“Why haven’t you taken me to any yet?”
“I need to be sure what your limits are, what you like, what you don’t like, and that you’re comfortable with me before I thrust you into any of my fantasies.”
“It’s not that your fantasies are deep and dark, right? Because I have no interest in being whipped or anything.”
His mouth curled. “I have no interest in whipping you. I meant it when I said I’m not into BDSM. I very much doubt that any of my fantasies would scare you or send you running. I just want to be sure you’ll be with me all the way, because they’ll be my fantasies, Kensey—that means I’ll expect them to go exactly how I want them to go.”
It made sense, but I couldn’t guarantee that I’d follow his every order. It wasn’t just that my reflex to authority was to challenge it. It was that I was still uncomfortable with him having a level of power over me … which, of course, was the point he was making. He’d clearly sensed where my head was at, and it was uncomfortable just how good he was at reading me.
I didn’t think I’d ever met someone who was as acutely perceptive and observant as Blake. He had a laser-sharp mental focus. Missed absolutely nothing. Yet, he was quietly observant—not whatsoever obvious about it. Didn’t make you feel like you were being studied. He just paid extreme attention. When at the club, he often scanned his surroundings, as if to ensure that everything was running smoothly. But his mind didn’t wander like that if we were talking. No, I always had his complete attention at times like that. It was … heady.
I was pulled out of my thoughts by the ringing of his cell phone. Rising from the bed, he fished it out of the pocket of his pants and answered, “What is it?”
At least it wasn’t just me who didn’t get a ‘hello.’
He walked into the bathroom to take the call, but I could hear him clearly enough as he said, “At the Vault, why?” A pause. “Can’t. I’m busy … No, the other kind of busy. Call Bastien, he might be free … Then it will have to wait until tomorrow … What’s so damn important that it needs dealing with at two in the fucking morning?” A long pause. “Son of a bitch. You’re absolutely sure? Dig deeper. I need to be certain before I make a move … Right. Tomorrow.”
Moments later, Blake reentered the room and tossed the cell on the desk. He was no longer loose and relaxed. No, he was tense as a bow and looked ready to go to battle.
As his eyes met mine, there was a distance that hadn’t been there before. He looked at me like he didn’t know me. And right then, as he stared at me through flinty eyes that made him seem totally unreachable, I didn’t feel that I really knew him either. This wasn’t the person who’d been lying beside me minutes ago—he wouldn’t doodle patterns on my skin or touch me gently. He’d fuck me stupid, though. I knew that, because I’d met him fleetingly once before.
See, Blake had received a call the previous weekend from someone by the name of Bastien, wanting his aid with something. Whatever Bastien said had put Blake in the same cold and remote state he was in right now. Still, he’d blown the guy off and ended the call. I’d offered to get a cab home so that he could help his employee deal with the situation, but he’d clipped, “Bastien’s a friend, not an employee, he can handle it.” When I’d asked how he’d met Bastien … it was like the shutters went down. No, slammed down. Such a simple question had created an ocean between us. And then he’d fucked me so hard, I was sore for two days straight.
Blake had this way of focusing on me so utterly that I felt the center of his world in that moment, but he could switch to distant in the blink of an eye. A personal question, a phone call, even some inane comment I made—any of those things could slam up a wall between us so fast it was disorientating. And maddening. I’d then later find myself wracking my brain, trying to figure out exactly what it was about what I said, asked, or heard that pushed a hot button for him.
Those walls he often slammed up highlighted just how literally he’d meant it when he’d said that our worlds wouldn’t mix. He hadn’t just meant physically, he’d meant mentally. I could accept that. I could. But when he abruptly switched from attentive to distant like that, I felt … cold. Alone. Unwelcome.
Sitting upright, I said, “I’m going to get dressed. Need to head home.”
“Why?” he asked, tone flat.
“It’s late.” And whatever demons haunted him had a tight grip on him right then. I pushed myself off the bed, but I didn’t take a single step because he stalked toward me. I stiffened. “Blake, no.” But he just kept coming. “No, you don’t get to touch me in anger. Not ever.”
That brought him to a halt. A muscle in his cheek ticked. “I need you right now.”
Shit, how was I supposed to ignore the torment in those words? I couldn’t. So I didn’t fight him as he pushed me back, hooked my legs over his shoulders, and—after a minimal amount of foreplay—fucked me stupid.
Dropping me at my apartment an hour later, he kissed me hard. “Be safe.”
I blinked, surprised. “I will.” Hopefully.
I wasn’t sure what annoyed me more. The dig of the bag handles on my palms, the aches in my feet, or that Sarah was such an indecisive shopper. Redwater City Mall was huge, selling everything from cigars and books to furniture and computer hardware. It was also busy as hell, and what seemed like thousands of voices echoed all around us.
After a long day dealing with crowds, long lines, bags bumping my legs, and the incessant beeping of bar scanners, I just wanted to rest. My feet hurt, my palms stung, and I was seriously hungry.
My nose wrinkled at the smells of hairspray and chemicals coming from the salon nearby. Right then, I stood at a fashion jewelry kiosk, waiting as Sarah debated which bangles to buy. She didn’t ask my opinion, knowing I’d tell her whatever it took to make her hurry the fuck up so that we could leave.
For her, today had been therapeutic. For me, it had been tiring. Online shopping was more my thing—everything was in the one place, which meant there was no traipsing around on foot that got increasingly sore. You didn’t have to leave home, didn’t have to line up, didn’t have to deal with crowds. And considering shop assistants often said, “Sorry, we don’t have it in stock, but we can order it online,” it just seemed easier to cut out the middleman and do it all online yourself.
Out of habit, I glanced around, looking for any sign of Ricky. There was none. Two weeks had gone by, and it had been an uneventful two weeks. He hadn’t made contact again by email, nor had he tried to get back in my apartment. Maybe he’d noticed the alarm sensors on the fire window or something, I didn’t know.
I probably should have considered the lack of activity to be a good thing, but it instead left me feeling antsy. Left me waiting and wondering if, what, and when he’d act again. That in and of itself was mentally draining. If his intent was to make me paranoid and cause my mind to torture me that way, it had had the desired effect.
Was it any wonder that I was again having trouble sleeping? Worse, my book wasn’t going well at all. Whereas before it had been my escape, I now couldn’t plunge myself fully into it. Couldn’t focus enough to fatten the draft with real life. Not while the need to be on my guard pounded at me. Writing was usually morphine for me, but I didn’t even have that now.