Somewhere in the back of the cave, a drip counted out Minerva’s stunned silence.
One, two, three…
…ten, eleven, twelve…
He needed her? In his bed? It was too much to be believed. She reminded herself it wasn’t her he needed. Apparently, any woman would do.
“So you’re telling me that this accident…this tragic night in your youth…is the reason for your libertine ways?”
“Yes. This is my curse.” He gave a deep, resonant sigh. A sigh clearly meant to pluck at her heartstrings.
And it worked. It really worked.
“Sweet heaven.” She swallowed back a lump in her throat. “You must do this all the time. Night after night, you tell women your tale of woe…”
“Not really. The tale of woe precedes me.”
“…and then they just open their arms and lift their skirts for you. ‘Come you poor, sweet man, let me hold you’ and so forth. Don’t they?”
He hedged. “Sometimes.”
Minerva knew they did. They must. She felt it happening to her. As he’d related his story, a veritable fount of emotion had welled in her chest. Sadness, sympathy. Her womb somehow became involved, sending nurturing impulses coursing through her veins. Everything feminine in her responding to the call.
Then came the lies. Her heart told her lies. Wicked, insidious falsehoods, resounding with every beat.
He’s a broken man.
He needs you.
You can heal him.
Rationally, she knew better. Untold numbers of women had already tried their hands–among other body parts–at “healing his broken soul,” with no success.
And yet…although her mind knew it to be foolishness, her body ached with the desire to hold him. Soothe him.
“I can’t believe this,” she breathed, mostly to herself. “I can’t believe you’re working this spell on me.”
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