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Authors: Lauren Jameson

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BOOK: Surrender to Temptation
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He must have signaled the driver somehow, because within minutes—minutes that stretched long with discomfort—we were in front of the hotel where I was staying.

How he knew that, I didn't know, and was certainly not about to ask.

“Um. Well. Good-bye.” Emotions were rioting through me, and I wanted to scream, to cry, to throw something. I wanted that pleasure back. The driver opened the door for me, and I scrambled out awkwardly.

“Devon.” My heart jumping, I bent and looked back into the car. Zach was looking straight at me, and he looked ferocious. “You are a temptation.”

“Thank you?” I had no idea what to say. I wished for, longed for, a sweet kiss good night, a brush of the hands,
 . . . but then, he had warned me, he didn't do gentle.

I was several steps away, my heels clicking on the pavement with a much more decisive manner than I felt, when he again said my name. I turned, and saw that same fierce man watching me.

“Devon. You have no idea what you started.”


iss Devon Reid.” The words that sliced through the frenetic air of the big room that housed my small desk at Phyrefly Aviation would have been unmistakable, even if they hadn't been saying my full name. The sounds were female, forced sharply through a well-stuffed nasal cavity.

That distinctive voice, combined with the quirk of addressing a person by her full name, belonged to Bini Gallagher, the administrative manager at Phyrefly—my supervisor.

“Yes, Mrs. Gallagher?” Though she addressed everyone by their full name, there would be hell to pay if one of us
—and that included my male coworker Tony—dared to use her first name in any context. I smiled brightly, trying to maintain the expression even when the other woman pushed her tortoiseshell spectacles down her nose and peered over them at me with disdain. I tried—as a rule—to be nice to the older woman, because her negativity had struck me as stemming from a deep personal unhappiness.

Besides, I was happy for the distraction. It had been an entire week since I'd seen Zach. A whole week of silence following one of the most intense experiences of my life.

I thought that I might go mad.

That lack of contact had been good for the work side of things, however. With no more sightings of the two of us together—no grist for the rumor mill—people seemed to have moved past the drama quite quickly, and on to the next entertaining thing.

All of this was reason for a big smile, indeed.

My smile, no matter how genuine, didn't crack Bini's façade, and I let it slip. I didn't have the energy to pretend to be cheery today, not when I'd been up half the night, again, thinking about—obsessing over—Zachariah St. Brenton.

You have no idea what you started.
“Starting” would imply that whatever was between us wasn't over.

Then where the hell

Mrs. Gallagher sniffed when she saw that she didn't have my full attention. With a loud huff of coffee-scented breath, she slapped a small parcel, plainly wrapped in brown paper, onto my desk.

I tucked a stray wisp of hair from my ponytail behind my ear and blinked at the unmarked package. When I looked up at the woman with a questioning expression, she huffed again, and I felt as if, somehow, I should have known what the package contained.

“This was just delivered. It came with instructions. You, and only you, are to deliver this upstairs to Mr. St. Brenton. Make sure that you are the one to deliver it into his hands.”

I barely registered the aggrieved expression on Mrs. Gallagher's face—why was I being sent into the sacred den of he who ruled the building when she had seniority, after all? But my heart had leapt into my chest when I'd heard the man's name, and anticipation followed, making my skin prickle with gooseflesh.

I stared at it, willing the brown paper to unwrap before my eyes and give me some hint, some clue, about what I was to face upstairs. All I got was a pencil rapped sharply on the glossy surface of my desk, very near my knuckles.

“Get going, then, Miss Devon Reid. Unless you think you're too good to play delivery girl.” With murmured words to the negative I stood, took the parcel in hand and scurried toward the elevators.

I could feel the older woman's stare following me, poking at the chicken wings of my shoulder blades. When I turned back briefly after pressing the elevator button, I was surprised to see that the expression the other woman wore was no longer one of annoyance, but worry.

Why would she be worried about my delivering this package? I was the one who was about to face the unknown.

Why, oh why did that word make something dark and needy twist itself tightly inside me with anticipation?

I quickly forgot about Mrs. Gallagher as the elevator climbed from the third floor of the building, up and up, sliding toward its goal of floor twenty-six. I caught sight of myself in the mirrored walls, and I wasn't thrilled with what I saw.

My black skirt and sweater were tidy, but plain. My hair was in a ponytail, loose ends flying out every which way, and soft bruises under my eyes caused by several sleepless nights were clearly visible through the thin layer of makeup that didn't hide much in fluorescent lighting.

It didn't matter what I looked like, in my heart I knew this. But as I thought of the feeling of Zach inside of me, of his mouth on my breasts, I shivered, my nipples tightening, and I wished—hard—that I had worn something else. Something prettier.

Something sexier.

The woman who sat at a desk as big as a lake, directly in front of the elevator doors that opened in front of me, was clearly younger than me—quite a feat, since I was only twenty-four—and had smooth, icy blond hair and an equally slick smile.

She beamed that smile my way, but I didn't feel welcome. She didn't speak, just waited, and I knew that I had been out-bitched in a major way.

“I'm here to deliver this to Mr. St. Brenton.” I raised my chin up a bit and tried to forget that that morning I had noticed a tiny hole in the seam of my skirt. It was at my hip, covered by my sweater, but I was so uncertain in that moment that I was sure the perfect-looking creature knew.

She smiled some more, and I held up the box. She reached for it, and I pulled it tight against my belly.

“I'll pass that along to Zach—Mr. St. Brenton, as soon as he's free.” I knew that the name slip wasn't an accident. The woman was challenging me, and I couldn't imagine why.

“I need to deliver it to him myself.” I tried to keep my words steady, though I was hugely intimidated. But facing off with this paper-doll princess was, I was quite certain, shades better than what would befall me if I dared to disobey the order that I somehow knew had come directly from the man whom I hadn't seen in a week.

I didn't know him well, but I knew that he didn't take kindly to being challenged.

“Oh, you're so cute.” The woman smiled again, but there wasn't any humor in her voice. “But really, you can leave it with me.”

I clung to the package as if it were a life preserver, feeling as though I was being tested. I opened my mouth, to say what I wasn't sure, but the words were forever swallowed down when the voice that echoed in my dreams crashed over me like a warm wave.

“Thank you, Philippa, but I did indeed give Miss Reid orders to deliver that package straight into my hands.” Philippa turned the sweetness in her smile up in wattage, all aimed at the beautiful man who had opened the heavy wooden doors of his office, but she had been swept from my mind with one look at Zachariah.

“Miss Reid.” He was waiting, his eyes blue as the innermost flickering of a fire. I moved toward him hesitantly, and when he placed his hand at the small of my back to usher me the rest of the way into his office, adrenaline surged through my veins and made my legs tremble.

I froze just inside the door, which he swung shut behind us. I had a sweeping impression of a room that was huge, with a desk and chair, two sofas, and various small tables scattered around. The walls were sheer, huge panes of glass. That was all the detail that I noted, however.

All of my senses were trained on the man who was still behind me, not touching me but invading my space nonetheless.

“You have obeyed this order to the letter, Miss Reid. I am impressed.” I felt warmth suffuse my neck—his breath—and then it was gone, leaving behind a flush that swept over my skin.

“I'm good at following orders.” This was the truth. All of my life, I had done as I was told.

“I don't believe that is entirely truthful, Miss Reid. In fact, you are in big trouble.” I wanted to lean back, to touch him, just to feel the contact, but his voice was ominous, and I knew that he wouldn't allow it.

“What . . . what have I done?” I tried to stand still, straight, and fisted my hands so tightly that my nails bit into my skin. Excitement and anticipation made me tremble. I felt him come closer, come up behind me. His breath hit my ear as he spoke, and it sent a delicious shiver down my spine.

“I told you to stay away from me. You did not. And now look where we are.” With an intimate nudge, he insinuated his knee between my own, urging me forward.

“Walk to my desk, Miss Reid, and then open the parcel.” The timbre of his voice dropped, and it scraped over the words huskily.

He sounded aroused. I hesitated, wondering, and his voice nudged at me.


Again I did as I was told, walking to the desk in a straight line, wobbling a bit in my heels. My fingers took a quick impression of the smooth, hard surface before they moved to the flaps of folded paper on the box.

What on earth was in this box?

Why did I care?

I tried to remove the paper neatly, but I was shaking with nerves, and it ripped. The box was brown, too, simple and made of thin cardboard.

I cast a quick, hesitant look back over my shoulder. I was startled to find that Zach had come up behind me, following just close enough to keep my nerves on edge.

“Open it.” I didn't hesitate—by now my muscles were tight with curiosity and anticipation. The cardboard crumpled a bit as I pulled back the lid hastily, and I heard a low chuckle.

“Oh.” Whatever I might have dreamt of finding in this box, I didn't think it was . . . well, whatever this was. It looked almost like something a person might use to dust, except that it was made of leather and was far too pretty for such a menial chore. Yes, this leather was beautiful, long ribbons of bittersweet chocolate cascading from a palm-sized handle. The strips of leather crisscrossed over and around that same handle, and my fingers itched to touch.

I traced one of those curious fingers over the handle, still not sure what I was looking at, though I was quite certain that it was of vital importance to the man behind me. I heard his sharp intake of breath as my touch caressed the object, and then his hand was over mine, molding my palm to the handle, my skin pale white, his tawny from the sun.

He let me hold the object for a long moment, then pried it from my hands. Rounding the desk, he placed the object on the flat surface, then sat in the large chair, his palms flat on the grainy surface.

“Take off your sweater.” My mouth fell open and he grinned at me, but it wasn't necessarily a nice smile. His lips curved with desire, with need, and even with a hint of cruelty, but I was too stunned to be afraid.

“I beg your pardon?” We were in his office, for goodness' sake. I tried to make my words haughty, to draw some dignity around me like a cloak, but I knew that it was useless, and from the grin that he shot my way, he knew it, too. “That is so inappropriate.”

He leaned forward, catching me in that gaze of his.

“I want you to take your blouse off, Miss Reid, because I want to look at you. I think that you want me to look at you.” I couldn't speak. I couldn't even swallow. I was mad at him for the weeklong silence, but that did nothing to tamp down my desire.

“I—” What was I supposed to say to that?

“Tell me the truth.” Could he read my mind? “If you don't want to let me look at you, then you have my sincere apologies. But if you forget about what you think is appropriate—what you think you want—I suspect that your desires are very much in line with my own. You want to submit to me.”

He watched intently as my mouth opened, then closed again soundlessly. His eyes tracked the movement of my tongue as it traced my lips.

I couldn't deny the wetness, the heat that had surged between my legs.

I was at war with myself, and he knew it. He murmured, low in his throat, soothing the tangle of my nerves.

“What do you want, Devon? What do you truly want?” The sound of his voice saying my first name was intimate, and was ultimately my undoing.

Slowly, so very slowly, I reached up for the top button on my sweater. My fingers felt thick, clumsy, but I managed to work the button through its hole.

Zach made a small sound of approval, his eyes gleaming with wicked intent.

One fastening fell free, and then another. Then my sweater was open and, before I could lose my nerve, off. I was standing in my shell pink cotton bra, my skirt and hose and heels, my arms crossed over my midriff self-consciously.

Before I could blink, Zach had the strange object in his hand and had flicked it toward me. I saw the strips of leather fly, and then felt a sharp sting on the plumpness of one breast, then the other.

Holy hell. That pretty leather thing was a whip.

He flicked twice more, and this time the sting landed on each of my nipples. I cried out and jerked back, hugging my arms around me protectively.

“Stop it!” I stared at him agog, my eyes wide and shocked. “What the hell do you think you're doing?”

He held the object out toward me, his expression serious and honest.

“Take it away if you want to, Devon.” I eyed the thing warily, but didn't move from where I stood a few steps back from the desk. “This is a martinet. It is used for pleasure. Pleasure that I would like to give to you.”

“Don't you mean ‘pain'?” My words were nasty, as I meant them to be. He had thrown me off my game, thrust me out of my safe little bubble that I'd built over the last week, and I didn't think I much liked it. “My pain, your pleasure?”

I did notice that, despite the fact that I had just been marked by a flogger, my habitual panic had yet to make an appearance.

“Think, Devon.” I glowered at him, not fooled by his soothing tone. “Did that really hurt? I don't think it did.”

Damn it, he was right. It stung, a bit like a paper cut, and it had startled the hell out of me. But it didn't really hurt—not unless I counted the ache that was now burning between my thighs.

Cautiously, his eyes never leaving mine, Zachariah again placed a hand on the object—the
. Clutching it firmly in hand, he rounded the desk, moving until he was again behind me. He tucked the handle between my breasts and placed his hands on my shoulders, sliding them down my arms to trace the stripes of my ribs and then to smooth over the skin of my back. One smooth movement and my bra was unclasped, falling in front of me. He caught the martinet that he had tucked into my cleavage with one hand and with the other spun me, twisting my bra at the same time so that my wrists were bound together in the pale pink fabric.

BOOK: Surrender to Temptation
6.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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