“Of course I had a choice,” Kyleigh argued. “I could have done the right thing. Instead, I selfishly used you to avoid a punishment I deserved. You have every right to be mad. In fact, you should be furious.”
“The situation you were in could have ended very badly for you. If you hadn’t helped me, you wouldn’t have been in that position at all. How can I be mad at you for doing what you had to do to save yourself?” Ian asked. “Hell, I owe you that much. Being stuck here with you is a small price to pay.”
That was another big reality check. Ian was with her because he had no choice in the matter and accepted it because he felt he owed her. Being in her presence was merely a way to repay a debt.
“You can let go of my hand now,” she said.
Ian sighed and looked like he was considering refusing, but he finally released her hand. “Sit down,” he said and pointed to one of her chairs.
Kyleigh hesitated for a moment before taking a seat. Rather than sitting across the room, Ian grabbed a chair and moved it until they were sitting across from each other, so close their knees were almost touching.
“I haven’t wanted any woman since Kate was killed,” he said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
Kyleigh nodded. “I understand. Calling you my mate doesn’t mean I expect you to act like my mate.”
“Good,” he said, “because, honestly, I’m not sure I have it in me to be your mate. I’m broken in so many ways. Mitchell has helped me heal, but I’m not sure I have what it takes to love a woman again. That doesn’t change how much I want you, Kyleigh. Just thinking about being inside of you gets me hard. The reason we need to talk about this is that I need to know where this thing between us is headed. I need to know if you’re open to exploring the attraction between us with the understanding that I can’t really be your mate.” Ian hesitated and then looked down at his hands. “Please tell me I didn’t sound like as much of an asshole as I think I did. I’m trying really hard to be nice, but I’m not very good at it.”
“You were just being honest,” she said, her voice shaking slightly from nerves and excitement. “I don’t have much experience in this area.”
Ian leaned forward to take both of her hands in his. “I know, and that gets me more turned on. You’re so innocent, and it makes me feel possessive to think that you might be experiencing things for the first time with me.”