Abby’s breath caught at the back of her throat. As she tested the bonds that held her fast to the hard wooden chair, she knew that there was no chance of escape. Even if she wanted to, she would not be able to free herself from the silken ropes that held her so ruthlessly in position. Sitting there, open and ready for him, her legs spread wide apart, there was nothing she could do but wait. Her arms were bound tight behind her, tied together with a thick leather strap at the elbows so her naked breasts were thrust out in front of her.
She shifted nervously, moving as much as she was able, trying to bring her legs together, just a little, to assuage the aching need to be taken by him that was threatening to consume her. She needed nothing more than to feel him inside her, for him to pound furiously into her helpless body until they were both thoroughly spent.
Anticipation bristled through her entire body, setting every nerve alight with heightened sensation. With her eyes covered by a thick band of black satin, she could see nothing, but she sensed his presence in the room. He didn’t need to speak for her to know that he was there. Her body belonged to him. Completely. There was no question of that. It came alive when he was near.
As she waited, she had no idea what the night might bring. Would it be pleasure or pain? Most likely, it would be a delicious combination of both. After a punishment there usually came a reward. Unless, of course, she had failed to accept the punishment with good grace. Then she would be put to bed, alone and unfulfilled, to contemplate the error of her ways. Forbidden from touching herself, she would be left squirming with unquenchable need.
As he stalked closer, he spoke to her in that rich, velvety timbre of his.
“You look very beautiful sitting there waiting for me.” His words were like a caress. “But there seems to be something missing.”
Knowing that she was not permitted to speak, Abby cocked her head, the question she could not ask written on her face.
“A little piece of jewelry,” Marcus said in response. “Something silver, perhaps.”
He was close now, leaning in to whisper in her ear. The warmth of his breath on her skin made her shiver in anticipation.
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, Abigail. First I’m going to suck on those gorgeous pink nipples until they’re nice and hard. Then I’m going to adorn them with these beautiful little clamps.”
Abby moved restlessly on the seat as she realized he was talking about the bejeweled butterfly clamps he had introduced her to the last time he had punished her.
“When they’re fastened nice and tight, then you’ll be ready to feel the full impact of the flogger on those beautiful breasts of yours.”
His words alone were enough to send a flood of moisture rushing to her pussy. Arching her back, she pushed her beautifully plump breasts out, offering her delicate rosebud nipples in unconscious invitation for him to apply the silver clamps he preferred.
She felt the merest brush of his fingertips against her highly sensitized skin…
Abby was jolted from her reverie by the sound of a man clearing his throat. Startled back to the present, Abby looked up to see a uniformed policeman standing over her, his brow furrowed deeply in concern.
“Are you okay there, miss?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.” Her response came across as frantic, the rushed words the result of her embarrassment as she realized that her cheeks had become flushed and her breathing had grown rapid. How long had he been standing there without her noticing as she indulged in erotic daydreams? Could he have any idea of the thoughts that had been going through her head? She was sure the evidence of where her mind had taken her was written all over her reddened face.
“You’re sure you’re okay?” the older man asked gently.
“Yes, really, I’m alright.”
She spoke the words but there was no weight behind them. How could there be when she was anything but fine. Whatever challenges it had posed, life with Marcus had never been dull. Over the past few months, however, her days had become agonizingly routine. Nothing out of the ordinary happened anymore. In fact, there was barely anything to get out of bed for. All she had to look forward to was the daily grind of trying to make ends meet now that she was out in the world alone. Realizing that the police officer was still standing there as she ruminated on her misfortunes, she gave a thin smile.
“I promise you I’m okay. It’s just that I got turned down for a job I really wanted.” Feeling as though she needed to illustrate her point, she waved the letter she was still clutching in her right hand. It contained nothing new, of course. The same discouraging words she’d read a hundred times before were written on the page. “It seems I have great qualifications but not enough experience.”
Something she could thank Marcus for, she supposed. He had blocked every attempt she had made to seek a role for herself, other than that of his wife. Even though the letter was pretty much what she’d come to expect, it was still disappointing to see the words laid out in stark black and white yet again. Sighing heavily, Abby twisted the gold wedding band she might never have the heart to remove around on her finger.
“Ah, I see. That’s a shame.” The police officer’s tone was gentle, laced with pity. “Well, at least you’ve got someone to go home to.”
He couldn’t realize how far from the truth that statement was. His well-intentioned words caused a heaviness to sink down into her chest. Ironically, perhaps, Marcus was the one person she wished she could turn to right now. He would know exactly how to make her feel better about this latest rejection. She missed him far more than she would ever care to admit. For such a long time, she had struggled against his dominant nature but now all she wanted was to feel the comfort of his arms around her as he gently stroked her hair and whispered words of reassurance in her ear. There were so many things she missed about her husband. His strength and compassion. The way he made her feel as though she was the most precious thing in his life. She even missed the sharp sting of his hand on her bare bottom as he punished her for thinking badly of herself.
Feeling stifled by his rules, she had walked out on their marriage six months ago. She’d been determined to forge an independent life for herself. Some joke that had turned out to be! The only way she’d managed to keep her head above water for as long as she had was by pawning the diamond ring he’d given her when they got engaged.
“Anyway, young lady, I think you ought to be getting home. It really isn’t safe for you to be out here on your own after dark.”
Abby was a little startled to realize that the sky had actually grown dark around her. She’d been sitting in the park all afternoon, staring at the letter as though she could somehow will the news it carried to change. She didn’t need the police officer, whose authoritative stance reminded her of her overprotective husband, to tell her that it wasn’t safe to be out here by herself.
“Of course. I should get out of here.”
“Let me walk you to the exit.” The officer’s tone brooked no argument. “The least I can do is see you safely to the street.”
Abby smiled and allowed the older man to walk her to the gates of the park. She knew that Marcus would disapprove of her placing her trust in a strange man but he was a police officer. And anyway, it was nice to have someone looking out for her after all this time on her own. She hadn’t realized until that moment just how much she missed that.
“You’ll go straight home now?” he checked as they left the quiet of the park behind and stepped out into the bustling streets, packed with people making their nightly journey home.
“Yes, of course, Officer,” Abby confirmed. She had no desire to loiter on the streets of London after dark. Especially not in this part of the city. She had never got used to living amongst so many people. Coming from a small country town, she found it unsettling. “Thank you for your assistance.”
“It was my pleasure, Mrs. Donovan. Take care now.”
Had she told him her name? Abby didn’t think so. She turned to ask him how he knew who she was, but he had already disappeared back into the park. A thrill went through her. Had he been following her at the request of her husband? She shook off that thought. Marcus had not cared enough to try to contact her once she’d walked out on him. He was hardly going to engage the services of the police force to protect her. The policeman had probably recognized her from some event or another. It wasn’t worth worrying about.
As reluctant as she was, Abby began to make the ten-minute walk back to her apartment. If you could call a single room with a minuscule bathroom an apartment. It was all she’d been able to afford. Her plan to get a job and move somewhere nicer hadn’t yet come to fruition.
When she reached the building, a ramshackle monstrosity from the nineteen seventies, she felt her flagging spirits sink even lower. The whole place was falling apart at the seams. It was crazy. Just a few short months ago, she’d been living in the lap of luxury in a beautiful Georgian townhouse. Every whim she’d experienced had been immediately catered to. More than that, she’d known the feeling of being loved. She was beginning to wonder whether her independence was worth giving all that up.
Spotting an elderly neighbor also heading back into the building, she called out a friendly greeting.
“Good evening, Mrs. Denning.”
“I don’t see what’s good about it,” the older woman spat.
Abby let out a frustrated breath. Since moving into the building, she’d tried to be friendly with all of her neighbors, most of whom were fairly elderly, but she’d soon realized that many of them had grown incredibly bitter after years of being alone. Is that what the future held in store for her? If she stayed here much longer, would she end up the same way? That was a sobering thought.
Her apartment was located on the fifth floor. The elevator had been out of order ever since she had moved in so there was no choice but to make her way up the stairs. As she reached the corridor leading to the apartment, a little out of breath, she was stopped in her tracks. Outside her door, there were boxes. Large cardboard boxes and a battered suitcase that she recognized as her own. It took her a moment to register the fact that all of her belongings, such as they were, had been piled up in the corridor. As she approached the apartment, she spotted the notice of eviction stuck to the door. She didn’t need to try the key in the lock to know it wouldn’t fit. For reasons she couldn’t understand, she’d been kicked out.
With next to nothing left in her bank account and no savings to fall back on, she knew she was pretty much out of options. Legs crumpling beneath her, she sank to the floor. For long minutes she just sat there, dazed, trying to figure out what to do, until a pair of slippered feet shuffled into view. Looking up into the face of the building’s caretaker, she saw no hint of regret that she was being thrown out of her home.
“Building’s been sold,” he said by way of an explanation. “The new owner doesn’t want any trouble around here.”
“Trouble? What trouble have I ever caused?” Abby demanded as she struggled to her feet. “I keep myself to myself. I pay my rent on time.” At least, she had up until now, but the new landlord would have no way of knowing that she couldn’t afford to pay her rent next month.
“Yeah, but I’m not talking about the rent. I don’t know what trouble you’ve got yourself in, young lady, but the new owner doesn’t want anything like that around here.”
Now Abby was seriously confused.
“I am sorry, Mr. Bieniecki, but I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” Abby had never gotten so much as a single parking ticket in her life. Of course, she hadn’t actually been behind the wheel of a car since getting her license. It was one of a long line of things Marcus would not allow. Afraid that she would get in an accident, he had insisted that she have one of his men drive her wherever she wanted to go. “What sort of trouble?”
The older man rubbed his stubbled chin thoughtfully. “Well, I don’t know exactly, but it must be pretty serious for them to be keeping such a close eye on you.” Reading the look of bemusement on her face, he explained. “That fancy black car that’s been parked across the street. The men in it follow you whenever you leave the building.”
Abby cursed under her breath. Her suspicion that she’d been followed had already been pricked by the policeman she’d encountered but now she knew for sure. How could she not have known? Was she really so oblivious to the world around her? For the first few weeks after leaving Marcus, she’d been cautious, checking to see if he’d sent men to spy on her, but there had been no sign of anyone. Clearly she wasn’t as observant as she’d imagined herself to be.
“Now, I am sorry, miss, but you’re going to have to leave.” The older man at least had the grace to look uncomfortable at the position he was putting her in. “Do you want me to call you a taxi?”
To go where? Abby wondered as she shook her head. There really was nowhere for her to go but, if her suspicions about the occupants of the mysterious black vehicle Mr. Bieniecki had told her about were correct and they were her husband’s men, she wouldn’t have any trouble getting a ride. She wondered if the new owner of the building might be Marcus. She wouldn’t put it past him to try to regain control of her life by forcing her out of her new home.
Leaving the boxes in the hallway where they sat, she grabbed hold of her suitcase and dragged it behind her, bumping it down the stairs and out into the street. Almost as soon as she stepped out onto the pavement, she spotted a large black vehicle parked across the street. It was so conspicuous amongst the battered cars that lined the road that she couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before now. She was on the verge of crossing the road to confront the men inside it when a large silver Mercedes suddenly screeched to a halt in front of her. The black car, which she had thought belonged to her husband’s men, suddenly roared off down the road, leaving Abby feeling more than a little confused.
Her jaw stiffened as a familiar figure got out of the silver vehicle and she found herself having to crane her neck to look up into the impassive face of Jackson Davies, her husband’s oldest friend and head of security as his massive, muscular body crowded in on her.
“Mrs. Donovan. We’d like you to come with us.” The request, drawn out on his American drawl, sounded polite enough but the edge to his tone told her that if she didn’t do as he asked, he would show no hesitation in picking her up and bundling her unceremoniously into the back of the car. It wouldn’t be the first time he had manhandled her at his employer’s request. Trusting Jackson more than any other man alive, Marcus had sometimes invited the sullen bodyguard to join him when he disciplined Abby. Just thinking about the last time she had felt Jackson’s rough hands on her naked breasts as he held them on display for her husband made Abby blush deeply.
“What about my things?” Abby asked peevishly as she was hustled toward the open door of the vehicle. There was nothing of value amongst her belongings, but she was aggrieved at being ambushed like this.
“They’ll be taken care of.”
As if by magic, another car pulled up alongside them and two men got out. At Jackson’s nod, one disappeared into the building and the other picked up her suitcase to load into the trunk. Abby got into the back of the first car as directed and slid across the seat, coming up against the hard, solid frame of another of Marcus’ bodyguards. A man of her husband’s wealth and influence needed an impressive security team around him but it was something she’d always struggled with. She hated the feeling of being constantly surrounded by people. That there was a barrier in place between her and the outside world. Knowing that every move she made was being watched. Scrutinized. Judged and found lacking.
For a moment, Jackson held back outside of the vehicle, speaking quietly into his cellphone. From the tautness in his shoulders, Abby could tell that he was tense. Something was going on. Something to do with the black car, perhaps. It had taken off pretty fast when her husband’s security team pulled up and Mr. Bieniecki had told her that the men inside it had been watching her. If the men didn’t work for Marcus, then who were they? She shuddered to think.
She barely had time to worry about the implications of that before Jackson slid onto the seat next to her, effectively hemming her in. Flanked on either side by an unmovable wall of muscle, Abby couldn’t prevent a snort of disbelief from escaping her as the locks clicked ominously shut.
“Something the matter, Mrs. Donovan?” Jackson challenged.
“Locking the doors is a bit much,” Abby snorted. “Do you really think I’d be stupid enough to try to get out past you?”
“Who knows what you’d be stupid enough to try.” His response was typically dismissive. “You haven’t exactly shown sound judgment lately.”
“How dare you!” Abby retorted. “I hardly think what I do is any of your business.”
“But it is my business.” He turned toward her, his face coming within a hair’s breadth of hers. “It is very much my business when I’m the one who has to fix the damage you cause.” For a moment he just stared at her, his darkly handsome features twisting into something Abby found incredibly intimidating. She was finally able to let out the breath she’d been holding when he sat back and began to fish about in his jacket pocket. He retrieved a small black box and thrust it toward her. “Here. Put that on before Marcus sees you. He was not happy when he found out you pawned it.”
Feeling the full force of his disdain, Abby took the box. Even though she knew exactly what it contained, she was wary as she opened it. Nestled on a bed of blue silk was her engagement ring. Its cluster of flawless diamonds winked mockingly up at her and for a moment she felt a pang of regret that she’d ever thought to barter it away. It had broken her heart to part with it but she’d been desperate. Knowing that it was pointless to make excuses to Jackson, she slipped the ring wordlessly onto her finger.
Slumping back in her seat, she surrendered herself to the inevitability of her situation. She was going to come face to face with Marcus after six months without any contact. A shudder slid down her spine. Her estranged husband was a proud man, unafraid to show his dominant side in either his business or personal life. Having his wife walk out on him must have been a major blow to his ego. Abby couldn’t help but wonder if he intended to punish her for leaving him. Strangely, the very thought of what he might do sent a delicious shudder through her entire body. She tried to suppress the image of being draped over his knee, bared to the waist as he listed her transgressions in that seductively stern tone he adopted when disciplining her. Surely, that was the last thing she wanted? To let him have that sort of control over her, to allow him to demonstrate his mastery over her body. Because there was no doubt, he had possessed her completely. Abby shook off those troublingly enticing thoughts. Things were different now. They had to be. No matter how much she loved Marcus, she needed something more for herself. She wanted a career she could be proud of, the freedom to be her own woman.
Yet there was that part of her that craved his dominance. It was a puzzle she had no idea how to untangle. Perhaps there was some middle ground, a compromise that would suit them both. If their time apart had affected Marcus as deeply as it had her, then perhaps he would be willing to meet her halfway. They might be able to reset the boundaries of their relationship. A smile spread across Abby’s face. Suddenly she couldn’t wait to see him again.