Authors: Emily Jane Trent
Bend To My Will: Book 7
Emily Jane Trent
It was a long time before Vivienne went to sleep. Since Jacob’s eyes were closed, she didn’t know if he was awake or not, until eventually his breathing deepened. Still she stared at the ceiling, gripped with emotion.
There had been no sense talking more about it that night. Neither of them knew what to say. Jacob had been pensive, which was not a good sign. Vivienne could have poured her heart out, but hadn’t she already done that? And it hadn’t made any difference.
Jacob wasn’t upset with her; he just thought she was misguided. But he was so wrong. If there was one thing Vivienne recognized, it was the love in her heart. There was no mistaking it for something else, as much as Jacob might like for that to be the case.
He couldn’t deal with having Vivienne fall in love with him, and she was sure the reasons were complex. Yet her feelings couldn’t be turned on and off like a water faucet. They ran deep, and were lasting. The love she felt for Jacob only grew, despite the distance he tried to put between them.
It was frustrating that he couldn’t open his heart, or at least try. But Jacob remained convinced that the passion of the playroom had stirred too much emotion, and that she’d mistaken the intimacy they shared with love. He would help her deal with that, but he wouldn’t agree that it was actually love.
Apparently, Jacob had experience with such things. There had been other times that he’d talked about setting expectations. The intensity of the scenes they shared formed a strong bond. That he would admit. But he took pains to clarify that it shouldn’t be confused with falling in love.
It seemed the two passions were different, although Vivienne had trouble seeing how that could be. Maybe at first, she’d shared his playroom for the thrill. Yet even then, she’d likely felt more for him than she had admitted, even to herself.
As the months went by, Vivienne had begun to care about Jacob in a very special way. In spite of his admonishments, she had fallen in love. That wasn’t going to change. The problem was how to deal with it. If Jacob didn’t concede that it was love, then he couldn’t assist her to reconcile the intimacy of the playroom when her heart was involved.
Vivienne couldn’t hide how she felt, especially after being so open about it. There had to be a way to continue the relationship and accept that she was in love. It was impossible to conceive of refusing sexual play, because of her deeper attachment to Jacob.
Possibly, another submissive could participate for the sex only, but Vivienne could not. She would find a way to deal with the potent combination of love and submission. Though difficult, it had to be possible. That hope was her consolation. And the fact that one day Jacob might fall in love with her, too.
On that subject, Vivienne was likely being too optimistic, considering the barriers to that happening. But it wouldn’t be the first time she had been the idealist. As long as the potential was there, she wouldn’t give up on what she really wanted. Jacob wasn’t as cold as he tried to convince her that he was, so there had to be a way for him to open up more.
It had been late when Vivienne fell asleep, and the next morning, Jacob was up before she was. She had to dress for aerobics, so had little time for discussion. That was a good thing, since she didn’t know how awkward it would be to face Jacob in the light of day.
Once dressed, Vivienne went downstairs for coffee and found Jacob on his laptop. “Good morning, baby.”
It was a relief that he didn’t bring up what had happened the night before. The last thing she wanted was for him to withdraw because of her confession. But he seemed normal. Vivienne went over and gave him a kiss. “Working so early?”
“Lots to do,” Jacob said. “There’s coffee, if you want it.”
“Yes, I can smell it.” Vivienne had a quick cup with a banana, while Jacob tapped away on his keyboard. He wasn’t overly amorous, but he wasn’t pulling away from her either. “I have to be on my way. Lana is meeting me.”
Jacob put his arm around her, pulling her down for a kiss. The tenderness went a long way toward making her feel better. “We’re still on for tomorrow night, right?”
Did he wonder if Vivienne would refuse to see him because he hadn’t reciprocated her sentiment of love? “Yes, tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to going out with Trace and Lana. It will be fun.”
Ian waited for her in the garage to drive her to aerobics, and she made it on time. Class was just starting, so there was no opportunity to talk to Lana. After class, her friend had to go straight to the restaurant. “I’ll see you later at the apartment,” Lana said. “We can help each other figure out what to wear.”
Then her friend took off, leaving Vivienne to swirl in her conflicted emotions. She walked home to dress for work, greeting the doorman Jason as she drifted through the lobby, lost in thought. When she closed the apartment door, her phone vibrated. It wasn’t Jacob, although there was no reason it should be.
The text was from her dad.
Irene is doing well this morning. Your visit really cheered her up.
That is good to hear, Dad. Keep an eye on her, and make sure she is doing what she should.
I will. I love you, honey.
I love you too, Dad.
At Vee’s, the usual bustle distracted Vivienne from her personal issues, but Jacob was never far from her mind. She was glad that she’d be with him that evening. With the new twist in their relationship, she didn’t think it would be a good idea to go too long without seeing him.
As soon as her workday was over, Vivienne went home to get ready for the date. It was just for drinks and dinner, but she was excited. She was encouraged that Lana was dating Trace more often, just as she was going out with Jacob frequently. Seeing their men on a regular basis was a good thing.
Lana and Trace were fun to double with. Plus, having another couple there would take the pressure off. She wouldn’t have to discuss the sensitive subject of the status of their relationship. It would buy her a little time before she had to face Jacob again, alone.
Lana was already home, trying on dresses. “I can’t decide what to wear,” she said. “This place is fancy, right?”
“I’d say so,” Vivienne said. “I’ve only been to Barbetta once with Jacob. It’s not snooty, so I wouldn’t worry too much.”
“I think I’m going to like it,” Lana said. “I talked to Trace, and he says they serve Northern Italian cuisine. I love cream sauces, polenta, and steamed seafood, all of that kind of stuff.”
Since Lana’s family owned an Italian restaurant, she was familiar with the cuisines of different regions. “You can help me choose what to order, then.”
Lana held up two dresses. “What do you think…the black dress or the blue one?”
“I’d go with blue.” Vivienne leaned against the doorframe. “I have bigger issues than what to wear for dinner.”
Lana made big eyes. “What could be bigger than
“I told Jacob that I love him.”
big.” Lana tossed the dresses on the bed. “And…what did
“He said I’m confused, that the heat of passion has made me think I feel more than I do.”
Lana shook her head. “That’s a new one.” She took a breath. “Does he love you?”
Vivienne shrugged. “I’m confused…not just about being in love. I know that Jacob feels more than he shares. I mean…I think he does. But he has issues.”
“It’s difficult. I just don’t know what to do.” Vivienne sighed. “It’s not like I can argue, just talk him into saying
I love you
. But I really don’t know if Jacob
“He just…has so many layers to him. Jacob is complicated.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“What can I do? I can’t take back what I said.”
Lana raised her brows. “You’re still going to see him?”
“Of course. I
love him, Lana.”
“He is one lucky guy,” Lana said. “He needs to snap out of it.”
Vivienne laughed. “Leave it to you to give me perspective.” She turned to head toward her bedroom. “I better get ready. They’ll be here soon.”
Barbetta had a lot of old-world charm. It had been open for over a hundred years, and was the oldest restaurant in the city, still owned by the original family. The place was decorated with eighteenth-century Italian furnishings, and served the cuisine of Piedmont in the northwest of Italy.
The garden area was romantic, and the warm weather made it inviting. Jacob had reserved an outside table, among the trees, flowered with scents of magnolia, wisteria, and oleander. It was more like a grand country estate than a garden at a restaurant in the city.
Jacob ordered a bottle of Barbera, and the waiter poured. Trace’s easy attitude and quick humor set the mood for the evening. His dark hair, blue eyes, and masculine scruff added to his charm. Vivienne notice that Lana didn’t take her eyes off him. Maybe she wasn’t the only one who was hopelessly in love.
“How are the auditions going?” Jacob said, looking at Lana.
“They’re always grueling. But I crave the high of the theater, so I persist.”
“You’re very talented, too,” Trace said, with his arm around her.
Lana blushed. “It is paying off. I have a couple of very small parts coming up. They won’t make me famous, but at least I’ll keep in practice.”
“That’s great, Lana. You didn’t tell me.” Vivienne took a sip of her deep red wine, happy for her friend.
“Well, you have your own success to share,” Lana said, with a grin. “Have you told Trace that Sensual Scents finally launched?”
“Yes, it did, and I’m a little surprised at how well it’s doing.” Vivienne glanced at Jacob, but he looked relaxed. Her partnership was no longer such a sore subject. In fact, he’d even spoken to Alfred one time when they were both at Vee’s. That was progress.
“It’s a very clever idea,” Trace said.
“So it would seem.” Vivienne watched Jacob pour more wine into her glass. “Most of the credit goes to Alfred. Apparently, online scent purchases are very popular. I had no idea there would be such a demand to buy perfumes that way. Buyers can even order samples in advance. That way they can test to be sure about the purchase.”
The rest of the meal was a delight. They all chatted and laughed while savoring the fine cuisine. Vivienne had some risotto that was exquisite, and the polenta was as good as Lana had hoped. White truffle dishes were traditional for the region, and they were a special treat, since Vivienne hadn’t tasted such flavors before.
By the end of the evening, they’d finished their second bottle of wine and had dessert. The Robiola, an Italian soft-ripened cheese, had the texture of a soufflé. It paired well with the sparkly dessert wine, Brachetto d’Aqui, which exuded the scent of wild roses. Lana swore the meal was exactly the kind of taste experience one could expect in Piedmont.
As soon as they settled the bill, Trace wrapped his arms around Lana. “That was a great meal,” he said, then looked into her eyes. “We’re going to be off now.” Hardly glancing at Jacob, he whisked Lana away. “See you tomorrow,” he called back over his shoulder.
“Shall we?” Jacob said, motioning toward the exit. He put his hand on Vivienne’s back to escort her out.
In the car, Jacob was quiet but didn’t appear upset. Vivienne could tell he’d had as good a time as she had. At the penthouse, they went upstairs and changed out of their cocktail wear. Tired, Vivienne slipped into his bed, and Jacob got in beside her.
When he stared at her a little too long, Vivienne said, “Is there something you want to say?”
Jacob’s hesitation made her nervous.
Here it comes. He’s going to tell me we’re over
“I’ve been thinking.” Jacob touched her cheek and brushed back a stray hair.
Vivienne held her breath.
Jacob’s expression was unrevealing. “We are in a unique position.”
Vivienne clenched her jaw, praying this conversation wasn’t going off the rails.
“Romantic relationships start by getting to know the person, with falling in love as a natural result.” Jacob’s lips thinned into a tight smile. “I understand it, even if I haven’t experienced it.”
Vivienne’s heart fell.
“In our case, we began with the agreement that a role would be played out, that you would be my submissive,” Jacob said. “But we’ve gotten to know each other outside the playroom. You’ve become more a part of my life than I anticipated.
“But if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t change anything,” Jacob said. “Keeping our activities confined to the playroom didn’t work.”
Where was he going with this?
“I wield authority in the playroom, as I should,” Jacob said. “But that privilege can easily be abused, especially if the boundaries aren’t clearly defined.”
“Is that why you’re so adamant about keeping romance out of it?”
“Yes, that is a part of it,” Jacob said. “When you said that you’re in love with me, it shook me. It changes our relationship, inalterably.”