She wasn’t sure how much more she could take.

Ignoring her reactions, he continued to savor his food. Breathless, she gripped the edge of the table.

“Yours is getting cold.”

Her pussy throbbed, and the burn in her ass where he’d finger-fucked her intensified.

“Another thirty seconds.”

“No. No.” Her damn betraying body started to dampen.

“You can.” He leveled his gaze at her. “And you will. Count backward from thirty.”

“It should be twenty by now.” She was miserable.

“Thirty,” he reasserted. “Let me know when you’re ready to begin.”

“Rafe!” She was losing her mind.

He was implacable. Hope knew he didn’t give a damn how much attention she attracted. Perversely, she was glad that he didn’t let her off the hook. His resolve was something she could count on, and she drew comfort from that.

The panties shot extra sensations into her cunt. “Oh God.” She squeezed her hands tighter on the table and spread her thighs as wide as the dress permitted, desperate for the underwear’s crotch area to have as little contact with her flesh as possible. “Thirty,” she managed, her voice little more than a hoarse croak.

“Sorry?” He took a drink of coffee.

“Thirty, Sir.”

“Very good. Continue as you’re ready. If you forget where you are, or if you need a break, you will begin again.”

Her attempts to dissuade him had cost her at least a minute. If she had gotten on with it, she would be done by now. “Twenty-nine.” She made it to fifteen before he dialed up the remote another notch. “Fourteen, thirteen…eleven!” Ten through five were a single gasped word. She reached beneath the tablecloth, yanked up her dress, and dragged the panties away from her pussy.


He stood and came around to her side of the table. She almost died when he flipped back the tablecloth and removed her napkin from her lap.

“Everything okay, Mr. Sterling?” the waiter asked, hurrying over.

“Fine, thank you.”

With a nod, the man left them alone.

“Put your hands on the table, sweet Hope.” He devoured her defenses, seeing straight into the secrets she hid in her soul “And leave them there.”

“Yes, Sir.” All the while, the sensations continued.

“We’ll start again at ten.”

What little remained of her composure threatened to splinter.

He snugged the crotch against her pussy. “That’s better.” He returned to his seat.

Tears of need and subjugation flooded her.

Once he held his coffee again, she started at ten. Her voice trembled, shook, broke as she fought off an orgasm, and more, tried to please him. Hope clenched and unclenched her hands with no attempt to hide her emotions. And when she reached zero, he shut off the vibrator.

Out of breath, proud of herself, delirious with joy, she sank back.

“I appreciate your efforts. You and your tears sustain me.”

“Thank you…Sir.” Pleasing him fed something deep inside her as well. Was that fucked up? Or was it perfect?

“Dessert?” he suggested, moving the ramekin toward her.


“It’s a beautiful evening. How about a stroll before we head back to the Parthenon?” Rafe suggested when they were outside on the wraparound porch.

While that sounded wonderful, she was still turned on from the incident with the panties, and she was anxious about the rest of the evening. “With these shoes, Mr. Sterling, it will have to be a short one.”

“I’ll carry you if you need me to.” His tone was dead serious.

The image of her held in his arms made her giggle. “I think that would count as cruel and unusual punishment.”

He held on to her as they descended the front steps.

When they arrived, she hadn’t realized how astounding the grounds were. The privacy of the patrons was protected by miles of hedges. No one, even on the river, would be able to peek inside. In front of them was a parking area surrounded by a giant sculptured hedge. Arm in arm, she and Rafe had explored the water fountain topped with a four-foot-tall carnival mask. Four curved concrete benches framed the area, with narrow paths between each leading toward the fountain. The edge was high enough to sit on.