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Prologue

"Please." His voice was rough with emotion, and she felt like his eyes were boring into her soul. He reached up and caught her little finger with one of his own. She was unable to stifle the gasp that escaped her lips at his touch. It was the most physical contact she had ever had with him. For weeks, she had imagined what it would feel like, his skin on hers. The reality was so much more powerful than anything she had anticipated. She took a deep, ragged breath, trying to slow her suddenly racing heart. She closed her eyes in an attempt to block out his intense stare and gather her jumbled thoughts.

"I-" she began, but he cut her off, placing one long finger to her lips. His skin was hot against hers, and she gasped again at the contact as her eyes flew open. He felt her sharp intake of breath around his finger, and his own eyelids fluttered closed at the sensation. After a moment, he opened his eyes and gazed steadily into hers. He would listen to what she had to say even if it was something he didn't want to hear. Realizing his finger was still pressed against her lips, he started slightly and pulled it away, shoving his hand into his pocket to keep from touching her again.

On the other side of the door, she heard the muffled voices of people rushing past, oblivious to what was going on in the tiny room. Her heart thumped even faster as she realized that, at any moment, someone could burst through that door. She wondered what it would look like to anyone who caught the two of them in there together. How would they explain themselves?

He watched as her eyes darted to the door, and in an instant, he knew what she was thinking. He clenched his jaw at the thought of the danger this meeting was putting them both in. He knew the risks, and though he was willing to take them, he hated asking her to take them, too. This was wrong. He knew it, and he knew she knew it, but for the life of him, he couldn't bring himself to leave. Physically it would be a simple act to turn on his heel and leave her standing alone the small, dark room. Emotionally though, he knew it would have taken the strength of ten men to get him to budge.

She tried again, eyeing him warily as she spoke. "I don't know if I can do this." She decided it was better to be honest and direct with him, rather than lead him on unnecessarily.

Even in the room's dim light, she could see his eyes darkening at her words. "Do you think I can? Do you think this is easy for me?" He realized his tone was hard and worked to make his next words softer. "I know this is wrong. I know we shouldn't be here. But do you know how long I've been waiting? Do you know how long I've been looking for someone like you?"