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"I'm afraid of you."

Instant and complete shock ran over his face. "What? Of me? Nobody's afraid of me."

"That's absolutely not true. The deputy is afraid of you. It's part of the reason he keeps coming after you. But that's a different kind of thing anyway. I'm afraid because you make me feel things I'm not sure I'm ready to feel, want things I'm not sure I'm ready to want. It would probably be easier if you rushed on me, just did the sweep-off-the-feet routine because then I wouldn't have to feel responsible for my own choices."

"I could try that."

"No." She shook her head. "You won't. you're not built that way. Relationships are partnerships. That's how you were raised from the ground up, that's who you are. And it's part of what attracts me and makes it harder at the same time."

She put a hand on his chest, nudged slightly. When he eased back, she smiled as the basic action and reaction proved her point.

"I'm afraid of you," she continued, "because you'd run into a burning building to save a dog. Because you'd take what was my share of pain and trauma. You were right before. It's your nature. It wasn't just because it was me. You'd have done the same thing if it had been a complete stranger. I'm afraid of what you are because I've never known anyone like you. And I'm afraid that I'll take the chance, I'll reach out and take hold, then I'm lose you because, exactly because of who you were."

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