That hurt the worst. Knowing there was a chance, no matter what he said, that the world would see her as a whore.
“Don’t lie to me,” she whispered as his lips parted. “I know I wasn’t a call girl. I know I wasn’t there to provide a little secure entertainment for whatever bullshit agent needed a friendly fuck at the time. But that’s how the world will see me if that report is revealed. At least give me the truth, allow me that much.”
“No, you weren’t.” He breathed in deeply, Travis raking his fingers through his hair and glancing at the water running in the shower.
“Then what was I?” Desperation clawed at her chest then. If she couldn’t trust Travis, then who could she trust?
He moved closer. “I am the only friend you have in this situation,” he warned her, his voice so dark now, so rough she flinched. “You have no other allies. You have no one else you can discuss this with, do you understand me, Lilly? To the bottom of your soul, understand me or you will die. You will die and there will be no way in hell I can save you.”
Her lips parted, fear and hope slamming through her now as she stared back at him, her gaze still hazy from the tears.
“I already knew that.” She tried to stop her lips from trembling. “I’ve known since the second I awoke in that hospital six months ago that every breath I draw could be my last.”
“Only if you fuck up,” he growled. “Only if I fuck up. Lilly Belle was a private contract agent that worked with a select group of agents both private and government. She wasn’t trained to fuck, Lilly. She was trained to provide a dis
traction or to back up operations. And you were one of the best.”
“I killed,” she whispered as another tear fell.
His thumb eased the tear from her cheek. “You killed, just as I have, to save lives. That rifle you used covered my back more times than I can name, and each time, you saved my life. You kept me alive, Lilly. And as God is my witness, there are times you kept me sane.”
“I’m not the real Lilly Belle, am I? She enjoyed killing, Travis. I read the whole report. She killed for sport.”
He shook his head. “You’re not the real Lilly Belle. But the real Lilly Belle was the only identity available that could be used at the time. She was killed in Beirut six months after the crash you were rescued from. That cover worked perfectly. She wasn’t well known, she wasn’t seen often. Many of her jobs coincided with training exercises your father sent you on while you were learning to work with MI5. So it was the identity you were given.”
She shook her head slowly then. “You’re not the real Travis Caine either.” Pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into place now. Memories were slowly shifting, revealing themselves as he spoke. Bits and pieces, shards of memory not yet whole.
Travis shook his head slowly. “I’m not the real Travis Caine.”
Lilly stilled. She could feel a part of herself flooding with hope now, emotions surging, demanding to race through her body at this tentative proof of trust.
If he trusted her, he loved her. A part of her knew that what Travis had just admitted would seal his own death if she ever revealed it. Not just at the hands of his enemies, but those he worked with as well.
Shadows shifted now and raged through her brain. Pain struck at her temples as she fought to pierce the shield between herself and her memories.
She could feel them closer now than they had ever been before. As though this small measure of trust from him had weakened whatever wall had been placed inside her head to keep the memories at bay.
“Who are you?” Her hand lifted, her fingers trembling as they touched his lips, felt the warmth there, remembered the passion. He touched her as she knew no other man could have touched her, emotionally as well as physically.
She needed him to trust her completely, just as she had done with him.
She had trusted him with her fears, her knowledge; would he do the same? Would he give her a piece of himself that she knew he would have given no one else?
His head lowered, his lips moving to her ear.
“I’m Lord Xavier Travis Dermont,” he whispered. “I’ve danced with you and once watched your eyes fill with dreams, and in that second knew I had taken the wrong woman to wife. I knew, Lilly, because that was the moment I first fell in love with you.”
A gasp passed her lips a second before his covered them. Filled with life, trust, and truth, the feel of his kiss shot straight to her soul, clenched her heart, and tore away the control that held back her tears.
Her hands speared into his hair to hold him closer to her. Her lips parted, her tongue stroking against his as it sipped from her, tasted her.
For the first time, they were meeting as equals. As two people who trusted, perhaps two people who loved, she thought as his arms pulled her closer and lifted her against him.
He shielded her with his body as he had always shielded her with his protectiveness. A sense of something falling into place inside her moved through her as she heard herself cry out, felt the crumbling of the wall that had surrounded her heart.
“You’re mine, damn you,” Travis said as he lifted her and placed her ass on the counter behind her. “You were always mine.”
She had truly always been his, because she remembered that dance. It had been her eighteenth birthday, when her hopes and dreams had been so strong. She remembered dancing with Lord Dermont and feeling the magic that had surrounded them. The same magic that surrounded them now, that fueled their kiss as his lips covered hers once more, magic that fueled each touch as he quickly removed the remainder of their clothes with desperate, eager hands.