Bound to the bed like I am, there’s nothing I can do but try and figure out a way to get out of this. If I want to get out of this, I know it’s going to have to be by pure wit and manipulation.

But how do I manipulate a man who seems to hate me as much as I hate him?

Threats don’t work on Simon. Nor do sexual advances.

Ugh. For the first time in my life I wish to god I had a dick, so I could get myself out of this mess.

Seconds tick by. Seconds that turn into minutes. My wrists and shoulders begin to ache from all the yanking I did.

What the fuck motivates the man? Money? Power?

I could try to bribe him, but thanks to him and Matthew, I don’t have access to any of my accounts. Those millions from my marks are out of reach until further notice.

I could play nice, but he’ll see right through it. Weak? Repentant? That will probably work better, if I can keep myself from snapping at him.

Who am I kidding? Simon brings out the worst in me. He’s bound to do or say something that pushes me over the edge of insanity.

If he ever comes back.

He could just leave me here to rot. It’s what I would do if I were him, but then again I’m a cruel bitch.

I stare at the blank white ceiling for what feels like an eternity. My eyelids start to grow heavy. After all the energy I’ve expended trying to escape, I feel utterly exhausted.

I begin to drift off.

Then the door clicks open.

My eyes flicker open just enough for me to watch Simon stride into the room through the veil of my lashes.

He’s shirtless, dressed in only a pair of fresh dark slacks. His hair is soft and brushed back like he just washed it. His glasses are gone and so is his watch.

My muscles want to tighten with anxiety, with anticipation, but I fight it.

Relaxed. I must remain relaxed if I want to appear truly contrite. I want him to think I’ve learned my lesson.

He pauses just inside the doorway and the door clicks behind him.

Glancing at the bed, he seems unsure. Good. If he’s not set on further punishing me then there’s a fair chance I can still manage to get myself out of this.

He begins to walk slowly towards the bed and I can’t stop myself from admiring the way his body moves. Especially all the muscles that ripple on his chest.

So that’s why he was so heavy when he pinned me to the bed…

Beneath his dark suits he’s been hiding a rather impressive body. He’s all lean, tightly packed coiled strength. The way he walks towards the bed kind of reminds me of a big stalking cat.

It’s a sin, really, such a body is obviously wasted on him.

Stopping beside the bed, he frowns down at me. “Meredith.”

Peering up at him through my lashes, I try my best to keep my expression neutral, but it’s a struggle. Especially when I catch a glimpse of the stitched-up bite mark on his shoulder.

My lips want to pull into a smug grin. I did that. I made him bleed.

I fucking marked him.

“Simon,” I say and then lick my lips.

I can still taste a hint of him.

Simon’s frown grows even deeper as his eyes follow my tongue as it runs along my lips. If he were anyone else, I’d take it as a sign that he’s interested… but I know he’s not.

A couple of heartbeats pass.

Then he asks, “If I uncuff you, are you going to act civilized?”

And there he goes being an asshole again. Me? Uncivilized? He’s the one who handcuffed me to a fucking bed!

Taking a deep breath, I swallow back my anger. It will do nothing but hinder me here.

Eyes on the prize, Meredith.

Simon’s eyes drift down, locking on the rising swells of my breasts before flicking up again.

What the fuck? Maybe I pegged him wrong. Maybe he is interested…

“Yes,” I exhale and peer up expectantly at him.

I shift just a little bit, just enough to slide my dress up even more, exposing my thighs to him.

Once again, his gaze drifts down, and my heart begins to race with excitement.

Holy shit, so maybe Simon isn’t gay…

His eyes trace back up my body and lock on my face, cold and expressionless.

Or fuck, maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

Reaching into his pocket, Simon pulls out a small set of keys and fingers them. It’s obvious he’s conflicted about releasing me, but I also think he’s doing it just to taunt me.

Reminding me that he literally holds my freedom in his hands.

“If you fucking bite me again…” he warns, and again I have to hold my smug grin back.

“I won’t, I promise,” I say instead.

Simon gives me a look like he doesn’t believe me.