She smoothed back a loose dark curl from his brow with a shaky hand. Would he hate her? Would he blame her for forcing him to tell his most private secrets? And could she blame him? She’d played hard ball and reached for things that most women didn’t try to accomplish for months. Vulnerability turned a man vicious, and she might fall victim.
His eyes opened.
She sucked in a breath at the swirl of emotion in his gaze. Recognition. Lust. Anger. Knowledge. The clock ticked. Her heart squeezed with terror at the idea of him walking away before dawn.
“Why are you still wearing clothes?”
She looked down at her half naked body and burst out laughing. “I got distracted.” Warmth pumped through her veins and flooded to the center of her thighs. Her nipples swelled to full attention. “Besides, I want you to take them off.”
He sat up, gloriously naked and tousled. “Thank God. That outfit is driving me fucking nuts.”
Still grinning, she slid off the bed in one quick motion. “In a moment. I want you to drink some water.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Her fingers itched to smack his ass, but she loved the dual edge of dominance and subjugation he teetered on. He’d never take a backseat in life or in public. The idea he’d do it in the privacy of the bedroom cranked her lust to a whole new level.
She brought over two glasses of ice water and watched him drink. Satisfied he was properly hydrated, she poured two fingers of Jack Daniels for both of them and settled on the bed. The scent of man, musk, and arousal rose to her nostrils She studied his face carefully, but no resentment or embarrassment glimmered. “How do you feel?”
“Like I had the best orgasm of my life.” His eyes darkened further. “Like I want to do it again, but this time thrusting between your thighs instead of your mouth.”
She smiled. Damn, his sense of humor and honesty blew her away. “Me, too.” He shook his head as if refusing to utter more thoughts. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I can’t believe I shared all that crap with you,” he muttered. “Even my brothers don’t know.”
“I’m not surprised. Men don’t spend too much time analyzing their emotions. Women wallow, and men push it aside and get on with their life. The problem is when the stuff begins to blister.”
“Are you a shrink?” he asked suspiciously.
She laughed. “No. I’m an elementary school teacher.”
“I knew it. Pegged you for a teacher or a librarian from the first.” Questions whirled in his eyes and she waited for him to ask. “So, how does this work? Do I get to ask questions or is this just a one-man show?”
She raised a brow at his tone, secretly enjoying his masculine edge. “I have nothing to hide. If I insist on your honesty at all times, I’m certainly not holding back with you. I’ll answer any questions you have.”
“How did a nice elementary school teacher get hooked up with a one-night stand?”
She sighed. “I’ve always craved dominance in the bedroom. I was raised to believe women took a backseat to men. You know, allow them their full right to be in charge at all times. My mom spent many lessons teaching me to trick my boyfriends into getting what I want using my feminine wiles.” The memories cut deep as she remembered her parents’ own marriage. When her father asked his wife to jump, she asked how high. Summer would have been fine if he’d made her mother happy, but only rage and resentment filled the woman up, pushing away everything good. Including love for her only daughter. “My parents insisted I live up to certain ideals. Church on Sundays. Volunteer programs on weekends. I pursued a teaching degree under their watchful eye, and they even set me up with the man they expected me to marry. They were concerned I grow up with old-fashioned virtue and not become a slut of society.”
He shook his head in amazement. “Hardcore. Why can’t I imagine you just going along with their plan?”
“They were my parents. I assumed I needed to do what I was told. Most of the time I enjoyed my life, but not when they focused on Andrew, the local pastor. It was the first time I disagreed with them.”
“Let’s just say they weren’t thrilled when I informed them their precious Andrew couldn’t get it up in the bedroom.”
He winced. “Ouch.”
“Yep. They threw me out of the house and called me a whore.” She shrugged. “I crashed at a friend’s house and built my own life. A life I wanted, including sex.”
“Do you ever talk to your parents?”
Sadness leaked through her. She refused to hide behind the wall, and allowed him to see it all. “I call them on a regular basis. Sometimes they talk to me. Once I even visited, but they only wanted to show off Andrew’s new wife and baby boy. I didn’t stay too long. Somehow, they’re the only ones in my life who can make me feel dirty.”
“I’m sorry.” Rafe’s words reached out in warm comfort, his husky voice washing over her in a healing massage.
“Thanks. So, back to the original question, I did some experimenting with different types of men but always left unsatisfied. Each time I tried to dominate a scene, they’d freak out. My last ex called me a head case and told me I needed therapy.”
“He was an asshole. Probably afraid to listen to what you needed. Did you ever try out any BDSM clubs?”
“I went once for an orientation and learned some basics. I practiced safety with my sub and learned simple equipment. But I made no connections there, and the public scene was too much for me. At least for now. I wanted to explore in a private setting, with someone I can trust. I found out about Madame Eve and grabbed the opportunity. I could get matched with someone and have a night of experimentation on my own terms.”
“And here we are.”
She grinned at his bad boy wink. “Yes, here we are.” Her fingers clenched. “What about you? What are you looking for?”
She gave him credit. He only looked uncomfortable for a moment, then pushed past and told her the truth. “I’ve always felt different. I grew up with two older brothers who were pretty dominant, so I never questioned that was the route for me. But I felt strangled. They already had my future mapped out—finish college, go to dealer school, and join them in Atlantic City with my pop. Poker’s in the blood. But I was sick of being in their shadow and craved to make my own way. So, when I turned eighteen I joined the military. I went overseas pretty quickly because of the war. Really pissed off my family.”
“Did they end up supporting your decision?”
“Yes. Once they understood I’d made up my mind, they backed me all the way. I’ve never regretted joining. Hell, basic training alone kicked my ass. I challenged myself, and I made friends I’ll never forget.” Pain ravaged his face. “Other than Ben, everyone else got out alive, but the transition is freaking crazy. Nightmares. Wondering why I’m spending time deciding on lunch when people were dying. A tire blew out on the highway once and I almost flew off the road to dive for cover. Messes with your head. I never spoke about it, and my family never asked. Eventually, I did go to dealer school and began my career. On my terms.”
“When did you realize you have sub tendencies?”
He gave a short laugh. “When the best sex I had came from a woman I dated who got pissed. She started getting physical, ordering me around, and I became hard as a rock. I wanted more. Unfortunately, it never went much further after that.”
“You never tried to experiment? Talk to anyone?”
He snorted. “Honey, my brothers would eat me up alive if they even guessed. Most women fall at my feet, ready to roll over when I ask, all because I received a fucking medal for leadership I didn’t deserve. If it got out I showed up at a club as a sub, I’d be done. I consider tonight a present to myself. Get it out of my system.”
She arched a brow at his terminology of his sexual preferences as an it. Yes, she knew what he meant. But she craved a mate who could satisfy her in the bedroom. Who cared anymore about her reputation or what society considered abnormal or normal? She wanted a man to take care of—to command and give everything she was—for his complete trust. No more hiding. When dawn rose, he’d go back to his life with its rigid rules, and maybe someday strangle under its chokehold. Not her. First her parents, then society chose her path. Now, she’d choose on her own, but in the light of day, on her own terms.
He’d forced her to admit what she really needed, and she’d never deny herself again. If she needed to find the proper club, she would. If she needed to reach out for contacts and people involved in this lifestyle, she’d find them.
She looked at the man on the bed and a strange sadness and longing rose in her throat. Already, a strong bond had been formed, emotionally and physically. She ached to learn more, to strip him bare and give him the most immense pleasure of his life. But he wasn’t ready.
She only had him until dawn.
“Must be nice to have everything under control.” He shuddered and she caught the gleam of arousal in his eyes. “Let’s see how well you do with some boundaries.” She licked her lips as she noted his instant hard on. “But first, a kiss. Show me how much you want me. You’re only allowed to touch my lips. Keep your hands to your sides.”
Eagerness leapt in his gaze. He leaned forward and twisted his hands in the tangled sheets in an effort to keep still, but he did as told and carefully fit his mouth over hers.
A sluggish heat pierced her with sweet longing as his taste swamped her—stinging liquor and hot male need. As if treasuring every moment, he sipped from her lips, nibbling on the lower one in a strong measure of control, teasing the seam with his tongue. Slowly, she opened to him, and he pushed through.
The word pounded in her head like a mantra. She fought her need to possess and allowed him full access, as his tongue explored every dark hidden cave, and plunged in over and over, fucking her mouth in perfect rhythm. The earthy scent of him filled her head, and her control slipped under her lust for more. She shuddered for his touch. Pulling away, she stared into his eyes. In a ragged, husky voice, she said, “Very good. You may touch my breasts. But not with your mouth.”
“Thank you, Summer.”
His words pleased her, and his big hands cupped her breasts, massaging in rough circles. Her flesh swelled to meet him and her nipples tightened. She loved the contrast between her fair skin and his olive tones. He used his thumbs to roughly tweak her nipples, scraping a nail over one tight bud. Heat lanced straight down her belly and pulsed between her thighs. God help her, she wasn’t as in control as she hoped. She craved release just from his hands on her naked skin. At that rate, he’d own all the control.
An idea nibbled on the fringe of her mind. He needed another lesson in discipline. Perhaps her orgasm could introduce him to a whole new pleasure? “You’ve been very good,” she said. “I’d like you to kneel in the middle of the bedroom for me now.”
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