The billionaire submissive (billionaires in bondage)

Dedication

For my beloved Sis

A special thank you to Sherri Meyers for helping me make this story as perfect as possible before submission to editor extraordinaire, Tera. Also, my thanks to Diana Castle for meeting me Dark and Early all these years!

Chapter One

Donovan Morgan stared out at the panoramic view without really seeing the skyline of downtown St. Paul. His corner office was mostly glass, giving him an unimpeded view of the world he’d supposedly conquered. He’d just closed another million-dollar deal, yet he felt nothing. No joy, exhilaration, or the rush of competition he’d thrived on his entire life. It was like he’d been left outside in the frigid winter to freeze solid, just another ice sculpture in the wintry park.

Never mind it was full-blown summer in Minnesota and the winding river below was crammed with boaters enjoying the warmer temps.

His secretary buzzed him. “Mr. Morgan? Your ten o’clock appointment is here?”

Miss Wruthers never managed to sound very sure of herself, even when she knew damned well he was expecting this meeting.She’s only been here a week.He smothered a sigh.Hopefully she’ll gain more confidence. Assuming I don’t bark at her and terrify her to death.Without looking, he reached down and pressed the intercom. “Send him in.”

He heard the door open and shut, but he delayed turning around to greet his guest. He didn’t want to appear too eager. Or God forbid, desperate.

“I have the file you asked for, Mr. Morgan.”

He’d used Andy Wells many times in the past when he needed dirt on the competition in order to gain some leverage. The man was a pit bull when it came to tenacity and fight, with the nose of a bloodhound and the speed of a greyhound. If there was any secret to be uncovered, Andy would find it, carefully peeling back layer after layer until the ugly truth was bared, and if he couldn’t find it, no one else would either. Donovan kept him on his personal staff and paid the man extremely well. To ensure Andy never had cause to go digging into Donovan’s own secrets.

Without replying, he turned and accepted the manila file. It was disturbingly thin and light. If this was all the dirt Andy’d been able to dig up on this prospective…

What could he call her?

Client?

Date?

Trick?No. That would be me.

Sitting down, he laid the file open on his desk and let his gaze linger just a moment on the picture paper clipped to the inside of the file. Lilly Harrison wasn’t exactly a gorgeous woman but she was quite attractive. Long, coppery-brown hair fell in a curly tumble about her shoulders, pretty face, light blue-gray eyes, lush, curvy body. Perhaps a little too short for his personal tastes and certainly not the model-thin slip of a woman so popular in the media, but her curves suited him perfectly.

She had an easy, open smile and a light in her eyes he instinctively mistrusted, even while his instincts told him that spark was the key to hooking her interest. Light implied warmth and sweetness, even innocence, and if there was anything he’d learned about Lilly Harrison before he’d hired Andy to dig deeper, innocence was the last thing in her mind. But he could certainly use that spark of curiosity to his advantage.

The next page listed the basic overview of her background. Age twenty-nine, single, self-employed as a stained glass artist in Oakdale after bailing on her white-collar job five years ago. Doing well enough to purchase her own townhome, though she owed a considerable amount on the mortgage yet. She had a sick younger brother with a ton of medical bills. He could use that to his advantage. Her parents were still alive, living near the brother on the other side of Minneapolis. Comfortable but not well off, and from the suburb they lived in, conservative and possibly even Catholic. Even better leverage.

He turned the page and scanned the list of her male “acquaintances”. A.K.A. the men she hired herself out to. The johns.

Is that what I’ve come to? Just another john trying to hire a prostitute to get what I need? Like a junkie on the street?

He forced himself to read every single name, even though he didn’t recognize any of them. At least she wasn’t involved with high-up politicians. Andy had even taken a few pictures, although none of them were compromising. Lilly and her gentleman getting into a car, getting out of a car, going into a restaurant. Evidently she occasionally did couples too. They were dressed to the nines as if they’d been to the opera. She wore a gorgeous slim-fitting black gown that hugged every wicked, sweet curve and strappy bright red platforms adding four inches to her height. The stilettos made him drool. The red made him insane, tantalizing him like a bull in a ring.

Ridiculous. Some poor sap actually paid for her services and took her out to eat? Andy had also included the names of each hotel she’d gone to with her clients. All upper-class hotels, certainly not the scary, cheap one-night-stand sort of places he’d expect a woman like her to use.

A woman like her.

He ran a hand over his face, rubbed his eyes, and then gripped his head like he had a headache.What the hell am I doing? Am I actually this desperate?

“She’s real careful, Mr. Morgan. She always uses her name to check into the hotel and it’s always booked and paid for in advance. By her. She’s seen these men in public before, and there’s not a single trace of anything suspicious or scandalous. Two of them are married, all of them are pretty well off. I mean, they’re nothing like you, boss, but they’re wealthy enough to pay her a grand a night.”

“That’s all she charges them?”

“As far as I can tell. She doesn’t do random guys, either. She takes them out to dinner first. Only then do they get to go to the hotel with her. They never go to her house and she uses a different hotel for each man. I don’t have any idea how they hooked up with her. I couldn’t connect any kind of web presence to her name or credit cards at all. All of the men are regulars. I clocked Mr. Smith seeing her once a week. Mr. Hamilton even hit her twice last week.” Andy chuckled. “She must be damned good at what she does.”

Donovan pinned the man with a glare that made Andy gulp like a teenager caught smoking weed in the stairwell. He didn’t say a word, just kept a steady, critical eye contact until Andy dropped his gaze and rushed to fill the heavy silence.

“No criminal record. She got a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud though she doesn’t use it. Accounting. She has a savings account but it’s not huge. Just twenty grand. Her brother’s bills are five times that. She’s been making regular payments to her parents to help them out. She has a small retirement account left over from her corporate job but no other investments.”

Donovan turned his attention back to the file. She’d never been married. No children. A single woman on the verge of suffering the strident call of her biological clock. Ordinarily he’d run like hell in the opposite direction, but Lilly wasn’t the typical woman. He wasn’t interested in dating or marrying her.

I’m interested in hiring her. That’s all.

He smothered a wry laugh and shut the file, though he couldn’t drag his gaze away. It sounded so simple. So clean. So basic. Nothing as dirty as what he really wanted from her.

“That’ll be all, Andy. Thanks.”

Andy stood, but didn’t rush toward the door. “Sir?”

Surprised, Donovan raised his gaze to the man’s face. “Yes?”

“She seems like a real nice lady. I mean, despite… She’s nice.” At the skeptical look that must be on his face, Andy hurried to explain. “I always like to run in to the person I’m investigating in some part of their everyday routine, just to see how they respond. She’s polite and well mannered. She spoke to me, she didn’t give me the brush off. She wasn’t rude. She has some kind of mutt she must love a great deal because she takes him for a long walk every single day. All her neighbors speak well of her.”

“What’s your point?”

Andy’s cheeks flushed and he stuttered but he didn’t drop his gaze. “I don’t know what your intentions are and, frankly, it’s none of my business. I just wanted you to know she’s not some skank looking to make a quick buck or a gold-digging bitch out to screw every lying bastard out of his money. She’s nice. I’d like to be her friend and I don’t say that about many people.”

Donovan wanted to ask if he qualified as someone Andy would want to have as a friend, but he already knew the answer. He was the boss man, the hard ass who made the money and paid the lawyers to screw everyone until they got the best deal.Even I wouldn’t want to be my friend.

He spun his office chair around to look out the window. Cold, so cold and numb and hard. He was tempted to strip out of his Armani suit and stretch out in the sunlight shining in through his window. Maybe he’d thaw out.

Nope, he’d tried that already. All it did was first give him a miserable sunburn in some unspeakable places, and then eventually tan him as dark as island native. He was still so numb he couldn’t feel a thing. “I don’t need a friend, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

Andy didn’t say anything else but took the opportunity to escape.

No, what I need…

Donovan used his reflection in the glass to straighten his already perfect tie. His next business meeting might actually be one of the most important of his life.

The reason Andy hadn’t been able to find anything to connect Lilly to the men is that he’d failed to make the connection to the local BDSM community, probably because she’d been out of “circulation” for a few years. That was actually good. Donovan didn’t want anyone to be able to connect her to the underworld of sexual deviants like him.

What I need is absolute secrecy. And Mistress L.

 

 

Standing outside the seventeen-story building on busy Kellogg Boulevard, Lilly almost changed her mind and went home. Sure, this was an old building and not one of those modernized shiny steel and concrete skyscrapers, but she still didn’t quite believe someone in downtown St. Paul would honestly be interested in a stained glass commission from a relative nobody like her. The building had once been the St. Paul Post Office and had sat vacant for years while sale after sale fell through. Then billionaire investor Donovan Morgan had swept in and bought the building at a bargain-bin price. Of course that was still millions of dollars, but he’d gotten a whole city block right next to the new light rail station for a few bucks per square foot.

A brass plate next to the old-fashioned art-deco doors proclaimed Morgan Industries. She’d done a little research before accepting the appointment, but for the life of her, she still didn’t know exactly what that meant. He wasn’t into a single business, but owned hundreds of different companies and franchises all across the globe. His interests and investments were as varied as his many charitable contributions. From what she could tell, he basically just bought and sold companies, usually at a fraction of their value, which suddenly skyrocketed after his purchase. It was like he had the Midas touch.

So what did a man like him want with a stained glass window?

Especially when he had the funds to hire a world-famous artist?

Sure, she’d finally built up enough business she could almost pay her mortgage on just commissions and classes, but she’d been busting her ass for years. A wealthy, important client like him could be the stepping stone to larger commercial contracts she hadn’t been able to tap yet. With his recommendation, she could maybe even open her own gallery. This one project could make her career.

The ground floor had been rented out to various fast-food joints, coffee shops and even a one-hour dry cleaner. Business must be good, because people were scurrying back and forth like ants, jostling her every which way. Of course it didn’t help that the appointment had been scheduled right before lunch. A woman with blonde hair pulled back in a sleek bun and dressed in a nice navy suit ruined by hot-pink tennis shoes practically knocked her into the wall on her way to the front door.

She remembered the claustrophobic feeling she’d gotten inside her day job’s cubicle. How even one less minute of fresh air and sunshine outside during her lunch break would have made her as vicious as a rabid dog the rest of the afternoon. She’d had to quit or else go postal on her innocent coworkers. Or start taking anxiety meds. Quitting her job and finding something she truly loved was better than numbing herself with medication the rest of her life, even if she’d had to struggle to make ends meet.


Page 2

She had to wait while the elevator emptied like an endless clown car at the circus, but she had it alone for the ride up to the top floor. The higher she went, the more underdressed she felt. She’d worn the only suit she’d kept from the days of corporate slavery, but it was out of fashion and, frankly, a little too tight. She’d quit caring so much about always doing what was “right” and being perfect in all ways, instead simply living and loving her life. She’d never been happier and if some man didn’t like a little extra padding he could keep on walking because she felt sexy and she took damned good care of herself.

If I ever have to face a day without pie, I’ll just give up and stay in bed.

She stepped out of the elevator and put on her polite smile for the waiting receptionist. Maybe it was her imagination, but the secretary’s smile seemed more like a sneer than a professional greeting. Lilly glanced down at herself to make sure all buttons and zippers were appropriately closed. Check. Her silk blouse was a little low cut but she wore a lace cami underneath. She’d worn serviceable plain black heels and not her favorite fuck-me stilettos. With a mental shrug, Lilly followed the other woman into Mr. Morgan’s office.Screw it. If I have to come back to see him, I’m wearing the leather mini skirt and those shoes.

Since his picture was readily available in all the media stories covering his acquisitions and success, she’d known he was a gorgeous man of the tall, dark and handsome variety. She hadn’t expected to be affected by him. Pretty, svelte, arrogant men weren’t her type.

He was pretty, and yeah, he was damned svelte in that impeccable suit. He stood behind his desk, arms crossed, shoulders wide and feet planted, aggressively defiant and proud. It almost made her laugh. She couldn’t resist a wide smile, even if he didn’t know the cause. She hadn’t even opened her mouth yet and he was chomping for a fight.This’ll be fun.

“Miss Harrison.” He spoke in a clipped, hard voice echoing with disapproval. No wonder his secretary had looked at her with such disdain. She’d already picked up on the alpha’s opinion. “Do you have a portfolio?”

Not at all. The large leather thing she held in her hand was merely a strange saddle she’d used on the jackass she’d ridden into town. Of course she had a portfolio. What artist would ever go to a prospective client meeting without a single example of her work?

She didn’t bother answering, but simply stepped closer and opened the leather portfolio on his desk. Of course the pictures were upside down, but she didn’t change it. She wanted to see how he’d respond.

The obvious solution would have been turning it around to face him. Instead, he came around the massive desk to stand beside her. Too close, actually. He intruded on her personal space.

What an interesting situation. If she were at a BDSM club and a submissive dared to approach her so boldly, she’d be more than happy to accommodate him with a little punishment and discipline to teach him his place. In fact, a submissive would only behave such a way if he deliberately wanted to antagonize the Mistress.Could he have any idea…?

She didn’t see how he would know. More than likely he was just an arrogant, filthy-rich asshole who was used to using his physical strength and immense wealth to intimidate people.

Still, she had to teach him a lesson in some way. In a professional setting, though, her options were limited. She certainly couldn’t give him a quick, hard pop with a crop, more’s the pity. And if she wanted the commission…she couldn’t smart off in front of his subordinate.

There was more than one way to battle. It didn’t take words. It didn’t even take action. She closed her eyes a moment and centered herself. This kind of dominance involved her personal energy and will, where every ounce of her concentration, every muscle in her body, was focused on one thing. Releasing a deep breath, she opened her eyes. Like he’d done earlier, she widened her stance just by standing taller, easing her shoulders back, lifting from her core. She projected calm, assertive power. The will that he would step aside and out of her personal space. He would respect her will and her presence. There was no doubt in her mind. No hesitation.He will do as I ask. Or I’ll walk out of here without even entertaining his proposal. I don’t need this job that badly.

“This one’s nice.” He traced a finger over the sketch she’d done of one of her favorites. The glass was all clear, but with different etchings and bevels, she’d created a complex window that cast snowflakes over the entire room. “How big was it?”

Keeping her energy focused, she used her lower voice range that vibrated her body. “Three by three feet.”

She swore his hand trembled slightly as he turned to the next page, but he didn’t move out of her space. “That’s much smaller than what I intend. Could you accomplish the same kind of complexity in a larger scale?”

“Of course. Clear glass in a variety of finishes can be very striking, especially in a large space where color may be too distracting.” She leaned down, deliberately letting her shoulder bump his as a warning. She turned to the next page. Even with only clear glass, you could see three crosses and a rising sun, casting its rays out in all directions. “This one’s in a church down in Iowa, the focal point behind their altar. The final measurements were ten by twenty, though I had to frame the window into pieces to give it the appropriate stability.”

He didn’t back away from the shoulder bump. In fact, he bumped her back, nudging his way deeper into her personal space. He even slid his right foot in front of hers, like he was trying to block her out from her own portfolio.

Lilly cast a quick glance at the secretary. Rooted into place, she watched their interaction with wide eyes, rubbing her arms like she had goose bumps. Some people were sensitive to this kind of energy play, and between her calm assertiveness and his aggressive pissing-match attitude, the energy was definitely high in the spacious office. Maybe he didn’t even realize his secretary still watched. “What do you think, Miss…?”

“Wruthers,” the secretary spoke with a delicate breathy voice. “Isn’t stained glass rather…antiquated? If you were going to remodel the building…”

He let out a low growl, whether from irritation because his underling dared disagree with him or mere frustration that Lilly wasn’t intimidated, she couldn’t be sure. “That’ll be all, Miss Wruthers.”

Evidently the young woman hadn’t been in his employ very long, because she winced and paled, hurt by his callous reply. She scurried out and the door thumped behind her a little too loudly.

He stretched, arching his back even while he leaned down over her work, resting his elbow on the desk casually. For such a lean man, he exhibited quite the nicely rounded ass. It was all she could do not to give him a good, hard swat and see how high he’d jump. “Where were we?”

Lilly let her mouth quirk since he wasn’t looking at her.Silly boy. He really needs a good thrashing.

It’d be all too easy to press against him, letting her body weight urge him down against the desk. It’d be fun to have a big, powerful man like him beneath her, bristling with the urge to fight, but also strangely obedient. Knowing he was too strong, too big, that he could overpower her at any moment, but he chose not to… Instead, hechoseto put himself into her hands, to let her do as she would. The ultimate power rush. That he was arrogant, gorgeous and used to being the alpha CEO in all aspects of his life only made it hotter.

Lost in such a tantalizing fantasy, it took her a moment to realize she was pressed against the back of his leg, hugging his thigh with both of hers. Practically riding him. Either he’d backed further into her space or she’d leaned into him. She couldn’t remember. Neither option was appropriate behavior in an office setting, certainly not when she didn’t even know what his inclinations were.

Embarrassed, she jerked backward. “Pardon me, Mr. Morgan. I must have lost my balance.”

He straightened and turned toward her, his dark eyes narrowed on her face. “Lost your balance?”

She gave him a bright smile and without blinking or looking away, said, “I’m not used to wearing heels.”

She had a feeling he knew she was lying but he decided not to call her on it. It wasn’t like he’d peeked into her closet and seen her glorious shoe collection. He settled on the edge of his desk, the epitome of casual male elegance. A wicked glint flickered in his eyes, a knowing smile on his lush lips warning he saw through her thinly veiled disguise that said “nothing to see, just an ordinary woman with boring, normal sexual desires”. Nothing dirty or naughty here. “I suppose you don’t get out very often.”

“Rarely. I’m such a homebody.” She gave him a tiny smile back that said “I know you know I’m lying and I don’t give a fuck”. “Why don’t you show me the space you’re thinking about filling with stained glass? I can take some measurements and give you some ideas of what might work best.”

“Of course.” He straightened, managing to make the movement a delicious, sinuous slide, drawing her gaze down all six-foot-plus length of him. He might have never really worked a day in his life, certainly not outside of an office setting, but his body coiled with sinew and lean muscle. There wouldn’t be much padding anywhere on him except that delectable backside. Nothing to stop the hard thud of a paddle. Or the cut of the crop.

She gave herself a little shake, forcing those thoughts to the back corner of her mind. Later, she’d pull them out and let the fantasy unwind. She’d wonder what kind of fancy underwear he wore. Whether he really had a model’s body beneath the expensive suit or office flab. Whether the rest of him was as darkly tanned as his face and hands. How he’d sound when she brought the crop down on his ass.

But only after I finish this commission. Until then, all business. Mistress L isn’t allowed to come out and play.

Chapter Two

God, she’s good. So good I’d pay a hundred thousand grand a month to have her at my beck and call.

Donovan was sweating enough that his crisp white shirt stuck to him beneath his coat despite the air conditioning blasting. In just a few minutes of casual interaction, she’d managed to thaw him. He wasn’t frozen any longer, but burning up. Raging out of control. It was all he could do not to lock his office door and demand they reach an agreement now before she had the chance to walk out.

Gathering her portfolio, Lilly continued the innocent yet saucy facade. She’d lied to his face without batting an eye. Such a skill would serve them both well if she were ever questioned by the media. The last thing he wanted was for any hint of his secret desire to get out. If it cost him a million dollars to ensure her secrecy, he’d do it. Hell, he was throbbing so hard he’d give her a blank check.

She gave him a look that said there was a time and a place, and this was neither. And yeah, her gaze lingered on his crotch, so she had to know how aroused he was. Just from having her press against his back for a few tantalizing seconds. He’d wanted to curse out loud when she pulled away, but he had to admire her effort to remain professional. At least for now.

I would have been face down on that desk in another few moments if she hadn’t pulled away.

He took her arm and drew her firmly to his side as he led the way out of his office. The corner of her mouth quirked and she gave him a knowing sideways wink that made his cock twitch in his pants. Yeah, he led the way.But only because she’s letting me.

Which was the crux of his issue. He wasn’t the kind of submissive who would whine and beg and crawl to his Mistress’s feet and kiss her toes. No. Donovan Morgan wasn’t going down without a fight. The difficulty was finding a Mistress who’d relish the fight as much as him. Someone who was strong enough mentally to bend him to her will, even when he hated every minute of it. Even if he swore he was never coming back. Never giving her what she wanted. She had to be strong enough to make himwantto bend his pride to her will. He had to want to surrender.

Lilly Harrison might just be strong enough to make me beg.

The thought should have alarmed him. It certainly made him tighten his grip on her arm. He was probably hurting her, but he couldn’t let go. He was afraid she’d slip out of his office and out of his control before he could pin her into an agreement. He hustled her past Miss Wruthers’s desk without pausing, even when his secretary called after him waving the phone. As soon as the elevator doors whisked shut, he flattened his back against the wall and hauled Lilly against his chest.

The little minx laughed at him. “Mr. Morgan, I fear you’ve lost your balance too.”

“You have no idea.” His throat rasped painfully. “You must accept this commission.”

She tipped her head sideways and gazed up at him with a solemn weight in her eyes, chilling the fire in his blood. “I don’t believe that’s a very good idea, Mr. Morgan.”

“You must.”

She arched a brow at him. “I don’t believe I must at all.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

She laughed, a deep, husky chuckle that made him think of velvet and leather and silken sheets tangled around him. “No doubt you’re used to throwing money at everyone to get what you want, but I’m not that easy, Mr. Morgan.”

He shuddered and pulled her closer, deliberately arching his hips into her so she’d have no doubt of his reaction to her. It went against every stubborn arrogant bone in his body, but he forced the word out anyway. “Please.”


Page 3

Her eyes narrowed. “Release me this instant, Mr. Morgan.”

Her voice was pleasant enough. She didn’t use her words like a whip to lash him into compliance. She didn’t even give him a stern look from those stunning eyes. He’d thought them more blue than gray, but this close, her eyes gleamed like polished silver.

“Now.”

Again, her voice remained level and almost sweet. Certainly feminine and far from mean and nasty. He didn’t want to obey. He wanted her to get angry and harsh with him, to wrestle him into sweaty submission, but again, this wasn’t the time and certainly not the place. Frustrated, he let go of her and made no objection when she straightened and put a polite distance between them. The elevator dinged and the doors slid open, allowing the noise of the plaza level to separate them even more. Running his hand through his hair, he fought to keep his mouth shut. His ridiculous, obstinate behavior certainly wouldn’t help convince her to accept his commission, let alone open her mind to pursuing a more private relationship with him. Good submissives obeyed the Mistress without question. They certainly didn’t manhandle the Mistress against her direct order.

Which is why I’m not a good submissive and I have no Mistress.

She turned her head slightly, whispered, “Good boy,” then stepped out of the elevator, leaving him to follow in her wake.

Stunned, he had to throw up a hand to keep the elevator doors from shutting and taking him back upstairs. People waited to get on, and here he stood with his mouth hanging open and his pants tented like a randy teenager. Lilly paused, looking back over her shoulder with a wicked little smile dimpling her cheek, all innocence and saucy attitude that made him crazy. He wanted to make her lose her calm amusement. He wanted to hear her voice crack with fury, her eyes sharp and cold as she punished him. Not winking, silently laughing at him for still standing on the elevator like a dumbfounded idiot.

Grinding his teeth, he pushed his way out of the elevator and stomped after her. His face was on fire, blazing with humiliation and yes, relief. He’d managed to please the Mistress, at least a little, despite his stubborn pride. Even though obeying a simple common-sense command made his spine bristle and his stomach churn. The whispered praise gave him hope she might consider his offer despite his numerous failings. And he had no doubt that his failings as a submissive would give her significant pause.

If I must trick her into accepting me at least for a while, I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever it takes. Even if I have to blackmail her into accepting my contract.

 

 

 

Somehow, Mr. Morgan knew exactly what kind of woman she was. Maybe he’d asked around at a club? Though she hadn’t done the club scene in years. She hadn’t needed to, not with her own steady clientele. Could one of her subs have broken her rules and told someone else about her? She’d been very careful in the contract she’d had each man sign. Referrals were allowed, but only if he spoke to her about the interested party first before ever giving her name to anyone else.

Lilly quickly ran the list of her acquaintances through her head, trying to see if any of them would be the type to go behind her back. She didn’t think so. She’d been with them all at least a year without issue, except for the Hamiltons, and trusted their loyalty without question. But if Mr. Morgan had waved enough money around…

Anyone would talk.

Sick to her stomach at the thought one of her trusted subs had betrayed her, she slowed and allowed Mr. Morgan to take the lead again. She had no idea where he wanted these windows, so charging around just to prove a point would be beyond stupid. She wanted to ask him who’d told him about her, but that would put her at a disadvantage. If he knew she wanted something, he’d have leverage.If I give him an inch, he’ll take a mile and keep right on steamrolling me into the ground.

The tips of his ears and his cheeks were red and he avoided making eye contact. Maybe she’d misjudged him. Maybe the little whisper of praise was too much for a man of his pride. Good. Problem solved. He might change his mind about this so-called commission, but it’d be worth it to avoid entangling herself with this kind of rich and powerful man. The kind of man who’d track down her clients and pay them to betray her.It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d stoop to blackmail too.

He led the way to the side exit providing access to the new light rail depot. Steady foot traffic passed between the buildings, though the frantic flood of workers heading to lunch had ebbed. “Since the building’s exterior is an art-deco style, I want something similar for these windows.”

Her stomach quivered like she’d just jumped off a cliff. Staring up at the soaring glass, she tried not to let her mouth hang open or her hands tremble. Two full stories of glass a city block wide, visible from both the ground and skyway levels, separated his building from thousands of potential viewers using the new trains. She spared a glance at his face to see if he was serious. “The whole wall?”

“Top to floor,” he replied levelly, a hint of challenge glinting in his chocolate eyes. “Is the job too big for you?”

“Honestly, yes, as much as it pains me to admit.” His eyes flickered with surprise. “Mr. Morgan, it would take a twenty-man crew months to complete such a massive job. Maybe years. I really don’t know. Single handedly, I don’t know if I could complete it in my lifetime, even if I had the design in my hands today.” By the way his brow furrowed, she could see he had no idea of the magnitude of the work involved. “One pane is easily a thousand individual pieces of glass which must be perfectly cut and smoothed. Not to mention the scope of the project overall. What kind of design are you looking for in this space?”

He shrugged. “You tell me. As long as it matches the building’s decor, I don’t care.”

“That’s not good enough for me, Mr. Morgan. I’m an artist, not Walmart. I don’t do cookie-cutter designs that anyone could find in a yard sale.”

“I know. That’s why I picked you.”

Is it?She bit her lip but didn’t say it aloud. Somehow she had the feeling he’d found her first by her secret profession. The stained glass commission was merely the bait to get her here. It wounded the artist in her, even though the challenge of such a massive project made her nerves tingle with excitement and dread. This kind of project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But the risk…

“I have an idea.” She looked back into his face and didn’t like what she saw. The shuttered look in his eyes told her he was up to something. “Why don’t you show me what kind of work we’re talking about here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I want to see your shop. Watch you work. Show me exactly what’s involved.”

Alarm bells started going off in her head. Her shop was in her garage. Basically, he wanted her to take him home. And by the smug curve of his lips, he knew it.

Bad idea, Lilly. Hugely bad. Remember the elevator? Do you really want to be alone with him, let alone in your house?

She never took clients home, her sacred space. Even if he had absolutely no idea his stained glass artist was also Mistress L, she’d have to be an idiot to allow a stranger into her home. “I don’t think that’s a very good idea, Mr. Morgan.”

Ignoring her concern, he pulled out his cell phone and made a call. “Miss Wruthers, I’m going to be out the rest of the afternoon. Miss Harrison is going to give me a tutorial in stained glass so I know exactly the amount of work involved.”

Lilly kept her expression neutral, even though his heavy-handed assumption that she’d so easily capitulate pissed her off. At least his secretary was a witness to his whereabouts, although as much as he probably paid her, she’d lie on a stack of Bibles if hard pressed. As soon as he hung up, Lilly smiled sweetly at him, even while she jabbed him in the chest with her finger. “Do you think I’m an utter moron?”

“What? Of course not.”

“I don’t ever take clients home with me, let alone complete strangers.”

His eyes narrowed and he gave her an ugly sneer. “I’m not yourclient.”

Lilly knew that tone of voice. She read his disdain and disgust in the twist of his lips, the flare of his nostrils.How does he know?“I don’t take orders from any man, let alone from assholes.”

Stiffly, she stepped into the flow of pedestrians headed to the next building.

“Miss Harrison!” Startled cries broke out and she glanced back to see him pushing people out of his way to barrel toward her. “Lilly, wait!”

“Go to hell, Mr. Morgan.”

Chapter Three

“What a douchebag.”

No wonder Marie was her best friend. Lilly gave her a hug and then flopped into her recliner, while her friend sat on the adjacent loveseat. “Thanks for coming over.”

“Anytime, hon. You’re not going to pick up his project, are you?”

“I told him to go to hell, so I doubt I’ll hear from him again.” She laughed wryly. “It would have been a magnificent, terrifyingly wonderful project too. The scope, the scale of it… I really don’t know if I could have pulled it off singlehandedly.”

“You could have. I don’t doubt that for a moment.” Marie took a sip from her wine glass. “So you think he knows about Mistress L?”

“He sure acted like it.” Lilly frowned, nibbling on her lip. “I just can’t believe one of my clients would have talked to him, though.”

Marie studied the red wine for several long moments before finally saying, “You trust them that much?”

“I do, but evidently that makes me a fool.” Lilly didn’t have any secrets from her best friend. Marie certainly didn’t judge her lifestyle, but she didn’t understand it, either. “It definitely makes me doubt, which is bad. I can’t pull off what they need if there’s any doubt in my mind.”

“I know we’ve talked about this before, but I still don’t get it.” Marie smiled at her apologetically. “I understand what they get from you, but what do you get from them?”

It was hard to explain. Mistress L had started out at the local BDSM club three years ago as Lilly tried to find what she’d been searching for her whole life. She’d dated. She’d had plenty of sex, some good, some not so good. She’d even been engaged. But there’d been an emptiness inside her the entire time, an aching, gnawing lack, even though she didn’t know what it was. She’d found it at the club once she’d taken a crop in her hand. “They test me. It’s like each time I give them an order, and they do it, then I’ve proved my strength and will again. If they don’t obey, then I have to prove I’m strong enough to punish them until they do. Regardless, I’m growing every single day and becoming even stronger.”

Marie winced. “It just sounds so…”

“Medieval?” They both giggled. “We do draw a lot of inspiration from torture chambers.”

“Take me to your dungeon,” Marie gasped out in between gales of laughter.

Lilly pretended to rise. “Really? Great! I’ve been dying to take you down there.”

Marie’s mouth fell open and her eyes went round. “You really do have a dungeon?”

“No, silly. Just a room full of goodies. I don’t even bring anyone here.”

“Why not?”

Lilly took a long sip of her wine, letting the robust red spark flavors on her tongue before she answered. “They’re not inmylife. Does that make sense? Mistress L is who they need. Not me. They don’t even know the real me.”

“That sounds…sad.”

She winced and shrugged. “I’ve had someone for Lilly but he couldn’t satisfy the Mistress. I have plenty of men for the Mistress, but no one for Lilly. Eventually I’ll find someone who keeps both sides of me happy.”

The doorbell rang, causing Hank to set up a ruckus out in the back yard. Marie’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you expecting anyone?”

Lilly set the glass aside and went to peek outside. She groaned and dropped her forehead against the door. “It’s him.”

“Mr. Douchebag? How’d he know where you live?”

Lilly schooled her face into a hard mask and opened the door. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

Mr. Morgan gave her his most winning smile and held out a bouquet of roses so fragrant she could smell them without even taking them from his hand. “Miss Harrison.”

“Mr. Morgan.” She didn’t take the offered flowers, even though they were her favorite. He’d even gotten red ones, which was probably a safe bet for most women. He wouldn’t—couldn’t—know that red was her favorite color. Actually it was more than that. The color stimulated all her senses. It was like an aphrodisiac for her. “What are you doing here?”

“Humbly offering my most sincere apologies.”

Marie joined her in the doorway. “You’re not actually going to listen to him, are you? Though I see what you mean.”

“That depends on what he thinks he’s sorry for.” His thousand-watt smile ramped up another notch, moving from smug to downright preening at the thought she might have been gossiping about how good looking he was with her friend.Naturally, I ought to bring him down a notch.“I said he was pretty. But you know that’s the kiss of death for me.”

Marie snorted and his wide smile slipped a notch as Lilly had hoped.

“May I come in?”

Lilly hesitated. She didn’t want to give him a single tidbit of information about her. Not when he’d already tracked her down and somehow ferreted out her secret identity without even speaking to her first. This was her private domain. Literally and figuratively, the place she let her hair down. She was even barefoot, for God’s sake, dressed in her oldest, most comfortable threadbare jeans and T-shirt. Meanwhile he was still dressed to the nines in the suit that probably cost more than her car.


Page 4

“I waited until I knew you had company so you wouldn’t have any reason to be afraid.”

“Oh, that’s not creepy at all,” Marie said, shaking her head. “No way, Lil. Don’t let this jerk in.”

“I always get my way,” Mr. Morgan replied, clearly a threat although he kept his voice even. “It’s how I clawed my way to the top. I assumed my reputation and position in the community would give Miss Harrison no qualms whatsoever about allowing me into her shop.”

She didn’t even try to keep the incredulity off her face. “Because fine, upstanding men in the community never take advantage of vulnerable women if they think they can get away with it?”

He inclined his head again. “And that’s why I offer my apologies. Secure in the status and privilege my wealth provides, I didn’t stop to think what it’d be like for a woman, alone, to have a stranger attempt to insert himself into her life so boldly.”

His words struck an odd chord in her. Did he really see it as inserting himself into her life? Not as a creative or business opportunity? She’d given him no indication whatsoever that she was interested in allowing him into her personal life. Silently, she stepped aside and pushed open the door.

“Are you kidding?” Marie stepped closer as Mr. Morgan passed inside, like she felt she needed to keep between them. “I don’t like this, hon.”

“It’s okay. You know he’s here. His secretary knows he’s here. Standard operating safety procedures, all right?”

Marie nodded. “Sure. Text me in thirty minutes that you’re okay, or I’m calling the police.”

“And then hourly.” Lilly noted the lingering concern in her friend’s eyes and gave her a tight hug. “I’ll be fine. Promise.”

Marie shot him a warning look as she gathered her purse and left. Lilly shut the door and turned to find him watching her intently. “What?”

“Standard operating safety procedures?”

“A single woman can’t be too careful.” She watched his face, weighing whether she ought to lay her cards all out on the table now or save something for later. What the hell. “Especially when she’s involved in BDSM.”

His shoulders relaxed a hair, revealing a subtle tension. Maybe he hadn’t been completely sure, even though his instincts had insisted on the truth. “Only smart. So am I forgiven?”

She held her hand out and accepted the flowers. Then he surprised her by offering a bottle of wine she hadn’t noticed. He must have had it behind his back.

“I drove around until I found a liquor store and hoped it was one you frequented. The clerk remembered you and was able to tell me your preferences so I could get something you’d actually like.”

“Creepy again.” Shaking her head, she went into the kitchen and found a vase for the flowers. “Don’t you understand that’s stalker behavior?”

He managed to look offended. “I’m merely using every resource at my disposal to ensure victory. It’s not stalking.”

“Of course not,” she said lightly. “You wouldn’t want to get me drunk so you could take advantage of me.”

Now he drew himself up, his jaw hard, his mouth flattening into a slash. “Absolutely not. A lot could be said about me, but I’d never take advantage of a woman like that.”

“I believe you. Mostly.” She smiled to take some of the sting out.

She started to open the new bottle, but he interrupted. “What you’ve already opened is fine for me.”

Keeping an eye on him, she reached up to the top shelf and pulled down a wine glass. “So what resources did you use to find out about me?”

“First, I scouted the local clubs to get the lay of the land.”

She poured him a healthy glass of merlot and led the way back into the living room. He waited until she chose a seat, but whether politeness or an attempt to be submissive, she couldn’t tell. He was very apologetic, but also intense. It wouldn’t surprise her if he’d already devised several plans of attack depending on how the first minute, five minutes, half hour went.Plan A: Apologize. Plan B: Work my way into her house. Plan C: If she refuses…pay off her mortgage?She wouldn’t put it past him.

“You don’t seem like the club sort to me.”

He smiled, and this time it seemed to be genuine. His eyes sparked with amusement instead of disdain, and for once, he wasn’t playing the part of Mr. Asshole determined to have everything his way. “I admit, it’s not my ideal scene. But I had to start somewhere. I asked around and eventually heard the name Mistress L.”

She kept her face smooth and didn’t press him for answers. She didn’t want him to know how much it would bother her if one of her clients had spoken to him.

“Even then, it wasn’t easy. Mistress L hadn’t been at the club in quite a while. I couldn’t get her real name. Finally one of the older Doms admitted to having worked with a Mistress L and eventually gave me your name.”

She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, and then sucked in a deeper one when he continued.

“I hired a private investigator to follow you. He identified your clients and tried to speak to them.” Mr. Morgan kept the smile, but his eyes narrowed, revealing lingering irritation. “However, none of them would cooperate.”

“You hired a PI to investigate me? That is super super SUPER creepy.” However, she was relieved none of her clients had betrayed her. “Do you really want to commission a stained glass project from me, or was that just a way to get me to talk to you?”

He leaned forward, radiating determination, intensity and absolutely nothing of submissive obedience. “At first, just to get you into my office so I could interview you myself. But now, I want the windows done as much as I want you, and I don’t want anyone but you to oversee it.”

“What if I say no?” She kept her voice light and soft, watching his reaction.

His eyes locked onto hers. “Then I’ll find a way to convince you to say yes. I might be submissive, but I’m not the kind of man who’s ever going to settle for no.”

 

He’d never ever dreamed of a Mistress like her. Dressed simply in jeans and some old ratty shirt not fit to use as a cleaning rag, she watched him with cool detachment. When she wanted to project her will, she definitely had presence, he’d give her that. But right now, she was just Lilly Harrison, a middle-class single woman living in a traditional townhome in a normal suburb. The interior of her home was boring beige and traditional. Completely disappointing after seeing the picture of the Mistress with the killer red heels.Where’s the personality in her home? Is she trying to hide from everyone…even herself?

Her feet were bare, her toe nails painted brilliant scarlet, and he found he couldn’t avert his gaze. Sitting in her chair with her knees pulled up before her and her hair all wild and tumbled about her shoulders, she looked vulnerable and unsure. It brought out all his protective instincts to war with the side of him wanting her orders and punishment.

He wanted to draw her into his arms and swear he’d never frighten her again. Because she was frightened of him, shaken at how he’d investigated and tracked her down. What would she think if he knelt down before her and drew her against him again? Not as he’d done in the elevator, out of control and hungry for her power. No, this time, he just wanted to comfort her.

The sub doesn’t comfort the Mistress.

She tipped her head to the side and smiled softly. “What makes you think Mistress L would be interested in taking you on?”

His hackles rose, pride rearing its ugly head again, but he kept his mouth shut until he could think of something to say that wasn’t offensive.Because I’ll pay whatever exorbitant sum you want? Because I’d take you anywhere you want, buy whatever trinkets you covet, just to have you press me down across my desk again?“I’ve been told I’m a challenge.”

“You could say that again,” she muttered, shaking her head. “I’m still not convinced you’re submissive, Mr. Morgan.”

He sat back, deliberately giving her a smoldering, arrogant smile, draping his left arm across the back of the loveseat. “Don’t you think it’s rather ridiculous for such formality while having this conversation?”

“Are you submissive…Donovan?”

So she’d done enough research to know what his given name was. He wasn’t prepared for the rush of warmth in his belly, just from hearing his name on her lips. He shifted slightly, fighting to keep the negligent pose. “Yes and no.”

“Explain.”

She gave him just a thread of power in her voice, but it was enough to make him dig his fingers into the padded cushion beneath his hand. “I don’t want to be led around on a leash. I don’t want to be a lap dog, Mama’s little baby, or even the whipping boy.”

Her eyes narrowed, her will concentrating on him again as she’d done in his office. Immediately, his groin stirred, the heat spreading through his body. No miserable ice could freeze him solid when he sparred with her. “Are you saying you’re not into discipline?”

“I didn’t say that.” His voice was thick and rough to his ears. “Far from it. I want to be conquered.”

“And you think I’m the Mistress for the job? How could you possibly know anything about me? What I do? What I offer?”

He fought to remain still, not to reveal his anxiety and desperation. “Like I said…”

“So your private investigator took a few pictures of me and gave you a list of my clients. He couldn’t possibly tell you what each of those clients has gone through before I agreed to take him on.”

He couldn’t help the curling lift of his lip, though he tried to make it a smile instead of a sneer. “For the right amount of money…”

“This isn’t about money, Mr. Morgan.”

He frowned at being relegated back to formality.

She pushed her feet down and straightened in her seat, no longer withdrawn and vulnerable. Her eyes snapped with rising irritation and she impatiently grabbed a handful of her hair and began to twist it into a loose braid down the side of her head. “If money was all I wanted, I’d have a hundred clients. A thousand. But I’m very particular in who I take on, Mr. Morgan. Each sub has been through an interview process and answered my questionnaire. We agree on a full contract first with specified dates, times and duration. This isn’t a game to me, or a job. If that’s all you think Mistress L can do for you, then you’re wasting both of our time.”

“Speaking of a contract—”

She stood brusquely and slipped on a pair of deck shoes. “This isn’t the time for contract negotiation.”

“Why not?” He mentally winced at the ringing challenge in his voice, but she seemed to find it amusing, if the glint in her eyes and the curve of her mouth were any indication.

“Didn’t you want a stained glass lesson?”

He stood too, more than a little disappointed. He’d liked the direction the conversation had been going. Every little glimpse of the impatient, powerful, harsh taskmistress beneath her calm and cool facade only intrigued him more. “Now?”

“Why not?” She led the way to the side door through her modest kitchen to the garage. “You’re here now. Might as well take advantage of the opportunity.”

He scanned everything quickly, taking note of the continued beige color scheme. The appliances were basic and functional but at least five to ten years old and well used. By her? Or had she not bothered to replace them when she bought the place? Did she cook? He couldn’t tell. No pots and pans hung from a rack or waited on the stove to indicate at least occasional usage. The only decoration was a glass bowl of fruit on the breakfast bar, and it, too, was functional.

He burned to learn her secrets.What does she do? What does she like? What will break her calm control and drive her as mad with need as I am every time I look at her?

In the garage, he began to see more personality. He’d wondered why her small gas-friendly car was parked in the driveway when she had a two-car garage. Now he knew why. It was filled with all her stained glass business.

Box shelves of varying sizes were built alongside one wall, allowing large pieces of glass to lie propped inside so she could easily flip through and examine the colors in each sheet. In the center of the garage bay, she’d set up a high table with a shop light hanging above it. Wheeled carts loaded with supplies were all within easy reach. Smart, practical and tidy.

“I usually have a couple of different projects going on the big table.” She held up a long rectangular piece of paper, a pattern, he realized. The rectangle was entirely divided into complex shapes. At a glance, he really couldn’t tell what the design was supposed to be. It all looked like random puzzle shapes to him that just happened to fit into a rectangle. “All year, I create a few like this to send to the local trade shows. They’re a nice size to hang in someone’s home, without being so expensive the average person can’t afford it. I do a mix of colors, usually. They tend to sell better than the all-clear glass. So it’s a good way to use up scraps from other projects too. Nothing ever really goes to waste.”

“So how do you go from a piece of paper to…that?” He pointed at the wall where she’d hung several different projects for display.

“I cut up the pattern. Then select the glass for each piece of the puzzle. Not just color is important in this stage—but also the pattern and design in the glass itself. Some of the carnival glass is very busy and uneven in thickness. It won’t fit in certain designs—but will absolutely make the piece sing if put in the right place. Like this.”


Page 5

He walked closer and studied the pieces of glass on the table. It was like a kaleidoscope puked out its contents onto the table. Random shapes of glass, mixed up colors. Pretty, but no defined pattern that he could see.

“Each one of these is cut out by hand.” While he watched, she rearranged the shapes, lining them up to match the pattern. “Even after all these years, I still break glass unexpectedly, so I can’t rush it. The better each piece is cut, the less time I have to spend grinding down the edges, because it has to be perfect or even a fraction of an inch will cause it not to fit together.”

Then he could see it. A sunrise, with rays of light shooting through the sky. She’d used at least three different colors of blue, including one with a swirl of white that made it look like clouds scuttling across the sky. Below, greens and bright colors made up a patchwork of green hills and fields of flowers. The focal point was the burning sun rising above the hills. The glass with a bright mix of yellow, orange, red and white, the surface uneven as if it’d been made by hand.

“This pane is only 10x20 inches and takes sixty-three pieces of glass. Once each piece is cut and ground to the appropriate size, I have to wrap each one in lead.” She moved down the table to the opposite side, where a vise held long strips of lead. “Once I can assemble the pieces together and they’re fitting nicely, I can begin to solder them together. Then they still need to be cleaned, cemented and polished, all which can take a full weekend to prep. In the end, I’ll probably have at least fifty hours of work in this single piece, and that’s if everything comes together perfectly the first time.”

Fifty hours for such a small piece. At that rate… “You’re going to need a small army to finish my windows by Christmas, then.”

The look on her face was priceless. She opened her mouth, but she had to take a deep breath and swallow before she could reply. “Christmas? That’s only…”

“Six months.”

“If you want it done so quickly, then I’m not the best person for the job. I don’t work like that.”

“You are the best person for the job. I want you to oversee it, but hire as many workers as you need to finish it.”

She stared down at the worktable. Gnawing on her lip, she removed the rubber band and undid her braid, aimlessly combing her fingers through the thick mass of hair while she thought. “It might take weeks to finalize the design. I don’t even know what the theme is going to be, let alone the colors… Even then, I still have to pick out the glass for each individual pane. It’s a massive undertaking and if I rush it, neither of us will be pleased with it.”

He thought he had her hooked by the idea, and she wasn’t afraid of the scope of the project. It was the deadline overwhelming her. If he pushed too hard, he’d lose her. She wouldn’t risk failing on something—especially to a potential submissive. She had to be in control and confident every step of the way or she wouldn’t accept the job. “I don’t want it rushed, but once I set my mind on something, I want it done yesterday. If we don’t hit Christmas exactly, it won’t be the end of the world. I don’t have an event planned to announce the unveiling. Why don’t you write up a project plan for me? Then I’ll know how quickly you need answers on the theme, design and color, and then we can begin hiring enough workers to finish the windows as quickly as possible.”

He glanced around the garage once again, impressed with what she’d been able to do alone, but also realistic. “You’re going to need a lot more space.”

“Assuming I agree to take on the job.”

“You will.” He gave her a very rare thing indeed—a genuine smile. “You can’t resist a challenge.”

“Are you so sure?”

“For my sake, I hope so.”

She sighed ruefully. “That’s one hell of a good private investigator you hired, Mr. Morgan. How’d you figure out all of this about me from a few sneaky photographs?”

It was his turn to look away and run his hand through his hair. He wanted to take off his tie and loosen the neck of his shirt, but that might be too informal too quickly for her. “I have an instinct for people. That’s why I’ve been able to take a modest family business and turn it into an international billion-dollar company. The numbers are just columns on paper. In the end, it’s the people who make or break a deal.”

He spared a glance at her, not surprised to see her studying him as avidly as he’d done earlier. “You’re a surprising man, Donovan.”

To hell with it. He loosened his tie to relieve some of the pressure on his throat, hoping she wouldn’t sense what really troubled him. He didn’t want to think about it himself.

If I’m going to have something tight on my neck, I want it to be hers. Because she has me collared and bound.

“Very well,” she said. “How soon do you want to meet and go over contracts?”

He locked his knees to keep from sagging with relief.Contracts. Plural. So she’s at least willing to consider taking me on as a submissive in addition to the windows.He waited until he could reply without his voice breaking or cracking like a fool. “Tomorrow morning, nine.”

Her eyebrows rose. “So quickly?”

“I never approach a deal unless I’ve already run my numbers and decided what I want and what I’m willing to give.”

“Eleven. I’m not a morning person.”

No way in hell was he waiting until lunch to settle this. “Ten,” he countered. “And I took the liberty of writing up both contracts to make this deal as expedient as possible. They’re in my car.”

“Contracts?”A sliver of displeasure sharpened her voice. “You’re forgettingmycontract. When it comes to Mistress L, my contract is the only one that counts.”

He had to laugh. He could read legal contracts in his sleep, though his corporate attorney always went over everything with a fine-toothed comb before letting him sign on the dotted line of a major deal. A homemade sexual contract would be nothing to worry about. “I doubt there’s much in your contract that will surprise me.”

She pressed the button to raise one of the garage doors. “I suspect you might be surprised in that regard, Mr. Morgan.”

His eyes narrowed. “Back to formality yet again, Miss Harrison?”

She followed him to his car, waiting patiently while he unlocked the door and retrieved his briefcase. “When you slip into Mr. Douchebag territory, I’m afraid so. If we agree on terms—and that’s a huge if—then I’m afraid I’ll have to resort to corporal punishment to break this insufferable arrogance.”

The thought of punishment made his hands tremble so badly it took him a second try to dial in the combination to the lock he’d done at least a million times. He managed to hand her the stack of papers without dropping them all over her driveway or accidentally touching her. “Insufferable arrogance? That’s rather harsh.”

“You assume you know everything about me just because you were able to discern that I like a challenge before we formally met.” She started scanning the top page. In his opinion, it contained the make-or-break stipulation of the most important contract of all. “That doesn’t mean you know anything else about me. In fact, I’d wager here and now you’ve made several critical errors in judgment when it comes to me.”

“Indeed?” He leaned back against the side of his Jag and crossed his arms. “I doubt that.”

Slowly, she raised her gaze from the paper and locked her eyes on him with such intensity he immediately stiffened. “You want me to break the contracts with my other submissives. That’s a pretty drastic error on your part.”

Stay calm and cool. Don’t let her know how much this means to you.“I’m sure you have escape clauses in their contracts. If not, I’ll simply buy them out.”

“It’s not that simple, Mr. Morgan. I care about these men. I’m not going to drop them like last week’s news just for you.”

Shecaresabout them?He clenched his jaws, fighting to keep from retorting.The Mistress cares for the men paying her to take them in hand. Nice.“I’m not going to share your time. I’m not that kind of man.”

“Maybe it’s about time you learned how to share. You’re not a three-year-old toddler, Mr. Morgan, and I don’t have time—”

With a low growl, he pushed away from the car. “I won’t share you and that’s final.”

 

Donovan Morgan in his rich asshole role was an extremely handsome man. Something she’d admire in its case, like a gorgeous million-dollar diamond necklace, but never take home. It was just too fancy for her. It wouldn’t fit into her lifestyle. It wasn’t her taste. Even if some women would kill to have it.

Donovan Morgan in his stalking predator I’m-going-to-eat-you role was a shock-and-awe strike to her libido. It was all she could do not to seize him by the cock and jerk him around to bend over the hood of his car.

He thought he was being all alpha I’ll-get-my-way-or-else, but all it did was turn her on.

However, the wording in his contract would keep her from acting on her desire.

Keeping her voice pleasantly even, she held her ground, although she did cross her arms to keep her hands from roaming unexpectedly. “You’ll share me or I won’t accept your contract.”

As he’d done in his office, he marched right into her personal space, bumping up against her, his eyes glittering, his body heat rising off him in a wave of lust and anger she could feel through her own clothes. Oh, such a wild, handsome beast. It’d be such a challenge to tame him. So much delicious fun. She met his challenge, pushing back so that her arms braced against his chest. Another reason she’d crossed her arms. She didn’t think she’d be able to stand the temptation of having her breasts pressed against him.

“You honestly think I’m going to let you fuck other men while you’re fucking me?”

She took a staggering step back, her arms falling with shock. Pain banded her chest, squeezing her heart until she couldn’t breathe. She was used to people not understanding what she did. Like Marie. She’d never understand, even if she came to one of Lilly’s sessions to watch. But she hadn’t had someone so completely and wrongly jump to such an ugly conclusion, especially when he himself wanted to be a part of her private circle. He’d hunted her down and set her up with this whole commission, just so he could pay to have sex with her?

Gathering her composure, she took a deep, shaking breath. Another. She’d already made the mistake of letting him into her home. She’d made another mistake by reacting to his hurtful words and backing down from his threat.No more mistakes, Lil. You have to nip this in the bud here and now.

Deliberately, she kept her voice soft and broken, letting the hurt vibrate through each word. “That’s what you think I do? You think I’m a prostitute?”

Surprise flickered across his face and he hesitated. He looked at her, really looked at her.

She kept her body language small, shoulders slumped, arms hugging herself for protection and wrinkling his contracts into a hopeless mess, eyes big and hopefully shimmering with emotion, her lips wobbling. Feminine distress at its finest, and it worked. It knocked him off balance and he abandoned his aggressive attack.

“I didn’t say that,” he began. She sniffed loudly and his eyes widened with alarm. “I’m sorry, Miss Harrison, truly. I thought—”

“You thought I’m a prostitute. That’s the only kind of woman who’d be fucking ten men.” She repeated his own words and he flinched at the language. “Two of them are married. That’s the kind of woman you think I am. That’s the kind of woman you want to hire to be your Mistress. Or should I say mistress with a lowercase M? Because that’s all you’re really looking for. A fuck buddy. Casual sex. Pay me a couple of thousand dollars and then throw me in the trash on your way to your next business meeting.”

“No, not at all. I didn’t—”

“Oh, I know, Mr. Morgan would pay me considerably more, right? Nothing but the best for you. You’d pay me…how much was it? A hundred thousand dollars a month. That’s a lot of fucking, Mr. Morgan.”

“Well yes, but…”

She let out a shaking sob and he realized what he’d said. Horror washed the color from his face and he started to babble. “That’s not what I meant at all, Miss Harrison. Not at all. I’m sorry, please, forgive me.” He jerked at his tie until it hung askew and ran his other hand through his hair until he looked like he’d been mugged on a subway. “It seems I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

“Yes, yes you have.” She laughed softly. “Like I said, a critical error in judgment, Mr. Morgan.”

It took him a moment to realize it was laughter and not tears after all. His cheeks flushed scarlet and he stared at her, his jaw working like he was chewing on gravel. But he said nothing.Probably because he’s so furious he’s afraid he’d say something even more unforgivable than accusing me of being a prostitute.

“Good boy, Donovan.” She turned without glancing back to see how he reacted. “I’ll bring my contract in tomorrow morning and you can see how Mistress L handles her business. Good night.”

In the safety of her house away from his prying eyes, she let down the Mistress L facade. The way he’d jumped to such conclusions hurt. It said a lot about his needs, though. Some men could separate BDSM from the sex. It wasn’t intercourse they were after at all, but rather the release of control. They needed someone else—preferably a beautiful woman—to take them in hand. To take away their choice and all the pressures of their daily life. And for one hour a week, Mistress L gave them exactly what they wanted. She told them to strip, and they did. She told them to crawl, and they dropped to their knees. She told them to kiss her, and they pressed their mouths to her prettily painted toes. Not her lips.


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It was the submission and yes, humiliation, they craved.

Some men wanted to be punished by a woman. They needed the release of pain, of being bound and forced to submit just for a while. Mistress L could give that to them too. And yeah, sometimes the men came in the midst of the pain because it was a release. If not, she was sure they jacked off in the privacy of the hotel room she’d left them in, but she was very clear about what she would and wouldn’t do.

Mistress L didn’t touch her submissives sexually. Ever.

So it said a lot about her own needs when it came to Donovan Morgan if the first thing she wanted to do was grab his cock and bend him over that sleek black Jaguar to see if she could make him roar like the powerful engine under the hood.

With a sigh, she texted Marie the all clear, even though her thoughts about the man were far from it. She wanted to accept his challenge. He was an incredibly complex man, and she suspected he was on the edge. He had to be pretty desperate to hire a private investigator to find him a Mistress. There had to be dozens of Mistresses in the Twin Cities area alone and they would have been at the clubs, easier to contact. Easier to negotiate exactly what he wanted. Yet he’d come after her with the single-minded purpose that had made him a billionaire.

Why me?

She knew. The same reason she wanted to accept even though it went against her carefully constructed rules.

He’d looked at those pictures and seen a Mistress he also wanted sexually. He saw the womanandthe Mistress and he wanted them both.

She looked at him in all his arrogant pride and explosive temper, and saw a man she’d love to muss up. She wanted to knock him off balance and watch him stammer. She wanted to make him so furious he’d explode with lust. And then she wanted to bring him to his knees with the force of his need.

Only for me.

With a sigh, she flipped open her laptop and began going through her contacts, clients and colleagues on both sides of her professions. Donovan Morgan was right in one regard. If she was going to accept his BDSM contract, it was a one woman/one man job. On the other contract, though, she’d need every stained glass artist on call that she knew.

I’ll need all my focus on him if I’m going to survive both of his contracts.

Chapter Four

Just before ten the next morning, Donovan paced frantically back and forth in front of the windows of his office. He’d been up since five and hadn’t slept well the few hours he’d tried to rest. He’d jogged on the treadmill until he wanted to drop. He’d jacked off twice last night and again this morning, trying to take the edge off. To gain a little control. A little separation from the desperate aching need like a bowling ball in the pit of his stomach. But all it took was one thought of Lilly Harrison and he went rock hard again.

Damn it.

He reached down and adjusted himself.This is ridiculous.He glared at his eager dick pushing against the seam of his trousers.You’re not a randy teenager getting a woody every time a pretty girl walks by. You can control this.

The intercom buzzed and he sucked in a deep breath, his cock surging so hard he was afraid the material wouldn’t hold. He threw himself down into his chair and pressed the answer button. “Yes?”

His voice vibrated with what he hoped his secretary thought was fury.

“Mr. Morgan?” Miss Wruthers squeaked, if possible even higher and more irritating than normal. The way every one of her sentences seemed to end in a question put his teeth on edge, but he didn’t respond. Shouting at the poor woman to stop being so hesitant surely wouldn’t help. “Miss Harrison is here?”

“Thank you.” He forced himself to speak slowly and calmly. “Send her in.”

This time, he wouldn’t rise and greet her politely.I can’t. Or she’ll see the massive hard-on threatening to tear my pants. She’ll just have to assume I’m being my normal arrogant self.

When Lilly walked into his office, he frantically thanked every deity known to man that he’d remained seated. Because he would have thoroughly humiliated himself. As it was, he nearly came in his pants.

She wore a high-collared, low-cut red blouse the same color as her painted toes, a tight, black pencil skirt hugging every inch of her glorious hips, and those shoes. The ones from the pictures. So high he didn’t know how a woman could possibly walk in them. But she did, each step swaying her hips in a hypnotic dance that made his mouth go dry with lust. When she sat down and crossed her legs, the short black skirt rode up enough to show him the top of her stockings.

He gulped, sweat breaking out on his forehead. Real thigh-high stockings and a garter belt. A thin strip of bare thigh tantalized him above the silk. It made him think about sliding his hand up that skirt, seeking what else she might have on beneath the material. Or better yet, nothing at all.

“Good morning, Mr. Morgan.” She leaned down to set her portfolio beside her on the floor, giving him a good, long look down her shirt. No bra met his gaze, just plump breasts lifted by what looked like a black corset. “Did you sleep well last night?”

Dear God. A corset. Stockings. If she pulls a crop out of her bag I’m going to pass out when my dick explodes.

He jammed a finger at the intercom and barked, “Coffee,” at his secretary.

“Evidently not.” Lilly laughed softly, a deep velvety purr making him quiver in his chair. “Too bad. You’re going to need all your wits about you for this contract negotiation.”

Ah, so that’s her game. She deliberately wore this outrageously sexy outfit to make sure she gets what she wants.

With a glare, he retorted, “It’s not going to work.”

Her eyebrows rose and she looked at him innocently. “What’s not going to work?”

“This.” He waved a hand at her and averted his gaze, sure he blushed like a virgin. Which only made his cheeks burn hotter. “Some sexy clothes aren’t going to make me lose my head and give you what you want.”

The door opened and Miss Wruthers scurried in with a cup of coffee. Wide eyed, she froze at the corner of his desk, her gaze flickering between them both.

Lilly lounged in her chair in a sexy drape of negligent ease that made him want to leap up and pace frantically again. Or better yet, maybe he’d just bury his face in her cleavage. “You’re going to give me exactly what I want, Mr. Morgan, and it’s not going to be because of my clothes.”

Miss Wruthers made a low, desperate sound like a bleat and plopped the cup on the desk hard enough some of it sloshed out onto the cherry top. She let out another frantic cry and ran around the desk to the filing cabinet on the other side of the room, rummaging around loudly in search of something to mop up the stain.

Lilly bent down again, and he swore a button of her blouse must have popped open because he saw even more cleavage this time. The brown of her aureoles peeked above the corset. “Don’t worry, Miss Wruthers, I have a napkin right here. I’m such a slob I always carry around some wipes to clean up after myself.”

She rose up enough to blot the spilled coffee, giving him a wink that made him think about why she might have napkins and wipes stowed in her bag. Other messes she might find necessary to clean. He very nearly groaned out loud.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Morgan.” Miss Wruthers wrung her hands. “Let me get you another cup.”

He forced himself to turn his head and look at her. Anything to get his gaze off Lilly before he embarrassed himself. “It’s all right, Miss Wruthers.” He even managed a smile, though it was stiff and hurt his face. “This cup is fine, though I’m sure Miss Harrison would like a cup too.”

“Of course. How do you like your coffee, ma’am?”

Lilly handed her the wet napkin. “Strong and stout with just a splash of cream to soften the bite.”

Damn it, she even made coffee sound wicked.

“Right away.”

They waited in silence for the promised cup. Lilly watched him with a smile hovering on her luscious lips, while he was afraid he probably looked at her like a poisonous viper was ready to devour him. He drummed his fingers on the desk, which made her lips curve even more. So he picked up the cup and took a big drink, practically spluttering it all over himself when he burned all the taste buds off the top of his tongue.Great. Just what I needed. A sore tongue. If I was going to have a sore tongue, I thought it’d be because…

He slammed the door shut, locked it and mentally threw away the key.

“Here’s your cup, ma’am.” His secretary practically thrust the cup into Lilly’s hands and then fled to the door. “If you need anything else, just ring, sir.”

He waited until the door closed. Then he took another drink of the coffee, carefully this time so he didn’t fry his whole mouth. Another sip. Determined to let her speak first, he refused to even look at her. Even when she bent down to pull something out of her bag again.

“I took the liberty of making a few adjustments to both contracts after consulting with my personal attorney last night. I’ve written in my requirements and struck out a few clauses that I don’t agree to. Where should we start, Mr. Morgan?”

He cleared his throat and picked up his favorite pen. His father had given it to him upon his college graduation and he’d carried it ever since. The solid weight of the fountain pen helped him regain his sense of balance and purpose. “Let’s begin with the stained glass commission.”I’ll be on solid ground there.

She passed the papers to him and sipped her coffee while he scanned through her adjustments. For the most part, she’d accepted his contract, which was pretty standard industry wide promising payment for an art project. She would provide detailed designs within thirty days in writing, and he’d have to approve them, again in writing, before she would begin work to protect herself in the end if he decided he hated the artwork. He would cover the costs of materials and extra labor, including additional workshop space. He nodded, all smart adjustments now that he understood more about her shop’s small setup. She’d also modified the due date to clarify there’d be no penalties incurred but that she’d target the project completion for Christmas, assuming the design and material timetables were all approved on schedule.

After learning more about the amount of work involved, he was surprised she didn’t add a few additional zeroes to the flat sum of fifty thousand dollars he’d promised above and beyond the cost of materials and labor she’d have to hire out. But she knew her business, and if she was happy with the amount, so be it. She’d be making considerably more as his Mistress anyway.

He initialed each of the additions and then passed his favorite pen to her for her to add her signature.

With a flourish, she signed her name and then passed the pen back to him. Her fingers touched his and he felt the searing contact all the way down to his cock.

“And now the more private contract.” She reached down again and pulled out the smaller stack of papers. “Before I show you the changes I made to your contract, I thought I’d show you the contract I typically offer my clients.”

His palms were sweating enough that the paper stuck to his skin. He spread the two pages—only two!—out before him and began to read, determined to read the whole thing before he spared a glance at her. Fully aware she would be watching and judging his reaction, he schooled his face to the calm, detached businessman’s mask he typically wore every single moment, day in and day out, until he wanted to rip out his own eyes and roar at the top of his lungs.

 

The submissive will thoroughly answer the Mistress’s questionnaire to the best of his ability. The submissive is completely responsible for notifying the Mistress of any medical or personal issues that require Her attention.

A safeword will be selected prior to any scene. Once the safeword is given, the scene will stop immediately.

Scenes may trigger unexpected memories or powerful and uncontrolled reactions from the submissive. In this case, the submissive will not be held accountable for breaking the Mistress’s orders. Before another regularly scheduled scene will be held, the submissive and Mistress must meet to discuss his reaction. The questionnaire will be revisited as needed to discuss limits and allowed physical contact.

A scene will be one hour long, weekly or monthly in frequency, until either the Mistress or submissive requests the contract be terminated without penalty.

After the scene, the submissive will provide payment of one thousand dollars to the Mistress. She may refuse to accept the funds if displeased with the submissive. The submissive may refuse to provide the funds if he’s displeased with the scene. Contract at that time will be terminated without further penalty.

The submissive will not attempt to contact Mistress L in any way except through the specified email address and only to request a reschedule of a scene or termination of contract. Any attempt at contact outside of the scene will result in termination of the contract and cessation of all scheduled scenes.

Referrals are allowed, but only if a.) The sub knows the person in question personally and is willing to vouch for their character, and b.) The Mistress agrees to meet the referral prior to any information being shared with the potential sub. If the Mistress’s private email address or name is given to another without her express consent, all previously scheduled scenes will be canceled and this contract null and void.


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The Mistress will provide only the physical contact agreed to after the questionnaire has been answered completely. SEXUAL CONTACT IN ANY FORM INCLUDING KISSING, TOUCHING OF GENITALS, ORAL SEX, INTERCOURSE, OR PENETRATION OF ANY KIND (INCLUDING TOYS) IS EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN.

Even though no sexual contact is permitted, the submissive will provide a health screening to certify he’s clean of any communicable diseases including STDs and HIV. Mistress L’s certification is updated every six months and available at any time upon request. She will also provide a new health screening at any time at the client’s cost.

Absolutely no exceptions.

 

He took a deep, shaking breath and turned his head to the next page, the infamous questionnaire. This was simply a check-box list of various activities where the submissive could indicate interest, strong desire or strong aversion to the various BDSM activities Mistress L was willing to provide, such as various forms of punishment and humiliation. At the bottom, there were yes and no questions like, “I want to be completely nude for our scenes” or “I prefer to be bound for punishment”.

Furious—at himself for leaping to such ridiculous conclusions about the luscious Mistress L—he spun his chair around and stared out the window so he didn’t have to look at her.And she can’t see my reaction.“It’s all very neat and tidy, Mistress L.”

“Yes, it is,” she replied simply. “If there are services the submissive’s interested in which aren’t on my contract, then I’m not the appropriate Mistress for him to consider.”

His hand clenched on the pen so hard it leaked ink on his hand.Idiot. You’re going to destroy your father’s last gift to you, and for what? Your pride? Utter despair? Years and years of emptiness and shallow relationships, meaningless sex that never scratches the bone-deep need I carry.

“Given our discussion last night, I didn’t think this contract would be suitable for our…needs.”

He almost wheeled back around to see her face. Surely she was joking again. Leading him on to get what she wanted. She played to his arrogant conclusions oh so well, leading him on only to shut him down like the fool he was.I thought she was the One. The one woman who would be able to see that need in me and for the first time in my life, meet it completely. I thought…

Her hand came down on his right shoulder and he flinched so hard he almost fell out of his chair.

“Donovan. Aren’t you even going to look at me?”

He squeezed his eyes shut, even while his body lapped up such an insignificant touch like he’d just stumbled into a private harem of women dedicated to his every secret whim and desire. “I can’t.”

She laughed softly, the sound running over his skin like silk. Her scent filled his nose, something spicy that made his mouth water. Warm and rich and sweet yet not flowery. This was an earthy scent. Raw passion. Sex. Heat. “Why not?”

“Because if I look at you, I might very well drag you into my lap and ravish you.”

When she plopped down into his lap, his eyes flew open with alarm. “You’re welcome to try.”

 

Donovan swallowed so hard she could see his throat working beneath his tie and shirt. “Isn’t this kind of physical contact forbidden by your contract?”

She had to congratulate him on his forbearance. He managed to keep his hands off her, even though one hand was clenched on the pen and the other gripped the arm of his chair so hard his knuckles were white. “I guess you’ll have to read the new contract and see what’s forbidden and what’s allowed.”

She squirmed deeper in his lap until his erection pressed against her hip. Clenching his teeth, he tossed the pen on his desk and clamped both hands on her shoulders. “What are you doing to me?”

“Tormenting you.” She twisted her upper body toward him so she could prop one elbow on his chest. “Tormenting myself. Isn’t it fun?”

“No.” His breathing was so ragged he sounded like an asthmatic. “Not fun. Not when I can’t…”

“We haven’t come to any agreement yet, Donovan.” She loved the way his eyes dilated and his nostrils flared every time she said his name. It was almost as fun as watching his lips tighten into a firm slant when she punished him by returning to Mr. Morgan. “There aren’t any rules yet. I haven’t—”

As she hoped, he broke every one of the rules he’d just read in her standard contract by pressing his lips to hers. He inhaled her lips, pushing his tongue into her welcoming mouth on a long, deep groan of need. She threaded her fingers in his dark hair and gripped his head firmly, keeping him pinned while she kissed him back. She sucked on his tongue, pressing her teeth into him until he groaned harder. His right hand immediately landed on her thigh and began the slide up beneath her skirt.

Fisting her hand tighter in his hair, she pulled his head back to break the kiss. “Naughty, naughty boy. Let’s see… You’ve failed to answer the Mistress’s questionnaire, you’ve pressed your genitals against her, you’ve kissed her, and now you’re trying to find out what kind of panties she’s wearing.”

“I’m a rule breaker.” His voice was rough and thick, his eyes heavy lidded with desire. Ignoring the pull of his hair, he pushed his hand up the inside of her thigh.

And she let him. Because she wanted to see the way his eyes flared when he felt nothing but wet, hot flesh against his fingers.

Shuddering against her, he buried his face against her chest. “Mistress.”

She pressed her lips against his ear, holding him close. “Do you think I get this wet for my other clients, Donovan? Even if I did, they’d never be allowed to know it. And I promise you, I don’t. I’ve never been sexually attracted to any of my clients. Hence my very strict and clean contract.”

He didn’t try to get his fingers inside her, but merely cupped her flesh with his hand as though treasuring the intimacy and what it meant.

She wanted him. As a man and as a submissive. She was letting him touch her. As a man. With no contract in place.

Nipping his ear, she pulled back and waited for him to look into her face. “Are we clear on what kind of services I’ve offered in the past?”

He nodded, his dark gaze locked to hers. “Are we clear that I’m going to require more from you than punishment and orders?”

Arching her hips into his caress, she let her voice thicken with desire. “Crystal.”

“And you’ll be willing… I mean…” He couldn’t quite unbend his arrogance enough to say it. Yet.

She smiled and disentangled enough to stand and move back to her own chair. She walked slowly, basking in the way he devoured her every move, slowly turning in his chair until he faced her once more. “I assure you that I’m perfectly willing and able to give you exactly what you need, Donovan. In fact, I’d like nothing better than to indulge right this very moment, but I’m afraid Miss Wruthers might faint dead away if she came in and found you stretched out on top of your desk with your pants down around your ankles.”

His eyes fell shut and he dropped his head back against his chair, breathing deeply. She watched the struggle to bring himself back under control. Yet the arrogant rule breaker couldn’t resist pushing back. “Are you punishing me or…”

His words fell off and he cracked open an eye to see her reaction. His face stilled into the more guarded mask of privileged indifference, hiding the fragile glimpse of raw lust trying to burst into life in his eyes.

He’s protecting himself. If he sets his expectations too high, he’ll only be disappointed.

Moved by his vulnerability, even though he’d deny it vehemently if pressed, she busied herself pulling out the rest of the papers. “Some Mistresses don’t believe in giving any pleasure to the submissive. The sub exists for his Mistress’s pleasure, not the other way around. If he’s not on his knees worshiping her with his tongue, then he hasn’t learned his place and must be punished. I’m not that kind of Mistress.”

He accepted the new stack of papers and even dropped his gaze to them, but his eyes didn’t move across the page.He’s not reading them. Yet.“I won’t deny there’s a certain appeal to that image.”

“The sub on his knees or me punishing you on your desk?”

He smiled faintly but it didn’t quite reach his eyes and he didn’t meet her gaze. “Both.”

“But…?” When he shrugged and flipped the page, even though he couldn’t have read it yet, she said what he could not yet bring himself to admit. “You’re hoping for a Mistress who’s as eager to give pleasure as receive it.”

She’d never seen such a powerful and obnoxiously gorgeous man blush so prettily. Again, a shrug, without lifting his eyes from the page.

“If I had your pants down around your ankles, I’d have to give you a blow job you wouldn’t soon forget.WhileI punished you.”

There, his eyes met hers, all searing intensity and pulsing with rising desire. “You would do that?”

For me?He didn’t say the last two words, but she heard it and it broke her heart. She was beginning to believe his arrogant asshole role was just a mask he wore to protect the inside submissive who feared no one would ever be able to love him as he was, no matter how much wealth he possessed. “Absolutely.”

His gaze wandered to the door briefly, as though he was contemplating locking it so he could test her honesty. When he looked back into her face, she didn’t like the shield he wore once more. “How much is it going to cost me?”

It took all her will not to reveal how much it hurt.He’s only striking out to make sure I don’t hurt him first. It’s his natural survival instinct.

But it still sucked.

Keeping her voice light, she gave a nod to the papers he’d been pretending to read. “You tell me.”

His eyes tightened, narrowing on her face as if he sensed she was hiding something beneath the surface. Then he flipped back to the beginning of the contract where he’d originally offered Mistress L the sum of one hundred thousand dollars a month to be his. “You crossed out this entire clause.”

“Yes.”

He raised his head, suspicion grooved into deep lines between his eyes. “You didn’t write in an alternative amount.”

“No. I didn’t.”

“So what’s it going to cost me?”

She merely arched a brow and sat silently, gazing back at him evenly.

“I don’t understand. This is your profession. I know I misjudged you earlier, but I demanded you give up all your other clients.”

She nodded. “I emailed each of them last night and broke the news. They weren’t happy, to say the least.”

“So even if this doesn’t work out, you might lose some of them. You might hurt your business.”

It was her turn to shrug carelessly. “I’ve turned away business for years. I’ll find new clients if I must.”

“Let me get this straight. You’re going to accept my contract. You’re going to give up your existing clients, your very livelihood. And you’re not going to take a dime of my money?” He laughed, but it was hard and ugly. “Here I was prepared to blackmail you into agreement, and now I’m getting you for free.”

Her patience was unraveling very fast. “How exactly did you intend to blackmail me, Mr. Morgan?”

“I was going to threaten to tell everyone exactly what kind of business you’re running on the side.”

She nodded, her irritation rising. “So you were going to tell people like my parents and friends and professional clients that I’m a whore. Yeah, that’s a sure way to get a woman to agree to get into bed with you.”

He had the grace to squirm uncomfortably beneath her accusing glare. “I thought—”

“Yeah, we’ve already been over what a boneheaded idiot you are.” She stood up and snatched the contract off his desk. Most of it had been crossed out anyway. “This is what I think of you and your worthless contract, Mr. Morgan.” Then she tore the papers in half, threw them on his desk, and stalked toward the door.

“Miss Harrison, wait. Lilly!”

She heard him coming around his desk but she didn’t slow or turn to look at him. She started to open the door but he flung up an arm and slammed it shut, pressing his weight against it to keep her from opening it again.

“Mistress.”

Finally, he got her attention. She looked at him but didn’t soften her face or give him her words.

“I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I was wrong.”

“Wrong to even thinking about blackmailing me? Or wrong to think I would actually accept money in exchange for having sex with you?”

“Shhh,” he lowered his voice. “I don’t know how soundproof this door is.”

Ha. She could only hope the simpering Miss Wruthers was pressed against the door on the other side listening avidly. It would serve him right. “That’s your problem, Mr. Morgan. Not mine. You’re the idiot who’s bewildered why I’m furious that you keep trying to shove money down my throat along with your cock.”

“Lilly, please!”

“Please what? Please forgive you yet again for trying to make me into your very own prostitute? Maybe you thought I’d charge by the lash. Drop your pants now and give me a grand. I’ll see how many cracks I can get in before your secretary comes charging in to see if I’m killing you.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered furiously, his face so red it almost made her laugh despite her anger. “Please.”


Page 8

She at least stopped hurling comments back, but she didn’t unbend her stiffness or withdrawal.

“I was wrong. Terribly wrong. You ought to punish me.”

She let her shoulders relax and he sagged against the door in relief. “I don’t know, Mr. Morgan. You haven’t even answered my questionnaire yet so I know what implements to use.”

“Anything. Anything you want.” She didn’t have to drop her gaze to his crotch to know he was aroused again. “Punish me any way you want. I deserve it for insulting you yet again with my ignorance.”

Pretending to think about it, she shifted her portfolio to her other hand and then finally nodded. “Meet me at Dmitri’s tonight at seven.”

“I can pick you up…” She narrowed a glare on him and he raised his hands. “Or not. I’ll just meet you there. But you will allow me to buy you dinner? It’s the least I can do.”

“Very well.”

“And after?” His voice deepened and he dared to touch her arm, just a light brush like he’d take her elbow and escort her to the elevator if she’d allow it.

She gave him a little nod, and he grasped her arm more confidently. He opened the door and she was half-surprised to see the secretary typing away furiously at her desk just feet away instead of hovering outside to eavesdrop. “And after…dessert.”

“Your place or mine?”

His voice was such a rough growl that Miss Wruthers looked up, wide-eyed with alarm. Lilly smiled and waved goodbye to her, but she did lower her voice to ensure his privacy as much as possible. “Yours.”

“Do I need to have any…equipment?”

The elevator dinged and the door slid open. Ignoring whoever might be stepping out as well as the watching secretary, she reached up and dragged his mouth to hers for a hearty kiss. “Just this, lover boy.”

Releasing him, she patted his cheek and stepped onto the elevator. Before the door could shut, he blocked it with his hand. Panting, he stared at her as if afraid to let her go. His hair was mussed up, his tie crooked, and those poor tortured trousers would never be the same. “Lilly?”

“Yes, Donovan?”

He cast his gaze down the length of her body to land on her favorite red heels. “Wear these shoes tonight.”

She normally didn’t like to take such blatant orders from a man, but for him… She smiled. “You got it.”

Chapter Five

Dmitri took one look at Lilly’s outfit and let out a soft whistle. “Wow, girl, I can’t wait to see the new man you’re wining and dining tonight.”

“Actually, he’s wining and dining me for a change. So make sure you charge him full price.” Grinning, she twirled around so he got the full impact. After leaving Morgan Industries, she’d gone shopping, determined to find something new that would live up to the billionaire’s social standing while indulging her taste for the erotic. She’d managed to find a retro-style white wiggle dress with big red polka dot cherries. The white wasn’t something she’d normally go for, which is why she liked it. It was surprising. Rather like Donovan Morgan. “You think he’ll like?”

“He’d have to be dead not to like it. So what do you know about this guy?”

She’d been bringing new clients to Dmitri’s ever since she’d gotten into the business, just in case one of her “dates” turned out to be a nutcase. “He’s not a client.”

Dmitri whistled again. “Aha. So Miss Lilly’s on a date tonight, not the Mistress. I’ll be extra vigilant tonight, then.”

He was of the mind that a man paying to have the Mistress’s company would be more respectful than any Joe Blow off the street for fear she’d decide he wasn’t worth the time. She couldn’t argue with his logic; her subs were always extremely respectful even when they weren’t playing a scene. “I’m curious to see what you think of him. He’s not my normal type.”

“Hmmm.” Dmitri winked. “I can’t wait to meet him then.”

A commotion drew her attention to the front of the restaurant. Some of the waitstaff had gathered at the windows and were whispering excitedly. She sighed. “He’s here.”

“How do you know?”

One of the young waitresses squealed. “A limo! Wow, I’ve never seen one so long. Who is it?”

Arching a brow, Dmitri started over to gawk too, but Lilly grabbed his arm and pulled him to the side. “Hold on a moment,” she whispered. “I want to see him in action.” At Dmitri’s confused look, she explained. “He’s used to being king of the hill. He’s certainly not used to coming in where everything has already been managed and decided for him. I just want to see what he does.”

“But he’s not a client.”

“Nope.” She smiled. “I’m working for him to do a magnificent stained glass commission, though.”

“Interesting. I hope he’s paying you a lot because I have a feeling you’re going to be banging your head against the wall if he’s used to bossing everyone around.”

She sighed ruefully. “You have no idea.”

They edged closer to the foyer while lingering out of sight. Mr. Morgan strode into the restaurant like the aforementioned king in a perfect black suit that managed to be both simple and sumptuous at the same time, the kind of tailoring that cost a mint. The only thing odd was he didn’t wear any sort of tie and he’d left the top of his shirt open. Strangely informal for such a very formal man.

One of the watching waitresses gasped and someone broke into applause.

He didn’t even spare them a glance.

“Good evening, sir,” the maitre d’ welcomed him. “How can we help you this evening?”

“Your best table in the house please.”

The maitre d’ looked like he was going to burst into tears. “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but our best table has already been reserved for the entire evening.”

Actually, Lilly had the table reserved every single Friday evening since Dmitri’s opened, and it wasn’t unusual for her to come in at least once midweek. Okay, maybe two or even three times. When faced with her own mediocre cooking, it was much more tempting to stop by her old friend’s for a delicious reprieve.

Mr. Morgan radiated displeasure, though he didn’t outright scowl. Luckily he didn’t attack the poor man, either, which raised him in both hers and Dmitri’s eyes. Neither one of them had much patience or respect for people who treated those lower than them like trash. “That’s…disappointing. I want this evening to be especially nice. I’m meeting a lady here and everything must be perfect.”

“We have several beautiful tables, sir, and I assure you everything will be perfect for your lady. Perhaps she’s already here? Might I have her name?”

She squeezed Dmitri’s arm and led him into the foyer. “I’m here, Mr. Morgan.”

He turned toward her, a smile beginning to curve his lips. She watched his gaze slide down her body to land on the shoes he’d asked her to wear and his eyes blazed with heat. Inch by inch, he worked his way back up. His face transformed from determined politeness to appreciation to heat to downright hunger. But then he noticed the man with her, and the reserved business mask slipped back into place.

“Miss Harrison, you’re early,” he chided, even while taking her hand and bowing over it to kiss her knuckles. One of the waitresses pretended to swoon. “I wanted to make all the arrangements for you.”

“All the arrangements have already been made, Mr. Morgan. This is the owner, Dmitri Graeme, and my very good friend. Dmitri, this is Donovan Morgan.”

The two men politely shook hands, but Donovan still held himself tightly in control. Jealousy? She couldn’t be sure. He didn’t glare at the other man or even threaten him.

“This way, Mr. Morgan, Miss Harrison.” Dmitri led them to her table and held out the chair for her. Donovan’s face tightened slightly but he seated himself without comment and allowed her friend to push her chair in. “I’ll be serving you personally tonight. If you’d like a different wine, Mr. Morgan, just let me know.”

The wine she’d picked out waited in a chilled bucket, the cork already removed. While Dmitri disappeared into the kitchen, she poured the crisp, sweet moscato into their glasses. “I eat here a lot, so Dmitri already has everything set up for me when I arrive.”

Their table was in a secluded corner near a large fireplace, with a bay window showing off the restaurant’s private garden terrace. Fairy lights hung from the trees and bushes outside. No fire burned in the hearth, not in July, but Dmitri kept an attractive fresh flower arrangement inside the stone. The rest of the restaurant was open and bright, but here, she could sit in the dimmed light and people watch to her heart’s desire.

Donovan took the glass but didn’t drink yet. Watching him, she tried to pinpoint his unease. Because he was uneasy, his fingers restless on the glass. His shoulders were tense beneath the expensive black material. “Dmitri’s very happily married with four kids of his own.”

Donovan’s lips curled but it was more sneer than smile. “Good for him.”

Not jealousy, then. At least not because of the other man. “If you don’t like moscato…”

He deliberately took a large drink of the wine and set his glass down a little too firmly on the table. “It’s fine.”

“I typically start with something light, but I prefer something a bit meatier with my dinner.”

He nodded, obviously trying to make an effort. He looked about the restaurant and fiddled with his salad fork. “I’ve never heard of this place before.”

“It’s the best kept secret in the Twin Cities.”

He gathered all the silverware up and rearranged it. He took another big gulp of wine without even tasting it. Then he started to put all the silverware back into its proper place.

Lilly dropped her hand on his, stilling his restless fingers. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

She lowered her voice but kept it whip-strong. “Don’t you dare lie to me, Donovan Morgan.”

Startled, he jerked his head up and met her gaze, his eyes wide with surprise but dilated. He liked the firmer side of her voice, even if she didn’t use it very often. “You broughtthemhere. I recognize the restaurant from the pictures.”

She nodded. “I did. As I said, Dmitri’s my friend and I eat here a lot. I’d starve to death if it wasn’t for him.”

A smile hovered on Donovan’s lips and the tension slowly leaked from his shoulders. “You don’t cook?”

“Hardly. I mean, I can nuke something or scramble eggs. Sometimes I can make toast without burning it beyond recognition. I guess I probably wouldn’t starve on my own, but what he makes here is worlds better than anything I can do. Besides, it’s boring to eat alone. I’d rather come here and watch people.” Her explanation took some of the edge off him, but she thought he might appreciate the next part even more. “I have an ulterior motive for bringing new clients here. It’s standard operating safety procedures. I have my car in the employee parking out back. Dmitri’s a great judge of character, and if either of us gets a bad vibe, I head out the back door and make my escape.”

“That’s why you wouldn’t let me pick you up.” Donovan’s eyebrows arched and he turned his hand over to thread his fingers through hers. “Does it happen very often?”

“Only once, but I have to be careful. It’d be presumptuous and stupid of me to think that just because I’m a Mistress, a man wouldn’t try to get one over on me. Some men would love the idea of breaking a woman like me.”

He tightened his grip on her hand, instinctively leaning closer, as if offering his strength and protection. Something warm and sweet began to melt in the pit of her stomach like a rich, decadent chocolate. “Does he approve of me?”

“I do.” Dmitri smiled as he set the basket of bread still warm from the oven before them. “Enjoy.”

“Sorry.” She laughed softly at the disgruntled look on Donovan’s face. “He’s very good at what he does, so he tends to pop up when you least expect him. I swear he’s telepathic. If I even think about wanting…”

Dmitri set a small saucer of softened butter at her right hand. “Just like you like it, Miss Harrison.” And then he was gone back into the kitchen.

She gently removed her hand from Donovan’s because there was no way in hell she was going to sit here with fresh hot bread and butter without eating some. “See?” He watched her slather butter—a lot of butter—on her roll, a bemused smile on his face. “I should probably warn you that I like to eat. I mean, Ireallylike to eat. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to eat like a bird just because I’m on a date.”

“I wondered why he brought so much butter.”

Settling back in her chair, she took a bite, savoring the rich yeasty roll. “Like I said, he knows what I like. Dmitri makes his own bread every single day and he only keeps real butter. FYI, the whipped cream on his desserts is also real. It never comes out of a can and it’s certainly not hydrogenated oil. I don’t come here to diet. I come here to eat.”

Donovan buttered his own roll but didn’t devour it like she did hers. “If he knows what you like…”

She nodded. “He knows what I am.” Waiting to see his reaction, she took another mouthful of roll.

Donovan set the roll down on his bread plate and picked up his wine glass. He didn’t drink immediately. His fingers started to turn white on the stem.

He doesn’t want people to know about him. About us. Not that way.

She couldn’t really blame him. In his world, he was a rich, powerful CEO of a billion-dollar company. The kind of man who barked out his orders and people jumped to obey his every whim. Not the kind of man who would go to his knees in his Mistress’s presence. Certainly not the kind of man who’d beg for Her whip and then thank Her for it.


Page 9

Torn between comforting him and helping him face what he was, she waited to see what he’d say. If he’d ask her to keep their relationship secret.Maybe that’s why he wanted a prostitute. He thought he could buy my secrecy along with my body.

“Does he think I’m a client?”

“No. I made it clear that I work for you. I told him about the stained glass commission. As far as he’s concerned, we’re just on a date.”

He nodded but didn’t completely relax. Not like before. Because if the Mistress was on a date, then it would still imply he was a submissive.

“Are we on a date, Donovan?”

“Yes.”

“Are you going to take me home with you after dinner?”

His head whipped up and he pinned her with the intensity of his desire. “Absolutely.”

“Then stop worrying about it. Besides, if you’d wanted to be inconspicuous, you shouldn’t have arrived in a boat of a limousine.”

His mouth quirked and he finally took a drink from his glass. “Very true. I only thought to impress you. I didn’t realize what a stir it would cause.”

“I can’t date you if you’re not going to be completely honest with me and I couldn’t care less about being impressed. I want you. Not Mr. Moneybags with the big shiny car.”

He grimaced at the nickname but didn’t withdraw again. “I’m not too keen about people knowing the truth. About me.”

“I have no intention of buying an advertisement in theStarTribuneanytime soon.”

She finally got a laugh out of him. “I thought theEnquirerwas more your style.”

“You wish,” she retorted and even pouted playfully. “You didn’t even comment on my dress.”

He smiled lazily, his eyes heavy and dark with sensual heat. “That’s because I was too busy drooling over the shoes.”

“These old things?” She turned in her chair and lifted her foot so he could see the red platform stiletto. If the dress wasn’t so tight, she might have managed to put her foot in his lap. “I think I bought them at a yard sale.”

“That’s one hell of a yard sale. Your dress is sinfully wicked too. It makes me think about cherry pie. And whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream.” Taking a cue from their earlier discussion, he leaned closer and whispered, “The real stuff. No can. No Cool Whip.”

Letting out a sigh, she reached over and squeezed his thigh. “Like I said, dessert will be at your place.”

 

 

So far, the food and service were as impeccably good as she’d promised. After the main course was mostly consumed—Lilly was on her second basket of bread—Donovan had finally built up enough courage to reach into the inside pocket of his coat and remove his surprise for her. Without looking at her, he slid the folded pieces of paper closer to her plate. “Your questionnaire. Plus a little something extra I found on the Internet.”

He’d even gotten the health screening done and rushed the test results so he could provide proof he was disease free.

“You did your homework,” she replied with a pleased smile. “Very good, Donovan.”

He concentrated on his glass, though he watched her unfold the paper out of the corner of his eye. Just knowing she was reading all his dirty little secret desires made his cheeks flush and he had to fight not to squirm like an excited puppy. Irritated at his inability to remain cool and detached with even a simple praise from the Mistress, he scowled at the wine glass and fought not to curse out loud.

Her questionnaire had been easy enough to answer. There wasn’t much on the discipline scale that didn’t appeal to him, while the humiliation elements were easy enough to decline. It was the second questionnaire that worried him.

The sexual limits questions she hadn’t bothered to ask her other clients. Some of the things it’d asked he didn’t even know existed.

She glanced around to make sure the extremely expedient waiter was nowhere close. “Are you sure about bondage?”

Surprised, Donovan shrugged. Out of all the shockingly kinky things on those papers, that’s what she was worried about? “As sure as I am about anything. In my limited experience, it was…” He couldn’t finish the sentence but simply looked into her eyes, letting her see his reaction. The thought of having her tying him up, making him helpless…

“Even a collar?”

He nodded jerkily without looking away. He wanted her control. Whatever that meant. Especially on his throat.

“I see. It’s just… I noticed that your shirt isn’t buttoned around your neck. You also had to loosen your tie the other night. I thought you might have a problem with constriction around your throat.”

“No.” His voice was hoarse, so he took a drink of wine, even though his hand shook enough he almost sloshed wine on the linens. “Sorry. I know I’m rather informal for our first date.”

“I’m far from offended by the tantalizing glimpse of skin at your neck, Donovan. But I am concerned for your wellbeing.”

“It won’t be a problem,” he promised, despite the furious storm of need threatening to overwhelm his control.

“Ah,” she breathed out softly. “I see. You want it. Maybe too much.”

He nodded again and forced the words through his strangled throat. “As long as said collar hasn’t been used on anyone else.”

“I understand,” she said softly, with such honesty and acceptance that his eyes burned. He looked away, unwilling to let her see how close he was to falling apart. “Are you a leather man? Or would some kind of chain suit you better?” She kept her voice soft and gentle, as if she were musing aloud and he just happened to overhear, while she tucked the papers into her small red pocketbook. “A chain, I think. As gorgeous and elegant as you. Something you could wear all the time if you wanted and no one would bat an eye. Would you like that, Donovan? A beautiful collar you could wear tight around your throat beneath your shirt and tie all day?”

“Yes.” The shaking had expanded to his entire body. It was embarrassing how easily she affected him. How completely. Brought to the edge just by the thought of her slipping a necklace around his throat. Was she as affected by him? If he slipped his hand beneath the sexy tight dress, would he find her as bare and wet as she’d been in his office? Mistake. Huge. Because now he wanted her hot, wet bare pussy in his hand. While she put a collar on his throat.I’ll die on the spot.“Mistress.”

It came out more of a plea for help than he cared to admit. A warning, in case she didn’t realize how close he was. The last thing he wanted to do was come in public. The thought of having to excuse himself and rush to the bathroom to clean up mortified him.Not here. Not now. This is her world. Her friends. I don’t want to humiliate myself here!

He shouldn’t have underestimated her.

She squeezed his thigh hard beneath the table, digging her nails into him so that his breath rushed out on a gasp. “You willnotcome, Donovan.”

His thigh trembled beneath her hand, his muscles corded with effort. The waiter returned and she whispered something low to him. Hopefully to buy Donovan a little privacy. Sweat trickled down his back and his chest heaved with effort, but he didn’t come. He concentrated on breathing in and out, slow and deep. The Mistress’s hand remained firm on his thigh. She knew he could do it. There wasn’t an ounce of doubt in her voice.

So he did.

“That’s it, Donovan. You’re doing fine. Can you walk now?”

He blinked, surprised and ashamed that she felt the need to leave on account of him. “I’m all right. I don’t want you to miss dessert.”

She laughed softly and took his hand, drawing him up with her. “You’re my dessert tonight. Dmitri said there’s someone asking about you at the front door. He thinks it’s a reporter. He sent them away but they’re probably casing the building. Hopefully we can get out the back before they realize it.”

“A reporter? Here? How…” It hit him, then. “The limo. Of all the stupid, ostentatious…”

“Shhh.” She led him through the swinging kitchen doors. He managed to walk, albeit stiffly and uncomfortably. Hopefully no one looked too closely at his crotch. “Can you call your driver and tell him to draw them off the opposite direction?”

“Sure.” He did so, sending the limo back toward the airport. If they were lucky, the reporter was already racing down the road after it.

Unlike her drab, boring kitchen, these stoves gleamed polished steel. Everything was white or stainless steel, modern and top of the line. Dmitri’s must be doing well indeed.

The owner met them at the back door. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Mr. Morgan. They won’t get a word out of any of us.”

“The bill…” he began, but the man waved his hand.

“We can take care of it tomorrow. Not a problem. Here.” He handed Lilly a cardboard box with a built-in handle. “I was inspired by your dress. A little something to enjoy later,” he said with a wink.

For once, it didn’t embarrass Donovan that someone might have a clue about what he was into. Not when the man smiled so warmly with open affection for the lady in question.

Lilly kissed his cheek and they made their escape through the back door. The employee lot was small and tucked off Robert Street, the main thoroughfare through this part of town. Luckily an alley led through another parking area to a side street.

Her car beeped as she unlocked the doors, and he barely managed to snag the keys she tossed his direction without warning. Somehow he didn’t think a Mistress would ever let the sub drive. “You trust me to drive your car?”

In the darkness, her dress glowed like a beacon. Almost as bright as her smile. “For your safety, I think that’s best. I drive even worse than I cook.”

She waited for him to open her door, which meant he had to come in close. Close enough to smell the spice of her skin. He took the box from her hand and set it behind the passenger seat, and then her hand settled on his chest. Making him look at her.

“Do you need me to help you now? Or can you wait until we’re at your house?”

He could picture exactly what she’d do. She’d flatten him back against the door of her car, unzip his pants, and one touch of her magnificent, feminine hand and he’d explode. Over and done. Easy. It was dark and secluded enough no one would see, and he wouldn’t have to worry about walking through the restaurant with a load in his pants since they were already safely outside.

He shook his head despite the very loud and bitter complaints from his swollen cock.We’ve already had someone sniffing around. The last thing I need is someone coming out the back door for a cigarette and getting a shot of her jacking me off.“I’m good.”

She let her hand drop but didn’t slide into the waiting seat quite yet. “I don’t like the idea of you suffering, Donovan, at least if it’s not by my deliberate doing. Do you live close?”

Again, the Mistress surprised him. She didn’t want him to suffer. At least not until she was the one doing the punishment. It was twisted, in a way, and he loved it. Shaking his head, he helped her into her seat. “One of my homes is in downtown St. Paul. We’ll be there in a matter of minutes.”

“Oneof your homes,” she said flatly after he settled into the driver’s seat. “How many homes do you have?”

He adjusted all the mirrors and then backed out. Christ, her windshield was a mess of bug guts and pollen that looked like it’d been gathering gunk for years. “In the country, or out?”

She blew out a sigh. “I knew you were filthy rich but it didn’t dawn on me you’d have homes abroad.”

“I have a condo at Galtier Plaza. It makes it easy to work at my office when I’m in town. For the summer weekends, I like to go up to my lake house on Lake Minnetonka. I have apartments in Chicago and New York. A beach house in Miami and another in L.A. Most of an island in the Bahamas. A swanky Paris apartment when I really need to show off. And a villa in Rome. I think that’s it.”

“Are you sure? You didn’t forget a castle in England?”

“My bad.”

She frowned at him which slowly turned into incredulity. “You do?”

“More of a manor house, actually. The castle’s in Scotland.” The car ran unevenly. He couldn’t tell if it needed an alignment, or if the engine was skipping. “When’s the last time you had your tires aired up?”

“Um… When I bought the car? Two or three years ago. Maybe?”

“Oil change?”

“What does the sticker say?”

He had to rub at the glass with the heel of his hand to make out a date. “Good lord, Lilly. Your last oil change was nearly a year ago. You’re supposed to change it every three months.”

“I forget.” She shrugged. “I hardly ever get behind the wheel.”

“I’m beginning to think it’s a very good thing,” he muttered.

“You haven’t even seen me drive yet,” she teased. “I can’t do freeways. I don’t make left-hand turns across traffic. I’m terrified of messing up in a parking garage and getting stuck behind the bar with everyone shouting at me. And I avoid downtown Minneapolis like the plague. I can do St. Paul, though, so I ought to be able to find my way home in the morning.”

“How’d you make it to my office building, then? There’s no place to park in downtown unless you have a pass or use the parking ramps.”


Page 10

“I took a bus.”

The thought horrified him. Sexy, curvy Lilly riding a stinky public bus. God forbid in those incredible heels. “You will not ride the bus again.” He put all his considerable power into his voice, making it vibrate low and mean. If he’d spoken to his secretary like that, Miss Wruthers would have fainted. Or screamed and then fainted.

Lilly snorted. “Are you going to come get me every time I need to see you?”

“Yes. If that’s what it takes to keep you off the bus. Good lord, woman, don’t you know what kind of perverts and sickos ride the public buses? What happened to standard operating safety procedures?”

“Of course I know. That’s how I practice my ultra-mean Mistress glare. Besides, I also carry pepper spray and I’ve taken every self-defense class offered at the community center.” She leaned over and pressed against him as much as the seatbelt would allow, rising up to whisper in his ear. “Believe it or not, I know a trick or two about how to take a man down. Even one who’s mean, crazy and outweighs me by a hundred pounds.”

He could only imagine the many ways she’d be able to bring him down. Clearing his throat, he concentrated on the road ahead. They were crossing the river now, so they’d be at his condo in less than five minutes.I can hold on that long.“Don’t ride the bus again.”

“Yes, dear,” she laughed softly. “If that will make you feel better.”

“Infinitely better. I’ll send a car to get you if I can’t come myself. And you’re not driving yourself home tomorrow. I’m going to have a tow truck haul this poor, neglected car to the mechanic’s and we’ll go up to Lake Minnetonka for the rest of the weekend.”

He thought she might bristle at his heavy-handed decision, but she simply snuggled against him. “That sounds nice.”

He pulled into the parking ramp and rolled down the window so the attendant could see his face. “Hi, Charlie. I need a spot to park my guest’s car tonight.”

“You got it, Mr. Morgan.” The attendant handed him a ticket to place in the window. “Take the spot next to yours.”

The bar raised and he drove through the lower level, circling around until he came to his Jaguar.

“You make it sound so easy,” Lilly said without lifting her head. She almost sounded sleepy. “The bar never goes up for me.”

He parked the car and turned off the engine, but he didn’t open the door. Not yet. He didn’t want to break the spell. He hadn’t seen this side of Lilly yet. The softer side that would allow him to take care of her for a change. Take her to his lake home. Do things for her she couldn’t or wouldn’t do for herself.

Would she let me whisk her off for a shopping spree in Paris? Sail around the world?

Carry her into my home?

“We’re here,” he whispered against her head, smelling the sweet vanilla scent of her hair.

“I know,” she whispered back.

Gently, he tipped her chin up to his and stared into her eyes. She looked up at him with desire and amusement, a teasing, honest light in her eyes. The light he’d distrusted before.

Before I knew she was real.

“May I carry you upstairs to my bed, Mistress?”

“Yes,” she answered simply, no demands in her eyes or her voice. “Donovan.”

He got out of the car, gathered her gift from Dmitri’s, and then swung her up into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tucked her head up beneath his chin. “I hope I’m not too heavy for you.”

He laughed, even though he wanted to throw himself down on his knees and swear to follow her to the ends of the earth. “You did eat a lot for dinner. I might not make it up to the penthouse.” And then to himself, he made a solemn promise in his heart.The bar will always go up for you, Lilly. I’ll make sure of it.

Chapter Six

He was true to his word. He carried her to the elevator, shifting her slightly so he could press buttons and unlock doors, but then he carried her straight to his bed. She didn’t even try to look around at his home until he set her on the edge of his bed and stepped back to look at her. She curled up on her side, propping her head up on her elbow, and simply watched him. No orders. No expectation. No guide from her. She simply wanted him to act without thought, because that would be what he needed the most at this moment.

Breathing hard—and not from the exertion of carrying her, because all the way upstairs he’d been fine—he shrugged off his coat and laid it across an easy chair in the corner. He pulled the tails of his shirt out of his pants and unbuttoned it. She thought he was trying for a slow, meticulous strip tease, but by the time he got to the last button, his hands were shaking.

He paused a moment, dark eyes flickering toward her where she lay on his bed. “Aren’t you going to do the same? Mistress?”

She smiled, lazily kicking her foot back and forth off the edge of the bed. He tracked the movement like a dog chasing a tennis ball. “Eventually. I’m having too much fun watching you.”

He took off the shirt, revealing the darkly tanned, sculpted lines of his upper body. Somewhere, he went without his shirt a great deal, and he did enough exercise or physical work to cover every inch of him in lean slabs of muscle. Black hair curled across his chest, a nice mat she’d have fun with later.

His hands went to his trousers, but he closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Poor boy must be on the edge again.This is going to be a night he’ll never forget if he’s ready to come just from me watching him take off his clothes.

Relenting a little, she decided to ask him a few questions to distract him enough he could get his pants off. “You said you had limited experience. How many scenes have you done? How many Mistresses have you played with?”

“Casual stuff at a club, ten, maybe twenty times. I’m not too comfortable in a public setting, even the more private rooms at the club.”

Calmer, he managed to unbutton his trousers. The black material slid down his thighs, revealing skin as tanned as his upper body. He wore silk boxers, but she had a feeling he’d be tanned underneath too. Yum. Where did he do this deliciously naked tanning? The same dark hair sprinkled his long, powerful thighs. He kicked off his shoes and lifted each foot to pull off his socks. God, he even had sexy, gorgeous feet, well manicured and perfectly shaped, almost as elegant as his hands.

“A so-called Mistress who wanted to do a strip tease for me in pleather boots and latex while waving a fake crop around? Once. I learned my lesson. A real Mistress away from the club? You’re my first.”

Oh dear. No wonder he’s wound so tightly.As a submissive, Donovan Morgan was pretty much a virgin. “Have you ever been punished so hard you came?”

His cheeks flushed but he gave her a stiff nod. “Twice. Each time at a club. I never went back to either place.”

“Why not?” She rose up into a sitting position. “There’s no shame in the natural need of your body, Donovan.”

“I was afraid…” He dragged both hands through his hair until he looked like a wild man with a scrap of silk around his hips. “I was afraid people would remember me.”

“How quickly you came.”

He nodded again, averting his gaze. His cheeks darkened with shame to the point that his eyes looked bruised.

The male ego was a fragile thing, especially this male’s, her delightfully arrogant and bossy submissive. She didn’t dare laugh, his greatest fear, even though she thought it very sweet and naive that he’d been so embarrassed.

She turned her attention to her clothing. One of the things she’d loved about this dress was the line of buttons down to the waist. She undid a few to reveal the cherry-red corset she wore beneath, which immediately snagged his attention.

“Some men measure their virility by the size of their dick.” He flinched at the coarse language, even though his nostrils flared and the front of his boxers was nearly screaming with pressure. Evidently where he’d grown up, ladies didn’t curse.Boy is he in for a surprise.“How’s your size, Donovan? Are you going to measure up? Show me. Show me what you’ve got under those pretty undies.” His shaking hands immediately went to the silk, but she interrupted. “Come closer. Give me a good look.”

He did so, shoving the silk down as he halted in front of her.

“Nice, very nice, Donovan. You’ve passed the first test. When I let you fuck me, you’re going to fill me up good, aren’t you?” She leaned down like she was going to touch him and he sucked in a harsh, shaking breath. “I’d say you’re about nine inches. Very impressive. Nice and thick too. We’ll measure again when you’re fully erect. I think I can get more length and thickness in you after a little torment.”

“Ten,” he ground out. “Mistress.”

She smiled and looked up at him coyly. “Some men measure their virility by how long they can endure an erection without coming. What do you think, Donovan? How long can you last if I put my mouth on you?”

His breath whistled through his teeth, his chest heaving. “Not long at all, Mistress.”

“Some submissives have it in their head they have to take a lot of punishment before they come. They think it makes them more manly, more impressive.” She reached back and undid the rhinestone alligator clip she’d used to temporarily tame her hair. She shook the mass forward, deliberately dragging all that silky length against his aching cock.

His hips surged, his hands fisted, and he threw his head back, veins cording in his neck as he fought to restrain himself.

“What these submissives fail to realize is how exciting it can be as a woman, a Mistress, to know how powerful we are. That the submissive wants us so badly that he can’t control himself without our help and comes at the slightest touch. Not once but over and over at his Mistress’s command. Every time she turns around and asks if he’s ready, he can and will be erect for her pleasure. Is that you, Donovan? If I touch you now, will you come at my command?”

“It won’t take a touch,” he ground out, eyes still squeezed shut.

“Then show me.” She sat back so she could see his face. “Come, Donovan. Come for me.”

 

He barely managed to turn his hips aside enough so he didn’t come all over her sexy dress. Evidently he didn’t know jack about what a Mistress—this Mistress, at least—would expect, but he didn’t think she’d appreciate having to wipe his sperm off her chest or face. Though his five-thousand-dollar comforter would never be the same.

Panting, he finally opened his eyes, surprised to find he’d managed to stay on his feet. He’d never come so hard before. Spots danced before his eyes and he swayed.

Lilly braced a hand on either side of his hips, helping him keep his balance. “Good boy, Donovan. You did exactly as your Mistress asked. The real test will be later when I ask you to be ready for me. Are you going to be able to get hard again? Come again?”

“Any time you want, Mistress,” he ground out. Agreeing with his words, his cock stirred, still starved for her attention.

She gave him a swat on the ass, hard enough that he jumped. “Good. I’m assuming your kitchen is better equipped than mine?”

Maybe all the blood was still in his groin because he couldn’t get his brain to follow her train of thought. “Probably?”

“Fetch me two dishes, two spoons and the biggest, stoutest wooden spoon you have.” She slapped his ass again. “Pronto. I suspect that Dmitri concocted something very decadent for us to sample. It’d be a crime to let it go to waste.”

He headed for the door, his mind still fuzzy. Was she actually going to stop and eat dessert? Now? After he’d just come at her command? And what the hell was she going to do with a big freaking wooden spoon? He hoped for some punishment, but kitchen implements had never crossed his mind. Plus, he couldn’t help but remember that one of the options on the sexual interest questionnaire had been anal. Both the giving.

And receiving.

“Donovan,” she called after him, her voice soft and rich with laughter. “You’ve got a very nice ass. I’m going to have a hard time keeping my hands off it.”

He growled out loud but did as she told him. Fine white china dessert plates, two silver spoons and one wooden spoon, the handle as thick as his thumb. He was cursing himself in every language he knew by the time he got back to the bedroom, but he froze at the sight awaiting him.

Mistress L had removed her dress and sat in all her sinful undergarment finery on his bed. Corset and stockings. And nothing underneath. Posed, naturally, so he could see every single glorious detail.

He’d known about her penchant for going commando after the incident in his office. And yeah, the thought had crossed his mind only a thousand times throughout the evening. A million. But the reality seared his brain to ash. He’d even known she kept her pussy shaved after she’d let him touch her.

Butseeingthat pink, moist flesh was an entirely different ballgame.

“Bring the box from Dmitri’s too. I can’t wait to see what he sent us.”

He handed her all the kitchen items and retrieved the box. At her nod, he opened it and couldn’t help but smile. “Cherry pie.” There was a lidded container inside, too. He lifted it out and gave it to her, unsure what it was. Ice cream? But it would have melted already. What did she like to eat on pie?

Whipped cream. The real stuff.


Page 11

She stuck her finger in the thickened cream and licked it off. “It’s a little runny after sitting in the box with a still warm cherry pie, but it tastes soooo good.”

A sound escaped his throat that made him blush so hotly he swayed again. Dear God in heaven, did he, Donovan Morgan, CEO of Morgan Industries, actuallywhimper?

“Oh, yum, look at these big fat cherries. He must have had some Bing cherries in the freezer.” She dipped her fingers into the pie plate and plucked one of those dark red cherries from the pie. “Mmmm. My favorite.”

She spread sticky sweet cherry pie all over her lips and licked it off with loud appreciation. While he stood there watching, trying not to moan again.

“Are you getting hard for me yet, Donovan?”

He let out a strangled laugh. His cock was so hard he could probably use it to slice her a piece of the pie she was enjoying so much. “Yes, Mistress.”

She folded the box down flat to protect his already stained comforter and set the pie plate on top of it. Thoughtfully, as though she didn’t have a naked, sweating, anxiously aroused submissive standing before her, she broke off a piece of crust and nibbled it daintily. “If I remember correctly, you offended me today in your office.”

“Yes, Mistress.” He straightened, dragging his eyes away from that wicked pie. “I did. I’m sorry.”

She nodded, using her fingers to find another big cherry. This time she tipped her head back and let the cherry fall into her open mouth. He couldn’t look away as she moaned softly, obviously enjoying the treat. Without looking at him, she went after another cherry. “You said I could punish you. You said I could use anything I wanted. Anything at all. Is that right?”

He nodded, unsure whether he could get a word out that wasn’t garbled beyond all recognition.It’s a good thing she let me come once already, or I’d have already embarrassed myself watching her make love to the pie.

“Do you think I’m enjoying this pie, Donovan? Then help me enjoy it even more. Come here and fuck this delicious cherry pie.”

He stiffened, trying to get his mind wrapped around what she wanted. Like put his dick in it? Seriously? Wouldn’t she regret wasting the entire dessert?

“You heard me.” Her voice lowered, deeper to the vibration that made his spine jangle with alarm and delight at the same time. The voice saidget your butt over here now and do exactly what I told you to do. Or else.

And he wanted the “or else”. Ached bone-deep to have the punishment. The pain that burned his skin and melted through the ice threatening to overtake him.

But he wanted to please her too.

“Donovan.” Her voice rumbled with warning.

Numbly, he moved to the edge of the bed. She reached out and wrapped her palm around him, not hesitantly, not gently, but firmly enough that he rose up on his toes, painfully aware of exactly what body part she squeezed so hard. And then she lifted the pie plate and pushed the head of his cock through the warm gooey cherries.

He’d never felt anything quite like it. It was almost like being inside a woman, without the tightness.

She rubbed him back and forth, stirring the cherry pie to a churned-up mess.

“That’s a pretty pitiful attempt at fucking, Donovan.” Despite her words, her voice was laced with amusement, not disappointment. “Are you going to fuck me so hesitantly? Or are you going to rear back and shove that big dick into me as hard as you can?”

Her words shook something loose inside him. He’d never had a woman talk dirty to him before. He’d never had a woman crack open his head and look inside to see all the secret things he wanted. The things that shamed him to his core. All the secret desires he tried so hard to ignore and forget while his life iced over in the worst winter known to man. She made him look and feel and see, melting the ice inch by determined inch.And if she tells me to fuck a cherry pie while she watches…

With a low growl, he buried his cock deep into the pie.

“There you go. Good boy.” She released him, letting him set the pace. It was strange, weird, easily the kinkiest thing he’d ever done in his life. He had to brace a knee on the edge of the bed and tip his hips forward to get into the pie, but he managed to thrust hard enough the pie plate skidded on the box.

Lilly braced her knee against the pie plate to give him some traction. Then she drizzled whipped cream all over him, starting from the base of his cock. It dribbled down his belly and dripped off to puddle in the stirred-up pie. White and red. Just like her dress.

“Now that, dear boy, is my dessert.”

He couldn’t quite believe she was going to do it. She’d clipped her hair back from her face, not as smoothly as before but enough he could see her face as she bent forward. Her lush, tempting lips parting to slide down the length of him. Her tongue licking the cherry filling, the trails of cream. She moaned her enjoyment, unafraid, uninhibited, completely at ease eating pie and whipped cream off his cock. Closing his eyes, he rocked into the warm pie, lost in the feel of her lips moving over him.

He heard the crack before he actually felt it. The path of the blow burned in his flesh, a hard slash across the outside of his left thigh. His eyes flew open, his body tensing. Her right arm rose again, bringing the thick wooden spoon down on him again. Again.

His breath came quicker, the pain overriding the warmth of the pie. He forgot all about the cherries, the cream, and even her mouth, at least temporarily. Punishment. What he’d craved so desperately. She hit him again and again, hard enough his eyes burned. He sucked in his breath with each blow, louder, until he groaned with the bliss of it. All from a lousy wooden spoon. He would have laughed and yeah, probably cried, if he had any breath in his body. The blows moved down his leg toward his knee, both on the opposite and the front of his thigh. Such heat. His skin burned like he’d planted the side of his body in the ovens where Dmitri had baked the cherry pie.

She paused a moment, just long enough for him to realize she was changing her position. She pushed him off the bed to stand, abandoning the molested pie. She remained on her knees on the edge of the bed, and this time when he slid into warmth, he had the tightness of her mouth.

Now the blows came from the left. She gripped his hips with her right hand, reaching around his left to land blows deeper on his buttocks. Yet she still managed to suck him so hard his thighs trembled with the effort of holding himself back.

Drawing back a moment, she looked up at him. Her cheeks were flushed, her mouth smeared with cherry. Whipped cream dotted her nose. “You can touch me, Donovan.” Until then, he hadn’t realized that he’d kept his hands locked at his sides. “When I want to keep your hands off me, you’ll know it.”

With trembling hands, he reached out and cupped her cheek, using his thumb to wipe the cherry off. “Li—Mistress?”

“Yes?” She smiled up at him even as she lowered her mouth toward his cock.

“I never… I didn’t think…” Her mouth clamped on him and he couldn’t think. Couldn’t speak. Her hair was tangled in his hands. A blazing fist punched through his gut to bury in his spine and he arched his back, a wordless roar breaking out to drown out any sound of release he’d ever made in his life.

Then she smacked him on the chest with the wooden spoon, directly over his heart, and he swore the last bit of ice encasing his chest cracked and broke away.

Chapter Seven

Panting as if he’d run a marathon, Donovan collapsed on the bed beside her, almost planting his face in the mess of cherry pie. Tenderly, she stroked his cheek. “Are you all right?”

He cracked an eye open and muttered, “Mmmm.”

Laughing, she pressed a kiss to his forehead and sat up.

He forced his eyes open, throwing a hand out to snag her arm before she could get up. “Where are you going?”

“I was going to clean up before we thoroughly destroy your bed.”

“I don’t care about the bed. And don’t you dare throw the pie out until I have the chance to eat some off you.”

He managed to roll over flat on his back, but he didn’t look like he was up to anything more strenuous yet. She settled back down against his side, propping her chin up on his chest so she could watch his face. Lightly, she traced her index finger over the red mark on his sternum. His hips and thighs were probably a delightful pink, but she wasn’t going to make him move to find out. “Are you sure you want to dip into that pie after what we already did to it?”

One side of his mouth twitched up like he was trying to smile, but didn’t have the strength. “You’re probably right. I hate to waste it, though. I didn’t even get a bite.”

She grinned. “It was very, very good. I am sorry, though. I meant to scoop out some for each of us—that’s why I sent you after dishes. I just forgot.”

“The cream’s still good, isn’t it?”

“Runny but tasty.”

“Not as tasty as you will be.” His breathing evened out enough for him to watch her as carefully as she’d watched him earlier. Assessing her reactions. Judging what to do next. He was a very astute man; she feared few of her secrets would remain once he started digging. “If that’s allowed, Mistress.”

“I didn’t see a problem with oral sex on your questionnaire.” She kept her voice light, her eyes on his, her finger doodling on his chest. Even while aching need spread through her core. She was well used to controlling her own desire. It wasn’t often that she had a date like Donovan, a handsome, attentive man who was more than eager to figure out what would make her scream and claw his back.

If I dare show him.It became difficult to breathe, and not because of the corset, which was more decorative than constrictive.Because if I show him…I’ll lose him as my submissive.

“I’ve come twice tonight, both times harder than I ever dreamed possible. When are you going to come, Mistress?”

Her hand stilled despite her determination to not show any response or weakness. “We have plenty of time.”

“You spend one hour a week for each client making sure their submissive needs are met. Who makes sure Lilly’s needs are met?”

It took all her will not to back away from this conversation. It wasn’t safe ground.I’m not ready to lose him so quickly. Oh, my wild sexy beast. I’d hoped to play with you a bit longer. I should have known it wouldn’t last.“The Mistress—”

“Not the Mistress,” he interrupted. “You.”

Stalling, she gave an experimental tug on his chest hairs. Some men couldn’t stand it. The pain was too sharp and intense, even if she was gentle. His eyes flared and his hand cupped her fingers to stop her, but she had a feeling it wasn’t because of the small pain. He’d seen through her effort to distract him.

“You said you weren’t sexually attracted to your clients. So you might have enjoyed acting as the Mistress for them, but your needs as a woman weren’t met. Did you see anyone else? A boyfriend?”

She shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“Vanilla dates,” he guessed. “Men who didn’t know what you are.”

“You’re too smart for your own good,” she said ruefully. “You’ve seen how hard it is to find someone who not only understands both sides of your personality but is also attracted to them. I’ve dated a few subs in the past but it just didn’t go well outside of the scene.”

“Too clingy?”

“Not exactly.” She tried to think of a way to explain why she’d been so incompatible in the past without getting into the whole ugly truth. Not a lie—she wouldn’t ever lie to him. Just part of the truth. The part he’d believe. “I don’t mind clingy. It just felt like I was doing all the work in the relationship. I’m Mistress in the bedroom, but that doesn’t mean I want a full-time slave. Far from it. Controlling everything all the time is exhausting. In the end, it felt too much like a job and not enjoyment. Certainly not love and desire and passion.”

“So when’s the last time the Mistress got laid?”

Delighted he was unbending enough to tease her, she laughed. “Over a year ago. Almost two, actually. I met a guy who’s a switch, someone who can play top or bottom. But it just didn’t work.”

“Too bossy?”

“He had nothing on you, Mr. Morgan.” She smiled to let him know that wasn’t a bad thing. “No, we clashed in the bedroom. It was like two men determined to lead at the same time. We couldn’t figure a way to work out who was going to lead when.”

“So you never just lie back and let someone take care of you for a change?”

Before she could suppress it, she shivered. It was a small reaction, but he was too intent to miss it. “I never said that.” She tried to change the subject before he dug any deeper. “You should have asked me when Lilly got laid last. That’d be last night.”

She was trying to shock him, make him leap to conclusions again, but this time he was on to her game. “Let me guess. Your beau last night involved batteries. My sweetheart was just my hand.”

Laughing, she asked, “How many times did your sweetheart make you sing?”

“Three. And it wasn’t near enough. It certainly wasn’t anything like what you’ve given me tonight.” With his gaze locked on her face, he lifted a hand to her hip. “The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is how much I’m allowed to touch you.”

“I told you. If I want to keep your hands off me, you’ll know it. Because you won’t be able to lift a finger.”


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“So I’m allowed to stroke you.” His fingers glided so softly she barely felt more than a whisper against her skin. “I’m allowed to kiss you.”

“Of course. I allowed you to kiss me today, didn’t I?”

“I don’t want to overstep my bounds too quickly, Lilly. I don’t want to lose you out of ignorance or, worse, arrogance.”

Now her heart was starting to ache as much as her starved body. “Oh, Donovan, there’s no big red line that’s going to make me kick you out if you cross it. And even if there were some line, I’d be no Mistress if I didn’t inform you of the limit first. You picked me to be your Mistress. You hired a PI and tracked me down despite my best efforts to hide my identity. And yet I’m here with you now because I want to be. I can’t imagine what else you might be worried about.”

“From the beginning, you surprised me. Time after time, I was wrong. I was wrong about your other clients. The scope and work involved in my windows. What you’d be like in person. Everything.” Lulled by his words, she wasn’t prepared for him to suddenly roll her over onto her back. “But I don’t think I’m wrong about this.”

“This is far from wrong.” She arched against his thigh and slid her hand down his bare back to grip his buttock.

“No, that’s not what I meant. I think you’re a fabulous, incredible Mistress in all areas except one.”

She stilled, all her senses on full alert. She didn’t say anything, but merely waited for his answer, although she did tighten her hand on his ass, letting him feel her nails again. Regret tightened her throat, but she didn’t let it show on her face. Not yet. That’d be for later when she was alone in her own bedroom once more and Mr. Morgan had returned to one of his many luxurious homes to run his numerous businesses.With so much wealth at his disposal, he’ll find a new Mistress. Someone who can actually give him everything he wants.

“As Mistress, I don’t believe you’re comfortable ordering your own pleasure.”

She relaxed her grip on him slightly and gave him a nod. “Not for my own need, no. I’m not that kind of Mistress. I would never order you to give me pleasure.”I can’t.

Gone was the anxious, even nervous, submissive who’d been too excited to take his pants off while she watched. This was the sexy, confident man who’d won hundreds of businesses from his competitors all over the globe. And this time, he’d set his sights on her.

“Then I guess if I want to hear what sounds you make when you climax, I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands.”

 

For once, he had the Mistress on the ropes and he wasn’t going to let her escape. He couldn’t fathom how she would dedicate herself so thoroughly to ensuring he got exactly what he wanted so desperately, and then completely neglect her own needs. It made him furious to think about how many times a week she met her clients and helped them with their secret needs, over and over and over, while she went home to nothing but a vibrator. Granted, he was relieved she wasn’t sexually involved with all those men, but the thought of her aching, needing, as empty as him all these years…

It made him furious.

And when Donovan Morgan got furious, it wasn’t pretty.

“You’ve made me come twice. I’m not going to come again until you’re caught up.”

“That’s very sweet but completely unnecessary.”

“Wrong.” He narrowed his eyes and leaned down to give her his best intimidation glare. “It’scompletelynecessary. Just because you’re the Mistress—”

She pressed her fingers against his lips, silencing him. “You don’t understand. It’s very hard for me to give up control. It’s why I’m not usually good in bed with submissives. You tempted me enough to try and I’m hoping we can work out something to keep us both satisfied, but ordering you to catch me up is not going to work.”

“You mean you physically can’t give up control enough to climax with a man?”

She blew out a sigh. “I didn’t say that. I can climax just fine, thank you very much. But since I have to give up control to do it, I don’t typically allow myself to climax in any scene with a submissive. I’ve talked to other dominants at the club and they all wrestle with this problem to some extent, but I seem to be especially challenged.”

“Why?”

She dropped her gaze to his chest, her fingers lightly swirling through his hairs again. At least she didn’t tug on them again, which would get his mind going in the wrong direction. He was determined to figure out what she needed this time. Every bossy arrogant instinct he possessed demanded he order her to tell him right this very moment. His blood pressure was through the roof already; waiting for her to answer only drove his fury higher. She didn’t cook for herself. She neglected her car and barely knew how to drive according to her own words. Now to learn she couldn’t—wouldn’t—see to her own needs…

When she was a luscious, obviously extremely sensual woman with a voracious appetite. She ate and enjoyed her food unapologetically. Yet she wouldn’t let him wallow in her pleasure? It didn’t make sense.

It was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he waited silently for her to figure out the best way to tell him.

“When I climax, I give up all control, Donovan.Allcontrol. I can’t release and then still be the Mistress, calm and completely in control once more. I’m out of my mind, wild, lost in my own desire. And if I can’t get back the control of myself, I can’t control you either. I’m still dominant, don’t get me wrong. I’ll tell you exactly how hard to thrust or take you in the position I want—which is why I don’t last too long with vanilla men either, men who can’t deal with a woman taking what she wants without hesitation—but I won’t have control of myself. Don’t you see the problem with that?

“Submissives need to know that no matter what happens, the dominant’s control isn’t going to ever waver. I can’t trust myself to be able to stop mid scene if I’ve already climaxed and given up my control. Say I’m totally fucking you like crazy and I start to do something you’re not into. You give me your safeword, which we still have to discuss, by the way. What if I can’t stop? So I guess there is a red line to worry about when it comes to me, but it’s not something you need to worry about crossing. It’s me. It’ll be much safer for us both if I wait as long as possible and only come near the end of each scene.”

All of her careful rules were making more and more sense. No sexual contact with the Mistress. Ever.

Because once she’s crossed into sexual territory…once she’s climaxed…she’s out of control.

The thought was enough to make him rock hard again, as if he hadn’t already blown his load twice.

From the start, he’d burned to know what it would take to make her lose her calm control. The control that allowed her to be saucy and smart-mouthed, to lie to his face, and stand up to him no matter how mean and bossy he tried to be. If he threatened her, she laughed in his face. If he tried to blackmail her, she tore up his contract and stomped out of his office. Even at his worst, she hadn’t backed down from him.

So I’m not going to back down from her. Ever.

“I only see one option, then.” He waited until her gaze came back to his. Resigned, and yes, embarrassed. It pissed him the hell off to see his luscious, sultry Lilly ashamed of her desire. The very thing he wanted the most. “I guess I’m going to have to eat you out until you can’t move a muscle. Then it won’t matter whether you have any control left or not.”

“Donovan…”

He slid down her body, accidentally knocking the china bowls off the bed to clatter on the floor.

“The pie…”

On his knees beside the bed, he grabbed her hips and tugged her down closer to him. He could smell her desire already. If she’d been wet this morning flirting in his office, then she had to be throbbing with need now. “I don’t give a damn about the pie.”

“You will if you have to clean cherries out of your carpet.” Despite her attempt at calm and reasonable words, her voice trembled. Her thighs quivered too, but she didn’t open to him immediately.

“You forget that Donovan Morgan doesn’t do anything as inconsequential and menial ascleaning. I’ll hire a team to burn the whole damned bed if I have to. I’ll buy new carpet. Hell, I’ll just buy a new condo if we end up putting holes in the wall.” He gripped her knees and looked up at her face. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes big and dark with desire. “Tell me to stop, Mistress, and I will.”

She trembled in his grasp but still didn’t let him in, and he wasn’t the kind of man who’d force her thighs apart. She knew it. He knew it. “I’ll be crazy. Wild. I won’t be able to stop.”

“God I hope so.”

“I don’t want to scare you off,” she whispered, her voice breaking. “Not so soon.”

“How on earth could your desire scare me off? I want you wild and crazy with lust. I’ve had the Mistress and she’s everything I could have ever dreamed about, but now I want Lilly. I want you. I want this,” he said, kneading her knees in a gentle reminder that he couldn’t begin if she didn’t allow him to.

She still hesitated, her eyes desperate, her hands fisted in the comforter and her thighs clenched so hard he could feel the muscles vibrating beneath his palms. She was fighting herself, denying herself, and it made him say one of the most difficult words in his vocabulary. “Please.”

Shuddering, she opened her thighs. Not slow and shy, not Lilly. She opened as wide as she could, drawing her knees back high to spread herself. Her pussy glistened, open and flushed with her desire. Now it was his turn to shake, breathe deeply and remind himself he’d had his turn.I’m not going to rush this. I’m certainly not going to simply bury myself in her and come again no matter how much my little head thinks that’s a terrific idea.

He dragged his gaze away and located the container of homemade whipped cream. He sampled it, making sure to display his tongue as boldly as she’d done. “It’s still good, but runny, like you said. Next time let’s ask him for a quart of cream. I’ll keep it in the refrigerator.”

Her breasts heaved, pushed up high out of the corset. Her chest and throat were a delicious hot pink as if she’d been the one to take a spanking. “Is this place soundproofed?”

“Don’t know.” He tipped the container to dribble cream down her knee. A thin river ran down the inside of her thigh, puddled in the crease, and spilled down the curve of her buttock. “Don’t care.”

“You’ll care if someone calls the police.” She closed her eyes and arched her hips off the bed. “More.”

Happy to comply, he poured more cream down her other leg and then tipped the remainder directly over her groin. “We’re on the top floor and the closest neighbors are below us, probably separated by a foot of concrete. Be as loud as you want, sweetheart.”

“Remember that,” she panted, straining her hips higher. “Later. When…”

He licked her knee, dragging his tongue down the inside curve of her thigh. She let out a low, fierce growl and fisted both hands in his hair.

His scalp prickled, the sharp pain stirring him as much as her blows from the spoon or her tiny tugs on his chest hairs. He didn’t even have a lot of hair, but if it felt this good, he’d grow a mullet to give her a good handful to hold onto.

Instead of dragging his mouth deeper, she forced his head up so she could look into his eyes. “Give me a word, just in case.”

His mind went blank.

“Not red, that’s a bad word for me if you’re trying to make me stop.”

“I suppose cherry pie won’t work?” He tried to lighten the mood but her glare seared him, so hard and cold that goose bumps broke out on his arms. Quickly, before she could change her mind and lock him out, he suggested, “How about glass?”

“That’ll do. Glass. Let’s just hope I don’t shatter it with a misplaced cut.”

He tried to lower his head, fighting the pull on his hair until he had to grit his teeth to keep from cursing out loud. She finally relented and let go.

Burying his face between her thighs, he sank his tongue deep, licking through cream until he tasted what he was really after.

Her.

Then her thighs clamped around his head and he forgot to breathe.

Chapter Eight

If she’d been the greedy sugar addict eating pie off his dick, he was a purring Bengal tiger determined to find the juiciest, most tender bits and eat them all for himself. He hadn’t dared put his fingers inside her this morning, but he sank his tongue deep without a single hesitation. Rubbing his entire face against her, he let out a low, eager hum that worked better and faster than any vibrator she’d ever had the pleasure to use. She didn’t even have time to think before her muscles convulsed so hard her vision went black.

By the time she regained enough of her senses to worry about him, she was half afraid she’d suffocated him. Unlocking her ankles, she let her legs slide back down to the mattress. He took it as invitation to slide up and latch onto her clit with his teeth. The first climax didn’t end. It just rose in intensity, driving her head back on a shaking shout that probably cracked a window or two.

Panting, she jerked his face up because he gave no indication of stopping anytime soon. “That was two.”

“The hell it was. I’m just getting started.”

He’d said the image of the Mistress forcing the sub to pleasure her on his knees had been appealing. Now she knew it hadn’t been a joke or random comment on his part.


Page 13

“Then at least get up here and give me that dick so I can enjoy you too.”

“No.” He jerked forward, trying to get his mouth back on her. “When I come again, it’ll be inside you.”

“Did you just now fucking tell meno?” Furious, she used his hair to pull herself up to her knees, dragged him up on the bed and then grabbed his cock with both hands. She squeezed him hard enough his eyes about popped out of his head and he gave up all pretense of ignoring her will. Face slack, he stared at her, his eyes wide and dazed. This harsher, ugly side of her didn’t come out very often, but evidently he liked it. He liked it so much he licked his lips and she could see the thought rumbling around in his head that maybe he’d have to tell her no again real soon. “Did you have the fuckingaudacityto tell me how you’re going to come again? Maybe I won’t let you come at all.”

Proud, arrogant Donovan Morgan whimpered. “Mistress.”

She shoved him down on his back, whirled around to straddle his head and took his cock as deep into her mouth as she could go. But she didn’t make it easy for him to get his mouth on her. He had to wrap his arms around her hips and lift his face up to lick her. With a hand firm around the base of his cock, she sucked and bobbed until he was hard, swollen, muscles quivering across his stomach, and then she lifted her head, leaving him trembling right on the edge.

“Don’t you come, Donovan. Hold it. While I sit on your face awhile.”

Rising up, she settled back on her heels, pressing him down to the mattress beneath her. His hands tightened on her thighs, drawing her down hard enough she’d probably have bruises tomorrow. He was too damned talented with his tongue for her to care. Holding her clit in his mouth, he ran his tongue up and around, sizzling every nerve ending with electricity until the dam burst again. With a scream, she arched backward, lost her balance and almost fell off the bed. Luckily her flailing hand managed to grab onto something, one of the reading lamps above the headboard. She wrestled herself up and off her poor drowning submissive who still clung to her thighs with every intention of going to the death.

“I can take more, Mistress.”

Panting, she shoved her wild hair out of her eyes. “But I can’t. Condom?”

He lay flat on his back, eyes blazing, cock pointed toward the ceiling. Though it twitched toward her when she spoke. “You saw my medical test. It’s up to you.”

Her brain told her to get off the bed and dig around in the bedside table for protection. Just because they were both clean and she was most definitely on the pill didn’t mean they needed to share that level of intimacy and vulnerability. She’d never taken a man without a condom because she’d known it couldn’t last. She’d either been the calm, controlled Mistress or the passionate, lusty wench Lilly but she’d never been able to be both at the same time.

Until now.

“I’m not sharing you,” he growled out in his most forbiddingly arrogant voice meant to send weaker women away in tears. Even flat on his back and used by his Mistress until she’d feared he’d suffocate, he still managed to challenge her. “There’s no one else for me. No one but you.”

Flinging her body at him, she crawled up his legs and seated his cock deep in one hard thrust. His hands clamped down on her thighs and he arched beneath her, pushing up as deep as possible. She didn’t give him any quarter, squeezing with her muscles as hard as she could. She dragged his hands up to her breasts spilling over the corset and he didn’t need encouragement to squeeze her as hard as she gripped his cock inside her. Without lifting her hips, she rocked her pelvis, rubbing her clit against the base of his cock, tiny little circles designed to drive them both higher, to the very edge of a precipice she could usually only dream about.

“Mistress.” It was the same plea he’d given her at Dmitri’s. Half question, half SOS.

“Grip the headboard so I can fuck you in earnest.”

He released her breasts and wrapped his palms around the sleek chrome of his very modern slatted headboard.

She rose up, pulling herself up the length of his cock until just the tip throbbed inside her. “Hold on for dear life, Donovan. When I come, you come. Not before.”

“Yes, Mistress.” His voice quivered, but his eyes still held the fire of determination. He’d do what she told him or die trying.

Closing her eyes, she threw herself headlong off the edge. She braced her hands on his chest and rode him hard, slamming her hips down on him over and over, faster, pushing herself to the very edge of her strength and endurance. Her thighs ached, her pussy throbbed, filled with him so deep it felt like he’d punch a hole through the other side. Sweat burned her eyes, her lungs on fire. And it still wasn’t enough.

Until he roared out her name.

Digging her fingers into him, she let her head fall back as every barrier in her mind came down. It was like leaping out of an airplane without a parachute. Soaring without a net. She lost all sense of direction, tumbling, spinning out of control while her body convulsed with his. She couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t catch herself this time. She was going to fall hard.

“I’ve got you,” he whispered against her ear.

He wrapped himself around her, a cocoon of hot, delicious living flesh tangled with hers so she couldn’t tell where he started and she ended. They were sweaty. Caked in cherries and whipped cream. And she was too tired and sated to care.

Chapter Nine

Donovan took one look around his bedroom and decided he’d better invest in a top-notch housecleaning company. And probably an electrician, he added, noting the reading lamp. It hung askew, dangling from wires out of a hole in the wall.

Also a furniture chain, because he’d bent the decorative bars of the headboard.

The comforter wasn’t salvageable.

The off-white carpet probably wasn’t either, because the cherry pie on the floor resembled a horrendous murder scene.

The lady who’d created such a mess was sprawled sideways in his bed. Her hair had driven him nuts, tickling his nose and getting in his mouth every time he rolled over. She was a blanket thief and bed hog and slept like the dead.

And he’d never been happier in his life.

Grinning, he returned to the kitchen and poured a cup of freshly brewed coffee. He wasn’t sure what she liked for breakfast and he certainly wasn’t Dmitri, but he had toast, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs on a tray for her.

He sat on the edge of the bed by her head. “Good morning, sweetheart. I thought we’d get an early start for Lake Minnetonka today. I want to take you out on my boat.”

Nothing. Not a blink, not a groan, not even a twitch. He set the tray on the bedside table and threw open the curtains, letting bright sunlight stream in.

“Fucking bastard,” she growled, drawing a blanket over her head. “Go away.”

“The sooner we get to the lake house, the sooner I can take you out on the boat.”

“I fucking hate boats. What time is it?”

“Six.”

“What kind of motherfucking sicko bastard gets up at fucking 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to get on a fucking boat?”

She said she wasn’t a morning person, but damn. This is extreme.“Evidently this one. But I never fucked my mother. Just you.”

He tugged the blanket down off her head and she shrieked. “Don’t look at me! My hair’s a mess in the morning!”

She clutched at the blanket but he dragged it completely off the bed, leaving her drawn up in a ball in the middle, still in the sexy red corset. How the hell had she managed to sleep in it? The material was twisted around and halfway down her waist. Groaning like she was dying, she finally managed to sit up. Her hair frizzed out in all directions like she’d stuck a finger in the light socket and he was pretty sure the knotted mess on the side of her head was a smashed-up cherry. Yet when she caught him looking at her, she couldn’t care less about her breasts hanging out of her top. She was too worried about trying to smash down her hair.

Fighting to keep a straight face, he said, “It’s not that bad. I’ve seen worse.”

“Ugh. I hate you. I hate sunlight. I hate mornings. I hate everything until I’ve had a fucking cup of coffee. Why—?”

Solemnly—despite his twitching lips—he offered the steaming cup. “I hate you too, sweetheart. Last night was awful. Horrible. Nightmare inducing. I’ll never be the same.”

Huddled around the cup like it was her last precious lump of coal on a wintry snowy day, she finally cracked a smile. “Yeah, it was pretty damned good, wasn’t it?”

“No, it was great.” Actually, great didn’t even come close to what he’d felt last night. She’d given him everything he’d ever dreamed about and a million more he hadn’t even dared hope for.And this is just the beginning.

Awed, humbled, and yeah, a little scared of the intensity of his attachment to her already, he changed the subject. “If you can’t cook, how do you do coffee?”

“I have a pod machine and a thing called a coffee shop. Have you heard of it?”

“For shame.” He let horror twist his face. “A pod machine doesn’t producecoffee. That’s merely brown water. Now this is a cup of coffee, freshly ground Jamaican Blue Mountain brewed to perfection.”

“In a pot that probably cost more than my car.”

He smiled. “Guilty as charged. Do you want to take a shower now or when we get to the lake house?”

“Are you fucking kidding me? I can’t go anywhere looking like this. I don’t even have any clothes other than my dress and that’s the last thing I feel like putting on at six on a too-fucking-bright Saturday morning when I’m supposed to be sleeping for another four or five hours.”

“You can sleep in the car on the way, or on the boat. Hop in the shower and I’ll rustle you up some clothes.”

She narrowed a glare on him that made every single tender spot she’d left on his body sit up at full attention. “You will not give me some other woman’s clothes you might have lying around.”

She assumed he’d had a string of women in and out of his bed who’d just happened to leave their wardrobes behind? Stiffly, he stood up to give her some privacy. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Still suspicious, she tugged and worked the corset around so she could unsnap the front. Watching her, his momentary irritation faded away. Her luscious breasts swayed, making his mouth water.Maybe she’s right. We should just stay in bed this morning. We can hit the lake house later…

“Don’t even think about it,” she retorted fiercely, but the light in her eyes and the reluctant curve of her lips told him her mood was improving. “I’m a stinky, tangled-up mess with wretched morning breath. And I’m sorry I offended you. I know you better than that now.”

He smiled and took a step back toward the bed, sure he could convince her otherwise. “I took the liberty of ordering some clothes for you as soon as you agreed to come to my place after dinner. I’m a pretty good judge of size but the tags are still on if you don’t like anything or they don’t fit.”

“I knew you were a creepy nutcase.” Laughing, she leaped up and fled toward the bathroom before he reached her. “And I still hate you for getting me up this fucking early.”

“You sure do curse a lot.”

She popped her head back out the door, her forehead creased with the first hint of uncertainty he’d seen from the confident Mistress. “Does it bother you?”

He snorted. “About as much as those swats you gave me. Of course it doesn’t offend me.”

Her lips quirked and her brow smoothed out. “Then maybe I’ll give you a fucking swat on that gorgeous ass of yours every time you make me curse. Deal?”

He couldn’t suppress the shudder that rocked through him. After last night, he wanted more. So much more.We’ll just see how much I can make that luscious mouth curse, then.“Deal. But no wooden spoon.”

“Got it. No fucking wooden spoon. How about a fucking crop? Would that work for you, Your Majesty? We’ll have to stop by my place and get it.”

His skin tightened at the thought. He’d had a crop used on him before and he’d come after just a handful of blows. “Sure. We can pick up anything else you want.”

“Like my dog.” She shut the door so she thankfully missed the way he winced. He wasn’t much of an animal person. Or a kid person, for that matter. They made too many messes and were too noisy.

Looking around again at his destroyed bedroom, he had to smile. Maybe he could get used to messes. And he’d certainly enjoyed a lot of noise last night.

He heard the shower turn on and she raised her voice so he could hear through the door. “Start the fucking count, you sexy beast.”

“One!”

 

Waiting while Lilly unlocked her front door, Donovan could barely contain his curiosity. Would her bedroom look any different from the rest of the house? After last night, he’d be terribly disappointed if her bed was average. If the color was beige. The woman who’d half destroyed his room last night deserved better than a boring traditional bedroom.

She paused a moment and for once, the Mistress looked hesitant. “I don’t let a lot of people into my bedroom. So it’s a bit of a mess.”

“I don’t care.”

She flashed a grin at him, the saucy one that made him want to chase after her like a bull in a ring. “I’m a terrible slob. It might be more than your delicate sensibilities can withstand.”


Page 14

He let out a huff and pushed her door open. “Delicate sensibilities my ass.”

She pressed against his back and gave said backside a very firm squeeze. “Mmmm, no, I believe it’s my ass now. Just don’t be horrified.”

Letting him lead the way down the only hallway where her bedroom could be in such a small townhome, Lilly pointed to the door on the right. “My room. Across the hall is the Mistress’s room.”

Did she really think they were two separate personalities? “You have a separate room for the Mistress?”

She pushed open the door on the left. “The things Mistress L needs are completely different from what Lilly needs. I keep all the equipment in here. My toys, the traditional Dominatrix clothes, the fetish shoes.” Indeed, she had drying racks lined up in the small bedroom holding various outfits of mostly black latex. Hip boots heavy with straps and buckles. A table holding all kinds of paddles, flails and the aforementioned crop. “See anything that strikes your fancy, lover boy?”

“The crop is enough for me.”

“You don’t want any of the clothes?”

“Let me see your bedroom first.”

With a shrug, she twisted the other door handle and pushed open the door. “Make yourself at home. I’m going to pack a bag of toys for the weekend. I guess I’ll just surprise you. But if you see something you want me to bring, grab it.”

Her bedroom was so dark he couldn’t see anything but the vague shape of her bed. Given her penchant for sleeping late, she probably loved the dark cave-like feeling of the room. Fumbling around on the wall, he flipped the light switch.

Finally, color. No beige in Lilly’s bedroom. The coverlet on her bed was a brilliant scarlet. No surprise there. But what did surprise him were the colorful pillows on the bed, all bright jewel tones and different sizes, from royal purple to peacock blue to sunshine yellow. The fabrics were all sumptuous and rich, velvets and satins, a mix of textures to please her sensual side. The curtains were heavy brocade in a rich forest green, floor to ceiling, and instead of just covering the window, she’d lined the entire wall, increasing the feeling of a cave. Actually, no, it was more like a tent. A sultan’s exotic tent in the desert.

The rest of her home was tidy and plain, but she wasn’t exactly messy here. Not like she’d warned. She was just more careless. More open. More herself. The suit she’d worn to his office was thrown on the floor in the corner along with the ugly shoes. An appropriate place for clothes she obviously cared very little for. A pair of jeans were laid out on her bed, as if she’d planned to wear them as soon as she got home. Naturally he grabbed them for her, along with a pair of tennis shoes she’d left at the foot of the bed.

Her bathroom was fairly Spartan in the feminine category, at least in his experience. No racks of perfumes, only a small makeup bag of mostly natural products. A variety of hair products lined the counter, but no lotions or perfumes. He’d hoped to find a clue to what her favorite scent was, but none of her things had fragrance.She’s sensitive or even allergic. Better avoid any smelly gifts until I know for sure.

“So am I disowned as a messy hoarder?”

“Hardly.” He turned and looked at her. She had her hip cocked, resting against the doorway with a black bag in her hand. “Do you need to grab any of this?”

“Sure, I can just throw it into this bag. I see you found my jeans. That’s about all I wear when I’m home.”

“Sounds good to me, though you might get hot on the boat.”

“Don’t lie to me, Donovan. Do you even own a pair of jeans?”

“Of course I own jeans.”

“But have you ever worn them?”

“Do you think I walk around in Armani suits all the time?”

She let her gaze flicker over his body, noting the shorts and T-shirt he wore now. “No. But I’m guessing you’d burst into flame if you tried to put something on that wasn’t by a designer. The outfit you’re wearing now costs more than everything in my closet except for my favorite stilettos.”

“I thought you said you got them at a yard sale.”

She laughed and headed back to the bedroom. “I’ve been known to tell a fib or two.”

He snorted, pausing at the closet door that revealed a wide array of beautiful heels, all at least three inches high. “I’m glad to see you don’t own any heels. I wouldn’t want you to lose your balance or anything.”

She flashed a smile over her shoulder. “Let me grab Hank’s stuff and I’m ready to go.”

“Hank the dog?”

She pushed open the slider door and let Hank inside. Very well-mannered, he didn’t jump on her or even bark at her guest, though his tail wagged so hard he spilled his water bowl. Donovan had no idea what kind of parentage the dog claimed, though certainly some kind of long-haired breed. “Donovan, this is Hank. Hank, this is my sexy new lover boy. Better get used to smelling him all over me.”

The dog sniffed her hand and then trotted over to sniff Donovan’s leg. Part of him braced for the dog to hike a leg and whiz all over him, an alpha marking his territory. But the dog gave a yip and then followed his mistress to the utility closet where she stored his food and dog toys.

She hauled out a large bag of food, a mesh bag holding at least a dozen balls, and a box of dog biscuits. Easily more things for the dog than for the woman. “Can you grab his bed? I forgot to get it. It’s over by the sliding glass door.”

“Sure.” At least he wouldn’t have pet hair all over his sheets. Though he’d sleep in the dog’s house if she told him to. “Anything else?”

“Can the trunk of your fancy car hold all this?”

“Of course. The bigger question is whether Hank gets car sick.”

She frowned. “He might. Though I might too. I don’t do well in cars for long distances.”

“Lake Minnetonka’s not far. Less than an hour.”

“Okay. We should be fine.”

Outside, she helped him load everything into the trunk. Donovan opened the back door of the Jag but she took one look at the leather seats and grabbed the dog’s collar before he could jump into the car. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

I can’t wait until she can grab and control me like that.Donovan had to drag his gaze away with a brutal shake. Idiot. Jealous of a dog.“Of course it’s a good idea. We’ll have a very, very good time.”

She heard the thickness in his voice and her lips twitched. “Are you sure? Maybe I should just stay here and get to work on your design for the windows.”

“Don’t you dare tease me, Miss Harrison.”

“All right, Mr. Morgan. But Hank rides in the front with me between my knees.”

Donovan muttered, “Lucky dog.”

Chapter Ten

If America ever had royalty, they’d surely come to Lake Minnetonka to vacation. Massive million-dollar houses lined the shoreline but they looked like weekend cabins compared to Donovan’s monstrosity of a house. Three stories high, great walls of windows with breath-taking views of the lake, towers and spiraling stairs and a gorgeous pool with fountains and waterfalls that boggled the mind.

“I thought you said lakehouse. Not lakecastle.”

“The castle is about two hundred and fifty years older.” He parked in front of the house and a fucking maid came out to open her door. At least she supposed that’s who the woman was. She was dressed in very smart black trousers, a crisp white polo, and had long, sleek black hair pulled back in a tidy ponytail. She didn’t bat an eye when Hank jumped out as soon as the door cracked.

“Lilly Harrison, this is Annette Sullivan. She runs the property here and makes sure the boat’s ready to take out at a moment’s notice. She’s the only reason I’m actually able to enjoy these little vacations because I know everything will be ready. Annette, this is Lilly Harrison and her very smelly and hairy dog, Hank.”

“Why thank you, Mr. Morgan,” Annette said. “I try to make your visits as smooth as possible and it’s always sad to wave goodbye. How do you do, Miss Harrison?” She sealed the deal for Lilly when she went down on her knee to love on the dog. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask. And you, Hank, will have a wonderful time swimming around in the lake.”

Donovan groaned. “So he can shed on the seats and spray dirty water all over my car on Sunday when it’s time to go back to the city.”

“I kept him in the floor by my feet all the way.” Guilt churned Lilly’s stomach, making her voice ring defensively. Donovan had been a good sport about her dog so far, but it was obviously something he only put up with for her. “I couldn’t leave him at home all weekend alone, and Marie couldn’t take him today. She has to work.”

He surprised her by taking her hand and pulling her into his embrace right there in front of his employee. “Relax, sweetheart. I’m just teasing you.”

“No, you’re right. Your stuff’s too nice and he’s going to make messes. I’m going to make messes.”

He pressed his mouth to her ear and whispered, “Like what you did to my bed last night?”

“Yeah.”

“Then I don’t care if he chews a hole in the Jag’s leather seats or poops in the Jacuzzi.”

Suddenly, she wanted to cry. The tears were in her throat, a rising, scalding flood. It was just too much to take in. The crazy expensive car, the massive house, the servants, the fucking designer clothes he’d bought for her. One pair of shorts cost more than her car payment. And then for him to be so sweet. How dare he be sweet and kind when he was supposed to be Mr. Douchebag?

Horrified, she pressed her face against his chest, hiding her face until she had control again.

“What’s wrong? Lilly?”

“Nothing.” She forced her head up and smiled for him. “Just an attack of nerves.”

Eyes narrowed, he lowered his voice to the mean snarl that must send Miss Wruthers into a tizzy. “Don’t you dare lie to me, Miss Harrison.”

“Don’t you dare make me curse in front of Annette, Mr. Morgan. She’ll think I’m a trash-talking street urchin and kick me out of your ridiculous mansion before lunch, and I’m starving.”

Annette made a sound suspiciously like a chuckle smothered beneath her hand. “Don’t worry about the bags, Mr. Morgan. I’ll have Trevor bring them up for you. And lunch is ready and waiting, Miss Harrison.”

Donovan tucked her hand around his arm and led her up the sweeping marble staircase to the front door. “Well you do curse like a sailor and I ought to know. My grandfather and father were both ship captains, so I grew up on a boatload of foul-mouthed fishermen and dock workers.”

“Glad to know I’ve succeeded in my aspirations to join such hallowed company.” Lilly tried not to gawk around like the waitstaff at Dmitri’s when he’d pulled up in the oversized limo, but she’d never seen anything like it. If this was his “vacation house” he used for weekend escapes, she couldn’t imagine how over the top the “swanky” Paris apartment would be. Her stomach rolled hard enough she wasn’t even sure she could eat, and that was a sad, sad state of affairs.

What are you doing here, Lil? You’re so out of your league with Mr. Moneybags that no amount of “Yes, Mistress” can possibly make up for the difference.

“Will Hank stay close or do you need to bring him inside with you?” Donovan paused in the entry, oblivious to the grandeur he lived with every single day.

The thought of her dog puking on the priceless Persian rug after the car ride—which inevitably made him sick—made her want to vomit herself. Fighting down her rising panic, she tried not to automatically start adding up dollar signs in her head for every single item in the room she or her dog might destroy. “If we put his bed on the front steps, he’ll come lie down once he’s explored.”

Donovan didn’t even have to give an order to Annette; the efficient woman was already heading back out to instruct the young man unloading their bags from the car. A double staircase flanked the open great room with floor to ceiling windows of breath-taking lake views. Massive stones stacked together on another wall to make one of the most unique fireplaces she’d ever seen in her life. Yet the enormous white sectional still managed to dominate the room.

Yes, white. God. I don’t even dare sit on it.

The next room was just as opulent with a dining table for at least twenty guests and enough silver on display to pay off her mortgage. She almost wilted with relief when he didn’t stop, but kept right on through the room to the kitchen.

“Sit,” he pointed at the high granite-tiled bar while he passed into the main room. It was a sign of her nerves that she did so without telling him exactly where he could go. Her whole apartment could fit inside this kitchen with room to spare, but its old-world stone and wood features made it feel homier than the cold whites and marbles of the rest of the house.

A man about the same age as Donovan dressed in the ubiquitous white chef’s jacket greeted him like a long lost brother, pounding him on the back. “Thank you for inviting me, Donovan.”

“Thanks for coming on such short notice.”

“The pleasure is entirely mine. This is your lovely lady?”

“Yes.” Donovan turned to her and his eyes burned with a possessive glint that both thrilled and terrified her. “This is my Lilly.”

It’s too soon for this. I’ve only known him a few days. So we had some terrific sex last night. A powerful scene. He’s just feeling the endorphins of a really good fuck. That’s all.


Page 15

“Lilly, this is my old friend, Ricardo D’Almeida, French-trained chef and winner of three Michelin stars.”

Ricardo took her hand and kissed it like Donovan had on their first date. “When Donovan told me you’re a lady who loves to eat, I couldn’t refuse his generous request to come cook for you.”

It took her a minute to wrap her mind around it. “A Michelin star chef…and you’re here just to cook for us? For the weekend?”

“Donovan and I go way back. Without him, my first restaurant would have closed long ago. It certainly wouldn’t have become such a phenomenon, nor would we now own five more restaurants across the country. If your palette is as fine as he says, and you find satisfaction with my food, then your praise will shine brighter than any Michelin star.”

She could only stare at him and hope her mouth wasn’t hanging open. Donovan sat on the barstool beside her and drew her against his side. “It’s Ricardo’s fault I’ve invested so heavily in restaurants. My only regret is that he lives so far away. I can’t just stop by and eat at his restaurant like you do at Dmitri’s.”

Her anxiety wrenched up another notch. Sure, she loved Dmitri’s food and she knew it was good. But she didn’t have Michelin star “fine dining” level of taste. “Where is it?”

“New York City. We’ll have to go there to celebrate once the windows are done. We can hit Rockefeller Center, Broadway, whatever you want to do.”

She smiled but her face was stiff and the tips of her fingers were icy. “I’ve never been to New York.”Or Paris, or L.A, or Rome, or any of the other places he has a fucking house, let alone tours for business.

Ricardo returned to his pots, chatting over his shoulder about all the wonderful things to do in New York and how he and his partner would wine and dine them every single night, while she fought not to leap up and run for the door. The only thing keeping her seated was Donovan’s arm around her back and the delicious smells rolling from the stove. She couldn’t tell what the chef had made but it smelled divine.

Donovan reached over and wrapped his free hand around her fingers in her lap. She refused to turn and meet his gaze, but she sensed him watching her out of the corner of her eye.

“I bought this place furnished last year. I’ve been meaning to replace the gaudy furnishings but I haven’t had time. When I’m here, I spend my time on the boat. It’s the private dock I coveted. Not the house.”

Even if the pristine white sofa and antique Persian rug weren’t his, per se, that still didn’t mean…

“It’s just stuff, Lilly. I don’t care about any of it. All I care about is you. So if you’re uncomfortable here, we’ll pack up and go home. We can stay at your place and eat at Dmitri’s every single night.”

She tightened her fingers on his and checked to make sure Ricardo was still busy at the stove. “Don’t make me your whore, Donovan. I won’t stand for it.”

He inhaled sharply, squeezing her hand so tightly she winced. “Why would you say that?”

“All this wealth, the clothes, the fucking five-star chef—”

“Three star,” Ricardo sang from over the stove. “They don’t offer five Michelin stars, but thank you anyway.”

“That’s two,” Donovan growled. “And I don’t mean stars.”

“Donovan—”

“No. Hear me out. Ricky, plug your ears.”

“Aye aye, Donnie,” and he started humming off key.

Even though tears burned her eyes, her lips twitched at the thought of someone calling proud, stiff Donovan Morgan such an immature-sounding name.

“Last night, you did something for me no one has been able to give me in all of my thirty-nine years. How sad is that? I’m getting ready to turn forty and I’ve never been completely whole and satisfied until last night. You did that for me. You took care of me. Yet if I try to take care of you, I’m buying you off? Let me do things for you no one else has ever done. If that means making sure you stay off the road for the safety of all Twin City drivers, then it’s the least I can do. If that means waking your sleepy, grouchy ass up at 6:00 a.m. so I can bribe you with stellar food, then I’m going to send a jet after the finest chef I know. Let alone eagerly taking over if you will just lie back and let me.”

Closing her eyes, she clung to his hand for dear life. “I don’t feel in control here. I’m out of my league with Mr. Moneybags.”

“Then I’ll have to work harder at being Mr. Douchebag. You didn’t have any hesitation taking him down a notch of two. Thanks to you, I can also be lover boy and sexy beast, but only if you brought the crop you promised me.”

She drew a deep, shaking breath and held it for a count of five, then slowly let it out.If I apply too much force to the glass, it always shatters. I’m no different, no matter how tough I think I am. I don’t have to grip everything in my life so tightly.

Ricardo set two large shallow bowls before them. “For lunch today we have bacon and smoked Gouda risotto with delicate green peas, hot flaky croissants fresh from the oven, and a sweet, crisp Italian moscato.”

She looked down at the bowl and just breathed in the delicious creamy goodness. He returned with a basket of croissants, drizzled with honey.

“Not fair,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to look away from the sticky, flaky pillow waiting to dissolve in her mouth.

“Your options are simple.” Despite his brisk all-business voice, Donovan picked up his spoon and winked at his friend. “We can, of course, stay here and have a wonderful weekend stuffing ourselves silly with Ricardo’s decadent creations. Or we can walk away together and go home to my condo. The cleaning crew might be done ripping the cherry-stained carpet out and they’re supposed to deliver a new bed later today.”

Ricardo let out a soft whistle and left to get the wine bottle.

“Or I can drop you off at your very safe and boring townhome and never see you again.”

She shot Donovan a fierce look and picked up her own spoon. Staring down at the risotto, she tried not to drool. “I’m not done with you yet, Mr. Moneybags.”

“Then how about every time I try to buy you something, you increase the count. Make me extremely penitent later.” He lowered his voice, letting his desire roughen his words. “And I’ve got so much money, Miss Harrison, your arm’s going to wear out before you can make me sorry I blew it all on you.”

“Hardly.” The first bite was going to be the best. Closing her eyes, she slipped the bite into her mouth and just held the creaminess on her tongue to savor every delicious element. Salty bacon. Smoky cheese. The firm chewiness of the rice. She swallowed and couldn’t hold back the soft moan of pleasure. “I think I need a cigarette.”

Ricardo grinned. “That good?”

“Don’t tell Dmitri I’m cheating on him.”

“I saved the best for later.”

Lilly swallowed another heavenly bite and reached for the wine. “Better than this?”

“His specialty is French pastries,” Donovan said with a wicked grin. “Although I hear he’s created a magnificent dessert he calls the Big Apple Chocolate Silk Pie.”

“Fuck.”

“That’s three, Lilly.”

Chapter Eleven

When she first saw Donovan’s pride and joy, Lilly had shot him a glare and dragged him in close to whisper, “Four.”

I can’t wait to show her the jet, then.

After cruising around the lake for a while, she slowly started to relax. It was a beautiful day, hardly a cloud in the sky, and though water traffic was heavy,Beverlywas big enough they dwarfed most of the other boats. He kept the speed slow and gentle, a seductive cruise along the shoreline. She liked to people watch, so he gave her plenty of time to see the party boats and all the beautiful people enjoying their homes and pools along the shore.

She fisted a yawn, so he decided to pull into his favorite little cove for some peace and quiet. The water was calm, giving the boat just a little rock. With big trees overhead to offer a little shade, it was the perfect place to simply lie back and enjoy the sun without getting completely fried. He’d been outside enough not to worry, but she was pale and fair. The last thing he wanted was for her to have a miserable sunburn the rest of the weekend.

“Okay, okay, this is rather nice, even though this ‘boat’ is more like an ocean liner.”

“Would you like to go on an ocean liner some day?” He took her hand and led her up to the highest deck. With a thick, soft pad, lots of pillows, and a built-in cooler close by, it was his favorite spot on the boat.

“Don’t tell me—you have an ocean liner too?”

Casually, he stripped his shirt off and tossed it on the bench lining the side of the deck. “Several. My family started in boats. In fact,Beverlywas my father’s, named for my mother. When he passed, I inherited it.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

He gave her a warm smile and stretched out on his back. “Don’t be—it was years ago.Beverlysat in dock for a long time, waiting on me to get my head out of my ass. My father and I had a rocky relationship when I was growing up, and I didn’t take his death well. Do you want to change into a suit?”

“I’m good for now.” Lilly stretched out beside him, leaning on her elbow so she could see his face. “Why did you have a rocky relationship with your father?”

“When I was growing up, he was gone all the time. He and Grandpa were out on the fishing boats. Grandpa Saebo, my mother’s father, was a Norwegian crab fisherman. Dad joined him soon after he married Mom and they were gone all the time. He used to say if the boat isn’t out to sea, we’re not making money. Then they bought another boat, so Dad had even more reason to be gone. They chased the various seasons, hitting crab, cod, whatever they could. The few weeks Dad came home weren’t enough to make up for the months he was gone. I resented him for leaving us alone, all the work Mom had to do.”

“Did you have any siblings?”

“No, it was just me and Mom, and sometimes Dad, and even rarer, Grandpa. By the time I was fourteen, we were doing well enough they both could have retired, but they chose not to. I resented that even more. So when Mom passed away from breast cancer…”

Lilly leaned down and gave him a soft, gentle kiss. “I’m so sorry. That couldn’t have been easy. How old were you?”

“Fifteen. I lived with my aunt during the school year, but then started joining them on the boat for the summer. I worked in the trenches just like any other greenhorn. I did the shittiest jobs on the boat and learned what hard work really meant. I was still angry and my father wasn’t ‘Dad’. He was Captain. I gave him hell every chance I got, and he gave it back and then some. I hated him, I hated the boat, and I swore as soon as I was eighteen I wasn’t ever stepping foot on a boat again. I sure wasn’t going to take over the family business.”

“What happened?”

“He told me when I was eighteen I could do whatever the hell I wanted. I thought he was joking, but when I told him I’d won a scholarship to go to college, he took a week off the boat and helped me move across country and get settled. After Grandpa passed, I felt even guiltier for not joining them on the boats, but he insisted I return to college. He wasn’t the kind of man who ever said a lot. We didn’t sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk or anything like that, but I finally realized all those years on the boats had been his way of showing his love for us. He’d grown up poor and he never wanted that for us, even if it meant he had to be gone doing one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.

“When I graduated from college, he finally told me he’d never been prouder. That’s when I decided I was going to take over the family business—but I was going to do it my way. I started making investments, expanding from fishing boats to packing companies, ocean liners, manufacturing. I kept thinking I’d make enough that Dad would finally quit captaining the fishing boat and we’d just… I don’t know. Hang out together. When I bought him this yacht, I thought it would finally get him to retire. Instead, he named itBeverly, after my mother, and started touring the world in it. Alone.”

“Why?”

“He said he met Mom on her father’s boat when he signed on his first year, and she was in the sea for him. When he was out on the water, he was with her. If he was on land, he missed her too much. I joined him when I could, but I got tied up with business more often than not, doing the same thing he’d done for all those years. Making money for the family, when what the family really wanted was me.”

He had to pause a moment, his throat dry and raw from emotion. Sitting up, he crawled over to the cooler and brought back two Perriers. “When Dad started having heart problems, I tried to get him to come live with me for a while, but he refused. He had to be on the sea, die on the sea. So I joined him on theBeverlyat last and we just sailed and fished and talked about Mom and Grandpa and all those wretched miserable summers I spent on the boat learning the trade. It was the best summer I can remember, and it taught me the most important lesson of my life. The business did just fine without me, and in the end, there’s no substitute for time together with the ones we love. One morning I got up and found him in his bunk instead of fishing. He’d passed away in his sleep.”

Lilly snuggled closer, using his shoulder for a pillow, her palm over his heart. “How long ago was that?”

“Eleven years. I returned to work andBeverlywent to dry dock. I couldn’t bear the sight of her. I continued to expand the business but I stayed away from the sea and boats because it was too painful to remember. Then one day I was going through some old boxes and I found a picture of Mom and Dad together on Grandpa’s first boat. Before she became pregnant with me, she’d sailed with them as the cook. Mom looked so happy, just beaming at the camera and holding Dad’s hand with the sea in the background. I was conceived on that boat. I became a man on that boat. I finally decided it was ridiculous to give up something I’d learned to enjoy out of grief. It would have been easier to leaveBeverlyon the coast, but I’d already bought the new office building in St. Paul and I was determined to stay put for a while. So I paid an exorbitant amount to get her moved up here after I found the perfect dock for her.”


Page 16

“Why did you pick St. Paul, though? Especially when you already have so many homes sprinkled across the globe.”

“I grew up in St. Paul just down the street from Ricardo. Mom worked at thePioneer Pressfor years and years. It just felt like coming home.”

She fell silent, and after a few moments, he realized she was falling asleep. Lulled by the rocking of the boat and the warmth, his sleepyhead was finally getting the nap he’d promised her.

Staring up at the patches of blue sky cut by the tree limbs, he held her and listened to her deepening breathing. He smelled her hair, tamed by the braid she’d put her hair into fresh out of the shower this morning. He’d never told anyone the whole story of his life and his love/hate relationship with his father and the sea. No one had ever asked.

If I hadn’t decided to come back to St. Paul…

If I hadn’t decided to buy the rundown old post office…

I wouldn’t be here now. With Lilly’s head on my shoulder. I wouldn’t be wondering exactly what else she’d stuck into the black bag.I wouldn’t be smiling at the thought of what she might do with chocolate pie.

For the first time since he’d been coming up to Lake Minnetonka, he didn’t have to strip all his clothes off and lie in the sun to feel any warmth. Not when he had this woman lying beside him.

Chapter Twelve

Waking up with a hardening dick pressed against her backside was something Lilly decided she could definitely get used to.

Donovan held himself very still, probably trying to be gracious and not wake her up yet again, but she could tell he was awake by his careful, shallow breathing. Maybe he’d never even fallen asleep. “If you’re good with four or five hours of sleep a night, we’re going to have to work out some kind of sleeping schedule or I’m going to be as grouchy as I was this morning all day long.”

“Sorry,” he nuzzled her neck, tightening his arm around her waist. “I did doze off for a while. I tried to let you sleep.”

“Is this where you do the sunbathing that made your ass such a pretty brown?”

“If there aren’t any boats in the area, sure, though I like to use the rooftop deck at the lake house too. I’m secluded enough I don’t have to worry about streaking around unless a helicopter decides to fly over.”

She rolled over onto her back and gave him a wicked smile. “If your delicate sensibilities find this place secluded enough to go butt naked, then maybe you wouldn’t be opposed if I fuck you out here in the open.”

“Five.” His voice deepened, his eyes dark and slumberous. “I wouldn’t mind as long as a boat doesn’t pull up and start videotaping. The last thing I’d want is anyone to see what is mine alone.”

Ah, her submissive was quite possessive. Maybe he wouldn’t mind his bare ass getting recorded, but he sure wouldn’t take a boob shot of her going viral very well. “Well it’s too bad you didn’t grab my bag I stowed in your car.”

His breathing quickened and she didn’t miss the surge in his shorts, even though he tried to keep his face smooth. “Before we left, I made sure your bag was stowed on board. Just in case.”

“Then maybe you wouldn’t mind if I gave you a few good swats before I fuck you.”

“Six,” he answered a little more breathlessly. “And I wouldn’t mind. Far from it.”

She sat up and pulled her shirt over her head, revealing one of the lacy scraps he’d bought for her. No black or red or white for this submissive. His favorite color was definitely blue, though all shades from navy to baby and everything in between seemed to work for him. “Then go get my toys, lover boy. But drop your pants first. I want to see that gorgeous ass run to do my bidding.”

He flashed a grin and dropped the shorts in record time, no fumbling or nervousness this time. “Yes, Mistress.”

No doubt he’d be quick, so she made short time of her own clothing, although she left her bra and panties on for now. If someone did happen along, it’d be no different than if she were wearing a bikini. Plus, he’d bought these for her. The least she could do was wear them to torment him. Although he might not have picked them out at all—he probably paid an underling to simply throw a few things into a bag and call it shopping.

By the time he returned with her equipment, she’d managed to stack some of the pillows in the center of the padded mattress. She sat on the bench sipping the Perrier he’d gotten out earlier, even though it was hot now. The bottle probably cost a few bucks. She sure wasn’t going to waste it.

He set the bag at her feet and stood expectantly, trying to keep his wondering gaze from the pile of pillows.

“We’re going to have to work on your manners, Donovan.”

His eyes tightened, either offended or rebellious, she couldn’t decide yet. Probably offended, because she doubted Mr. Morgan had much cause for such a complaint in the real world. Even when he’d been trying to antagonize her the first day, he’d still been polite about it. “Why would you say that, Mistress?”

She capped the water and set it aside. “It’s always nice to see a sub go to his knees in front of his Mistress, especially when he’s wanting her to punish him.”

His shoulders stiffened, his jaw worked, and yeah, his knees locked ramrod straight. He didn’t blurt out an argument or excuse, but he didn’t go to his knees either.He wants to be conquered. Forced into submission. Good thing I’m the woman to handle him.

“I see.” Nodding, she let her mouth quirk with amusement. “I’m going to have toconvinceyou to go to your knees. Is that it?”

His chin inched up, his shoulders wide and square with defiance. She could almost see him straightening his tie or tugging his sleeves smooth beneath one of those sleek, expensive suits. “I’m not into humiliation. Mistress.”

“All right.” She unzipped the bag and rummaged around to find the crop. As if she didn’t have a care in the world, she laid it across her lap and set the bag aside. “That’s too bad. I was going to give you the fantasy you mentioned. Never mind, though. We’ll just cut to the chase.”

His brow wrinkled and then deepened to a chasm once he figured out what he might have missed out on.

“What’s the count, Donovan?”

“Six, Mistress,” he growled out, eyes blazing. “I would have gone on my knees if I’d known that’s what you were offering.”

“Too late,” she said breezily. “But don’t worry about it. I’ll bring you to your knees easily enough. What’s your safeword, Donovan?”

“Glass.” His mouth flattened out as if she’d called him Mr. Morgan again. “But I won’t need it.”

His pride might get one of them hurt. If she went down the wrong road with him and he didn’t stop her because of his macho ego, it would be bad, bad news. “Another thing I’m going to have to work on. I’ll tackle that bridge another day, though. For now, I promised you a swat for each potty word that offended you. You also agreed I could add to the count when your ostentatious ways offended me. So, six swats in all. That’s hardly even a warm up for me, but we’ve got to start somewhere. I’ll try to curse more so you can have more fun later tonight.”

“And I’ll try to blow more money on you.”

“Don’t even think about it. Since you don’t like your knees, I’m going to change up my plans and save Your Majesty from having to bend over the stack of pillows to make it easier for me to strike your ass. You’re going to have to stand right here in front of me. Of course I won’t be able to fire up that ass as much as I’d like, but it’ll have to do until you’re eager to go on your knees, lifting your pretty ass up, just begging for my blows.”

He did look like royalty, almost sniffing with disdain at the thought, though his cheeks did color nicely. Oh what a tempting picture that would make. Donovan Morgan ass high, both sets of cheeks on fire.

Reaching down in the bag, she found her favorite set of manacles, leather cuffs lined with soft fur. Comfortable, but tough. Certainly tough enough for him. “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”

Seemingly casual, he did so, but his knuckles were turning white, his fingers curled into fists. She wrapped her hand around his left wrist and he jumped. “Are you sure you’re okay with bondage?”

“Yes.”

She waited a moment to see what else he might say or do, but he remained silent. His body didn’t lie though. His cock rose hard and high, already glistening with his excitement.If he enjoys this as much as I think he’s going to, it’ll make this test a hell of a lot easier.

Wrapping the cuff around his wrist, she made sure to buckle it nice and tight, followed by his other. “I can’t wait to get your collar, Donovan. As soon as we’re back in the Twins, I need to go shopping.”

“I’ll drive you.”

“Then it won’t be a surprise, so no. And you’re not buying it, either.”

He turned back around, eyes blazing with lust and anger both, a delightfully combustible mix. “You promised you wouldn’t drive.”

“I never said any such thing. Those exact words never passed my lips.”

His own lips went tight, a flat, furious slant and the red staining his cheeks went even higher. “You did. You said—”

“I said when I need to seeyou, I’d agree to wait for you to pick me up. If you want to send a car after me, I’m happy for the ride. I even agreed I wouldn’t ride the bus. But I never said I wouldn’t ever drive my own car when I need to go somewhere.”

“You know what I meant. You will—”

“Donovan.” She lowered her voice to the deepest register she could manage. “Shut that lush, tempting mouth before I shut it for you.”

Goose bumps broke out on his arms and he clamped his mouth shut. He still vibrated with anger, but he obeyed.

“Very good, Donovan. I love it when you immediately leap to do my bidding.” She had to laugh because his throat worked like he had to physically swallow the arguments down. She couldn’t help but feed his fiery passion just a little. “You’re so pretty when you’re mad.”

Tendons roped in his shoulders, his arms tightening against the cuffs. Testing her bonds like he tested her will. His eyes narrowed on her, and though he didn’t say a word, she saw dark dangerous thoughts fluttering around in his mind.

Good. He ought to have second thoughts. He ought to question whether this is a good idea. He needs to fear me a little and respect the devious twisted things I might come up with to do to him.

Like this.

Smiling, she lightly tapped his thigh with the crop, just to make sure she had his attention. “Six blows only, so make them worth your while. Your only goal today is to last until the sixth blow is delivered. You’re not allowed to come before. Do you think you can last that long, Donovan?”

“Yes, Mistress.” His voice vibrated low and mean despite his agreeable response.

“If you pass this test, then I’ll reward you with a real thrashing. Do you know what that means, lover boy? I’ll use this crop until you beg meon your kneesto fuck you or you give your safeword. Those are the only two ways the scene ends. Are you ready?”

His chest heaved and he didn’t answer right away. He was still aroused, but he strained against the bonds harder than ever. His weight shifted, like he was thinking about taking a step back from her, an involuntary protective instinct. He wasn’t settled and eager, but nervous and anxious and yes, furious. Furious she even thought about making him beg.

And deathly afraid I have the power to do exactly that.

“We can end this right now, Donovan. Give me your safeword and I’ll wipe the count away. We’ll smear chocolate pie on each other tonight and that’ll be the end of it.”

He wanted a thrashing, though. She could see the darkness spreading in his eyes. He’d had just a taste of pain from her so far and he’d loved it. It’s what he’d sought all these years and never been able to find, not the way he wanted.

Until last night.

“I’m ready, Mistress.”

“Very good, Donovan. Let me prepare the way.”

His eyes flickered with uncertainty, his head tipping a little as he thought about what she meant. She didn’t keep him in suspense very long.

She leaned forward and licked the head of his cock.

His eyes flared wide and his hips jerked convulsively. She licked him again, chasing that bobbing head to keep up the torment until he dared take a step back.

Slowly, she stood up, lightly tapping the crop against her thigh. She circled him, whacking her own skin hard enough he’d hear it. He’d know the blow was going to come. Sweat beaded on his forehead. “Count them out, Donovan.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

She laid the crop against his back and trailed the leather down his spine in a light, teasing caress. Muscles flinched and twitched beneath her advance and he widened his stance, planting his feet firmly. And yeah, he arched his back, lifting his backside for the coming blow.

Instead, she reached out and gripped his butt cheek firmly in her other hand. Kneading and massaging, she worked the muscle hard and deep, switching to the other side. Only when some of his tenseness faded did she step back and land a blow on his ass so hard and quick he didn’t have time to prepare for it.

He grunted, his breath whooshing out. A red mark popped up on his skin but she’d controlled the blow. Heat and sting, a nice hard thud. Not too much of a cut to start. He ought to enjoy it enough to want another and another.


Page 17

“One,” he whispered hoarsely. “Mistress.”

Without replying, she glided back around and took her seat on the bench. This time, she lifted her chin, pointed at her mouth and licked her lips.

A shudder rocked him but he came back to where he’d started. However, this time she didn’t lean forward or make it easy for him. He had to take another step closer and deliberately give her his cock. He kept the brush light against her mouth, each breath a shaking exhalation spreading through his body. She licked and kissed and nibbled lightly, a soft, gentle torment that made him groan in agony. His hips started the helpless thrust, but she didn’t take him fully into her mouth. Not yet.

This time when she stood up and began the pace around him, she didn’t give him any warning. Before she even got behind him, she laid another solid blow to his other cheek.

“Two.” His voice was deeper, fingers clenching and uncurling helplessly in the small of his back. Sweat dampened his hair, slicking his chest and groin. He was going to want a swim or a shower before he’d put his clothes back on.

She repeated the exact same ritual again and this time he pushed his hips toward her eagerly. His breathing matched his thrusts, soft groans slowly growing louder as his desire mounted.

Three and four passed and his thighs were quivering. She paused long enough to let him think about what was happening. What she was doing to him. Deliberately.

Dark eyes wide, he made a soft, fragile sound when she took him fully into her mouth. Those sounds turned her on more than anything, that such a big, powerful, strong man would made such a helpless sound for her. She took him deeper in a long, slow slide, savoring every inch. Only to lift her mouth off completely so she could run her tongue around the glans and trace the veins running up and down his shaft. This time, the blow she gave him was a deep, cutting one, a nice sharp crack that made him cry out harshly. His hips arched, his arms straining against his bonds.

“Pain,” she whispered, smoothing her palms over his heaving back. “For you, it’s as good as me sucking your cock. Isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he ground out.

“But not just any pain, Donovan. You need it delivered just right. You need someone who understands what it does for your body. How to balance it with the pleasure until you can’t separate them any longer. These sessions are meant to help me learn exactly where your pain and pleasure thresholds are and from what I’m seeing, you’re very close to coming. If I gave you the last blow right now, you’d be done. Game over.” She trailed her fingertips up over his shoulder as she worked her way back before him, then down his pectorals to bounce over each rib and washboard ab. “But these sessions are also meant to teach you exactly what kind of Mistress I am. Where my tolerance and sense of mercy extends and my desire to watch you suffer and squirm begins. And I have to tell you, lover boy, it makes me so wet to watch you strain to free yourself. I can’t help but picture what you’d do if you were free.”

“I’d be on you so fast…”

She smiled and wrapped her hand around the base of his cock. “You’d be fucking me in earnest. Instead, I’m going to fuck you. I’m going to make your knees give out. I’m going to make you shout so loudly half a dozen boats are going to come up here to investigate, afraid someone’s getting murdered.”

Casually, she pumped him, bringing him to the very edge. His cock strained in her hand, iron hard and so hot and swollen with need it took her own control not to strip off her panties, push him down on his back, and ease both of their torment. She dropped her hand, took a step back and just watched him struggle to control himself. His face was red with effort, his eyes blazing, sweat dripping off him like she’d made him run a marathon. Every breath whistled through his clenched lips. But he held it.

“Very good, you sexy beast.”

Her words made him arch again, a low growl rattling from his chest.

“Oh, yes, growl at me. I love it. Nothing turns me on more than the soft fragile whimpers and the desperate, bossy demands my sub makes when he’s trying to get me to put him out of misery. But you’ll learn, Donovan, there’s very little that will sway me. Your safeword will. Or some form of ‘Please, Mistress, I’m begging you, I need to come so bad’. Those are the only words I want to hear. Otherwise, you can wait until I’m good and ready to let you come.”

 

Quivering right on the edge of release, Donovan fought to keep his mouth shut and his knees locked.

I wanted this. Remember? I ached for it. I sought her out, hunting her down and devising an entire blackmail scheme if needed to get her right here torturing me.

He couldn’t see through the sweat blinding his eyes. His throat and chest hurt from sucking in all the hot humid air and he stunk to high heaven, as rank as a prime bull in full musk. Every single mark burned like a brand in his skin until his ass felt like it was swollen and roasted by the merciless sun.

No, it’s Mistress L who’s merciless.

Sitting back down before him, she waited until he managed to control his breathing a little. The sight of her sitting there in the royal blue lingerie he’d picked for her was agony. He wanted to shred the lace from her body to reveal those lush, full breasts. He wanted her hard nipples pressed against his chest. He wanted his tongue beneath the silk covering her crotch.If only I’d gone to my knees as soon as I saw her. Maybe she really would have let me taste her again.

He certainly didn’t want her sitting, her incredible lips and tongue in front of him ready to torment him with the softest little caresses. It also meant he wasn’t going to get the last blow anytime soon.

Staring at her mouth, it took him a moment to realize something was tickling his legs. He glanced down and saw the crop sliding between his thighs. He’d braced his feet wide apart to keep his balance on the gently swaying deck, which had unfortunately given her plenty of access to the tender skin of his inner thighs. Not to mention his balls. Of course now that she had the crop there, he didn’t dare squeeze his legs shut like a shy little virgin. His pride wouldn’t allow it. Even if she gave him the last blow on his scrotum.

“You’re so close to coming that your balls are tight to your body. I think if I licked you now, you’d give me a different kind of cream pie to sample.”

He shuddered, both horrified and turned on by the thought of coming on her face. He respected her too much to want to use her like that, yet he couldn’t deny the appeal, either.

“One of these times I’m going to have to try my three-way cock ring. It’ll keep your balls pulled away from your body while squeezing all that blood right where I want it.”

Again, a mixture of horror and searing desire flooded his mind. She’d control everything about his body, his release, even the position of his balls. It was humiliating…and so damned hot he sagged a moment before he caught himself and stiffened his legs.

The muscle in his right quadriceps cramped, a sharp, hard pain that only added to the misery.

“I even have a cock ring with a chain attached to it. Then I could lead you around like Hank. Wouldn’t that be fun? Maybe I’d take you out for a walk, too, all dressed up in your shiny collar and your cock ring. My, what a pretty picture you would make.”

He opened his mouth to retortshut up, quit tormenting me with all these erotic, forbidden images!But he couldn’t speak to the Mistress like that. She might be on his yacht, his domain, but here in this moment, she was the ruler of his universe. If he displeased her she’d do worse than refuse to let him come.

She’d just walk away.

The thought of the coming winter…all those long, cold nights. Alone. No warmth. The emptiness. The agony. Now that he’d had a taste of what she could give him, he couldn’t lose it. He’d go mad, a rabid dog who’d have to be put down to protect everyone around him.I’d rather lose every dime, every building, every business, even my father and grandfather’s boats, than ever lose her.

The crop rubbed against his scrotum and higher, sliding into the crease of his ass with a deliberate bend of her wrist to angle it just so. She used enough pressure to force him up on his toes, to make him fully aware of exactly where she touched him. Leather slid and rubbed deeper, driving him insane. Nerve endings burned at the newfound stimulation. He squeezed his eyes shut, determined to last. Determined to stand up against the torment. To take it.

Like a man.

The thought dragged a choked sound from him, half laugh, half sob.

Her free arm came around his waist and she rubbed her face against his stomach. She had enough pity for him that she was careful not to touch his cock, but her cheek and mouth against his stomach was almost as bad. Her hand kneaded his ass cheek again. He couldn’t recall a woman squeezing and stroking his ass. Ever. Let alone as diligently as Mistress L. Her fingers were so strong and confident, sure she had full and complete license to touch him in any way she wanted. He’d signed his body over to her, willingly and completely.

In this, I’m her willing and eager slave.

The thought rocked him back on his heels and he sagged again, almost falling against her. Her fingers pulled on his buttock, separating his cheeks more fully for the wicked gliding crop. He’d known the anus was full of nerve endings, but pride, again, had kept him from ever allowing exploration. He wasn’t gay, so he’d stupidly kept the area off limits, but even more grievously ignorant, he’d markedpossible interestinstead ofnoneon the questionnaire. He hadn’t given Mistress L enough credit at the time to understand she would take him no holds barred. No hesitation. Nothing was too dirty for her if either one of them would find pleasure in it.

With the crop pressing against him and his body throbbing with new sensation, he knew all too well what pleasure she could find there.

“Have you ever had anything in your ass, Donovan?”

He jerked against her, helpless and unable—unwilling—to defend himself. His shoulders ached with strain. His thighs quivered as if he’d swum laps around the lake instead of cruising in his boat. “No, Mistress.” His voice shook as badly as his legs but there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

I could tell her my safeword.

But I won’t.

And she knows it.

A sudden peace washed over him, a calm he’d never known. Whatever happened was out of his hands. He’d signed his name on her dotted line. He’d given himself over to her. She could do as she willed to him. Nothing would stop her from taking exactly what she wanted, even if that meant she pulled out a monstrously large strap-on dildo from the black bag and started fucking him with it.

His knees buckled and he fell before her, trembling.

“There you go, sweet boy. That’s what I wanted to see.” Her arms remained around him, her hands rubbing over his back and ass to soothe and comfort him, gentle and loving and kind. Not punishing. Not cruel. “There’s the utter and complete submission I wanted you to give me.”

She stood, urging him to turn and give her room. To give her access to whatever she wanted. He knew what she wanted. She’d already told him. So he bent forward, pressed his face to the padded deck, and lifted his ass high in the air.

The crop came down in the hardest blow she’d given him, his immediate reward for obeying her, even if it’d taken him agony to get there. He groaned out a harsh, desperate cry, arching his back, his body begging for another blow, even though he knew it was too late. She’d promised only six blows. And that was the sixth.

He’d fought and wrestled with his pride so long that now a release felt like a distant, receding door, and he was trapped in a nightmare hallway that only grew longer the harder he tried to escape. The words were there. The words he’d sworn he wouldn’t give any woman. Pleas and cries, desperation burning in every overused muscle until he couldn’t stand it. His pride was shattered, broken down into a thousand shards, slicing his throat and keeping the words locked inside.

Luckily for him, she must have decided he’d given enough, at least for this scene.

“You gave me what I wanted, Donovan. So I’m going to give you exactly what you need.”

The crop came down again and again, a steady rhythm, one cheek and then the other. He’d never been able to last so long. Other Mistresses had spanked him and he’d been humiliated at how quickly he’d exploded. He’d sworn he’d seen a knowing smirk in their eyes. Now he knew why he’d been unable to control himself and also why he hadn’t gone back to any of those other women.

They hadn’t been able to control him either. They hadn’t taken the time to figure out how his brain worked, to learn what he needed so desperately. Pain alone wasn’t enough, not completely. He needed to be conquered.

He needed to surrender. Like this. Beyond his pride, beyond any sense of humiliation and shame. He needed to find a Mistress who could bring him to this place and keep him hovering on the edge of release, unable to come.

Until she allowed it.

She pressed against the backs of his thighs, straddling his feet on her knees to get close. Her hands kneaded his swollen ass and she pressed her hips against his hamstrings, rocking him, a reverse doggie style that had never entered his mind with a woman.

She could take me like this. I’d be completely under her control.

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