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Home / Stormy Night Publications Newsletter / His for the Taking: A Dark Mafia Romance by Samantha Madisen – Serialization (Part Two)

His for the Taking: A Dark Mafia Romance by Samantha Madisen – Serialization (Part Two)

Did you miss Chapters 1-6? You can find them here.

Chapter Seven


There was nothing to do in the stupid room, which pissed me off at first. Then it made me panic.

I investigated the room, but I tried to do it surreptitiously. A guy like this, I figured, probably had cameras all over the place.

There really wasn’t any way out. The window wouldn’t break, that much was obvious. The locks on the windows and the door were handprint scanners that blared ‘Access Denied’ when I got the nerve to try them.

I had a needle, and that was it. So finally, I lay down on the bed, because there really wasn’t much else to do besides sleep. I was hungry, but I wasn’t going to let him know that.

It was then that I had the time to think about what was actually happening.

My thighs were still slick from all the juices that his touch had produced. They slipped over each other as I turned on my side, and the throb in my pussy, which had never gone away, came roaring back to life as I took stock of what had just happened.

What the fuck was wrong with me? This guy was a total fucking stranger, who had marched into Kitty Bang like he owned the place and everyone in it—

—cold, steely gaze, hard muscle, dark tattoos, the set jaw of man who is very used to getting what he wants, and he wanted everything—

Stop it.

—the arrogant fucking bastard, and then of all things, spanks me

—with hands that could break, twist, immobilize, and yet caress—

Stop it.

Which is, okay, technically, not okay. And then he puts his finger right on—

—with fingers that knew exactly how to play me like an instrument…

The ache in my pussy was so intense, I didn’t overthink it. My fingers slipped into the wetness—I had never, ever been this wet before—and I summoned the memory of his finger sliding right over my clit like he knew every nerve of my body. I thought of his firm hand on my ass, and then I remembered the shape of his cock, the heaviness of it against my body, and imagined the way it would feel stretching me open and filling me up, while he stared down at me with those icy blue eyes…

“What do you say, Natalia?” he would growl.

“Thank you, sir.”

I turned my face into the pillow and bit it as my body spasmed and an orgasm shattered me. My legs were soaked with my juices, and my thighs trembled for minutes afterward, as I sweat into the sheets.

Jesus, I was going fucking crazy.

And what if he had seen all of that?

My cheeks felt hot as I reached up for my hair, to push the damp strands from my face.

I almost felt his fingers tugging the strands from my cheek, the wet lengths snaking over my neck, his hot breath against my skin as he whispered:

“I’m not done with you yet.”

I sat up.

Fucking Stockholm syndrome. Isn’t that what it was called?

I needed to get a grip.

I swiped the sheets around me, just in case he was watching, and then I stomped into the bathroom. It took some doing, but I figured out how to get the water on.

Okay. It did not help my Stockholm situation at all that this was the best fucking bathtub I’d ever imagined, let alone seen. It was like a small pool. At some point—I didn’t know how, or care—I turned on the bubbles. Jets of water came out of the concave seat and massaged me everywhere.

That included right on my sore ass, which at first was too tender, and then started to feel good, and then finally, got me all heated up again.

I moved, dunking my head. I stared up at the ceiling.

Then, after floating for a bit, I sat up and let my arms wade in front of me.

“Okay, Nat. Get your shit together,” I whispered to myself.

One: this guy was a kidnapper, an obvious bad guy. Really bad, if he made that fat-necked thug Andrej tremble like a little baby.

As fun as that had been to watch, and as fun as it might have been to have him raking his hungry eyes over my body… as fun as it might have been to imagine this guy pushing me to my knees and boring a hole through me with his blue eyes while I took every inch of his cock into my mouth…

What the fuck. I didn’t even really like doing that.

For anyone else…

Natalie, get the fuck back on track.

Okay…as fun as that might all be, it was all fantasy. He was a bad guy, a very bad guy, and I needed to get away from him.

Which led me to… why the hell I was here to begin with. He had let me go. So what had happened since I last remembered, and now, that made this freak show pick me up and lock me in this room with an IV? Why would he let me go and then kidnap me?

I lowered my face into the warm water until my eyes were level with the water’s surface.

Why would he want to give me ten thousand dollars and tell me to get out of town?

I had never even had time to think about that in full.

Try as I might, I couldn’t think of a single fucking reason someone would do that. Not for me. Especially not some hot bad guy I didn’t even know.

Okay. So let’s say I could convince him I didn’t do drugs, and that I’d get out of town and stop working at Kitty Bang Bang. Would he let me go?

I rose from the water to breathe, and then lowered myself back down.

Seemed unlikely, if you went by TV shows and shit like that. He seemed like some kind of criminal element, and I’d seen his face.

Panic knifed right through my heart again, and I had to rise up to take a few shallow breaths and get myself under control.

Okay. So… I guess if this guy was going to kill me, he was going to kill me.

Then why hadn’t he just killed me to begin with?

I shuddered. Maybe he was a twisted serial killer fuck, and he was going to torture me to death.

That was a terrifying thought, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get myself too hyped up about it. This guy just didn’t give off that kind of vibe. Also, I felt like a truly demented serial killer would have tied me to a table or something by now.

Maybe he just wanted to do really bad things to me sexually first.

I closed my eyes, a little disappointed in myself for having the slightest pang of desire about that idea.

Plan time, I thought.

If this guy was a killer, I was going to have try to fight back, which didn’t seem very hopeful, but I wasn’t going to let him off that easy.

If he wasn’t… and all he wanted was for me to promise not to go back to Kitty Bang Bang, then it seemed like the best idea to just convince him that that was what I was going to do. I would just… do whatever he wanted me to… and then I would get out of here as fast as my little legs would carry me. Maybe he’d give me money, maybe he wouldn’t, but when you’re facing death by serial killer, an option like that doesn’t seem too terrible.

And then…

My heart fell.

And then, what?

I would go to the police, because I couldn’t just leave. I would have to report this crazy psycho, because I couldn’t just obey him. I had Lucy to think of, and there was no way I was screwing her over.

I closed my eyes.

I was a bad liar. I had been all my life. It was a really a problem if you lived where I did and worked with the people I worked for.

So when this guy made me promise I would be good, blow town, and not go to the cops… was I going to be able to lie convincingly?

My chest felt like it was slowly filling with lead.

Fuck. I hoped so.

Chapter Eight


I didn’t know how much time passed, but however long it went on, I started to get hungry as hell.

I quenched my thirst by drinking water from the tap at the sink in the bathroom. After all, if there was one positive thing you could say about this place, it was that it was clean.

I started to get bored, and then I started to panic again. What if this crazy fucker had left me in here to die?

But just as I was starting to lose it, because the window I couldn’t break had gone dark, and I was starting to have even worse thoughts about slowly starving to death in that room, the door clicked again, and there he was.

The smell of food was the first thing that hit me, and it was practically orgasmic. I closed my eyes and reminded myself that this jerk was probably going to poison me. So I wasn’t going to eat that…

I opened my eyes.

Lobster? Was he fucking kidding me?

“I don’t eat seafood,” I said, lying about as unconvincingly as I have ever done.

He pushed the cart into the room and closed the door behind him. “That’s fine,” he said plainly, and removed the lids from several plates, the silver cover and all—to reveal that there was steak, chicken, and some kind of really fancy pasta in a bowl. And salad, and fancy-ass potatoes and sides that I couldn’t identify but knew were… really pricey.

He didn’t elaborate, but there wasn’t any need to.

My stomach, doing me no favors, growled slightly.

He opened the door and retrieved a basket from the hallway.

“Clothing. An e-reader with one thousand popular titles. A computer with preloaded movies—”

“How long are you going to keep me here?” I interrupted. My stomach growled again, which made me angry.

I regretted asking him this almost as soon as I had: my bottom burned with the memory of his discipline and I could hear the defiance in my voice. It hadn’t been my plan, I reminded myself. My plan was to play nice and get out of here.

But Mystery Man had a weird reaction to this question. A strange look flashed across his face, and then he closed his eyes.

Almost like he was counting to ten, dealing with an unruly child.

He set the basket on the bed.

And then, without a word, he turned and opened the door.

“Look,” I said, getting up from the bed, moving toward him, trying to show him I really could play along nicely. “I didn’t mean to sound—I just… want to know.”

And then, to my complete and total horror, my eyes welled up instantaneously with actual tears. I was thinking about Lucy, how I needed to help her, and that was right at the tip of my tongue, but then I decided not to give this guy any more ammunition than he already had, if he really was the sadistic bastard I thought he was.

He lifted a hand toward my face—not so much like a slap, more like a he was going to touch my cheek.

Then he jerked his hand away and growled, “You’ll leave when I say you can. Now eat something.”

He put a hand on the panel outside the door to shut it.

“And no antics,” he added with a snarl. “Or else.”

The door slid shut in my face.

“I’m not hungry!” I whisper-screamed at the door.

My stomach growled right after that.

I wiped my tears away impatiently and whirled around. First things first; I wanted clothes. I wanted my clothes but I guessed whatever this jerk gave me would be better than nothing.

Unless it was really fucked up.

The basket was expensive and hand-woven, which I dementedly admired for a moment as a nice accessory to my dream living room.

Folded neatly on top of the gleam of a laptop and the colored cover of an e-reader, which I recognized but didn’t really know how to use, were piles of garments that gave off that new-store, rich-person smell. The one in stores where you’re pretty sure you’re contaminating the air of by being in them.

I pulled things out one by one.

A nightshirt—pretty, blue, not especially sexual, expensive.

My face went red as I pulled out several matching bra and panty sets—black, red, and white. They felt like silk. They were exactly my size.

A dress, black, simple, cocktail.

And jeans—the really expensive kind, torn and faded in all the right places.

Shirts—expensive, made of soft material that glided over my fingers.

I dug through them, found a pair of yoga pants and a long-sleeved shirt (this was in case the opportunity to escape came up in the next few hours) and, tempted to try on all of the clothes but not wanting to be an idiot who played dress-up for her serial killer, I took out the computer and Kindle and tossed the clothes back into the basket.

Mystery Man Al had really good taste and they were classy as fuck, and all looked like they’d fit exactly.

I let out a huge sigh and sat down on the edge of the bed, staring at the wheelie tray of food.

Steak, lobster, chicken.

I folded my arms.

My stomach growled.

I had eaten lobster once, and it was some leftover shit from the Russians. I had also eaten caviar that time, and I hated it.

But the lobster was… well, fucking delicious.

This one had been prepared some way that a really great-looking sauce was poured over it.

My mouth watered.

I grabbed a roll and took a huge bite of it. I figured he couldn’t poison bread, and I didn’t even like rolls that much so I’d be fine with a few bites, just to get rid of the hunger pains.

But I was wrong, because that roll was half butter, and it melted in my mouth and made my eyes pop out of my head.

I crammed it into my mouth—very un-ladylike, but hey, if you’re about to be eaten alive by a serial killer, might as well eat like a pig beforehand if you want to.

I then stared at the plates, as the aroma of food filled the room and made my stomach bite me from the inside.

I went through the pros and cons in my mind.

Pros: I would get to eat the food. And not be hungry. And possibly have more strength to fight off this guy or run away…

I laughed derisively at myself. Who was I kidding? This guy was made of steel and a little muscle.

Cons: I would be giving in to him.

I wasn’t sure why that burned me so much. But it did. Two things were at play—one, that I didn’t want to look like a pushover for some reason, and two, that I wanted him to believe me when I finally said I was broken and would do what he asked.

If that’s where any of this was going. He could also be trying to knock me out so he could cut me up into little pieces.

I folded my arms and stared at the food.

Then I turned around and lay down on the bed with the Kindle in front of me, to figure out how the hell that thing worked.

Chapter Nine


After getting myself back under control—at no small expense, and no small effort—I made that little brat some food she couldn’t resist. I made some for myself, too.

It was easy enough to push it out of my mind that I was enjoying cooking for her.

But then, she started with the fucking waterworks.

Women have cried in front of me so many times I could spend the next year counting it off for someone, and I am—was—immune to it. Nothing gets through to me, which is just the way I like it.

Scratch that; it’s not only the way I like it, it’s the way it has to be. In my line of work, having someone tug at your heartstrings causes unprofessional decisions to be made. And I am a professional.

But when she started it up, and those big blue eyes of hers started leaking, that same infuriating, enraging, pain-in-the ass sensation I had felt earlier started clawing at my chest.

Fucking brat. I don’t need this.

I wanted to bend her over right then and there, and fuck my cum into her until she was overflowing; to get her to lie down for me and take it and lose her power over me; to make her cry for real because I was stretching her open with my cock and taming her ass with my thickest belt.

But as soon as I felt all these feelings closing in on me, closing around me like a man’s hand on my throat, I went cold as ice and got out of there.

It’d been a long time since I’d felt fear—that comes from not giving a damn—so it took me a few minutes, the walls of my house reeling around me, to recognize the feeling.

I was afraid of this little girl. Something about her made me afraid.

And now, that fucking brat was lying on her bed, reading a Kindle, ignoring all the food. Except the roll she had snarfed.


She was so fucking infuriating. I hated that she made me like her more by doing that—refusing to eat. She made me want to dominate her more, sure, but I liked that she was so defiant.

And I hated that I liked it. I hated that it would only make me enjoy my job more, I hated that I was starting to think less like a professional and more… personally about her.

Business is business, and nothing is personal.

I had a professional debt to Kyril. It was part of my code.

I could not be getting all fucked in the head about this girl.

I watched her—her long hair was spread over her shoulders and back, her ass was shapely and facing the camera. Beneath the pants, I knew that her skin was raw, that if I touched her she would have to yield to me. Maybe she would eat her lobster if I tied her up and swatted her bottom—

—and then filled her up, in every hole. Maybe then she’d break and get out of my mind and out of my chest where it felt like she was pounding inside my heart with tiny fists. If I could just get her to bend to my will, then I would lose interest in her.

I needed to get Natalia under control, so I could get myself under control and get out of there. Out of the state, out of the States, and back to my regularly scheduled life, where I didn’t care about anything or anyone.

But Natalia, whose stomach I could hear growling over the intercom, was staring at her Kindle and leaving all that food untouched. And something held me back from going in there and teaching her a lesson.


What had ever held me back from just doing my job? This was a job—a personal debt, but a professional one in its own way.

Just treat it like a fucking job, I told myself.

I reached forward and turned off the feed to her room.

I needed less emotion.

I paced the dark house, and then I got in my lap pool and swam. I’d rather have packed up and left—I could have, after all. I could have left the door open, and let that ungrateful brat wander out and back home and never given any of it another thought again. I could have let that house rot into the ground, never coming back, never thinking of it again.

That’s what I pictured, while I swam in my pool, lap after lap.

Because now, thanks to Natalia, I couldn’t do what I would have done.

And I hated that.

Chapter Ten


It wasn’t easy, but I resisted the food.

I couldn’t concentrate on anything on the Kindle, so I watched some movies without even seeing what was happening on the screen, my thoughts constantly churning, my body betraying me with a craving I had never felt before. I was furious with myself, on the one hand, for having anything but feelings of hatred for a guy who had kidnapped me and spanked me.

I was furious when I felt an ache in the center of my legs every time I thought of the humiliating way he’d turned me over and whipped me until I could feel my skin burning—even now.

I was furious that I liked the clothes he’d brought me, that I was having such… crazy, un-feminist thoughts like, wouldn’t it be nice to eat lobster and sleep on clean sheets in a nice room with nice clothes?

I was furious at myself for putting on the white underwear with red lace, admiring myself in the mirror, and wondering if he enjoyed looking at me.

I was furious that I almost took off my jeans and shirt and lay there on the bed for him to watch.

Furious that I liked the idea of him watching me.

Furious that I liked the hungry look in his eyes, the bulge of his arteries as he stared at me, the pulse in his cock against my leg.

I mean, seriously.

What the fuck was wrong with me? This guy was a maniac and I had been kidnapped, and he had a bunch of creepy tattoos and he was Russian or something, and I was going to die if I didn’t play my cards right.

What I didn’t get was why I was being allowed to just lounge in this room with movies and books and lobster.

Finally, I managed to drift off.

I was lying on my stomach when I heard the door click. I was so tired, I couldn’t open my eyes. My eyelids were like anchors, refusing to raise, and worst of all, I tried to lift my arms, and they were as weighed down as my lids.

My heart raced, but I couldn’t move. I heard him moving closer, so quietly it was no more than the faintest rustle.

Had he put drugs in the roll? In the water?

I fought to open my eyes or move, but I couldn’t.

Something warm and dry brushed over my ankle. I was so thoroughly paralyzed I couldn’t even jerk my leg away. The sensation traveled along my calf, up to the back of my knee, where I felt his hot breath, the moisture of a kiss, and the delicious tingle that went straight from my knee to my pussy. I was getting wet; I wanted to move and kick myself away… and I didn’t. I wanted him to continue, and that’s just what he did.

The bed sank a little as he climbed onto it. His lips traveled along the inside of my thigh, barely brushing my skin, igniting it. I quivered inside, unable to move, so that the shudder of delight splashed against the confines of my body like waves in a tank, and the center of my thighs screamed for his touch, for the feel of his tongue.

But it was not to be. I felt his hot breath on my wet pussy, his hands on my bottom, and then his lips moved over my ass, up to my lower back. I could feel his bare skin just above my back, hot, firm, radiating toward my back with him touching me.

Then his breath was on my neck, just like at the strip club. His fingers were in my hair, tightening, pulling me up so that my ear was next to his lips. “I’m going to fuck you, Natalia,” he growled. “And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

There wasn’t, but I wasn’t thinking of that with quite as much sorrow as I knew I should. He pushed my legs apart with his knees and slid my limp body back by the hair, until I was folded over with my chest on the bed and my bottom in the air.

I couldn’t see, but I could picture him there, on his knees, his hard cock in his hand as he arranged me in that submissive pose. I was so close to feeling him inside of me, and my pussy was throbbing, anticipating the sharp pain, the rounded fullness, the dull ache finally satisfied as he pounded into me from behind.

His cock was warm and large as he rubbed it over my clit, and I tried to gasp but could not even do that. He began to push forward, and my eyes rolled back in my head as the first few inches of his thick cock pushed me open—


Everything around me faded. I could move my body suddenly, and I sat up, finding a light gray light pervading the room.

Early dawn.

No one there.

My pussy still ached as though my dream had been real.

And the door was sliding open.

He was there—as big and muscular as I remembered, a scowl on his face. But man, what a face.

Stop it.

My heart pounded, and I clutched at the duvet as though I were naked, before realizing that my clothes were still on, and I was actually hot, sweating beneath my shirt.

And wet, embarrassingly enough, in other places as well.

The dream had seemed so real I could actually feel his lips on the back of my knee, which made me blush as he stepped into the room.

“You didn’t eat,” he growled.

Maybe I was a little out of sorts because I just woke up. Maybe the lingering dream messed with me, and maybe I was having an episode from low blood sugar. Maybe all those things combined together, because my resolve from the night before had gone straight out the window.

“No,” I said defiantly. “And I’m not going to, either, until you tell me just who you are and what the hell you are doing with me.”

It was a pretty stupid thing to say, and I regretted it instantly. I mean sure, I might be able to resist eating, but what was I going to do if he was like, ‘okay’ and walked off and let me starve?

He stepped into the room, and the door closed. He said nothing, simply put the lids on the plates of food with an unnerving—okay, terrifying—calm.

My stomach turned icy again, and my bottom felt hot as I remembered where this kind of sass had gotten me before.

“Do you imagine, Natalia, that you are in any position to give me an ultimatum?” he asked, looking at the polished plate cover for a second before shifting his gaze to me.

I froze.

Of course not, of course I wasn’t.

But I’d already thrown down the gauntlet. What was I supposed to do? Say I was sorry? Cave in?

I reminded myself that my plan had in fact been to do just that.

But instead of saying something like that, I jutted my chin out, opened my mouth, and said:

“Maybe not. But you can’t make me eat.”

His jaw flexed, and a moment of frightening silence passed.

I was getting under this guy’s skin, and I knew I had better back off.

“I can make anyone I wish,” he growled, “do anything I want, Natalia.”

Something twisted inside my chest.

I stared at him.

“I’m not eating,” I said quietly.

He moved with such calm toward me that I didn’t have the sense to so much as flinch. Someone walking toward you like that seems more like a person about to tell you bad news, or take your drink order, or something like that.

So when he lunged like a panther, out of nowhere, and picked me up suddenly and with such ease that I went flying through the air and was over his shoulder in less than a second, it came as a total surprise. We were out the door and moving through a dimly lit hallway in no time at all, and a fair bit out of the room before I realized that he was carrying me somewhere.

I squirmed and tried to push myself up, pushing against his back with my fists balled up, but his thick arm just coiled around my legs tighter, and he drew his free hand up to my lower back, and I was as immobilized as in my dream. Sure, I could strain against him and toss my head around a little, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I might as well have been trapped from the waist down in a block of concrete.

I continued to flail for a few moments, screaming obscenities at him, each one stupider than the next, until I realized that I was wasting energy hysterically and I wouldn’t get anywhere. I was sweaty, my arms and back were growing tired, and I wasn’t getting anywhere.

The hallway went on and on, but I couldn’t see much. How big was this place?

He made a sharp turn, I heard another beep, a puff of air, and the sound of a door unlocking, and we entered a dark space, which was frightening enough to make my heart stop for a second.

A light turned on, dim at first, warming up as me moved into the space.

I was in motion again before I got a chance to see anything, turning, hitting something firm but soft and silky on all fours. His hand pushed on my lower back again, and pressed me flat to what seemed like a bed, and he pinned me on either side of my torso with his legs.

I was stunned into silence and started to fight back again, pulling my hands up to push my torso up, even though I could feel that I wasn’t going anywhere. He grabbed my wrists, one at a time, and pulled them firmly but with a bizarre kind of gentleness, up above my head, and I felt something clasp them.

Leather. A leather strap. I looked up at my hands through my loose, sweaty hair and caught a glimpse of the device he was securing around my wrist. A thick leather strap, with a soft velvety inside.

Up went my other hand. I was still pinned between his thighs, his body weight lightly on top of my ass, and my options, I could tell, were running out.

“What are you doing?” I screamed.

His fingers worked their way to the hips of my jeans, one hand finding the button at the front by slipping beneath me, and then the jeans were coming off, peeling away, down my legs.

I couldn’t kick until he pulled them free of my feet. I paused too long—not that I knew what to do anyway—and he was back on me, his weight hovering just above my knees.

His hand moved to the silk of the underwear—the only thing between him and my bare bottom. The imprints of his firm spanking were still sore to the touch. Heat rose to the surface of my skin and gave me a shivery reminder of what he had done to me at Kitty Bang Bang, and again here.

And my body betrayed me again—it already had, just from the dream, but it continued to do so, my pussy throbbing, my juices welling up and into the new panties.

I dropped my head to the silken bed and turned it to the right. Shadows moved through the partial view to my right, where I saw a sight that made me freeze, my heart cold as ice: straps, belts, whips, and paddles, hanging from the wall, their use very obvious.

And his hand, the veins over its wiry muscle, selecting a strap of thick black leather.

“Wait,” I panted.

The leather was out of sight now, and then, cool against my skin, sliding over my shoulder, then back down my back, snaking over my body from shoulder blades to knees. I couldn’t help a twitch as it passed gently over the silk underwear, and the raw skin beneath it. My pussy throbbed again.

He said nothing, but the leather continued to play over my skin. I closed my eyes. “Wait, please,” I said.

I knew what I was in for, and I sensed that I could perhaps avoid it—the stinging pain, the throbbing heat, the humiliation of his discipline—by just begging him not to, saying that I would be good, that I would eat whatever he wanted me to.

But something stopped me from saying any of that. I couldn’t tell if it was pride, or defiance, or—and I didn’t let this thought surface in my mind, not really—was it that I wanted him to discipline me, to spank me into submission, to make my bottom red and my face flare with humiliation, and then get me to get on my knees and beg him to let me eat from his hand?

I squinted my eyes closed, unable to believe my thoughts went there as the leather strap moved playfully, frighteningly, over my skin.

“I’m disappointed, Natalia, that you haven’t yet learned your lesson,” he said smoothly.

He swatted my ass lightly through the underwear. It was a mild sting, just enough to make me gasp, and for my bottom to warm in a streak—and enough to make my pussy drip into the soaked underwear and trickle onto my thighs.

He swatted me again, this time harder, and I gasped audibly. The sting was intense, and it burned on my bottom, but also like a shot of whiskey in my chest. My eyes grew involuntarily watery.

“Do you know what your lesson is, Natalia?” he said, his hand moving over the underwear, sliding along the hem, rough pads of strong fingers just barely skipping along the line of the underwear and into my wet thighs.

I cringed as my body involuntarily rose toward him, pushing against him but only to aid him, as his finger slipped under the hem of the panties and brushed along the soaked outer lip of my pussy. A feathery touch, suddenly withdrawn, almost as if he were angry as I was that he had found me gushing into the underwear.

I heard him suck in his breath, and his thighs tightened against my knees, forcing my right leg to cross over the top of my left calf, making my butt rise to avoid him squeezing too painfully.

He ripped the panties away, and I felt for a moment the coolness of the room against my exposed ass, felt humiliation wash over me as I pictured myself there, tied face-down at the wrists, my ass upturned to his gaze, my legs squeezed between his as he looked down at my wet pussy between the streaks of red from his last spanking.

The strap came down with a sharp, burning bite to emphasize the end of each declaration. “I am. The one. Who tells you. What you will do. Not. The other. Way. Around.”

The pain was so intense that my eyes were streaming tears, and I was stunned into silence until he stopped. I tried to find my voice to tell him to stop, that I would listen, but he laid another slap across my bottom, crisscrossing my bare skin with the emphasis of his words.

“Do you understand me, Natalia?” he growled.

“I do,” I managed to say. “Please. Stop. I do, I understand,” I squeaked.

The insides of my thighs were wet with my juices. My face burned.

His hand moved in a gentle caress over my bottom, and then he squeezed my sore flesh. Heat throbbed into the welts, almost as painful as being whipped again. “I have heard this before from you, Natalia,” he said, his voice quiet and stern.

There was a long pause. “And frankly you’re trying my patience,” he said at last.

My nose was running, my face wet with the inescapable tears of pain. “I’m sorry,” I croaked, because now I was just begging, though I knew there was not much point. “I am. This time I get it. I do,” I blubbered.

His fingers fanned out on the center of my ass, and his thumb slid over my asshole, down to my pussy, then back up, dragging my juices with it. My thighs trembled.

“How can I be sure of that, Natalia?” he asked me, his thumb making a circle on my eyelet, sending inexplicably delicious feelings through me, mingled with the humiliation of having a man fondling me so intimately. “How can I be sure you’ve really learned your lesson?”

He was musing, his voice distant, the questions no longer in search of an answer. I knew he was going to give me the answer. I knew that now the only thing to do was submit to him—whatever he was going to do—and I could feel my body almost giving over to that very idea.

Did I want him to? Did I want him to take me like this? I’d imagined anal sex before, bending over to be dominated like this, and I enjoyed the thought of it, but I had never done it before. He wouldn’t… actually…

“I want you to count off the strokes of your discipline for me, Natalia,” he said, and as the words sank in, he rubbed my ass, igniting the already burning skin. “I am going to give you ten firm strokes. And you are going to count them off, to show me that you understand who commands here.”

His thumb had traveled down to my pussy, sweeping with it a scandalous amount of slippery juice, and was poised at my eyelet by the time he finished speaking, wet, warm, massaging me gently.

“Do you understand?” he growled, and at the same time he thrust his finger inside of me. There was a sharp burst of pain, and I threw my head to one side and wailed, but the pain subsided almost instantly, and all I could feel was the delicious, dull, full ache of his finger, moving in a clockwise direction, pressing up and out against the inside of my ass.

He thrust in deeper and I pushed up against him, wanting him in further, craving the sensation as far as he could go. I whimpered, but it was more from pleasure than pain, and my face burned again with fresh humiliation.

I couldn’t be… enjoying this, could I?

I bit my lip as he fucked me with his thick thumb, my body howling with a new kind of pleasure I had never felt before, the submissive act of it intoxicating me, the physical feel of it almost too intense to withstand.

He squeezed my tailbone between his four fingers and his thumb, and I howled.

“Are you going to be a good girl?” he asked me.

All I managed to say was, “Oh!”

He squeezed more tightly, and so I burst out, “Yes. Yes! I’m going to be a good girl.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yes, sir,” I purred. Then I exclaimed, “Oh!” again as his thumb roughly left my ass.

I felt empty.

“Count for me, like a good little girl, and think about what you are going to do to…”

There was an unusual pause, almost as if he had to take a sip of water in the middle of a speech. “To please me.”

I shuddered. My pussy throbbed.

But the moment was over, and my ass stung suddenly with the crack of his strap.

The thick leather landed somewhat lightly, the sting manageable.

“One,” I breathed.

But each successive whipping was sharper, and each number became more difficult to say, until in the end my face was wet and my whole bottom was on fire. “Ten,” I managed to choke out, after the last stroke sliced through my skin and melted away slowly into a tingling heat.

I had not, I realized, had time to think of what I would promise him to please him. Fear seized me, my ass was too sore for any more.

“I’m sorry, sir,” I gasped. “I’ll… I’ll eat now. I promise. And I won’t give you… any more… trouble…” I babbled.

He moved his hand over my bottom in slow circles.

“What else are you going to do?” he asked.

His voice was different now, almost tender.

“Wh-what…” I stammered. I was trying to say, “What do you want me to do?” but I couldn’t get it out.

“What else are you going to do to please me, Natashka?” His hand was moving over my ass, sending mixtures of pain and pleasure through my body that crowded my mind and blocked out that he was now calling me some other name.

My lips moved: I wanted desperately to tell him that I would do whatever he wanted. At that moment, I would have. I would have gotten on my knees, taken him into my mouth, and swallowed his seed—I wanted to. I would have bitten the sheets as he filled me from behind, swallowing the pain just to feel the fullness inside of me, and to please him with an act of submission. I would have loved to feel him between my legs; I would have ridden on him while he whipped me like a horse. “Anything,” I breathed.

It was true and it was a ploy, what could I say? Surely he would take me now, and ease the ache between my thighs. My back tingled, wanting to feel his hot skin against mine. So what if he was going to kill me? I wasn’t thinking straight any longer…

I expected to feel him in my ass, dominating me, pushing me to the mattress like a sexual slave. Instead, when the thickness of his cock filled me, it was inside my pussy. He was as thick as I had imagined, so hard he pressed out against the root of my clit and practically sent me over the edge with the single, slow thrust that he gave to fill me up.

I heard him gasp, and my own breath caught in my throat. Then he pulled me by the legs and sank over my body, until I was lying flat with him deep inside of me.

I had expected him to fuck me hard and dirty—and don’t get me wrong, the state I was in, I would have loved it—but instead, he moved slowly over me, his cock dragging in languid strokes within me, making my thighs shake almost immediately. I whimpered; the pleasure was as intense as a showerhead right on my clit, only better, because of the heat of his skin all over me, protecting me.

I felt my body seize up with the crest of an orgasm, and there was nothing I could do to stop it, or to stop myself from yelling as I came. Wave after wave of pleasure rolled through me, like nothing I had ever felt before.

“Don’t move…” I thought I heard him say, and then something in a strange tongue. He balled my hair in his hand and thrust deep inside of me, and I felt his hot seed explode deep in my body.

I was still quivering like a tray of Jell-O, unable to think about anything but coming down from the excruciating pleasure I was feeling. It was too wild, too uncontrolled. Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I thought of him coming inside of me, and how that should have been a very bad thing. But as I lay there trembling, his hot body over me, his cock still twitching inside of me, I was—stupidly, recklessly—unconcerned about it.

How long were we like that? I could have laid there forever.

But something seemed to shake him, suddenly, from the dreamy state we were in.

His weight was suddenly gone from the mattress, my knees freed, and within moments the leather straps holding my wrists were being impatiently removed.

I looked up at him, trying to gauge his expression, but his face was steely, and he seemed almost angry again. I turned to the mattress, waiting, the fabric of the shirt I was still wearing soaked through with sweat.

Silk fell down on my legs.

“Get dressed in this,” his voice said curtly.

I rolled over, surprised, my blood pounding in my ears, my body reeling from the crash it had just suffered, still longing for him, angry now that I was actually giving a shit that this… this maniac… was displeased with me, and wasn’t going to cuddle me or something.


“Get dressed,” he repeated. His accent was stronger almost as though he was distracted. But when I studied his expression in curiosity, his face was set in stone. He looked like a cold-hearted assassin. “Turn left at the door and go to the stairs. There is a kitchen up there. Sit down and eat your breakfast.”

I had to concentrate hard to snap my mouth shut.

Okay, fine, asshole, I thought. I should have known a psycho like you would just want to bang me and leave me, and I don’t care.

I ripped my shirt off, furious with myself for the moments I had actually had the silly, stupid, childish thought that we had been sharing something beautiful.

I knew better than that, I thought.

But inside my chest, my heart was sinking wildly, and I had to impatiently brush away a tear wrung from that spiraling pain.

Fuck him, I thought. He wasn’t going to see me cry. I wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of thinking I had thought anything about any of this.

I could be just like him.

Chapter Eleven


The last thing I needed was Natalia Karkarov fucking up my life, fucking with my head, causing me to make terrible decisions. One after another. But there she was, with something overpowering about her. Making me use nicknames, making me want her, making me afraid of losing her.

She did what I said: she put the robe on and walked straight up to the kitchen. Finally, she was doing one damn thing I told her to. I watched her from my workroom, where the whole house could be viewed by hundreds of cameras. And as I sat there, my heart still beating wildly, almost out of breath—I realized what the problem was.

I didn’t get out of breath. My pulse didn’t go above eighty unless I’ve been running for miles. I do a hundred push-ups before I take a piss in the morning. But Natalia Karkarov was going to make me have a heart attack, and all she was doing was eating breakfast.

The idea, right from the start, had been to comply with my code of honor. But to tell the truth, back when Natalia was just an abstraction, I didn’t really give a shit what happened to her one way or the other. I didn’t care that she was working at Kitty Bang Bang, I didn’t care that she was using drugs, I didn’t care if she was blowing every Russian mobster this side of the Mississippi, and I didn’t really care if she fell off a cliff—as long as I had done my duty to keep her out of their crosshairs, then everything was fine by me.

That’s the way I wanted my life. That’s how I survived. Fear is a game you can win within yourself, but you’re fucked if there is anything—or anyone—outside yourself that you’re afraid of losing.

I’ve never had anything I was afraid of losing. Anything you can buy you can replace, and so the trick is to buy everything. Buy your women, buy your friends. Trust no one and nothing and above all, don’t give a shit about any of it.

But this long-limbed beauty, sitting casually on a stool in the kitchen, eating the breakfast I’d made her with a forced politeness in spite of being alone and also being starving—this girl made my chest ache. People usually describe fear as icy and cold, but those are people who feel it all the time. To me, it felt like my blood had begun to boil.

Why Natalia Karkarov would have this effect on me, I had no idea. I closed my eyes.

The best course of action would be to take her somewhere, give her money, threaten her profusely, and walk away from all of this. I could put someone like Nick on duty watching her and write all of this off as having done my very best. It was enough to comply with my promise.

But thinking of leaving her out there somewhere in the world, where she could be found, activated a switch I hadn’t known existed inside me. I wanted her where I could see her and protect her. I didn’t want her stripping at Kitty Bang Bang, I didn’t want her being touched by anyone but me.

And the thought of one of the shady figures out there in Kyril’s old playing field laying a finger on her, hurting her… killing her was unbearable. I recoiled from the thought like it was a red-hot coal.

I could sit there, trying to talk myself out of it. I could tell myself over and over what the right thing to do was. I had always imagined myself falling for some pussy—it happened to everyone—but when I did, I was convinced I would be able to talk myself out of it.

The memory of the silky heat of her body around me, beneath me, squeezing me, wet and velvet and tight, was as fresh as though I were still inside of her. I wanted more. I wanted to make her submit, I wanted her to give herself to me—but now I wanted more than that as well. I wanted to keep her and protect her, and the fire inside of me was hotter than any feeling I had ever felt—and the only feeling I’d felt for a long time.

I’d lost control with Natalia. The feeling settled in around me, closing in like a vise. What if she’d gotten pregnant? Then what?

I never lost control, so I never had this problem. I’d never even given it any thought. Then what?

I peeled my eyes away from her and shifted to the other screens.

Within minutes, I had enacted another plan entirely. Because I needed more time with Natalia, more time than what I had needed before. I didn’t want to scare her; I didn’t want to wash my hands of her. And if anything had happened, if she was pregnant with my blood…

I put the thought out of my mind.

Whether she was or she wasn’t, I was already in deep.

I wanted her to myself.

And if I wanted that, I would have to keep Natalia a very deep, hidden secret. For her sake, more than anything. In fact, it was best for her if Natalia didn’t know that she was the one thing I was afraid to lose.

Chapter Twelve


“Get enough to eat?”

There it was again—a change in his voice. Why was he fucking with my head like this? If he was going to be a cruel bastard, then he could just go ahead and be one.

But that seemed to be his plan. To act like he cared, make me confused, and then drag my heart through the mud, wash, rinse, repeat, until… what? I was broken?

I set the half of a delicious croissant down. I’d already had three, plus some kind of egg business, and I’d eaten about half a huge bowl of fruit. I wanted more, but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.

I said nothing.

He looked at me pointedly, almost like a father would, and stepped into the kitchen. “You haven’t eaten for almost thirty-six hours,” he said. “You don’t want anything else?”

I couldn’t tell if he was angry or being kind. He was acting like a schizo, kind of like Lucy on one of her good days.

“I’m fine,” I said.

There was an awkward silence.

“Okay. Well. Go and shower—there is a guest room down that corridor. We are leaving in twenty-two minutes. Be prompt.”

I shifted in my seat. My ass was sore from his spanking, and his cum was spilling into the thick red robe he’d given me to wear. My heart felt cold again. Not that I had any idea why, but the idea of leaving this place seemed like something I wanted to avoid. I mean, I didn’t even know where we were, at all, but this seemed to imply we were going even further away.

“Where?” I said quietly. I didn’t feel as defiant, as much as I hated myself for it. It almost sounded—ludicrously—like something I wanted to do. ‘Go somewhere’ with him taking me there, and nothing but the heat of his body at my back to worry about… forget it all…

He was looking at me with his stone face.

“Somewhere. Go get ready. Clothing is on the bed.”

The fantasy bubble burst. I couldn’t ‘go anywhere.’ I had Lucy to think of, and this guy was… was… what the hell was he?

My eyes were getting wet. I looked down in frustration. I was not going to let this guy see me cry. That was probably just what he wanted. All of this was obviously just some kind of game to him.

It was decision time.

If I told him I didn’t want to go with him, it didn’t seem like he’d listen. If I told him why, he’d probably find a way to exploit that and use it against me. If I went with him, though… if I appeared to be taken in by his game… then maybe I stood a chance of getting away.

Raw fear was gnawing at me, but it was less about him than it should have been. It was more about me. About the fact that as much as I could reason to myself that this guy was a psycho, manipulative fuck, I felt like giving in to him, letting myself fall for his act. Maybe I even was, a little.

“Natalia, don’t start,” he said impatiently. I looked up at him, and the tears, against my will, spilled out of my eyes and rolled, hot, down my cheeks.

A look of pity flashed across his face, and then he was angry. “You will go. You will go to the room, you will take a shower, and you will be ready in twenty minutes. Now!”

I lost it. I was shaking my head and sobbing before I could stop myself. “I can’t,” I said.

He said nothing, and so finally I looked up at him.

“Natalia,” he said, after taking a deep breath. “I know this is hard. You don’t… you can’t understand.”

For a moment, looking at him, his eyes seemed to warm from their usual cool state, and I found myself actually thinking that he cared. “You have to trust me,” he said sharply. “I am doing this for your own good—”

“I don’t even know who you are,” I said. I had started off yelling, but I quieted down midsentence. Who could say why? Was I falling for his act? Or was I just trying to save myself from another spanking?

Muscle along his jaw pulsed as he stared at me. The soft look in his eyes hardened. “Go,” he said quietly, his arm going out to the right. “Go now, if you know what is good for you. If you disobey me I—”

His breath caught in his throat, and in my chest a delicious, but very real, spasm of fear twisted.

“I will make sure you regret it.”

I pushed the plate away and slid off the stool. Something about his voice told me he was down to business.

I showered as fast as I could and got dressed while my skin was still slightly wet. The clothes he had brought me were as nice as the ones in the basket, but there was nothing very warm to choose from. I selected another pair of jeans, a perfect fit, which was mystifying and a little bit scary, and a white shirt. There were a pair of white panties, and no bra. Oh, well, I thought, and put the shirt on anyway. It was a plain t-shirt that hugged my figure. I glanced in the mirror: I looked good. Sexy. Appealing. And part of me didn’t actually mind that.

I calculated one problem while I hastily searched the room looking for… I don’t know, something useful.

He had come inside of me, and the reality of that was just starting to set in.

I’d run out of money for the pill a couple of months ago, which hadn’t mattered very much because I didn’t even have time to sleep with any of the sleazebags who came through my neck of the woods—and I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. So, money being what it was, I’d kept them around to use as a morning-after fix.

I didn’t have that now. And that was, potentially, a very big problem.

Even bigger than that problem was the fact that I had some stupid, stupid, stupid thing floating in my head that I almost liked the idea that he had filled me up with his seed and made me pregnant—

“Stop,” I whispered to myself, opening drawers, searching for anything useful. What? A map, a scrap of paper, a knife, a screw, something, anything…

But all the drawers were empty. It was like this wasn’t a real house.

I whirled around, scanning the windows—tinted, like the one in the first room I had been brought to.

But with something that looked like a handle, or a crank.

I ran to the window, not really sure what I thought I would do next if it opened. The crank wouldn’t budge. I hit it with my free hand and pulled at the same time.


His voice was low, calm as it had been when he had come to Kitty Bang Bang.


I froze.

“What are you doing that for?” he said, and without turning around I sensed him moving toward me in the room. “Hmm? You’re not trying to escape again?”

I let out a gasp of desperation. Jesus. Here came the tears again. I hit the crank again in frustration. “I just… I can’t just… I need to know where we are. I can’t… leave everything.”

I sounded hysterical. Sweat was gathering on the back of my neck, and the tears were about to overflow.

He was behind me in an instant, the heat of his body against me, lulling me into that false sense of safety. His arms, muscled and thicker than I remembered, slid around me, over my own puny forearms, and another blubbering gasp left me, as I realized how silly I was to think I could get away from him, overpower him, sneak away from him… maybe how little I actually wanted to…

My eyelids grew heavy. I felt like a cat must when someone pets it.

He put his hand on the crank, over mine, and then, like it was no more than flipping a switch, he moved it.

The fogged glass of the window began to peel away from the wall, opening up and out. A screen obscured the scene slightly, but he rolled and rolled until I could see the late afternoon sun hanging over the mountains in the distance.

We were close to home.

My heart leaped.

He turned his head, and I felt his lips and his breath against the side of my skull, through my hair, snaking down the outer edges on my ear, and my eyes fell shut as a shiver ran through me. “You have to come now, Natalia. We don’t have time to argue about this. I can tell you more when we get there. But now… please… please…” His breath was hot, and it felt like a string from my heart to my pussy was plucked and left to vibrate inside of me, driving me mad. “Please, just do as I tell you now.”

He rolled the window shut.

The heat of his body left me, and I turned slowly, still vibrating under his voodoo.

I followed him.

The spell he had cast on me lasted through the corridors of the house, and up several stairways to the roof. But as soon as I saw the helicopter, it crashed apart like a broken window. If there was one thing I had an irrational fear of, it was helicopters.

He had guided me to walk just in front of him, pushing me along gently by his fingertips at the small of my back, where they delivered an electric tingle that coursed right to my… well, I hadn’t forgotten what had happened before breakfast.

But when I saw the helicopter, I stopped dead in my tracks. It wasn’t a conscious decision; my body simply froze and refused to listen to any signal from my brain. Which wouldn’t have been much, because my brain felt like it had hit a brick wall.

He collided with me because of the sudden stop, and I was so stiff that we almost fell down together.


“No way,” I heard myself saying. “No, no, no, no, no, I can’t, I can’t…” I shook my head and closed my eyes and waved my hands around.

Apparently, getting kidnapped by a serial killer psycho who spanked me, gave me wild orgasms, and Stockholm-syndromed me was okay. But helicopters—which I had never been in—made me… faint.

Because next thing I knew, I was inside it.

It took a few seconds to figure that out. I was groggy, like I’d woken up from a long nap. There was no motion, just the interior of a vehicle—leather seats, a window, a loud, slowing noise. Like when you roll the window down… I blinked and sat up, and it all came back to me.

I looked down. I was fastened into a seat by a complicated belt I could not understand how to remove. I started to wriggle, look around.

“Calm down,” a voice said behind me.

His voice.

I turned to the right and saw the cockpit of the dreaded helicopter, and panic seized me again. “I can’t,” I was barely able to say.

I had never been in a helicopter, so I didn’t know why the hell I was so freaked out by them. I could barely watch them on TV ever since I was a kid. My adoptive parents would always try to edit them out, switching the channel or turning off the TV because I got so upset.

I started to kick and scream. This was not what I wanted to do, it was just… what I did. No fucking way I was going in a helicopter. “I can’t,” I tried to say, but I was already hyperventilating.

“Hey, hey, hey,” he was saying. I felt his arm on mine. “Natalia, Natalia, it’s okay. We’re here. We’re already here—”

“I won’t do it!” I shrieked. “I can’t… I can’t.”

He was next to me then. “Breathe, Natalia, breathe. You have to take a slow deep breath. You aren’t flying anywhere. You’re getting out. Okay? Breathe.”

I was really losing it. I was barely conscious of him getting a paper bag and holding it to my mouth and nose. Of his hands removing me from the seat.

Of the warm, wet air that struck me, the sweet scent of flowers and ocean. The heat of a black pavement beneath me. The caw of birds, the bright sun…


I did, and then everything came into focus.

He lifted me up, and I fell into him, not able to resist anymore. As long as we were walking away from the helicopter…

Just thinking of the word made my muscles tense. I started to breathe shallowly again, and this sent a fresh wave of sparkling stars across my vision. I didn’t want to faint, so I did my best to fight the panic that was gripping me.

Shadows, patches of sun, more shadows. The sound of tropical birds.

I was being set down. It was cooler where I was.

His hands were on my forehead, his fingers at my wrist, taking my pulse?

My eyes flew open.

The sight of his face, of his blue eyes, the stern expression that showed concern at that moment, probably should not have made me feel any better. After all, it was this guy who had caused every single one of my problems lately.

And yet I did feel better.

“Breathe slowly,” he was saying, calmly and tenderly.

So I did, and my sanity returned.

I sat up. “Where the hell are we?” I demanded.

We were a long way from Kansas, that much was for sure. I was on a couch, in a very expensive living room—I could tell by the wood, the walls, and the huge floor-to-ceiling windows. It was a huge relief to see real sunlight, and the real outdoors, after being cooped up in the very plush but blacked-out last place, where all the windows had been fogged.

In parts of the room, though, the huge windows had been slid open, and a distinctly salty breeze was billowing light white curtains into the room over the patterned wood floor. And beyond them, the enormous blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds, blending into a sea of white-capped waves. That was all I could see because a jungle of tropical trees and wildly colored flowers cut off the rest of the view.

“I forgot,” he said absently, following my gaze out the window.

“You forgot where we are?” I retorted.

He looked back at me, and I noticed that his hand was on my knee, and suddenly it was all I could pay attention to. “We’re on an island in the Pacific.”

I stared at him.

“What did you forget? What island? What is the—”

“Natalia,” he said, shaking his head, cutting me off. “You talk too much. You ask too many questions. You’ve had a shock. I apologize for that. Rest here and I’ll bring you something to drink.”

He rose, and without looking back, disappeared into the house.

“What the…?” I spat.

My instinct to do something about my situation took over, even if I didn’t know exactly what that was. Island in the Pacific? Like, Hawaii, or what?

I stood up, glanced around, and ran for the open door. No problem there. There was a smooth white stone path leading into the jungle of plants and trees. I followed it, walking fast, not sure if there was any point to making a run for it, not even sure that I wanted to.

The dense shrubbery opened up suddenly, and a large, wide porch with an elegant railing spread out in front of me, offering a view of a rocky cliff tumbling into a cerulean ocean.

In every direction.

I ran to the balcony. Far below, at the very edge of the rocks in a small cove, a horseshoe of white sand sank very slowly into the water. It was like a postcard. A single wooden building marred the beach, and a small boat bobbed in the water near the mouth of the cove.

The ocean spread out everywhere beyond.

I looked to the right and left—a stairway descended into the rocks to the right. It, too, was made of smooth white stone. To the left, another stairway spiraled up and behind me, curving around and rejoining a gleaming white and glass house, more of the huge windows looking out in layer after layer, built into the rock, tropical plants clinging to it in patches.

The wind picked up my hair.

It was paradise.

But it would also seem that it was a prison.

“The view is better from the top floor,” a voice said behind me. I turned to see Mystery Man—the guy who called himself ‘Al,’ of all things—walking toward me with an admittedly refreshing-looking glass of sparkling water with fruit at the bottom.

I took it from him, and his gaze made my heart do that flip-flop thing again, because he was at once utterly infuriating and yet I was compelled to feel attracted to him, protected by him.

“I take it we’re the only ones here,” I said bitterly.

He held his own drink—no fruit—and tapped the glass, squinting into the bright sun. “I’m sorry about the helicopter ride,” he said, ignoring my question.

I drank the drink, which was just water, and spun around to look out over the ocean. This guy was maddening as hell.

I turned back to face him. “What the hell are we doing here? What are you doing? What… what the hell is going on?”

He continued to stare out at the ocean, squinting, his face a terrible scowl. I could see that he was calculating something, and I decided to keep my mouth shut until he spoke. Sure, he was pissing me off, and I wanted to slap him, but I knew it was the sort of battle I wouldn’t win.

We stood there on the balcony, warm sun heating my shoulders, lovely breezes picking up my hair. He suddenly sucked in his breath and jerked his head toward the staircase to the top of the house. “Come upstairs. I’ll show you where you will sleep.”

I folded my arms and gave out a shriek. It was a spoiled-brat move, but what did I have to lose. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me… you tell me… at least tell me what your fucking name is!”

His hand was at my jaw faster than I could blink, but only to rub his thumb sensually over my lower lip. “Alaric,” he said quietly. “And I want you to stop using such bad language, Natalia.”

I narrowed my eyes, but it was a poor act to cover up that I was melting inside and welling up with excitement right into another pair of expensive underwear.

“Come up and see the view. And I will tell you some of what you need to know.”

That’s all until next week’s installment! If you’re aching to finish right now, though, just click below and buy the book!

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