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Authors: Eve Berlin

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BOOK: Pleasure's Edge
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Only his mouth was soft, and such a contrast to the rest of his face.

Sexy as hel .

Dylan shifted in her seat, grabbed the menu from the table and perused the tea selection.

“What are you having?” Alec asked.

“I usual y like the jasmine and green tea blend.” Alec signaled the waiter, and before she could say anything more, he ordered for them both.

“I hope you like biscotti,” he said, smiling at her. “They’re almost as good here as they are in Rome. There’s this little café there, right by the Spanish Steps. You wouldn’t expect anything spectacular in a tourist area. But that place makes the best biscotti in Italy.”

“I haven’t been to Rome in years. But I do remember the biscotti there.”

“I was there last year, on my way home from a backpacking trip in Spain.”

“Do you travel often?”

“As often as I can. I don’t like to stay in one place for too long, although my writing deadlines keep me home a lot these days. It makes me restless. There’s so much to do in the world.” Dylan leaned in, her fingertips sliding over the spoon that rested on the paper napkin on the smal table. “Like what?” God, was she flirting with him?

“Everything.” He grinned. “Anything. I’ve been rock climbing in Brazil, shark diving off the coast of Fiji. Backpacking in Nepal.”

“So, you’re a thril junkie.”

“Yes, I suppose I am. I don’t mean to be a braggart, though.

These are simply the things I love. Chal enging the odds.” He shrugged, one corner of his mouth quirking into a smal grin.

“Going fast. I love my motorcycles. Love to ride fast, see how hard I can take a turn.”

She shivered. “I could never get on a motorcycle. Not in a mil ion years.”

“You might like it.”

“No. I don’t think so.” She sipped her tea. “So . . . your travels are about finding thril s?”

“To some extent. But a lot of these trips have been spiritual journeys for me, as wel .”

“And you write horror fiction, Jennifer told me. She mentioned the fact that you’re a writer as wel as a . . . dominant . . . might be helpful in the research I’m doing for my book.” He nodded. “Yes, I think so, too. You seem a bit uncomfortable with the term ‘dominant.’ ”

“Do I? Perhaps I am. I may be an erotica author, but this is stil not the sort of conversation I’m used to having.”

“Fair enough.”

The waiter delivered their tea, and Dylan took great care in pouring from the smal , beautiful y glazed Japanese pot into her cup, avoiding his blue gaze. Jasmine-scented steam immediately rose around her, accented by the earthier touch of green tea. The fragrance was familiar, grounding.

Alec pushed one of the biscotti into her hand. “Here. You must have one.”

It was a command, not a suggestion. She surprised herself by taking it.

“I actual y write psychological thril ers,” Alec went on. “Perhaps you’ve read some of my work?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“Perhaps you should.”

Dylan was getting annoyed. The line between confidence and cockiness was getting blurred. “Perhaps you should read something of mine.”

“I have. As soon as Jennifer told me about you, I picked up your last book.”

“And?” she chal enged him.

“And I think you’re very good. Intel igent. Thoughtful. Excel ent character development. The romantic aspect doesn’t overshadow the story, as it does with so many other writers. And you know how to write sex in a very real way. There’s a rawness to it I admire.”

“Oh.” Not what she’d expected him to say. She was momentarily flustered. Again. “Thank you.”

“So, tel me about this latest project, why you needed to talk to me.”

Those blue, blue eyes on her. It struck her suddenly how very like Quinn’s eyes they were, although Quinn’s had been innocent in a way she thought Alec’s maybe never had been, even when he was young. But they were that same shade of turquoise that made her think of the Caribbean.

There was sincerity in his eyes, despite his cockiness. She had to glance away, to where his fingers caressed his teacup. It looked so tiny in his hand. Fragile. As though he could break it with the barest squeeze. And those fingers gliding gently over the smooth surface . . .

She forced herself to look away from his hands, back at his face.

Not helping . . .

“I’m writing about a couple exploring BDSM. The power exchange, some bondage, which I’ve written about before. But this time I’d like to delve deeper into it. Possibly explore the pain play.

And I want it to have some authenticity. I don’t want to do it otherwise. I knew I’d have to do some very thorough research, talk to people who have experienced these things. I found Jennifer on a local BDSM community website recently, e-mailed her and asked if we could talk. I interviewed her, and she was very nice, very open with me. But as a submissive she didn’t feel she was qualified to give me the whole picture. That’s why she referred me to you.”

He nodded. “It’s difficult to get a good idea of what the BDSM

scene is about, what the dynamic and the psychology is about, from talking to one person. Everyone’s experiences are varied and personal. And if she’s purely submissive she wouldn’t have too much insight into the way a dominant’s mind works, our process.”

“Yes, that’s the idea she gave me. And it makes sense.”

“You’ve never written BDSM before?”

“No. I’ve written about some minor fetishes, a little bedroom play bondage, but not anything real y serious.”

“You feel BDSM is serious?”

“Isn’t it?”

He didn’t answer. “You’ve never experienced these things for yourself?”

“I ... no.”

“Ah, you’d like to keep this discussion professional. Purely for research purposes.”

“Yes. Of course.”

He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, moved a little closer, until she could smel the scent of his cologne, something clean and dark at the same time. Like the ocean and the woods.

He lowered his voice, suddenly making the conversation seem more intimate. Maybe more intimate than she was entirely comfortable with. “I’m going to tel you something, Dylan, and this is simply the truth. There is no way you can portray the lifestyle in any accurate manner by dipping your toes in. You have to experience it, real y dive in. There are too many components—

physical, psychological, emotional—al overlapping. It’s complex, which is what those of us who practice these things love about it.

The complexity. The intensity.” He reached for her hand, grazed his fingertips over the back of it. His skin was hot. Hers went hotter. “It’s about sensation. And what goes on in your head. It can be sensual, or it can be sexual. Or both. You cannot begin to describe the dynamics involved without having been there.” Her throat went dry. The idea wasn’t shocking to her. Not nearly as much as his touch was. She picked up her cup, sipped her tea, cleared her throat. “I suppose you’re right. And this is an interesting subject. But, I don’t know . . . ”

“Don’t pretend it’s nothing more than an interesting subject to you, Dylan.” He slid his fingertips down the inside of her wrist, beneath the sleeve of her cashmere sweater. “I can feel your pulse racing.”

“Alec—”

“Come on, Dylan. You don’t need to do this with me. That’s part of what BDSM is al about. That basic honesty about who we are.”

“I was going to say that . . . you’re right.” Had she real y admitted that to him? But maybe he
was
right about it al —that she had to be honest with him in order to learn anything. Would have to dive in, as he’d said.

It had nothing to do with her ridiculous attraction to him. Did it?

She pul ed her hand away, tucked it safely in her lap. “You and Jennifer must know some submissive men. Are there any you trust, that you can refer me to? And would they consider playing with a woman who has no experience as a dominant?” Alec laughed, sitting back in his chair. “You’re talking about topping, dominating these men?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, Dylan. Don’t you realize you’re a bottom?”

“What?”

“I saw it the moment I met you. I could sense it out there in the parking lot, even before we spoke.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Why were her cheeks heating up? Why was she thrown so off balance? She hated that he had such an effect on her.

“I think you understand enough about this subject to know exactly what I mean.”

She blew out a breath. “Of course I have some idea of what a bottom is. A submissive. But that’s not me. Being a top, a dominant, simply makes sense for me. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m someone with control issues.”

“Which is exactly why you need to bottom. You need to let go.

You need the safety in handing the control over to someone else in order to do that.”

She was getting angry now, but trying to keep her temper in check. “You’re very arrogant.”

“Yes, I am. I’m also right. I am always right about this. You do have control issues; I can see it in the way you hold yourself. I can see it in the anger in your eyes. In the tight set of your jaw. And you could probably manage to successful y ‘switch’ now and then, top a man. Or a woman. But it wouldn’t reach inside you as deeply as bottoming would. It wouldn’t give you what you truly need.” She shook her head, her teeth clenched.

He leaned forward again, reaching across the table and taking her hand in his once more. It was large, enveloping hers in heat and strength.

“Dylan, let me make a proposal to you. Bottom for me.” She tried to yank her hand from his, but he held on tight.

His gaze was hard on hers, his eyes that impossibly compel ing, bril iant blue. “Try it,” he went on. “See how you respond. If it turns out I was right, you’l have learned something about yourself and you’l have some very personal and unique research for your book.

And if I’m wrong, wel , you’l stil have done your research.”

“I can do that research as a top.”

“No, you can’t. It’s extremely difficult for a bottom to teach an inexperienced top. Once the endorphins begin to pump through a bottom’s body, once they’re down in subspace, that head space where everything goes quiet and al they can feel and see is that interaction between top and bottom, the sensations and scents, they aren’t present enough to act as teachers for you. You can’t possibly learn as much that way. But you can learn from me. I’m very good at what I do.” He waved his free hand. “I know, I’m being arrogant again. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is the truth.”

“Maybe.”

Maybe it was true that this was the best possible way for her to learn. Maybe it had nothing to do with the fact that Alec sitting so close to her, holding on to her hand stil , was making her hot al over. Was making her wet, for God’s sake. But this was nothing more than intense chemistry. It didn’t mean anything, didn’t lend any credence to his argument. She was sure she could prove to him just how wrong he was.

She bit her lip.

He was definitely wrong about her.

“How long would we try this for?” she asked.

He shrugged. “For as long as it takes. For as long as you need to discover what you should know. For your book. For yourself.”

“So we would sort of play it by ear? See how things go?”

“Oh, I know how things wil go.”

“Real y? And how is that?”

She was angry again. And he was stil holding her hand. His thumb caressed her knuckles, sending a spark of lust deep into her system. But she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of trying to pul away again.

“You’l fight it at first. I’l have to real y work with you. Gain your trust.” His voice was low, a gravel y murmur. She had to lean closer to hear him. “But bit by bit, you’l turn yourself over to me. Into my hands. I’l be hard on you. And gentle.”

He lifted her hand and brushed his lips across it, the heat scalding her, shocking her. She couldn’t say a word. Her mind was in a smal state of chaos.

Alec laid her hand down on the cool tabletop, his gaze locking with hers. “That’s how it wil go, Dylan.”

She hated that she felt dizzy, confused. She didn’t understand it.

And she refused to give in to it. Or to Alec Walker.

She picked up her teacup and sipped, swal owed. Drawing in a deep breath, she forced herself to calm, and put the cup down on the table with a steady hand.

“You can think whatever you like, Alec. But you obviously don’t know me yet.”

He picked up his own cup, took a long swal ow, taking his time.

His piercing gaze never left hers. “Not as wel as I wil , certainly. If you agree to my proposal, that is.”

“Oh, I’m agreeing.”

“You like a chal enge.”

“Yes.”

“So do I.”

That steady blue gaze bore into hers, but she wouldn’t look away, wouldn’t back down. He was right about one thing: She’d fight it. Because it wasn’t in her nature to give in. Not even to Alec Walker and his amazing eyes. His warm hands, his soft, lush mouth . . .

She had to keep things under control, as she always did. And ignore the way he looked. The way he spoke. The way he touched her.

He was going to
really
touch her soon.

She silently commanded herself to calm once more, took a long, quiet breath. Control was the key here, and she was nothing if not the queen of control. Her life had dictated that she be exactly that, ever since she was a child. She’d had to be, with her mess of a mother. Someone had had to be, and she was the oldest. She’d had to take care of Quinn.

You did a lousy job of it.

Why was she thinking about al of that now? She pushed her past to the back of her mind, where it belonged. And focused on the man sitting across from her, watching her so careful y.

BOOK: Pleasure's Edge
11.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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