My throat is dry and my heart beats so loudly I am certain Chris can hear. I squat and he follows me down, steadying me so I don’t fall without the use of my hands. “All the way,” he murmurs, gently nudging me until my bare backside is on the floor.

He angles my knees up toward my chest, with my feet out enough to stabilize my body. His long lashes lower, half-moons on his cheeks, and I sense him struggling with what has passed between us. He knows I need to see he won’t hold back, but this isn’t just for me. I think he really needs this, too, for me to show him, not tell him, how much I trust him.


Chris tapes my ankles and then throws the roll over his shoulder. My nerve endings are so alive, so on edge that the roll hits the ground like a thundering drum that seems to radiate through the room, through my body. His hands come down on my knees and the touch sweeps over me, awakening nerve endings in the most intimate and unforgiving of places. I feel this man everywhere, I want him everywhere. But as if he knows what I feel, and he means to deny me, he withdraws. I shiver with a sudden cold certain to linger. He will torment me, make me wait for him. Make me beg.

He stands up, towering over me, and I stare up at him, trying to read him, the anticipation of what comes next tingling through me. And it’s supposed to. I see that in his eyes, and I am reminded of his words when I’d first seen the painting. It’s about trust. The kind of trust I want from you and have no right to ask for. He’s going to push me. He’s going to take me somewhere uncomfortable. Somewhere I might not want to go, but I will. With Chris, I will.

He walks behind me and then shows me a red silk cloth, proof that my assumptions are right. He means to take trust to a whole new level. “Have you ever been blindfolded?”

“No.”

“Any objections?” he asks.

Nerves dance frantically in my stomach and my nipples tighten to the point of pain. “Yes. I mean, no. No objections.”

He lowers his head, his warm breath shimmering on my cheek. “I could do anything to you right now, and you couldn’t stop me.”

“I don’t want to stop you.”

“Anything, Sara,” he emphasizes.

“I trust you, Chris,” I say, my voice laced with a breathless quality that he’s too observant not to notice. He knows how he affects me and that is part of his power.

“Lean on your elbows,” he orders.

I ease forward and he gently presses his cheek to mine as he says, “I’m not going to spank you.” He frees me and I sizzle with the certainty that this wasn’t meant to comfort me. It was meant to make me wonder what he is going to do to me. He’s testing me, something I’d hoped we were beyond, but I’ve put us right back there again. Perhaps we never left. Actually, until the day he has to choose me over the whip, we won’t leave.

Leaning forward, I rest my weight on my elbows, the angle lifting my backside in the air. If this isn’t exposed and vulnerable, I don’t know what is. He doesn’t touch me but I feel the heat of his stare, and I hear the rustle of his pants as he rises and the pad of his bare feet on the floor as he crosses the room. With the absence of sight and music, my nerve endings prickle with every sound. I hear Chris’s footsteps as he nears again but still I gasp when he is suddenly beside me, his arm wrapping my waist. Heat rushes through me with the touch and he lifts my body, lowering my elbows onto a cushioned pad, then scooting it beneath the rest of my body.

It is this part of Chris that really gets to me. The man who is a contradiction to himself, who can spank me, but worries over my tiniest discomfort. The man who can order me around, but asks how I feel about everything. I don’t know how he achieves such a delicate balance, but it’s why I can not only be bound, naked, and blindfolded, but do so fearlessly. Unbidden, emotions well inside me. During the end of my time with Michael, just the idea of him touching me had made me recoil. Yet this is where I am with Chris—and that’s one of the many things I have to tell him before this night is over.

There’s a flickering sound that I try to identify but can’t. I’m aware of Chris behind me, the random sounds of him moving about, and then the shocking sensation of some kind of liquid squirting onto my back. I gasp with the cold, the wetness, and then sigh with the relief of Chris’s hands dragging it over my skin. Oil. I have no idea where this is going or what he plans, nor can I form real ideas when he’s touching me, caressing up and down my sides, then over my backside. Over and over he repeats the sensual motion. Again and again. Slowly, my muscles ease, tension sliding away and I relax into the sensations he’s creating, my nipples throbbing, sex clenching with the need to feel him inside me.

The thrum of pleasure is jolted when more liquid splatters over my skin, but this time it’s warm, almost hot, and thicker. Much thicker. Then, shockingly, icy cold replaces the heat as Chris rubs ice all over my skin. “Cold.”

“What is it?” he demands.

“Ice. It’s ice.”

Hot liquid splatters over me again. “And now?” he demands.

“It’s heat.” More of the splatter, and I know what it is. “Wax.”

His answer is a caress of ice, then more hot wax. I can hear myself panting. No. Moaning. I don’t know these sounds that I’m making. There are too many sensations, too much happening. I’m disoriented. I’m aroused and my skin is tingling all over. I want him to stop. I want him to keep going but he stops abruptly, without any warning or explanation. And then nothing. There is nothing. Stillness overcomes me and the room. There is no sound. No movement. No hot or cold. Just the ache inside me that I’m desperate for him to fill.

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