His embrace was tight around her. His voice was soft, soothing. He murmured words so sweet and comforting against her hair, while his arms offered warmth and assurance.

She lay rigidly on her back, her muscles tense and all senses alert. She refused to believe his deceptive words, meant to sway and change her mind.

But his touch was gentle, coaxing. His words were lyrical, the kind that aimed straight at the heart. She felt her insides slowly, oh-so slowly, thaw.

And as soon as she found the strength to curl her arms around him, to sigh and relax against his chest, to revel in his adoration – he cupped her jaw in his large hand and gave her neck a twist until it snapped.