He’d gotten out of the hellhole of a trailer where he lived, and he’d been served both breakfast and lunch every day. Best of all, he’d learned how to record videos. He’d attended some acting sessions and received voice coaching. Once the little light on a camera started blinking, he turned into a different person—someone he wanted to be. He thrived on the attention his videos garnered. It became his obsession, the thing that helped him hang on.

He began teaching others what he knew, running their sites, earning money and hoarding it beneath his shabby mattress so his dad didn’t find it. Jax was fifteen when his father discovered the cash. He’d called his son vile names before beating the shit out of him.

With a black eye and broken ribs, Jax had grabbed his camera and the forty bucks that his old man had missed. The screen door had slammed behind him. Doubled over, his father shouting curses from their rickety front porch, Jax limped away, and he hadn’t ever looked back.

Every day, he got in front of his first love, his savior—the camera—and recorded something. It was as essential to him as breathing. Willow was right. A lot of his words were fucking harsh. Too bad. So was life. He had no time for coddling. Grinding was the only way to beat the odds stacked against success. It meant pushing all the time, and all the time, he reminded himself and his subscribers of that.

Through the years that he’d fought through poverty and hunger, he never lost sight of his goal. Security. For that reason, he’d avoided entanglements.

Until now, he’d never been tempted.

Until Willow.

“What’s it to be?” he asked. If she agreed, he was stepping onto a forbidden path. And there’d be no turning back for either of them. “Frustration or satisfaction?”

“No matter what, I’m afraid I’m going to end up disliking you.”

No doubt. Right now, he had a lot of power. “It’s a risk I’m prepared to take.”

For a long time, she studied him, contemplating.

“Are you at least a halfway decent Dom?”

“Am I as…?” His mouth twitched. “I’ve never had any complaints.”

“If you’re going to ruin my life, you’d better make it worth my while.”

“Princess, you have my word that you won’t go back to school unsatisfied.” He extended an inviting hand toward her.

With a sigh, she pressed her palm against his.

“So brave.” So foolish.