“Charlotte, wait for me,” Nikolai says, but I keep pushing forward. His father, having taken my side of things, says something to Nikolai, giving me just enough time to maneuver through the crowd and into the library.
This room is less filled with people and the air is thinner. I find the French doors leading to the gardens and push them open, taking in the light breeze as it passes over my face. Despite the summer heat, the fresh air cools me. The frazzled sensation ebbs with every step I take.
I’m barely to the first rosebush before a heavy hand wraps around my wrist.
“You really are being a naughty girl today, aren’t you?” Nikolai’s voice sends a tremor of warning down my spine. He has me pulled my back against his chest, one arm is draped around my waist anchoring me to him, while the other has snaked around and captured my face.
“Nikolai.” I wrangle with him, but he’s stronger.
“Let’s have a tour of the gardens, since that’s what you wanted,” he says against my ear. There’s a hint of a cigarette on his breath.
He releases me but snatches up my hand in his. Aside from the rosebushes and other flowers I couldn’t name if he put a gun to my head, there is a rotunda in the center with tall bushes acting as a shield against the rest of the party. My heels click against the stone pathway as he pulls me behind the greenery. There is a set of benches and a fountain in the middle. A secluded area that would be a perfect place to hide away from the city—if you can ignore the car horns every few minutes.
“You’re mad because I didn’t wear the black dress.” I yank my hand from his and sit on one of the benches. It was a petty move, defiantly wearing the blue dress just to piss him off.
“I’m disappointed you didn’t wear the dress. I was more disappointed when you went to the deli after I told you not to. It displeased me when you walked away from me the first time inside, and then even more when you did it the second time.” He folds his arms over his chest, looking down at me like he’s trying to lecture a petulant child.
“I didn’t work. You said I couldn’t work, and I didn’t.” I cross my legs at the knee and fold my arms over my stomach.
He runs his thumb over his chin but says nothing.
“You said I could have lunch from wherever I wanted, and I wanted a sandwich.” I shrug as he continues to glare down at me.
“From your own shop.”
“I like the ham we use.” I shrug again. I’m sure Viktor told on me. “I didn’t work. I just wanted to check in.”
“Because you don’t think they can handle the shop without you? Do you always hire incompetent staff?” His question strikes a nerve.
“They aren’t incompetent,” I defend.
“Then you’re a micromanager who has no confidence in your own staff.”
I clench my jaw. “You’re just pissed because I didn’t do exactly as you said.” I look away from him.
“You didn’t. That’s right. You wanted to push me, so you deliberately split hairs about the deli, then you defy me with your dress.” He hooks his hands on his hips. The golden lights strung around the garden casts enough of a shadow over his face that his features are hidden. “Stand up and bend over the bench. Put your hands flat on the seat and stick your ass out high for me.” He reaches for his belt buckle and my stomach does a somersault.
“What?” I blink, then look around. He’s back to being insane. “We’re outside, Nikolai,” I protest.
He locks eyes with me as he wraps his hand around the metal buckle and pulls the leather strap from his pants in one fluid tug.
“That was your choice. I wanted to take you upstairs to one of the bedrooms. But you had to do this your way.” He folds the leather strap in half and tucks the buckle into his palm. “I’d start moving soon or it’s going to be worse.”
“You’re going to spank me because I didn’t wear the black dress and I had a sandwich at my own restaurant?” He couldn’t be any less reasonable.
“No. I’m going to punish you because you insist on defying me. Which means you haven’t learned yet which one of us gives the orders and which one of us obeys them.”
I swallow back my rebuttal. The longer we’re out here, the more chance that someone happens upon us.
“It was a childish way to behave, purposely wearing a different dress and putting my hair up.” I’ll give him that much, it’s the truth. “But you’re overreacting and we’re outside. Someone might see us or hear us.”
“Then I suggest you hurry up. When dinner’s being served, most certainly someone will be sent out here to look for us.” He swings the belt against his leg quietly, rhythmically.
“Don’t do this, Nikolai. Not here.” I move to my feet, even while I’m pleading for him to change his mind. I guess I could try running through the house to go out the front door, but I doubt I’d make it. And he’d just have more naughty things to add to my list.
“You chose the place, Charlotte. Not me.” He nods toward the bench.
It’s a good thing we haven’t eaten yet. My stomach is ready to revolt thanks to the nervousness and awkwardness of the entire situation.
The wood of the bench is cool beneath my palms as I press into the seat. I close my eyes; I don’t want to see his shadow, or feel his presence. Maybe if I can let my mind wander far enough away, I won’t feel the belt.
He steps beside me and with a quick flick of his wrist he tosses the skirt of the dress up over my back. If the ground could just swallow me up and spit me out somewhere else in the universe, I’d be eternally grateful. I’m wearing a black pair of cotton brief panties. I could not be less attractive at this moment.
Without a word, he fists the elastic of my panties and drags them down over my ass until they fall down to my ankles. I step out of them when he tugs, and he pockets them. Tears already burn my eyes. If someone sees me like this, hears me when that belt strikes… mortification can kill, right?
The first lash of the belt is harsh; it cuts across my ass with a white-hot heat. Nikolai steps further to the side and brings his arm back again. I tense, but it doesn’t matter. The belt lashes right through my attempt to ignore it.
He brings it down again and again and again, without giving me a second to process or breathe. It’s just pain. Overwhelming, suffocating pain and all I can do is clench my lips together to keep from screaming.
Tears roll down my cheeks and I want to run away. There’s no escape here though.
His hand roams over my ass and it takes me a moment to register that the belt is coiled up on the bench beside my left hand.
“I don’t like this, punishing you when you look so pretty tonight. I don’t like making you cry, not like this,” he says softly while running his fingertips across the stripes his belt has made. His hand moves lower, between my thighs until he finds my pussy.
With just a feathery touch, my body opens for him.
“Tell me you’re sorry, Charlotte. Tell me you’ll be a good girl for the rest of the night.” He strokes my clit. I tighten my hands into fists. “Tell me you’ll be my good girl.”
I look over my shoulder, catching his gaze with mine. I’m expecting anger, or the stare of a crazy person. But all I see is dark desire in his eyes. And it matches my own.
“I will, Nikolai. I’ll be your good girl tonight.” If he will keep touching me like this, I’ll be so damn good.
He smiles; it’s a small lift of the corner of his lips, but it’s genuine.
“I’m going to fuck you now, Charlotte.” He pulls my panties from his pocket. “You’ll need to keep quiet this time, but only this time.” He presses the cotton against my lips until I open my mouth. He shoves them inside. “These will work; I left my gag at home.”
The silent plea in my eyes only makes him grin.
I watch from over my shoulder as he stands behind me, unbuttoning his pants. I’m listening so intently, I can hear the zipper pass through the teeth. I hear something else, and I notice he’s tearing a condom wrapper open. He rolls it onto his cock and while the wrapper still hangs from his teeth, he grabs my hips and thrusts into me.
I groan, bucking upward at the intensity and fullness of his cock.
“Good girl,” he says, and the wrapper falls onto my ass. Using my hips, he pulls me toward him as he thrusts forward.
Already, I can feel my arousal peak.
“Play with your clit, Charlotte. Rub yourself,” he orders and for a second, I think of defying him again. Only a second, because every time he plows forward, his hips hit my sore ass. A reminder of what happens when I defy Nikolai.
I haven’t had a boyfriend in two years. Bringing myself to orgasm is an act I excel at, but it’s different this time. I’m not controlling this, even though it’s my fingers, I’m not in control. Nikolai is.
“Good girl,” he says when my fingers are between my legs, rubbing my clit in the exact circular pattern I need, with precisely the right pressure.
“Oh,” I moan through my own underwear. His fingernails dig into my skin, and it sends me to another level of arousal. I like it.
No. Fuck that. I love it. The tiny bite of pain mingled with all the pleasure he’s giving me. It’s not fair to have so much enjoyment while I have to keep silent. Maybe that’s another form of punishment he’s using. If I’d listened to him and let him take me on a tour of the house, we could be upstairs in a bedroom. No one could hear me. But we’re outside now. In the gardens where anyone can walk by and hear us.
“Do you want to come for me?” he asks, his voice raw and tense.
I nod. What else can I do?
“Then come, Charlotte. Show me you can behave. Show me you can be a good obedient girl for me.”
And it’s that word—obedient—that normally would send me into a rage that heightens my need to explode. It’s wrong, feeling this way, right? But it doesn’t matter. I’ll analyze it later. Right now, I just need to keep rubbing, and feeling his cock fill me with each stroke.
“Obedient girl,” he says, as though he knows exactly what words to stay.
And he’s right.
My body pulls tight like a violin string, then lets loose, rocketing me into a swirling storm of pleasure. I slap my hand over my mouth, trying to keep myself from screaming. It barely works.
“Fuck,” he groans from behind me and thrusts even harder into me as the waves begin to soften within me. “Fuck! Fuck!” His voice gets louder as he pounds into me. Another thrust, then another before he stills inside me.
Several moments pass and then I gently pull my panties from my mouth. They’re soaked and crumpled, and my tongue is dry.
Nikolai pulls free of my body and walks away to the garden wall to take care of the condom. I stand up on shaky legs and smooth out the skirt of my dress.
I see him tuck a handkerchief into his pocket, then he works his zipper closed as he walks back to me. Picking up his belt, he eyes the panties in my hand.
“Put them on.”
“They’re all wet,” I say, somewhat embarrassed.
“I didn’t ask if they were wet, I said put them on.” He works his belt back through the loops.
I glance up at his face to check if he’s serious.
I guess I’m still learning lessons.
I step into them and pull them up in place. It’s uncomfortable and my cheeks are hot from having to do it, but I think that was his point.
“There.” He smiles at me and runs the back of his hand across my cheek, brushing away a loose curl.
“Do you want me to take my hair down?” I ask; some of it has probably fallen loose of the pins anyway now.
“Are you trying to have the freshly fucked look for when we go back inside?” he asks with a tilt of his head.
“Then you can leave it up.” He cups my cheek, running his thumb over my bottom lip. “We should get inside before they call us for dinner.” He leans down, brushing his lips across mine. It’s gentle. Featherlike.
I hate it.
I want more.
And the way he looks at me tells me he knows it.
He slides his hand down my arm and laces his fingers between mine.
“Let’s go.” He tugs my hand and like the obedient girl he wants me to be, I follow him through the gardens and back into the house.