Authors: Saskia Walker
Book three in the Trading Hearts series
THE DEAL (Trading Hearts 3)
© 2016 Saskia Walker
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book is for sale to adults only. It contains sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which may be considered offensive by some readers.
All rights reserved. This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work.
Previously in Trading Hearts….
Naomi Kildare is a young Scottish designer.
Lucas Eaglestone is the powerful international retail agent who could launch her into stardom. When they met, mutual desire forged a new and unexpected path.
A passionate BDSM affair with this masterful lover sidelined Naomi’s business plans and changed her life forever. Lucas asked her to surrender herself to him, totally, and at his hands she experienced sexual pleasures beyond her wildest dreams. This dominant master uncovered Naomi's true nature, but did it also prove that business and pleasure don't mix?
Lucas offered her a business contract – with conditions: she must be his.
Naomi fled home to Edinburgh, afraid she was being bought.
Lucas traveled the length of the land to win her and convince her of his respect.
Naomi must start again, prove herself as a business woman, and forge her own path.
But Lucas is determined to win her, no matter what, and he won’t let anything or anyone stand in his way…
Naomi perched on the edge of her chair in her Edinburgh kitchenette, staring at her lover's face on screen. It was early evening and they were chatting via Skype. Lucas was at his desk in the Eaglestone office suite. She could see the distant outline of the London skyline behind him. It was Wednesday. They'd been apart for five days. On Friday they would reunite.
When they'd been together in Switzerland, she wasn't sure she should continue to be involved with him. There was no doubting how much she wanted him. She'd fallen for him completely, but her sensible streak questioned the relationship. He had an ex-wife hounding him and a son who needed him. Not only that, her business interests had been shelved while she was with him. None of that sounded good.
As soon as they were apart, however, she knew the truth of the matter – she couldn't survive without him. Longing had taken hold of her the moment they said goodbye. Back in Drusilla's, her tiny Edinburgh shop, her life felt empty and futile without him. It was only their evening Skype sessions that kept her going.
"When are you traveling down?" he asked.
"Tomorrow, late afternoon." She felt buoyant just talking to him. "My appointment with Georgio Melandros is early on Friday. I'll stay with my friend Sam."
He nodded. Sharp and focused, there was a purposeful look in his eyes. "I'll be ready to keep you entertained for the weekend."
Pleasure pumped in her veins as she anticipated their reunion. "The whole weekend?"
"Of course. I can't help wanting to keep you tied up…for as long as possible."
"Business first," she teased. She couldn’t wait either.
"Your meeting is the priority. After that, I intend to claim you." His tone had altered. He was in command, holding her in thrall, as easy as if he'd flicked a switch.
His dominant nature was always obvious to her, but when he put it into overdrive it floored her. Her insides were melting with the desire to submit to him. "You have plans for us?"
"I do. I intend to watch you climax, sleep, eat, dress, undress... crawl across the floor on your hands and knees for me."
Naomi's breath caught in her throat. She fidgeted with her hands then rested them on her hips to keep them still. "It's hard to concentrate on business when you say such things."
"Don't worry. I'll stay out of the picture until Friday evening. Then you're all mine." His eyes were filled with suggestion. He seemed to relish the boundary he was creating between their public business and private pleasure.
She countered it carefully. "I look forward to it."
He remained silent for a moment, then rested back in his chair. It made him look regal. "What are you thinking about?"
Being your willing slave.
They'd been apart for just a few days and she was longing for him – unable to keep him out her thoughts for a single moment. "I'm thinking about you and me, together."
He arched a brow. "You're going to have to be more specific."
"I'm sure you can guess. You're just playing with me"
"I can't get my hands on you. I'll employ whatever means necessary to play with you as best I can."
"You make it sound like a game."
"I suppose it is. When we're together it's ritualistic, sacred. Long distance I have to make do with this." He gestured at the screen. "Humor me…or else I'll have to fly to Scotland and spank the details out of you."
Naomi tried to stifle her moan of longing, but didn't quite manage it. The thought of his hands on her in such a way affected her as if he was standing right there, about to slap her behind. Need throbbed between her legs.
"Oh my, you
in a bad way." He lounged back in his chair, smiling. He looked panther-like.
The pulse in her groin beat in a staccato rhythm. "I can't think straight because I'm so turned on by what you're saying."
"In that case let me guess…"
She could tell he reveled in his ability to push her buttons.
"Some kinky scenario involving restraint and punishment?"
She groaned. Everything he said only made her situation worse. She was fatally aroused and would have to come soon. He knew that, of course. He could read her like a book.
"It's much simpler than that. The cuffs, The Willing Slave cuffs. They're so precious to me. Just the thought of wearing them for you turns me on." Desire led her, but pride forced her to assert herself. She took a deep breath, straightening in her seat. "But right now you're in London and I'm in Edinburgh, and you're in no position to take charge of me at the moment."
He smiled, moving in toward the webcam again. "That sounds like a challenge."
Heat traversed her body. She was palpating in expectation.
Before she had a chance to respond, he continued. "You think I can't make you submit to my every whim over Skype? You think it has to be in person?"
There was no answer, because he'd already taken charge of her. "Lucas..."
"Have you been thinking about wearing the cuffs for me a lot?"
Every day, every night, every minute.
She couldn't answer. She was thinking about how symbolic the cuffs were. He'd allowed her to choose them, and in doing so she chose her fate. When she had them on she offered him her total submission.
"Naomi, I want you to tell me." It was a command.
She squirmed on her chair. How did he turn her into a helpless lust-stricken woman just through the commanding tone of voice? "I thought about you, and shut my eyes and imagined…."
"Everything we've done," she said quickly. Images shot through her mind. She attempted to focus on one in order to answer him "Me, straddling you in the hotel in Edinburgh for example." Saying it aloud left her light-headed. She was right back there, sitting on his glorious cock. Her core contracted with need. "I think someone was watching," she blurted.
"And did you like that, being seen?"
"I don’t know. It felt strange. I never thought of myself as an exhibitionist, it never even occurred to me. But I can't deny it turned me on."
His eyes narrowed and his handsome mouth curved. He looked as if he was nursing a secret. "Tell me more."
"I picture what we've done together while I masturbate." It turned her on even more to say that aloud. The rush was extreme. She clenched her thighs together.
"Do you want to touch yourself now?" His tone had become more intimate.
"Yes." Embarrassment added its own element of arousal to her current state. "Your fault," she added quickly, unsure if she could let him push her along the developing path.
He inclined his head, as if taking her accusation as a compliment. "What are you wearing?"
"A dress, underwear. Bare feet."
Glancing at her own image in the corner of the screen she hardly recognized what she saw. Her eyes were dark with arousal, her nipples jutting underneath the thin cotton dress she had on. She was weak with lust for him, and he knew that – even if she hadn't confessed he could see it.
"I want to see your underwear. Stand up, lift your skirt, and show me."
"Lucas, it's embarrassing."
"It's turning you on though, isn't it?"
Naomi pressed her eyelids shut, silently torn.
He was so right. The way he was able to control her without even touching her affected her deeply. She was lost to this – to him, Lucas Eaglestone. There was no turning back. She forced herself to do as he said. Standing, she lifted the hem on her dress. She watched the screen as the tops of her thighs and her flimsy lace knickers were revealed.
"You look beautiful. Now, take it off. Strip for me."
For a moment she wished she was strong enough to deny him. At the same time she was unwilling to forsake the thrill. She did as instructed, taking the dress up and over her head, setting it aside.
"Sit down. I want to watch your face when you come."
A tremor ran through her. She sat down, gripping the edges of the chair to steady herself.
"Put your hand inside your panties. Touch yourself and tell me how wet you are."
Hurriedly, she pushed her hand into her undies and stroked her fingers over her folds. It was torment. "I'm so very wet, because of you."
"Stroke your clit."
"Lucas, please," she murmured. Her core clenched, aching for him to be there.
"I know you want to. Imagine it's my tongue on you."
That was too hot. She knew how good he was with his tongue. Her hand shook as her fingers moved at his command.
"Move your fingers over your clit, nice and slow."
When she did that, she wanted him inside her.
"Slide two fingers inside you."
She did as instructed, rocking them barely back and forth. Acting that way – something she'd never done before – felt both liberating and disgraceful at the same time. It made her dizzy, taking her arousal into another realm.
"Now push your fingers deeper, all the way in. Imagine it's my cock."
Shoving her fingers in and out she burned up, embarrassed and aroused in equal doses. "Oh, Lucas, you're a dangerous man!"
He laughed, and it had a deep, sexy quality to it.
She pressed her thumb to her clit.
"I'm coming!" she gasped. "I'm coming!" she said again on a breathless moan. A hot plume of sensation burst up through her pelvis and spine. Panting loudly, she slumped forward.
"Sweet dreams," he said. "I'll see you on Friday."
Arrested, she stared at the screen. "Lucas?"
He'd already logged off, leaving her with sticky fingers, a racing pulse and a sense of extreme longing for his physical weight over her.
Friday couldn't come soon enough.
"Wow, impressive building." Sam, Naomi's college buddy, stood at her side looking up at the tower that housed the Eaglestone Agency offices.
Naomi nodded and stared up at the glass and polished steel office tower across the street. All she could think of was the man who was in there, Lucas. The London traffic roared past as she waited for the pedestrian light to change to green, but the hustle of the city couldn’t quell the longing she felt for Lucas – his touch, his glance, his firm command.
The clock had been turned back. Two weeks before she'd stood in the same spot, headed to an appointment with the Eaglestone Agency. Lucas Eaglestone had derailed her life that day, whisking her into a decadent affair, introducing her to the joys of being his submissive. This time the meeting would pan out as it should have the first time.
She'd traveled down the night before to stay with her friend, Sam. Sam had listened agog to the whole story about Lucas and their affair. The presence of her friend at her side had kept her levelheaded up to this point. Naomi turned to her. "Thanks for coming with me."
Sam laughed, tossing back her blonde bob. "I had to make sure you didn't chicken out and do another runner."
"There's no risk of that," Naomi reassured her. "I'm here today because I want it be about my product." She knew she was trying to convince herself. Lucas invaded her thoughts at every moment, even when she should be rehearsing her pitch. "When the private life gets involved in business it's messy, complicated."
The ache she'd felt in her chest for the past few days made itself known again. She loved him, she admitted it. She'd fallen hard and fast – she wouldn't let her emotions compromise her business plan though. If there was any sign of Lucas pushing this, she wouldn't be able to continue. It would be hard for him to relinquish control, especially as his own personal needs were involved, but he'd promised.
Sam nodded up at the building. "Three of our year mates tried to get representation at Eaglestone and failed. If you get a contract you'll be a groundbreaker."
"Let's not make any assumptions."
"Okay." Sam rolled her eyes. "I'll hold back on taking my lunch break until you call by the gallery. You can tell me all about it over sushi."
"It's a date."
Sam repositioned her backpack and looked at her watch.
"You should get on your way," Naomi added. "I don't want you to be late for work."
They hugged and agreed a meeting place and time.
Sam winked at her. "If you get a better offer again, like you did last time, just text me and let me know."
"I'm not seeing Lucas until this evening, so that's not an issue."
Gripping the handle of her portfolio case, she crossed the road.
It was like a retake, and the feeling of déjà vu made her nervous all over again. She made her way through the glass entrance doors and across the vast foyer area to the elevators.
The foyer was busy and chatter surrounded her as she waited for the doors to open. When they did, she scanned the occupants looking for a familiar face. No matter how hard she tried to focus on the meeting ahead, it was Lucas she was seeking at the periphery of her vision.
Put Lucas out of mind, at least for a while,
she told herself.
The ride to the thirty-ninth floor was far too quick. She stepped out of the elevator, took a deep breath and prepared herself. Once again, she glanced at the framed prints of Eaglestone clients and their designs displayed on large white pillars. Would her Highlands Inspired range stand amongst them, or not? She'd soon know.
As she approached, Naomi looked at the reception desk. It was here she'd first seen Lucas. This time, the receptionist was alone at her desk. Naomi couldn't help looking for him though, and even as the receptionist guided her to Georgio Melandros's office, she took every opportunity to seek out his image, glancing through the glass walls into the offices and meeting rooms they passed. Several were occupied, but Lucas was nowhere to be seen.
He really was trying to give her the exclusive interview with Georgio Melandros that she'd asked for.
"Here we are," the receptionist said and knocked on the door before opening it.
The view that met Naomi's eyes was similar to that beyond Lucas's door, but this time it really was Georgio Melandros at the desk, and he was just as she expected – smartly dressed in a fitted three piece suit, but with a touch of flair and eccentricity in the choice of tie, handkerchief, and jewelry. He was dark haired and wore it short at the back and sides, but curls fell over his brow at the front, and he had an immaculately trimmed goatee beard.
He got up from his chair to come and greet her. "Thank you for coming. I'm so sorry I wasn’t able to attend our meeting last time."
"Don’t mention it. I do understand."
I should thank you
, she mused. "It's good to meet you, Mr. Melandros."
"Please, call me Georgio. Now, I've refreshed my memory about your background. Tell me about yourself while we look at your designs."
That made it easy for Naomi. She ran through her patter about her influences and what she was trying to achieve while she unfolded her samples. It was less formal than she expected and helped put her at her ease with him.
Georgio reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a pair of half-moon spectacles. When he rested them on the end of his nose, he immediately took on a more serious persona. His work tools, she guessed. He stood next to her on her side of his desk, examining the fabrics, holding the items up to the light.
"The colors are amazing." He seemed genuinely impressed.
"It's the result of close work with the fabric manufacture. I'm very lucky to have found a family run company who were willing to take this leap of faith with me."
One item appealed more than the others, she could tell, and he
draped the soft woolen top over her shoulder, as if imagining it being worn. It made her smile, and she molded the item over her upper arm, following his lead.
"The fabric is flattering and the mix of fibers means its crease resistant, figure hugging, and long lasting. Just about everything a busy woman needs it to be."
"I like your work." He studied her over his half moon glasses. "You chat confidently too."
"You put me at my ease."
He smiled. "Have you done any public speaking?"
"Not as such, not beyond talking in seminar groups at college. The odd stand up question time at business conferences. Is it important?"
"I think so. Some of our clients stipulate no personal publicity. In my opinion it helps to get out there with your designs, particularly in fashion." He focused on the samples while he chatted. "Think about the big design names you know, the designers are often treated like celebrities. It's all part of the package for retailers and buyers alike. How would you feel about being interviewed, for example? People like to hear about the person behind the designs."
It was the same question Lucas had asked her two weeks before, except Mr. Melandros wasn’t asking it the way Lucas did. The thought made her smile.
Her companion looked up from his ponderings. He smiled back at her.
"I'm willing to try anything, especially if I could get guidance."
"The willingness is all we need. We have image consultants who can help with public speaking and so on. You don't need any help with personal presentation though, darling," he added. "You look fabulous."
Naomi blushed. She wasn't sure how to respond. Luckily he continued.
"I'll be honest with you Naomi, I love your work, but my list only has an opening for one more client at the moment. I met with two other potentials this week. Three of you, all exceptionally talented, and I can only take one on. The company director is most insistent we stick to manageable numbers, so everyone gets all the attention they need."
Despite the fact he was warning her she might fail to gain their representation, Naomi couldn’t help smiling. It was so Lucas, that emphasis on the client.
Georgio gestured fluidly with his hands as he spoke. He seemed a little embarrassed he couldn’t give her an immediate answer, and that characterized him for her. He was a nice guy.
"As soon as a new client has been launched," he continued, "and we move on to the next phase of representation, we can take a new client on board, but not before. I recently had a client move on to faze two of management, that’s why I've been able to meet with potentials these past few weeks. Alas, not all of you will get taken."
It was hard for her to hear. Especially given she had an Eaglestone contract in her hand just two weeks before. "I didn’t expect to get an answer straight away."
"It won't be long, I assure you. I'll have an answer for you by Monday." He returned to his side of the desk, opened his desk diary and picked up a fountain pen. "Let me make sure I have your contact details. I'll get in touch, either way. If we can't take you on, I'll make suggestions of other appropriate agents."
Naomi gave her phone number and email address again and he nodded.
"Will you still be in the city on Monday?"
"I'll stay until I hear the verdict."
"Great." Once again he made a note in his diary.
Naomi was about to file her samples away, when the door sprung open and a little boy ran in, charging at Georgio. His son, Naomi assumed.
"Georgio!" the boy declared, as he headed across the office.
Georgio nodded Naomi's way. "Sorry about this."
"Not a problem," she murmured, curious.
Georgio stood up, catching the boy as he flung himself at Georgio. "Hey, Toby, what are you doing here?"
"I came in with my Dad and he has a meeting now but Mum's not here to collect me yet."
"So you came to visit Uncle Georgio while you wait?"
Naomi's stared at the little lad, astonished. He was Lucas's son.
Georgio set him on his feet. He ruffled the boy's hair. It was thick and dark like his dad's. He wore a smart grey school uniform and had a leather satchel slung over his shoulder. An intense yearning lodged in Naomi's chest, some uncanny splinter of love. A need too, a need for Lucas. What would it be like to have son like that, a child who looked like his dad, the man you loved? The question cropped up in her thoughts on seeing the boy, but it unlocked a sense of yearning in Naomi. It wasn't something she'd ever thought about before. She'd been focused on a career and stuff like having a family of her own was a long ways off.
Now the idea had occurred to her, it stoked a hitherto unknown longing.
"Shouldn't you be at school now?" Georgio asked whilst looking at his watch.
"Yes, but Mum's late. Dad wanted to come to my science fair last night and then Mum said I could stay over with him."
"How did the science fair go?"
"Great. Dad liked the robot our team made."
"Awesome. Well done."
"Mum's supposed to be here already."
Georgio had a disapproving look on his face. Naomi couldn't help being intrigued, because it's someone else, someone outside of Lucas was disapproving about his ex-wife's antics.
Naomi started when she realized the little boy was addressing her.
"Hello, Toby," she replied and nodded at him. His eyes were dark. Not as bright as his father's but she sensed the same directness.
"My mum's got hair like yours."
Naomi didn’t need a reminder of that little fact, but she smiled at him.
The receptionist entered the room, darted across to Toby, hand outreached. "Sorry, I was supposed to be watching him but he hared off. Come on, Toby, let's go get donuts. Your Mother will be here soon, I'm sure." She and Georgio exchanged glances.
Naomi watched as Toby was led away, then stood up and began packing away her samples.
"I'll be in touch soon, either way." Georgio put out his hand.
Naomi shook his hand and nodded. "It's been wonderful meeting you, Georgio."
She liked him, she decided. She could only hope her designs stood the test.
As she took her leave, Toby's comment about his Dad echoed in her thoughts.
Lucas was here, in a meeting. The very thought if it made her heart tick a little faster. She craned her neck as she walked down the corridor that led back to the reception area. Glass walls meant it was easy to spot who was in which meeting room without knocking on doors. Several meetings were in progress but she didn’t spy him.
Ahead the corridor branched. To the left was her way out. She was about to head that way when she caught sight of him. A large room ahead was filled with personnel. Lucas stood by a projected spreadsheet, pointing out figures, leading the meeting.
He glanced at his audience. She caught sight of that familiar hewn face, so starkly handsome. Light-headed with the secret thrill of seeing him, she clutched her portfolio case tighter. He was talking animatedly but she couldn’t hear what was being said. It felt surreal, watching him.