He sighed deeply, taking my face in his hands, “I don’t have a wealth of time to teach you how to behave.” I frowned at the cryptic words. What the hell does that mean?

“I’m feeling better,” I whispered. Though I was sure my face said otherwise. My heart picked up its pace as his soft, warm hands held me still. His face, those lips, were too close for comfort, or not close enough. “There isn’t any reason I can’t wear clothes again.”

A few seconds passed, his blue eyes searching my brown ones. His mouth quirked, a slight mean-spirited smile tilting up one side of his mouth. It was a smile I had come to know well. I’d forgotten to address him as master. I’d issued what might have sounded like a command. I think I cringed and I think it was what he had been waiting for.

I pulled away from him, instantly kneeling at his feet, hoping he would take pity on me and grant my request. He reached for his belt buckle and my heart kicked into overdrive. I shook my head furiously as I reached for his hands to hold them firmly in mine. “Please don’t hit me,” I said in a hoarse whisper. I wiped my face as tears fell. “I’m sorry Master. Please don’t hit me.”

He made a sound not unlike a laugh, but closer to an annoyed grunt and slapped my hands away. “Stand up,” he said in a calm voice, but I only clung to his leg and wept. He sighed heavily, just before he jerked his shirt out from his pants roughly, making quick work of the buttons. I don’t know what frightened me more, the thought of him beating me again or his undressing. He pulled me up by my hair as a sea of dread washed over me. “Take off my shirt.” I opened my eyes slowly, taking in the moment piece by piece. I think I was stunned. His height brought me to eye level with his smooth, sun kissed chest. His breathing, like mine, had picked up. Perhaps it had been a mistake to tell him I felt better. Perhaps it had been the only thing keeping him at bay the last few days. Unable to do anything but comply, I rested my hands on his shoulders, gently pulling the fabric back until it slid off of him. It fell to the floor.

He took my face in his hands, wiping the tears from my face. “You still think having some scrap of fabric between us will protect you from me?” I stared at him, imploring him with my eyes. “Pick up the shirt,” he said. I knelt down slowly, still looking up at him as he held my face. I picked up the shirt with my fingertips. “Put it on.” He gave me a huge smile as I put on his shirt. It hung down to my knee, the sleeves hung just a little bit above that. “We’ll see,” he whispered against my ear. I shivered.

While he turned to leave the room, to get another shirt I assumed, I let relief at not being punished wash over me. I set about buttoning the shirt he’d given me, surprised to acknowledge the way his smell made my stomach flutter. His shirt, his scent, surrounded me. It was the first time since I’d arrived that his presence, pressed against me, brought me comfort. I indulged by raising both cuffs to my nose and inhaling deeply. It wasn’t a hug, but it was comfort just the same. I needed to get the hell out of here before I lost my mind.

He returned sooner than I expected and without his shirt. My eyes were unable to look away from all of his lean, well-muscled flesh, his tapered waist, the small trail of hair leading from his belly button to beyond the waistband of his tailored pants. He set the wheeled cart and chair he’d brought with him near the door. My face crumpled, memories of that horrible night setting my entire body on edge. I had no desire to reenact any of the events that transpired that evening.

But I said nothing and silently obeyed as he turned me around, locking my wrists together behind my back. This time he’d made sure I couldn’t wrestle food away from him, not that I had any desire to. I wasn’t very hungry actually, just sad.

It was difficult to pretend I was hungry while still preoccupied by our earlier conversation. He fed me breakfast as I knelt on the floor in front of him, my wrists locked behind my back. He smiled a lot, but didn’t he always. He was very cool, premeditated. I never doubted that everything he did served some darker purpose, right down to that smile. I thought back to when he said he didn’t have a lot of time to teach me things. What was I supposed to be learning? When were we going to start? Did he ever plan to let me go? Was I even going to live through this? He was a handsome man, no one could deny that, so why? Why take women when he could obviously have them willingly? This was all very Kiss the Girls. I turned my head when he tried to feed me more eggs.

“Not hungry?”

I shook my head. “No Master.”

“Fine. I’ll finish it for you.”

I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to ask him important questions I knew he wouldn’t answer. Each question crouched on the tip of my tongue, trying to burst out of my mouth. I licked my lips, getting ready to ask, when he spoke.

“Lie down.” My eyebrows knit together. “What is so difficult to understand? Lie down.” He put his hand on my left shoulder as he lowered me to the ground by the chain he’d attached to my collar.

I was slightly uncomfortable in this position. My bound hands put pressure on my tailbone and the soles of my feet touched my bu**ocks. I struggled a little, but managed to pull my legs out from under me to close them.

“Do you have any idea how sexy that is?” he said. I gritted my teeth and looked away. “White looks very good on you, I’ll have to make a note of it. I’m glad you suggested clothes. Seeing you dressed makes me think of undressing you. However, I think this is a very good opportunity to make you comfortable being naked around me, and it will afford me a pleasant view while I eat.”

I pressed my knees tightly together but opened them when he pried. I still remembered my beating quite well and had no desire to upset him. The room was silent with the exception of my heavy breathing. I had never felt so exposed.

“That’s lovely,” he inhaled sharply and when next he spoke his voice was thick, slightly hoarse, “Just the right shade of pink. Now…keep your legs open. Don’t provoke me.”

I shut my eyes against the inevitable flow of tears. Dread and embarrassment flared into anger, slowly churning in my chest. I focused on breathing slowly. I stared at the wall, perfectly still as he ate. It felt strange having my legs open to his gaze. The air touched every part of me. At times my sex seemed to open on its own, like a hungry little mouth. I wondered if he saw it and prayed he didn’t. I tried to imagine what I looked like. Was I beautiful? Was I disgustingly vulgar? Why on earth did I care? I was wondering about all sorts of things when I was jolted into reality by the sudden touch of cold metal between my thighs. He had lowered the chain between my legs, moving it back and forth between my lips.

I looked at him with narrowed eyes, wishing more than anything I could kick his face to wipe that smile off.

“Not to make you arrogant, because you’re that already, but you’re very pretty.”

Pride overwhelmed my fear and I couldn’t help taking his bait. “That’s funny,” I said trying to close my legs, “you of all people calling someone arrogant.” He could barely contain his laugh.

“Touché, but I’m not the one on the floor with my legs open.” I started to cry, frustration and anger bubbling out of me as tears - a show of weakness.

“I hate you.”

“You don’t hate me,” He said it like it was fact, like he knew me. He knelt between my open legs and leaned over me with his hands on the carpet. I turned my head to the side. He kissed me, first behind my ear, then down my neck. “But you wish you did.”

“Stop,” I whispered.

“Why?” he whispered just as softly. “Is my shirt suddenly too warm?”

A small gasp escaped my lips as his warm hand palmed my breast through soft fabric. I opened my mouth to tell him not to flatter himself when his other hand darted down to touch me between my thighs. I lay frozen in place, paralyzed by my fear. Through the fabric of his shirt he stroked me with his fingers, all the while keeping his eyes locked onto mine. He didn’t enter me, couldn’t with his shirt in the way, but still his fingers invaded every fiber of me. I felt him everywhere. Then, against any form of logic, I felt myself flush with warmth. Pleasure, desire, not pain. My entire body suddenly focused in on Caleb’s fingers and what they were doing. My heart raced, I held back my urge to moan. Caleb’s mouth turned into a knowing smile, and then he took his hands away slowly, leaving me gasping on the floor.

“Now. Tell me you don’t hate me.”

“No.”

His naked chest pressed against me; the heat of it sent shivers through my body. He kissed my neck while running his hand down my thigh. His breath drew in deeply, then out in a whisper across my skin. His erection warmed me through his pants. He pushed it against me, as if he could somehow come into me. I struggled with my wrist-straps, trying to free my hands. He slowed, calmingly caressing me in a gentle, loving way. He rocked back and forth on top of me, kissing me, rubbing me, breathing on my skin.

Something in my body changed, but I didn’t want it to. I got hot, very hot. My breathing got faster, and all I could do was smell him, all over me, breathing him in, his scent inside me. He kissed down my chest, holding my knees apart.


Tags: C.J. Roberts The Dark Duet Series Romance
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