“Remember what I told you before,” he murmurs. “Choosing to give away control is frightening, but it’s power. It’s facing a fear and overcoming it. We start here tonight. We’ll work toward the rest.”

I don’t ask what the rest is. I know. It’s me. Discovering the rest of me I’ve rejected or lost. The parts of me that hurt in a way no one should hurt. I nod. “Yes.” I want this and him.

“Good. I may seem in control, but you’re in control. No matter what I say or do, any time you say ‘no’, it’s no. That is what you have to remember. When you make the choice, you have the power.”

“Am I going to want to say no?”

“You will think you should.”

“But I shouldn’t?”

“You say no if you feel no and I’ll stop. You have my word.”

I am both terrified and aroused. “You’re confusing me.”

“I’m willing to bet I’m about to make things crystal clear. Keep your hands where they are. Don’t move.”

I nod. “Yes. Okay.”

His finger touches my cheek, then caresses slowly downward to my neck, and I feel the barely there touch everywhere, inside and out. Goose bumps lift on my skin, and I all but moan when he drags his finger over my breast and nipple. He drops his hand and I shiver with the delicate teasing sensations that linger where he’s touched, where he has not touched. He leans in closer, careful not to press his body to mine when that is exactly what I burn for, then lightly, so very lightly, brushes his lips over mine. A breath later, he is gone, leaving me gasping as he disappears behind me and it is all I can do not to turn to watch him.

My head dips as I inhale, trying to calm my raging hormones, and I can see only the finely woven rug overlapping the gorgeous dark wood beneath my feet. The room is silent but for a clock ticking somewhere nearby and the rasp of what I begin to realize is my breathing. I cannot hear Liam or see him and I can’t take it. I need to know where he is.

My gaze lifts and then shifts to land hard on the oval mirror that sits directly in front of me on top of a massive black wood dresser. I suck in a breath at the drenched rat in the cheap pink waitress dress staring back at me, and I do not like how she is not me and yet she is so me, or how the image pulls me from the escape I crave and throws me back into reality. A drawer opens behind me, soft and somehow thundering and loud in the near silence. I welcome the way it shifts my focus back to anticipation, away from the reality in the mirror.

Liam’s reflection appears in the mirror with me and I can see what I would not otherwise. Him. His chest is bare, his clothes gone, but I am the one who is naked, stripped of my many emotional walls by this man who moves me so deeply. The same man who tells me to invite fear, so I do. I invite whatever it is he is to me and I am to him. He reaches around me and flattens his hands on my stomach, a silk sash dangling from his hand, his eyes meeting mine in the reflection. “I’m going to tie you up now, Amy.”

I wait for the fear I’m supposed to invite, but there is none. There is just anticipation, and the ache between my thighs, the heaviness of my br**sts. For a moment, I study the finely carved lines of his handsome face, and I think about what he said to me. About what I need from him. What he needs from me. “You like tying me up.”

His eyes meet mine in the mirror. “I like what it represents.”

“Which is what?” I ask.

He ties my hands, wrapping them gently but firmly, then walks around me, framing my body with his, one hand on my waist, the other dragging through my hair and tilting my mouth to his. “Which is what, Amy?” he asks, expecting me to answer my own question.

“Trust,” I whisper, wishing his mouth on mine.

“That’s right,” he says, his breath whispering over my cheek, my lips, teasing me with a kiss yet to happen. “Trust.”

And when I think he will finally kiss me, he does not. He steps back and walks toward the dresser, giving me his back. I know then that he’s planned the direction I am standing, the placement of the mirror. Everything Liam does is calculated. Controlled. I think this quality in him is a drug for me. It is everything I wish I could be and cannot. I envy it in him, admire it. Find it sexy.

I forget my hands are tied and tug on the silk. If I’m supposed to be afraid, it’s not working. I’m wondering why I have my clothes on. I really want the ugly pink uniform off my body and him next to me.

He steps to the center of the dresser, directly in front of the mirror, and I expect him to look at me, but he does not. His head lowers, the dark thick waves of hair blocking my view of his expression. I can almost hear him thinking, debating, and I want to know what and why. I watch the mirror, wait with a hitched breath for his eyes to lift. When his eyes lift and collide with mine, the connection sizzles through me. Any hesitation he’d had is gone. I see the determination, the control, in his eyes, and I wonder if those things had been there only moments before.

He reaches down and pulls out a drawer. I can’t see what is inside. I’m not supposed to see. I know that. The not knowing is part of his control. Part of the anticipation and the tease I know he intends. Seconds tick by and I can barely stand the waiting until finally, he turns and faces me. My gaze drops, seeking that delicious ‘pi’ tattoo I have always found so very alluring, taking it in, and the thick jut of his erection, before it hits me that he is holding something. My gaze shoots back to what is in his hands and shock rolls through me, my breath lodging in my throat at what I see.

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