Stark On Saturday - Release Me - "nuclear fission" - J. Kenner

Stark On Saturday – Release Me – “nuclear fission”

My scheduled #starkonsaturday post took its own holiday. So on this holiday afternoon, please enjoy this late #StarkOnSaturday (on Sunday) post!

“Nonsense. I’m fucking brilliant. Or haven’t you heard?” His grin is wide and boyish and I can’t help but laugh. And then, before I even have time to catch my breath, the boyish expression is gone, replaced with one of fire and need. 

He moves fast, and before I can blink he’s twisted my bar stool so that my back is to the bar and he has a hand on either side of me. I’m caged in, trapped in Damien’s heat. “I am smart, Nikki,” he says. “I’m smart enough to know that you feel it, too. This isn’t just heat, it’s a goddamned conflagration. Not chemistry, but nuclear fission.” 

I’m flushed and breathing hard. He’s right—so help me, he’s right. But even so … 

“There’s nothing good about an atomic reaction,” I say. “And the blast destroys everything it touches.” 

“Bullshit.” The word comes out hard. He’s right in front of me, and I can feel the anger coming off him in waves. “Goddammit, Nikki, don’t do that. Don’t play those kind of games with me. Don’t make this complicated when it should be so damn simple.” 

“Should be?” I repeat. “What the hell does that mean? Nothing is simple. Am I attracted to you? Hell yes. But you don’t even know me.” 

I stifle a sigh. Sometimes I wonder if I even know myself, or if all those years of being molded by my mother—being told what to eat, what to drink, who to date, when to sleep, and all the other Mommie Dearest bullshit—had sucked Nikki right out of me. 

But no. No, I fought to keep the core of myself, even if I do keep it buried deep. I look fiercely at him. “You don’t know me,” I repeat. The intensity with which he looks back at me almost makes me stumble. 

“But I do.” 

Something in his voice makes me feel exposed. He has me on edge again, and I look away, not liking the way he seems to be shining a spotlight on me. 

It takes me a moment to gather myself, and when I do, I tilt my head just enough to look up at him. “We’re not taking this further, Mr. Stark. Absolutely not.” 

“I don’t accept that.” His voice is a low growl that rumbles through me, weakening my resolve. I don’t say a word. I can’t seem to form one. “I liked it,” he continues, as he traces his fingertips down the sleeve of my jacket. “You liked it. I’m not seeing a sound basis for cessation, Ms. Fairchild.” 

I force myself to make a coherent sound. “I like cheesecake, but I only have it rarely. And I know it’s bad for me.” 

“Sometimes bad is good.” 

“Bullshit. That’s what people say to alleviate their own guilt or justify their own weakness. Bad is bad. A is A.” 

“I didn’t realize we were discussing philosophy. Shall I counter with the teachings of Aristippus? He held that pleasure is the highest good.” His fingertip traces my collarbone. “And I want to be very, very good with you.” 

I shiver from his touch, allowing myself one brief moment to savor the pleasure of basking in the glow of Damien Stark. Then I turn away, so that I’m speaking to the air, not to the man. “This isn’t going anywhere.” My voice is a whisper. My voice is the sound of regret. “It can’t.” 

“Why not?” I hear the gentleness in his voice and wonder how much of myself I’ve inadvertently revealed.


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