Authors: Joely Sue Burkhart
For my beloved sister
A huge thank you to beta readers Sherri Meyer, Pearl, Nicole Tom, Susan, Christine Lovejoy, Stephanie Christine, Marie R. and Sharon Muha for helping me make this book shine.
Sherri: Brandon is forever in your debt.
The last thing the internet needs is yet another anonymous sexy blog detailing a submissive’s journey to complete and utter surrender to her Master, but I promise you, this blog will be different.
For one thing, my Master doesn’t know He’s mine.
For another, He’s my boss. Yeah, cringe at the political-incorrectness inherent in my situation. Now compound my insane attraction with the fact that I’m not only a submissive but also a masochist.
I don’t just want my boss; I want Him to hurt me. I want Him to hurt me real good.
Oh, don’t worry for my sake. I’m not going to do something stupid like stalk Him at work or strip in His office…although if He were to ask, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d do anything He wanted. If He asks, my answer will always, unequivocally, be yes.
Yes, Master V. Please make me yours.
I want to tie a big red bow around my waist and deliver myself to Him like a present, so that’s why this blog is titled “V’s Gift”.
“We have a spy,” Victor Connagher said in a professional, measured tone. Despite the betrayal roiling inside him, the CEO of Dallas cable channel VCONN kept his emotions masked, when what he really wanted to do was slam his fist on the sleek table.
He paused the show playing on the large flat-screen television hung on the wall behind him.
blazed in neon across the screen with the tagline “On the internet, any secret fantasy can be a dream come true”.
“It’s certainly no coincidence that KDSX is running a spot announcing a new show remarkably like our new fall lineup, down to the same idea of secret identities and baring all secrets online. What’s the name of our show still in production?”
” Malinda Kannes bit off each word. Victor knew she’d take the news the hardest as the show’s producer. “I’m sorry, Victor. We’ve kept the show very quiet, even inside VCONN. It had to be someone on my production staff or the show itself.”
He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. Inside, though, he burned. He’d built VCONN up from a third-rate cable channel running
Bob the Garage Guy
to a smoldering, risqué adult channel that everyone in Dallas tittered about—and tuned in eagerly each night to be shocked, appalled, and yes, aroused.
was supposed to be their premier fall show to conquer KDSX, their number one copycat competitor.
Evidently copycat wasn’t good enough for them any longer; they had to steal his shows outright.
is scrapped,” Victor announced.
Mal didn’t argue, although two red blotches blazed on her cheeks.
He leaned forward and pinned each of his employees with his gaze one by one. Mal met his gaze evenly, but the others paled and dropped their gazes after just a few seconds of his intensity. Out of guilt? Or simple respect to the years of power he’d built here as CEO? He couldn’t be sure.
“We need a new show,” he said softly. “Only a handful of people will work on it. That way it’ll be very easy for me to identify our spy.” He couldn’t help but smile then, even though he knew it betrayed the consummate businessman mask he wore. He’d relish punishing their leak with his own hands. “And we need this new show in production
“Luckily,” Mal drawled, some of her ire at losing her pet project fading, “I have someone waiting outside to pitch her latest idea. I thought it was pretty hot myself, and the timing couldn’t be better.”
“Excellent. The rest of you are dismissed.”
Unspoken, his distrust hung in the close, tight air of the conference room like a discordant note. VCONN was a small but prosperous company, and he hated not being able to trust his own employees. His gut protested that his management team was solid, but at this point, he couldn’t risk it. He refused to throw away their fall season, even if he must hurt a few kind souls who were innocent.
However, his resolve weakened as soon as he saw the person who’d come to pitch the new show idea.
Shiloh Holmes shook Mal’s hand and with a bright smile, turned to him. He felt the impact like a quarterback sacked from his blind spot. She was one of those people who managed to brighten up the room as soon as she entered. Literally, it felt as though someone had yanked open the blinds and let the Texas sun come pouring into the darkened, cavernous room.
From her very first interview at VCONN nearly a year ago, she’d reminded him of a purring, tawny kitten winding around his ankles. A kitten that simply begged him to pick her up by the scruff of her neck and carry her home. Meeting his gaze head on with a saucy little grin that tightened his groin, she took his hand and it was all he could do not to squeeze his fingers incrementally until she cried out.
I have a feeling it wouldn’t be a whimper of pain, either—but a welcoming purr of desire.
He forced himself to release her and shot a dark gaze at Mal, who wore a particularly smug little smile. Frustrated, he reached back and jerked the ponytail holding his shoulder-length hair tighter. The CEO of the company could not come on to one of his employees without opening himself up for sexual harassment charges, let alone a boss with his particular proclivities.
Watching Shiloh set up her storyboards, he tried to pinpoint exactly what attracted him so strongly. It was more than her honey-brown hair that curled and bounced about her face, her dark chocolate eyes, and her lush, curvy body. She was attractive, yes, but he’d known or worked with many other beautiful women who’d never tempted him like she did.
No, it was the way she managed to meet his gaze directly, even with her head tilted slightly in come-hither shyness—or a position of unconscious surrender. Her bubbly personality was warm, open and charming, yet she also managed to throw down an unspoken challenge at him.
Try to break me. I can take whatever you give me.
Surrender and challenge at the same time—a dichotomy that compelled him to investigate. Clenching his jaws, he breathed deeply, forcing that thought away. She couldn’t possibly know…
He read the title of her proposed show and caught himself tapping his fingers on his right thigh. Maybe she did know after all.
America’s Next Top sub: Submit to the Master.
“Thank you so much for the opportunity, Mr. Connagher.” Nerves made Shiloh talk faster than usual. “I’ve been working on this idea for months.”
Standing at the head of the conference table—just inches from Victor Connagher, the man she’d been fantasizing about for months—she found herself practically babbling. From a distance, he commanded an aura of impressive power. Up close and personal, she felt his presence like a thunderstorm tearing the sky with constant lightning.
With his sleek suit and ostentatious cowboy boots, he played the part of the wealthy Texan CEO impeccably. Yet no matter how hard he tried to appear civilized and suave, there was something barbarous hidden behind his corporate shields. His hair was rebellious, falling in a glossy black mane. He kept it pulled back tightly, accentuating the harsh planes of his face, but her fingers itched to tug that hair loose and muss it up.
She wanted to muss
Her instincts insisted that the expensive suit and business-like demeanor were merely a front. Beneath his calm, controlled façade hid the star quarterback she he’d been years ago before an injury forced him to quit. That man liked to be sweaty, dirty and just a bit bloody as he battled toward the end zone.
Now if he only likes his sex the same way.
As their sexy lineup implied, everyone at VCONN was open in their sexuality. Everyone except the CEO. His incredible charisma and sex appeal screamed make-you-whimper Dominant, but she couldn’t be sure. It wasn’t like she could simply walk up before her boss’s desk, strip off her clothes, and—
Shuddering, she pushed that favorite night-time fantasy into the back corner of her mind and concentrated on her pitch. “VCONN has already established a reputation for envelope-pushing programming about sexuality, while managing to portray alternative sexual practices in a positive and healthy light. It’s a fine line between edgy sex and porn, but VCONN has succeeded.” Deliberately, she paused and met his hooded gaze. “For the most part.”
His left eyebrow shot up but otherwise he remained implacable.
She’d used the past months to study Victor Connagher with the single-minded dedication of the most besotted submissive. It only took one glance at the trophy case in the lobby displaying all his awards and championships to realize that he hated to lose. She needed to bait him into accepting her challenge—without squashing her like a bug.
“One area where VCONN could stand to improve is education. Obviously, no one wants to watch a sex ed class, but with some high-interest reality TV and titillating challenges to balance the educational information about BDSM, I think
America’s Next Top sub
could take VCONN to the next level.”
“Reality TV’s been done to death.” He dusted invisible lint off his trousers in a careless, slapping swipe of his palm that made every muscle in her body go on high alert. He had big, powerful hands that would torture—or please—exquisitely. With those magnificent hands, he could break her into little pieces like kindling and she’d go with a smile on her face.
reality show. Nobody’s risked it.”
“It’s a hot idea.” Ms. Kannes’s rich, smooth-as-chocolate voice matched her dark skin perfectly.
Shiloh hadn’t needed to see Malinda’s pictures all over the local bondage club to recognize a formidable Mistress. With her unusual amber eyes that pierced to the bone, she could make anyone, man or woman, scurry to do her will. Anyone but Victor Connagher, the Master himself.
“My worry is getting contestants in quickly enough,” Ms. Kannes continued. “And what about the set? We’re on an extremely tight timeframe. To be frank, the only reason you’re getting a shot at this season at all is because we had a last-minute cancellation.”
“I’ve already worked through the contestant angle,” Shiloh replied. “Part of my research and planning stage was to meet with the local BDSM club’s director. We could easily make use of Silken’s facilities and their more experienced staff, as well as ours.”
Mr. Connagher’s eyebrow climbed even higher, at odds with the subtle rumble of intensity building in his voice. “Do you mean we should ask VCONN employees to participate as contestants?”
show is a misnomer,” Shiloh replied calmly, even though every nerve in her body was humming. She had his attention. The hook was baited and he was nibbling. She couldn’t haul him in too quickly or she’d lose him entirely. “Even long-running reality shows control their settings and select their contestants very carefully. We know our goal is positive education combined with the entertainment factor of a reality show, so we pick contestants we already know portray the right attitudes and knowledge about BDSM. It’ll be much easier if we take volunteers from your staff.”
“You’re suggesting we stack the deck.” Ms. Kannes was unable to hide the gleam of interest in her eyes, but Mr. Connagher was impossible to read. His eyes were too dark, solemn and intent—the better to see her every weakness. “I’m assuming you’ll have some sort of prize for the winning contestant. How do we keep everyone happy when only one person wins?”
“It’s a BDSM show.” Shiloh let a sultry smile curve her lips, but she didn’t look directly at him. She didn’t trust herself not to plop down into his lap. “If we set up the correct challenges, everyone will go home extremely happy regardless of who wins.”
He checked his watch, warning that his patience was almost gone. “Either this is a reality show or it’s not. There has to be a winner, and I won’t stand for cheating among my own employees.”
“It’s a dual competition.” Shiloh fought not to blurt out her response in a desperation plea. “We’ll have submissives competing to win the Dominants’ favor, but also a single Dominant could win the title of Master, if he selects the correct submissive to win it all.”
Ms. Kannes laughed. “By God, Victor, it’s brilliant. I could compete as one of the Dominants, with my submissive as one of the contestants. Patrick could compete too, and that would give us another two or three submissives, depending on who’s in his stable right now. If we can get another couple from Silken, then we’d have an interesting mix of newbies and experienced players. The experienced ones would be teaching the rest, as well as having a little friendly competition among us all.”
Frowning, Mr. Connagher shook his head. “There’s not going to be much drama between you and Patrick. You’re too evenly matched and know each other too well.”