I decided at least I could take a shower. That much I could control.
As for the rest of it, I just had to face facts. I was one of many. He’d never told me otherwise. In fact, he’d put up hard limits around our relationship, clear parameters defining our arrangement. Of course he had other women in his life, others who meant far more than some kind of a sex bargain. Apparently Courtney was one of them, maybe the most significant of them all. And why wouldn’t she be? She fit in much better than I did with his life now.
Anyone with 20/20 vision could have seen their intimacy from the brief encounter at the restaurant, how she’d dragged her blood-red nails across his shoulder. I was nothing to him—low-hanging fruit, a desperate farm girl with no other options offering herself up to him for sex. Now that I’d seen the kind of world he lived in, the high-rollers who were his associates, I realized bailing out my ranch was play money to him. It was the kind of change that fell out of his pocket on the way to board his private jet.
I’d been living in a big fat bubble, but that bubble had burst. I’d been walking around dreaming about the kids we’d have one day, but this wasn’t special to him. This was an easy fuck. To me, it meant everything. And that’s why I had to leave, now.
Out of the shower, I started packing. I didn’t have much. I wouldn’t take any of the fancy stuff I’d bought with Declan’s money. Those were the dress-up clothes of his week-long sex toy. I wasn’t that. I was Kara Brooks and I needed to head home. Somewhere I had my old boots, jeans and t-shirt, the ones I’d worn to our meeting only a week ago. Could it have really been only one week? But, yes, Friday morning I’d walked into his office in those boots and now I needed to find them, put them on and walk back out of his life again. For my own sanity.
“What are you doing?” My heart skipped a beat at the sound of Declan’s voice. Hand up to my chest, I clutched the towel around my naked body. I’d been so intent on finding my old clothes, banging around in the bureau and closet, that I hadn’t heard him come in.
“I’m looking for my boots!” I knew I sounded overly upset but that was the least of my problems. Why had he come back in the middle of this? A few minutes more and I could have been gone, in a taxi to the airport.
“Why do you need your boots?” He kept calm and cool, of course, looking outrageously sexy in a dark fitted suit and deep red tie. He loosened it as he spoke.
“Declan…” I crossed my arms in front of my chest. I hadn’t worked out what to say to him. I didn’t think I’d have to. Finally, I choked out, “I saw Courtney’s note.”
“What?” He didn’t sound mad. He sounded like he didn’t know what I was talking about.
“The note, that square thing!” I gestured out the door vaguely in the direction of the countertop. “I saw her note. How she can’t wait to finish what you’ve started.” My words came out hot, jealous, buzzing in my ears like the stereotype of a spurned lover in a soap opera. I hated playing that part, but I had no choice. I felt enraged, wounded, venomous, the epitome of a woman scorned.
“You’ve been reading my mail?” His voice kept low and controlled as he removed his jacket and tie.
“It was out on the counter. It wasn’t like I searched through your stuff and ripped it open.”
“But you picked up something addressed to me. Pulled out a private note, and read it.”
“Declan, that’s not the point!” I felt shaken and upset, my breathing coming fast, tears close to the surface.
“What is the point?” He took a step toward me. I took a step back.
“It’s what she said. It’s what’s between you two.”
“What is between us?” He took another step toward me. I retreated again, coming up against the wall.
“I don’t even want to know.” I shook my head and looked away, trembling, hating myself for still wanting him to reach out and reassure me.
He didn’t. “You shouldn’t read things that don’t belong to you.”
I exhaled, frustrated. “As if that’s the problem here.”
“That is the problem here.” Now he stood right next to me and I could feel the heat radiating from his powerful body. How he could make a suit look so virile, so male, I didn’t know. Up until now I’d always preferred the jeans and cowboy hat look. Now, though, I didn’t know, I didn’t know anything anymore.
“You think Courtney’s my woman?” He brought both hands, palm-down, against the wall on either side of my head. Leaning down, he brushed close to my hair, breathing deep, scenting me.
“You belong together.” My voice came out breathy, my body already beginning to respond to Declan’s nearness. My mind still clung to anger and my sense of betrayal, but my body had other ideas. I brought a hand to his chest in protest, then kept it there, spread against his strength.
“Hmmm.” I could feel his chest rumble under my palm and I shivered. He brought his mouth down to my ear and kissed me, lightly, teasing, bringing his lips down to my earlobe to suck and bite. “Is that right?” Dipping down to my bare, exposed shoulder, he kissed and licked, trailing his hot, wicked lips along my skin.
I tried to fight it, but my entire body sang under his attentions. I was helpless, my own worst enemy.
“Declan.” I forced strength into my words, willed my hand against his solid, muscled chest to push away. “I don’t…if you’re with her, I don’t—”
“There’s no one but you,” he growled, possessive. So fast I didn’t know it was happening, he grabbed my wrists and pulled them up over my head, pinning them against the wall under his huge hands. Without my arms at my sides, my towel fell to my feet, leaving me completely naked, pink and exposed and panting under his heated gaze. I wriggled under his grip, but he easily kept my wrists hard against the wall in one hand, then brought the other down to my breast.
“You may not accept it yet,” he said, lazily caressing my soft mound. “You might not want it. But you’re mine.” As he said it, he brought his fingers to my nipple and pinched. A sigh escaped my parted lips, my eyes half-closed. “Your mind wants to fight it. But your body knows.” His hand circled my other breast, drawing closer to my other nipple. I arched into him. I craved his touch, the sensations he brought to me, the intensity of the pain and pleasure washing my mind blank with desire.
“Mine,” he hissed, pinching my nipple hard between his large fingers. I gasped and heard myself moan. Still pinning my wrists easily with one hand, his other fingers started to travel down my body, dipping along my hips, along my stomach, down to where I was starting to ache and throb.
“Now, Kara,” he whispered into my ear. My eyes fully closed, I leaned into him, loving his heat, his nearness, yearning for more. “A minute ago you were pushing me away.” His fingers teased me, grazing my inner thighs near my sex but not touching. I whimpered, wanting more, yearning for him to plunge his fingers deep into me.
He withdrew his hand and looked into my eyes. “Do you want to leave, Kara?”
I met his gaze, my eyes wide with need, my anger melting into something else completely different but with equal passion.
“Or do you want to stay with me so I can do this?” He brought his finger right where I needed, slipping it easily into my slick pussy, pushing right in and up inside of me. I gasped as he began finger-fucking me, plunging into my wetness, stroking my walls. “What do you want, Kara?” he asked, shoving two fingers deep inside of me.
“You!” I called out, bucking my hips into his thrusts, wanting him deeper, wanting it harder.
“You want me?” he asked, his voice gruff, harsh, commanding. He brought his fingers to my clit and stroked, then pinched lightly.
“Yes!” I called out, already feeling lost in the building need, the urgent pressure and intensity of my pleasure.
“Then you’re going to have to prove you trust me.” He withdrew both hands and stepped away, leaving me shaking, quivering and naked against the wall. Taking off his dress shirt to reveal his chiseled, tattooed chest, he pointed at the
carpet before him. “Kneel,” he ordered.
Minutes ago I’d been set on walking out the door. But now I thrilled to his order, my nipples stiff and still pulsing from his harsh touch. As if in a spell, I complied, my lust leading me over before him, compelling me to kneel down at his feet.
“On all fours,” he growled. I did as he told me. Quick as lightning, he brought a restraint to my wrists, pinning them together and tying me to the wooden leg of the bed. Down on my elbows, I shook with lust and vulnerability, naked and tied up, my ass bent up in the air for him to do whatever he wanted.
Whack! I felt the sharp sting of his huge hand on my naked bottom. I screamed out with the contact, from shock and pain, and pulled against my restraints. He’d tied me tight. This was a sharp spanking, not an easy, tapping, light tease. This hurt. Smack! He knelt next to me and brought his hand down again, hard, on my ass. I gasped and screamed, his palm coming down again and again.
“You’ve been bad,” he reprimanded as he punished me, my ass up and growing red under his palm. “Bad girl, reading my mail.” Smack, he assaulted my rear, his angry hand branding my sensitive flesh. “Ass up to take your punishment!” he roared.