But just as I am on the verge of doing exactly that, he tugs his finger free of my mouth, then gently pulls my hand away from my sex. I breathe hard, mourning the loss, but I don’t protest. I know enough to know that would be against the rules.

“On the bed. Spread your legs.”

I do, albeit with more than a little shyness. But I am rewarded with a look of pure passion, and that emboldens me. I bite my lower lip and spread them even wider. And then, with my eyes on his, I reach down and slide my fingers into my sex, then arch up at the unexpected intensity of this touch, all the more powerful now that he is watching.

“Good girl,” he says. “Touch yourself. Stroke yourself. I need a minute, and when I get back, I want you hot and ready for me, so don’t stop. But don’t come. If you do, we’re done for the night, sweetheart.”

Games. But I like them, and I do what he asks, stroking and teasing, and letting the pleasure build. And then, because I am determined to make him just as wild as he is making me, I bring my other hand up and play with my breast, teasing my nipple, and knowing that I cannot get too carried away because Jackson is a man who means what he says—and I am not ready for this night to be over any more than I want it to end without him inside of me.

He said nothing about being quiet, and so I call to him. He is in the small closet area just inside the bedroom, and he is on the floor in front of the open closet door. There is a trunk open in front of him, but I cannot see what is in it. Not until he stands and I see a length of rope and something black and silky. He hesitates, then drops the rope.

I don’t have to ask to understand why. I’d run that first night in the hotel. He’d bound me and blindfolded me, and now Jackson fears that combination is too much.

It’s not, though. I am certain of it. Even if the nightmares come, I’m not going to run again. Not unless I’m running to Jackson.

“Will you tell me what’s in the trunk?”

He smiles as he comes toward me with the length of black silk. “I’ll do better than that. I’ll show you. But not tonight. Tonight, I don’t intend to let you see anything.” He motions for me to sit up. “Kneel,” he says, “but keep your knees apart, your hands behind you.”

“You’re going easy on me,” I say as he puts the blindfold around my eyes and secures it. I try to keep my tone teasing, but some accusation comes through.

“Easy?” he retorts. “Or starting slow? Giving us something to build to? But if you have complaints, be sure to tell me.” As he speaks, his finger slides inside me, and I arch up, reacting to this unexpected pleasure.

He had touched me nowhere before, and the penetration surprises me, sending shocks of awareness through me, and heightening my senses. It is as if I am a spring waiting to pop, and as he withdraws his finger, I moan in protest, because now there is no contact at all, and I am left to the mercy of awareness and anticipation.

It’s a state I’ve never been in before, and I am more aroused than I have ever been. So no. I’m definitely not complaining.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says. “Your breasts,” he whispers as he touches my lips. “Your cunt,” he murmurs as he flicks my nipple. “Your lips,” he says, as he strokes my clit. Every touch is in contrast to his words, and I bite down on my lip trying to keep a grip on the sensual symphony that he is playing across my body.

“This is how I want you,” he says. “Open to me. Trusting me. So aroused and beautiful. You fit me, Sylvia. We fit each other. Every time I touch you it’s a gift. Every time I kiss you, I find myself just a little bit more.”

“Jackson …” His words are melting me, squeezing tight around my heart.

“Lean forward,” he orders. “Knees and forearms.”

I do, and I feel the bed shift as he gets on beside me. I try to judge where he will touch me from the shift of the mattress, but it’s no use. I feel his lips on the back of my neck, then traveling down my spine. Then his hands cup the curve of my rear.

“You have the most perfect ass,” he says, and then kisses each cheek as if paying homage before silently urging me to spread my legs.

I hesitate, but not because I do not want to comply. On the contrary, I’m astounded by how much I want to do exactly that. By how easily and perfectly Jackson pegged me. The control I’d been grabbing with the men I’d claimed at places like Avalon was only an illusion. A bandage over pain and memory. But this—this is what I want. What makes me feel. And I trust Jackson enough to let go and do exactly that.

“Now,” he urges, and I comply, then quiver with delight as he cups my sex, then strokes me all the way up, over my perineum, my ass, then along my spine, moving his own body in closer as he leans over me. The feeling is delicious, as if he is tracing a cord across my body, and with one quick tug he will light me up.


Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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