My mother’s jewelry box is open on my coffee table with the pieces spread out across the top. Having been raised around money, I should probably understand the worth of these pieces, but it’s never been important to me. When I was a little girl, I admired the diamonds of my mother’s earrings when she dressed up for a party with my father, but I never considered that they held a monetary value. They were simply shiny decorations that paled in comparison to my mother’s beauty.
I pick up a set of earrings that shimmer the second they catch the sunlight through the window. How much would they be worth? A few hundred? A thousand?
I drop them and take a steadying breath. Her wedding ring stares at me from the red velvet case. When she died, my father made sure not to bury her with it so that I would wear it when I married. It’s encrusted with diamonds and sapphires. It has to be worth several thousand dollars.
But it’s not enough.
I need a million.
As I pick up the box, there’s banging on my front door.
“One second,” I call, hoping it’s the landlord. I already paid my rent for the month, but the dishwasher has a small leak he needs to look at. I get up from the floor where I’ve been sitting all afternoon, and hurry to the door when the banging starts up again.
I open the door only enough to see who’s on the other side, and suck in a sharp breath.
Arman stands there with a dark glare settled on his face.
“Arman.” I tighten my grip on the door and shove my left foot against it just in case he tries to push his way past me.
“Anya.” He licks his lips after he says my name, as though he can taste it. “Open the door for me, Anya. Invite me in.” He doesn’t even blink. If I were into that sort of thing, I’d liken him to a vampire with the way he’s staring at me right now. As though he can get me to obey him with some sort of hypnosis by looking him straight in the eye.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” I lift my chin a fraction and steel my spine. You can show no signs of weakness to a predator like Arman Romanov.
He cocks his head to the left. “Why’s that? Are you scared of the punishment you have coming?”
My ass clenches merely at the insinuation. Worse, my pussy does too.
“You can’t show up here out of the blue and say things like that.”
His expression remains firm.
“How did you even get in the building?”
“You think I can’t get around a security system?” He’s almost offended by my question.
“What do you want?” I ask, pressing my knee against the back of the door. He’s stronger, but I’m not going to give in so easily. If he wants to push his way in, he’ll have to force me to move.
“I already told you. Invite me in.”
I shake my head. “Not until you tell me what you want.”
His shoulders drop and he shakes his head. “I was hoping you’d be a good girl about all this, but I can see you’re going to make this hard.”
“Make what hard? I’m not doing anything. You’re the one who shows up out of nowhere and demands to be let in.” Should I shut the door in his face and lock it? As tempting as it sounds, he’ll easily bust through the flimsy lock and break the door frame in the process.
“You lied to me, Anya. You looked me right in my eyes and lied.” His lips press against his teeth as he tells me what’s put such a dark shadow over his features.
“About what?” What sort of misdeeds has he conjured up in his mind now?
“Let me in, Anya. This is the last chance you get before things get worse for you after we’re done talking.” He says it so casually anyone walking by would think we were having a simple conversation. They would have no inkling that he’s threatening me.
“Go home, Arman.” I start to shut the door, but of course he’s faster, stronger than me, and shoves the door out of my grasp. I stumble back a few steps, catching myself before I tumble over the back of the couch onto my ass.
Now that he’s inside, he calmly shuts the door and bolts it, even takes the time to slide the chain in place. When he turns back to me, a chill runs through me. I made it worse.
“We’ll talk about that later. First, we’re going to talk about the debt you owe the De Luca family.”
I want to pull my hair and scream. We had this conversation already. Too many times to count.
“In what language do I have to say this to you?” I fist my hands at my sides. “I will not take your fucking money. I don’t want anything from you or your family. Just leave it alone!” I yell at him, switching to Russian. I haven’t spoken it for a long while, most of my friends prefer to leave our native language to the older generation, but the arch of his eyebrow tells me I got it right.
“Say that again.” His chin jerks upward toward me. It’s a dare. And not one I should accept.
“I’m not talking about this with you anymore.” I bring my voice down, because in all truth, I’m tired of the subject matter.
“Good. Then you can do the listening.” He glances over at the coffee table where I’ve been sorting the jewelry. A low curse leaves his lips with another shake of his head. “Is that your mother’s jewelry?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“I swear, Anya, if I have to stop this conversation to take off my belt, you’re going to have a rough day ahead of you.”
“Stop threatening me!”
“Who’s threatening?” he asks, raising his eyebrows. “I don’t threaten. I warn. And if you don’t take that warning, well, that’s on you.”
Angry tears are ready to spring into my eyes, but I manage a few cleansing breaths to keep them at bay. Nothing would piss me off more at this moment than to cry in front of him and for him to misunderstand the reason for my tears.
“Are those your mother’s jewels?” he repeats the question slowly.
“Yes.” Why does his tone make me feel like a petulant child?
“And they’re being sorted because you’re going to pawn them?”
“Just tell me what you’re doing here.” If it wouldn’t give him a higher ground to stand on, I’d stomp my foot.
“I know about the trust.” He takes one step closer to me. “More important, I know about the clause in the trust.”
My throat dries. Of course he knows. Why can’t he leave this all alone?
“It doesn’t matter.”
“You told me there was nothing I could do to help. But that’s not true, is it? There is something. Something simple that would get you the cash to pay the De Luca family back.”
Another step closer. The back of my couch is pressed against my ass. I have nowhere to step away from him without falling over a piece of furniture.
“If you know about the clause, you know I don’t get the money. My husband does. So, yeah, there’s nothing you can do.” It’s wobbly reasoning, but I don’t have much to work with here. Arman came here with an agenda. I’m playing defense in a game I don’t know all the rules to.
“And as your husband, do you think I’d let you be in danger?” He bridges the small gap of space between us and cages me in with his hands pressed against the couch on either side of me.
“I’m not marrying you.” I’m impressed that I’m able to keep my voice as firm as I do. If it were to crack or even tremble, he wouldn’t take me seriously.
“Yes, you are.”
“You’re insane. You can’t come in here and say I’m marrying you and think it’s going to happen.”
His eyes narrow. “You lied. I really hate lies. You didn’t let me into the apartment when I asked for an invite. I really don’t like having to repeat myself over and over again. And now you’re refusing the one thing that will save you from the De Lucas’ henchmen, which is putting your life in danger.” He tsks his tongue. “You have one hell of a spanking coming your way.”
His hand covers my mouth, pressing hard enough to push my lips against my teeth.
“If you tell me I can’t punish you, you’d be lying again. And you don’t want to add another lie to the list.”
He winks at me, as though this whole thing is a game to him.
“Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to strip you down, bend you over this couch and take my belt to your creamy, curvy, sexy ass until it’s red and raw and I’m positive you’ll remember this moment every time you sit for the rest of the day, and maybe tomorrow. And then I’m going to spread your legs and fuck you so hard you scream my name.”
Some sort of sound escapes me. A cry or a plea or a moan, I’m not sure anymore.
“Then, after all that is over with, you and I are going to visit a judge friend of mine and you’re going to say the vows I have set for us. Once the ink is dry on the marriage certificate, we’ll visit your attorney who will get the trust unlocked and the money released by Monday.” He lets out a heavy breath. “I’m going to take my hand away, and if you yell, curse, or tell me no, I’ll gag you and we’ll go straight for the ass whooping. Understand?”
Do I really have a choice here?
I nod as best I can beneath his hand, while my brain searches for a way out of this mess. Well, most of it does, but I can’t deny there’s a part of me that remembers how many years I fantasized about Arman touching me, wanting me as much as I wanted him. But I never imagined it like this.
Slowly, he peels his hand away from my mouth and gives me a slight smile when I remain silent.
“Arman,” I finally say when I’m sure I can trust myself to remain calm. “Does your father know about your plan? Is this another way of getting blood from a stone?”
“My father doesn’t know anything. He’s out of town until next weekend,” he says, his jaw tightening slightly. “And I don’t need or want his permission.”
“Ah. So, when he comes home and sees you’ve married the daughter of the man who betrayed him so horribly, he’ll be so enraged he’ll disown you, or force you to give him the trust money and leave me even worse off than I am now. And if you were to pay off De Luca, wouldn’t he see that as another betrayal?”
“I will deal with my father.” His voice remains firm. “That’s my worry. Your worry is what you’re going to do with the rest of the trust money. Will you invest it, or will you go back to school to finish your degree?”
“The rest of the trust?”
“Yes. If only one million is needed to pay off the debt, that leaves you with four million.”
“But it all goes to you.”
He lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know if you know this, but I have a few bucks of my own. I don’t need yours.”
Words freeze in my mind.
He’s going to marry me to unlock the trust and take nothing for himself?
“It would be a marriage in a name only then? We can get it annulled right away, after the trust is unlocked.” I nod. That’s a more logical plan. More reasonable. “I can work with that.”
He pinches my chin between his fingers and pushes my head back. “No, Anya. There will be no annulment. No divorce. It’s a true marriage. You’ll be my wife. In every way possible.”
Marriage to Arman Romanov. Most girls in our world would see this opportunity as a way to achieve lifelong financial stability. I’d be protected with his name attached to my own. The De Lucas wouldn’t lay a finger on me; to do so would be an open declaration of war against the entire Romanov family and anyone who aligns with them.
For some it might be a dream.
But I’m not some girl.
“You’d let me go back to school?” I find myself asking.
He lets go of my chin and gives a stern nod. “Of course. You’ll be my wife, and there are some things I won’t permit, but getting an education, having your own career—these things are important to you. I wouldn’t stop you.”
“What things wouldn’t you permit?” Why am I asking such a stupid question? The very idea that he thinks he can permit or not permit anything in my life is absurd.
“We’ll talk about those things after.”
“After you’ve removed your clothing and draped yourself over the back of this couch to take your punishment.” He pushes off the couch and takes a step back, giving me enough room to do exactly as he’s instructed.
“I haven’t said yes to your… proposal,” I say.
He chuckles. “It wasn’t a question, Anya. Now, if I were you, I’d get moving. Because I wouldn’t want any more tacked on to my punishment. But that’s me. Maybe you want more of a punishment? Maybe you want me to fuck you and deny you your orgasm? That’s a pretty harsh one though, because I’ll bring you right to the brink and take it away. And I’ll do that over and over and over until your thighs are covered in your own arousal, and still, I’ll deny you.”
This man’s words make my brain crisscross.
“Should I count?” He holds up his fingers.
“Arman. I’ve never… I mean, you’ve never seen me naked before,” I say, grabbing the hem of my t-shirt.
“Has anyone?” His eyes flash.
“I’m not a virgin if that’s what you mean.” Although I’m not exactly experienced either. Not like him. If half the rumors are to be believed.
“Don’t tell me any more than that, because if you do, I’ll want their names.”
“You really are a Neanderthal.” I pull my shirt over my head and toss it onto the couch. Maybe if I can make this part good, he’ll forget what he said about his belt.
“I’m a possessive asshole,” he freely admits. “I’ve been told that more than once. I don’t care. It’s who I am. You’ll get used to it.”
I stop pushing my shorts down to look up at him. “I will?”
“You won’t have a choice. Now hurry up.” He steps back a few paces and grabs his belt.
“You don’t want a strip show? I never got to give you one at the club.”
With his eyes locked on mine, he whips his belt out of his trousers and folds it over in his palm.
“I’ve never been all that interested in those. Lose the panties and bra and get in position.”
“If I say no to all of this?”
He sighs. “Then the other option is to lock you away until De Luca forgets about you. It would be the only other way to keep you safe. So… I guess it’s your choice.”
Locked away? I have no doubts about his ability to do something so cruel.
I turn away from him and remove the last bits of fabric covering my body.
“Over the couch; you may want to grab a pillow to scream into.” He shifts his positioning to stand to my left.
I grab the pillow but make a silent vow not to make a sound.
He makes a liar of me with the first strike of the belt.
She barely has the pillow in place before her pain-filled scream bursts from her lungs. A dark red stripe flares to life across her creamy ass cheeks.
“Tell me why you’re being punished.” I give her a moment to breathe.
“Because you’re a barbarian who doesn’t know how to use his words!” she yells, earning a fast, hard lash of the belt across the tops of her thighs. A particularly sensitive spot that I would normally avoid, but her answer warrants the extra bite.
“Try again, Anya.” I hold the belt at my side, giving her a chance to suck in air. There’s a welt already forming on her right thigh where the side of the belt caught her. For her sake, I hope she’s a quick learner.
“Because I didn’t tell you about the marriage loophole in the trust,” she says, sounding like she ran her best time for a hundred-yard dash. “And I didn’t let you in right away when you showed up out of nowhere, uninvited.”
I’ll let her get away with that little bit at the end there. I don’t want to stamp out her fire, just control the dance of the flames.
The belt kisses her ass, but the sweet hiss she gives me is more enticing.
“And are you going to lie to me again?”
“No!” She shakes her head.
“There will be no lies between us, Anya. Complete honesty, is that understood?” I pull back my hand.
“Yes, Arman. I get it.”
I bring the belt down again and again and again, until she’s hopping from foot to foot trying to avoid the blows. She can’t though; I’ll never let her run from a punishment. To be sure I don’t hit her back or the belt wraps around her hip, I wrap my arm around her waist, pinning her to my body.
She tenses for a moment, then softens. It’s easier, I think, for her to endure this with me holding her in place. It’s probably a mistake, but I won’t see her damaged by a stray lash because she can’t keep still.
“Please!” she finally cries out. “I can’t take any more.” She puts her right hand up in the air. “Please, Arman.”
I pause, inspecting my work. Her ass practically glows, and I can only imagine the hot throbbing pain she must feel. I slide my belt in front of her thighs, wiggling it up until I have her leashed with it around her hips.
“Spread your legs a bit, Anya,” I instruct her and put both ends of the belt into my left hand while I shove down my trousers with my right.
She works her feet further apart. Her movements expose her puffy, wet pussy and I abandon my plan for a moment.
I need to taste her.
Dropping to my knees, I keep the belt in my hand while I run my tongue through her lips. Fuck, she tastes like honey. She moans and immediately her thighs tighten.
“Don’t you come yet,” I mutter while dipping my tongue into her cunt. Another groan and I slap her tender ass. “Not yet.”
“Please,” she begs, and I’ve barely begun with her.
“No.” I run my tongue from her clit to her entrance then move up to my feet. If I keep that up, she’ll be a naughty girl again and come before I say she can.
“Reach back and spread your ass cheeks for me, Anya. I want to see your little asshole while I’m fucking you from behind.”
“Arman!” she cries out, but I doubt I’ve actually offended her.
I’m not a patient man, but I manage to give her the time to get her hands back and pry her red ass cheeks apart for me.
“Good girl,” I whisper, lining up the head of my cock with her pussy. “One day, I’m going to fuck you there, too. But not today.” I push past her entrance, and suck in a large breath. She’s fucking tight, and hot, and so fucking wet.
She moans as I thrust into her, filling her wanting cunt with my cock. Using the belt as reins, I pull her hips back at me while I shove into her again.
“That’s such a good girl,” I say louder, as I fuck her faster, continuing in the same manner. “Don’t you let go.” Her head is down, and she’s lost in the sensations, but I can imagine the flame on her cheeks. It might be cruel to make her stay in this position, but I want her to understand who holds the reins here.
And it’s not her.
“Good girl. Fuck.” I grit my teeth as she clenches tightly around me. She’s getting close now.
I slip my hand around her hips and easily find her clit. Her hands dig into my stomach with being bent over in such a way, but it’s a good feeling. Her skin against my skin. Her moans filling the air between us while my cock is stuffed inside her.
“I can’t… oh, God… I can’t!” she screams out. “Please!”
“You want to come for me? You want to be my good girl and come?” My teasing her is making my own orgasm close enough to touch.
“Yes! Please!” She shifts her feet, lifting her right leg and making her cunt even tighter around my cock.
“Come!” I order her, plowing in harder and faster.
It only takes another flick of my finger and she’s bucking back at me, crying out my name, chanting it over and over and over again until her voice goes hoarse.
Her release washes over my cock and the intensity of her body clenching around me drives me right into my own orgasm.
Pulling my hand away from her clit, I grab the ends of the belt and ride her harder and harder until my balls pull tight and electricity zings down my spine. Looking down, I see she hasn’t let go of her ass. It’s still red, except for where she’s gripping her cheeks. There it’s white around her fingers. Then there’s the little pucker of her asshole. And the thought of getting my cock inside there is enough to unleash my orgasm.
I pump once, twice, and then still as the harsh waves hit me and my cock empties into her pussy.
Air whooshes back into my lungs, and my vision slowly comes back into focus. Anya is still draped over the couch. My belt is taut, pulling her against me. Her shoulders are slumped, and I realize after a long pause that she’s trying to catch her own breath.
Slowly, I ease the belt from around her hips and then pull back from her body. My seed spills out of her and she whimpers, trying to get up.
“No.” I push my hand into her back. “You can put your legs together but don’t get up yet. Let my cum run down your thighs while I find something to clean you.”
I yank up my trousers and zip them before I head to dig around her bathroom for a clean towel. Her apartment is insanely small, maybe a whole five hundred square feet of living space. It’s nothing like she had growing up. I hate this place.
I snag a washcloth and run it under warm water before going back out to the living room. I’m pleasantly surprised she’s exactly as I left her.
When I touch her back, she jumps slightly.
“Sorry,” she mutters. “I was thinking.”
“About what?” I ask as I run the washcloth over her pussy, cleaning the mess we’ve made. Reluctantly, I wipe away the streaks of my cum that are drying on her thighs.
“Why are you doing this?” she asks softly. “My father betrayed you. I’ve been run out of every social circle, lost almost all of my friends, and have been kicked out of my own life. Why would you do this for me?”
I grab hold of her arm and pull her up to her feet. After I wipe away the tears on her cheeks with my thumb, I hand over her bra and t-shirt.
“What your father did was his sin, not yours,” I explain.
“That still doesn’t explain it. It seems that having the De Lucas take care of me would make your father ecstatic.”
“He wants to erase your father’s legacy, not your life.” I’m taking liberties with his intentions by saying this.
She takes a long breath and blows it out. “Still. This is one hell of a thing to do.”
“Marrying you?” I grab her panties and squat down in front of her, holding them so she can step into them. I let the elastic snap around her hips after I drag them up her thighs and over her ass—making sure to let the fabric scrape against her raw ass.
“Yeah,” she says after a wince.
“That’s easy.” I grab her jean shorts and go about the same actions as with her panties. Once I have them around her waist, I button them and work the zipper back up.
She’s watching me with large, round eyes.
“What’s the reason then?” she asks.
“Anya.” I brush a loose strand of hair from her cheek. “I was always going to marry you.”
“What?” Her eyes widen. “Why?”
I shrug while working my belt back into the loops of my pants. “Because I wanted you.”
“You wanted me?” A light blush sweeps across her tearstained cheeks. “I think you’re remembering things wrong. I’m Anya, the little girl that used to chase you around your father’s house trying to leave kiss imprints on your cheeks.”
“My memory is just fine.” I point to the dresser pressed against the window. “Pack what you can for now; we’ll have the rest of your things moved into my condo later.”
“Pack my things?”
“Yes.” I nod.
I lock her gaze in mine, making sure I have her complete attention.
I run my thumb over her bottom lip. I want to bite this lip and do terrible things to her that will have her screaming my name, begging me for more.
“You’re mine now.”