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Authors: Lauren Jameson

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BOOK: Surrender to Temptation
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PART III

TEMPTED TO OBEY

CHAPTER EIGHT

“A
re you awake now?” I sat on the edge of Zach's massive bed, my fingers fisted in the cool fabric of his sheets. The way they were tangled over the massive mattress spoke volumes about the nightmare that still clung to him with dark tendrils.

Though my entire being shied away from the thought, I recognized the blackness that hung around him like a shroud. It took me right back to those awful first months after I had lost my parents. Zach's grief, though he refused to share it with me, opened the wound back up like the slice of a scalding knife.

That, though, was the entire reason I had forced myself to stay, to move past the sensation of his fingers digging into my arms, of the fear I had felt when he had looked into my eyes and not recognized me.

I understood. I suspected that many of the people who surrounded him didn't . . . and that was if they even bothered to look closely enough.

“I'm awake now.” Zach's eyes, though now free of the fog of sleep, were shadowed with the ghost of something painful. He stood facing me, naked and completely unself-conscious about it. Those eyes were unreadable as they raked over my face.

Though I was wrapped in a soft towel that covered me from shoulders to knees, my damp hair and the rivulets of water that clung to my skin made me shiver. I felt exposed under the intensity of his stare, even though I was covered and Zach was not.

I was entirely out of my element. For years now I had become accustomed to burying every emotion that I had, not having the strength to deal with them. Because of that, I was rusty at handling the onslaught of sensations that this man was continually sending my way.

“Devon.” Bending at the waist, he tangled his hands in my hair, tugging just hard enough to awaken the nerves that ran over my scalp. I hissed at the seconds of pain I felt, then found my protest swallowed when Zach took my mouth with his own.

“Zach!” My head swam as he kissed me with a fervor that said he would die if he didn't have me right then and right there. For a moment I held still, frozen in place, still disconcerted by the morning but not wanting to reject him.

The way his lips slanted over my own, the slight pain from the tugs on my hair, broke through my uncertainty, shattering it like a pane of glass. Responding to the heated need that was emanating from him in storm-sized waves, I dug my fingers into his broad shoulders and pulled him closer, opening my mouth eagerly for his tongue.

A sound of approval rumbled through his throat. Removing one hand from my hair, he parted my knees and slid his hand up the insides of my thighs, which were naked beneath the plush towel. He moved swiftly to the heat of my pussy, which was already wet with want.

He slid one finger inside of me without warning, and I cried out against his lips. My mind went blissfully blank as my hips moved, trying to get closer to him.

When he abruptly broke the kiss and moved away, I shivered at the cool touch of the air where the raging inferno of his body had been. I watched, the air in the room thick with silence as Zach padded across the plush carpeting to his dresser. His entire body, in all of its muscular glory, was exposed to my gaze, and I drank in the sight.

Opening and shutting the top drawer, Zach pulled an object from its depths. When he turned and the long coil of braided leather fell from his hand to the floor, my stomach clenched.

“Zach . . .” I was not in the mood for play. Though he had apologized, albeit stiffly, for grabbing my arms, and though I truly believed that he had been asleep still and hadn't recognized me, the intimacy of the night before was gone.

I didn't think that he would hurt me—in my very core, I believed this. But the darkness that shrouded him as he moved to stand directly in front of me sent shivers dancing over my skin.

I opened my mouth to say something, and was startled into silence when Zach put the whip into my hands. The leather of the handle was cool against the clammy skin of my palm.

I tilted my head and peered up at him with wide eyes.

“I want you to whip me.” I heard the dominance that he had shown me a taste of the night before, but it was twined with a thread of grief so deep that he seemed to choke on it. When my eyes met his, I saw that agony threatening to overwhelm the big, beautiful creature in front of me.

Under my searching gaze, Zach's face became shuttered. He replaced anguish with arrogance and authority.

“I told you to whip me.” His voice was like a whip itself, lashing against my bare skin.

I swallowed hard. Part of me was drawn to what he represented in that moment, pain and dark clouds bound up together with pleasure. I wasn't sure that I liked being drawn to the darkness, especially not right then.

Everything in me wanted to please this man . . . but I didn't feel that a whipping would ultimately bring him pleasure.

“Devon.” Dominant Zach faltered for a moment, allowing me a glimpse into his nightmares. What I saw there—pain and agony swimming up from the dark depths of his eyes—made pity roll through my gut.

He was asking me to help alleviate his pain, though I didn't quite understand how whipping him would do so.

Still, how could I possibly say no to this man, when he had already brought so much to my life?

Biting my lip until the taste of blood spread out over my tongue, I wrestled with the decision in my head, though I ultimately knew what I was going to do. At my core, I wanted to obey and please him. Was even excited by the idea.

I just wished I had assurance that striking him would bring him peace.

Cringing inwardly, I lifted my head and held out the whip. “You'll have to show me how.”

His breath rasped out of his lungs in a harsh burst, and I realized that, dominant or not, he was as uncertain about this as I was.

Uncertain, but still aroused. As he reached out for me, helped me off the bed, his cock hardened swiftly. The hot silk of it brushed my hip through the gap in my towel, and as conflicted as I was in that moment, everything in me tightened with desire at his touch.

“Like this.” Pulling me against him, my back to his front, he helped me position the handle of the whip in my hand and covered my fingers with his own. “The power comes from your body, not your arm or your wrist.”

Lifting our twined arms, he brought them down swiftly, and I felt the ripples through the muscles of his torso. The braided leather of the long, serpentine whip carved through air that was thick with tension, its harsh crack muffled only somewhat by the soft carpet that it bit into.

Air left my lungs in a heated rush; my nipples tightened, and moisture slicked my inner thighs. I was still so uncertain, but at the same time I saw with startling clarity the relationship between pleasure and pain. Wielding the whip felt powerful, decadent. Dangerous.

What would it feel like to stripe skin with the scarlet kiss of the leather? Or to feel that touch, myself?

Every person that I knew in my old life would have been appalled by how much I was drawn to the idea. I battled with the shame, myself. I knew that my participation was mostly for Zach, but I couldn't sort out in my brain what was drawing me in otherwise, like a moth to brilliant flame.

Trying to clear my mind, I breathed in, then out. With wide eyes I twisted and looked up at Zach. The pain was still there in his eyes, but so was hunger—hunger for me.

“Again.” He rasped the word out hoarsely, lifting my arm with his, swinging them together. It cracked against the floor again, and then again.

My breathing became faster, and I pressed back against him, craving his heat. After three practice lashes, Zach tenderly untangled his fingers from my own and stepped back, leaving the whip trailing from my hand.

With one finger he traced a warm path from the nape of my neck and down to where my skin met the edge of the plush towel. Inserting a finger between the cloth and my back, he tugged gently and the towel tumbled to the floor around my ankles.

He continued to trace the path down, his finger sliding over the contours of my body, all the way into the cleft that divided my buttocks. My mouth was dry, and my tight grip around the handle of the whip became damp with sweat.

“You're ready.” I inhaled sharply when his finger moved swiftly down the entire length of my cleft until it pressed against the engorged nub of my clit. My hips pressed against his touch instinctively.

He moved in front of me, and I shivered at the loss of his heat against my back. Striding to the large wooden chest of drawers from which he had removed the whip, he placed his palms flat on its varnished surface and bent at the waist, allowing me full access to feast upon the hard planes of his shoulder blades and back, narrow waist, the lean hips and taut ass.

Although the erotic encounter had aroused me, I didn't want to mar his burnished skin, and hesitated to lift the whip.

“Devon. Now.” Even when he was bent in supplication, his voice was layered with dominance, and I itched to obey. “You won't hurt me.”

I would hurt him, though, and that was what he was counting on. I blinked, my vision clearing as my hand faltered before I lifted the whip even halfway.

He was asking me to do this because he wanted to be punished, punished for whatever demons had danced through his dreams.

I couldn't, not when he was clearly unwilling to share those demons with me. This was not how I longed to help him.

More so, I wouldn't. Though I had only begun to know myself, I knew that I couldn't be a party to this.

“No, Zach.” I extended the hand holding the whip. It was a beautiful instrument, long and sleek, the color of warm brandy. It enticed me, it aroused me, but the thought of using it on Zach made me sick.

Turning slowly, Zach scowled at my outstretched hand.

“Are you defying my order?” I might have quaked, had I not seen those shadows still playing over his face. He hid them well, but they were there, barely discernible to the naked eye.

“This order doesn't have anything to do with me or with sex, Zach.” Pain clutched at my own heart as I spoke. His eyes narrowed, he took the whip from me, his body stiff with anger.

It was over. I knew that he wouldn't tolerate the disobedience, or, perhaps more accurately, the fact that I had seen a glimpse of his vulnerability. I didn't have a chance.

It shouldn't have hurt so very badly after being with him such a short time, but it did.

“You don't know a thing about me, little girl.” The words were meant to be cruel—and they struck home. Emotionally I was reeling from the blow, but I lifted my chin and looked at him straight on.

I wasn't going to make it easy.

“I need to get ready for work.” The tension of the moment was broken, but only on the surface. Zach moved toward the bathroom, his movements casual and arrogant. “There is a spare room next to this one. Your things are in there.” He closed the bathroom door, shutting me out.

The king of his castle, dismissing his cheap whore.

I wanted to cry. Even knowing that this wasn't about me, not really, I felt sick.

Well, what had I expected? I barely knew the man, and he didn't know me any better. It had been foolish of me to expect his confidences.

No matter how right it felt when we were together. I stared down at the whip in my hand, the gorgeous swath of leather, then threw it onto the bed as if it were burning my palm.

I never wanted to see the thing again.

From the bathroom I heard the sound of the shower turn on. Shaking and unnerved, I surveyed the room for my clothes. They were nowhere to be found—that had been what he'd meant when he'd said my things were in the next room.

Fine. I'd walk down the hall in my towel, no matter how uncomfortable that made me. I didn't have another choice, after all. I stooped and picked it up off the floor, wrapping the towel around me again and cinching it tightly across my breasts.

I drew comfort from its soft warmth, though it didn't do much to ease my chill.

I shrieked when I opened the door to the bedroom and found Charles on the other side, his hand poised to knock. I clutched the towel to my breasts, waiting for the older man to turn away in embarrassment, as I did.

He didn't. He looked me in the face without a trace of the mortification that I was feeling. His scrutiny made my skin flush the color of red wine.

“Good morning, Miss Reid. If you'll follow me, I will take you to your room.”
My
room? Surely that had been a slip of the tongue. I frowned as Charles turned away from me, his manner the same as it would have been if I were fully clothed.

He seemed awfully good at this. Perhaps he was used to leading half-naked women around Zach's mansion. The thought had a scowl furrowing my brow.

“This way please, Miss Reid.” Charles opened a door that lay halfway down the wide hallway. The first signs of pale morning light were beginning to filter through the vaulted skylights, and when I looked down, I saw that the skin of my legs was very white in the watery light.

“Thank you . . . um, Charles.” Clutching my towel ever more tightly to my chest, I slipped past the man and into a bedroom that wasn't nearly as massive as the master one, but was still much larger than my hotel room. A pile of neatly folded clothing lay on the large iron bed that was draped in an expensive-looking charcoal satin quilt.

Swallowing my modesty, I turned back to the stern man who still stood in the arched doorway.

“Charles, if you could give me a minute to dress, do you think you could please take me back to my hotel?” I winced as I spoke—the fact that I was still living in a hotel sounded so tawdry. I needed to remedy that, and soon.

That is, if I stayed in San Francisco. I was paid well at Phyrefly, but after fucking my boss, was my job secure?

I thought I saw a flicker of pity flash over the man's normally stoic face, and then he shook his head slowly. He stood so rigidly that not a single other part of his body shifted when he moved his head.

BOOK: Surrender to Temptation
3.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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