By the end of January, the Five Alarm Alphas box set will be broken up into individual novellas. You can still get it as a set until then, though. And while we’re at it, I thought you’d like to read a snippet from my story, Up In Smoke, which will be released later this year as the first in a new series, Fire Me Up. (more…)
This is something I’m working on that’s new and it was for a special call for a publisher, but I’m not going to get it finished in time to meet the deadline. The Sticky Cowgirl has been taking up a lot of my time and I’ve about had it with these two…
But, even if I miss that deadline, I’ll self publish it and it’s no harm, no foul… It’s a bear shifter, not related to the Denali Heat series, but it’s me hoping that this one will kick start the next book for my polar bear shifters. For the time being though, I’m working on this one, here and there…
This is unedited, so just ignore the issues within…
Blake muttered a curse. Humidity covered everything from the leaves on the forest floor to the tops of the trees that rose high above. He slammed the cabin’s front door and retreated back inside to the blessed air conditioning. “Ninety-six? Not even seven in the morning and it’s ninety-six degrees? The universe is trying to kill me. That’s got to be it. Climate change. Global warming. Blah. Blah. Blah. What about just fucking hot?”
Grumpy as a bear didn’t even cover it for him and was no laughing matter. He was a damn bear. Or at least, he was a half-bear. And he hated the heat. Why didn’t bears hibernate in the summer? They could sleep during the scorching, blazing, sun-baked days instead of…sweating and having to go around naked all the time.
Not that there was anything wrong with being naked. He always got up in the morning, got dressed with the intent to stay that way, but never made it past noon. Noon-oh-one showed up and he was buck assed naked and in the river. The river was starting to piss him off too. The water was cool, but more than once, he’d seen and he’d smelled someone. It wasn’t anyone he knew. It wasn’t anyone he wanted to know, not if his keen senses were on target and they usually were.
The scent was all female. Human, but with a delicate undertone of bear. He’d never encountered a half-breed female before which had been just fine with him. He’d had sexual encounters with full human women, but none in quite a while. Being intimate had always made him want something more. He was in his early twenties when his parents were killed in shifted form. Poachers had trespassed on their land. His land now. And the world hadn’t gotten any safer or better for wildlife.
He didn’t want to mate. Now, or ever. Sex was fine as long as it was anonymous sex. There were plenty of bars on the fringe of the mountain towns for him to find partners when the urge struck. But mating? Producing cubs? No way.
And even though his natural bear counterparts never mated for life, his parents and grandparents and all those that came before and after, had. It was just one of the smudges of his DNA. He wanted to be left alone here in this little corner of the Smoky Mountains. He didn’t care what happened after he was gone, but until that time came, he was content to exist right where he was, alone.
A female shifter didn’t figure into his mind’s long-term plans. His body had other ideas with every whiff of the meddling woman. Not that he’d met her. For all he knew she was a very pleasant creature.
Creature? “Shit.” He bit the word out. The older he got, the surlier he got. Enough so he’d called her… If he was so damn content to be isolated and alone, why was he grumpy all the time? This was something he didn’t understand. Shouldn’t it make him happy? Shouldn’t he be ecstatic and thrilled to be living the ultimate life according to his grand design?
“I was happy,” he growled to the empty cabin. The empty cabin that was too big for just one person, but felt too confining most days lately. It had been built for a large family. His grandmother had had four cubs and those uncles were still alive with cubs of their own. He had family. He had cousins.
He’d had a twin sister, too, but she hadn’t survived birth. His mother had never been able to have more.
He knew pain and loss and he didn’t want anything to do with it ever again. A woman would only complicate his uncomplicated life. “I’ll just stay away from her,” he declared to the four walls. “I’ve done a good job of it so far. I can just keep doing so until she leaves the area.”
Feeling satisfied with himself and his decision, Blake made for the kitchen and the Mason jar of iced coffee in the fridge. If summer were good for anything, it was iced coffee. He drank it black, undiluted but for a few ice cubes and a slight sweetness.
He stepped onto the back deck and took a deep breath. The heat wasn’t so bad with something cold coating his throat and cooling him from the inside out. But it was still oppressive. He turned to reenter the cabin, but caught the scent before he could turn his head. She was near. To the northeast and getting closer.
Blake debated with himself. Should he get closer? Should he get a look at her? His body screamed that yes he should. His brain, on the other hand, screamed obscenities at him for even considering it.
Her scent was stronger now. “Man, this is such a bad idea,” he whispered to no one even as he crept off the deck and onto the forest floor. For a six foot five guy, he could be surprisingly stealthy.
He weaved his way through the trees toward the water, careful to keep out of sight as he got closer. A stand of trees and low-lying bushes allowed him to stay out of view. He crouched to his knees and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long. She rounded the bend in the river several seconds later and Blake had to bite down on his tongue to keep the howl at bay. His soul growled “Mine” and his brain knew they were all goners.
Reddish blonde hair caught the morning light that glinted off the water. Strands of gold and red, copper and auburn floated on the surface behind her. Her face was tilted up toward the sun as she drifted along.
She was beautiful. What he could see of her, that is. She had a full finger that fit the tube, not one that would slink through the middle unless she held on. No, this one was curved and womanly in shape. Blake liked that.
Too much. He huffed, then dropped back behind a tree. The sound echoed and she lifted her head, her gaze focused in his direction. He held his breath and stayed where he was until he was down river a little ways.
He hadn’t intended to, only his feet wouldn’t listen to his head. He didn’t usually shift in the daytime, but this wasn’t just any day. This was a special day. His bear had found its mate, and his human was pissed about it. Oh yeah. A real fuckin’ special day.
And what he’d like more than to mate at the moment with the pretty redhead, was a swim. In human form, it was hotter than hell. In bear form, it was damned hotter than hell. His coat was brown and he melted into the foliage of the Smoky Mountain National Forest. His paws were soft on the ground as he tracked the path of the inner tube. Every so often she hummed songs he didn’t know, but he liked the sound. He hated that he liked it, but nonetheless, he liked it.
She didn’t have on a bathing suit, but rather a white tank top and cut-off shorts. Would her nipples be erect? Was she braless? Did she maybe have a bikini top under the tank top? None of the answers mattered. He wanted her. Her scent was sweet and rich, like honey. Her hair was long. The color of her eyes, how tall she might or might not be, the span of her waist… None of that mattered. His gut knew.
She was a shifter too. He wasn’t sure at all how he knew that, but he did. His family didn’t mate with only shifters and the person with the dominant genes won out on whether offspring would move within both worlds or not.
At the same time, Blake didn’t think she was from around the Smokies. Her scent was too different, too new for her to inhabit the same North Carolina stretch of forest and mountain, he did. No, she was a visitor to these parts.
He also wondered if she could scent him too. Every so often she’d glance over, as though looking for something, but Blake knew she couldn’t hear him or see him. He was far enough back and used his knowledge of the woods and the river to keep her in his sight and to stay out of hers.
“I know you’re there,” she called out, interrupting his train of thought.
Blake hunkered low to the ground and tried to stop breathing. He didn’t want to be found out. He wasn’t ready. Rather, his human side wasn’t ready.
“You’re not going to talk to me? You’re just going to hide in the trees?”
He snuffled and slipped behind a tree, climbing quickly. He had a good view of several miles of river and mountains. He could see the roofs of cabins and tube rental shacks.
“That’s kind of rude. You can see me, but you’re not going to let me see you? It’s also kind of stalkerish.”
Stalker? She was calling him a stalker? Well, that was so not what he was. She had the complete wrong idea about him.
He was on the ground again in no time and without sparing her a look, he walked back toward his cabin. When he was sure she couldn’t see shadows or shapes, he shifted back into human form.
Him? A stalker? What kind of crap was that? “The callin’ it like she saw it kind, asshole.”
Blake is definitely going to fun to play with…
I have a friend. Her name is Virginia Nelson. And her first Samhain book is out today. It’s called, Runaway Groom.
And it’s a hoot! Pick up a copy today!
He’s ready and waiting. She’s wanting…but wary.
Watkin’s Pond, Book 1
The groom is back in town.
Abigail lost her best friend years ago when he ditched her at the altar like a loaf of stale bread. Now he’s back and determined to do whatever he has to—even lie, apparently—to get under her skin. Although he makes her hormones rev to life in a way that no one has since he left, she is equally determined not to fall for his boy-next-door charm.
His bride-to-be is somewhat reluctant.
Braxton Dean was too young and stupid to know better when he walked away. Years of trying to fill the Abby-shaped hole in his heart have left him empty, and now he’s going to win back his girl—or get over her. But first he needs answers. Particularly why she never responded to any of his letters.
It might take a whole town to make this wedding happen.
With the help of their friends, the two battle it out. The army? An entire town of busybodies. The prize? Happily ever after.
Warning: Contains indignant old ladies, steamy sex (but not with indignant old ladies), seduction cake, and condom bouquets. Yes, we went there.
Enjoy the following excerpt for Runaway Groom:
July 7, 2005
I’m sitting in a diner in the desert. The sun peeking over the mountain lights up everything in these reds so bright they almost hurt the eyes. You’ve never felt a hot like this, all dry, nothing like the days that we went swimming over at Watkin’s pond…
I don’t really know why I’m writing you. I don’t have answers and right now you probably want them. I just know I couldn’t do it.
I miss you though.
Knuckles white, Abigail put her beat-up Ford Focus in Park, and glanced at her best friend. “I can’t do this.”
“Pussy.” Applying a coat of lipstick to her lush red lips in the mirror, Carnie shot her a glance. “You can do this. It isn’t like you’re about to face a firing squad. It’s just a bonfire.”
Shoving her hand through her short, pixie-cut brown hair, Abigail blew out a frustrated breath. “I would rather face a firing squad. If you ditch me to go running off with the new boyfriend…”
Carnie gave her a dirty look, tucking her red hair behind her shoulder. “I would never do that. I know how bent out of shape you get every time we go anywhere that Braxton might be. Really, though, it will be fine. The crap happened a thousand years ago. You’re adults now.”
Abigail didn’t feel like an adult. She felt like the rejected teenager even thinking of Braxton Dean.
It didn’t help that he’d become sexier with age. Heartbreakingly handsome, Braxton made her thighs clench with just a glance. She needed to remember the pain and humiliation rather than how it felt to be pushed into a bed by him. Better to remember the chest-constricting, blinding terror when he’d ditched her and vanished rather than remember his face a mask of unleashed passion and his green eyes wild with need. The former would keep her knees together.
The terror of that time—it wasn’t something she shared with anyone, not even Carnie.
Remembering gave her the strength she needed to peel her fingers from the wheel. “You’re right, of course. I can do this. No big deal. We’re both more mature now. He probably won’t even say a word to me.” The last came out a bit hopeful, even to her own ears.
“Yeah, at his birthday bonfire, he isn’t going to say a word to the woman he dated for years and ditched at the altar like a loaf of stale bread. Really, Abs, you need to get pissed off rather than feeling pissed on. You’re totally the injured party here.”
“He had his reasons. I’m sure he did.” Why was she defending his dumb ass?
“What reason could be good enough for that grand act of douchebaggery?” Carnie raised one well-plucked brow at her. “Besides, these are our friends. You need to remember why we’re here. He took off. He stayed gone. This is our town. You’re going to walk in there and show him what he is missing. Rub in his face what he can’t have.”
“I don’t know. He really wasn’t a jerk…not most of the time.”
“Let’s just go find Mike and the crew, and have a good time. All of our friends from high school are here and it’ll be good to catch up with them.”
Nodding, stomach still a bit of a knot, Abigail opened her door and stepped out into the muggy Ohio night. Stars hung like tiny lanterns above the recently mowed field and the sound of laughter carried on the breeze. The bonfire, a huge conflagration, was surrounded by what looked like hundreds of folding chairs, coolers and other party miscellany that beckoned Abigail onwards. Who knew? Maybe she would meet someone new and end up being really happy she wasted the extra five minutes to make sure everything was shaved and neat?
Carnie strode with her usual impulsive bravery into the melee. Abigail stuffed her hands in her jeans and resisted casting her head down to avoid any stares that might be coming her way. Instead she held her head high, but refused to meet anyone’s eyes. In small-town Ohio, everyone knew she hadn’t seen Braxton since that fateful day when he left her standing, flowers in hand, waiting for a runaway groom. Everyone knew that instead of marrying her, Braxton—golden boy and football hero—ran off to parts unknown, and she’d neither heard from him nor caught a glimpse of him when he’d come to town until a few weeks ago. He only returned home now to help his father with his tool store after his father’s stroke made it hard for the old man to get around like he used to.
Everyone watched to see how she’d handle it.
She wouldn’t give them a show to chew over for the next decade. She’d act like it was ancient history, like she hadn’t spent years wondering how a man could go from saying he loves her to leaving her to stand alone against a whole swarm of gossips with nothing better to do than tear her to shreds for being moronic enough to think he would stay.
She concentrated so hard on what she wouldn’t do, she slammed to an abrupt halt against a firm chest. His firm chest. Braxton. He smelled the same, damn him.
Even over the scent of wood burning, the ripeness of summer and the bitter tang of someone’s spilled beer, she inhaled his soap, familiar cologne and under it all, simply Braxton.
Her stomach clenched. Part of her wanted to smack him and demand answers. Part of her wanted to run away. Part of her wanted to pull his face down and kiss him because she’d missed him so much.
Instead she hid behind an armor of polite civility and gave a short, sharp nod. “Braxton.”
“Abby.” The word came out almost a plea. His eyes held a sad look she quickly identified. He pitied her.
Double damn him. “Happy birthday.”
And even though she promised herself she wasn’t going to give everyone a show, promised herself she wouldn’t feed the rumor mills…
The sound of her slap rang out across the field. Even in the flickering light from the bonfire, her handprint marked his strong jaw and she couldn’t ignore the pleasure it gave her. Silence seemed to spread across the night as he touched his cheek. Her mouth hung open, shock rippling through her as his gaze locked on hers.
“I deserved that.” The timbre of his voice seemed to stroke across her skin, stirring up a potent cocktail of emotions—lust, love, fury and pain. The worst part was disgust at herself for feeling anything.
“You deserve worse.”
Instead of arguing with her, which almost would have made her feel better, like it meant something to him, he simply nodded. “Wanna go somewhere to talk?”
About the Author
Virginia Nelson believed them when they said, “Write what you know.” Small town girl writing small town romance, her characters are as full of flaws, misunderstandings, and flat out mistakes as Virginia herself. When she’s is not writing or plotting to take over the world, she likes to hang out with the greatest kids in history, play in the mud, drive far too fast, and scream at inanimate objects. Virginia likes knights in rusted and dinged up armor, heroes that snarl instead of croon, and heroines who can’t remember to say the right thing even with an author writing their dialogue. Her books are full of snark, sex, and random acts of ineptitude—not always in that order.
There is no release date for it yet, but it is coming…
Exposed, Chapter One
Thor glanced at the door for what had to be the hundredth time since he’d arrived at seven. His shift at Abyss hadn’t started until nine, but he’d been hopeful. With each minute that passed, his hope crashed.
He bit back a curse and turned back to the young woman strapped to the spanking bench in front of him. Her thong covered behind quivered with each strike of the whip and wiggled with each pause. Pale stripes criss-crossed her ass and the back of her thighs.
Once upon a time a woman would have turned him on as much as a man, but since becoming involved with Bobby, Thor had realized that no one, woman or man, tripped him up or turned him on quite like his lover.
Were they even lovers? They rarely engaged in BDSM play anymore and sex was following suit. Thor wasn’t sure what the hell was up and it was driving him up the fucking wall. Bobby hardly made use of his room at Thor’s house or Thor’s bed even. Dates, dinner, coffee, phone calls were too far between.
He shook his head and forced himself to get back into the game at hand. He needed the release whipping, topping gave him, and there was a whole list of willing bodies who’d signed theirs names in order to give it to him.
Rolling his wrist, the whip slithered against the floor like a snake. With a flick, the tail wrapped around the half-naked girl’s calf. If he wanted, he could snap the scrap of lace off her hips. He could make her come with one smarting tease to her clit. But he didn’t. He merely unwound the leather from her leg, flipped his wrist in an underhand move and caught the underside quivering right buttock. He followed with the left, let the whip wrap her hip and the tip of the tail lick between her legs like a tongue. She moaned and strained against the cuffs binding her.
Her dominant stood to the side watching. He was hard inside his leather pants and when Thor looked his way, the man nodded and mouthed the word bra. Whipping clothing off someone took skill and a light enough touch not to cut skin, but firm enough to tear fabric. It was a delicate balance and something Thor had worked hard at learning. Much like he’d worked hard at learning everything he knew about dominance, submission, sex, and spankings.
He stepped up to the woman, ran his hand over the band of the pale pink lace bra across her back. It clasped in the front and provided no obstruction for the whip. “It’ll sting,” he said into her ear. The music in the club bumped and throbbed all around them. He had to speak loud enough to be heard over it, but tried to keep the words between them. “It won’t break the skin, but I’m afraid the bra won’t be wearable afterward.”
There was lightness in his tone and her dilated eyes sparkled. “I know. He wants my tits naked for people to see.” Her voice fairly vibrated with arousal and she couldn’t keep her torso still against the leather of the sawhorse. Thor inclined his head in acknowledgement and moved back.
Snapping the bra would be easier if she were standing against the cross, but he could do it this way too.
No one around them had any idea what he was about to do other than the girl’s dominant. It would be a good show for those watching and it would take all of Thor’s concentration to do it right and keep his promise not to make her bleed. It would take his mind off Bobby and off his need for the man that seemed to be pushing him away at every turn.
At least for a moment.
Thor twisted his wrist to the right, then the left creating a figure eight with the tail of the whip, first on the ground, then inches up. He backed away as he raised the whip, the hissing sound filling the air around him. He kept an eye on the leather and on the girl, the way both undulated and moved. The current in the air crackled and red stripes lined her back up to the bra, over it, between her shoulders and down again. Her moans could be heard over the music and the voices of the club goers. Thor didn’t know if she got off on the exhibition or on the whipping. Granted, what he did to her in the club was likely nothing compared to what her dominant did to her in private. Then again, he couldn’t be sure. Something had her on the edge though and Thor was happy to help push her closer toward it.
Back and forth the whip crossed her skin and in a pointed move, with a hard, controlled snap of his wrist, the whip sliced through the delicate lace.
He heard a gasp as he let the leather drift down her body. She was rocking, humping something only she could see and feel. She was having an orgasm.
Her dominant clapped Thor on the shoulder in a gesture of thanks but Thor did nothing more than give a short nod. He stepped out of the play area to catch his breath and get another, better look at the door he knew Bobby wasn’t going to walk through.
Thor hung his head and closed his eyes. A confrontation was coming and he wasn’t looking forward to it.
“Thor?” Gareth called to him, loud enough for Thor to hear him. Thor’s only acknowledgement was the lift of one eyebrow. He didn’t know what label Gareth subscribed to, if any at all. Kinkster. Spanker. Sadist. Dominant. Who knew nowadays. Most serious people in the lifestyle hated labels but there were many who were happy to quickly give a list of their position affiliations, which were at times as long as Thor was tall. He didn’t care really. As long as no one was seriously hurt who didn’t want to be, it was none of his business.
Gareth held up the legal pad which held the name of the next girl up. She was being cuffed in place against the cross in the corner. She was clad in a school girl outfit: thigh high white stockings, red plaid skirt, button down shirt, black and white Mary Jane shoes. Her hair was pulled into tight pigtails and tied with ribbons that matched her skirt.
She was a pretty girl, probably not much older than twenty-five if that… She was smiling at Thor while Gareth secured her.
“What’s your pleasure?” he asked her, stepping into her personal space so he could hear her.
“Both of you.”
“We can do that. Whip or flogger?”
“Flogger. On my skin.” She looked down then back up with suggestion looming in her eyes.
Thor smiled. He hadn’t unbuttoned a woman’s shirt in a long time and in truth he didn’t miss it. He slid one smooth button through the small hole until he could open the cotton fabric exposing her white lace bra and soft belly. Her breasts lifted and lowered as her anticipation racheted up. While he didn’t miss women, he did miss undressing Bobby, exposing his lover’s skin to his view.
Gareth picked up the thick tailed flogger. Suede and heavy, it would thud against the young woman’s body. Thor, on the other hand, picked up the thin tailed leather one. It would snap and sting. She’d experience different sensations and the marks left behind would tell different tales.
He’d worked with Gareth only twice before, but neither person complained after, and they were always being asked to do more double-teaming. Maybe they should consider it.
“You start her off,” Thor said.
“You sure you want to do this? You seem kind of distracted, man.”
Thor grunted in response. Gareth didn’t even know the half of it. At the same time, the man was right. Thor was and he needed to get his head in the game or the girl could get hurt. He had to forget about his submissive and whatever the issues were and get on with the business at hand. But that was just the thing. He didn’t know what the issues were. They worked well for months after Thanksgiving with Bobby’s parents, but slowly things started to unravel. Thor couldn’t put his finger on it, couldn’t pinpoint any one thing that would have made Bobby pull away, but he did and he still was and if Thor didn’t figure it out soon, he could lose Bobby. The thought of that made his gut ache and his chest hurt so much he thought he’d…
Right now wasn’t the time and Abyss wasn’t the place to lose his head.
Out of the corner of his eye, Thor saw Gareth loosening up his arm, his wrist, gripping and re-gripping the flogger. Thor did the same with his. Even though he’d just used a whip and his shoulders were pretty loose and fluid, the flogger’s weight was distributed differently from the tip of the tails to the end of the grip.
Thor turned away, grabbed a swallow of water, looked around at the gathered crowd but didn’t even really see them until he spotted a friendly face. Aidn. The man inclined his head and something about that gesture, about Aidn being there eased some of the tension that had been flowing through Thor.
He turned back to Gareth who was taking his own gulp of water. They locked gazes and both knew it was time. Thor shook himself, rolled his neck, winked at the girl bound to his cross, and gestured for Gareth to begin.
The heavy suede flew through the air and connected with the tender flesh of the girl’s breasts which rose above the white cups of her bra. She sucked in a breath and for a small moment hers smile faltered, but she quickly regained her composure. Thor wasn’t fond of Gareth’s first strike, but waited to see how he followed up.
Gareth stepped closer to her, stroked her face with one hand while with the other, he swished the floggers up her thighs, teased the front of her skirt with it until her panties were exposed for a brief moment. She gasped, a sound Thor could hear over the noise of the club, her eyes rolled, and she bit at the corner of her bottom lip as Gareth continued to trail the flogger up her body. By the time it reached her bra, she was fairly panting and arching for more.
Thor couldn’t help but smile. Gareth connected with the girl in that span of time and she was nothing more than putty in his hands. Thor had only had that, gave that kind of personal attention to two people in all the years he’d been playing at Abyss. He smiled at the memory of those encounters.
Gareth moved away from the girl slowly, taking the flogger with him, but not before he left her aching. He flogged her steadily from her thighs to her chest and back again several times and each strike, she leaned forward for more. Or leaned forward as much as her bound arms would let her.
A nod from Gareth told Thor it was his turn. The girl looked at him too and he tried for an easy smile. Truth was, he was turned on. It wasn’t something that happened all the time and it wasn’t a physical thing. His did wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t soft either. The feeling of arousal was in his gut, his soul and it traveled the length of his body and it’s nerve endings from his feet inside his boots to the ends of his hair.
It wasn’t about the woman either. It was about the act, the flogging, the sweat pouring down his back under the thin, flowing shirt he wore. It was about the air that flowed between his legs and under the kilt.
She smiled at him as well and there was a little trepidation in her gaze. He couldn’t blame her. The sensual flogging she’d received from Gareth was not what she’d get from Thor.
He let her feel the tips of the leather against her cheek until her blue eyes took on that hooded, needy look again and then tugged at the right cup of her bra. He dangled the ends of the flogger inside enough to tickle her nipple. The reaction he got out of her with that move was exactly what he’d wanted. She was his, or rather, she belonged to the power of the leather he held. And that’s what he loved when he played here at Abyss. The love affair people had for five or ten minutes with the implements he held in his hand.
“It’s going to hurt,” he reminded her.
“Please,” was all she said in return.
“Your wish is my command and pleasure.” Thor placed a kiss on her forehead and moved around the cross, out of her line of sight. The tails dangled over her shoulders, down her arms, and crossed her belly from behind. When next she saw him, it was through the leather that arced through the air and caught her chest. Thin pink lines appeared, even over the red flush already there. Another slice through the air and the leather flipped the hem of her skirt up to her waist and wrapped itself around her hip.
Ten more passes of the flogger across her thighs and belly, then Gareth joined in. One up, one down, and then they switched. It was a careful dance that seemed effortless in its execution. Thor knew where Gareth was going to step and Gareth knew where Thor was going to be. Front steps, back steps, side steps… All to ensure the young woman, the schoolgirl, was given as complete and thorough a flogging as possible.
Her cheeks were red, her eyes were bright, and her lips were swollen. She was beautiful this way, aroused by the body whipping she was taking. Her eagerness for the lashes made him smile, reminded him why he loved this gig so much…
Gareth and he switched places again to finish her off. She’d thrust out her chest, her nipples pressed against her bra, and she strained against her bonds. Some did that, some also sank into the bondage. Different submissives handled each different sensation and implement in their own unique ways, but they all took to whatever tempted them, eased them into the headspace they craved.
Thor let his flogger fall away and gave way to Gareth. He brought her down slowly, easing her back to some semblance of knowing where she was. She was striped from collarbone to thigh with a mix of thin and thick lines. She wouldn’t have any bruises, but the marks would still be visible through the weekend.
Applause went up around them and for the first time since they started, Thor remembered the club. It was out of his mind for the duration of play. All that mattered was the sub. Now though, everything else came back to him.
After putting the flogger away and checking on the girl after Gareth had her off the cross, Thor met up with Aidn several feet away. He was leaning against a table when Thor clapped him on the back. “Surprised to see you here.”
“Hey, man.” Aidn gripped Thor on the shoulder. “Your technique is as amazing as ever. You haven’t lost any of it.”
“Thanks. Where’s Bailey?”
“Working late tonight. She’s got to finish a cake for a wedding tomorrow.”
“So you’re out trolling?”
“I called you, went by your place, and figured if there was anywhere you’d be on a Friday night, it would be here. I’m surprised Robert isn’t.”
Thor resisted the urge to rub at his chest. He and Aidn had a few, very brief conversations about the relationship Thor had with Robert. He couldn’t even think of the man as Robert anymore. He was Bobby to Thor. Robert in the business world, Bobby when they were together. “He’s doing the same as Bailey.”
Thor kept a sharp eye on Aidn. There was an odd look of concern on his face which made Thor uneasy. “More often than not lately.”
“Do you know what he’s working on?”
“Some big case.” Thor shrugged, uncomfortable with the conversation, with how little he knew about his lover and his lover’s life apart from him. “I don’t know. I haven’t been able to get much more than that out of him.” He kept his gaze forward, but saw out of the corner of his eye Aidn nod, one short up and down movement of his head, and Thor’s unease increased. “What do you know?”
“I know nothing.” Aidn’s face betrayed him. His lips tightened, he closed his eyes briefly.
“Bullshit. Don’t do that.”
“I don’t. I saw him for lunch last week and he didn’t say anything to be about a case, but that’s not unusual in our line of work.”
“You had lunch with him?” The ache in Thor’s chest widened and spread. Bobby hadn’t had enough time for anything, not even to meet Thor for coffee, but he could have lunch with Aidn?
“Yeah. We meet up about once a week. I’ve even told him he should invite you along sometime. I can’t believe he didn’t mention it to you.”
“Well, believe it.”
“Hey, look… Is everything all right?”
“I don’t know,” Thor answered around the hurt clogging his throat. “I just don’t know.”
“I really wish you’d consider my proposal.” The second the words were out of his mouth, her smile and the light in her eyes were gone. He regretted the need to keep bringing it up, but there was nothing for it. He had a job to do, and a huge deal to close.
“There is nothing to consider, Mr. Stevenson. I won’t sell you my store. Look around you. I’d be a fool to let this go.”
She was right and he was smart enough to know it. “You’re a fool if you don’t. You can’t win against me.” He delivered the rehearsed line with all the false bravado he felt coursing through him.
She shrugged. “Maybe not, but I sure as hell won’t be going quietly. So, you do what you need to do, and I’ll do what I need to do which right now, is play with some knives and try my damnedest not to imagine that I’m stabbing you.” She grinned at him but it never reached her eyes. “Have a good day.”
“Think about your employees.” He appealed to her as he glanced to the two young workers behind the counter.
“I don’t have employees.”
“Then what are they?”
“They go to the culinary school. This is part of a new hands-on training class.”
Samuel considered her for a moment longer. He couldn’t help but wonder what she was playing at. What did she mean by new? New, new? An experimental thing? Or was it just a ploy to keep him at bay?
They stared one another down for a few long, drawn out seconds before she nodded curtly and turned on her heel, disappearing into the kitchen.
Several people stared at him. He still held the box of what was likely the only nice thing she would ever give him. He nodded and tried to smile at those around him, but probably didn’t carry it off well. He would take her refusal back to the board. They would want to move on it legally and much as he hated that thought, they didn’t have any other choice but to force her out.
He maneuvered through the crowded bakery and out the front door. He tried not to think about the fact that the condos they were planning to build would erase the smell of homemade pastries from this section of the downtown area and erase a thriving piece of her childhood memories.
In an otherwise deserted area, thanks to his company’s money, Samantha Dawson’s sticky bun shop was the only bright spot of color and chatter along this stretch.
He glanced around the front of The Sticky Cowgirl with its bright white and lemon yellow awning and sign that looked hand carved and carefully crafted. The metal tables and chairs, liked ones found years ago outside cafes were painted the same shade of yellow. She’d created a cheerful atmosphere and a warm welcome.
“Damn,” he whispered to himself. He didn’t want to know all this. He didn’t want to see her as a person or as providing something valuable to the people who patronized her shop. That would only make things harder on him. She’d been right earlier when she said it was easier for him to see numbers, to never see the humanity.
Samuel closed his eyes and took a deep breath, opened them again and started walking, but not before he opened the box he held and cut through the pastry with the fork she’d given him. He should toss it into the trash, but he couldn’t. It was a gift and she’d seemed genuinely puzzled that he’d never had one before.
The sugars melted on his tongue. The dough was perfect, or what he imagined was perfect in terms of dough. The flavors all blended together and as he swallowed, a slight hint of orange tickled his throat.
He’d never tasted anything like it and couldn’t resist another bite and then, another until it was gone. His mother would be appalled by his eating from a cardboard box with a plastic fork while standing on the river walk, but it had been heavenly and he hadn’t been able to stop.
He had a feeling he’d have been that way with the baker too if they’d met under different circumstances. He wiped his mouth with a napkin, also given to him by Samantha Dawson and tossed it, the box, and the fork into a recycle bin. With one foot in front of the other, a single thought floated on repeat through his head: Sometimes business sucked.
Have a great Tuesday.