My Cruel Salvation (Fallen Saint # 3) by J. Kenner



He grinned, then mimicked the way her eyes had roamed over him earlier. “Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you look so damn gorgeous.”

She laughed, delighted. “I take it you like the outfit?”

“You know I do.”

They were in Manhattan for the award ceremony, and she’d told him yesterday that she was going to go shop for the perfect gown while he was shuffled through his various PR appointments as this year’s award recipient. “I’ve lived here for years,” she’d said, “but I’ve never had a reason to do any serious shopping. Fifth Avenue, here I come.”

Now, he made a spinning motion as she twirled for him, showing off the slinky, bronze gown that glimmered in the light, seeming to reflect fire with every tiny movement. She wore strappy sandals that perfectly matched the dress’s color, and the four-inch heels not only gave her the height to almost look him in the eye, but added a delicious curve to her calf, revealed by the thigh-high slit.

He took it all in. The way the material clung to her ass in a way that his palm envied. The curve of her waist. The swell of her breasts against the low-cut, draped bodice, and the smoky topaz set in bronze that accentuated her cleavage and brought out the red highlights in her brown hair that hung in loose curls around her face.

She was stunning, and the more he looked at her, the more awed he was that she belonged to him. This woman, the greatest miracle of his life.

“How much did that necklace set you back?” he teased. “For that matter, the outfit?”

She waved her hand. “On my reporter’s salary? Let’s just say I’ll be paying it off for the rest of my life.” She slid into his arms. “Fortunately, my boyfriend is worth it.”

“Hmm,” he said, making a note to replenish her bank account first chance he had. “Well, you can’t put a price on perfection.”

Her smile widened, making her caramel-colored eyes gleam. “I love you,” she said, and miraculously, his heart swelled even more.

“Careful, or we won’t get out of here on time.” The front desk had called up a few minutes ago to say the limo would arrive in fifteen. They needed to start heading down.

“I’m not worried,” she said, moving closer and easing her arms around his waist. “You’re the guest of honor. Nothing starts without you.”

She rose up on her toes to kiss him, and though his entire body tightened with the need to throw her back on the bed, strip her bare, and work out every one of his roiling emotions in hot, wild, demanding sex, all he did was shake his head and push her gently but firmly away.

“No.”

Her brow rose. “No?”

“Not that you aren’t temptation personified,” he told her. He meant it, too. Was there ever a time he didn’t want her? Under normal circumstances, he craved her. Right now, things were definitely not normal, and that only worked to increase his need. He felt off, as if he should be shying from this award. As if he should believe himself undeserving or hypocritical because of the secrets he held.

But he didn’t.

He knew the good he did. He’d worked all of his adult life to try and make the world a better place. To ease suffering, fight crime, provide education. Whatever could be done, was done, and the foundation he’d built brick by brick and day by day had acted as the solid base for so many lives that were now back on track. So many victims who’d been rescued. So many of the lost who’d been found.

He thought of all the children he’d hugged, the parents he’d consoled, the abuse victims he’d sheltered. And, yes, the many villains he’d personally killed, their life taken in payment for their crimes, and without a shred of remorse on his part other than that he hadn’t found and destroyed the bastards before they’d had the chance to inflict even one more moment of pain.

Ellie’s smile was gentle as she reached up, then slowly traced the line of his scar, moving over his brow, his eye, along his cheekbone. A battle scar he wore with pride, because it represented the downfall of one more bad guy. Another pawn in a never-ending game of chess.

“I hate that you were hurt,” she said. “But you do look damn sexy with your warrior scar and your tuxedo and those tortoise shell glasses.”

“I’m very glad you think so.”

“You know what else I think?”

“Tell me,” he said as he cupped her ass and pulled her close enough that he knew she could feel his hard cock against her belly.