Sam has lost faith in relationships and love. Will Mike be able to crack open her hard shell and teach her to feel again?
As a part owner of Catered Affairs, Sam is a leader in the kitchen, advising the chefs about food, friends and lovers. But as her friends find Doms—and love—Sam stays steadfastly opposed to anything but one-night play scenes, never allowing a Dom to get to know who she really is deep inside.
Mike, a private investigator, is intrigued by the beautiful yet haughty sub, but he’s not interested in a superficial relationship. He becomes fully invested in anyone he plays with, giving them his rapt attention—and expecting it in return. His years in the Special Forces—and a near-death experience—has taught him to treasure every moment in life.
One night, Mike entices Sam into a scene. Through a combination of absolute control and perfectly delivered pain, he takes the staunch masochist to places she has never achieved before, making her unable to resist playing with him again. Every time they meet, Mike pushes her further, laying bare her innermost desires. But Mike finds that Sam’s reluctance to commit keeps pushing back.
As Mike starts to discover why Sam is hesitant to trust anyone, he becomes more determined to shatter her defenses and show her what real surrender to the right Dom can provide her. But a dangerous job for an old Special Forces buddy threatens to put a damper on his efforts. Can their budding relationship survive his need to protect the daughter of a friend?
Reader advisory: This book contains mention of an abusive BDSM relationship.
General Release Date: 29th May 2018
Sam needed a drink. It was kids’ night at the club—none of the men she usually scened with at the Playground were there, and most of the ones available were far too young for her. Her days of scening with men in their twenties and early thirties were long over, so she probably wasn’t going to play this evening.
At least she’d been able to congratulate Mya on receiving a permanent collar from Jake, and from the looks of things at the spanking bench, Mya and Jake were celebrating with gusto. She was happy for them. She hadn’t believed Jake would ever commit, and she’d given him a hard time, but now that he and Mya were really together, she could back off.
Rebecca, her partner in the company Catered Affairs, waved at her from the bar, and Sam was grateful Rebecca and her Dom weren’t engaged in a scene so she didn’t have to drink alone. That would have been an open invitation to the baby Doms wandering around, and she just wanted to relax and talk if playing wasn’t an option. But as she approached, she realized that Mike Lyons was included in the group standing with Rebecca. Damn! He always threw her off balance. She changed direction in an effort to find other people to drink with, but Rebecca shook her head and didn’t let her get away with it.
“C’mon, Sam, join us!” she insisted, motioning with her hands for emphasis.
Sam sighed in resignation and headed over to Rebecca, who was standing with her Dom Ethan, Allegra, who worked with her and Rebecca in the kitchen, and Mike, a P.I. who was a friend of Ethan’s.
“We were just celebrating Mya’s collar,” Rebecca informed her as she approached. “What’ll you have? Ethan’s buying.”
“I’ll have a white wine. Doesn’t look like anyone I want to play with is around tonight, so I guess I can go alcoholic.”
Mike turned without hesitation and his attentive gaze locked on her, preventing her from looking away. A scar went from his right ear across his neck and disappeared into his shirt. One would assume it made him unattractive, but it only added strength of character to an already handsome face. Deep blue eyes above high cheekbones complemented his sandy hair and ruddy skin—deep blue eyes that bored into her own, rooting her to the spot. Her mouth went dry, her pulse quickened.
“I’d be glad to scene with you, Sam. I’ve wanted to for a long time,” he offered, his voice low and seductive.
Her better judgment warred with her desires. She hesitated long enough for Mike to take it as an invitation to approach, intercepting the white wine from the bartender and placing it on the bar. “I’d like you completely clear-headed when we play.”
Crap! What the hell is going on with me? She was usually able to cut him off at the pass, before he could even suggest scening with her, but she had left herself open with both her words and her actions—or lack thereof. “I’m not sure,” she hedged. “I think I’d just like to stay and talk with my friends.”
Mike moved in closer, his looming, well-chiseled body both a threat and a promise. “I don’t think you wore that lovely corset just to stand around and talk,” he observed. “It’s time to give me a chance, Sam. We’ve been circling each other for quite a while.”
Sam looked at her friends for help, but they were conveniently ignoring her. Annoyance with Rebecca, who knew she was intimidated by Mike, flashed through her then dissipated. Rebecca thought Mike was just the kind of Dom Sam needed and had encouraged Sam more than once to play with him. She couldn’t be mad at her, but she didn’t agree either.
“I don’t want to insult you, Mike, but I don’t think we’d be compatible.” She reached for the wine, but Mike sidestepped so she couldn’t get it without pushing him aside.
“Why not, Sam?” he asked in a soft voice, creating an intimacy between them that shut out everyone else. “I have a good reputation here. I’m careful and considerate of the subs I play with. I would never hurt you, at least not in a way you wouldn’t want. And I’m excellent with a dragontail, which I know you like.” He smiled at her with that beguiling grin that made her squirm.
He was right. She loved the feel of the dragontail licking at her flesh. But he’d left out the important part—he wouldn’t just whip her the way she wanted, he would demand she give herself over to him, to truly submit, not just her body but also her soul. She didn’t want that and he knew it. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone to play the way she wanted to—have fun, no commitments? Some of the Doms called her a ‘do-me sub’, but she didn’t care. They sure were willing to play with her anyway, and when they pushed for more she called her safeword and walked away.
Mike was different. She’d seen him play and knew he didn’t let the women he played with relax and let him do all the work. He enticed them to engage through his sheer force of will. He made them shatter, then he put them back together again. She didn’t want to shatter for anyone. She needed to maintain control at all times.
“Your hesitation to answer tells me you want to but are afraid.”
His statement pulled her out of her thoughts and further raised her ire. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t want what you’re offering,” she retorted with barely suppressed anger.
“What am I offering besides a dragontail scene? I don’t think I mentioned anything else.” Again with the grin, except this time it was veering into a smirk.
She was caught without an answer. The battle inside her waged—the temptation of having the kind of scene she really craved versus her fear of letting go, particularly with a Dom who would take all she had. He just stood there, waiting, watching her try to figure out what she was going to do. In her heart she knew he was already in control. He continued to regard her with laser focus and she couldn’t look away. Finally, she capitulated to the inevitable. Why, she wasn’t sure.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” she told him, ambivalence seeping into her words.
“Not good enough,” Mike countered. “I’d like to scene with you, but I won’t have you halfway. The answer is ‘I’d like to play with you, Sir’.”
Of course it is. All in or not at all, exactly what she’d been afraid of. She rolled her eyes in frustration and blurted out the dreaded phrase, “I’d like to play with you, Sir.”
He grabbed her firmly under the chin, forcing her to pay attention.
“I will not tolerate disrespect, Sam. No eye-rolling, shoulder-shrugging or evasions. You will answer my questions honestly and verbally. Punishment will be swift if you try to push me. Am I clear?” His blue eyes raged, taking on the color of a stormy sea.
Riveted to attention, her nipples peaked and her clit hardened. She could barely prevent a moan from escaping her lips. “Yes, Sir,” in a soft voice was all she could manage. He continued to hold her chin, watching her closely until he seemed to decide she got the point.
“I’ll get you some water and we can go into the play area.” He turned to order from the bar, but two bottles of water appeared in front of him. Sam glared at Rebecca, who had been the benefactor of the water. She just winked back.
“Follow me,” Mike instructed. He picked up his toy bag and walked off with the clear expectation she would follow him. She did.