After almost an hour of driving, high-rises piercing the night sky all around, Harris pulled the limousine into an underground garage.
My heart was hammering as Harris led me, sans suitcases, to the elevator. The elevator rose quickly, leaving my stomach in my heels. Harris was silent, standing beside me, hands folded behind his back. The elevator stopped, the doors opened, and we stepped out. We were in the foyer outside what I guessed was a penthouse. Thick, dark slate-blue carpeting, navy blue walls, wide mahogany French doors, a flowering tree in one corner, and a floor-to-ceiling window revealing a breathtaking view of New York City.
Harris stopped by the doors and turned to face me. “This is it. As far as I go.” He reached into his suit coat pocket and withdrew a length of white cloth. “If you agree, I will put this blindfold on you. By allowing me to put it on, you are agreeing to willingly follow every instruction given to you without hesitation. If you do not agree, I will take you home, and repayment of the funds will be expected forthwith.” He blinked at me, waiting. “Do you so agree?” His voice was formal.
I took a deep breath. “I don’t have a choice, do I?”
Harris lifted a shoulder. “There is always a choice.”
I searched myself. Could I do this, knowing what would likely be expected of me?
I lifted my chin, summoned my courage. “I agree.”
Harris nodded once, and then moved behind me. I felt him place the blindfold over my eyes, the white cloth folded several times so I couldn’t see a thing. He tied it gently but firmly behind my head, and then I felt his hand on my back, the same three fingers he’d used to nudge me onto the jet. I heard a door handle turn and the faint hush of a door sliding across thick carpet.
A push, and I made my feet carry me forward. Two steps, three, four, five.
“Until the next time, Miss St. Claire,” I heard Harris say behind me, and then the click of the door closing.
It was a decidedly final sound.
I stood, shaking, trembling, blindfolded, waiting.
I heard a footstep off to my left. “Hello?” I asked, my voice tremulous, breathy.
“Kyrie. Welcome.” The voice was deep, smooth, lyrical, hypnotic, rumbling in my bones and thrumming in my ear.
A finger touched my cheekbone, warm, slightly rough. The fingertip scraped ever so gently across my cheek, up over my ear, brushing a loose tendril of hair away.
“Please, don’t be afraid.” He was close. I could feel the heat emanating from him. I could smell him—spicy, masculine cologne, soap. His voice, God, his voice. It made me shiver. Confident, almost kind, warm. “I have waited a long time for this moment, Kyrie.”
“Who—who are you? Why am I here?”
“You don’t need my name just yet. As to why you’re here?” His voice lowered, hushed, a growling murmur that made my stomach clench. “You’re here because I own you, Kyrie.”
“What—what are you going to do to me?” I hated how weak, how afraid I sounded.
“Everything.” His voice was thick with promise. “But nothing you won’t enjoy.”
INTRODUCTIONS; THE ARRANGEMENT
I gulped, probably loud enough for him to hear. “If you won’t tell me your name, what do I call you?”
He chuckled, and the sound of his laughter caressed me, mocked me. “You and I are completely alone, Kyrie. If you speak, it can only be to me. You need call me nothing.”
“So I don’t have to call you ‘sir,’ or ‘master’?”
His voice went sharp and cold. “I am not a dominant, Kyrie. You are not my slave, nor my submissive.” He moved, now standing behind me. He was close to my ear, and I felt him at my spine. “I own you, but you will submit to me willingly.”
“Why?” I wanted to turn, to touch him, to take the blindfold off. Something prevented me, and I didn’t dare examine what it was.
“For the period of one year, I mailed you checks for ten thousand dollars, one every month. You cashed and used them all. You spent my money, Kyrie. You lived on my generosity. My reasons for this will remain a mystery to you…for now. But you are in my debt. You would have been homeless and starving without me. Your mother would not have received the care she needs without me. Your brother would not have a home or an education without me. So…I don’t just own you, Kyrie. I own your mother, and your brother. They are both wholly dependent on you, and thus, on me.”
I swallowed again, blinked away tears. “What do you want from me?” The words were barely a whisper, almost inaudible.
“Kyrie…Kyrie…” His voice soothed and stroked me, deep and soft with tenderness. This man, his voice…it was magical, so expressive, so changeable. The power in his voice terrified me. He could manipulate me with the mere tone of his voice, frighten or calm me with mere words. “You need not be so afraid. Allow me to reassure you somewhat. As I said, I am not a dominant. I do not derive pleasure from inflicting or receiving pain. I derive pleasure from control, from obedience. You will do what I say, comply to my wishes but, I promise you, you will always find my wishes to be for your own pleasure, and for your own benefit. I will never hurt you. Never. I will not strike you. I will not bind you, or if I do, it will be your own compliance that keeps you bound.”
“Why?” I blinked behind the blindfold, squeezed my eyes shut, and felt a tear trickle down my cheek. “Why me? Why will I obey you?”
Obey. I hated that word. I’d never been obedient. I didn’t always do what I was told—or at least not easily. Even as a little girl, my parents learned it was best to ask me nicely rather than command me. Forcing me into something with brutish commands would bring out the sharp side of my very short and very explosive temper. This man, unseen, unnamed, expected me to obey him. Felt that he owned me.
Now my tears were of helpless rage, because…I had a sinking feeling he was right.
“Because you care. Because you have honor.” That same rough, yet tender, pad of his finger slid across my cheek, near the corner of my mouth, wiping away my tear. “You will obey me because you must. I do not, and never will, expect you to repay me monetarily —”
“No,” I couldn’t help snapping, “you just expect me to f**k my way out of debt.”
“Incorrect, Kyrie,” he responded. His voice was calm, but sharp as razors and cold as the vacuum of space. “Here is another promise I will make you: You and I will not engage in penetrative sexual intercourse unless you ask for it. And you will, Kyrie. That’s my promise, here. You will ask. You’ll beg me for it. But it won’t happen until, and unless, you ask me for it.”