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Je la serre plus fort encore. J’ai l’impression que je ne serai jamais assez proche, jamais assez près d’elle.

— Je t’aime, Amelia. Je ne peux pas m’imaginer sans toi. Et je ne veux jamais que tu me regardes, que tu poses tes yeux sur n’importe quelle partie de mon corps en pensant que tu n’es pas tout pour moi.

Elle pose sa tête sur mon épaule, me touche la joue.

— Parce que tu l’es, ajouté-je. Tu es mon tout.

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** Extrait offert par Natasha Knight ** (VO)

I’ve been watching her for weeks. Following from the shadows. Always nearby.

Lurking, like a ghost.

And it’s a good thing for her because I’m not the only monster on these streets. She seems to attract them like bees to honey.

Sweet, sweet honey.

She feels my presence. I know it.

I see it in the way she looks over her shoulder when she steps out onto the street. The way she scans every room she enters.

Even inside her borrowed apartment, she knows she’s not alone. Not safe.

It wasn’t hard to find her. To arrange everything for her.

And tonight, after all the preparations, all the waiting, I will reap my own Willow Girl.

I swallow my drink. Signal for another.

The door opens then, and I swear every time she enters a room, something shifts inside it. Like there’s a charge of energy, a wire, live and dangerous, sparking electricity.

It’s almost palpable, that shift. And I know in an instant how she slipped unnoticed past Matteo.

The bartender does a double take. He smiles.

She makes her way to her usual spot as he sets a drink in front of her.

In the months she’s been away from home, she’s changed. The docile, meek Barbie-doll is gone. Was she ever that? The darkness inside her, it’s on the outside too now. She took care of that tonight.

The old man watches her with the tenderness of a father, and I think she just ordered another drink because he’s hesitant. But she insists, and she always gets her way.

It’s how it is with beautiful women. Men drop to their knees to worship them.

The thought makes my jaw tighten.

I did it, didn’t I?

I knelt.

I worshipped.

The whiskey tastes bitter as I swallow it down. It’s time for me to make my move.

I slide off my barstool and make my way toward her.

I take the seat beside hers, put my boot on the foot rest of her stool, lean in toward her and when I inhale, I smell hair dye and her.

“I think the lady prefers to be alone,” the bartender says.

I don’t bother looking at the old man. Instead, I meet Amelia Willow’s spectacular blue eyes and in that instant, I know she knows who I am.

I know she has not a single doubt.

“I like what you did with your hair,” I say, pushing that same, disobedient lock back behind her ear, feeling her shudder as my gloved hand touches the smooth skin of her cheek.

My gaze falls to her mouth, glossy, pouty lips parted in surprise. I think how I’d like to kiss those lips.

Sink my teeth into them.

“Now look here,” the bartender starts.

I meet her eyes again, smile.

She’s still watching me, her eyes still wide. I can hear her breathing. It’s a shallow, trembling breath.

“I said the lady prefers to be alone,” the old man says again.

“Do you prefer to be alone, Amelia?” I ask her, never taking my eyes from hers, sliding my fingers over her delicate collar bone to the hollow just beneath her throat.

She tries to speak but has to clear her throat to get the words out.

“It’s fine,” she says, a slight tremor in her soft voice. She never takes her eyes off me. “I know him.”

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