There’d been nothing but silence since leaving the club. Now, I certainly understood much better why Houston had required someone to portray his fiancée. The entire situation was ridiculous, one a normal human being couldn’t tolerate. Had he really grown up in that kind of household? If he had, no wonder he was so dark, almost soulless.
At least he hadn’t lied to me about his family, especially his father. The man was an older carbon copy of Houston, but harsher, more brutal. Chase was entirely a different story. His words bothered the hell out of me, his hatred for Houston evident.
“You have no idea what you’re getting in the middle of, Bristol. My brother is nothing but a cold, calculating man who will enjoy destroying you. I suggest you get out now.”
The statement had seemed offhanded, a true warning. Whatever was going on, I doubted Houston was the only victim.
I brushed my fingers across my lips, trying to hold onto the kiss, although I wasn’t certain why. If he had told me the level of compliance that was expected, I would never have signed the contract.
Or was that just another lie I was trying to tell myself?
Three months. You can handle this for three months.
At this point, I wasn’t certain.
After he parked the car, he took my hand, intertwining our fingers and taking long strides into the garage elevator. He crowded me against the steel wall, tilting his head. “You defied me.”
“I felt I needed to.” My words were little more than a whisper, my nerves kicking in.
“Do I need to remind you about the terms of the contract?”
I almost laughed. “No, you don’t. Do I need to remind you that information is helpful?”
He took a deep breath, his expression ice cold. “Did Chase hurt you in any way?”
My breath catching in my throat, I shook my head. “No. He was just so… condescending, trying to put me in my place.” I shuddered given the words Chase had used, uncertain of how to deal with his implied accusations.
“I’m onto you, Bristol. There’s nothing that happens with regard to my family that I won’t find out about.”
While he’d refused to elaborate, the secrets Houston and I were keeping were a ticking timebomb. The last thing I wanted to do was drive my fake fiancé into a bout of anger. For now, I’d keep Chase’s comments to myself.
“That’s to be expected. You could have walked away.”
“That’s not my nature.”
He took a deep breath, holding it as the elevator continued to rise. There was something even darker about the look in his eyes, possessive as well as hungry. Everything about his demeanor had been entirely different. He hadn’t just been on edge. He’d been in a quiet yet bitter fight. There was a hell of a lot more going on than he’d allowed me to learn.
“For every action there are consequences.”
“Meaning what?” I knew challenging him wasn’t in my best interest, but the night had been draining.
“I’m going to have to punish you.”
“You’re kidding.” My stomach was suddenly nauseous, my heart hammering to the point the sound echoed in the tinny space. The same tingling I’d felt before shifted down to my toes, my mouth completely dry.
“I don’t kid about the rules, Bristol. I thought you realized that.” His look was stern.
“You are just like your father.” The entire dinner had been arduous at best, although Ashley had tried to make everything better. I couldn’t imagine being a daughter in their household, let alone a real fiancée.
There was a flash in his eyes, a distinct emotion that I couldn’t read, but I knew he hated being compared.
“In some ways his beliefs and traditions make sense. You were told to do one thing, pretend you were a happy woman, not to pick a fight with my brother. He was spurring you on and you missed it.”
“No, I got it. I just refused to allow that to happen. What is the bad blood between the two of you about?”
“That is a story for a full bottle of wine. Perhaps tomorrow night when we’re in our new home.” He snickered after making the statement.
Our. The word seemed outrageous for him to say. “Fine. In order for me to continue with this charade, I’ll need more from you. That is also part of the contract.”
Houston fingered my chin, rolling the tip back and forth aimlessly. “You will continue to be challenged. I’ll be happy to provide as much information as you need, at least within limits.”
“You don’t trust anyone, do you?”
He chuckled. “Trust is something that must be earned, but you’re right, I haven’t bothered to try since…”
I could tell he wasn’t going to deem it either appropriate or necessary for me to know.
The ping of the elevator provided an entire round of shivers. He didn’t bother taking me by the hand this time. He expected me to follow like a good little girl. I was the one who closed the door behind us, locking it then remaining pressed against the wood.
He headed immediately toward the bedroom, leaving me aching inside. The night had been more difficult than I’d imagined. My acting skills weren’t good enough to pretend I was a demure woman. How was I going to handle going through a bogus wedding? I kicked off my shoes, placing them ever so carefully by one of the tables. I’d never felt so inadequate in my entire life.
Dozens of thoughts raced through my mind as I walked out onto the balcony, the slight chill in the air instantly giving me goosebumps. I held my arms as the breeze whipped through my long strands. I was three thousand miles from the city I’d hoped to call my home. What would happen if I left now? Would Mr. Darke or Houston go after me for the money? The real question was all about if I cared or not. Sadly, there was a tiny part of me that wanted to get to know my fake fiancé a little better. Was I just a glutton for punishment? Maybe.
Or maybe he’d touched me in a way that had awakened my senses.
I could sense his presence without him needing to utter a word. As he’d done before, he was watching me.
“I want to put this behind us so we can start fresh tomorrow,” he said so very quietly.
“Fine.” Was he really going to go through with punishing me?
“Go into the bedroom and remove your clothes. Place both pillows in the center of the bed then lie across them.”
I shifted my head, barely able to catch a hint of him standing in the doorway. “All right. I mean, yes, sir.”
His sigh was exaggerated. “You need to understand that the choices I’ve been forced to make were all influenced by my father’s requirements. While I didn’t understand them in the least when I was younger, I’m starting to realize that there is a necessity for rules in order to flourish. Whether that’s in business or in relationships. Maybe you are right that I’m exactly like my father. However, I refuse to succumb to his depths of tyranny.”
While I couldn’t understand what he was getting at, it seemed important for him to tell me. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you but I’m not used to being treated like I’m not important enough to be in your life. I feel very sorry for what you had to endure. Only you can change the course of your life.” I turned around to face him, a part of me wanting to provide some kind of comfort, which was absolutely insane. A man like him couldn’t understand compassion to any degree.
“You are very wise, Bristol. Please get in position and wait for my arrival.” When he walked away, I could swear he’d fallen into a shattered moment of sadness.
Then again, I could be very wrong.
Still chilled, I padded into the bedroom, turning on a single light by the bed. There were no blinds in the damn room, no way to cover the oversized window. I turned my back before removing my clothes, neatly folding them over one of my suitcases. If only I could go back a week then things would be different.
I’d made all kinds of assurances to myself that pretending would be easy, that two million dollars was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Maybe I wasn’t as strong as I’d believed I was, capable of handling a lie this significant. I also wasn’t certain I could tolerate the kind of man Houston truly was. He was so cold and indifferent. It didn’t matter that he had his reasons. There was nothing redeemable about the man.
The cold chill shifting down my spine had nothing to do with the air temperature. By the time I positioned the pillows as he’d commanded, my entire body was shivering. When I eased across the fluffy mound, tears instantly formed in my eyes, but I refused to allow them to fall. I wasn’t going to show any sign of weakness, more for myself than for the brute of a man.
I folded my arms, resting my head and staring out into the night. There were hundreds of lights on in the other buildings, the exteriors brightly lit with tropical colors of lime green and fuchsia. While the club itself had been old world, stodgy in a way that had surprised me, the hotel was a stark contrast. I could only imagine what kind of house Houston had purchased. Was it modern or traditional? A beach house or maybe located in the city limits?
Oh, what the hell did it matter? I certainly wasn’t going to feel at home.
I heard nothing coming from the other room. No music. No television. He wasn’t making a call or pacing the floor. The quiet was unnerving. After a few minutes, I grew antsy, doing my best to stay in position, even though my patience was waning. Huffing, I closed my eyes, trying to will away the situation.
Finally, I sensed his approach, the scent of his exotic cologne giving him away. When he walked into the room, he’d already removed his jacket and tie, unbuttoning his shirt. He stood in the doorway, studying me as he took his time rolling up his sleeves. The look on his face was stern, but instead of the cold bleakness of his eyes, they were shimmering.
The thought of punishing me made him excited. What did that say about the man?
When he was finished with the task, he walked closer, crouching down by the side of the bed. I wanted to demand to know what he was waiting for, but I kept my mouth shut, preferring to keep some level of humility.
“I’m going to repeat this one more time, Bristol. I do understand this is a difficult situation for you. In fact, I realize I’m asking a lot; however, you will soon learn why following my rules is important.”
“Why can’t you tell me now?”
“Because you haven’t held up to your end of the bargain as of yet.”
“That’s not fair,” I commented, hating the whiny sound to my voice.
“Perhaps not, but very little in life is fair. I hope at some point we can learn to trust each other. In the meantime, you will give me your respect at all times.”
“Respect is earned.”
Sighing, he glanced out the window. “I used to think it was. Now, I realize that money and power are the only things that can require absolute respect from anyone.”
“And you have both.”
“Not as much as I hope to have.” He stood, towering over me as he slowly unfastened his belt.
A rush of insecurity made my mouth dry, my heart race. From where he stood, I couldn’t take my eyes off the action. He was taking his time, his eyes never shifting, barely blinking. The bastard wanted the anticipation to continue increasing in order to reaffirm that he was the one in charge.
I hated the way a trickle of apprehension and a hint of fear washed into me. I’d never been spanked as a child. I’d never experienced the anguish of having a leather strap cracked across my bottom. I certainly had never wandered into a BDSM club or desired to enter into a dominating relationship. That was for heroines in books and strangers on street corners, not for a practicing attorney who preferred staying at home versus clubbing it.
While the thought was ridiculous, almost making me laugh, it helped to ease the growing anxiety.
“I know you won’t believe me, but I don’t like having to discipline you,” he said in his soft, velvety tone, the one that tickled my arousal.
“No, I don’t believe you. Isn’t this what you were brought up to do?”
He cocked his head but didn’t answer, merely tugged on the thick strap until it started sliding from the confines of his beltloops. I couldn’t take my eyes off his hands as he performed the task. They were strong hands, his fingers muscular. They were the kind of hands that were supposed to caress a woman’s back seconds after tossing a football.
Somehow, I suspected he’d done neither in his life.
When the belt was finally free, I couldn’t stop shivering. I bit my lower lip, my throat threatening to close. There was a chance I was going to hyperventilate from the sickening feeling of expectancy.
Houston rolled the strap between his fingers before folding one end against the other. Every damn move he made was so slow that a scream formed in my throat, angry words to get it over with. When he finally moved behind me, I shuddered, trying to push my mind in a place of peace.
A pearlescent beach with turquoise blue waters.
A beautiful mountain cabin after a fresh snowfall.
A rainstorm in the middle of a lush green forest.
An appointment with a dentist.
“I think thirty will be appropriate for tonight. You need to stay in position.”
I could see a hint of his reflection in the window, his powerful figure looming over me like a predator prepared to catch his prey.
When he tapped my bottom, I jumped.
“Do you understand, Bristol?” He tugged my legs apart, brushing his fingers along the inside of my leg.
“Yes.” Respect. The word flew into my mind. “Yes, sir.” I was more vulnerable than ever, my buttocks several inches in the air, my pussy lips exposed. I clamped my hands around the bedding, my breathing now so shallow I was lightheaded.
I closed my eyes, burying my face as I waited. It seemed like forever before I heard the first whooshing sound in the air. When he brought the belt down, I was jarred more from the blunt thud directly across my bottom than the sting that immediately formed. As air was pushed out of my lungs, a cry escaping my mouth, I balled my hands around the comforter, yanking with all my might. I didn’t have time to register any pain before he delivered two more in rapid succession. The sound seemed exaggerated, pain blossoming from the tops of my thighs.
While my body registered the anguish, my mind hadn’t processed it until he smacked me with two more. A wail erupted from my mouth that was certainly heard in other rooms. Gasping for air, I kicked out my legs, squirming and wiggling from side to side.
He leaned over, planting his hands on either side of me. “If you can’t remain silent, I will need to gag you.”
Gag me? Men did that sort of thing?
“I… I can. I mean, I will.” My voice was unrecognizable, quivering to the point I wasn’t entirely certain he could understand me.
“All right. We’ll try again, but you need to remain in position.” He had the nerve to rub his hand across my heated ass cheeks, caressing as if what he was doing was benefitting me. Fuck him.
I smashed my face into the comforter, counting numbers in another crazy effort to get my mind off the horrible experience.
Then the cracking sound reverberated in my ears and I couldn’t hold back a cry. He stopped before the leather sliced against my bottom, exhaling as if disgusted with me.
“Once when we’re in our house, there will be no need to limit your expression of pain or pleasure; for tonight, that will be necessary.”
Every word out of his mouth was perfunctory. I glanced over my shoulder as he walked toward my clothes. What was he doing? When he returned, he moved to the other side of the bed, peering down.
“Open your mouth for me, Bristol.”
I lifted my head, realizing that he had my panties in his hand. Jesus. Swallowing, I almost promised that I’d be a good girl and very quiet, but I refused to do that. When I opened my mouth, I gave him a hateful glare.
He was so damn smug, as if far superior to me. I really did hate the man.
After he shoved the ball of lace into my mouth, he shook his head. “You’re going to fight me every step of the way during this venture. While I find that irresistible, my patience is already wearing thin.”
The taste of my earlier arousal was disgusting, turning the butterflies in my stomach into a churning mass.
He returned to the other side of the bed, wasting no time in starting again.
My first muffled cry was ridiculous, but the realization of everything that had happened during the last few days came crashing down. Tears slipped past my lashes, burning hot tears that pushed me into emotional overload. I wanted nothing more than to curl in a ball under the covers, pretending that with the dawn of tomorrow came another year in my life.
I also hated the realization that tingles had arisen all throughout my body. When he smacked me two more times, I was forced to face the fact that I was fully aroused, my nipples aching to the point of actual pain. This was crazy. I couldn’t believe that a spanking would turn me on.
But as the scent of my pussy juice trickling down my legs floated all the way to my nostrils, there was no doubt. This wasn’t just my body’s betrayal. This was absolute tyranny. The thought was ridiculous, pushing my mind into a surreal state as another volley of brutal smacks was given.
Everything became a blur, agony and ecstasy mixing together, my heart hammering in my chest. I was lost to the crazy rhythm of the spanking as heat continued to build on my skin. I tried to maintain position, but when he smacked my upper thighs, I tumbled off the pillows, a strangled moan slipping past my panties.
I expected some kind of savage action, but he gingerly pulled me back onto the pillow, taking his time to caress my skin all over again.
“You’re doing very well.”
Why was his tone actually soothing? That was crazy.
I couldn’t keep my face planted on the comforter any longer. When the next strike hit me, I arched my back, knowing in the back of my mind that there would be a stain from my slickened pussy on the bedding after the horrible round of punishment was over. Stars floated in front of my eyes, the pain still biting, but as my pussy clenched and released, all I could concentrate on was the embarrassment coursing through me.
Nothing could have prepared me for my reaction, not even the few trials that I’d experienced during my limited career. I was drained, helpless, and excited. The combination was ridiculous but unable to be denied.
I lost count of how many he’d given me.
But he spanked me long and hard for the next minute or two, maybe three. There was no way of telling. I simply knew I’d have difficulty sitting for an extended period of time.
“Five more then we’re done.” His voice seemed to float above me, infiltrating my senses much like his scent had roared into my system, creating the feeling of being intoxicated.
I expected him to start again but instead, he slipped his fingers down the crack of my ass, teasing me with the tip of one, fingering my pussy lips until I was panting from desire.
“You’re wet. I think you actually like this.”
Who the hell was he kidding? I couldn’t stand him or what he was doing, especially the way my body responded to every stroke. I realized I was shaking my head, yet my body was bucking backward, trying to pull his finger in even deeper.
He chuckled as he thrust it inside, pumping several times then pulling out completely. “Very wet. You make me crave you, woman.” There was something enticing about the way he growled, the slow and guttural sound as it permeated the room.
I was breathless, my hunger increasing. When he smacked my bottom again, the heat now blistering, I fell into a place of sheer euphoria, confused yet longing to be touched.
My emotions continued on the rollercoaster as he brought the belt down again.
When it was finally over, I knew he’d tossed the strap onto the dresser. I was also aware of the sound of him releasing his cock.
I bristled, uncertain of what to expect. When he dragged me to the edge of the bed, yanking the pillows out from underneath me, I twisted my body in an effort to look at him. He was like some crazed man, his hunger all consuming.
When he walked closer, gripping my hips, I couldn’t keep a series of whimpers and moans from trying to escape around the gag.
“I’m going to fuck that tight pussy of yours. Then I’m going to claim your ass.”
Fuck me in the ass? That had never happened in my life. It was never something I’d wanted to try. Just hearing the words make me feel filthy, but I couldn’t deny the round of excitement.
I was no longer stunned by anything he did. When he pressed the tip of his shaft just past my swollen folds, I was unable to take my eyes off our combined reflection. There was something entirely animalistic about the way he was fucking me, taking me from behind as if against my will.
Only I found it difficult to resist him. I was now wet all over, heat building as the fire in my belly continued to expand.
When he slipped into my tight channel, holding his stance for a few seconds, I couldn’t stop shaking. “Damn, you’re so wet. So freaking tight.” His voice was barely a whisper, but I heard his robust guttural sound when he thrust the rest of his cock inside.
The force was significant, and I was pushed against the comforter, immediately scrambling to push up, arching my back as he pulled out. Then he slammed into me again, the hard pounding echoing in my ears. As he repeated the move, his heavy breathing became growls, his fingers digging into me.
A beautiful moment of rapture washed over me, my pulse skyrocketing as every cell was set aflame. He was so rough, taking exactly what he wanted, using me in whatever way he wanted. I could feel I was close to coming, the tingles in my body prickling every inch of skin. Every sound muffled, I met every savage thrust with one of my own. We were in a perfect rhythm together and as the climax rushed up from my toes, I threw my head back with a silent scream.
“That’s it. Come for me. That feels so damn good.” He continued plunging as the single orgasm shifted into a beautiful wave. I was stunned at the euphoria, no longer able to feel my arms or legs.
Seconds later, he slowed down, still sliding in and out as he rubbed up and down the length of my back. When he rolled his hand down my bottom, I cringed even as my pussy continued to clamp and release. He pressed his thumb between my ass cheeks, pushing into my darkened hole. “Are you ready for me to fuck that tight ass of yours?”
“Mmm…” I undulated my hips, trying to crawl forward but he tugged me back several inches, patting my bruised bottom before sliding the tip of his cock to my puckered hole.
“Does that mean you’re a virgin, Bristol? I can tell that you are. We’ll take it nice and slow.”
I continued to watch our reflection as he pushed his cockhead just inside. Then I almost panicked, smacking my hands against the bedding as he thrust in another inch. Within seconds, another wave of pain coursed through me, my muscles aching. His cock was huge, wide and long and I blinked several times as the wave of anguish continued.
“Breathe for me. That’s it.” He slid in an inch at a time, holding me in place as I clawed at the comforter, making horrible noises over the panties. This was even more humiliating.
I threw my head back as he thrust the last few inches inside. I’d experienced nothing like this before, a combination of anguish and ecstasy that rolled into every cell and muscle. I was blinded from the intensity, the fire swarming through my aching limbs. I was unable to focus on the blurry reflection, nor did I care. I finally closed my eyes, no longer fighting him, in fact moving in time to his hard thrusts.
“So tight. So damn tight.” His words were muffled at best, his husky growls fueling the fire and electricity we shared. For all the hatred I felt for this man, there was no denying our chemistry.
I had no idea how long he continued, his breathless sounds becoming more ragged. But as he pounded into me in rapid motions, his grip even firmer, I hung my head. The sound of his strangled roar as he filled me with his seed was just as sinful as the act itself.
Houston wasn’t a man to be liked or respected.
He certainly had no capacity for love.
Yet I remained drawn to him for some inexplicable reason, like a moth to a flame.
He was nothing but the devil in disguise.
And soon, he would be my husband.
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