Authors: Scarlett Sanderson
Mia is a respected psychologist with the Company—an interplanetary conglomerate—and a master at using virtual technology to penetrate the criminal mind. No one knows about her sex-slave past, or about the dark desires she tries to ignore. When she’s given Dylan Benjamin’s case and told to break him down, something about the man, something primal, reaches deep inside her and strokes the taboo lust she’s worked so hard to hide.
Dylan just wanted revenge against the Company. He never expected to get caught stealing, or to be pitted against Mia in a virtual world. But he recognizes the darkness lurking in her and he’ll do anything to draw it out, to prove they’re kindred spirits. Only he can give Mia what she needs—not soft and gentle but hard and fast. No roses or pretty words—just chains and rough, raw pleasure.
Mia dug her nails into her lover’s back. “Harder. Fuck me harder.” She spat out the words through clenched teeth and squeezed her thighs around him.
The soft, steady strokes of his cock grated on her nerves. She needed more. Her clit grazed his pelvis and she sucked in a deep breath. The pressure shot a tingling sensation to her core.
He pulled back, withdrew his cock inch by inch and Mia wanted to scream in frustration. Hard. Fast. Primal. A good fucking. That’s what she needed.
“You feel so good, Mia. I can feel how wet you are. I could keep making love to you all day.”
She wanted to cry with frustration. She cared for the man inside her. Joseph had been her partner for a few months, but gentle wasn’t cutting it. She wanted hard. She wanted rough and raw. She’d spoken to him about it and still he insisted on fucking her like a china doll.
“Please, Joseph…” Her words dripped with desperation. If only he would move…
She thrust her hips faster and grabbed his hand, forcing his fingers to wrap around her neck, hoping to give him some wordless encouragement.
He ripped his hand away and pumped softly into her. “Yes, yes. I’m going to come. Yes. Yes. Come with me.”
Her tears welled as he grunted and collapsed on top of her before rolling onto his back.
“Did you come?”
She stroked his hair and did the only thing she knew. She lied. “Yes, Joe. It was wonderful.”
Her heart sank. This was the end of their relationship. It wasn’t Joe’s fault. It was hers. The only time she found satisfaction was when she fantasized about rough, raw sex. When she thought about a man with a domineering dark side who took what he wanted, who fucked her so long and hard she ached.
A man whose dark side matched her own.
“Lights up.” She padded into the bathroom naked. “Lights fifty percent.”
The light automatically obeyed her command. She turned on the faucet and splashed water on her face. Dabbing it dry, she looked at herself in the mirror.
A normal woman stared back at her. Not some two-headed monster. Not some sick, twisted freak.
Sometimes she wondered.
Her past had scarred her. Seeing your mother fuck for money and then being sold into slavery as a teenager could do that. She’d dealt with it extremely well. She’d compartmentalized. It was just sex where her dark needs rose to the surface.
“Shit,” she whispered and threw the towel into the laundry. “Lights off.”
She walked back to the bed and tried to smile at Joe. His expression was serious and she resigned herself to what was coming.
It always happened.
“Look, I think… I don’t think this is working.” He sat up and pulled the sheet over his hips. “I just…it’s like you’re not here sometimes.”
“I know.” She perched on the edge of the bed and pulled on a robe. “I’m sorry. It’s not you. It’s me.”
How many times had this happened? Too many to count. Why couldn’t she fall in love with a nice, gentle soul?
She was seriously fucked up.
He patted her shoulder. The simple gesture made her want to cry even more. “We can still be friends.”
As a psychologist, she understood that was a nice way of saying
thanks but no thanks
She couldn’t blame him. She’d do the same thing in his shoes.
She didn’t look at him while he dressed. Couldn’t confront the death knell of another relationship.
He kissed her head. “Goodbye, Mia.”
When the door clicked shut, she flopped back onto the bed and let the tears fall.
Would she ever be able to find someone who understood her needs? Who set her soul on fire? Who completed her?
At least she had her job as a Company psychologist. Rehabilitating criminals provided her with solace.
Swiping at her wet cheeks, she took a deep breath and shoved her desires away, into the padlocked part of her brain.
Time to go to work.
* * * * *
Mia stepped off the elevator and smiled at her secretary. “Good morning, Alexa.”
The sun shone through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lobby. It was a glorious day in the City. Despite the heavy industrialization, she’d never wanted to move from Helion. She loved the smog, the bustle of the planet. She couldn’t live on one of the desert planets. Too lonely. Too stark. Too much time to think, to remember.
“Good morning, Dr. Simon. Dr. Ramierez is waiting for you in your office.”
A buzz of excitement rushed through her veins. “Thanks, Alexa. Some coffee would be good.”
“Right on it.”
Ramierez in her office meant one thing—a new case. Exactly what she needed to chase away her personal demons.
She opened the door and greeted her colleague. “Hello, Enrico.”
He stood and smiled a perfect smile, all white teeth and sculpted lips. He had jet-black hair, dark skin and eyes that betrayed his Latino heritage. He was wide, tall and muscular.
“Hello, Mia. You look lovely this morning.”
A gentleman as well as a hunk. Yet Mia felt nothing more than friendship for the gorgeous doctor.
“Thanks.” She put her briefcase down, booted her computer and sat behind her desk.
Ramierez once again seated himself. He was still smiling. His featured softened and she looked away. She didn’t want to encourage any familiarity. She didn’t want to date him, but she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Jesus, why couldn’t she love a man like Enrico? Kind, soft, comfortable. Why did she crave something more? Why did she crave the darker side of love?
She mentally shook herself and forced her head back in the game. “So, what do you have for me?”
As a psychologist, it was her job to get inside the minds of criminals—literally. Thirty years ago, a technological company had made virtual “reality” a reality. For a hefty price, people could have a microchip inserted into their brain and go under, allowing them the opportunity to create their own worlds and interact with other users. People could experience their hearts’ desires. The VR, as it became known, was a huge success.
Ramierez pulled out his palm-sized tablet and loaded a file. “Dylan Benjamin. Should be on your screen now.”
A folder icon flashed up and she tapped the screen, opening the file.
Dylan Benjamin. A blond, blue-eyed criminal with full, kissable lips and a dimple on his chin. No one could call him pretty. His nose was too crooked, slightly off-center. His mouth a little too harsh. His expression too hard. The word
was too feminine. Dylan Benjamin emanated raw sexuality.
Just looking at him made her blood thicken. Her heart pumped a little faster. Her pussy bloomed.
The system labeled him a habitual thief. From jewelry to antiquities to large bank heists, it didn’t matter what the goods—if he could steal it, he would. He’d gotten caught when one of his team members turned state’s evidence after they’d robbed an Interplanetary Reserve.
One thing that had emerged during Dylan’s interviews was an advanced IQ. His intelligence was off the charts. He could have been anything, yet he chose to live a life of crime.
Numerous agencies had interrogated him. He’d nearly bankrupted the system and they wanted their money back. They’d even resorted to physical torture.
No one could break him. No one could get inside his mind.
So here he was. His file on her desktop.
A slither of excitement ran down her spine. Anticipation sped her pulse. The thrill and perceived danger of the VR was better than sex.
The medical community had learned to harness it for their own purpose. Since the VR plugged directly into brain waves, allowing the user to change reality at will, they had produced a blocking code—a chip that only responded to certain patterns—ensuring a safe environment where law enforcement and psychologists could interact with criminals and procure confessions or implement rehabilitation.
That was where Mia and her team came in.
She looked over at Ramierez. “They want me to go under?”
He nodded. “Yes. You are their last hope of finding out where he hid the money. He’s resisted everything else.”
“What makes them think I can succeed?”
“You know the system like a lover. You can control him. You can get inside his head.”
“You give me too much credit.”
He tilted his head to the side and raised his eyebrows. “Really? Come, Mia. No need to be coy.”
She grinned and glanced over the file again. “So they want to pit us against each other?”
Dylan Benjamin would prove a worthy adversary. Gleaning information from hardened criminals or being able to rehabilitate them provided a sense of satisfaction. She needed it. The lack of fulfillment in her personal life meant she craved relief in her professional one. Pitting herself against notorious criminals and coming out on top was almost as satisfying as an orgasm.
Right now she’d take whatever she could get.
The man in question stared back at her. Even in a photograph, his features danced with intelligence, anger and a hint of arrogance.
She finally spoke. “I want to meet him.”
* * * * *
The maximum security prison doors whooshed open, revealing a padded and startlingly white interrogation room. A table and two chairs were positioned in the center.
Dylan Benjamin sat in one of the chairs. Two iron bands were clamped around his wrists. They hummed with an electrical charge, magnetizing his lower body and preventing him moving more than a few inches. He stared at the floor, head bowed so she couldn’t get a clear view. They’d dressed him in prison-issue clothes—a drab gray jumpsuit.
She’d spent the last week going over evidence—testimonies, surveillance videos of his interrogations—taking notes and planning her approach to the VR. Flowing water, sunlight and chirping birds wouldn’t cut it with him. She needed to stay closer to reality.
Mia entered the room and the doors closed. A small breeze caressed her legs from the force.
“Hello, Doctor.” He slowly raised his head.
When he finally looked at her, she inhaled. In his photograph, he oozed raw sexuality. In reality he was primal, intensely masculine. His aura screamed dominance and confidence. He didn’t have a bulging muscularity but Mia was in no doubt he could fight well and win. She imagined him fighting dirty.
The most striking thing was the sense of knowledge surrounding him. It bored into her soul, stripped her bare.
It unnerved her.
She took a few mental deep breaths and pulled out the empty chair before sitting. “How do you know I’m a doctor?”
“Too pretty to be a cop.”
Mia snorted, tried to cover the heat rising in her cheeks. One compliment and she acted like a foolish girl. “Nice line. Does that usually work for you?”
She tried not to let it affect her any further. She’d interviewed men who killed people for sport. Surely she could handle a thief?
“I don’t need cheap lines to get women into bed. They just seem to fall at my feet.” He sat very still. He didn’t twitch, didn’t fidget. He just stared.
She put her hands together, laced her fingers and rested them on the table. “Kind of like all the things you stole. Did they just fall at your feet too?”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
Enough pussyfooting around. She needed to be wary but she didn’t foresee any issues with taking Dylan into the VR. “Let’s get down to business, Mr. Benjamin.”
His laced his fingers, mirrored her pose. “How long has it been since you escaped your abusers, Mia?”
A chill ran down her spine. She froze. Painful memories of her past rushed to the surface. Memories of her mother servicing any man who paid ten credits. Memories of being sold at a slave auction.
She slammed the lid shut on the past. She’d clawed her way out of that life and she refused to go back.
Ramierez shouted something in the micro-earpiece she wore. She scratched her ear, gave the microphone a tiny tap and tuned out his warnings. She would not walk away from this. Dylan had thrown her. He’d obviously had someone feed him information about the facility.
No matter. She was Dr. Mia Simon now, not some scared teenage girl at the mercy of her slavers.
“Very good. Done your homework, I see.” She tried to keep the anger out of her voice but failed. Her words came across as pissy and bratty.
“You’re like me.”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
“Your life has been blighted by violence and pain. It stains your soul. You fight to keep your dark side hidden. Why fight it? Why not embrace what’s inside you?”
What the fuck was this guy on? Had they drugged him? Usually it took the inmates days, even weeks inside the VR to try messing with her head. There was nothing usual about Dylan. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”