E: Meet me at the club in 10 minutes. Please don’t be mad.

I reread Erica’s text until my brain caught up to her meaning.

Fucking hell.

The club she was referring to could only be one. My knuckles went white, as if gripping the phone on the brink of crushing it might stop her from doing this. Drawing in a deep breath that did nothing to calm me, I pulled up her number and held the phone to my ear. I listened to the endless ring, biting back the string of curses that would fly if she picked up. I knew she wouldn’t.

The warm timbre of her voicemail greeted me. I was stung with missing the woman behind the sound, but I couldn’t ignore the infuriating fact that she wasn’t picking up the fucking phone. I hung up and grabbed my keys. I flew down the stairs to the Tesla and, wasting no time, pushed my way into the rush hour traffic.

Checking the time, I calculated my journey and how long she’d be there without me. Ten or fifteen minutes if I were lucky. My mind spun over what could go down in that span of time in the exclusive underground establishment I’d known for years as La Perle.

She’d be prey.

If I were lurking in the shadows there as I’d done more times than I cared to admit, that’s all I would see in her. A little blond bombshell with just enough fire to make a Dom want to make her his. A man would have to be fucking blind not to want to bring her to her knees.

I hit the gas and swerved, bypassing a cluster of slowing cars that put precious time between us. As worry plagued my thoughts, so did unwanted memories of the club. I hadn’t stepped foot in there since I met Erica months ago. I’d had no reason to go back to that life. My jaw clenched as I thought of everything that had played out there, countless meaningless moments that I’d kept coming back for, years after I left Sophia. Everything about the place was charged with the promise of sex, the darkest kind of possibilities hanging in the air between every bated breath and less-than-innocent exchange.

My chest was painfully tight. Anger was there. The teeth-gnashing frustration that only Erica could elicit. But under all of it was love. Love for Erica that set my desire on fire. Though I wanted her far from all of it, my basest desires painted a fantasy of finding her in the club and being the man to tame her—even as I knew how fucking impossible that task was. In the daylight, she never made it easy, but hell if she didn’t submit like a dream at night.

I hit the brake at a red light. I closed my eyes, and there she was, gazing up at me with those hooded blue eyes, endless oceans. All that hellfire spirit tempered in the name of the pleasure I would give her. And I always gave her more than she could handle. I never let her rest until she was sated. Until I saw the wonder in her eyes that only I could put there, having pushed her to a place no one had ever taken her. Until the only word she could form was my name.

We were never short on passion. We couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. Adrenaline raced over the fatigue that had settled into my bones after another sleepless night. I could fuck the woman until I was blind, and it wouldn’t be enough. She’d promised me a lifetime, and I had every intention of loving her well every day this life would give me.

Love was a small word for what I felt for Erica. Maybe it was an obsession, this never-waning determination to make her mine in every way she’d let me. Heath had noticed, even warned me when he saw how she was changing me. He was no stranger to addiction, and no one could deny that she was my vice. The drug I refused to live without, no matter how many times she pushed me away. I’d fought like hell to keep the upper hand between us to protect her, to keep her out of the path of those who would hurt one to destroy the other. I couldn’t lose control and risk losing something more important—the one person who’d come into my life and made it worth living.

Yes, she’d changed me, as much as a man with my particular affinities could change. She’d pushed me. She’d walked into my life, five-feet-three inches of fiery independence. Her mere presence challenged me, getting under my skin, making me habitually hard until I could find the unexplainable peace that being inside her supple little body could bring. Even now, I could barely take a full breath, knowing she was beyond my reach. I clutched the steering wheel tighter. My bloodless fingertips tingled with the need to feel her body under them, loving her, claiming her, restraining her.


I adjusted my inconvenient hard on. Pointless when visions of the night before flooded me now. Her full, swollen lips parting for me and only me. Her nails digging into my thighs as she took all of me in the hot bliss of her mouth.

I released my tense hold, exhaling an uneven breath. My thumb grazed the worn leather of my belt. The hammer of my heart kicked up. The light turned green, and I sped closer to our destination. A flicker of anticipation took over with a rush of blood to my now rock-hard cock.

If nothing else, I’d enjoy punishing her when this was all said and done.


Two weeks earlier

I slid my cold palms up and down the sides of my dress. I’d dressed up to make a good impression. I knew it was foolish. Especially since this wouldn’t exactly be a first impression.


Blake walked up to where I stood and held out a steaming cup. He was dressed in dark blue jeans and a white collared shirt that made his skin glow. His skin was tanned from our time at the beach house, the place where we went to escape the city life and recharge. Today, like all the others, Blake took my breath away. He could have stepped out of a catalogue, but there was more to the man than his breathtaking good looks. His entire presence had a way of throwing me off balance. Sometimes—when I wasn’t swooning over his perfection—I wondered if I did that to him too.

“Thank you,” I murmured. Our hands grazed each other when I took the cup, and I let the heat seep into my fingers.

“Call me crazy, but you look nervous.” He sipped his own coffee and cocked his head.

I stared into the creamy liquid, let the rich aroma fill my nose, and tried to imagine what the next half hour would bring. Being here with Blake by my side should have been a small—a great—comfort, but it wasn’t. “I can’t help it.”

He chuckled softly. “You have absolutely no reason to be. You realize that, right?”

Easy for him to say. Across the room, a tall young man was speaking with some of the other investors. I was now on a first-name basis with many of them, but I couldn’t get past the fact that they were the makers and breakers of dreams. They were men, more or less, like Blake. Some were self-made, and others had done well in their professional careers and had taken on angel investing as a hobby, dabbling with fresh new ideas.