Bella sipped her iced coffee through the blue and white striped straw while Mojo, the Pekingese, sniffed around the base of an old oak tree between the sidewalk and the street. Of all her ‘clients,’ Mojo was the best behaved. Most of the dogs she walked had never been properly leash trained, pulling her down the street in pursuit of squirrels or stray cats, barking loudly at other dogs, or, like the dachshund puppy she’d recently started caring for, peeing on the feet of anyone who talked to them. She’d started the dog walking business as a way to make money while she finished her master’s degree in psychology, but it had turned out to be more rewarding than she’d thought it would be. The regular exercise and fresh air kept her feeling revived, and she loved the dogs, even the worst behaved ones. The best part was she could make her own work schedule, walking dogs in between classes and her internship.
Mojo lived just a few blocks from Bella’s apartment, in her Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, so after dropping the small dog off at his home, she headed back to the apartment in an old brick three flat she shared with her roommate Claire. It was a gorgeous spring day, bright and sunny, and Bella couldn’t help smiling as she made her way down the sidewalk. Things were going well at school, and she was happy with her job. But it was Friday afternoon, she had no studying to do over the weekend, and she planned to spend the next two days just relaxing.
On her block, she slowed down as she approached The Castle. It wasn’t really a castle, but that’s what she and Claire called it. It was a double lot surrounded by a tall wrought-iron fence, both imposing and classic. Inside the gate two old brick townhouses had been converted to one huge house. Green vines climbed up and over the red brick, giving it the appearance of a home in the country rather than a house in the middle of a big city. Though there wasn’t much room for a front lawn, the grass there was lusciously green and perfectly manicured, and two stone lions sat on either side of the wide walkway that led to the rich mahogany front door. The gorgeous house stuck out, huge and decadent in the middle of a half-crumbling and half-gentrifying neighborhood. The best thing about the house though, far and away, were the two men who appeared to live there.
Claire had noticed them first, excitedly telling Bella about them one day. “Oh. My. God,” she’d said, her brown curls dancing around her shoulders. “You will not believe the hotties living in that huge house down the street!” It had been their second day in the new apartment, and so, on the guise of just going for a walk, they passed the house. Claire was right. They were gorgeous. One was blond and lean, wearing white shorts, a light blue polo shirt, and a ridiculously smooth and even tan. The other was dark and mysterious, with brooding eyes and dark brown hair, so dark it was almost black. It was just long enough to curl around his ears and down onto his forehead. He had on a pair of dark wash jeans and an untucked button-down shirt, blindingly white. They were inside their fenced front yard tossing around a ball for a fluffy brown mutt.
The dark one looked up suddenly and caught Bella staring. In that second she was aware of nothing except his eyes as they held her gaze. They were brown, flecked with gold. Even from the sidewalk she could see the glint coming from them, equally sexy and dangerous. Every instinct she had told her to look away, to just keep walking, but she couldn’t. She felt captive, which was stupid. They were only looking at each other. Somewhere far away she heard Claire giggling, her silly embarrassed-not-embarrassed laugh. It wasn’t until Claire tugged on her hand that she awoke from whatever it was she was in. A trance? A dream?
“Come on,” Claire was saying, pulling her away and down the sidewalk. “You were, like, hypnotized or something, Bella!”
“Or something,” Bella whispered, trying to understand what had happened a second ago. She’d never been so overwhelmed by someone with just one look. One arrogant, confident, smoldering look.
“I told you they were hot, didn’t I?”
Bella nodded, then shook the haze away. “You always find the hottest guys, Claire. And they live right down the block from us!”
“Yeah. Too bad they’re gay, though,” replied Claire ruefully.
“Gay? I don’t think… He looked…” It wasn’t possible. There was no way she could have shared such an intense moment with someone who wasn’t even attracted to girls. Still, the more she thought about it, the more it made sense.
“Um, two sexy, in shape, well-dressed men playing with their dog in the front yard? It’s like a commercial for homeowners’ insurance or cream cheese or something.” Claire tossed her hair back behind her shoulders and shrugged. “But we can still look, right? Nothing like some good eye candy just down the block.”
Through the fall and winter Bella had mostly forgotten about the dark-haired guy, had mostly resigned herself to the fact that he probably was gay, like Claire had said. Still, he kept popping up in her fantasies, his eyes on hers while he took control, touched her, had his way with her. And every time she passed The Castle, she felt a flutter of excitement in her stomach at the thought of seeing him again. But she’d only caught a glimpse or two of him, and she was never close enough to catch his eye and see if the connection happened again.
Today, nobody was out, and she swallowed down a tiny taste of disappointment with her sip of iced coffee as she continued on to her apartment. Oh, well. There was Chinese food to order, beers to drink, and a bar to go to with Claire.
But then she heard a voice. “Excuse me!”
She stopped and turned. Standing there was the blond guy from The Castle, dressed in skinny jeans and impossibly white Keds. He had on a tight lemon yellow T-shirt and a white sweater thrown casually over his shoulders. His dog wagged its tail eagerly as Bella approached.
“Hi,” said the guy. “I’m Charles? And this is Max.” He nodded at the dog, whose entire body was wiggling as Bella approached and bent down to pet it.
“I’m Bella,” she said.
“You walk dogs, right?” asked Charles. “I’ve seen you around the neighborhood,” he explained.
“I do,” she said. “Here.” She dug into her pocket and pulled out a slightly wrinkled business card she’d printed at home with her information on it. “You know, in case you’re interested,” she said with a shrug.
“Actually, I am. My partner and I are going out of town, and we need someone to take care of Max for a few days. To come over and feed him and walk him at least twice a day. Are you available next week?”
Bella nodded, feeling both excitement and disappointment. It would be awesome to see the inside of The Castle, and to make some more money. But the finality of Charles talking about his ‘partner’ clinched Claire’s theory. “I’m free,” she said. “Why don’t you give me a call this weekend to go over details and my rates.”
“Excellent,” said Charles. “Max already likes you!”
It was true. While Bella petted him, Max lay down on the sidewalk so she could rub his belly, and when Charles tugged gently at the leash to get him to stand up he whined softly, looking over at Bella as he did.
“It’s OK, buddy,” said Bella to the dog. “We’ll hang out next week. Lots.”
“I’m so glad I ran into you today,” said Charles. “I can tell this is going to work out well.”
As she walked back to her apartment, Charles called over his shoulder, “Cute belt, by the way!”
“Thanks,” she repeated with a smile.
“You have to let me see the inside!” said Claire, then shook her head and took a long drink from the frosty green Heineken bottle she was holding. “I can’t believe you’re finally going to get inside The Castle.”
“I know, right? And their dog? Max? Is a total cutie. And when I told Charles my normal rates, he said he’d pay double because they wanted, how did he phrase it? Extra special care for their dog.”
The girls were lounging on their futon couch in the living room, playing reruns of Reign in the background but not really watching the show.
“Double?” asked Claire, her mouth dropping open.
Bella nodded. “I mean, I’m going to be doing some house sitting too. Watering plants. Bringing in the mail. Keeping an eye on things, you know.”
Bella took long drink from her bottle of beer, swallowing the cold, satisfying liquid and sighing. “Mostly? I’m excited because I’m so close to having enough for the down payment!” She was saving for a down payment on her late grandmother’s house, the house she practically grew up in and wanted to buy and rehab more than anything. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph, an elderly couple, were currently living in it, but they needed to move soon into an assisted-living complex since their health was deteriorating. They’d agreed to wait as long as they could to sell the house, so Bella was saving as much and as quickly as possible.
“So we’re sure they’re gay, then, right?” asked Claire, putting her beer on the coffee table and getting up to check her reflection in the darkened windows. They were pre-drinking before the bar.
“Well, he had on sparkling white sneakers. And a sweater around his shoulders. And he complimented me on my belt. Oh, and there was also the part where he referred to his partner.”
Claire shook her head in mock sadness. “Oh, well. They’re both so pretty, though. They make a cute couple.”
“They do,” said Bella, but she couldn’t help remembering how looking into the dark-haired guy’s eyes had sent electric shocks all through her body. How many times she’d touched herself, imagining it was his hands on her skin. And how months had passed since that happened, but she still couldn’t get him out of her mind.
At three, Bella headed over to The Castle to meet Charles. The plan was for him to show her around and give her a tour, since he and his partner were leaving for their trip the next day. The wrought-iron gate around the house wasn’t locked, but it took Bella a few seconds to figure out how to open the fancy clasp that held it shut. As she approached the front door, Max’s eager barking greeted her from behind the imposing front door, and she rang the bell tentatively, hearing the deep chime sound inside the house.
A few seconds later the door opened, and Bella smiled in anticipation of seeing Charles’ happy grin. But her smile disappeared, replaced by shock as she gasped. Instead of Charles, the other man stood before her. Tall. Imposing. His almost black hair was thick, his dark brown eyes intense as they stared down at her. He was wearing what looked like an expensive suit, and his jaw was clean and smooth, as though he’d just shaved. Handsome didn’t begin to describe his perfectly sculpted face and his body, lean but strong. His physique and demeanor emanated domination, as though he had power over everyone and everything.
“Bella.” His voice was low.
“Yes,” she replied, her voice scratchy. She cleared her throat. “Yes,” she repeated.
“I’m Kane. Please come in.”
She followed him into the foyer, which was sparkling clean and neat. The space was large, the furniture expensive and minimal.
“I, um, was expecting Charles,” she managed to say, despite the weakness in her body. Why did she feel this way? Flustered? Intimidated? She was here to walk the guy’s dog. That was it. And he was gay. What was wrong with her?
He turned and looked at her, tilting his head appraisingly. One corner of his mouth lifted in an almost-smile. “This is my home, Bella, so it seems fitting that I should meet you before I leave things in your care, no?”
“Um, yes,” stammered Bella. She’d thought they both lived here, but apparently that wasn’t the case.
In her confusion over seeing Kane instead of Charles, she’d ignored Max, who was patiently sitting next to her, looking up with his big brown eyes. “Hey, Max!” she said, glad to have something else to focus on. She petted him, his tail wagging furiously against the marble floor.
“He likes you.” Kane’s voice was almost devoid of emotion, but Bella thought she heard a touch of relief. “Your job here is very simple,” he continued. “You’re to feed Max twice a day. Make sure he has fresh water. Walk him twice a day. There are a few plants in the kitchen I’d like you to water once while I’m gone. The only parts of the house you’ll need to be in are the living room and the kitchen. You can use the restroom down the hall if you need to. I request that you stay out of my office.” He gestured at a closed door.
“Got it,” said Bella. She couldn’t help a mental eye roll at his arrogant tone. As if she wanted to go into his office.
“You understand, yes?”
Jeez! “Yes,” she confirmed. “I will stay out of your office.”
He stared into her eyes, and for some reason, the ferocity in his made her knees weak. He was being a presumptuous asshole, assuming she’d want to snoop through his stuff, like he was some sort of celebrity. Yet deep down inside, she felt turned on by the forcefulness in his demeanor. It occurred to her suddenly, as she reeled in the sexuality he exuded, that maybe partner meant business partner rather than partner partner. She couldn’t ask, though. It wasn’t any of her business, and if his weirdness about her only being in two rooms of his house was any indication of his overall attitude, he wouldn’t welcome any personal questions.
“Good, then. You’ll start tomorrow. Do you have any questions?”
“Not really,” said Bella. Except: Are you gay? Why are you such as asshole? And, for herself: Why does this jerk turn me on? Because she couldn’t deny the tingle she felt between her legs every time he glanced at her with his forceful and piercing eyes.
“Good. I’ll pay you upon my return.” Briskly he strode to the front door.
“The key,” he said, reaching a hand into his suit-jacket pocket and retrieving a silver key on a thick silver key ring.
“Right. I guess I’ll need that,” said Bella with a nervous laugh.
She reached out her hand, and as Kane placed the key chain in it, her skin tingled as his fingers brushed over her palm.
“I can trust you, Bella, yes?” Kane stared hard into Bella’s eyes, and she took a step backward, even though he was only looking at her.
“Yes. Of course,” she said, feeling suddenly indignant, and straightening up her back. Why was he questioning her so hard? She knew how to walk a dog and take care of someone’s plants. It wasn’t exactly rocket science or high level accounting. “You can trust me. Sir,” she added, winking at him. If he was going to be a dick, she’d just make light of it.
For a second his eyes narrowed, and she swore she heard a low growling sound emanate from his throat. But then he pulled the door open and gestured at the outside. “I’ll be in touch, Bella,” he said in a low voice. “And I’ll see you in a week.”
Three days later, alone in the big house, Bella walked from room to room, admiring the sleek furniture and open spaces. This was what she wanted to do in her grandmother’s house, as soon as she saved up enough for renovations. She liked clean lines. Modern pieces. More open air than furniture. It would be a while before she was able to pay for fixing the house up, but that was all right, she thought, running one finger along the cool marble of the kitchen island. Under her feet the hardwood floors gleamed. She could wait. She just needed to secure the house before the old couple living there couldn’t wait any longer.
She wasn’t planning to stay too long, but she hated to leave Max alone, and the previous times she’d come she’d left almost immediately after taking care of Max. So she settled onto the simple but elegant gray couch in the living room to cuddle with him for a while before she headed home. She wasn’t sure if Max was allowed up on the couch—probably not, given its perfection and cleanliness and the stick-up-his-butt that Kane seemed to have about stuff—but he eagerly jumped up and lay down next to her, putting his head on her lap.
Bella checked her phone for a few minutes, but she felt distracted. Being alone at night in someone else’s house was weird. Not scary. Just different. And the truth was, her curiosity was piqued. She couldn’t stop thinking about Kane, about the smoldering look he gave her before he left, when he told her to stay out of his office. The presumption that she’d be interested enough to snoop through his stuff pissed her off. But what made her even madder was the fact that he’d been right. She was interested. He was unlike any man she’d met before. Rich. Tall. Sexy as hell. And more commanding—simply through the way he moved his body and the tone of his voice—than anyone else she’d ever encountered.
“Just one peek,” she whispered, gently removing Max’s head from her leg and getting up. In her socks, she slid down the hall Risky Business style, feeling childish but happy as she did. Max trotted after her, his nails clicking on the floor, but as soon as she got to Kane’s office, Max lay down immediately outside the door. His body had the stubborn set of a dog who was not going to move.
Huh, she thought. I guess he’d not allowed in there either.
When she turned the knob, Bella was surprised that the door wasn’t locked. For all he warnings she’d been given about not going in here, it seemed odd that it was so easy to enter. Of course, that must mean that Charles and Kane had trusted her. A moment of guilt almost stopped Bella, but then she shrugged and pushed the door inward.
The smell of rich leather greeted her. “Whoa,” she whispered. Kane’s office was huge, probably the size of her entire apartment, she thought, as she slowly made her way inside the room. The dark, rich wood of an imposing desk shone as she switched on the light. A warm glow filled the room now, and she continued in, her feet sliding over the smooth marble floor. She walked to the desk, idly running her fingers over the shiny surface, then continued investigating. Books filled a gorgeous wooden bookcase, and she scanned the titles. There were some on finance, a few on whiskey (she couldn’t help rolling her eyes at how pretentious that was), and some classic novels. To Kill a Mockingbird. One Hundred Years of Solitude. A book of poetry by T. S. Eliot.
Nice, she thought, touching the spine of the Eliot book. She liked poetry, though it seemed to be a fading art. She pulled the book out, surprised to see how old it was, and when she opened the front cover delicately she was even more shocked to see it was signed. Maybe valuable. Bella began to put it back, but she wanted to look at it. Read it. Carefully, of course.
Tucking the book under her arm, she continued exploring the room. There was a gorgeous brown leather couch, worn in that way that looked intentional rather than old, and she sat down, luxuriating in how good it felt. She got back up, though, to examine the walls. One had shelves built into it and, in the middle, what looked like the handle to a pull-down Murphy bed. Which was weird. Why would someone have a bed in his office, in his own home where, she supposed, he already had a bedroom? Probably multiple bedrooms. Maybe this served as a guest room? She shrugged, not giving in to her curiosity because it would be horrible if she pulled the bed down and couldn’t figure out how to get it back up again. On the shelves were some relics: an ancient-looking pocket watch; a framed old photo—maybe from the 1940s—of a couple holding hands outdoors; a bottle of liquor in a gorgeous teardrop-shaped bottle. Mortlach, it read. Under that was the number 70. She looked closer and read on the bottle: Distilled in 1938.
“Gross,” whispered Bella to herself. How could something that old taste good anymore? What would it be like, though, to have this much money that your home was decorated with exquisite old things that probably cost a fortune? And gorgeous modern things that were equally expensive, no doubt?
For just a few minutes, Bella wanted to feel rich so, with only a moment’s hesitation, she grabbed the bottle of Mortlach and, with the poetry book still under her other arm, she headed to the desk. She was going to sit there, like Kane probably did, and pretend this room was hers. This desk was hers. This first edition book of poetry too. And she was going to taste the scotch, which was probably disgusting but undoubtedly worth more money than she owned. Just one taste.
Even the desk chair felt rich as she settled down into it, pushing the laptop on the desk away so she had room. A glass, she thought. I need a glass. On the shelf by the scotch, a crystal decanter and set of gorgeously etched glasses shone, and she retrieved one of them quickly.
The bottle of scotch wasn’t full—it was obvious someone had drunk some already—but the liquid was fairly close to the top, so Bella was careful to pour only a small amount into her glass. Not enough so someone would notice. Kane seemed like he was probably meticulously anal, but even he wouldn’t be so bad that he actually measured the level of liquid in the bottle, would he? Sitting down once more, she sniffed the drink and wrinkled her nose. It didn’t smell bad, but it did smell strong. Still, she tilted the glass back and downed the liquid.
It was warm when it hit her throat, but she coughed from the taste, much, much stronger than the usual wine or cheap beer she drank. “Ew,” she whispered, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. There was something beautiful too, though, about the flavor. Maybe it was the power of persuasion, but it tasted expensive, like liquid gold. One more shot, she thought, aware that it was probably a drink to be sipped, with which you’d take your time, so this time she did sip, grimacing a little less each time.
She picked up the T. S. Eliot book and opened to a random page. She liked poetry. But right now she felt too on edge to focus. It felt like she was missing something, like this room—and Kane—held untold secrets and this was her chance to discover them. Which obviously she shouldn’t do. But he’d never find out. And it wasn’t like she was going to steal anything. She just wanted to look around a little more.
Body warm from the scotch, she decided to have one more drink. A tiny one. And then she’d put the bottle away, back on the shelf where she’d found it. Carefully she opened the bottle and tilted it, watching as the honey-colored liquid fell into her glass.
Max barked in the hallway, a loud snarly sound, and Bella jumped. She was aware, in the next split second, of her hand involuntarily opening its clutch on the bottle of scotch, but she was unable to stop it, and the bottle slid from her grasp, falling down to the marble floor. Midair her hands fumbled to catch it, and she almost did. At least she stopped its rapid descent. But still it fell to the floor, the gorgeous amber liquid trailing out of its mouth rapidly.
“Fuck! Oh fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Bella’s heart was pounding, her stomach rolling. What the fuck had just happened? What had she done? She took a deep breath, trying not to be sick, because that would just make a bigger mess, and she was in enough trouble right now as it was. Max had settled down again in the hallway; apparently it was just a false alarm. And meanwhile, although the bottle was still, miraculously, intact, she’d spilled almost the entire bottle of Kane’s expensive liquor.
On the desk, the scotch from her overturned glass ran in rivulets toward Kane’s laptop, and Bella snatched the computer and moved it to a chair. She did not need to ruin his laptop in addition to everything else!
She ran into the kitchen, where she found a roll of paper towels and returned to the office, tossing thick handfuls of the towels down to soak up the scotch.
What was she going to do? Her heart was pounding so loud she swore she could hear it, and her body was shaky with the horror of what she’d just done.
As she wiped up the floor, she considered her options and figured out a plan. Tomorrow she’d go to the liquor store and buy a new identical bottle. For now, just in case Kane came back early, she’d refill the bottle with the cheap whiskey her roommate had at their apartment.
Having a plan made her feel a tiny bit better. Not much better. But the terror she’d felt a few moments ago was dissipating. Everything would be fine. She would take care of it.
“I’ll be back, Max,” she said to the dog, who followed her to the door, wagging his tail. Then she dashed down the block to get the bottle from her apartment.
The Mortlach bottle was refilled with Claire’s liquor. The floor was cleaned up and as shiny as it had been when she arrived. She’d put the book of poetry back on the shelf. What else? She scanned the room, making sure it was perfect.
Kane’s computer. It sat on the chair, where she’d moved it, saving it from destruction by scotch. She’d put it back on the desk and go home. And tomorrow she’d buy a replacement of his stupid expensive scotch. And everything would be fine.
Bella set the laptop back onto the shiny surface, and as she did, the screen came alive. He must not have turned it off, she thought. That was fine. She’d just let it sit there until it went into sleep mode again. She scanned the room once more, making sure everything was in place so she could get out of here. But then she glanced at his screen.
She was looking at a directory of video files. They all had Sarah in their names. Sarah1. Sarah2. And so on.
“Just get out of here,” she whispered to herself, but curiosity kept her eyes glued to the screen. What kind of videos were they? And who was Sarah? And how wrong would it be, really, to just kind of sort of accidentally double-click on one of the videos?
Bella glanced around the room, because even though she knew both Charles and Kane were out of town, she felt nervous, like she was doing something wrong. OK, so she was. She’d done lots of things wrong already, starting with the fact that she’d entered Kane’s office when he’d strictly forbidden her to. And spilled his scotch, then filled the bottle with cheap liquor. And read his book of poetry. And snooped. Clicking on one of these videos, even though the computer was right there and she hadn’t turned it on herself, would be crossing an even more intimate line. She should just go. She’d done enough damage already.
Max lay in the hallway, and the house was silent. Nobody was here.
Almost without thought she clicked on one of the files, raptly staring at the screen while the video player loaded and the movie began. Staring into the camera was a beautiful woman’s face, and in the shot Bella could see also the woman’s arms, spread out to the sides. She was leaning the top of her body on a surface. A desk. This desk, it suddenly occurred to Bella, and, in the background, she saw the wall that was actually in front of her right now.
The woman appeared to have no clothes on, at least not on her top half, and Bella felt a pulse of heat run through her body. She should shut this video off. Right now. She should go home this instant. This video was private and personal, and Bella had no right to watch it.
But she couldn’t stop herself. She had to see this. Behind the woman she saw a man, and though the camera wasn’t focused on him it only took her a few seconds to realize it was Kane. Shirtless, his chest was ripped and firm, and, as he moved closer, she could see the button on the top of his jeans was undone, could see he was thick and hard beneath the denim. So not gay, then. Well, that was settled. In his hand was a leather paddle, and Bella gasped out loud.
He was going to spank this woman. “Oh, my god,” she whispered, barely able to believe what she was seeing.
For years, Bella had been secretly obsessed with the idea of spankings. When she watched porn on the Internet, that was what she searched for. But in her entire life, she’d never experienced it. Once, she’d mentioned it to a boyfriend, just to feel out his interest. “Would you ever spank a girl?” she’d asked. He’d been horrified, stating he’d never do something like that. A few times after that he’d smacked her ass in a rather lackluster way once or twice during sex. But that wasn’t what she wanted. Not even close. And most of the time when she was having sex, she imagined being spanked, imagined the pleasure that would come from submitting to a man, to accepting pain and pleasure and whatever else he offered. The fantasy of being dominated was what drove her to orgasm.
Now, seeing a guy she actually knew—or sort of knew, at least—spanking someone made it feel so much more real to her. Like something that actually happened as opposed to something she saw in videos on the Internet.
On the screen before her Kane spoke, and Bella felt chills from his low, stern voice. “Sarah. You are to keep your eyes on the camera. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” whispered the woman, staring into the camera, her eyes filled with fear, Bella noticed, but desire too. The passion was unmistakable.
“When we watch this later, if your eyes look away, you will receive another spanking.”
“I understand,” Sarah said quietly.
Bella could only see the motion of Kane’s arm because the focus of the camera was Sarah’s upper body. A crack sounded, and Sarah’s eyes and lips opened wide. “Oh,” she murmured into the camera, the erotic mix of distress and desire setting Bella’s clit on edge.
Kane spanked the woman again, and again, and she stared straight ahead the whole time, crying out with each strike. It sounded like she was in pain, for sure, but there was an undeniable note of passion in each moan she emitted. She was enjoying this.
“Holy shit,” whispered Bella. She was wet. Soaking wet. She shifted her body in Kane’s chair as she grew more and more aroused. This was what she wanted. What she fantasized about. What she’d been pretty sure would never actually happen to her in real life.
Imagining she was the one bent over the desk while Kane spanked her, Bella slipped a hand into her panties. Her pussy was already drenched, and she rubbed her throbbing clit as she watched the spanking continue. When it stopped, Bella kept touching herself.
“You’re so fucking wet,” growled Kane to Sarah on the laptop screen. “What do you want me to do now?”
“Fuck me. Please,” Sarah pleaded. Now her eyes were half-shut in anticipation and desire.
Without a word, Kane released his cock, and Bella gasped at the size of it. Even though the camera wasn’t focused on Kane, she could see, for a second, how big and thick it was. And then one of Kane’s hands gripped Sarah’s hip, and he began to thrust inside her. Sarah’s body jerked, her eyes shut in passion, her hands balled up in pleasure.
Bella’s fingers were moving more quickly, her breathing becoming erratic, just like Sarah’s in the video. The fact that this—what she was doing here—was wrong had exited her mind at the first spank, and all she cared about right now was coming while she watched her arrogant neighbor Kane fuck some stranger.
She was so close, her fingers dancing over her clit, her head arched back in the chair.
“What are you doing?” Kane’s voice slammed into her head.
Bella jumped, pulling her hand out of her panties and sitting up straight. Fuck. This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t. She’d heard his voice in the video, right? Because there was no way he could be here in this room in real life. No. Fucking. Way.
But as she slowly looked up she saw him, standing in the doorway, a look of sheer anger on his face. The night-black suit he wore was fitted and well-tailored, showing off his lean physique. His dark brown hair was thick and had that slightly messy look that Bella usually liked on guys. But right now, she didn’t like anything about seeing Kane. He strode toward the desk, his long legs covering the distance quickly. Turning the laptop toward him, he watched it for a few seconds before snapping the lid closed. A muscle in his jaw tensed, and his dark brown eyes were nothing but pissed as they met Bella’s.
“I asked you a question,” he said. His voice was low but even.
Bella stared into his face, unable to speak. What could she say? He’d just caught her masturbating to his own homemade porn. What was there to say?
“I can explain,” she finally managed, her cheeks burning. But really, there was no explanation.
“I just wanted to… the computer was on, and then the screen came up and…” Her voice trailed off.
“You decided to look at my personal files?”
“I didn’t decide to, not really. I just sort of, I don’t know, clicked on one of the files. I’m sorry.”
“We did have a discussion, didn’t we, before I left? When I specifically instructed you not to enter this room?”
“We did.” Bella’s voice was small, the horror of the situation rendering her practically speechless.
“Was I unclear in my desire for you to stay out?”
“Then why have I come home early from my trip to find you sitting at my desk and using my computer?”
“I said I’m sorry,” muttered Bella.
He was being so quiet and rational, his voice not raised even a touch. Instead, he spoke with quiet sternness, which was actually much, much worse than if he were yelling and swearing. And she felt ashamed to have been caught like this, watching a video of him spanking a girl, then fucking her from behind. Worse? She’d been touching herself. Surely he’d seen, hadn’t he? Or was there a chance she’d be saved at least that humiliation?
“I want you to leave, Bella. You are, obviously, fired. I’ll drop off a check for the days you’ve worked at your apartment.”
“Of course.” On shaking legs, she arose from his chair, head down. She couldn’t look at him anymore, couldn’t stand the way his dark eyes shot anger at her while his voice stayed so calm. The barely restrained wrath in his voice was too much, too. Her intention was to walk past him and out the door as quickly as possible.
Just as she was about to pass him, though, he gripped her wrist. Bella stopped cold, unsure what he was doing, why he was touching her. She turned to look at him, and one corner of his mouth twitched into what was almost—almost—a smile. A cruel one, she thought distractedly. And then, to her dismay, he raised her hand to his face, inhaling the scent of her fingers. The fingers she had just used to touch herself.
“I thought so,” he said, dropping her hand and turning away, heading to his desk.
Kill me now, thought Bella as, her face burning, she rushed out of Kane’s office and house and into the night.
“I used your bottle of whiskey last night. I’ll get you some more today,” said Bella, pouring herself a cup of coffee and sitting cross-legged on a kitchen chair. Claire was eating a bowl of cereal.
“What do you mean you used it?” Claire stretched languidly, like a cat, and looked at Bella inquisitively.
“Oh, god. It’s kind of a long story. I was dog-sitting last night—you know, at The Castle—and I spilled some expensive scotch? So I poured the cheap stuff into the bottle. I’m going to get a new bottle, but I had to do something until I got a chance to replace it.”
Claire shook her head and laughed. “Only you, Bella! You’re such a spaz! You better hope he doesn’t decide to have a drink before you get a new bottle, because I’m positive he’d be able to tell the difference.”
“I know! The other problem is that I kind of got fired, so instead of secretly replacing the bottle, I’m going to have to own up about it when I give him the new bottle.”
“Or you could leave it at his front door with a note,” suggested Claire. “What kind of scotch was it anyway? Like Johnnie Walker or something? I think the blue label is like two hundred dollars or something.”
“I hope it’s not that much,” sighed Bella. “I don’t know. Mortlach 1938? Something old?”
“Let’s look it up,” said Claire, getting her phone out. “And how did you get fired? What did you do?”
“Well, I wasn’t supposed to go into his office.”
“And you did anyway?”
Bella shrugged. “I don’t know what came over me, Claire! I just felt curious. I wasn’t going to take anything, but sometimes it’s fun to look around, you know?”
“I learned my lesson about snooping when I was babysitting as a teenager and looked through the parents’ dresser drawers and found body paint. They were gross, the parents, and I could never look at them in the eyes again. I swear I never snooped after that! Mortlach, right? The scotch?”
“Right,” said Bella. “Mortlach. But listen. When I was in his office? His computer was on?”
“Stop. Please tell me you didn’t look at what was on his computer.” Claire’s expression was of pure disbelief as she stared at Bella.
“It was on. And there were these video files?”
“I can’t tell you,” teased Bella. “Because it’s like mentally snooping if I do.”
“Tell me! Now I have to know!”
“OK,” said Bella in a lowered voice. “There were these videos. And I only saw one. Of Kane. And some woman.”
“Like sexy videos? What were they doing?”
“He was, uh, spanking her? And then they had sex.”
“Shut. The fuck. Up.”
“I’m serious, Claire! There were a bunch more, but I didn’t get a chance to watch them.”
Claire just stared at Bella, unspeaking, her mouth wide open.
“I didn’t want to admit this part,” continued Bella, “because I’m so totally humiliated by it, but he caught me. Watching one of the videos.”
“I’m dying. I’m going to die. I’m going to fucking die out of the embarrassment I have for you right this second, Bella.”
There was no way Bella would tell her the rest, that she’d been touching herself, and that Kane had smelled her hand when she left. But it felt good to get some of it off her chest. “Someday this will be funny, right?” she asked Claire. “Someday I’ll laugh about this without being completely mortified?”
“It’s funny right now!” said Claire, picking up her phone and continuing her scotch search. “Hey, the bottle of scotch wasn’t, by any chance, teardrop-shaped, was it?”
“Yeah! It was really pretty, actually. Thank god it didn’t break when it fell.” Bella looked at Claire and smiled, but Claire’s face was horrified. “What’s wrong, Claire?”
Claire held up her phone, on which was a picture of a bottle exactly like the one at Kane’s house. “Is this what it looked like, Bella?”
Bella nodded. “That’s it, Claire! How much? You look shocked. Is it more than five hundred dollars? It is, isn’t it?” Her heart felt heavy. In the large scheme of things, she could handle that. She was so close to having enough for her grandmother’s house, and a few hundred dollars wouldn’t set her back too much. Still, it would hurt.
“Yeah, Bella, it’s more than five hundred dollars.” Claire looked physically pained.
“How much? Tell me. Just say it. Rip off the Band-Aid, OK?”
“It’s super rare. Only a limited number of bottles were produced. It’s one of the oldest whiskeys in the world.”
“Just tell me.”
“Oh, my god, Bella. Fifteen thousand dollars, OK? Or twelve. Or twenty. Depending on what site you look at.”
Bella couldn’t breathe. Her hand flew to her chest as she willed air to flow in and out of her body, because right now? She was about to faint. She put her head between her knees to let blood rush to it. She was vaguely aware of Claire talking in the background, but she couldn’t make out the words. Then she felt Claire’s hand rubbing her back gently, trying to comfort her. There was no comfort, though. On the fuck-up scale, this rated way up there. Way, way up there. What the hell was she going to do?
Finally, she sat up and stared at Claire. “What do I do?”
Claire shrugged sadly. “I don’t know, Bells.”
“Like, I could buy him a new bottle. I have money saved. But it’s for…”
“…the house. I know. Could you talk to him about it?”
How could Bella explain the anger in his face, the fact that even his movements were precise and controlled, yet forceful? That he wasn’t the sort of man you could negotiate with; he was the kind of man who gave orders and never, ever gave in?
“Maybe he’ll give you a spanking and call it even?” laughed Claire, but Bella didn’t think it was funny. Not at the moment. All she could think about was how horribly she had fucked up. And one way or another, she was definitely going to have to pay for it.
Claire tried to get Bella to go out that night. “You need to get your mind off this,” she insisted.
But Bella knew going out and getting drunk would only make her feel worse. “I’m just going to stay home and worry,” she said.
“Wallowing isn’t going to solve anything, Bells! Come on. It will take your mind off things.”
“Oh, god, Claire. Nothing can take my mind off how majorly I messed up! Seriously, I’ll be better off at home. I’d ruin the mood, and nobody would have fun with me being such a downer. I’ll be fine. Seriously.”
Claire looked at Bella with concern in her eyes, and then petted her hair gently. “If you want me to come home, just call me, OK? And if you want to join us, text me and I’ll let you know where I am.”
Bella nodded, then settled down onto the couch to watch television as Claire headed out. It was useless, though, to even try to concentrate on anything other than Kane and his scotch. Did he know, yet, what she’d done? If it was as rare as the Internet said, he probably only drank it on special occasions, right? So there was a chance he hadn’t figured it out yet, and might not for a long time. Time enough, hopefully, for her to figure out what to do.
Somehow, despite how nervous and horrified and embarrassed she was by the whole situation, her mind kept drifting back to the video. To the woman on the desk. In her fantasies, though, she was on the desk and Kane was behind her. She could almost feel the cool air on her bare bottom, the hard desk underneath her naked breasts, the anticipation as she sensed Kane moving closer and closer to her, as she held still and waited for the first taste of the leather on her skin. A tingling began between her legs as she allowed herself to think about it. What if?
Claire’s words from breakfast came back to her. Maybe he’ll give you a spanking and call it even. Her roommate had been joking, but Bella couldn’t help fantasizing about just that. Kane certainly didn’t need the money, did he? While she didn’t know the details of his finances, one look around his house made it clear he probably wasn’t worried about money. So perhaps he’d be willing to work out a deal with her?
“You’re ridiculous,” she told herself. As if he’d be interested in spanking her in exchange for money. And, wasn’t that pretty much prostitution anyway? She’d just have to cough up the money, as hard as it was, and start saving all over again. It had taken years—years of depriving herself—to save the down-payment money. Years of worrying that the couple who owned it would want to sell it sooner. They’d told her they’d wait as long as they could, but they were getting older, she knew, and wanted to move somewhere more modern. Somewhere safer. There was no way they’d agree to wait another few years while she scrimped and saved some more. But it was her own fault. She’d done this to herself.
Her phone rang, waking her up from her depressing thoughts.
“Hello?” she asked, not recognizing the number.
“Bella.” It was Kane. She knew it instantly, the low, stern tone giving him away in those two simple syllables.
“Kane,” she whispered, then focused on speaking in a normal tone, though it was difficult. “Um, hi.”
“There’s something I’d like to discuss with you. Will you join me for a drink?” He sounded friendly, so much more pleasant than he had last night when he’d caught her in his office with her hand down her pants.
“Oh. OK,” she responded. “Should we meet somewhere?” What did he want? He’d fired her, so why was he being so nice?
“I have a fully stocked bar right here. Why don’t you come over? Are you free now, Bella?” The way he said her name made her shiver in desire, though that was stupid, wasn’t it? How could his tone, her name in his voice, affect her so physically like that?
“Sure. Yes. I’ll be over.”
“I’ll be waiting,” he said, and then hung up.
“Oh, fuck,” muttered Bella, sagging down on the couch. What did he want? And why did her body come alive just from hearing his voice? She headed into the bedroom to change into something presentable.
Bella spent more time than usual selecting an outfit and doing her makeup. She finally decided on a pair of black pants, which were by far better than her jeans, most of which were pretty worn out, and a tight black shirt. She wanted to look sexy but also professional. Or as professional as possible, she thought, slipping on her favorite pair of black boots. They had definitely seen better days, and one of the toes was scuffed badly. She’d covered over the worn spot with permanent black marker more than once, but it was still obvious the shoes were pretty shabby. Oh, well. It’s not like Kane was going to be staring at her boots, she thought. She took her time doing her makeup too, lining her eyes with black, putting on mascara, and covering her lips in a shiny mauve.
When she was ready, she shoved her checkbook into her purse. Hopefully she wouldn’t need it tonight. Hopefully he didn’t know, yet, about the scotch. But in case that’s what this meeting was about, she needed to be prepared.
The night was cool as she made her way down the block to Kane’s house, which looked warm and inviting, lights shining from behind curtains in the downstairs rooms, and a pretty glow making the front door look safe and homey. But Bella didn’t feel safe at all as she made her way to the front door and rang the bell. Max’s barking inside calmed her nerves a touch, but as soon as the door began to open inward, her stomach felt scrambled and scared.
There he was, tall and imposing as usual. He was wearing dress pants, with a stark white shirt tucked in. The top two buttons of his shirt were undone casually, and the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. He was still in dress shoes, though, and overall had the appearance of a wealthy man unwinding after a busy day. Which, thought Bella, was exactly what he was. His face was set in a stern expression, his mouth firm and unsmiling, his eyes boring into Bella as she attempted a smile. Evening shadow gave his face a rough look.
“Bella.” His voice was low as he uttered her name. “Thank you for coming over.”
“Of course,” she murmured, meeting his eyes but blushing furiously as she did. What was wrong with her? Get it together, she urged herself. There was no way she had a chance against him if she blushed and stammered every time he spoke.
“Please. Come in.” He stepped aside, gesturing into the foyer.
Once again Bella was struck with how beautiful his home was, simply but elegantly decorated. Today, a fresh bouquet of flowers graced the table in the entrance, gorgeous white blooms mixing with lush greenery. “Those are pretty,” Bella said, gesturing at the flowers.
“Thank you. Come, Bella. Let’s speak in the living room.”
Bella followed him, noticing how confident his walk was. In the living room he pointed at the elegant gray couch, and she sat awkwardly, crossing one leg over the other. Instead of sitting down, Kane walked to the wet bar along one wall. It looked big enough to be in a real bar, and bottles were stacked behind it, high-end liquors, from what Bella could tell. “What will you have, Bella?” he asked casually, gazing over at her.
“Oh. Um. Anything.”
“You must have some preference. Would you like wine? Or perhaps beer? A mixed drink?” His gaze intensified, his brown eyes boring into hers. Even from across the room she could feel his strength, could feel the power behind this man.
“Whatever you’re having,” she finally managed, despite the fact that her stomach was filled with butterflies. Mostly because of what he’d discovered her doing yesterday, but also because every time she thought of that, she remembered the video and what was happening in it. She remembered her fantasies, about being the girl bent over his desk. And thinking about that now, in his presence, was terrifying and insanely nerve-racking, and made her pussy tingle despite the fear of not knowing what he wanted to discuss.
“Hmmm,” he said. “Will you excuse me for a second, Bella?”
“Yeah,” she muttered. She watched him retreat from the room, heading down the hallway. It was impossible not to notice the way his pants fit him so well, perfectly tailored for his body. And it was impossible not to notice his ass, so firm underneath the expensive material of his slacks, and his long, confident stride. His back was wide, his shoulders strong. His dark hair was just long enough in back to touch the sparkling white collar of his shirt, and Bella was struck, once more, with how handsome he was.
As soon as he left the room she breathed deeply a few times, trying to relax and regain even a hint of confidence. She’d need it, she knew, for whatever this conversation was going to be about. What if he talked about yesterday, about the video she’d watched? If he brought it up, she was sure she would actually die of embarrassment. But she had to face the music, whatever the tune, so she breathed out and steadied herself.
Every single ounce of courage she’d just mustered, though, evaporated the second he came back into the room. To Bella’s horror, she saw he was holding the bottle of Mortlach, that gorgeous teardrop-shaped bottle that no longer held expensive liquor, but instead the cheap whiskey she’d poured in there yesterday. Fuck, she thought. Oh fuck fuck fuck.
Kane set it down on the coffee table, then retrieved from behind the bar two glasses, rounded at the bottom and slightly smaller at the top.
“These are Glencairn whiskey glasses,” said Kane, holding one up to the light. “They’re crafted to enhance the specific flavor of scotch whiskey. You could drink scotch from a regular glass, but when you are drinking an especially fine or rare variety, you want a glass as perfect as possible.”
Shit. Bella felt like she was in a horror movie or a bad dream, but she was trapped. The only way to end this would be to tell the truth. Right now. But she couldn’t. Words were stuck in her throat.
“Mortlach,” he said, picking up the bottle, and Bella swore she heard a slight Scottish brogue in his voice. “In 1938 my grandfather worked at the Mortlach distillery. That year he helped fill cask number 2656. At the time it was just a number. But for three generations, through wars and upsets and famines, that cask stayed untouched. For seventy years. And then it was decanted, poured into fifty-four bottles this size and some smaller ones as well. It is the world’s oldest scotch, Bella. And it is, as I’m sure you can guess, quite rare. I was given this bottle by my grandfather, who spent his life as a master taster in Scotland, a highly revered and respected position.”
“We should drink something else,” said Bella. She was sweating, her palms clammy and warm. This sucked. “This is much too valuable. You should save it.”
“I have been,” Kane responded, opening the bottle. “My grandfather and I had a drink together every time we saw each other. We would drink the finest scotch available to us, wherever we were at the time. He was fond of the belief that you shouldn’t save things for too long or it might be too late. You’re a long time deid, he always said.”
That accent! When Kane slipped into the Scottish brogue, it was so sexy that Bella could almost forget about the fact that right now, she was totally and completely screwed. The way the words flowed off his tongue, so naturally, was swoon-worthy. If she wasn’t in so much trouble right now, she’d enjoy it more. But now he was pouring from the bottle into the glasses.
He handed a glass to her, and Bella took it in shaking fingers. She watched while Kane picked his up, swirling it around and watching the liquid inside cling to the sides of the glass, then run down. She felt even worse knowing the history of Mortlach and what it meant to Kane and his grandfather.
“Taste it,” he said, like he was giving her an order.
“Oh, I don’t know…”
“It would be rude to refuse, don’t you think, Bella? And how many chances in your life will you have to taste a drink this rare?” The intensity in his eyes brooked no argument. Bella felt pinned to her seat, as though it were impossible to get up and leave.
“Yes,” she whispered, bringing the glass to her lips. She tilted the glass so a tiny bit of the scotch ran into her mouth, burning her lips and tongue with its cheap harshness. She bit back a grimace.
“Do you like it?” Kane leaned forward, one corner of his mouth raised in a smirk, but his eyes hard and cold.
“Um, I guess?”
“Bella. One doesn’t guess about liking one of the finest scotches in the entire world. Tell me. Did that sip you just took taste expensive? Did it taste like what you’re holding in that glass is worth a thousand dollars?”
He knows. He knows, and he’s fucking with me. The realization hit Bella as she stared into Kane’s dark brown eyes and saw anger in their depths. His jaw was tight, his teeth practically bared.
“Look, Kane,” she began, unsure of what exactly she was going to say but knowing she needed to say something.
“The problem,” he interrupted her, bringing his glass to his lips and sipping, “is that this doesn’t taste like seventy-eight-year-old scotch, does it? It doesn’t taste like a rare drink. What it tastes like to me, Bella, is cheap liquor store whiskey.”
Now his eyes were flashing, and Bella leaned against the back of the couch as though his gaze was physically pushing her backward.
“How do you suppose it’s possible,” he asked, “that the scotch in my Mortlach bottle was replaced with this swill?” He set his glass down hard on the table.
Bella jumped at the loud noise. She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Kane. I did it. This.” She gestured at the bottle.
He waited silently, so she continued.
“Last night? Before you came back? I saw the bottle. And I just wanted a taste. But then I spilled it, and I was scared you’d come back early before I had a chance to replace it, so I filled it up with my roommate’s whiskey. I’m so sorry. I’m going to pay for it, OK?” She rummaged in her purse with shaky hands for her checkbook.
Kane smiled humorlessly. “You can’t afford a proper pair of shoes,” he said. “How are you going to pay me over ten thousand dollars for a new bottle? If one can even be located, that is.”
“I have some money saved for… well, it doesn’t matter. I have enough. I can pay you. How much do you want?”
“Right. OK. Twelve thousand.” Her hand scrambled around in her purse again until she found a pen, then she began to write the check. It hurt. It physically hurt to write it out, so much of her savings gone. In an instant. For a stupid bottle of scotch. But she’d made a mistake, and she had to pay. “Here,” she said when she was done, ripping the check out of the book and handing it to Kane.
He took it and placed it on the coffee table, setting the Mortlach bottle on top of it. Then she remembered what Claire had said, about exchanging a spanking for the price of the scotch. She couldn’t ask him that. It was absurd. Crazy. Then again, so was paying thousands of dollars for a bottle of alcohol. And the worst he could do was laugh at her. She could handle that. It would be nothing compared to everything else she’d been through.
“I, um, want to ask you something,” she whispered. She hadn’t intended to speak so low, but fear made her voice small.
“What is it, Bella.” Kane’s tone was irritated, but his eyes dark and mysterious as they met hers.
Could she say it? “So that video? That I was watching yesterday when you came home?”
He growled. She swore he actually growled, in anger, she was sure, though for a second something suspiciously close to lust flashed in his eyes.
“I was wondering if instead of paying for the scotch, which I’m so very sorry about, we could, you know, work something else out?”
He laughed, a cruel sound in the beautiful room. “Bella. Please. An offer of prostitution is insulting. I hope you don’t think I’m the type of man who needs to pay for pleasure.”
Oh, god. “No. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m not talking about sex.”
“I don’t understand.”
Bella took a deep breath. “I was thinking you could punish me, Kane. Like the girl in the video. For what I did wrong.”
His eyes glinted, and a muscle in his cheek tightened. For a few moments he just stared at her. Then he shook his head. “Ah, Bella. What I was doing with the woman in the video was for her pleasure as much as mine. She enjoyed being spanked, and I enjoyed spanking her. I think you could see how much she liked it. And I could tell you liked it too.” His eyes searched hers, and she knew he was referring to catching her touching herself in his office.
Bella blushed hard.
“It wouldn’t be much of a punishment if you enjoyed it. Would it, Bella?”
“I don’t know,” she muttered, unable to answer him in any way that made real sense. She’d been stupid to think this plan would work. “Forget it.”
“A real punishment is something that hurts. That you do not enjoy but accept anyway because you know you deserve it. Is that what you’re asking me for?”
Bella gulped and nodded.
“I advise you to think long and hard about this,” said Kane, his voice so low Bella could hear its vibrations clear across the table. “If we agree to this, it will be painful, with no pleasure to balance it out. It won’t be playing, like it was in the video you watched on my computer. It will be hard and embarrassing and you won’t enjoy it. I will thoroughly punish you.”
“By, uh, spanking me?” Even saying the word spanking out loud was difficult. Humiliating.
“Yes. Other things as well.”
“What other things?” Her mind wasn’t working well enough right now to even contemplate what those things might be.
“Ah, no. I won’t give it all away. I find that anticipation—of both pleasure and pain—intensifies the experience.”
“Oh.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Five punishment sessions, Bella. Every Friday for five weeks.”
“Five? I was thinking…”
“What were you thinking, Bella? That I’d spank you once and your debt would be erased?”
Well, yes, that was what she’d been thinking. Instead, though, she shook her head.
“The scotch you spilled was worth, at the very least, ten thousand dollars. Most likely closer to twenty thousand. That’s four thousand dollars a session.” His voice continued, quiet but stern. His eyes were unreadable, but so dark and unflinching that Bella had to look away.
“And what would happen in a session? How long would it last?” she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper.
“I already said I don’t want to, shall we say, spoil the surprise. And I don’t like to repeat myself. Is that clear?”
“Crystal,” she whispered, wishing she could sound sarcastic, just to let him know she wasn’t totally at his mercy, but it was impossible when he was looking at her with such dominance.
“I want you to make yourself available to me from seven in the evening till the next morning.”
“All night?” Did he expect sex too? What was she getting herself into?
“All night. I need to make sure you’re safe after our sessions. I’ll take care of you until the next morning.”
“OK.” She wasn’t sure why she was still agreeing, for as each second passed she was growing more and more nervous. It had to be the fact that her pussy was tingling, the thought that maybe, after so many years, she was going to experience exactly what she’d been fantasizing about for so, so long.
“The deal, then. You have until Friday to think about it. If you aren’t here on Friday at seven p.m., I will cash the check. That goes for the following four Fridays as well. During your punishments, you can opt out at any time. But if you do so, the check will be immediately cashed. You will have a safeword, but if you used it more than three times over the course of the five weeks, the deal is off. Do you understand?”
“Good. Then I will see you—perhaps—on Friday at seven p.m. sharp. Wear a skirt.” He stood abruptly, pushing one of his rolled-up sleeves higher on his arm, which, Bella noticed, was strong, corded with muscle. As she stood too and headed to the foyer, she felt the whisper of his hand on her lower back, guiding her to the door. The gesture was light—he was barely touching her—yet it sent a shock through her all the same, a feeling of both desire and fear. This man. Who was he?
As she stepped out of his door and into the night, all she knew was she had a lot of thinking to do before the week was over.