“Tell me,” he repeated in a firm voice.
The last thing she wanted to do was tell Christian about her ex-husband. Still, she needed to start opening the door to her past if she wanted a chance with him. She took a deep breath and plowed through. “We were together almost six months, and he told me he had to get drunk to go to bed with me because I was frigid.”
A violent curse broke beneath his breath. “If there is such a thing as a frigid woman, which I doubt, it certainly isn’t you. I would like to get my hands on this sorry excuse for a man and beat him senseless. When I think what he put you through...” He turned onto his side and stroked a finger down her cheek with such tenderness it made her want to cry. “Cara mia, you are sensual and sweet and passionate. If it was up to me, we’d stay in bed forever, making love until we are too weak to move.”
His hand traveled down her bare arm. “I want to know who hurt you, specifically what he did to you. I also know you don’t want to talk about it. You’re a strong woman, and you’re not used to leaning on anyone. I get that. But you’ll feel better after you tell me.”
She hesitated. “It’s a long story.”
“I have time. Who was this less than generous man that hurt you?”
“I know that.” Christian sighed. “I want to know his name.”
Her eyes widened. Did he want to know her ex’s name so he could go after him, seek revenge in her name? That’s the last thing she wanted. She kept her mouth shut.
“How did you meet?” he asked. “Can you tell me that?”
Thomas. She pictured his face and cringed. Resting her cheek against Christian’s solid chest, she told what he wanted to hear. “I was seventeen when my mom died. A friend’s family let me stay with them while I finished my education. I got an internship at a huge company through a special program at my school, and one night they invited all the interns to rub shoulders with the executives. Parties weren’t my thing, but I was afraid to say no. I should have stayed home.”
“You met the jerk at a company party?”
She nodded against his chest. “I tried to tell him I was too young to drink, but he insisted one glass of champagne wouldn’t hurt.” Thomas kept pushing champagne flutes into her hand, shimmering gold liquid with tiny bubbles. She hadn’t wanted him to see her as a baby. “He was older, sophisticated, and treated me like I was someone special.”
Until he didn’t.
Christian’s husky voice filled her ear before he placed a soft kiss on the top of her head. “You are special. Don’t ever doubt that.”
How much of her humiliation should she share with him? That whole evening was best forgotten. Thomas had definitely known what he was doing. The dirtbag had charmed her and gained her trust. “I don’t remember how we got upstairs. My head was spinning, and then he was pushing me into a dark corner. Before I knew what was happening he had my skirt up.”
Christian stiffened. “He raped you?”
“No, no. It wasn’t like that.” When she thought about rape, she pictured a man beating a woman or using a weapon to make her comply. That hadn’t happened to her. It had been quick and quiet. “I don’t think I told him to stop.”
“You were drinking alcohol, and he took advantage of you. In my book that is rape.” Christian cursed beneath his breath again. “I can’t believe you married him after that. Why didn’t you go to the police?”
She could list the reasons. Thomas was the only son of a wealthy and powerful couple. Everyone adored them. Plus, she didn’t feel like she had been raped, so how would she have convinced the authorities?
“The next day he tracked me down. He swore he hadn’t known I was only seventeen. He promised to do the right thing and marry me if I was pregnant.”
“Were you pregnant?”
“I can’t have children. Remember?” She sighed. “I was young and stupid, and he treated me like a princess... until I was his wife. I thought he loved me.”
“When did you discover he didn’t?”
A tremor shook her, and Christian’s arms tightened.
“He changed as soon as we exchanged vows. We didn’t have sex again until that night. I expected it to be different, loving, gentle, but he was just as callous as the first time. Turns out he was an alcoholic. He was drunk every single time we had sex.” She laughed without humor. “He was drunk more often than he was sober.”
“Cara mia.” Christian kissed a hot trail from her ear to jawline. “I am so sorry you had to endure that. Your first time should have been something to remember, something special.”
She looked deep into his eyes and spoke from her heart. “I wish you had been my first.”
His voice dripped with raw emotion. “With all my heart I wish that too.”
He kissed her full on the lips with the perfect amount of tenderness. His hands slid into her hair, and he held her face steady. All of her dark thoughts faded. She forgot her ex-husband’s name. It was like he didn’t exist, not anymore, not in her world.