There was no avoiding his name now. His voice was nothing more than a dark growl.
One of electric hunger.
One of pent-up rage.
And one of the same tone of possession I’d heard all those years ago.
“One day you and I will meet again and when we do, you’ll learn that you already belong to me.”
They’d been the last words he’d said to me before walking out of the courtroom a free man. The same words had fueled the nightmares for months because I’d known then that I would never be free of him.
“How did you get in here?” I managed, hating the croaking strain in my voice. He seemed larger than life leaning against the doorway with his hands in his pockets, his ankles crossed. And the same damn smirk on his face he’d had throughout the trial. My mouth was dry, my throat threatening to close.
The house had been in my mother’s altered name. There’d been no possible way he could have known. How? How?
“If you’re asking how I managed to find you inside the casino, you should know by now that I have friends everywhere. Plus, there isn’t a form of law enforcement capable of keeping me away from what I want. And I want you.” He chuckled darkly, sweeping his gaze all the way to my crimson-painted toes and there was no doubt what he was thinking.
He made the single word sound almost palpable, but I knew what he was here for. I blinked several times, hiding the fact I was scanning him from head to toe, catching a slight outline of a weapon in his right pocket. Oh, God. He was here to kill me.
“However, if you’re asking how I got into your house,” he added, another smirk appearing on his face, his eyes twinkling. He was enjoying tormenting me. “Then I should tell you that your locks aren’t capable of keeping a bad man from coming inside. And as you already know, I’m a very bad man.”
Everything about the man was attractive from the angular jaw and voluptuous lips to the thick hair I wanted to wrap my fingers around. He was the epitome of a gorgeous yet dangerous man. He entered the small space, moving directly behind me, wrapping his long fingers around my arms. Instantly, I was paralyzed, no longer able to catch my breath.
“Let go of me,” I said, gritting my teeth. His cock was rock hard, and the feel of it pressing against my bottom was enough to take my breath away. “I’ll scream.”
His sultry laugh just managed to piss me off and the look in his eyes as he raked them down the length of me was more than just predatory. The man was licking his chops, trying to remain patient until his feast was fully trussed and prepared.
“Go ahead, Jade. Do you want to hit me? How about biting me? I wouldn’t mind a little foreplay before we get down to business.”
“You’re psycho.” What business did he honestly think I’d get into with him?
“It would seem you’ve been a very bad girl. That’s not something I need to tell you though.” He grinned as if this was nothing but fun for him. “You have a gift that you’ve exploited to your benefit. However, you made a mistake tonight that will cost you.”
“What the hell do you mean? It’s been over eight years. I don’t want a part of your life, Constantine. You’re a free man. You got away with a heinous crime. Meanwhile, my life was put under a microscope.” It was ridiculous for me to bother saying anything to him. He was only out for one thing.
I just couldn’t understand why after all these years.
“And here I was worried that you’d forgotten about me. I’m so glad to see I was wrong.” He pressed me against the counter until I was able to feel how hard his shaft was throbbing. My God. The man was sick, twisted. He was going to kill me because I’d dared testify against him.
After all this time? Why? Why?
Exasperation rushed in, enough so tears formed in my eyes, and he noticed before I had a chance to blink them away.
“Don’t worry, my sweet Jade. You and I need to talk.” He took his time, shifting his hips back and forth, grinding his shaft against my ass. I loathed the fact my body was tingling, a fog of carnal lust wrapping around me. Nothing made any sense any longer.
“We have nothing to talk about,” I managed. If I could reach into my drawer without him noticing, I had a pair of scissors. I kept my eyes pinned on him, slowly lowering my hand, able to open it by a single inch.
Then he yanked my arm into the air, his fingers digging into my skin. “We have a lot to talk about, but not if you continue to act like a very bad girl.”
“Just leave me alone.” Damn it if a single tear didn’t trickle past my lashes.
“I can no longer do that; however, I think we’ll be able to make a deal that will suit you. There’s no need to cry and ruin that pretty face of yours.”
What the hell was he talking about? I wouldn’t make a deal with someone like him.
“You’re crazy,” I told him, loathing the way his fragrance drifted into my system, even more intoxicating than before. “I would never make a deal with you.”
“That would be a pity. Then I’d have to stand by as you were forced to face an entirely different set of consequences.”
I struggled in his hold, doing everything I could to get out of his clutches. He was far too strong. “What are you talking about?”
“You broke the rules, not only gambling in an establishment you work for but also counting cards and stealing from other guests. Tsk. Tsk. That makes you an extremely bad girl. Doesn’t it? I can only imagine what you had planned for all that money.”
My God. The man was going to blackmail me? That didn’t make any sense. What could he possibly gain by that? “My life is none of your business.”
He laughed, his breath tickling my ear. “Everything about you is now my business, Jade. You see, Maxim Nikitin, the man who signs your paychecks, is a good friend of mine. He’s also a brutal man who refuses to tolerate any kind of betrayal. With a single phone call, I assure you that his brand of revenge is something you won’t survive.”
As he nuzzled against my neck, a knot formed in my stomach. “What do you want?”
“Many things, but as I said, I’ll make a deal with you. First, I need to know why you risked everything tonight. I find that fascinating since you’ve tried to better yourself by getting a wonderful education.”
“Fuck you!” He’d checked me out. I hadn’t been safe at all. My mind reeled from what he was saying. I’d met my boss only once, but it had been enough to know I hadn’t ever wanted to cross him. The Russian and his family owned almost all of Miami, controlling dozens of businesses. I knew I’d taken a risk in working for him. I’d heard stories, horrible ones about employees disappearing. Oh, God.
“I assure you that fucking will be on the agenda. Now, tell me why.”
His eyes pierced mine, holding my attention. All I could hear was the hard thumping of my heart. My stomach lurched as I debated what to do. “My mother died. She owed a lot of money. The bastard threatened me. He had me followed. He called me on the phone several times, threatening to kill me. I had no choice.”
His nostrils flared, his jaw clenching. “Who?”
“What does it matter? Why would you give a shit?”
“Tell me.” He crushed me against his chest, digging his fingers into my skin.
“Fast Eddie. I don’t know his real name. I don’t care.”
After taking a deep breath, he loosened his hold. “We need each other, Jade. I will handle every problem, freeing you of debt while providing you with a substantial bank account.”
What the hell was he offering?
“In exchange for what?” I was a smart girl. The prosecution had reopened the case. I was the trump card, providing the possibility that he could be put away for a long time. If proven right, that meant I had leverage.
“Your hand in marriage, as well as providing me with an heir.”
The wind was knocked out of me, the entire moment as if I was standing in the middle of someone else’s dream. The bastard actually thought I’d have a child with him? He was sick, a fucked-up man with an ego the size of a continent. “The belief that I can’t testify against you is bullshit.”
“Perhaps to some but imagine how the press will handle the news of our upcoming nuptials.” He brushed my hair away from my shoulders, his eyes never leaving me as he bent his head, dragging his tongue down the side of my neck. When he swirled the tip around my pulse of life, I took the gesture as a subtle threat.
He had my life in his hands. With one snap of his wrist or a single bullet, he could end my life.
“You’re crazy. I could never care about you,” I whispered, the sound more strangled than before.
His breath tickled my skin as he laughed. “I couldn’t care less about whether or not you find me attractive or enjoy the circumstances. What I’m offering you is a one-time deal. The choice is up to you. If you agree, you will be made a very wealthy woman. If you don’t, then unfortunately, I’ll have to leave you to whatever fate Maxim has in store for you.”
There was no choice. None. Unless I could escape his clutches. My mother hadn’t raised an idiot or a pansy. I could protect myself. Even though I was filled with terror, I refused to play house with a horrible monster. That wasn’t what I was made of.
“You have five seconds to provide your decision,” he growled.
Hissing, I tried to jerk away from him, but all I was doing was grinding my bottom against him, creating friction that added to the toxicity of the moment. It also added to the desire burning deep within. I was sick to my stomach, hating myself for allowing a single lurid thought.
“Four,” he whispered, staring at me with hooded eyes.
Fuck. Fuck. What was I going to do? My skin crawled, my heart racing.
Just agree. Then get away.
Was I doing the right thing? Fight or flight. That was all I could think about. I’d do both.
“Two.” His voice was growing impatient.
“Fine. I’ll accept your deal.” Oh, my God. What did I just do? No. Pretend. Just pretend. My mind was an ugly blur, yet my heart was racing from anxiety as well as the scorching heat tearing through me from his touch.
“I’ll take you at your word. Do you understand what that means? Do you realize that as of now, you’ll be sequestered in my world?”
Even though his tone was seductive, his touch igniting a fire that I hadn’t known existed, I could barely stand the thought of being around him. But I’d give him what he needed until I found a way out of his kingdom.
“Yes. I said fine. I’ll accept your deal.”
When he made the mistake of letting go of my arms, brushing his fingertips against my cheek, I used the slight advantage, knowing I’d likely never get another.
After twisting, I slammed my hand into his groin then elbowed him, the two hard blows just enough I managed to dash out of the bathroom toward the door. If I could make it outside, I might stand a chance of getting away from him.
I should have known the bastard was used to a hell of a lot more pain. Within seconds, he yanked me by the hair, jerking me back by several feet.
But I was prepared, swinging around and ignoring the pain, able to issue a hard kick to his stomach. My hair slipped through his fingers and when I cracked my backhand across his face, his growl was inhuman.
And it was filled with rage.
He fisted my hair at the scalp with one hand then wrapped his arm around my neck, yanking me against his body. “That wasn’t very nice of you, Jade. Here I was trying to make you a decent offer in order to keep you unhurt and alive, but I’m not certain you’re grateful for that.”
Even though he added pressure to his firm hold, I managed to laugh. “Grateful to you? Never.”
“Hmmm… Then I guess it’s time for you to begin the punishment phase of your incarceration.”
He didn’t hesitate, dragging me closer to the bed, sitting down then jerking me over his knees. I was shocked at first, unable to react. When he ripped off my panties, I bucked hard against him, but all I was doing was creating additional fire between us. My mind was a blur, my nipples fully aroused. Then he brought his hand down against my bottom and I couldn’t have been more shocked. What the hell was he doing?
I squirmed and moaned as he delivered four in rapid succession, and it was easy to tell he was enjoying every minute of tormenting me. Damn the man.
“Let go!” I yelled
“You’re in no position to make demands, Jade.”
God. I wanted to rip out his eyes every time he used my name, the emphasis making me feel like a bad girl when he was the vile creature.
“To hell with you,” I said, the words more garbled than I wanted.
His laugh sent another wave of skittering sensations through me. “I assure you that’s where I’m going, but you made a deal. In my world, a person’s word is sacred. You broke that trust instantly. Now, you’re going to pay the price.”
Nothing was going to prevent me from fighting him. I used all my strength, the power of the muscles in my thighs, able to twist then drop off his lap. I managed to crawl away. He only laughed. Then he grabbed my ankle, dragging me back, lifting me as if I weighed nothing. As he wrapped his arm around my neck, I finally whimpered both from fear as well as desire that continued to trickle through me.
“Mmm… I do so love a woman with spirit,” he breathed as he rolled his hand down my arm, brushing his fingers to my breast. He cupped and squeezed until a flash of pain jetted into my muscles. “That will make it much more enjoyable when I break you, and I will break you, Jade.”
He laughed in my ear then ripped at my bra, managing within seconds to tear it off. “Yes, soon, my lovely bride to be. Very soon.” He seemed to be enjoying himself, raking his fingers down my side, crawling them over my thigh. “Are you already wet for me?”
“Your body betrays you, Jade.”
“Stop saying my name!” I realized my demands meant nothing, but I refused to give in easily. Would he really keep his end of the deal? What was I thinking? There was no amount of money in the world that could allow me to tolerate him. I just…
He slipped his hand between my legs, swirling a fingertip around my clit. “Yes, you’re very wet. I noticed how you looked at me in the courtroom, the yearning you had for me to touch you just like this.”
“You’re a fucking asshole. That’s not true.”
“Why lie to yourself? Now, I’m going to finish spanking you.”
He tossed me onto my bed, growling like the animal he was.
He’d stalked me.
Now he intended on making me his.
He pressed his hand on the small of my back, leaning over the bed. “Because of your attempt to escape, your punishment is going to be much worse. If you try and run again, I assure you that the level of discipline isn’t going to be enjoyable. Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” I said through clenched teeth, still unable to believe this was happening.
“You need to learn there are rules that you will follow. And you will respect me, Jade.”
The inflection as he said my name was much darker, another subtle warning. “Yes, sir.” I gritted my teeth, hating everything about the man, the moment, and my frailties. I pressed my face into the comforter, struggling to control my racing pulse. When he took his hand away, I almost bolted again. I heard a noise and cringed, glancing over my shoulder, watching as he unfastened his belt. I’d never been spanked a day in my life and this bastard of a man was going to whip me with a thick leather strap?
The second he yanked the belt from his trousers, I reacted as I’d done before, jerking up and trying to launch myself from the bed. He was too strong, yanking me down. In a split second, I heard the sharp crack of his wrist as he brought the belt against my bottom.
Pain exploded throughout my torso, the anguish enough I gasped several times, clawing the bed with my fingers. Stars floated in front of my eyes as he snapped the strap against my tender flesh again and again. The man had no mercy, determined to punish me for sins I hadn’t known existed. If only I hadn’t walked into the casino, pretending to be something I wasn’t. Would this be any different?
Constantine delivered several in a row, each one harder than the one before. My bottom was on fire, my mind a blur as I tried to rationalize why I’d accepted the deal. What horrified me even more was that I was fully aroused, my nipples aching and an intense pulse had developed in my core. Nothing made any sense, but there was no doubt that my only chance of survival was to play by his rules. Tears rushed to my eyes, but I refused to give in, allowing him to see any weakness. He didn’t deserve to know he’d already broken me down to the point I accepted his harsh punishment.
He believed himself to be a king, not subject to the laws of any country, only partaking in the cruel rules established in his world. Now I’d become a part of it, a pawn in a sick game to keep him from being caged like the animal he was.
I gritted my teeth as he gave me several more, the agony keeping every nerve standing on end. When he insulted me by caressing my skin, I bit down my cries. Not from pain or hatred but from the intensity of sudden desire tearing through me.
“You’re very wet, just as I suspected you’d be.” His voice was far too soothing, a smooth velvet husk that infiltrated every synapse, drawing me further into his world of darkness and violence.
“Never. You’re insane if you think I want you.”
His laugh was throaty, reminding me of a hunter who’d captured his prey, basking in the moment. “You continue to lie to yourself. It will be a sheer pleasure to watch when you succumb to your master.”
I shifted, pressing my hands on the bed and arching my back. That was the moment he slipped his fingers between my swollen folds, thrusting several times until the determination I’d felt flowed away, leaving me hot and wet all over. I hated myself for wanting him, needing what was forbidden and disgusting.
“Just kill me instead,” I huffed, blinking several times as tears fell slowly to the bed.
“If I wanted you dead, beautiful Jade, that would have occurred already. You’ve become very important to me.”
I was nothing more than another possession for him, a tool to be used then discarded. I made a promise to myself that one day I would kill him.
My mind slipped into a place of comfort, the same thing I’d done immediately after the trial, but as his fingers produced magic, I almost fell into his web of deceit. Then I bucked hard, clawing at the bed in my effort to get away from him. He dragged me back as he’d done before, continuing the harsh round of punishment, only this time the pain was entirely different. I was no longer suffering. Somehow, he’d managed to drive me into a place of rapture.
Panting, I closed my eyes, trying to find my special place as he drove his fingers inside a second time. When I realized I was pushing my hips back, trying to ride his hand, I couldn’t hold back a moan.
“That’s it, sweet girl. I know you want to orgasm.” His laugh was far too enticing, the sound more like a promise of what was to come. He yanked my legs farther apart, rolling his thumb around my clit then pinching the tender tissue. “Yes. That’s very good.”
I nearly ripped the comforter from my fingernails digging into the material, trying to hide my scattered breathing. But it was no use. As he pumped deep inside, flexing his fingers open, I shuddered from the sensations rushing through me. Then the betrayal was finalized as a powerful climax swept through me, stealing my breath and what was left of my dignity. The scent of my desire wafted in the air, powerful in its statement.
I wanted the brutal savage.
I craved his touch.
Dear God. What was wrong with me?
“Oh…” The single syllable was enough to give him ammunition. When he pulled his hand free, I gasped, praying it was over.
He tossed the belt, fisting my hair and dragging my face from the bed as he crawled onto the surface. “Do you know what’s going to happen now, beautiful creature?”
“I couldn’t care less,” I gritted out, the scent of the two of us making me sick to my stomach.
“I think you will. I can be the kind of lover that will provide you with extreme pleasure, but only if you obey my rules. If you don’t, you’ll receive constant punishment. Do you understand me, beautiful Jade?”
He cracked his hand against my bottom. “Let’s try that again. Do. You. Understand?”
He smacked me several more times with the palm of his hand. There was no sense of pain, only vibrations of our heated connection as juice trickled down the insides of my thighs. I was humiliated, ashamed that I could want anything to do with him, but as he caressed my back, rolling his fingers down my spine, I couldn’t stop shivering.
“You can be a good girl when you want to be.” His tone was dripping with sexuality, softer than before as if he meant to comfort me. Nothing would ease the agony or the fear. “It’s my job to keep you that way.”
He was trying to pretend as if he wasn’t a monster, hell bent on destroying my life. But I knew better. I wouldn’t fall for his sultry voice or the heat from his touch. Never. I would rather die than give in.
When he jerked me onto all fours, I let out a ragged wail. “What are you doing?” He said nothing for a few seconds, but I sensed exactly what was happening. He was unfastening his trousers, freeing his cock.
“To answer your question, Jade. Since you agreed to the deal, that means I own you. It’s only fair that I’m provided with a taste of what I can expect. Isn’t that fair?”
Was he kidding me? I couldn’t answer, could barely breathe. My entire world had been shattered and I had no ability to focus or think clearly. “I don’t…”
“Let me make myself clear. I’m going to fuck you tonight. Then I’m going to seduce you tomorrow. You see, sweet Jade, you already belong to me. You have from the moment you stepped foot in the courtroom, vying to hate me, attempting to ruin my life. I take what I want, use it the way I crave.”
He laughed as he rubbed his cock against my aching bottom. “Then we’ll see. It will all depend on your behavior.”
I knew all about his family. I’d been told about his hold on Kansas City and St. Louis. I knew he came from powerful genes, his father just like him. And I’d learned what he did to his enemies. There was no hope unless I obeyed, pretended I cared about him. But the moment he believed I was under his command, I’d strike.
And only one of us would survive.
Whatever he did to me, using me for his personal sadistic pleasures, punishing me for the slighted infraction, I’d endure.
Then I’d enjoy every minute of driving a stake right through his cold black heart.
Using my hair as a leash, he jerked, forcing me to arch my back as he pressed his cockhead between my swollen folds. “Breathe for me, Jade. That way you can take my cock like a good little girl.”
Even though I wanted to fight him, refusing to accept what was happening to me, my body pushed against him, the hunger exploding in my system. Another moan escaped as he breached my entrance, pushing the tip just inside. When he gripped my hip with his other hand, I dragged my tongue across my lips, still tingling, the hunger blinding.
When he shoved the entire length of his cock inside, a moment of pure rapture closed around my system like the steel cage I suspected he would force me into. He was huge, my muscles stretching to accept his wide girth, but as soon as they clamped around the thickness, they pulled him in even deeper. I was shocked how wet I was, furious that I could no longer control my body in any way. There wasn’t a single inch of me that wasn’t on fire, the dazzling wave of sensations tearing through me like a thunderstorm.
I smacked the bed, gasping for air as he pulled out, plunging into me again. Everything was a blur of wonder, utter bliss taking over where embarrassment had been.
“That’s it,” he whispered, his husky tone driving another wave of heat dancing into my system. “Take every fucking thing, sweet Jade.”
As his actions became rougher, the force used pummeling me into the bed, I lost track of time and what was left of my sanity. He was nothing but a crazed beast taking what he’d captured, acting as if I’d been his for all of eternity.
My eyes remained closed as he continued fucking me, my nipples aching to the point I almost begged him to pluck and twist, providing some kind of relief. He wasn’t that kind of man. There would never be any tenderness, just a savage claiming what he believed belonged to him.
It seemed as if the years melted away, returning me to the frightened girl who’d gone against a monster and lost.
Only this time there would be no protection, no one to take me away from the nightmare.
He fucked me long and hard, his stamina unlike anything I’d ever experienced. As the final act of my body’s betrayal drifted to the surface, I let out an intense howl, the climax unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I was awash in exploding heat and vibrations, so lost in the pleasure that as a second orgasm sizzled every nerve, a smile crossed my face.
I had no idea how long he continued driving his cock into my tight channel, exhaustion finally settling in. But as I sensed his muscles tensing, I allowed a final moan to escape.
As soon as he erupted deep inside, he wrapped his body over mine, his hoarse whisper something I would never forget.
“We’re just getting started, Jade. Soon, you’ll beg for my cock and the pleasure only I can give you.”