I yanked off the dirty clothes, cringing the moment I slipped into the water. Within seconds, I found the steam and the heat comforting, allowing my aching muscles to relax. I closed my eyes, woozy from exhaustion, yet the worry and fear continued to burrow into me.
But the memory of his eyes continued to bore into mine, so sultry and evocative, a sheer glance into the man’s soul. I wanted to learn everything about him; what he hungered for in life, what kind of hopes and dreams he had, and the horrors he’d obviously faced in the past.
Most of all, I wanted his body wrapped around mine, keeping me close as his rough fingers touched every inch of my naked skin. A moan slipped past my lips as I envisioned his body; the long muscular legs and chiseled hips, his broad chest and shoulders, strong arms that held more power than any man I’d ever known. And his beautiful and delicious cock.
Licking my lips, I couldn’t resist, my hunger off the chain. I slipped my hand into the water, sliding my fingers ever so delicately around my nipples. They were swollen and hard still from his aggressive touch alone, more sensitive than ever before. I bit back a cry as I pinched one, my legs trembling. I could almost picture him hovering over me, commanding me to open my mouth then thrusting his shaft all the way inside until the tip hit the back of my throat. I could feel his heated gaze, the way his eyes raked over me, the husky growl slipping up from the very depths of his being.
I slid my hand further as I opened my legs as wide as possible, finding my clit and teasing. The sensations crawling through my skin, saturating my muscles was incredible. I swirled my finger around and around my clit, taking panting breaths as I savored the tingling jetting into my bloodstream. I wanted nothing more than to have his mouth on my pussy, licking and sucking, his fingers driving deep inside. I craved his cock plunging in and out of my asshole, claiming what belonged to him. But I wanted even more.
A giggle slipped past my lips as I swung my leg over the edge of the tub, sliding further into the water. I tickled my outer folds, slipping just the tips of my fingers into the opening of my pussy. Then I was unable to hold back, jamming them all the way inside, jerking up in the water from the intense pleasure. Why wasn’t he here? Why wasn’t he the one dragging me to pure ecstasy?
“I can see I have a very bad girl on my hands.” His booming voice rocketed throughout the space, floating down and across me.
My eyes snapped open, shame shifting from the tips of my curled toes all the way to my face, creating a sizzling series of electric currents pooling across my cheeks. “I, um…”
“Uh-huh.” Hawk held no expression, but I could still see the twinkle in his eyes as he crouched down, rolling up his sleeves. “I didn’t say you could play with yourself. Did I?”
“No. I mean no, sir.” Why did the single word of authority seem so right?
He grabbed a washcloth from the counter, dropping onto his knees. He dipped it into the water before reaching for the soap.
“What are you doing?”
“Giving you a bath, since you obviously have difficulty following directions.”
Shivering, I hunkered further into the water, trying to read his body language. For a man of few words, his actions were very well defined.
“Sit up,” he directed, locking eyes with mine.
I did so without hesitation and when he took my arm, rubbing the cloth up and down in sweeping motions, my pussy clenched all over again. I studied his face, the subtle lines crossing his forehead. He’d seen difficult times. That much I could tell. “Who are you, Hawk?”
A quick snort was following by another round of silence as he took his time gently washing my skin, barely sliding the cloth over my scratches. He took my other wrist into his hand before speaking. “A former army ranger captured and held as a prisoner of war for almost ten months. A former rancher with a love of horses. A member of the Missoula Hotshot team, wildland firefighters. A man who enjoys his peace, far removed from people.”
“In other words, a lonely man with no intention of trusting anyone ever again.” I wasn’t surprised at hearing what had to be a decorated past, but his incarceration must have been the beginning of his need to be all alone.
“I have my reasons for being alone, Kelly, just like you have your reasons for keeping secrets.” He continued to gently wash, moving to my chest.
Even though the water remained sizzling, I was shivering with every swipe of the cloth, uncertain of what to say or how to approach him.
Exhaling, Hawk swirled the washcloth around my breasts, his breathing scattered and heavy, his nostrils flaring. “Being locked inside a basic metal box for long periods of time can change a man. Then having your government turn their backs can be debilitating in many ways.”
“But there’s more. Isn’t there?”
He shifted his gaze up to glance at my face, shrugging as he gently pushed me forward, trickling water down my back. He inched closer, easing a strand of hair from my eyes. “There’s always a story when you return home.”
“Who was she? Your girlfriend?”
I could feel him bristling and held my breath as his hand clasped around my neck. Even the veins in his neck were bulging. A subject not to be broached.
“The sheriff of Missoula is a friend of mine. Gage and I have been buddies since we were kids.”
I held my tongue, hunkering forward as he brushed the cloth down my spine. I was shocked how mesmerizing this was, a man giving me a bath, making certain my injuries were taken care of even after everything. He was such a complex man.
“I wanted to find out exactly what happened.”
“And he told you?”
“He found out exactly what I needed to know.” Hawk shifted his position, dunking the cloth in the water before sliding his hand all the way down the length of my leg. “He also looked into your past.”
It was my turn to bristle, my heart skipping. “Then you know.”
“About your previous record? Yes. Honestly, I don’t give a shit.”
His frank words gave me a smile. I leaned over the tub until our faces were only inches apart. “Don’t you want to know why I behaved so badly when I was younger?” I could almost see a smile forming on his face, could hear the words ready to slip from his mouth. As if today were any different.
“You’ll tell me when you’re ready,” he stated in such a matter-of-fact tone. “Stay still.” He pulled my leg out of the water, washing between my toes.
The entire moment was so intimate, even more so than the amazing sex we’d had before. “Like you’ll tell me what the bitch did to nearly destroy you?”
I was prepared for a stern lesson in not being allowed to invade his privacy or even a slap to the face. I was actually rewarded with a genuine smile, a more relaxed stance.
“Chantal wasn’t always a bitch. She just decided to live her life when she was told I was presumed dead.”
I bit my lip, struggling with my own emotions. The agony must have been excruciating. As he slid the cloth along the inside of my leg, the edge of it brushing across my pussy lips, I couldn’t hold back a whimper. I was so aroused, every part of me aching for his touch.
He tilted his head until our lips were only centimeters apart. “Circumstances change people. Deaths. Births. They all have a tremendous and sometimes damning effect.”
Reaching out, I cupped his face, simply holding him. He allowed the touch for a few seconds before pulling away, concentrating on the work at hand.
I lay back, placing my head against the tile and spreading my legs wide open. “My parents were killed in a car crash when I was seven. I was devastated. They were my world, my everything. We were so happy together, did everything together. I was supposed to be in the car on the day a drunk driver ran into them, but my tummy was upset so my mother called a babysitter. My dad was receiving some honor at his work and they wanted me to be there with them, just like always. Three peas in a pod, my father used to say.” I noticed that he was rubbing the same spot over and over, his eyes glistening.
“Anyway, I was almost catatonic, even placed in a hospital for a little while. I had no other family. I honestly never asked my parents why they were so very much alone. I learned when I turned eighteen that my father had been an orphan and my mother’s parents had died when she was very young. She had no brothers or sisters, no living relatives that could be found with one exception. My grandmother who lived in Germany. She refused to take me in.” I laughed bitterly, remembering the single day I talked to the woman on the telephone. She acted as if I was some ugly spawn.
“I’m so sorry, Kelly.”
“Unfortunately, by the time I turned nine, I’d been in three foster homes. Things got worse after that. I was angry, unable to cope with anything. I’m lucky I didn’t end up on the street. So you see, I have no one to care about, not a single person who gave a shit about me. I think that’s why I allowed myself to get involved with the Landosa family. Sadly, they were just as fake as every foster family who’d promised to love me.”
I noticed the change in his demeanor, anger furrowing on his face. His hand was shaking, his jaw clenched. I took his hand into mine, forcing his palm against my chest. “I’m really okay about my past. I learned how to be self-reliant.”
“Yeah? That may be true, Kelly, but Gage talked to the Landosas. They mentioned you attempted to extort money from them. That’s why you were fired.”
“What?” Great. The news continued to get better and better. The lies even worse. I should be surprised, but I knew they would stop at nothing to protect their world.
“Why do they have it in for you?” His question wasn’t exactly an accusation, but fraught with anger and disgust.
“Because…” I took several deep breaths. “Because they were the ones extorting from their clients. Yes, I managed to grab some evidence of the truth.”
“Do they know this?”
“I didn’t think so but maybe.” I should have known every moment of my past would come back to haunt me.
Hawk wrung out the cloth, folding and placing it on the edge of the tub. “They may have some connection to the sheriff here in town.”
“How? That doesn’t seem possible.”
“Anything is possible, Kelly. You should know that by now. I will find out one way or the other and before you ask, I believe you.”
Whatever else he’d done on his trip to see the sheriff had given him enough to stand by me. Me of all people. I shrank back, almost hyperventilating.
“No one is ever going to hurt you again, Kelly. That I will promise you.”
While a part of me hungered for the gentle man I’d just seen, the protective side of him was just as amazing. His mouth twisted, his breathing ever more rapid as he reached for the plug in the drain.
“You should get dried off. I’ll make some dinner.” He rose from his knees, barely peering down at me.
All I could do was stare up at him.
Hawk gave me a nod of respect and turned toward the door.
He stopped short, those massive shoulders of his rising and falling harder than his chest.
Even thinking the words was foreign, so bizarre in my mind but actually saying them and meaning them? Mind-blowing.
There was no movement from him at all. He stood in the same position, quiet as a mouse.
I allowed the receding water to splash as I rose to my feet, refusing to grab a towel. “Look at me.”
Hawk dropped his head and I could see the moment when he clenched one fist, pulling his hand to his mouth.
“Look at me. Please,” I half whispered.
Another ten seconds passed before he swiveled, those gorgeous blue eyes never blinking. “What did you say to me?”
“I asked you to punish me and I mean it. What I did was reprehensible, and I deserve whatever form of discipline you require.” I realized there wasn’t a portion of my body that wasn’t trembling.
Not from the cold.
Or from desire, even though my nipples ached, my pussy leaking down onto my thighs.
Simply from fear of rejection.
Hawk swallowed twice before raking his hand through his hair, his gaze falling beseechingly slowly to my breasts then all the way down. He snapped his head to the left, staring at the wall. “Do you understand what you’re asking me?”
“Uh-huh. I mean yes, sir.” The moment seemed cathartic for us; perhaps we both needed more trust that we were willing to admit.
The debate was profound on his face, his body shifting back and forth. Then he lifted his head, his expression shifting to nothing but one stern, dominating man. “Then turn around and face the wall.”
I nodded, biting my lip to keep from whimpering as I did as I was told, shifting around to face the cold tile. I counted to five as I heard him rustling and I knew exactly what he was doing.
Unbuckling his belt.
I sucked in my breath, wet and huddling like the very bad girl he’d called me. I did deserve this and perhaps much worse, but the embarrassment of standing naked in a shower, not only asking but begging to be punished was almost too humiliating.
Bad girl. Bad girl. Bad girl.
The words played over and over again in my mind.
I tried not to glance in his direction but with a slight tilt of my head, I was able to see what he was doing in the reflection of the mirror. He was even more haunted than before, his face grim as he tugged the leather strap from his jeans, taking his time to fold the belt then snapping it.
I jumped, biting back a whimper, blinking several times in order to keep the tears away. I didn’t want to cry, to show any signs of weakness.
But maybe that’s what we both needed.
Hawk rubbed his hand across my bottom, moving from one side to the other. “You could have gotten yourself killed.”
“And Buck. I know. I’m so sorry.”
“Are you really, Kelly? Are you sorry that you had no forethought as to what could happen? Are you sorry that you assumed the worst of me? Are you apologizing for the fact that I was frantic searching for you?”
“Yes. Yes. Yes! I want you to believe me. I adore Buck and I adore… you.” There. I’d said the words. If they bothered him, I couldn’t notice.
“Twenty strikes. Then we’ll see how remorseful you really are.”
There was such a hollowness in his words, as if admitting the anxiety he felt was far too painful.
“Yes, sir.” I closed my eyes and the silence of the next few seconds was almost too much to bear. When I finally heard the whooshing sound, I was almost giddy, ready to accept my punishment like a good little girl.
The second the strap was sliced across my backside, I thought pain would explode inside. Instead, I barely felt anything, as if he was being far too lenient. I shivered, palming the tile and attempting to control my breathing. The second smack brought tingling sensations rocketing through every inch of my legs.
But the third…
Dear God, the second he powered the third against my bottom, I almost dropped to the tub floor. “Fuck!” The word slipped past my mouth before I could stop it. His answer was a solid growl followed by two additional cracks, one coming after the other.
The pain was blinding, shifting into raw agony. I kicked out one foot, swearing a string of cuss words in my brain. I had no idea how brutal a belt could be. I let out a long breath, whimpering softly when he brushed his fingers across my bottom.
“You’re going to feel this for a long time, Kelly. As you should.”
I bit back another whimper, tears slipping from my lashes. I deserved this. The reminder did little good as the anticipation of another round kicked my ass. It came quickly, Hawk issuing four in a row, one landing on my upper thighs. This time, I ducked, pulling completely away, hovering in the corner. “I’ll be good.” Why had I spouted the words? I dared glance at him, seeking some kind of approval.
The strain was evident on his face, but he simply lifted a single eyebrow. “Remain in place. I don’t want to have to start over.”
Oh, dear God, no. No! I shifted back into position, pressing my face for comfort against the cool tile. The next round seemed muddled, both the sound and the anguish. I knew my legs were shaking, much like my heart was skipping beats. I could tell my bottom was crimson, the wave of heat extending all the way down my legs. Nothing had ever felt this painful before.
His breathing became more ragged, the man taking several deep breaths before he continued.
The cracking sound as he snapped his wrist was a damn good reminder of why I needed to obey him. The thought brought a mixture of guilt and remorse, and a question in my mind of how I could allow this to happen. Even wanting it.
Requesting a spanking.
I was not the woman who’d been nearly broken several times. I was strong and vibrant, alive and… happy. The word entered my mind again. This man made me happier than anyone ever had before. I’d lost count of the number of strikes, my mind buzzing and my ears ringing as he smacked me again.
Then I knew it was over, the belt being dropped to the floor. Everything seemed in slow motion and I slumped against the tile, slapping one hand against the wall. I slipped slightly and suddenly began to cry in earnest, sobbing until my chest hurt.
I almost wasn’t prepared for his strong arms surrounding me, pulling me against him. Even as the scraping of my bruised bottom sliced against his rough jeans, the sensations shifted from agony to ecstasy. I was in his arms. I was being cared for.
I was even being loved.
Why was it so difficult to believe that anyone could care for me?
The sobbing continued as he held me, whispering sweet words into my ear that I couldn’t understand. When he finally turned me around, one hand cradling my head, the other rubbing up and down my back, I nuzzled into him.
The warmth of his body, the scent of the man himself was like a godsend and I allowed myself to cry. I was as open and raw with him as anyone ever before, clinging to his shirt even as the heat increased between my legs. Desire roared like a freight train, catapulting into me, adding gasoline to the already lit fire.
I lifted my head, breathing so hard that I was lightheaded. I could see the same amount of hunger in his eyes, could tell by the feel of his hard cock that he wanted me desperately.
He cupped both sides of my head, his lip curling before he crushed his mouth over mine, working his lips in a crazed and heated manner. When he finally thrust his tongue inside, entwining his with mine, I fell against him, jerking at his shirt, longing to feel his skin.
The touch was enigmatic, so powerful that there was no way either one of us could stop. The electricity soared, forcing an ache that could only be quenched by this man. This brute. This hero.
The kiss was frantic, infused with dark cravings and burning need. He dominated my tongue, swirling it back and forth in an almost violent dance. But he was in full control.
He was taking possession.
He was claiming me once again.
Only this time, he would never let me go.
When he broke the kiss, I’d never seen such a carnal look on his face before. He growled as he tore at his shirt, dragging it up and over his head. I grabbed for his button, yanking the zipper, peeling the fabric away. I needed to wrap my hand around him, fondle his delicious cock. I needed to ride him like a wild stallion, squeezing as he erupted deep inside.
Hawk took deep and ragged breaths when his cock was freed, sliding his hands under my bottom and lifting me into the air.
I threw my legs around his hips, clawing at his shoulders as he positioned the tip of his shaft just past my slickened folds. There was no waiting, no gentleness. His primal needs took over as he jerked me down, forcing me to take every inch of his throbbing cock. He spread me apart, filling me, leaving every muscle aching. He was so large, driving into the very core of my being.
He threw his head back and roared as he shoved me against the tile, powering his hips as he plunged in and out. The angle was pure ecstasy, driving me immediately into a state of bliss.
I wrapped my hand around his hair, holding on as he fucked me in a savage fashion, every brutal slam of my body jarring but so exciting. I clamped my pussy muscles, intertwining my feet together and draping my hair down and across his face.
Our lips barely touched, our hearts racing together and I heard his whispers, sexy and possessive.
“Mine. All mine. No one else will touch you.”
I purred out his name over and over again as he used his massive thigh muscles to hold me aloft, driving in rapid and crazed motions. Stars floated in front of my eyes, echoes of our wild fucking filling the bathroom space.
“Yes. Yes. Yes. Uh. Uh.” The words were forced from my throat, the sounds as guttural as the ones he was making. We were two animals mating, unforgiving in every manner. Nothing could ever feel this fabulous.
Hawk continued the brutal pace, thrusting harder and faster, his breath skipping. “Mine.”
He kept repeating the word, as if I was going to run away. Nothing else mattered but being here with him. I raked my nails down his back, my pussy muscles twitching to the point I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop the raging orgasm.
A smile crested on his face as he kissed my lips, my nose and chin, somehow keeping the incredible pace. “Come for me, sweetheart. Come on my cock.”
The demand was like music to my ears. There was no holding back, no way of stopping the climax. I shifted, digging my knees into his side, clenching my pussy muscles around his shaft, savoring the combined animalistic sounds.
Then I lost it.
The orgasm swept through me like wildfire, scorching every last nerve. My vision was cloudy, vivid and colorful hues flashing in front of my eyes. There was no sound but a strangled hiss as the climax continued building, sweeping through every nerve and blood cell.
“That’s it. Come again.”
There was no way I could take any more, the pleasure too great.
But another orgasm ripped through me, shooting me to absolute nirvana. He refused to stop, jutting his hips forward as he drove me against the wall. The ringing in my ears continued and I had zero control of my body, the ecstasy leaving me exhausted.
As his breathing changed, becoming shallow pants, I struggled with the last bit of strength I had, clamping around his cock like a tight vise.
“Fuck. Yes. Yes!” His entire body shook violently when he came, his face pinched and his mouth twisted.
I could feel him pumping his seed into me, filling me completely. For a few glorious seconds, we were as one.
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