What had she done to deserve such a gift? She’d have to thank Marcus, the maître d’, for seating Mr. Lawson and his dinner companion at her station. Once she was at the table, she waited until there was a pause in their conversation, her greeting on the tip of her tongue when the man looked up. His eyes were the most amazing color she’d ever seen… a combination of the deepest turquoise of the Caribbean and the emerald green of moss found in a tropical rainforest. “Please, tell me I might serve you.” It took the flash of his smile, the sound of a deep chuckle, and the heat she could feel flooding her face for her to realize what had just come out of her mouth. “Oh… I mean I’m here to serve…” She closed her eyes as if that would block out the reality that she couldn’t seem to keep her foot out of her mouth. God, I’m going to be so fired.
“Look at me.”
At the instruction, her eyes snapped open.
“Good, now take a breath.”
Mr. Lawson’s chuckle had her flinching as she realized she obviously had not yet finished making a total fool out of herself. But the one who had spoken simply smiled and repeated his words.
“Just breathe. A nice deep breath.” He took one himself as if to demonstrate how to follow his instruction and that did the trick. By the time he took his third, Jane was mimicking his actions. After another, he nodded.
“That’s a good girl.”
How could four little words make her feel like she’d achieved some goal, and his smile felt like she’d won some sort of award?
“It is my pleasure to serve… to wait on you… Fuck!”
The smile slipped from the man’s lips, his dark head shaking a bit even as his eyes locked with hers again. “What is your name?”
No doubt about it. I’m going to lose my job because I just dropped an f-bomb in front of a customer. She fought the impulse to turn and run. Breathe, idiot! She needed to get herself under control immediately. Taking another deep breath, she smoothed her hands down her skirt and closed her eyes a brief moment before trying yet again. Unable to meet the man’s eyes any longer, she turned to his companion. “Welcome back to Arturo’s, Mr. Lawson. May I bring you something from the bar, or would you prefer to go ahead and order?”
“I’ll have my regular,” he said, his lips quirking a bit as if he was amused. The source of that amusement became clear when he added. “And, young lady, it would behoove you to answer Masterson’s question before we go any further.”
Did he say Master? Holy hell… he couldn’t have. That title was not something bandied about in a public arena. Even as her head spun trying to keep her mind from going where it didn’t belong, and to try to remember what question had even been asked, he leaned forward just a bit and spoke low as if to share a secret. “Oh, and I’d suggest an apology as well.” He sat back, his lips curving into a smile. “Unless, of course, you are like my Michelle and prefer making your apologies after the fact.”
“After? After what? Oh, after I get your drinks—”
“No, that’s not what he means,” Masterson corrected. “But that’s not important at the moment.”
“No? Oh, um… okay.” Totally confused, she was about to turn away to bring their drink order when she realized she’d yet to get his. “Oh, what can I bring you, Mast…” No way she could get that word out, no matter if it cost her this job. “Sir.”
His smile was back, and she couldn’t blame him for being amused. She was acting like a silly teenager who was about to swoon over some impossibly handsome high school quarterback.
“You may bring me a Courvoisier neat. And, though no man could possibly deny the pleasure of hearing either title from your lips, my name is Sawyer Masterson.”
Her face flamed again as he corrected her. No matter how kindly he’d put it, she was still making an ass of herself.
“I’m sorry… I’ll get your drinks.” Spinning away, she grimaced at the twinge that shot up her leg as her ankle twisted. Damn shoes! Only someone who never had to balance drinks and food on heavy trays would choose such ridiculous footwear. But seeing as it was unlikely that Arnold Arturo, the owner of the expensive restaurant, had ever worn anything more restrictive than his custom-made shoes along with his tailored suits, he’d have no idea how much her feet ached by the end of her shift. It was her job, along with every other woman he employed, to project a certain image. Their uniform of pleated black skirts that brushed the top of their knees, white blouses unbuttoned just enough to draw an eye but not be considered trashy, and four-inch black stilettos was meant to convey refined elegance.
At the bar, she placed the drink order, a bit astonished she actually remembered it. Wishing she could bend over and rub her ankle, but knowing to be caught would be frowned upon, she placed all her weight on her right foot and slowly rotated her left, wincing at the sting.
“How’s it going?”
Jane glanced up to see Sarah and gave a soft groan that had nothing to do with her ankle. Just beyond her friend, Jane could see her boss was approaching the table she’d just left. She knew he was about to get an earful about the awful service she was giving. “Let’s just say, I’ll most likely be looking for another job.”
Sarah looked back toward the dining room. “Uh oh, that doesn’t sound good. What happened?”
“What didn’t?” Jane said and then sighed. “Have you ever had a customer who makes you so nervous you can’t even remember your name?” Before Sarah could answer, Jane groaned. “Shit. That’s what he asked me! God, he must think I’m a total moron.” She went on to fill Sarah in on how she’d stumbled over her words and made an idiot out of herself. “So, as I said, it’s been nice working with you.”
Sarah smiled and turned her attention back to Jane, reaching over to pat her hand. “I can see why you might be a bit flustered. That is one incredibly handsome hunk. I can think of all sorts of ways to service him.” Jane groaned and Sarah laughed. “Relax. I’m sure you’re overreacting. Just sashay over there, give him one of your smiles, and bat those long eyelashes. By the time he pays the check, I’ll bet you’ll find a nice fat tip to thank you for all your personal… service.”
Jane could feel her face heat even as she slapped Sarah’s hand away. “Ha, ha, very funny. I just hope he is as forgiving as he is handsome.” Picking up the silver tray that held her customers’ drinks, she gently set her foot down, grateful that it felt as if her ankle would hold her without too much discomfort. Taking her first step, she had to fight not to flush yet again when Sarah gave another piece of advice.
“Oh, and another button undone would go a long way to having him forget his own name. I really would hate to have to find another roomie.”
Jane didn’t bother to answer. She would give the best service she could as she really couldn’t afford to lose her job. Not when she was so close to reaching her goal. She approached the table, her attention on the glasses on her tray. Looking up, she almost stumbled again, the liquor sloshing a bit in the glasses as the tray shook in her hands. The man who would most likely be handing her her last paycheck was still talking with her customers. Well, she couldn’t just stand there, and as much as she wanted to knock back both drinks herself, until she got fired, she had a job to do. Slapping a smile on her face, she approached the table, incredibly relieved when her boss stepped away, giving her a smile and a nod… not the look of ‘your ass is grass’ that she had expected.
She placed a thick white napkin down at each place. “Johnnie Walker, three ice cubes,” she said, setting the heavy crystal rock glass containing the scotch down first. She hoped that by bringing Mr. Lawson his preferred brand, he’d remember she wasn’t usually so… so flustered. Picking up the snifter, her hand shook just a bit as she placed it on the other napkin. “Your cognac.”
Lifting her eyes, she met his. “You’re very welcome, Master… I mean, Mr. Masterson.” Damn it! What was it about this man that had her twisting her words?
“That’s quite all right, Miss…”
Forget Sarah’s prediction, she was the one who’d forgotten her own name… again. Her breath caught in her throat as his hand lifted toward her. When his fingers touched her, she gasped, her nipples tightening instantly even though he wasn’t touching her breasts. Instead, he was brushing her hair back, and as she stared down at his hand, she not only saw her blouse did not hide the effect of his touch, but she also saw the oval tag pinned to the fabric. He wasn’t attempting to cop a feel—he was simply reading her nametag.
“Oh—my name, um, it’s Jane… Jane Knight.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jane,” he said, dropping his hand and wrapping his fingers around the bowl of his glass, lifting it and giving it a swirl. “It’s a very pretty name.”
Jane watched as he lifted the snifter to his mouth, inhaling the aroma of the expensive brandy before allowing the first sip to pass his lips. Realizing that she was actually running the tip of her tongue along her bottom lip, she instantly pulled it back inside her mouth. “Um… thanks.”
“Excuse me?” Turning her head, she addressed Mr. Lawson. Why did she feel he was chastising her? What was she missing? He leaned a bit toward her.
“Respect. Manners go a long way in seeking forgiveness.”
Manners? Forgiveness? What was that supposed to mean? She turned back to Mr. Masterson, suddenly wondering why she felt so out of her element. “I’m… um, thank you, sir. I don’t know what…”
“Relax, Jane. Edward tends to be a bit grumpy when he’s separated from his wife for too long. You’re doing fine.”
Jane could picture a very pretty woman who often dined with Mr. Lawson. “Oh, I hope your wife isn’t ill?”
Edward chuckled. “No, she might not be feeling very well right now, but it’s not due to sickness. But, thank you for your concern.”
His response didn’t make a great deal of sense to Jane, but she didn’t know what else to say. “Well, I do hope she feels better soon.” Turning back to Mr. Masterson, she said, “Thank you, sir, I appreciate your kindness,” she said, again feeling a ridiculous pleasure at his words. “I don’t know why I’m… well, I’m usually not so…” At his smile, she felt a fluttering in her stomach, not able to voice the reason why she was so flustered as she truly didn’t understand it herself.
“Are you ready to take my order?”
“Your order?” It took her a second to remember her duties before she gasped. “Oh, for dinner. Of course, I mean, yes, sir. What would you like?”
“The wedge salad, prime rib and… which would you recommend, the baked or mashed potatoes?”
“Either is an excellent choice, but the mashed does contain a lot of garlic in case you… uh… either is great!” As his eyebrow quirked again, she grimaced. Great, he’d think she either was giving him a warning about some talisman to keep him safe from a vampire attack or that he might want to consider his breath in case he planned on kissing anyone after dinner. A wish that he’d choose to lock lips with her had her cheeks heating and her pulse racing.
“Good advice. I’ll take the baked potato.”
She took Mr. Lawson’s order as well and then turned away, trying to walk without limping to the kitchen where she could finally attempt to pull herself together.
“Sawyer, you are going to give the poor girl a stroke.”
“Me? I’m not the one dropping innuendoes,” Sawyer Masterson said, watching as the young woman practically ran across the floor, noticing her wince and the slight hop as she pushed through the door. Had she injured herself in those ridiculous heels? His fingers flexed as he imagined pulling her onto his lap, reaching down to remove the shoe, and then massaging her trim ankle.
Looking across the table, he saw Edward grinning. “What?”
“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you? What are you thinking about?”
Sawyer shrugged. “Nothing in particular.”
“Bullshit. I’m willing to bet that you’re wondering about little Jane. You can’t tell me that you missed how she barely kept herself from falling to her knees before you.”
“Is she why you chose this particular restaurant? I’ve told you before, I really don’t need any help—”
“Double bullshit. If you weren’t interested in finding your own Little, you never would have contacted the agency. Face it, it’s not easy to find the perfect mate, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about in seeking a bit of help. Our proclivities aren’t those of most men and put the majority of women out of the running from the get-go.”
Sawyer glanced toward the door where Jane had disappeared. “I realize that you believe you have some sort of sixth sense, but the odds of this working out are pretty astronomical.”
Edward grinned. “People do win the lottery, you know. Besides, Miss Knight practically glows with the need to serve, and I don’t mean drinks and food. Don’t be an ass, Sawyer. You’ve not been able to keep your eyes off her since the moment we walked in. Even if it winds up she is not the one, at least you won’t kick yourself because you never even offered her the choice.”
Sawyer couldn’t deny he’d felt something from the moment he’d watched the young woman approach their table. On the outside, she ticked every one of his boxes. She was petite, her black hair was long and wavy, her eyes were the color of violets and that tongue… he’d only seen the very tip, but when she’d run it along her bottom lip, his cock had hardened at the thought of her kneeling before him, eyes shimmering with tears from the punishment he’d just delivered for her cursing, and her mouth obediently opening when instructed, her sweet tongue ready to lick along his shaft as she performed her penance. Fuck, even thinking about how it would feel having the warm wetness of her mouth engulfing him had his cock twitching again.
Edward’s chuckle had his head jerking back to his friend. “Face it, you’re a goner.” He nodded toward the door, and Sawyer turned to see Jane slowly walking toward them, a huge tray balanced on one shoulder. When his instinct was to jump up, relieve her of the burden while scolding her for carrying something far too heavy, he knew Edward was correct. The only thing remaining was to see if his initial reaction about Jane’s fumbling over her words, the address she blushed after saying, and her offer to serve meant she was a natural submissive. There was only one way to find out.
Though he ate the food set before him, his main attention was on Jane. She seemed to have gotten better control of herself as she served her other customers. And yet whenever he caught her eye, she’d instantly lower her gaze as her cheeks pinkened. At the end of the meal, she offered them coffee and dessert, and though not a man who frequently indulged in sweets, he asked what she’d recommend.
“Our pastry chef is a genius,” she said with obvious pleasure. “Anything he offers is wonderful. I’ll bring you the tray—”
“That’s not necessary. Just bring me whatever is your favorite and a coffee, black.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, the blush again blooming up from her neck to settle in her cheeks. All he could think about was how her nether set of cheeks would look with a pink blush put there by his hand.
He didn’t have to look across the table to know that Edward was enjoying himself immensely. The men had known each other for years and shared a great deal of the same interests. Hell, they’d discovered the fact that they preferred their women submissive while in college and had gone on to learn that they each wanted a woman who, though adult, desired to be allowed to retreat into childhood when life became overwhelming. A woman who gave control over to their chosen dom or, as it was called in their lifestyle, their ‘daddy.’
With the arrival of a huge, seven-layer piece of chocolate cake, he knew that Jane had a sweet tooth. Her smile showed her pleasure as she set it down before him. “There is a raspberry purée between each layer and the dark chocolate ganache icing is simply to die for.” His laugh had her eyes meeting his and for the first time, she joined in his amusement with a giggle that had his cock lengthening yet again. “I know, I sound silly, but I promise, it is the most sinful thing on earth.”
“Really?” At her nod, he grinned and quirked his eyebrow. “It looks absolutely delicious, I agree, but, little one, I can think of far more sinful things to enjoy.”
Her gasp and widening of her eyes, her nipples almost jumping to attention, and the fact that he could swear he could detect the scent of her arousal made his next move so very easy. Never taking his eyes from her, he filled his fork with a bite of the dessert and lifted it… not to his lips, but to hers.
“Open.” If ever she asked how he’d known she would be his, he’d be able to state the exact moment. Her instant obedience, her acceptance of the bite, the closing of her lips around the tines of the utensil, and her softly uttered moan of pleasure would forever be imprinted on his brain.
“Good girl,” he softly praised, sliding the fork from her mouth. When her tongue made a reappearance, licking along her lip, his cock turned into a steel rod. Wishing he could be tasting something far more enticing, he took a bite of cake. Swallowing, he nodded. “Excellent choice, Jane. It is delicious.”
“I… I’m glad, sir.” The moment was broken when a crash and the sound of breaking glass rang out. He watched her as she jerked back a step, her eyes scanning the table as if expecting that she’d caused the commotion.
“Relax, little one. It wasn’t you.”
“Oh… good. Um, I’ll… I’ll bring you the check.” Not waiting to hear if that would be acceptable, she spun away and was soon out of sight.
Sawyer set down his fork. The pleasure had been in watching her enjoy it. Picking up his coffee cup, he took a sip and shook his head as Edward remained silent, though Sawyer knew it was killing the man. “Fine, you are right. She seems perfect.”
“I’m far too refined to tell you, ‘I told you so,’ but, well, I told you so,” Edward said, finishing his piece of cheesecake and sitting back. “I’ve done my part. The rest is up to you. Use the card, Sawyer. I have no doubt you won’t be disappointed.”
Within moments, Jane was back, placing the leather bill folder onto the table. “I hope you enjoyed your evening. It was my sincere pleasure to… to serve you.”
“And it was mine to have you do so,” Sawyer said. She blushed, nodded, and turned away. He pulled his wallet from his jacket. After using the pen provided, he slipped some bills inside the folder before closing it. As he stood, he could never remember a single time in his life when he had been more reluctant to call it a night. Still, he knew that Edward was only partially correct. The rest wasn’t up to him… it would be up to Jane.