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Sylvia’s Surrender by Dinah McLeod – Sample

Sylvia's Surrender by Dinah McLeod

Chapter One

November 2008

Fate is a funny thing sometimes—you can be stretched across a tattoo table, clenching your toes as the needle works over your skin, completely unaware that your life is about to change forever. At least, that’s how it happened for me. I’d just turned twenty-nine and already I was going through what I liked to call my quarter-life crisis. I wasn’t anything if not optimistic.

That was what led me to the tattoo parlor in the first place, with a stomach full of nervously excited butterflies. I was clutching a piece of paper in my hand so tightly that I’d inadvertently crumpled it. When I first saw the needle, my stomach sank and all the butterflies—nervous and otherwise—fled.

“I don’t think I can do this,” I said, smiling apologetically at Tony. I wanted to ask for my paper back so that my dancing feet could make the mad dash for the door they were planning on, but something in Tony’s expression stopped me.

“Don’t like needles, huh?” The corners of his mouth lifted sympathetically. He was tall and lean, although he had very nice shoulders. His arms were covered with tattoos, brightly colored works of art that somehow melded perfectly with one another.

“No,” I admitted with a shy smile.

“You wanna hear something funny?” He held up the arm I’d just been staring at, his smile widening. “Me either.”

I blinked in surprise. Surely, he couldn’t be serious. He was just trying to talk me into it.

“It’s worth it, though. You know, most girls come in here wanting a butterfly or a heart or some shit like that.” He thumped my paper with a finger. “But this is unique. If you don’t get it, you’ll regret it, I promise you. I promise, it’s not half as bad as you’ve got it worked up to be in your head.”

Something about him made me relax. Before I knew it, someone who wasn’t me was walking over to the tattoo chair, laughing nervously. Then that person was lying down, baring her shoulder blade and taking in deep, quavering breaths.

Tony kept up a steady stream of chatter the entire time, keeping me engaged and diverting my attention. I was grateful—I wanted, no, I needed to be the kind of girl who could do this: face her fears and come out the other side stronger for it. I didn’t know why it was so important, but right then as I heard the sound of him behind me, preparing to get down to business, I knew it was important.

When it was over and Tony was holding up the mirror so that I could see it, my green eyes were bright and shiny. It was perfect. Just as I’d always imagined—no, even better. In smooth script were the Italian words la vita bella. It was something my grandmother used to say all the time and translated into ‘life is beautiful.’ I’d been wanting to get the tattoo for a long time now, but even more than that, I wanted the words to be true.

Here I was, twenty-nine years old, and my life was nothing like I’d imagined it would be. Talking to a few of my friends from college revealed that I wasn’t alone in that clubhouse, but it didn’t make it any easier. Somehow, I’d always imagined I’d be a successful career woman right now, and married, maybe with a couple of kids. The deepest, most secret of those hopes was that the man in my imagination was not only a hard-working, attentive provider, and devoted father, but a man with a fetish for spanking that matched my own.

But I had none of those things. How was I supposed to know that right after I graduated the finance industry would go caput? I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t seen that coming. And as it turned out, having a degree didn’t guarantee getting a good job, despite what my parents had been parroting to me since I was in elementary school. I’d discovered it much to my chagrin, considering that I owed over forty thousand dollars in student loan debt.

I wasn’t married, obviously, because if I had been it would have been to a sensible guy who would have talked me out of getting a tattoo in the first place. Not only was I not sporting a wedding ring, I wasn’t even dating anyone. I’d had one serious relationship, in college, but it turned out that he wasn’t quite as serious as I was. Not that commitment-phobes were anything new in the dating world; still, it had stung and I hadn’t met anyone who seemed like boyfriend material since.

It seemed like every day I got another wedding invitation in the mail. Even my little sister had called three weeks ago to announce her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, Todd. That was when, with the help of the Internet and grim determination, I’d decided to get my tattoo. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for her and the countless friends who’d found marital bliss—it was that my own loneliness became even more apparent when I had to check ‘single’ on the RSVP cards. I was beginning to believe they’d invented those things just to humiliate single women.

Instead of a high-powered career woman, I’d had to beg my mother to get me a job clerking at the law firm she worked at after the stock market crashed. She was all too happy to do it, but that didn’t make it any less humiliating to take handouts from her. I’d been so sure that when I was an adult things like that would become memories of the distant past.

Tony rambled on about cleaning to avoid infection, but I hardly heard him. I couldn’t take my eyes off the tattoo. The script was large enough that he’d designed flowered vines in between the letters, offering bits of green and purple peeking beneath the words. I read it over and over again, hoping that by imprinting the words on my skin, the saying would become a talisman that would transform my life.

 

Emboldened by my tattoo that seemed to grow on me a little more every day, I began making plans to change my life. It was in that vein that I decided to take the trip to Italy that I’d been dreaming of since I was a little girl. I’d heard my grandmother talk about her home country often enough to be able to picture the narrow pathways that passed for roads, the delicious scents of perfume and freshly cooked pasta wafting through the air, tempting each of the five senses. She talked about Italy with a love and passion that surpassed everything else and I’d wanted to see it with my own two eyes for as long as I could remember. Why put it off any longer? I didn’t have a husband or children to hold me back—there was no reason in the world that I shouldn’t go.

It took me about five seconds to make up my mind and once I did, I couldn’t help daydreaming about what a wonderful experience it would be. I began trying every Italian restaurant in town, wondering as the hearty, rich sauces filled my mouth how the food would differ. I bought Italian shoes and an Italian leather purse—much to the dismay and downfall of my bank account.

I’m going to live every day to the fullest, I told myself, so filled to the brim with happiness over my planned excursion that it was hard to contain. I had to tell my grandmother, of course, who was absolutely thrilled.

“Oh, if only I could go with you, Sylvia,” she moaned. “Unfortunately these old bones aren’t fit to travel. I doubt I’ll ever see Italy again.”

“Of course you will, nonna,” I said, patting her knee, but even I wasn’t sure I believed it. She would be eighty-seven next month and though she was just as fiery as I’d always known her to be, she seemed more tired lately, too. I’d been content to sit on the floor, knitting, while she’d told stories from her youth. I’d heard most of them at least a hundred times, but it didn’t matter to me.

Even though she’d given me as vivid a road map as her imagination would allow, I decided to go to the bookstore and buy the latest travel guide. I was ecstatic at the idea of poring through it for hours, learning all the secrets it cared to share with me. On my next lunch hour, I drove to the local bookstore, Joe’s, letting myself inside while simultaneously inhaling that new book smell that was a universal delight to booklovers everywhere.

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

I barely turned my head to look at the speaker, but caught a glimpse of an employee out of the corner of my eye. “No, thank you. I know what I’m here for.” Confidently, I walked to the travel section, walking the row until I came to a rather slim section of travel guides to Italy. I picked up one thin volume, flipping it over to read the back cover. I could see almost immediately that it wasn’t what I was looking for, so I shoved it back and found another one.

“You know, if you’re going to browse through the books, you really should put them back where you find them.”

I whirled around with a startled gasp to see an employee lingering in the aisle, watching me. Was it the same one who’d greeted me? Had he followed me? While all those thoughts were running through my mind, I couldn’t help but also notice his big, broad shoulders and tapered chest. He had a very masculine face—all hard angles with a firm, stubbled jaw. His hair was sandy blond and military short, all of it a very nice package, but the one thing I couldn’t look away from was his smile. His lips were full and kissable—my cheeks warmed to be thinking about a man’s lips, but I couldn’t help it—and his teeth pearly white. There was something about the way his face shone when he smiled that made me smile, too.

“I’m sorry?” I asked, finally finding my voice.

“Well, you should be.” His eyes gleamed and I could tell he was teasing me. Somehow, the realization didn’t put me any more at ease when he started walking toward me in slow, deliberate steps. “Do you want to know what I do to little girls who make a mess of my store?”

I was so caught off by the little girl remark and the seductive lilt of his voice that all I could do was shake my head. I was clutching the book to my chest, hard, as though it could somehow provide a barrier between me and that sexy voice that was making my knees feel weak.

“I put them over my knee and spank their naughty bottoms.”

My mouth went incredibly dry. Only when he reached over and trailed a finger down my cheek did I find my voice. “You don’t even know me!” I gasped, stumbling back. “How could you… how dare you…” I was looking at him with wide eyes, aware that my protests were losing steam fast. Could he see how my lips quivered, how my breasts heaved? What did I have, some gigantic sign over my head that flashed Spanko for all to see?

But of course I knew that wasn’t true. I’d begged my last serious boyfriend to spank me and he’d only looked at me like I was crazy. Which meant, come to think of it, that it hadn’t been that serious after all. So what was it about this guy? Could the likeminded simply sniff it out in others, or was he using X-ray vision to see through my skirt? Surely, seeing my Cheeky panties would give away my hopes in an instant. No girl wore those unless she was dying for a sore bottom.

“I think the lady doth protest too much,” he commented lightly with a wink. “Am I right?”

“No!” I snapped, followed by a more subdued, “I don’t know.”

“It sounds like you do to me.”

As I took in his calm, unruffled manner, the dimples in his chin when he smiled, I narrowed my eyes. Sure, it was all fine and well for him to seem so laid back. He wasn’t the one being embarrassed! In a bookstore, no less! I ought to tell the manager! I ought to have him fired! My nostrils flared with righteous indignation even as my pussy pulsed with something that felt like longing. It had been so long, I couldn’t be entirely sure.

“You know, I think I’ll just buy… this—” I held the book out in front of me, using it as a shield between us. Glancing at the title I could see I’d picked up a book on Greece by mistake, but it seemed too late to worry about that now. “And be on my way.”

“Of course,” he replied smoothly, in his velvet, devil-may-care way. “As soon as you put that book back where it belongs.”

I faltered, my confidence taking another nosedive. This man was so unlike anyone I’d ever met, like someone straight out of my deepest, darkest, dirtiest fantasies and I had to say, I didn’t know quite how to handle a fantasy that materialized right in front of me, in the flesh. “I’m sorry, I…”

“I’m betting you say that a lot.”

“What?”

“‘I’m sorry.’”

“What if I do?” I asked defensively, unable to meet his eyes.

“Nothing. It’s just that there’s a time to apologize…” I could feel him coming closer, but I kept my eyes firmly on the floor. “And a time to simply admit you don’t know where you put the book in the first place.”

The teasing lilt in his voice made me look up at last and when I saw that wonderfully bright smile I returned it, unable to help myself. How was it that he could make me so nervous, then put me at ease in a matter of moments?

“Was this your book?” he drawled, magician-style as he brandished the paperback in front of me.

“Yes,” I admitted with a giggle.

“And… voilà! Right back where it belongs,” he declared with a flourish as he put it back on the shelf.

“You’re very good,” I deadpanned.

“Thank you, thank you.” He took an elaborate bow. “But you should know that I have many talents, other than magic tricks.”

“Oh, you don’t say.”

“Yes. For example, I am very, very good at asking women out. Would you care for a demonstration?”

“I doubt I could stop you if I wanted to,” I said, my pulse picking up speed. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t want to.

“Very well then.” Right there, in the middle of the aisle he dropped to one knee and reached for my hand.

I gasped, looking around wildly to see if we were being stared at. “What are you doing?

“Simple, my lady. I’m trying to ask you out to coffee.”

“Yes, yes, just get up off the floor!” I hissed. People were definitely looking our way. The stares burned the back of my neck.

“It doesn’t really work unless you give me your hand,” he answered blithely, ignorant to my discomfort—or at least pretending to be.

“Fine.” I rolled my eyes and walked to him, thrusting my hand toward him begrudgingly.

He accepted it as though I wasn’t wearing a scowl, bowing his head to kiss it.

I flinched the moment his lips touched my skin. The contact wasn’t unpleasant by any means—inside, it created a current that seemed to travel throughout my body until blood was rushing in my ears. I snatched my hand away, but he only smiled back as though he knew the reason.

“My name’s Jake.”

“It’s a pleasure,” I murmured, cradling my hand that still felt scorched, as though he’d reached deep down and managed to imprint himself on my skin.

“And you are?”

“Sylvia,” I answered, wondering at the strange feelings flowing through me. I could feel my blood pumping with urgency, my skin tingling from head to toe, all my private parts vibrating with need.

“Nice to meet you, Sylvia. Now, how about that coffee?”

“Sure. Just… I have to be back at the office in twenty-five.”

“I drink real quick,” he said, showing off his dimples again. “And maybe after coffee,” he leaned close, making it clear that his words were for me and me alone, “we can get around to that spanking I mentioned.”

 

I wasn’t the kind of girl who got into bed with some guy she just met—even if he was incredibly good-looking. I was the kind that dated for at least six weeks before even considering it and usually went much longer than that before actually following through. After all, I’d always reasoned, if he was really worth it, he would wait, right? I’d had only three sexual partners in all my twenty-nine years and while that might seem sad to some, I was proud of myself. I wasn’t a cheap date, an easy lay, no. I was a woman of principles, of morals.

Which is why I, more than anyone, was shocked by what I did next. I’d met his eyes and nodded, flipping my dark hair over my shoulder. “Why wait?” I’d purred, assuming the most sultry voice I could manage. It was a very un-Sylvia thing to do, but once the words were out of my mouth I couldn’t figure out how to stop what I’d set in motion.

I didn’t have to get into his car—I didn’t have to sit there, making idle chitchat and laughing at his jokes, pretending that my legs weren’t trembling beneath my skirt as he drove to his place. I certainly didn’t have to walk into his house, which was quite different from what I’d expect from a single guy—I assumed—working at a bookstore. My God, he didn’t still live with his parents, did he?

At any moment I could have called it off, excused myself by saying I had to get back to work—which, as it happened, was true. But I didn’t. Instead, I stayed, sitting gingerly on the plush brown suede sofa and wondering how I could tactfully ask if there was any chance of his mother walking in on us.

“Something to drink?” he suggested.

God, how did he look so calm? To look at him, you’d think he took home girls he’d just met all the time. For that matter, maybe he did. Shit. What was I doing? “Sure.” I gave him what I hoped passed for a smile, hovering on the edge of the couch and trying to convince myself to make a run for it.

Instead, I distracted myself by looking around the living room. The furniture was all dark cherry and looked well cared for. There were oil paintings on the wall, in the style of Monet though I suspected they were by a new, trendy artist. The curtains were light and wispy in contrast to the furniture and there wasn’t a beer can or half-empty pizza box anywhere in sight. Yep, he definitely didn’t live alone.

I leapt to my feet, having finally made up my mind to let myself out quietly, when he came back into the living room bearing two glasses of wine.

“Going somewhere?”

“Oh, um… well, I just… it’s only…” I stuttered, feeling my cheeks heat up more with each floundered excuse.

His eyes twinkled at me, as though he knew exactly what I’d planned to do which, come to think of it, wasn’t that hard to figure out. “You know, we can just talk, Sylvia.”

“Really?” I was more than a little dubious.

“Of course. This isn’t exactly the norm for me either, you know?”

Still skeptical, I couldn’t help relaxing the tiniest bit. “It’s not?”

He threw back his head and laughed so uproariously that my lips twitched, too. “Is that the kind of guy you take me for?”

“Well, considering you invited me to your house after knowing me for all of ten seconds… yeah, kind of.”

His grin widened. “Come sit down and have some wine. Or, if you’d prefer, I am more than willing to give you a ride back to the bookstore.”

There was my chance—I could have politely asked to be taken back to my car and we could both pretend this had never almost-happened. I could have let myself out the door, if I thought his offer was half-hearted. I certainly didn’t have to turn around and walk toward the couch, sitting back down and tucking my legs underneath nervously.

When he offered me the wine, I could have declined, should have explained that wine of any kind went straight to my head. Instead, I sipped it tentatively, letting the fruity, tart flavor roll over my tongue as I tried to think of something clever and witty to say.

I needn’t have bothered. Jake, as it turned out, was clever and witty enough for the both of us. Just like in the car, he kept up a steady stream of conversation and somehow managed to be both charming and interesting all at once. I didn’t know if I should blame it on him or the wine, but between the two I found myself relaxing completely until I was laughing along and joining in the banter.

“So, Italy, hmm?” he asked, picking up the wine bottle that had somehow materialized on the table in front of us along with a platter of cheese and crackers.

“I’m very excited,” I admitted, leaning forward with shining eyes.

“Refill?”

My glass was only half empty, but I felt emboldened and held it out toward him.

“What’s the drive to get to Italy?”

“I don’t know.” I lazily traced my finger along the rim of my glass. “My grandmother’s Italian, which makes me about a quarter, I think. She’s been telling me all these stories for as long as I can remember. She makes it sound like paradise.” He was staring at me so intently, as though he was hanging on my every word that I couldn’t help blushing, even as I smiled. “What?”

“Has anyone ever told you how pretty you are when you’re being passionate about something?”

I couldn’t answer. Hearing the word passionate drip so easily from his lips made me think of other passions. It had been so, so long. I got the feeling that this was a man who knew how to worship a woman and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t something I longed to experience, even if it was just this one time.

“What are you thinking?” His soft voice broke into my thoughts. He seemed sincerely interested and for a moment, I was spellbound by him, unsure what to make of it. He didn’t seem like any guy I’d ever known before—he didn’t seem real.

“I have a tattoo,” I blurted out before I could think of something more clever to say.

“Oh?” His eyes lit up and as he leaned toward me I got my first good look at them. They were beautiful eyes, emerald green swirling with aqua blue, fringed by dark lashes and his sandy brows. “Don’t tell me where it is. Let me find it.”

So entranced was I by the startling beauty of his eyes that I nodded. He was gentle, even from the beginning. He took his time unbuttoning my shirt, one by one, his eyes meeting mine after each had come undone, giving me plenty of time and opportunity to protest. My heart sped up as his fingers moved along my shirt and I didn’t even think of stopping him.

“Beautiful,” he murmured as he helped me out of the shirt.

I could feel my nipples tighten at the compliment and the reverent way he’d delivered it.

“Now, let me see.” Jake’s eyes met mine, dancing with laughter. “Is it… here?” He bent and placed a gentle kiss on my navel. “No, not there. Hmm. Is it… here?” His mouth lowered on the flat of my stomach. “No. Where then?” He tapped a finger against his chin and I could see his gaze falling to my breasts.

My stomach clenched with a mixture of apprehension and excitement as I waited to see what he would do next. To my relief—and disappointment—he didn’t turn his attention to my breasts. Instead, he slid behind me, his body fitting around mine like a puzzle piece on the massive, comfortable couch, and moving my long black hair out of the way.

“Eureka, I have found it!” he declared in a heavy fake accent. “What a beauty,” he whispered as he kissed my shoulder.

“I’ve been planning on getting it for a long time,” I remarked, struggling to hold on to my train of thought as his lips moved lower.

“For the record, I wasn’t talking about the tattoo.”

I let out a breathy little giggle before I could stop myself. Yep, the wine had definitely gotten to me. That, and the sensual feeling of his lips trailing down my body, paying homage to my back, inch by inch.

“The beautiful life,” he read.

“Do you speak Italian?” Intrigued, I turned my head to look at him.

Si, mia cara.”

Dove hai imparato l’italiano?” I queried, looking back at him expectantly.

“OK.” He grinned sheepishly. “I might have exaggerated, just a bit. I was hoping to impress you.”

Normally, I would have rolled my eyes and left. I didn’t appreciate being lied to for the sake of getting laid. But with the sweet wine flowing through my veins and the heady feeling of looking into those amazing eyes, somehow I found him endearing. “I asked where you learned Italian,” I explained with a grin of my own. “Do you know any other Italian?”

“Just ‘yes, my dear,’” he admitted.

For some reason, I found this uproariously funny and when I tossed my head back to laugh, he joined in. Then, before I knew quite what was happening, his lips had resumed their slow dance along my body. He nibbled my neck playfully and when his teeth sank into collarbone I couldn’t hold back the moan that sprang to my throat.

“Do you like that?” he asked, his voice a husky murmur. Before I’d had a chance to reply, he was already moving on, running his fingers up and down my arm in a feather-light touch that made me shiver. After which, his kisses warmed my skin right back up again.

I was in heaven, practically swooning under his attentive touch. When he’d kissed and nibbled every inch of skin above my breasts, he moved to sit in front of me, locking eyes with me as his fingers found my bra strap. I didn’t move—my breath caught in my throat until I wasn’t sure I was even breathing. I knew I’d never breathe again if he didn’t take it off me, and soon. My nipples were pert and aching for the feel of his mouth.

With a deliberate gesture, he unsnapped my bra and whipped it down my arms, tossing it into a far corner. He took his time surveying what he’d just unveiled and though I’d always thought my breasts were too small, the smile curving his lips told me that he very much liked what he saw.

“I want to make you feel good. I want to make you feel incredible. Please, tell me how to do that.”

I was so caught off guard by his humble sincerity that I almost didn’t know how to respond. Every guy I’d ever been with had always assumed he knew exactly what he was doing—even when he obviously had no clue—and never would have asked me what he could do to please me. Even though a thousand answers sprang to my lips, I couldn’t find the courage to say any of them aloud. Suddenly shy once more, I dropped my eyes, feeling my cheeks blaze with heat as I did so.

“Come on, Sylvia, don’t play coy with me,” he prompted teasingly.

“I don’t know,” I offered with a shrug.

“Oh, I think you do. And you know something? I think I’m going to spank you until you tell me what it is.”

My head snapped up at this pronouncement. “No. You can’t,” I protested, my heart beating triple-time.

“I can’t? Why is that?”

“Be-because! It’s ridiculous, that’s why!”

“Is that so? Well, something tells me you don’t think it’s so ridiculous.” He reached forward and tweaked my traitorous, hardened nipple.

“Well,” I huffed. “I do.” Yet, even I wasn’t convinced by my feeble argument, and neither was Jake if the glint in his blue-green eyes was anything to go by.

“We’ll see about that, won’t we?” Without any further warning, he reached over and took hold of my wrists, easily hauling me over his lap.

I realized right away that I could have gotten away, if I so desired. It would have been easy to sit up and scoot off his lap—he wasn’t holding me tightly. Yet, while I kicked my legs in protest at this change of events, I didn’t get up, either. My heart was beating so hard and fast in my chest that I was sure he must feel it.

If he did, he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he took his time flipping up my skirt and rubbing his hand lightly over my panties. That was enough to send my heart racing at a pace that left me breathless, but when he pulled down my panties I couldn’t hold back the moan that came oh-so-willingly to my lips. He didn’t say anything about that either, but turned his attention to my bared butt in front of him. He rubbed his hands over my naked orbs slowly, as though savoring the feel of my skin, before he cupped my bottom, one cheek at a time, and massaged the cheeks in a way that shouldn’t have felt good, but did. Very, very good. “Have you ever been spanked before?”

Even though I knew it was a logical question, for some reason it made me giggle. Only if you counted the feeble swats my ex Kevin had landed over my panties before we made love, which I certainly didn’t. “No.”

“Well, in that case I’ll go easy on you.”

But I didn’t want him to go easy on me. I wanted to feel his hand hot on my backside until the imprint of his palm marked my ass. I wanted to feel it every time I sat down, rosy and delicious, the way I’d always imagined it would feel. With the knowledge that this might be my only opportunity to find out, I sassed off. “Sure, wouldn’t want you to break a nail or anything.”

I was immediately rewarded with a loud slap to my rear that made me gasp out loud. My bottom tingled in a wonderfully painful way and I had to duck my head to hide my smile. “I’m sorry, were you going to start soon?”

Whack! Came the punishing hand again, this time covering the other cheek. I didn’t have any more time for quick quips because he was relentless, his hand spanking up one side and down the other so fast that all I could do was concentrate on the heat building on my bottom. Before long, I was whimpering, but still he pressed on, even giving my thighs a few smacks.

“I’m sorry!” I cried out each time his hand came down on my tender skin below my bottom. “I didn’t mean it!”

“Sure you did,” he replied cheerfully. “You wanted this, didn’t you, Sylvia?”

My only reply was a long groan as the spanks kept coming, one after the other.

“Come on, admit it.”

“All right, all right!” I screeched. “I did it on purpose! I’m sorry!

“Oh, I’m sure you are,” he chuckled. The swats had slowed, but they were harder to take.

I gritted my teeth, annoyed that he found it so easy to laugh at me. Well, I’d be damned if I begged for mercy again.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to bother because after one more hard spank to each cheek, he helped me sit on his lap. I couldn’t contain a little yelp when my blazing behind hit his thigh—yet, despite the pain, a delicious feeling of satisfaction warmed my belly and made me feel completely at peace.

“Make no mistake, mia cara. That was not a hard spanking, not by any means. Don’t give me cause to give you one, OK?”

I was surprised at him acting so serious, so much so that it took me a moment to nod my agreement.

“That’s a good girl.”

The praise made me shiver, but before I could reply I was being distracted once more by the feeling of his hot tongue on my breasts. His tongue slowly traced my areola, making my nipple become a hard pebble. Just when I thought I would burst from longing, his teeth bit down gently on my nipple, making me moan in heightened pleasure that riveted throughout my body.

Unable to take anymore, I disentangled myself from him long enough to shove him backwards. Once he’d landed on his back, I was on top of him, my hand fumbling for his zipper.

“Whoa there!” he laughed. “I like a girl who takes what she wants.”

“Shut up,” I rasped before thrusting my tongue into his mouth.

He grasped my arms tightly, pulling me to him as our tongues dueled together. I put all my hunger, all my unmet desire into that kiss until it felt like we were both fighting for control. But Jake, for all his playful, unassuming manner was not giving way easily and in the end, I submitted, melting into him and letting him lead. His hands roamed my body and I gave myself to the sensation, letting him lead where he would.

My hand delved boldly into his pants and as I captured his stiffening cock he groaned into my mouth. The next thing I knew, he was tugging down my skirt, ripping down my underwear while I lifted my hips to make it as easy on him as possible. “Bedroom?” I managed to gasp when we broke apart for air.

“No time,” he answered, his voice throaty. Without a word of warning, he was clutching me to him and rolling onto the floor. He caught my head as we landed and I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity, at the sheer, delicious unexpectedness. “You’re so beautiful.” He let his eyes ravish me, inch by inch and I hid nothing from him.

“Fuck me,” I begged, my voice soft as a whisper.

“Naughty girl,” he accused, his grin wide and unrepentant. He wasted no time in complying with my brazen request, thrusting into me with so much power that I was groaning my pleasure from the onset.

I’d never been fucked in my life. Made love to, yes. Faked orgasms and endured awkward pawing, yes. But fucked? I’d never thought myself capable of being with someone who did that and yet, as I lay writhing beneath Jake, one hand in his hair and the other scratching down his back, I thought it was one of the most exciting, fulfilling experiences of my life.

Jake seemed to share my assessment. We moved together like two people crazed with pheromones, like animals thriving off the smell of sex. And God if it wasn’t wonderful. Just when I thought I would come, Jake surprised me by rolling again, putting me on top.

“Ride me, baby.”

I sat up, trying to get my bearings and then in my sudden movement, I knocked the coffee table. To my horror, one of the wine glasses fell over and wine spilled onto the carpet. “Oh, my God!” I gasped. “I’m so sorry!”

“Leave it,” he commanded huskily. “Casualty of rough sex.”

“Oh, is that what this is?” I teased. With that, I began to ride his cock, clenching my pussy as I did so to heighten his enjoyment. If his groans were anything to go by, I could consider myself successful.

When he came, I felt his seed spill inside me with a heat that warmed my body from the inside out until even my toes tingled with the sensation of it. I wasn’t far behind him. I arched my back and an unhuman, almost primal sound emitted from my mouth. Shortly after, I found myself collapsing on top of him and it was several long minutes before I caught my breath.

He seemed to come to right about the same time. “Are you OK?”

“Yeah,” I panted. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“How about a shower?”

“Sure.” I gave him a weak smile, neglecting to mention that I wasn’t sure I was capable of walking just yet.

He must have considered the possibility anyway, because after he’d stood on shaky legs, he offered me his hand and protectively wrapped an arm around my waist as we made our way to the bathroom. “I’ll get you some towels.”

I made a noncommittal reply—I was too busy looking at the bathroom to respond properly. It was huge! You could fit three of my bathroom in this one! Hell, it was bigger than my kitchen! And it didn’t look like it’d been decorated by his mother, either. At least, there wasn’t a single faux flower or pot of potpourri to be found anywhere. There wasn’t an annoying beach theme either—something so common to old-lady bathrooms. Not a single seashell in sight.

Instead, there were matching towels in bright blue and cream that, once unfolded, were bigger than beach towels and much more comfortable. There was a glass jar full of expensive-looking bath salts, and bars of soap that looked like they’d never seen water. On closer examination, they smelled like jasmine. I looked at the tub wistfully, but I knew I didn’t have time for a bath. Despite never having done this before, I was pretty sure that the next step was to shower as quickly as possible, find my clothes, and get the hell out. Only time would tell if an excuse would be required, not that I needed to fake one. I really was about forty minutes late getting back to work.

I had just turned on the water when I heard the door open softly behind me. Turning around, I saw Jake leaning in the doorframe, still deliciously nude. “Um, I was just going to…”

“I know. I thought you might like some company.”

My eyes widened at the suggestion, but before I could formulate a response I found myself giggling. “Does that line usually work for you?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I’ve never had a reason to say it before.”

Charmed despite myself, I didn’t protest when he stepped closer, pulling me to him for a long, lingering kiss. “The mirrors are getting steamy,” I murmured when we broke apart.

“Well, you are pretty damn hot.”

“It’s the shower!” I protested, slapping his chest. As I turned to get into the shower he slapped my butt in turn before he climbed in behind me.

“Be a good girl and share the hot water.”

I moved aside obediently, wondering how it could feel so natural to be in the shower with a man I’d just met—a man I’d just had sex with. It was definitely the weirdest experience I’d ever had, yet as hot water streamed down my body and Jake pressed near, soaping up my body, I found I was enjoying every minute of it.

“I’d like to see you again,” he murmured as he kissed the nape of my neck. “Is it too soon to say that?”

I moaned unintelligibly, feeling my sex clench tight as the feel of his lips aroused my body anew.

Jake slipped his hand around my waist and let his fingers stray until he was caressing the soft, curly hair around my pussy. With gentle care, he inserted a finger into my wet folds and I felt his cock hardening against my thighs. “You are so fucking tight.” The way he said it, his voice throaty with desire left no doubt that it was a compliment.

“Mmmm.” I stood on my tiptoes, head thrown back and eyes closed shut as his finger thrust in and out.

“I know we just…” He paused, and again his cock pressed against me.

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Give it to me.” It was a very un-Sylvia thing to say, but in the heat of the moment, damn, it felt right.

And give it to me he did. Without needing any more encouragement for me, he withdrew his finger, replacing it with his rock-hard dick. I bent forward, splaying my hands and balancing on the wall in front of me as he pumped into me from behind. He took it slow this time, and the heat in my belly unfurled, sending tingles of ecstasy throughout my entire body. I knew I probably sounded ridiculous, moaning like a cat in heat, but I couldn’t help it. Tight or not, having him inside me was nothing but pure, unadulterated pleasure.

My orgasm built and built as his slow, measured thrusts drove me wild with passion. When I finally came, I was screaming and clenching my toes as my soul took flight and reached for the stars. It was several long minutes before I realized we’d stopped and even longer before I thought to stand back up. Jake didn’t say anything—he gave me as much time as I needed and was still standing there when I recovered.

“That was… nice,” I said, wincing when I realized how inadequate a word it was for the time we’d spent together.

Luckily, he didn’t seem in the least offended. “Yes, it was. Very, very nice. Thank you.”

“Um… you’re welcome.”

We smiled awkwardly at each other before he suggested I go ahead and bathe. After I reached for the soap, he climbed out of the shower and gave me some privacy. Even as I soaped the sex off my body I was still trembling with little orgasms. Nice. God, it had been so much more than that.

After my shower, I’d put my clothes back on, exchanged a brief, five-second hug with Jake that seemed a bit awkward considering, and made my way to the car. Jake punched his number into my phone and made me promise to call. I’d meant it at the time.

But, as it turned out, we never did get around to that cup of coffee. While I went around in a perfumed, love-struck haze for the rest of the day, when I woke up the next morning it all felt like a distant, half-remembered dream. When I remembered that it wasn’t, that I’d walked into a bookstore and come out with a stranger that I’d then proceeded to have sex with… more than once…

I could hardly look at my reflection in the mirror over the next week without wincing. What kind of person did that? And if my parents ever found out… God help me, I’d give one a heart attack and the other a stroke and become an orphan in one fell swoop thanks to my stupidity.

But even though I didn’t see Jake again—I avoided Joe’s at all costs; I didn’t even like to drive by the bookstore—it turned out to be quite the beautiful life after all, because roughly eight months later I gave birth to his son.

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