Chris’s shoulders nudge my knees, his hot breath rasping over my swollen clit, and the anticipation inside me is almost too much to bear. I actually start to move my hands and pull him to me but catch myself. If I defy him, I know my punishment will begin with the denial of his mouth, and I want his mouth. Desperately.

More of his hot breath strokes over me and his tongue whispers over my inner thigh, and I have to dig my fingers into the leather arms to keep them in place. He’s taunting me, trying to get me to do what he has forbidden me. But I don’t. I won’t. I am waiting for the ultimate reward, and finally it comes.

His warm mouth closes down over my clit and it’s as if the hard ball of tension nestled inside me is unleashed, only to snap back in place all over again. Now I have his mouth, his tongue, but I crave that sweet, perfect moment when everything around me explodes into pleasure. And it’s close, so very close. His tongue is magic, rolling my clit, licking and swirling, while his fingers pump into me. I am without inhibitions, panting, moving with him, so on edge I feel I’ll crack into pieces. He’s keeping me there on purpose, slowing when I need him to speed up, moving when I need him to stay. I can’t take it anymore. I reach for him, my hand coming down on his head, and just like that, he stops what he is doing. I gasp, reaching for him, but it’s too late for me to turn back, to change what I have done.

He hovers over me, his eyes meeting mine. “I told you not to move.”

“I know, but—”

“No buts. Punishment or no punishment. Those were the options.” Surprising me, he turns me over and drags me to my knees, pulling my backside up into the air. My heart races and adrenaline surges with the certainty that the punishment is coming.

Suddenly his bare hand smacks my bottom, the sting of it shocking me, radiating over my skin and up my spine. I gasp and arch my back, and it’s a mistake. I move into the next smack of his palm, creating more impact, more burn. Somehow I remember what he’d taught me, and I start counting with the next smack of his hand. Three, four, five. I hold my breath for the sixth that never comes.

Chris flips me over again, pressing me into the couch with the weight of his body, his fingers wrapping the long strands of my hair. For several seconds we breathe together, the air charged around us, electric, powerful. I can feel this man in every part of me, in every pore, every nerve ending. And when his mouth slants over mine, hot and hard, an unapologetic reprimand that says he has absolute control, I have never wanted to be kissed so badly in my entire life. He owns me and there is no part of me capable of denying him that claim. No part of me that rejects it or believes it to be untrue. There is simply only what he can take from me. My submission.

I’m panting when he tears his mouth from mine and releases my hair to slide down my body. He settles between my legs and I whimper as his mouth comes down on my clit. He sucks and licks, sending tantalizing sensations to every part of me. And this time he takes me where I want to go and I am lost, ripe for the release almost upon me. He licks me one last time and my sex clenches around his fingers, every muscle in my body tensing before the pleasure finally rolls over me. Everything is a wash of sensations where nothing else exists. I slowly come back to reality, gasping with the aftermath of what he has just done to me.

Chris starts to move away and I reach for him, trying to pull him back. “Wait. Please.” And just like that, I’m picked up and thrown over his shoulder, his hand settling on my backside, where he squeezes my cheek roughly. My heart races with the certainty that he intends to spank me again, and my breath stops in my lungs.

He enters our bathroom, flips on the light, and deposits me on the white-tiled counter. Then he walks to the shower and turns it on, pulling off his shirt in the process. My gaze devours the ripples of his muscular back, and the way his dragon ink flexes with the movement. He is power and control. He is pure male dominance. He is my future husband, and there’s something so damn sexy about the idea of being this man’s wife.

He turns to face me, his eyes pure, white-hot lust. He unbuttons his jeans and slides them down his powerful legs, and I am aware of every inch of his perfect, rock-hard body.

“Come here,” he commands, and I don’t even hesitate. He’s accused me of enjoying his control, and he’s right. I not only like it, I crave it, freely offering him the submission I would never consider with anyone else.

Pushing off of the counter, aroused by the slight sting of my backside, I cross the space between us and when I stand before him, my body trembles with how much I need his touch. It feels as if I haven’t had it in years, not mere seconds.

I expect him to deny me, to make me wait, but in one of those mood shifts, tenderness softens his eyes and face. The next thing I know, he’s dragging me into the shower and into an embrace.

My hand flattens on his chest. “You spanked me. And you didn’t warn me.”

He presses me against the wall. “Why do you think that is?”

He is dark again, on edge, and taking me with him and I stumble over my reply. “I . . . I don’t know.”

“Because if I melt down again, there won’t be a warning. You have to be prepared for that. We have to be prepared.”

My heart squeezes with understanding. He’s not pushing me away because of Amber. He’s pulling me closer. I wrap my arms around him. “We will be.”

“We have to be,” he stresses again, molding me to him, holding me a little too tightly, as if he’s afraid of losing me. So I hold him a little too tightly because he needs me to.

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