As his words resonated, all I could think about was the disguise we were both wearing. Mine had been one of protection, thick armor to keep the wolves at bay. The mask Diego was wearing was for an entirely different reason, one I was determined to discover. But it was apparent that we were both living a lie.
I’d always known there was a thin line between love and hate, but as I stood almost entirely naked in front of a man I didn’t know, I was shocked at the truth. There was an even thinner line between rage and passion. My body had betrayed me, hungering for his searing touch while my mind remained firm in the belief that he should die a bloody violent death.
Why hadn’t I taken the opportunity to end his life when I’d had it so easily in my fingers at the church? Because something was wrong, as if the earth had tilted on its axis, creating a surreal reflection of the real world. The game plan had changed, and I hadn’t been privy to learning what that was. Maybe my curiosity had gotten the better of me, or maybe the electric charge that continued to hum like a diesel engine was to blame.
The man was sickeningly hot, chiseled in every way. His burnished skin and curly dark hair had driven me mad with longing. I’d wanted to run my fingers through his locks, tangling and pulling while he kissed me over and over again. I’d yearned to run the tips of my fingers down his broad chest, tickling his carved abs until I couldn’t resist crawling my fingers to his cock.
And now, as he tugged on the thick leather strap, the look on his face carnal, dangerous, I couldn’t seem to force my body into trying to escape his clutches. Breathless, I shuddered when the belt was free and he cracked it on the floor, the sound reverberating in my ears.
But I closed my eyes, making a new promise that I would not break. He’d threatened my sister. While vague, merely testing my resolve, he’d made a fatal mistake. She was far too innocent for this world, her sweetness never altered by the brutality of my father’s actions. As soon as possible, I was getting her out of Los Angeles, ensuring she never suffered the kind of fate I’d been forced into.
Another shiver coursed through me, my mind incapable of comprehending the massacre as well as the ugliness that I’d asked the man to fuck me. Why? Why in God’s name had I done such a crazy, twisted thing? Yes, I’d felt helpless, terrified that my entire family had been wiped out, but to drop to that level was insane and…
And Diego had calmed me, his strength and resolve making me feel safe. The feel of his arms surrounding me had been exhilarating. I’d enjoyed every minute of him fucking me. What did that make me? A traitor if to no one else but myself? I wasn’t certain at this point.
“Bad. Bad. Girl. I can’t wait to taste every inch of you.” Even the way he said the dirty words was scintillating, the husky tone unlike what I’d heard before. He was a man on fire, the burn appearing in the rich purple flecks in his eyes. Was it possible I’d never seen them before? No. I was observant, had learned everything about the bastard to use against him.
“I hate you.” And I did, with everything I had inside of me. There was no room for anything else, the rage filling my heart and soul, stealing every scrap of happiness.
“Good. That will make this more delicious.” He yanked me by the arm, tossing me over the back edge of the couch, yanking one stiletto off then the other. Then he unhooked my bra, forcing the straps from my arms. “A woman should always be spanked without a single piece of clothing. I am going to enjoy this.”
Enjoy? The man was as sadistic as I’d believed. Then why were butterflies churning in my stomach? Why did this arouse me instead of making me sick?
Diego rolled his fingers down my spine before pulling my hair to the side. I heard him take a deep breath as when I moved, determined to get the hell away from him, he pressed down on the small of my back, crowding over me with his full weight.
“I don’t think you want to do that, my lovely creature. Your punishment will be that much worse.”
“Fuck you,” I spouted off, digging my nails into the smooth leather. If I didn’t fight him now, I’d fall under his spell, and I couldn’t allow that to happen. We weren’t friends or lovers. Just two enemies forced to endure each other.
“Soon, baby girl. Soon. Penance first before pleasure. Always. El placer es un regalo.”
Pleasure is a gift. If that was the case, gutting him would be a prize.
As soon as he took a step back, I was prepared to bolt but he was faster, bringing the belt down twice without hesitation. Agony blasted through me, sucking my breath from my body. Tears immediately formed in my eyes, but I refused to give in to his tyranny or his control. That would never happen. He could spank me every day, issuing whatever form of punishment he wanted, but he would never be able to break down my defenses.
And he would never steal my heart.
The fact I’d even thought that was ridiculous. He was a monster, a man who killed for a living. Was that any different than my father’s world? My father was considered the most powerful man in Hollywood, capable of making or breaking a career in an instant. But he’d taken it too far, his enemies suddenly disappearing. That was exactly what happened under Xavier Santos’ reign, an empire he’d just turned over to his son the moment I said ‘I do.’
As the crack of his wrist brought a whooshing sound, I clenched my eyes shut, loathing the fact a single tear had managed to escape, trickling down my cheek and dropping ever so slowly to the couch. I had to endure this for a little while, even pretending I was compliant, but that wasn’t in my nature.
Diego took another deep breath, daring to caress my already aching bottom. “I do so love the color red on you, Carina. And I will adore the marks I’ll place on your sexy little body.”
The man was twisted, although the lingering thought that he wasn’t the right man remained in my mind. I’d heard about Diego’s reputation, his sick need for an entirely different kind of control in the bedroom. Sadistic was a tame word for what women were forced to endure, his reputation suggesting his proclivities were extreme.
As the belt was brought down four times in rapid succession, I couldn’t control my body in pain any more than I’d been able to in passion. I kicked out, lurching up from the couch, a strangled whimper escaping.
“You’re such a bastard,” I hissed.
“Yes, but if you learn to obey my rules and never attempt to end my life again, things will go easier for you.” He laughed, the sound penetrating my eardrums. He really believed he could keep me on a leash. He would soon learn what I was made of.
His exhale was exaggerated, and he cracked the thick leather again, smacking me three times across the sit spot, twice on my upper thighs. The anguish was maddening but the fact I was wet, pussy juice trickling past my swollen lips was horrifying.
“Your pussy is glistening, Carina. Are you excited? Does this make you hunger even more?”
“I’m not aroused and never will be.”
“Why do you keep lying to yourself?” He slid his hand between my legs, cupping my mound and grinding his palm against my pussy. As he rolled it up and down, I gasped from the amount of pleasure sweeping through me.
He pressed my legs as wide open as possible, his breathing labored as he rolled his thumb around my clit. Within seconds, I could swear I was going to have an orgasm. That just couldn’t happen. It wasn’t possible.
You want this.
Like hell I did.
You do. Why lie to yourself?
I dropped my head, stars floating in front of my eyes, panting as I did everything I could to keep my body from reacting. When he slipped several fingers past my swollen folds, I almost lost it.
“God, you’re so wet and tight. Have you been with anyone else?”
He removed his hand, immediately cracking the belt against my bottom, the blast of pain entirely different than before. So electric. So arousing. “Answer me.”
Oh, my God. What did he think this was? I was a grown woman. I’d had boyfriends before, although not in several years. “Yes. Okay? Is that what you wanted to hear?”
He seemed disappointed in my answer, immediately returning to the spanking, bringing the belt across my heated skin six more times. I was drained already, my mind a blur as tingling sensations danced down the backs of my legs. The horror of what was happening had quickly given way to building excitement. Did I really hunger to have his cock thrust inside again?
Dear God. What was wrong with me?
“Hear me now, my bride. You now belong to me. If a man ever dares to look at you, he will lose his eyes. If he touches you, I’ll cut off his hand. And if he dares to fuck you, then you will watch him die by my hands.”
His words of possession were strangely erotic, pushing back my defenses to the point I’d never felt so vulnerable in my life. He fisted my hair, pulling my head to an awkward angle, peering down at me with his lust-filled eyes. Then he shoved his slickened fingers into his mouth, licking them clean.
I was repulsed.
I swallowed hard, the mesmerizing moment seemed to stop all time. When he was finished, he tossed the belt, jerking me up from the couch, turning me around then wrapping his arms around me. “You taste divine, but I need more. Much more.” He lifted me into his arms as if I weighed nothing. Then he moved toward the grand piano in the corner, positioning me on the edge above the exposed keys, planting each of my feet on either end.
Exhaling, he studied me, the look on his face as if he was going to devour me whole. When he backed away, I eased onto my elbows, watching as he yanked off his shirt, exposing his glorious chest, a portion covered in dark ink. His eyes pierced mine as he unzipped his trousers, kicking off his shoes before lowering the material over his hips.
When he was fully undressed, I was momentarily unable to breathe, my mind a blur from the sight of him. Every muscle was honed to perfection, as if he’d been carved out of some magnificent stone. Even his skin glistened in the dim lighting. A chain remained around his neck, a small piece of metal dangling by a half inch. It was a symbol of something important. I was certain of it. He took several deep breaths, his chest rising and falling, the look on his face growing more intense.
I wanted to run, to keep from hungering the way I did, but it was impossible to ignore the vibrations skipping through me or the need festering deep inside.
He approached, narrowing his eyes as he yanked back the bench and sat down. I wasn’t certain what I’d expected but when he began to play the piano, I was shocked. I hadn’t known he could play. There were no records anywhere that he was a musician. As he continued, the mournful sound of whatever piece he’d selected echoed in my ears. It was hauntingly beautiful, but so sad, yet it matched the way I’d been feeling for the two weeks since being told my wedding had already been planned.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him, my heart racing with every stretch of his long fingers, the deep bass as the piece built to a crescendo. I marveled at his skill, the ease with which he tickled the ivories, and the passion that exuded from every chord. I’d thought of him as nothing but a savage, thirsty for blood and nothing else. This was an entirely different side of him, a way of showing me that he was a complicated man.
Or was this just another part of his game, an attempt to break down my defenses to the point I wouldn’t be able to fight him. When he was finished, I leaned back on the cool surface, staring up at the ceiling. Everything about this day had been so unexpected.
Diego yanked my bottom off the edge then brushed the rough pads of his fingers along the insides of my thighs. There was no denying how my body felt with his touch, prickles dancing on every inch of my skin.
“So beautiful,” he whispered. “And all mine. I might be the luckiest man in the world.” His words were another surprise, killing off some of the desperate need to run. Maybe he was a master manipulator, capable of breaking down my defenses in several ways.
As he blew across my pussy, I took several shallow breaths.
“You’re glistening for me, your sweet pussy lips already swollen.” Even his deep voice sent skitters throughout my body. He pressed my legs back, exposing all of me. Then he dipped his head, his eyes never leaving me as he swiped his tongue across my clit.
I placed my hand over my eyes, refusing to watch.
But the controlling man was having none of it.
“Watch me, Carina. Watch as I feast on your honey.”
I slowly lowered my hand, rising onto my elbows. My throat was tight, as if icy fingers were cinched around them.
Or a collar.
No, a noose.
Butterflies continued to swarm in my tummy yet when he flicked his tongue back and forth across my clit four times, whimpers slipped past my lips. He was enjoying every moment, growling as if the beast inside of him was prepared to break free. “So delicious.”
Why was he doing this to me? Did he think this would win me over? I couldn’t seem to stop shuddering as he rolled his tongue up and down. Just the fact I was on top of a sixty-plus-thousand-dollar piano being feasted on was filthy, sinful in a way I hadn’t expected.
And to me, it was the most passionate thing that had ever happened.
As he continued, he seemed to know exactly what my body needed, shifting his tongue when I moaned, driving it deep inside every few seconds. He brought me so close to the edge of rapture then pulled away so many times I was panting, ready to beg him to allow me to come.
The sparkle in his eyes indicated he knew exactly what he was doing to me. I bit my lower lip to keep from crying as he thrust two fingers inside, the angle enabling him to slide it across my G-spot. I couldn’t see clearly, stars in vibrant colors flashing in front of my eyes.
“Oh. Oh… I…” I tossed my head back and forth, my legs shaking in his hold.
“Do you want to come?”
The question had to be rhetorical. “Yes. God, yes.”
He rubbed his lips on one leg then the other before burying his face into my pussy. That was all I could take. As an orgasm swept up from my curled toes, I threw my head all the way back, unable to keep from screaming. I’d never felt so blissful, the pure ecstasy unlike anything I knew existed.
“Mmm…” He refused to stop, licking up and down savagely, every sound he made animalistic.
I writhed in his hold, bucking up from the piano, my feet making thunking noises as they skipped across the keys. The wave of euphoria turned into a second, the climax almost blinding me. I laughed, blinking several times as my body continued to shudder.
He pressed kisses on one leg then the other, finally standing to his full height. He was such a handsome man that it took my breath away. Every move exaggerated, he placed one hand on the piano then the other, leaning over, his strong jaw clenched. “Are you ready?”
The question was one I couldn’t answer. I pushed my hands against his chest, kneading his heated skin, tingling as another jolt of current flashed into my system. He was so tall that as he gripped my hips, the tip of his throbbing cock immediately pressed against my slickened folds. Then he impaled me with a single thrust, sucking in his breath as he threw his head back.
“Oh!” My cry was washed out by his strangled exhale and as my muscles stretched, trying to accommodate his wide girth, several filthy images rolled into my mind. I hadn’t expected to enjoy this, or want the man on any level, but the dark cravings that had erupted entangled my emotions in a tight web.
His upper lip was curled as he peered down at me, his eyes now dilated. With his fingers digging into the skin on my hips, he pumped in and out methodically, the rhythm generating excessive heat. Seconds later, he was yanking me up and down brutally, almost as if he was taking out his frustration by fucking me like an animal. I was dragged across the surface of the piano, my toes constantly hitting the keys. It seemed strange that there was a melody flowing, just as haunting as the music he’d selected.
The incredible stamina the man had was shocking, his hard fucking continuing, my muscles spasming. As my pussy clenched and released, I remained lightheaded. His muscles had tensed and as he rolled onto the balls of his feet, I was certain he was ready to erupt deep inside.
But he planned on making good on his promise.
With his cock remaining inside, he once again leaned over, brushing his lips across mine. I wrapped my legs around his hips, pulling him in even closer. He shifted his gaze down, a smile crossing his face. “You still believe you’re in charge. Don’t you, my beautiful bride?”
“You have no idea what I can do.”
“I’m very much looking forward to finding out.” He captured my mouth, holding our lips in place, opening and closing them before darting his tongue inside. While the intense hunger remained, the moment of tenderness unexpected, I sensed a deeper hunger had been ignited. The fact he was ravaging me was just the beginning. Of what, I doubted I’d learn for days, maybe weeks.
What was his purpose?
My brain was rattled, still consumed by the difference in his eyes. As the kiss continued, I was swept away, swooning like a lovesick girl. I slid my arms around his shoulders, tangling the fingers of one hand in his thick locks just like I’d wanted to. The moment of intimacy was different, even more passionate. Yet as before, his tongue dominated mine as he explored every centimeter of my mouth.
And I did his as well.
His scent rocked me, so full of testosterone, cedarwood, and spices that I was momentarily intoxicated. No man was supposed to be this good looking or have a fragrance that could ignite a thousand fires.
When he finally pulled away, he dragged his tongue across my lips then lifted me completely off the piano, the same wry smile on his face as he carried me toward the bank of doors leading to the expansive deck. After throwing one open, he headed outside, turning sideways until I was allowed to see the churning ocean. While the day had been filled with bright sun, dark clouds had invaded the sky, the wind whipping across the sand as a storm approached. To me it was a sign of what our relationship would be.
As a single flash of lightning sparked the night sky, he eased me onto my feet, forcing me against the thick steel railing. I trembled in his arms because of the closeness, the overbearing sweep of emotions that refused to leave me alone. All I’d thought about for days was carving my name in Diego’s skin. Instead, he’d seared his in mine with his sizzling touch, his kisses that left me weak in the knees.
At this moment I couldn’t stand myself.
“Are you afraid of the dark?” he asked as he nuzzled against my neck.
“Should I be?”
“They say monsters thrive in the hours surrounding midnight, a time when curses are placed.”
“You’re superstitious?” I asked out of curiosity.
“In my home country of Colombia, there are witches who banish away the demons, providing charms of protection, but at times the demons still prevail. However, I consider the darkness my friend, allowing for unseemly endeavors.”
I wasn’t certain why he was sharing his thoughts, other than to issue a terse message, a warning that he was a very dangerous man.
“But don’t worry, my lovely bride. I can protect you from all the evils of this world.” He bit down on my shoulder, his teeth sinking in to the point of pain, but I writhed against him from the pleasure it brought.
He rolled his fingers over my shoulders, slowly allowing them to drift to my hands as he pressed his knee between my legs, pushing them apart.
Another crack of lightning energized the sky, crisscrossing across the horizon in an intense neon blue. I trembled from the power of it as he pressed his cock against my pussy. Then he slipped inside, pushing me hard against the railing.
“You can’t protect me, Diego. No one can. And why would you?” It was my honest opinion, although I wasn’t certain why I said the words. He would try to do with me what he wanted. I closed my eyes as a rumble of thunder came from the distance.
“Because my family has many enemies.”
“So does mine, including the Santos clan.”
“You will learn, my bride. One day, you will learn.” He picked up his rhythm, although it was more sensual than before, taking his time to enjoy fucking me instead of claiming me as a possession. I arched my back, resting my head against his shoulder, taking deep breaths of the ocean breeze as the wind flowed around us in a tight swirl. The feeling of his heated body against mine was more powerful than before, my heartrate soaring.
When he pulled his cock from my wetness, I gasped for no other reason than I knew what he was going to do. As he pressed the cockhead against my dark hole, my entire body tensed. He pushed the tip inside, allowing me to get used to the thick invasion. The moment he wrapped his hand around my hair, twisting the long curls around his fist, the first drops of rain began to fall.
“Breathe for me, baby,” he whispered in my ear, then licked the shell as he slipped another inch inside.
I wasn’t anticipating his tenderness, the pain not nearly what I’d expected. Still, I gasped as the sensations tore through me. The drops continued to fall, sizzling against my overheated skin. When he was fully seated inside, he issued a husky bellow followed by a series of growls.
“Tight. Hot. Mine.”
The three words floated through my mind, increasing my blood pressure. Another crackling bolt of lightning lit up the sky as if fireworks were going off. Panting, the anguish from before began to fade, leaving me with an explosive level of heat that I hadn’t anticipated. Every time he brushed his fingers across my skin, the tingling sensations increased.
His breathing had become labored and I sensed he was doing everything he could to hold back. I’d never expected to enjoy the filthy act, but with him, every brutal action drew me further into his darkness.
And I loved it, craved more.
He wrapped his arm around my waist, flicking his finger back and forth across my nipple. I closed my eyes, allowing the wash of need and intense longing to overtake the previous anxiety. I felt safe in his arms, but there was no doubt I was his possession.
“My beautiful creature,” he murmured, nuzzling his face into my neck as he twisted my nipple until I cried out in pain.
Then he reared back, gripping my hips, digging his fingers into my skin.
The husky sounds he made kept my mind spiraling, my heart racing. He was nothing but a primal beast claiming what he believed belonged to him.
When he cracked his hand on my bottom several times, another rush of vibrations tore through me. And I heard him whisper the most powerful word of all.
For the next few minutes, he fucked me, claiming what had been sold to him, and another tear slipped past my lashes.
Not from pain.
Not from fear.
From the knowledge that killing him would be more difficult than I’d thought and from the hatred for the girl inside who’d believed her life was her own.
Leaning over, Diego pressed the full weight of his body against me, cupping my breasts. He pulled me against him, the burn of his skin against mine a permanent stain. He pinched my nipples, twisting them between his fingers, and seconds later, he erupted deep inside, filling me with his seed.