I’m escorted unceremoniously back to my room. Sean opens my door and waves his arm inside as if he’s a real estate agent ushering me into a new listing. While it grates against every part of my nature, I step into the room as instructed. After all, I have literally nothing else to do.
“Good night, Miss Granger.” Shaking his head, he steps back into the hall and closes my door.
And locks it.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I mutter, trying the door anyway. It’s well and truly locked. Turning back to the room, I slowly start sinking to the floor until I’m resting with my legs out in front of me and my head against the door.
The room is huge, probably the same square footage as my entire apartment. Possibly more. The carpet is thick and soft and a light cream color that suggest either that my new landlord spends a fortune in cleaning services, or the room is seldom used. The bed is enormous and piled high with pillows that neatly coordinate with the snow-white duvet cover. Opposite the door are floor-to-ceiling windows dressed with gauzy drapes.
When I look out, the New York skyline greets me. The brief relief from the comforting view of the familiar city is somewhat dampened when I realize how incredibly high up I am. My talents do not extend to flight or scaling skyscrapers.
The chest of drawers is empty, save for some dust collecting in one of the top drawers. The closet is a walk-in, and easily usable as a spare bedroom. The bins on the top shelf of the closet are filled with spare towels and blankets. Aside from the empty hamper and a collection of swanky padded clothes hangers, the closet is empty.
I wander back into the bathroom and take my time looking in every drawer and cranny. Other than the toiletries from earlier, I find a manicure kit that got shoved into the back of the bottom drawer, a stash of cleaning products and spare toilet paper rolls, and a hair dryer. Perfect. Now all I need is the bathtub. I snort. I’m not the suicidal type. Twisted, broken, severely messed in the head, and wrapped in a delicate layer of sarcasm, yes. But not suicidal.
Flopping onto the sinfully comfortable bed, I let my mind drift over the last few hours of my life, which unfortunately is currently a giant pile of I don’t know meets fuck my life.
Starting with who is Sean O’Connell? And why am I here? I think back to my conversation with Pierre about the mafia families of New York. I feel like it’s a reasonable assumption that I’m currently with the Irish mob. Fuck. Why didn’t I ask more questions about the other families? Sean says that Popov started a war. Do I trust that? I sure as hell don’t trust Popov. I remember Pierre saying that when the families of New York went to war, Popov would be the cause of it.
Jesus, Rocky, did you bite off more than you can chew.
Between the distant sounds of traffic, my overall exhaustion, and the really comfortable bed, I’ve started dozing off, with only paranoia and residual adrenaline warding off the allure of sleep.
It occurs to me I haven’t heard a sound coming from inside the house in hours, at least by my clock-less estimation. I peek out at the cars buzzing around below my windows. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but it has traffic patterns like every other metropolis. If I had to guess, it’s well after midnight.
Crossing the room, I stand by the door and listen. Silence.
As I stare at the handle, it occurs to me that the lock might be more decorative than anything else. After all, this doesn’t exactly look like a holding cell. More like a guest room.
Briefly, my cautious mind tells me that I’m about to do something incredibly stupid. Clearly in contrast to all the stellar life choices I’ve made so far. I take my manicure kit and one of the hangers and begin chopping away with the ridiculously tiny cuticle nippers at the satin and padding wrapping the hanger.
Bingo. I start to unravel the twisted wires that make up the flexible core of the hanger, until I’ve got a piece about a foot long, and bend it into a deep curve.
Bare feet aren’t ideal for this little stroll, but broken heels are worse—loud and uncomfortable. Considering the rest of my clothes, my current borrowed and far too large clothing is as good of a jail break outfit as I could hope for.
I slide my wire between the door and the jamb, the curve causing it to wrap around the latch and return to my side. Slowly, I pull the wire forward while pushing the handle. Each and every pop, creak, and scrape sounds like it might as well be an explosion to my anxiety-riddled brain. With a final ominous click, the latch depresses and the door swings open.
Holy shit. That hasn’t worked since I used to steal snacks from the teachers’ lounge in middle school.
The door swings open on blissfully well-oiled hinges. Peeking out, the hall is empty. I tiptoe out and close the door behind me, leaving it unlocked in case I need to make a hasty dash for cover. Padding silently with my bare feet, I make my way down the hall, through the massive living room–kitchen combo, and to the door. Based on the numerous, non-decorative appearing locks, I’m guessing this is the entrance. Through the peephole it opens into a small lobby with an elevator and an unmarked door, which I presume leads to the emergency stairs. A small box on the door that matches a connecting one on the jamb inclines me to believe it’s alarmed.
Naturally, this is the time I hear sounds of life from the opposite side of the house. Mainly, distant footsteps. My internal monologue has been replaced with a voodoo chant considering only of selected curse words.
No time like the present.
I slip out the front door, sending up a silent thank you to the heavens when no alarms start blaring. Which is dashed when the elevator doors slide open and reveal a very large man in a dark suit. His gray-flecked hair is buzzed short and his eyes fly open in surprise when he sees me.
“Bloody hell,” he gasps, the thick Irish brogue barely registering in my brain.
Without further consideration, I dash down into the stairs, ignoring the shrill alarm that follows. I can hear him crashing down the stairs behind me.
Taking the stairs two at a time, I’m flying down flight after flight until my breathing is ragged. The behemoth is still behind me, his loud footsteps and occasional shouts to stop keeping me apprised of his location.
Rounding the next landing, I hear more voices coming up the stairs. I can’t understand the Gaelic conversation, but they are very, very close.
Shit. I back up the stairs to the last landing and try the unmarked door. Not only is it unmarked, it doesn’t even have a handle on this side. I slam my shoulder into it. Nope.
The voices below have started shouting up to the giant above me. I back as far against the wall at the top of the landing as I can and wait.
The voices below me end up being two men, far younger than the giant, but of much thinner build. I run as fast as I can down the stairs and try to barrel through the smaller of the two. The lanky blond kid isn’t much older than me, and I’m pretty sure a pajama-clad woman running toward him at full speed was not what he was expecting. He tumbles to the ground. I do too, but my momentum carries me down to the next landing. Half crawling, I pull myself back up and start down the stairs again, just in time to run right into Red.
“Oh, fuck,” I gasp. He’s got a giant hand around each of my biceps.
“Lass, where you running off to now? Didn’t like the supper he fixed you?” He laughs at his own clever joke and starts to prod me back up the stairs.
Which I’m absolutely not doing.
“Christ, woman, why do you have to make everything so bloody difficult?” Patrick complains, before hoisting me over his shoulder.
“Put me down!” I scream, kicking my feet and trying to hit my fists into his kidneys. From my upside-down angle, I’m not having any real success. The behemoth and the other two have arrived.
“Stop bloody hitting me or I swear to all that is holy I will drop you on your head. There’s nowhere else to run, lass.”
Damnit. I hate that he’s right. There is nowhere else. I’m severely outnumbered and there seems to be another cranky Irishman behind every corner. It was dumb luck I made it as far as I did. Being carried over his shoulder and bouncing up and down every step as Patrick carries me up the stairs is making my head throb and I’m starting to feel seasick.
“Ok, fine. Just put me down.”
Patrick sighs, as if I’m stomping on his very last frayed nerve. Setting me down, he grabs my chin between two fingers and turns me to face him. “No more trouble. Walk your arse back up those stairs. Now.”
So I do. Behind me, his phone chirps.
“Aye. We’re headed back up.” He chuckles. “Gave you the slip, did she?” His cheerful tone is nicely contrasted by the muted growl coming out of the phone. I can’t make out the words, but the tone doesn’t sound particularly happy.
Patrick chuckles again before disconnecting the phone.
Waiting at the top of the stairs is a very, very angry Sean. His dark hair is ruffled from sleep. He’s barefoot, dressed only in a pair of dark gray sweatpants. I try to ignore his sculpted chest and shoulders with minimal success.
“What the fuck was that?” I can see him clenching his jaw as he speaks.
“Had a hankering for Chinese food?” I was aiming for a touch of bravado, but it fell majorly flat.
Sean grabs my biceps and pushes me through the door. As he closes it, I hear him mumble something to the behemoth. When he settles into a post outside the door, I realize my chances of a round two escape have just vaporized.
Sean leans against the kitchen island. Arms crossed over his chest, he focuses his arctic eyes on me. “What the hell were you thinking?”
“Um, that you kidnapped me and locked me in a bedroom. What do you think I was thinking? I was leaving.”
He regards this answer for several moments before speaking again. “I made it perfectly fucking clear. You are staying here.”
“I’m sorry, are you out of your fucking mind? Like are you actually touched in the head a bit? You kidnapped me. Don’t act like I’m the unreasonable one right now.”
“What exactly do you think happens to you outside? Do you think your boss is going to be just overjoyed to have you back? Or do you think he’s going to wonder why I killed every one of his men, but you just walked out?” Sean pushes off the island and stalks toward me.
I step back until my back is pressed to the wall.
He slowly closes the distance, like a predator circling his skittish prey. “You have no idea how big of a mess you’re in, little one. You are staying here.”
I tilt my face up to lock eyes with his chilly glare. “Bite me.”
Something gleams in his eyes. The corner of his mouth lifts in just the tiniest smirk. He makes a tsk-tsk sound.
“Oh, little one, I thought you’d never ask.”
Lightning fast, Sean spins me around. Grasping both my wrists in one large palm, he starts to walk me down the hall.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I try jerking my wrists away, but his grip doesn’t budge.
“Oh, I think it’s time we do a little attitude adjusting. You seem confused.”
We cross the threshold into his bedroom again. The room is done in shades of cool gray and black tones, with a large bed dominating the side closest to the en-suite bathroom. Opposite it is a small sitting area, complete with a fireplace, a pair of padded high-back chairs, and a sofa. I hear him grab something from the bureau as we pass. It’s not until I feel the cold metal against my wrists that I realize he’s handcuffing me.
“What the hell? Stop!” My thrashing around just elicits a laugh from him.
“Oh, little one, you don’t get a vote.” He walks us to the sofa and sits, pulling me over his lap.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“You seem a little confused. We’re going to correct that misunderstanding. Right now, you’ve got yourself into a very bad situation. The only place you are safe, the only way I can keep you safe, is for you to stay here.” He’s pushed my chest down, keeping his left hand on my back. His right hand sits ominously on my ass.
“What are you doing?” The hand has started massaging back and forth over my sweatpants-covered behind.
“What? The hell you are!” I try to get up, but the hand on my back presses me back down. Between this and the hand on my ass, I’m not going anywhere.
Slowly, he stops rubbing my ass and grabs the waistband of the sweatpants, dragging it down to my thighs. The air is cold against my bare skin.
The slap comes without warning. His large hand connects with my ass and I shriek.
“Language and fits won’t get you out of punishments.” His hand connects with the other cheek.
“That hurts!” It’s like hot pins and needles spreading across my body.
“It’s supposed to hurt. It’s a punishment.”
His palm connects with my ass three more times in quick succession.
I can feel tears running down my cheeks. “Stop!” I scream. I buck and thrash against him, but his grip doesn’t budge.
Again and again, his hand cracks across my ass. I can feel the heat radiating off my skin. I can see wet tearstains on the sofa in front of me. What is happening to me? I’ve never been spanked in my life, not even when I was little.
“Why are you being punished, little one?” He pauses to rub soft circles across my heated skin.
“Because you’re an asshole.”
He resumes the spanking.
“Why?” he asks, this time without breaking the rhythmic pace of the spanks.
“Because I ran away.” The next spank is even harder.
“Close, but no. Why are you being punished?”
“I don’t know!” I shriek at him.
More spanks rain down on my ass. He starts to move down my thighs and back up.
“You are being punished because you put yourself in danger by running away.”
“You made it down fifteen floors by the way. Which is impressive. Two landings per floor. Let’s say thirty spanks. Say it. Why are you being punished?”
“I ran away!”
“Try again, little one.”
“I put myself in danger.” It hurts, of course, but the humiliation of being actually, literally spanked is worse.
Sean goes back to rubbing soft strokes across my ass. He leans forward and whispers in my ear. I can feel his breath against my sweat-covered skin, sending a shiver down my body. “Good girl.”
The shiver is followed by a growing need between my thighs, and a confusing realization that I am very, very wet. My nipples are painfully hard, rubbing against the thin fabric of my t-shirt.
Sean shifts me slightly, pulling me back into position, and I feel his very hard, very large cock pressing against me.
Oh. My. God.
And then it starts again. One after the other, he rains down merciless spanks across my ass and thighs. I’m crying so hard it takes several moments to realize when he’s stopped.
“When I say I don’t know what else to do with you, I’m not being cute. By now Popov knows your body wasn’t at the scene, and he knows you didn’t close ranks with the rest of the Bratva soldiers. He will know you were with us.” He’s rubbing slow circles on my back, avoiding the heated skin on my ass. I almost wish he wasn’t. “Best case, he would just have you killed for betrayal. More likely, he would torture you for any information on our organization, then a little extra just for fun.”
Sean slowly slides the sweats back up over my ass. He tugs on the cuffs momentarily, before I feel them release. He pulls them off, closes them, and tosses them casually onto the high-back chair next to the sofa. He gently transfers me into the opposite chair. Apparently lifting a grown ass woman isn’t a problem for him.
I’m now eye level with the impressively large bulge occupying the front of his pants.
Seriously, that doesn’t fit inside a normal woman?
Sean clears his throat, and I blush. He clearly noticed me staring at his cock.
“To sum up,” Sean says, his tone serious, “you are staying here. You will be a good girl and behave.”
I can’t hold his steady gaze when he stresses the word. I stare down at my feet.
“Do you know what the definition of trust is?” he asks.
I shake my head.
“Trust is consistency over time. If you misbehave, I will punish you.”
He holds a hand out and pulls me to my feet. I see the faintest spark in his dark eyes.
He leans down and whispers, “And little one, I know exactly how wet you are after being spanked over my knee.”
I blush so much I feel the heat coming off my cheeks.
“But bad girls aren’t rewarded with orgasms.”
Oh. My. God.
He casually takes my hand and leads me back to my bedroom. “This time, actually go to sleep.”
The door closes, the lock clicks.
My attention shifts to the glorious bed. Exhausted, I snuggle into the plush blankets and fall asleep.