When they reached the top of the hill, she looked around and spotted a large barn ahead. Instead of a solid door, though, the entrance consisted of a tall metal gate. The barn looked relatively new and except for the gate, everything had been constructed with wood. Ash headed straight toward it, and she stumbled along behind him. She tried to spot the owner, but really, did she want anyone to see her like this? If there was a road on the opposite side of the barn, she couldn’t see it. No matter how intently she listened, she didn’t hear voices, which meant the possibility of rescue was nil. She was on her own. It was just her and her captor.
Come on, Lacey, be true to yourself. Did she really want this adventure to end so soon? Not really. Did she really want to be in the clutches of such a hard man? She shivered. She wasn’t sure yet on that one.
“Your new home.”
She shouldn’t have been surprised by the statement, yet trying to wrap her mind around even the simple words was almost her undoing. Too much had happened too fast, and she didn’t want to go inside the imposing structure in front of her. It wasn’t the small, sun-drenched barn she’d dreamed about a few nights ago when she’d been safe in her own bed.
And yet she did want to see what was in there.
“What are you going to do?” She spoke for the first time since they’d started walking.
“Whatever I want,” he said without looking back at her. “Got that?”
He stopped only long enough to open the metal gate. Then he seized her by the shoulders and propelled her into the shadowy interior. It smelled of hay and other things from the earth. She felt small and insignificant next to the high ceiling and solid rafters. He dropped the rope he’d been holding and closed the gate. When she heard a decisive click, she acknowledged that she was locked inside.
She took a few nervous steps back, then pulled herself up short and, mustering courage, met his gaze. She had to tilt her head back farther than she remembered. Had he gotten taller? Of course not. She was simply reacting to her helplessness.
It took a short while, but she gradually realized that the rope between her legs hadn’t dislodged when Ash let go of his end. Instead, the strands remained against her damp pussy, held in place by her body’s juices. The rope symbolized what her experience was going to be like—frightening and fantastic, fascinating.
Ash gave her a faint smile. “I can smell you, Lacey. A woman’s body never lies.”
“Because of what you put me through,” she snapped. The moment the words were out, she remembered how he dealt with opposition. “What do you want of me?” Like a wanton heathen, she ached to press her thighs together so the rope would continue to caress her sensitive sex.
Ash folded his powerful arms over his chest and studied her. The look in his eyes reminded her of a predator taking in his trapped prey or maybe a hunter standing over an animal he’d just killed. Control. Everything was about control to him.
Who was he? She knew absolutely nothing about him while he’d certainly been privy to everything she’d written on her application. For all she knew, he’d been watching her for days.
“What do I want?” he repeated. “That should be obvious. For you to admit the truth about yourself. To quit dancing around the truth of who you are and embrace what’s real. You wouldn’t be here if you were content with what your mind’s capable of.”
This moment was the only truth she knew, and yet she also sensed it wouldn’t end there. Ash had plans for her.
Oh, shit, what if he wasn’t from Fantasies Unlimited?
She shrugged off the ridiculous notion. He’d said he was and how else would he know about the agency? She quieted the lawyer voice within that demanded to know why she’d taken his word at face value. And so fast.
“You’re no longer going to need the sandals.”
His mouth quirked. “It’s not as if they’re covering anything essential.”
Darn it, he didn’t have to make fun of her! And yet, was there anything more ridiculous than what was going on?
“When did this happen?” she insisted, indicating her footwear. “What did you do, knock me out? I have no recollection of being in the vehicle. Where have you taken me?”
“The barn as well as the surrounding acreage belongs to my employer. And to remind you of the obvious, you agreed to this, remember?”
“I didn’t say anything about being taken across state lines, if that’s what happened. I’ll sue—”
“What? How dare you—”
Clamping a hand around the back of her neck, he pushed her down and off balance. Her breasts dangled, and her ass was right where he needed it to be if he decided she needed more correction. “Listen to me. I’m a dominant. You’re about to learn what it really means to be a submissive. Threats aren’t going to get you anywhere. Bottom line: we both know you’re not going to have me charged with anything.”
“How do you know?” she demanded, determined not to quake before him. Talking with her head down wasn’t easy. “Do you have any idea who I am?”
The pressure on her neck slacked off just enough to allow her to straighten a little, hardly enough to feel in charge. “I know everything I need to about you, your likes and dislikes when it comes to sex. It was all on your application, remember?”
“No buts, Lacey. I know more about you than you do yourself.”
“How can you say that? We’ve never met, talked. I don’t know…”
“Self-determination’s an interesting phenomenon,” he told her, releasing her and crouching to pick up the rope end again. His gaze locked on her eyes and something she hadn’t yet seen from him transformed his features. They were no longer neutral. She might be wrong, but it was as if he was looking into himself.
“Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing we’re calling the shots when deep down we know we aren’t,” he continued. “Other times, we try to convince ourselves that we have no control over what’s happening when in truth, we do. Do you know which it is for you right now?”
“No.” Was he a philosopher or speaking from personal experience?
“Oh, I think you do. However, I’m not surprised you answered the way you did.” Taking hold of her shoulders once more, Ash turned her from him before drawing the rope out from between her legs. “It’s much easier to tell yourself that I’m in charge, isn’t it? Because you’re right about that; I am.”
No-nonsense pulling on her wrists forced her to stumble backwards. Although she strained to see over her shoulders, she couldn’t tell where he was hauling her until she was within a few feet of a wall. Pulling up on the rope, he started doing something with the end he held. All too soon she realized he’d tied her to something on the wall, giving her just enough slack that she could keep maybe six inches between her back and the wall. The hook or ring or whatever he secured her to was at least head height. As a result, her arms were being pulled as high as the rope around her waist allowed. She couldn’t help but draw comparisons between herself and a horse tied to a hitching pole.
Caught. Even more restrained than she’d been just a few minutes ago.
Eager to see what he intended to do next.
Pulse racing, lungs needing constant refilling, and a body that was becoming more heated with every second.
“I don’t want you going anywhere while I get rid of the sandals. Go on, beg me to handle that little chore.”
He cupped her chin with his big hand. “You heard me.”
He was done giving explanations and ready for her to come onboard.
“What if I want out?” she couldn’t help but ask.
He ran the back of his hand against her right cheek in a gesture that, to her surprise, melted her. “Too late, slave. That’s right, you’re my slave. Things have started.” His tone was seductive. “Besides, I’ve spent enough time learning the particulars about you that I get your real nature.”
“You can’t possibly,” she protested, although she wasn’t sure why. “No one can know everything about someone else.”
“Everything important.” A corner of his mouth lifted. “Enough talk. Down on your knees, slave.”
His tone was so quiet and matter-of-fact that she would have done as he’d ordered if she’d been able to move.
“Ah, that’s right. You can’t. And although I shouldn’t have to point it out, you also can’t do anything except stand there and enjoy the ride I’ve planned for you.”
After another brushing of his hand against her cheek that came close to sweeping her legs out from under her, he stepped back so he could observe her. She’d never felt more exposed. Standing in front of a packed courthouse was nothing compared to this scrutiny, this blatant unveiling by a potent stranger who was in total control.
During a trial, she was always conscious of what she was wearing and gave extra time and attention to ensure that the outfit she put together was as professional as possible.
In stark contrast, today she was naked. Even with the sandals, her feet and legs were bare and dusty. Sweat caked her flesh. No doubt, her hair was a mess. And yet, despite that, she felt beautiful—well, maybe not beautiful as much as stripped down to the essentials. She was a woman—beginning and end of discussion. Her carnal needs had rendered her vulnerable to his touch, his words, his actions, even his thoughts, whatever they were.
Remembering that too much talking displeased him, Lacey waited for his next move. The longer he studied her, the more he unnerved her. Or maybe the real explanation was that he was challenging her in ways she’d never guessed were possible. Yes, she’d paid for his services, but he was in charge of determining what those services entailed—just as a true master would do.
Caught in every way, she studied the man before her. He was her master. A mysterious man with tanned face and arms and deep eyes that probed but gave up nothing. Unnerved by what he might be pulling out of her, she closed her eyes. When, determined not to let him win this round, she opened them, he was still there. He was real, not fantasy.
“I didn’t expect this,” she admitted. “I’m not sure what I thought would happen but it wasn’t—this.”
“No, I don’t suppose it was. If there is one thing you wish I’d do, what is it?”
Surprised, she didn’t immediately respond. Much as she wanted him to tell her who and what he was, she sensed he wouldn’t answer. “I, ah, want you to take off your clothes.”
“Maybe so you won’t look so superior.”
“But I am.” He gave her another of his partial smiles. “However, since you answered the question, I’m going to comply with half of your request.”
His features neutral again, he took hold of his shirt hem and pulled it over his head. Her mouth filled with moisture. That he’d comply with her crazy request hadn’t totally sunk in, but it didn’t matter. Ash was naked from the waist up—and even more impressive. His muscular upper arms and chest made her conclude that either he didn’t spend his days behind a desk or he was committed to exercise. Some women might say he’d benefit from a little strategic hair removal, but not her. The dark hairs coating his chest and trailing down his belly said that he was a real man. He wasn’t a perfect Greek god because a small but deep scar on his chest partly obscured by hair marred the image. This is who I am, his stance said. Take it or take it.
He didn’t have to say a word for her to conclude he wouldn’t explain what had caused the scar let alone how he felt about it. There wasn’t a hint of a belly. Every part of what she could now see of him was hard. She longed to trail her fingers over the ladder of his ribs, to flatten her palms over his chest, to touch her lips to the base of his throat. With desire for him rolling through her, she was relieved to only have his upper body to deal with.
After what might have been the better part of a minute, Ash invaded her space again. He cocked his head to the side while he studied her much as she’d done to him. She steeled herself and tried to remain in place, but she couldn’t stop trembling.
“You’re not afraid,” he said.
“How would you know? You’re not the one who—”
“Who what? Is having her greatest fantasy being realized? Don’t lie to yourself.”
That was it! She wasn’t going to say another word to him. Silent and seething—at least she told herself she was pissed because he was stating the obvious—she focused on his outstretched fingers. Strength radiated from them, and yet they weren’t the hands of a physical laborer. She knew what he had in mind before he brushed her left nipple. A hot shock charged through her. Despite herself, she gasped.
Silent, he touched her other nipple. They instantly tightened, and she sucked in her breath. Doing so caused her breasts to lift, and she gave silent thanks to the genetics that had given the women in her family a size C. With the lightest of touches, he’d turned her into woman, pure primitive woman. Because of him, nothing else existed.
Thank you. Thank you.
Pulling herself back to reality, Lacey acknowledged what was taking place. His fingers were now on her breasts’ undersides, and he was lifting them a little. He stood so close that she felt his heat on her thighs and belly; some kind of energy flowed between them. She couldn’t regulate her breathing, but his wasn’t slow and steady either.
Knowing that the sexual energy didn’t all come from her emboldened her enough that she straightened as best she could and arched her back. Only a dead man wouldn’t get the message.
His head angled a little to the side, he cupped her breasts in his palms. Like what you see? she wanted to ask but didn’t. Instead, she silently railed at her bonds but not at him, not at his life-tempered hands on her much softer flesh.
Finally, finally he released her breasts. Her sigh wasn’t one of relief but longing.
“No doubt about it, you wanted me to do this and for you not to be able to stop me,” he said.
“Yes,” came out before she could silence the word.
“I don’t know, damn it!” she snapped, frustrated at her inability to comprehend or even acknowledge why she needed this outlet, this BDSM thing. “I don’t know. I’ve been like this for a long time.”
“That’s part of what this is about. Finding out why you have the needs you do.” Taking hold of her nipples, he pulled them toward him.
“Please, stop! Damn it, stop!”
“Not until you stop cursing.”
She was caught, completely and thoroughly caught, unable to do more than swing a few inches from one side to the other with her nipples gripped by his vise-like fingers. Risking a look, she noted that her breasts were now elongated. Because his fingers were so big, she couldn’t see her nipples.
The message sank in and held. This was his show and he the experienced ringmaster.
As if she didn’t already know that.
Drawing in a shaky breath, she pressed her legs together. “All right, all right! I will, I promise. Now please, please let go. You’re hurting me.”
“Which is part of what you’re after.” He pulled up.
Tightening her stomach muscles did nothing to lessen the sensation both of pain and the curling onset of desire. “What do you want me to do, to say?”
“Call me master.”
What a simple and impossible request. One she couldn’t refuse if she didn’t want her nipples in more discomfort. “Master. Please, master, you’re hurting me.”
“I am because it entertains me to do so. And I’ll continue until you suggest something that entertains me even more.”
He was playing a sick game. But even as she railed against him for dictating all the rules, another sensation made its presence known. Her pussy was hot and dripping.
Don’t lie. You know what’s happening. His control over you is turning you on.
“Take off the sandals like you said you’d be doing. Then I’ll really be naked.”
“And I won’t.”
The pinching-pulling sensation kept her swinging between pleasure and discomfort. Irrationally, she loved not being able to so much as entertain how she might get away from him. “No, you won’t.” She stopped a moment, a sudden spark of pleasure shooting through her. “You can do everything you want to me.”
“Not everything, yet. You want to let go, and yet you don’t. Hell of a dilemma.”
She was sinking into herself, everything narrowing down until the world beyond this place didn’t exist. She couldn’t have even begun to contemplate what standing naked before a master would feel like. Neither did she care about anything beyond now. He had her, completely.
And she needed that.
“Come back to me, slave. Stay in reality.”
Slave? The word had an energy to it. It was something she could crawl into.
When he released her nipples, blood rushed back into them, forcing out a cry. She was still trying to breathe through the sharp pain when he rubbed his knuckles over her cheeks as if intent on calming her. Although she begged with her eyes for him to repeat the compassionate gesture, if that’s what it had been, he stood with his arms folded over his chest again, his breathing lifting and lowering his chest. Beneath his shorts, his cock was becoming engorged.
The swelling didn’t alarm her, didn’t surprise her. He was a healthy male, and she was a healthy female. Of course he’d respond. She wouldn’t understand if he didn’t. Her pussy was hot and becoming even more heated, and if she breathed deeply enough she’d probably smell herself. Everything was down to basics, all right. Down to sex.
Before they left the barn they’d have sex. Fuck.
And once they had, what then? He’d release her? Maybe he’d keep her in here so she’d always be available to him.
What would happen to her responsibilities, her job, the upcoming trial, and the possibility of another in two weeks… and did she give a damn? Right now she didn’t care whether she saw anyone again—except for her parents.
Brought to reality by thoughts of the loving couple responsible for her being alive, she blinked Ash back into focus. His arms were at his sides now, giving her a clearer view of his chest. He was hairy all right, with a dusting of gray mixed in with the rich brown. About to turn her attention elsewhere, she instead concentrated on the scar she’d noted before. It ran deep, signifying there was a story there.
His short nod acknowledged that he knew what she was looking at. “Don’t ask because I’m not going to explain it.”
He didn’t have to because as a prosecuting attorney she’d dealt with those who lived on the edge. Not only had she gone to the hospital to interview victims, she’d seen more than her share of autopsy photos. As a result, she knew she was looking at the damage a bullet had done. It was so close to his heart, she wondered how he’d survived.
“How did that—”
“Damn it, didn’t you listen to what I said? I’m not going to tell you.”
Even as she nodded her understanding, she acknowledged that the scar had changed things between them. Up until now, she’d seen him as little more than her fantasies come true, a masterful hunk from central casting or more specifically, Fantasies Unlimited. But he was much more than a dom or her captor. He indeed had an existence separate from her, a past and undoubtedly, a future. He was, in short, a living, breathing human being with a scar he didn’t want to talk about. How had it happened, and what had he gone through emotionally knowing he’d been in danger of dying?
When he rammed his hands in his back pockets, the gesture drawing her attention to his bulk, her thoughts again went beyond herself and her responses. If she could keep from losing her mind, maybe in time she’d understand his emotions.
But not now. Not with his thumbs raking over her hips. Instead of fighting him, she stopped looking into his eyes and concentrated on what he was doing. Her hips, along with every other part of her, were his to touch as he wanted. The way he’d tethered her, she could only feebly struggle—and only if she couldn’t handle his fingers on her flesh.
“Ticklish?” he asked.
“That isn’t an answer.”
“I know. I just—master, I, yes, I’m ticklish.”
“And being tickled can be a form of torture.” He demonstrated by lightly marking her hips with his nails. Pale lines in her flesh served as proof of what he’d just said. “Some doms get off on that. I see tickling as a means to an end.”
What end? Breaking her down maybe. Thankfully, he didn’t continue assaulting her hips. Instead, he spread his fingers and flattened them against her belly. He didn’t need to say anything for her to understand that he was claiming that part of her.
“Spread your legs.”
Caught off guard, she gaped.
“Didn’t you hear me?” He slapped her right breast. “Spread your legs.” A second blow rocked her left breast. “Now.”
The slaps were more erotic than painful, but they got her attention. Although her calves and thighs were turning into heated butter, she managed to increase the distance between her feet. She stopped just shy of exposing her pussy.
“That’s not spread.”
After moving to her side, he sharply slapped her mons. The vibration was still resounding when he cupped his hand over the front of her sex and began to shake her there. “Do as I ordered.”
Electricity sparked though her from the waist down. She desperately wanted to comply, but his manipulation had stripped the last of the strength from her legs. Moaning through her open mouth, she stared down at what he was doing. His dominating hold made its impact throughout her. Although her legs were free, she gave no thought to kicking him. Neither did she want to move.
“Spread your legs.”
That’s right. He’d ordered her to do something. If only she could get her brain to respond. He continued to hold onto her sex while she inched her legs even further outward, only stopping when the pull on her thigh muscles became more than she could ignore. Praying she’d pleased him, she waited.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m guessing you don’t particularly care because this moment’s enough. I encourage you to try to anticipate what might happen next. Otherwise, what happens, or is likely to happen, will catch you off guard.”
“I already am.”
“I’m not talking about your ability to keep your feet under you.” He began sliding his hand between her legs. Just thinking about where his fingers were about to touch was enough to strip the air from her lungs. “I don’t know as much about women as women themselves do,” he said, “but I’ve become a bit of an expert.”
Oh, God, his forefinger was sliding between her labial lips in search of her entrance! Stripped of the ability to resist, she widened her stance and arched her pelvis toward him to assist his journey.
“Women pretty much know when they’re going to climax.” Not waiting for a response, he lifted her chin with his free hand. “The body gives out warning signs, hints of anticipation.”
Yes, his forefinger slipped into her wet hole!
“A woman can fight what she knows is going to happen, although I can’t see the point. Might as well go for the gusto, right?”
“What?” Her legs were shaking.
“Don’t worry. I’m not really expecting an answer.”
If only she could stop being distracted by what he was doing, she would have told him she appreciated his generosity. But he’d started going in and out, in and out, his large finger gliding effortlessly over sensitive tissues.
Staring at her with unnerving intensity, he ran his other hand from her chin down to her collarbone and from there to between her breasts. At the same time, he kept the thrusting movement going.
“Where was I? Oh, yes, discussing the complexity and simplicity of the female body, although to be honest, the same holds true for men. Warning bells go off when a climax is just about to happen. Depending on the circumstance, a woman either dives heart and body into it or fights. Tell me, slave. Why would you fight a climax?”
“To—to prolong the experience.”
He sharply slapped her breasts one at a time. “To prolong the experience, master.”
“I’m sorry,” she bleated. Lost. He had her and she was lost. “Master.”
“That’s better.” He slapped her again but lighter this time. The masculine finger inside her didn’t slow its assault. “You’re getting close. I can tell by the amount of lubrication you’re producing.”
To her relief, he stopped talking so she could concentrate on her body’s journey. Sometimes, usually at the end of a stressful day, she’d fall asleep accompanied by thoughts of what being someone’s possession would feel like. Her favorite fantasy was to imagine herself as part of a sheik’s harem. She was his latest addition, raw and green, just purchased with a still-healing brand over one breast and a collar and cuffs to ensure her compliance.
Because she’d had the lesson driven home that master owned not just her body but also her mind and soul and heart, she knew to willingly turn those things over to him. In her imagination, exchange for a humble and willing sex partner, no matter what direction the sheik’s ability to command took them, she was assured of a roof over her head, expensive clothes and jewelry, and the finest food.
Reality was different, and yet it wasn’t.
“Not so fast,” Master announced. “Lessons before reward.”
Fighting back the heat flowing through her veins, she struggled to pay attention. Only then did she realize he’d clamped his thumb and forefinger over a nipple and was applying a fair amount of pressure. Pain and pleasure rolled over her, the sensations conflicting and complementing each other.
“Lessons?” she managed.
“Designed to get to your true nature so you can make the most of it.”
Anything else he might say would probably make more sense than this, but with the relentless pressure on her nipple providing direction, she forced her full attention on his words.
“That’s why I’m here, slave. So you’ll stop fighting your instinct.”
His amused laugh made her cringe; she hadn’t intended her comment to be funny, it was simply the only thing she could think of to say.
“You don’t mind being tied up.” After releasing her nipple, he pressed his body against hers and drove her against the wall. “The helplessness might unnerve you, but the trade-off’s worth it, in spades.”
Listen to him. Focus on every word. Stop thinking about the finger inside you. Somehow.
“Having no control is the ultimate high for women like you. You’re the same, all the same. It’s in direct contrast to the image you present to the world, the one you wish was the real you because the submissive nature unnerves you.”
Not unnerving. As important as the breath of life.
“I enjoy doing this. Women like you feed my nature.” Into her he probed, his palm pressing so hard against her that she rose onto her toes. “Works out damn well for both of us.”
Instead, his finger retreating as it had before, this time he continued to skewer her. Moaning, she threw back her head. The barn’s ceiling was so high she could barely make it out, not that it mattered. He started stroking her neck, reminding her of her vulnerability, but with his buried finger now moving back and forth, she dove into the complex sensations.
Heated energy flowed over her unbelievably sensitive skin almost as if the air itself was whipping her. Ash might have somehow tapped into her fantasies, but he didn’t know everything. If he did, would he take a switch or whip to her?
“You’re spinning out on me. Going off into your own zone.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I choose not to allow that to happen. I get off on being in charge, completely.”
As long as his hands were on and in her, she didn’t care what he said. Didn’t care anything about him. The climax he’d alluded to tiptoed just beyond her reach. If she could press herself more firmly against his palm—
“No! Not going to happen.”
She was still trying to catch up with him when he pulled out. After helping her straighten, he turned her away from him. He was doing something to her ropes, but again her mind was slow to comprehend. By the time she realized he’d unfastened her from the wall and then gotten rid of the strands around her waist, he was wrenching her back around. She had no choice but to meet his glare. There it was again, the look of a man who had just brought down a trophy kill.
Or done something he needed for his own sanity.
“We’re playing on my terms, got it?” A stinging slap to her right breast left her with no doubt that the rules weren’t up for discussion. “Got it?”
“Yes.” The tingling sensation spun out to caress her other, untouched breast.
“Good. Now, onto your knees.”
Without so much as a glance at what was underfoot, she lowered herself as gracefully as possible. Having her arms behind her while looking up at him accented her breasts even more. Ignore that. Pretend I don’t turn you on.
No, there wasn’t any pretension to him and certainly not in the hidden, erect cock only inches from her face. She rested her buttocks on her heels and leaned forward slightly. An inch, that’s all I need. Then we’ll see how deep your self-control goes.
Reckless courage rolled over her, its speed and power catching her off guard. Before she knew she was going to, Lacey leaned forward and pressed her tongue against the fabric covering his tip. A startled breath served as the reward she was looking for.
“I’m on my knees, master.”
“And that makes you think you won some kind of game?”
There was something deadly and calculated in his tone. She glanced up. He was so tall, so strong, so in control. Obviously, he hadn’t lost the game. Even more obviously, only he understood the rules.
She loved the idea of learning them!
Again smiling that faint smile of his, he rubbed his cock. Whatever discomfort he might be experiencing, she decided, it was nothing compared to her hard ache. There was one way of dealing with both of their needs. One she didn’t need her hands for.
Taking a chance on being punished again, she once more stretched toward him. Instead of slapping her, which she wouldn’t have minded, or even better, letting her nuzzle his cock, he stepped away. Fighting disappointment, she watched him walk over to a bed that stood against the wall at right angles to the wall he’d tied her to. He sat down. Even with the dim lighting, how could she have missed seeing the bed before?
Because she’d been otherwise occupied.
The merry-go-round he had her on was whirling much too fast. She was a professional member of the legal community. This charade was all well and good, but it was past time to remind him of who was paying the bills, and therefore, how much say she had over what would and wouldn’t happen. A girl had her dignity and pride to preserve, after all.
Even a naked one?
“Come here,” he ordered.