope you’re okay. He’s not hurting you or anything, right?” My heart dips at the thought and I shut my eyes. Marco Marcelli has hurt me more than anyone else in the world. But I will not be telling my best friend that…yet.

“No, he hasn’t hurt me. I can take care of myself, Lisa. Trust me.” “What is all these about a contract?” “Everything’s crazy at the moment, but I promise to tell you everything that’s going on very soon, okay?” She nods. “Okay.” Chapter 16 I step away from her with much difficulty, Tears pri ck my eyes when I see moisture in hers. “Please don’t cry, Lisa. I’ll see you soon, okay?” She nods once more. “Okay. Call me everyday.” “I will.” Then I get into the elevator, trying to stop myself from giving up and bawling all over the place. When I get to the ground fioor, I wipe my wet cheeks hastily and climb into Marco’s car. Without sparing him a single glance, I strap myself in and look out the window. The air in the car is tense and hot…and stuffy. Marco’s presence completely sucks in every bit of oxygen in the room,

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leaving me completely unable to function properly when he’s around. When the car remains still for more than a minute, he mutters; “You’ve been crying. Why?” I shake my head and keep my eyes glued to the window. “Look at me, Lily.” He orders. I shake my head firmly. “Please just move, Marco. There’s no need for all of this.” “I won’t ask again.” He says quietly and I finally snap. I whip my head in his direction and spear him with an angry, tear filled gaze. “Who the hell do you even think you are to order me around?! Don’t I ever get a say in what I want? I’m a human being, too. I have feelings, go dda mn it! But you have never thought of that. All you do is tra mple and tra mple. You don’t care about anyone but yourself!” In my moment of rage, I did not realise that Marco had come within touching distance until his hands shoot out and grab my chin. The feeling of his skin against mine stuns me to silence. He pulls me forward until we’re eye-to-eye. His hot breath wafts against my checks, leaving me breathless. 14:28 Fri, 26 Jan – Chapter 16 “Do you know the one thing that drew me when I first met you?” When I remain silent, his hands on my chin tightens slightly. “Do you, cara?” 10 I shake my head. He leans in closer and his hot lips brush against my cheeks. The simple touch makes my core clench with strange seousal. His fingers wrap around a strand of my hair. 61% “It wasn’t this beautiful blonde hair or those eyes that hide a thousand secrets, baby. It wasn’t your scent which is on the very verge of making me crazy. It wasn’t the fact that you might’ve been the most beautiful woman I have ever seen… My heart almost stops beating. Marco thinks I’m beautiful? IL “…it was your temper, my pet. It was those beautiful silver sparks that go off in your eyes whenever you’re so angry at me. It was the way your eyes burn with so much passion whenever I annoy you. So what do you think I did? I vowed to annoy you every single day, just so I can have a little glimpse of that wild girl that comes out when your claws are unsheathed. When you cried on my shoulder that day, I vowed that the only tears you will ever cry going forward are the ones that I cause. Seeing you cry because of me should make me happy… satisfied, but you have messed with my head so much, I can hardly think straight when you’re around.” His words drop like shattering crystals around me, leaving me confused yet longing to hear more. Suddenly, his eyes darken with fierce determination. “You are mine, Lily. I own you. I want to be the author of your tears, your anger, your happiness and

sorrow. You’re mine, all mine and only mine. Then his lips capture mine in a hard, nerve wrecking k*ss and I lose the ability to think completely.