Viktor slowly turned from the window, wearing an expression I’d never seen before. His features twisted into various shapes as if something pained him. What was this? Fear? Wide-shouldered, tall Viktor Olofsson afraid? The man who had bravely saved my sister from her captor without a second thought? Yes. And it was me he feared.
“I’ve never known you to be afraid of anything, Viktor Olofsson.”
“I’m not afraid.”
“You are. I can see it in your eyes.”
He shook his head, then dipped his chin. “Cymbeline Barnes, if you break my heart, I might not recover. When it comes to you, I have no way of saving myself. You can’t toy with me if you don’t mean it. I’ve waited too long. I’m too in love with you.” He lifted his eyes to mine. They blazed as if he were feverish. “Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”
I stood there, frozen for a moment. This was a choice, I thought. Whether to be brave or run away like a spoiled little girl. No, I would meet him here in this place of courage. That was it, after all. Love wasn’t a game, as some of the great poets had suggested. Not with Viktor anyway. Not with anyone who let themselves be as defenseless as he was now. “I understand.”
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