A current of energy shot down my spine, drawing my balls up painfully.


“Now!”

She screamed, every muscle in her body binding hers to mine for a few breathless moments. I burst inside of her, thrusting through the waves of pleasure crashing over me. Empty . . . complete. I held her tightly, weakened and reeling. My fingers ached when I loosened my hold on her thighs and lowered her back to the floor. She’d wear my marks by the morning.

I unbound her hands, my own unsteady. Immediately she tore off the blindfold and wrapped her arms around me. Her small frame, slick from our heat, crashed into me.

My knees buckled, and I brought us to the bed before I took us both down. She held me so tightly, as if she’d never let go. The longer we lay that way, the more I believed that nothing could ever tear us apart. Raw emotion hit my heart. I drew in a shaky breath and held her close.

She whispered my name, pulling away enough to look me in the eyes. I blinked, bringing her into focus through the blur. Caressing her palm down my cheek, she kissed me.

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

Was I?

“I’m here with you. That’s all I need.”

She took a small breath, relaxing against me. “We’ll get through this. I promise.”

I closed my eyes, wanting to believe her.

“I know,” I lied.

CHAPTER SEVEN

ERICA

I blinked away sleep, assuring myself that last night hadn’t been a dream. That the whole damn day hadn’t been one surreal, heart-wrenching, earth-shattering dream. I lifted to my elbows and eyed the clothes strewn across the floor. The black leather flogger tossed on top of them was proof that I hadn’t imagined any of it.

I sat up and swung my legs over the edge of the bed, wincing at the ache in my muscles. Most of our best nights came at a price, with physical discomforts that I’d feel after. Yet last night I’d needed Blake’s intensity in a way I couldn’t completely explain.

Even in my half-awake state, nothing could have kept me from him when he came home. I’d drifted off to sleep early, haunted by nightmares that he was never coming back to me. That when I’d walked away from the station, it was the last time I’d ever see him. Having him back home, in the flesh, made me want to possess him as passionately as he wanted to possess me.

I closed my eyes and remembered the sting of the leather. A new sensation that bit my skin. The shock of it, and then the heat. The electricity that brought everything alive in a new way. A thousand tiny points of contact, each screaming with the pain I felt . . . the pain between us that had no other place to go.

I rose and assessed myself in the mirror. Twisting to examine my backside, I was surprised that the punishments of the night hadn’t produced any evidence. Not that I minded the marks. I tended to relish them, cherish them as tiny memories of some of our most unforgettable encounters.

I fingered the small bruises decorating my thighs from where Blake had held me too tightly. A flush of pink worked its way from my cheeks to my chest. I’d felt none of it in the heat of the moment, yet the evidence of his passion had the ability to warm me through.

I’d never be able to make sense of it, but somehow Blake had completely taken over my mind, overwritten any preconceptions I’d had about sex and pain, and brought me to heights no one had ever come close to. We’d found peace with it. We’d made an island between the two of us. Our bodies, our love, and the fierce way we came together made sense when the rest of the world failed us.

If only we could live on that island and never have to leave . . .

Reality quickly tempered the fantasy when the low hum of the television downstairs reminded me that Blake was home. He hadn’t told me yet about how the interrogation with Evans went.

Showered and dressed casually for work, I meandered downstairs. Blake sat on one of the linen-covered couches, his focus trained on the morning news. Daniel’s face flashed across the screen. Recent footage showed him sidestepping reporters as he left the same police station Blake and I had visited yesterday. Daniel’s stolid expression reminded me of the darker side I knew, the side that was revealed only when he’d been wronged and thirsted for revenge at any cost. Was it aimed at Blake?

I reached for the remote and turned down the sound. Blake’s focus was unflinching.

I sat beside him and tugged gently at the hem of his collared shirt, hoping to break him out of his trace. “Blake.”

His chest expanded with a deep breath and he glanced over at me. His eyes were distant, as if he was deep in thought.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I frowned. “Of course.”

“Clay told me that Max approached you.”

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