Only one thing would save Bella now—a stiff drink. Reed and Kole’s parties were always fun, and it was nice to see new friends she’d made over the past month. But her mood was right in the toilet. It’d been that way all day and had only gotten worse since she joined the party. She shouldn’t have come.
She cursed on a low breath. How in the hell was she going to get out of her current predicament? Originally, it’d been she who offered the idea of the pact of seduction, and she couldn’t even commit. Pathetic.
Marley’s giggle drew her attention, and Reed had pulled her onto his lap, nibbling at her neck. As horrible as it was, jealously surged. Maybe she had hoped that her fantasy would fill that empty void in her soul. Sure, it was meant as something sexually fun, but Bella craved something…
A part of her remained unfulfilled, even if she didn’t understand exactly what was missing. All she knew, her life at this moment was boring with a side of totally sucks.
She glanced over at Kyra, who laughed with Sadie, and nudged her arm. “I’ll be back. I need some air.”
“Sure.” Kyra’s green eyes were a little glassy. The wine clearly had gotten to her. “Want some company?”
“Nah.” She plastered on a fake smile. “I won’t be long.”
Kyra gave a nod, then turned her attention back at Sadie as the two chuckled about something Sadie had said. If only Bella had something to laugh about. She rose from the couch and made her way through the crowd.
As she passed, she noticed a man sitting on the ottoman and a woman knelt at his feet with her arms over his legs. The position appeared casual enough, but it also looked…different. As if the woman enjoyed being at his feet. Another spurt of jealously soared, and she gave her head a good hard shake. She was apparently envious of everyone who had a relationship. And since when had she been jealous of a BDSM relationship?
What’s gotten into you?
She made her way through the living room and stepped out onto the balcony. The cool air brushed against her skin, and she shivered. Winter still hung on in Baltimore, but what a strange winter it’d been—snow one day, mild the next. Tonight was brisk, but that only seemed to help cool off the annoyance burning her blood.
With her glass in her hands, she leaned on the railing and glanced over the city. Reed and Kole’s condo had an amazing view and the lights twinkled below.
She sipped at her drink and pondered her situation. How could she plan another fantasy when the only one she wanted she had yet to fully accept herself? And why was she acting like a bitter idiot?
After a long gulp that had her cringing from the aftertaste, a deep voice interrupted her useless thoughts. “I heard last night didn’t go well.”
She lowered the glass, licked the moisture on her lips, and looked next to her to find Kole. Like always in his presence, butterflies fluttered in her stomach, but she squashed them and kept her voice controlled. “That’s putting it lightly.”
His blond stylish hair framed a face worth a second look, and his dark blue eyes shone with a power that made her melt. He leaned against the railing beside her, cocked his head, and she felt the weight of his stare right down to her toes. “Tell me about it.”
She sipped her drink, mortified to her bones that she had to admit this to Kole. “It wasn’t Raven’s fault. I”—she drew in a deep breath and said quickly—“I always thought my fantasy was to be with a woman, but clearly it’s not.”
“Ah, I see.” He took a gulp of his beer before he lowered it. “You didn’t get off, I’m assuming?”
She snorted. “If laughing in her face means that I didn’t get off, then yes, I didn’t get off.”
He chuckled, the sound so seductive Bella quivered. In response to that odd reaction, she examined him and couldn’t stop from admiring the view.
He was dressed in a pair of dark jeans that no doubt hugged his fine ass, and a black T-shirt that was snug around the muscles beneath.Good God. She licked her lips for reasons that had nothing to do with her drink.
“You didn’t follow through with your part of the pact, then?”
Her gaze lifted to his face. The glint in his eyes declared he’d been quite aware of her admiring him. Hell, she’d lusted after him since the day they met. A strong sexual attraction existed between them that she hadn’t experienced before with any man, especially a Dom.
She blinked and focused away from the warmth that formed between her thighs. “That’s right. I bailed on the pact.”
His gaze became penetrating as his tone dipped lower. “Why don’t you arrange another night with someone else for your fantasy?”
“Because”—her muscles stiffened, and after a long sigh, she grimaced—“I have no idea what that fantasy is now.”
“Such a problem for a woman to have,” he mused.
She gulped at the way his voice seemed to carry into her soul; then she lowered her head to avoid eye contact with him. He raised his bottle to his mouth, and his arm brushed against hers. Tingles zinged through her, and she squeezed her thighs together to ease the throb of her clit.
How did he make her body do that? Every time he was near, she all but sizzled, and when he touched her, everything was amplified.
“I see that you need help, then, in finding what you’re looking for.”
It hadn’t sounded like a question, which she was glad for since her tight throat made it impossible to answer. He slid his finger along her arm, slowly and with clear intent to unravel her.
She bit her bottom lip. “W-what does that mean?”
He tucked his finger under her chin and lifted her head. “I think we both know what I mean.” Those eyes of his burned with the lust that he had obviously contained. “You enjoy my attention, and I’d enjoy you under my command.”
Then he pressed a finger on the back of her hand and danced his touch up her arm. His gaze followed his caresses every step of the way. And damn him if she didn’t close her eyes and shudder.
A scrape of his nail along her skin drew her eyes open, and he grinned with sin. “Look how beautifully you react to me.” He finally reached her shoulder, and she trembled under the softness of his touch that seemed to contradict that power oozing from him. He tucked his fingers back under her chin, drew her head up, and stared intently into her eyes.
Searching for what, she had no idea.
His hold tensed, a shift in his gaze appeared that made her stomach flip-flop, and her panties were now soaked. He leaned in, pressed his lips against hers, and the world froze. His luscious and damn well perfect mouth molded with hers as his silky tongue swept her away. When had anyone ever kissed her like this?
He kissed her thoroughly, leaving no part of her mouth untouched; then he backed away but kept hold of her chin. “It’s time to stop ignoring what your body needs and accept that you want to be dominated.”
Hell, how right was he? Maybe BDSM wasn’t her fantasy when she made the pact of seduction with her friends, but after hearing about it from Marley, her interest had grown. She lifted a lazy shoulder to appear nonchalant. “I suppose if I set up a scene with you, that would be a solution to my problem.”
“Not good enough.” His gaze hardened. “Do you want me to take you into a scene, Bella?”
At his pause, she realized she needed to give a better answer, and she nodded. “I do.”
He examined her for a long moment before he finally said, “Now what are your interests in BDSM?”
She melted at the way he stared at her now. So intense. So wicked. Was this a hint of what he’d look like in a scene? Her body flushed, yet she held her focus and lifted her chin. She had always prided herself on staying strong around powerful men.
Her job as a stockbroker in Baltimore’s top lending investment firm meant she swam with the sharks. Most of her coworkers were authoritative men. If she’d showed weakness, she wouldn’t be where she was today, and she’d worked hard for her position.
“I’m interested in”—her throat went dry. All these fantasies she hadn’t admitted to anyone. Was she really going through with this? Her soaking panties declared it so—“ropes, sex toys, floggers, to be controlled, pleasure, and pain.” She raised her glass to her mouth and tried to ignore the way her hands shook.
Before the rim could reach her lips, Kole snatched the glass from her hands and set it on the ground next to him. “If we’re discussing this and you are serious, you will stop drinking.”
A flare of irritation rose up that he’d be so bold to take her drink right out of her hands, yet Marley had said that Castle Dolce Vita Doms never allowed submissives to drink alcohol in a scene to ensure they were clearheaded. And since they were discussing what would happen between them, she let it go. “Okay.”
He gave a short nod. “Now I want to make sure you’re well aware of what will happen and what I expect of you.” His gaze searched hers, seemingly looking right through her. “And I need to be sure that I’m the correct Dom for you.”
“I don’t want anyone else,” she blurted out before she could stop herself.
His eyebrows rose. “I don’t mind your answer, Bella.” A small grin turned up the corners of his mouth. “But do tell—have you put more thought into this than you’re letting on?”
Her cheeks had never burned so hot, but she wouldn’t be that woman who’d stumble around a man. She stuffed her nervousness away, clasped her hands, and demanded her voice to be strong. “Maybe once or twice.”
She’d been aware of the mutual attraction between them, so two could play his game. “Are you trying to deny you haven’t thought about it too?”
He winked. “Maybe once or twice.”
A flutter whipped around inside her, her palms grew clammy, and she squeezed her fingers. Why did he make her act so…knocked off her axis?
“One thing that needs to be discussed is my expectations.” He glanced at her hands for a moment as if he took in her reaction before he looked back into her eyes. “From what I know of you as you are now, you’d struggle to meet them. And I want to make that clear so you know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she snapped. “Why would I struggle to meet your demands?”
He gave his head a slow shake. “I’m not saying it to insult you, but to give you a stern warning. I don’t play lightly.”
“Well, I…” Her entire face burned hot as if she had a high-grade fever. Marley had told her all about Kole. How he enjoyed pain play. How strict he was in how a submissive behaved. And all it’d done was increase the throb between her thighs. Solidified the fantasy. “I think I might like that.”
He gave a delicious smile. “I have no doubt you would.”
And then his lips were back on hers as he swept her away in another leg-wobbling kiss before those plush lips tore away from hers.
“You’ll arrive at the castle next Friday at seven o’clock. I’ll have a room reserved.” He dropped his head, his eyes in the direct line of hers. “When you arrive, remove your clothes, kneel in the center of the room, and wait for me. Clear?”
Heat spread across her body at the images playing in her head. Nude? Kneeling? Oh God! She quivered in anticipation.
At his expectant expression, she nodded instead of offering him a breathy response.
“Good.” He took her mouth again playfully, nibbled on the corners of her lips, and flicked her lips with his tongue. And when he had her body ramped up to a fever pitch, he backed away to trail his thumb over her lips. “Can you be honest and open with me?”
Drool, honest-to-God drool, formed in her mouth. Everyday Kole was sexy. Dom Kole was to die for. The sheer power that exuded from him, intensity in his features, it all captivated her. He’d asked her to be honest with him—how hard could that be? “I can do that.”
He nodded in approval, skimmed her mouth again with his thumb, while his gaze stayed focused there. The smile he gave, the possessiveness held in the depths of his eyes, liquefied her insides.
Something sparked through his touch, only increasing with his kiss, and even more so by the way he looked at her now. One of those duhmoments. Had what she wanted—desired—been standing right in front of her this entire time?
In less than a week, she’d have the answer.