Sitting on the coral sand–colored seat cushion, Kyler leaned back against the wicker patio chair and sipped a crisp beer. The warm Lake Las Vegas air wasn’t nearly as stifling as it’d been earlier in the day. His gaze swept past the trickling fountains and sparkling fire pits to the dancing crowd, eventually resting on the bride, Cora Adams.
Cora was a submissive and a member of the exclusive BDSM organization Club Sin, a place that allowed people to live out their darkest sexual fantasies. As a Master at the club, indicated by the dragon tattoo on his forearm, Kyler had met her a few years ago. They had maintained a close friendship ever since.
The bride swirled her hips, dancing with her bridesmaids, who were also Club Sin submissives, Presley Flynn and Kenzie Hart. Kyler couldn’t help but notice how beautiful they looked in their strapless mauve dresses. So much different from the club, where they were either naked or dressed in sexy lingerie.
He took another swig of his cool beer, and he couldn’t have been happier for Cora. In fact, as his gaze traveled over her mermaid-style wedding gown and long, dark hair styled in big, soft curls, he was sure he’d never seen her so happy.
This wedding was long overdue.
He had thought Cora would’ve been married years ago to one of his closest friends and fellow Club Sin Masters, Aidan Knight. Kyler had always yearned for what they had: a loving Dominant/submissive relationship. Although he was surprised they hadn’t tied the knot earlier, he was glad to see his friends finally exchanged their vows.
Kyler himself was waiting to find the one. He needed a woman who would embrace his dominant ways in Club Sin and be a good partner in life, too. He loved that feeling of owning a woman’s body . . . and, yeah, his Dom wanted that.
He’d never met her.
He’d met only the women of right now.
His gaze traveled over the crowd and landed on the pretty blonde he’d seen during the outdoor ceremony. She’d been sitting at the back in the white chairs, smiling in a way that brightened her face as she watched Cora walk down the aisle.
Kyler chuckled, turning to Dmitri Pratt, Club Sin’s owner. Kyler ignored the comment with a reply that placed Dmitri in the hot seat. “It’s your turn next to tie the knot, hmm?”
Dmitri smiled, placing his wineglass on the wicker table in front of them. He raked a hand through his blond hair. “Is that so?”
Kyler had no idea why Dmitri hadn’t asked Presley to marry him. They were perfect together. He pointed to Cora. “You’re telling me you don’t want to see Presley looking like that?”
Dmitri glanced to Cora, watching as she danced. When he looked back to Kyler, his expression softened. “It wasn’t that long ago that Presley was engaged.”
“She comes from a close family and cares what they think,” Dmitri replied with a shrug. “I’m letting them get used to our relationship before we go down that road.”
Always the good man, Kyler mused.
Perhaps Presley was worried that her parents would disapprove if she got engaged again too quickly. That probably made the most sense and was perceptive of Dmitri to recognize.
Presley had a strong submissive trait: always sacrificing what she wanted for others, a common sub trait that she’d never completely let go of. It was one of the reasons Dmitri loved her so. “You’re waiting for the benefit of her parents?”
Dmitri nodded, draping an arm over the back of the wicker chair. “We’ll give it a little more time.” He grinned, tapping the center of his neck. “Besides, I have that. For now, it’s enough.”
In terms many attending this wedding wouldn’t understand, Presley had been fully, irrevocably, claimed by Dmitri. To her closest friends and those who belonged to Club Sin, the promise in the symbol of a collar held as strong as a marriage vow.
Kyler wouldn’t be that patient.
Once he discovered the woman to share his life, he’d possess her body and mind. All would know that whoever she was, she belonged to him both in the dungeon and out of it.
Taking another sip of his beer, Kyler scanned the patio and relished as the cool liquid slid down his dry throat. Decorated with flowers and fire pits lighting up the dark night, the five-star resort with panoramic views of the lake and mountains was beautiful. A secondary patio area near the water that hosted the evening wedding was even more so. Some guests sat on the comfortable seating that was placed throughout, but most were on the dance floor, enjoying the live band.
As the warm breeze brushed over him, he watched Cora’s family as her nieces and nephew were dancing with their parents. Then his gaze returned to the blond woman he saw earlier. Damn, she’s a pretty little thing.
She looked as though she’d been plucked out of the fifties, wearing a black-and-white polka-dot dress. Her long hair was swept to the side in a fishtail braid, and on her right arm she had a tattoo of black-and-gray flower from her wrist to midway up her forearm.
Kyler bit back a groan as he scanned down her crossed legs to her black high-heeled shoe dangling from her toes. He took another chug of his beer, reminding himself that a hard cock wasn’t appropriate at his friends’ wedding.
Forcing his attention to her face, their gazes met. Her cheeks pinkened, her cherry-red painted lips parted, and her eyes went a little wide.Beautiful.
Throughout the ceremony and later at dinner her shy blushing had ensnared him. Watching her wasn’t even a choice; it had become imperative. He had to learn more about the woman with the expressive eyes. Her innocence, matched with the way she could barely hold his gaze, suggested one thing: She’s vanilla.
He nearly laughed that he’d taken such an interest in a vanilla woman, but he remained trapped in her overtly aroused expression. If he could make her look that hot by not even touching her, how would she look once he got his hands on her?
He liked that.
Those heated reactions attracted him, and he hadn’t felt that pull toward a woman in a long time. In fact, he hadn’t dated a woman who didn’t live the BDSM lifestyle since Club Sin opened its doors four years ago.
He needed a woman who owned her sexuality and went after her fantasies. A woman who enjoyed living a lifestyle that allowed him to indulge in the wicked. He also needed a woman who submitted to him and who melted under his touch.
Vanilla women never did.
“She’s a good girl.”
Kyler turned and found the groom, Aidan Knight, sitting across from him. All caught up in the woman, he hadn’t realized Aidan had joined him. Nor had he known that Dmitri had left to dance with Presley. Nope, he’d been consumed by the woman wearing polka dots.
Dressed in a tux, his jet-black hair slicked back from his forehead, Aidan was a commanding figure. Stiff shoulders and stony gray eyes told Kyler the woman was no stranger to Aidan, making her all the more interesting. “Do tell, who is that good girl?”
“My assistant, Ella Snow,” Aidan replied with a tight voice.
“She works for you?” Aidan nodded, and Kyler grinned. “I’m surprised that Cora doesn’t mind that pretty thing working alongside you.”
Aidan chuckled, shaking his head. “Cora is now my wife.” The amusement in his features fled, replaced by a blazing dominant stare. “She has never and will never have reason to be worried about Ella.” He glanced around him and then leaned in to Kyler. “You do realize that woman you’re eating up with your eyes is vanilla.”
“No shit,” Kyler said with a smirk.
From what he could tell, Ella didn’t act like a submissive. There were no enticing, gaze-lowering looks away from a Dom. She flat-out acted like a little mouse avoiding a hungry lion.
And damn, did she stir desire.
The same old play in Club Sin had become tiresome. In the dungeon, women always submitted. He’d perfected his craft to ensure they would. Until now, he hadn’t met a woman who pushed his need to master.
Perhaps a little vanilla would spice up his life.
He smiled at Aidan. “Have you ever seen me back away from a challenge?”
Aidan regarded Kyler before he stared at Ella, who was downing her glass of wine. “I can’t get into this in as much detail as I should, seeing how you’re looking at her. But that girl has been through a lot, she’s got no family here.”
Even more interesting. “She’s not from Vegas?”
“She moved from Savannah to Vegas four months ago.”
Kyler rubbed his chin, watching Ella place her wineglass on the table. A flood of heat overwhelmed him. Under his stare, she squirmed in her chair, staring anywhere but at him. Turning to Aidan, he asked, “What do you mean she has no family?”
“I mean, she has no one.” Aidan rested his elbows on his knees, giving Kyler a measured look. “She told me her parents died when she was young and she was raised by her grandparents. A few years back, she lost them, too.”
Aidan smiled at guests who strode by before he added, “There is something about her”—he hesitated and sighed—“she seems distressed or haunted in some ways.” Lifting his chin, his gaze became ice-cold. “I like Ella. And I mean I like her like a sister, so I’m telling you to be careful with her.”
She had Aidan’s affection. That, more than anything, told Kyler that not only is Ella beautiful, but she also must be a remarkable woman who had worked her way into Aidan’s heart.
Kyler snorted. “Fuck, you get married and turn into an overprotective brother.”
Aidan gave a halfhearted shrug. “Do what you want, but do it gently. She’s a special woman, and I do care about her.”
“You don’t need to tell me she’s special.” Kyler’s body hummed in need as he looked to Ella. “I can see it with my own eyes.” Glancing to Aidan, he smiled. “Don’t you worry, buddy, I’ll take good care of your assistant while you’re on your honeymoon.”
The band changed songs into something a little slower. Standing to go dance with his bride, Aidan frowned. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Ella’s shoulders slumped and she sighed at her phone. Laughter and joy surrounded her, music and happiness, but her stomach plummeted as she read her husband, Rory Snow’s text. When would he give up? Didn’t a domestic violence protection order say This relationship is over?
As the band played a slow song, she ran her fingers over the scar by her right eye. The mark was a constant reminder of Rory. Every day she looked in the mirror she saw it and thought of him.
All she wanted was to forget. Heck, she’d been doing exactly that. Rory was the jackass who couldn’t let it go. Ella knew she should probably call the Savannah police department to inform them that Rory was contacting her, but she was so damn tired of it all. She had moved on and put Rory into her past of big mistakes.
She’d hoped Rory would do the same.
That didn’t look like it was going to happen anytime soon.
With a grumble, she slipped her phone into her dress pocket and zipped it closed. She scanned through the crowd on the dance floor and her gaze landed on the bride. Aidan’s new wife was beautiful. Thin and elegant, Cora belonged on a magazine cover.
Ella’s heart twisted in the midst of memories of her wedding. Her day hadn’t been so lavish. Rory hadn’t rented out an entire resort at Lake Las Vegas for the event, ensuring their guests had a place to stay. Her wedding had cost all of two thousand dollars, but it had been enough for her.
She’d loved the high school sweetheart she’d met when she was fifteen and married five years later. Had loved him. Right up until Rory started drinking and drowning himself in booze.
Sober Rory was a good man.
Drunk Rory had a violent side.
That violence had shoved Ella face-first into a table. The night she’d got the stitches was the night she’d walked away from him. Six months later, she had left her life in Savannah. She moved to Vegas for the excitement, landing herself an amazing job at Knight Law Firm, working as the assistant for a highly respected defense attorney.
Ella enjoyed working for Aidan, and actually liked him as a person, too. He paid her almost triple what she had made in Savannah. Her professional life couldn’t get any better. It was the personal side of things that remained murky.
As she watched Aidan twirl his new wife around, dancing proudly for all to see, Ella tried to find her smile, but it remained hidden behind pain. Even if ten months had gone by since the night of the abuse, she couldn’t ignore the dark thoughts and her failed marriage.
It took six months to find the courage to file divorce papers, and another four months since leaving Savannah to pull herself together again, but she was over Rory in every sense of the word. She refused to let him ruin this special occasion. Grabbing her wineglass, she downed the remaining contents.
Tonight she hoped for a little liquid happiness.
When she lowered her glass to the table, a tingling sensation spread across her skin. Lifting her head, she gazed across the patio, and sitting at one of the patio sets was one of Aidan’s groomsmen. She’d never seen him before today, but that wasn’t a huge surprise, since she didn’t know most of the people at the wedding.
Except for a bunch of lawyers from the firm and Aidan’s parents, everyone else was a stranger. Aidan never mixed pleasure with business, and in the four months she had worked for him, she’d never met a single friend of his. Heck, she hadn’t known Aidan was dating. One day she’d thought he was single; the next he told her he was getting married.
Oddly enough, she was drawn to Aidan’s groomsman. Staring into his warm blue eyes, pins and needles and other sensitive feelings traveled up her body, settling between her thighs. She squirmed against her seat, avoiding the heat, and the side of his mouth curved. Her heart tripped and she glanced to her high-heeled shoe dangling off her toe.
Geebus, if he didn’t stop looking at her with those piercing eyes, she would combust. All night he’d been sneaking glances at her. They weren’t simple interested looks, either; they were outright assaults on her hormones. But a man’s attention was the last thing she was looking for.
No, thank you.
When she still sensed his gaze, she peeked to discover she wasn’t wrong. His intense stare was right on her. The power of it sucked the air from her lungs. Though she’d never believed in lust at first sight, perhaps it was because she had never experienced it.
Whoever he was, he was hot!
“More wine, miss?”
Ella gasped, looking up to the waitress standing next to her holding a bottle of white wine. She gave a shaky laugh. “To the top, please.”
The waitress smiled, filling the glass to the rim. “Why aren’t you dancing?”
“I look like a dying fish when I dance,” Ella said with a laugh. “I have two left feet.”
“We’ll need to work on that, won’t we?”
The waitress was looking over Ella’s shoulder with wide eyes. And something in that masculine voice made Ella stiffen in her seat. The tone was low and seductive, but mischievous all the same.
Then he was there.
The groomsman who’d been staring at her from across the patio now stood in front of her. Ella’s mind went blank. He smelled of sandalwood, and the rich scent puckered her nipples. From afar she thought he had blue eyes, but up close she realized they were a blue-green color. Pretty. In fact, the whole package was beautiful, especially covered in the tux.
He leaned down toward her and offered his hand. His messily styled light brown hair dangled over his forehead. He was tall, much taller than she, and he filled out his tux nicely.
“Dance with me,” he said.
Ella quivered under his clever smile, and a slow heat slid through her. He happened to be one of the hottest guys she’d ever seen. Well, in person and not on some magazine she figured was Photoshopped. Though, hot or not, there was still a problem. “I’m sorry, but I can’t dance.”
“Everyone can dance.” His potent stare held hers and his hand never lowered. “It’s all about who is leading.”
Persistent sexy man.
Under his intense scrutiny her insides went mushy. The power this man exuded burned through her, reminding her she hadn’t felt this way in a long time. The attraction was intoxicating, and something needy inside her unfurled, yearning to explore it.
No, her mind argued.
At her pause, one sleek brow arched. “If you wait any longer to take my hand, you might give me a complex.”
The waitress hadn’t moved, watching the exchange. Even if Ella hated dancing and wasn’t looking for a relationship, she couldn’t refuse the urge to be squished up against him. Besides, what was a dance? This hunk was the perfect way to get her mind off Rory and onto something a lot better.
As she rose and slid her fingers into his warm grip, his gaze remained on hers. Heat stormed into her, spiraling low in her body with a wicked thud. She didn’t doubt that smile got him into many women’s beds.
It had power and charm.
He tightened his fingers around hers, and something passed in the air between them, so hot and so damn unforgettable, her body all but liquefied. He tugged her closer and she felt something odd inside awaken, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
Something she wanted to lose herself in.
A sensation that made her mind shut off.
He led her into the middle of the crowd on the dance floor, pulling her tight against him as if she belonged right there in his arms. He had no hesitation about placing his hand low on her back, quite close to her bottom, and sandwiching their bodies together.
Ella swallowed and avoided his gaze, staring at the band as they played a classic song. She wasn’t blind to the glaringly obvious fact that the groomsman had an erection. She thought she should be offended or something, but found herself fighting against the desire to rub against him.
She cleared her throat, angling her head. His face was chiseled and smooth, but his eyes were what made this man sexy. They held mischief with a sense of confidence. “Yes, and you would be?”
Of course, the sexy man came with a sexy name. She swayed her hips, trying to follow his movements, only feeling more uncomfortable. Not a second later, she stepped on his foot. “Oh, shit!”
He chuckled. “It’s a foot. I’ve got two, so it’s okay.” He pressed his hand tighter against her back, erasing the distance. Then he shook their clasped hands. “Stop fighting me. Relax.”
Ella sighed. I suck at this!
He leaned down, placing his mouth near her ear, and whispered, “So you work for Aidan, yes?”
His voice raised goose bumps across her flesh, and she shivered. “Yes.” She glanced to the others on the dance floor. It pleased her that no one was watching her horrible dancing skills. Then she stared up into Kyler’s handsome face, since he didn’t allow her any room to do otherwise. “Since you’re Aidan’s groomsman, you must be a good friend.”
A low noise hummed in his throat, and the sound spoke to her on a level she couldn’t have anticipated. It warmed her from head to toe, and her muscles went lax. His fingers slid across her lower back, squeezing her against him, and the heat of his touch burned to her core. “Been good friends for a long time now.”
Good grief, the man seemed not to care they were strangers. He touched her as if they were well acquainted. In the midst of that confidence, Ella forgot the world around her. Her mind focused on him and the way he moved her across the dance floor.
He continued to guide her movements and never once took his eyes off her. “I didn’t see a date with you tonight. Are you unattached?”
Her insides somersaulted with his question, as he appeared interested in finding out if anyone stood in his way. She pondered whether to spill out the details that she was in the process of getting divorced and not looking for another relationship. Well, she would be if Rory’s lawyer stopped dragging his feet. But why tell that depressing shit to a smoking-hot man sandwiching her against the hard planes of his body? “Nope, not attached.”
His chin dipped, bringing his mouth within centimeters of hers. “A good thing for me, Ella, since I’m enjoying this.” The music soared through the air, and as her hips swayed with his, his erection pressed against her stomach.
Trapped in his intense gaze, her body flushed as desire simmered. Holy Jesus, she hadn’t felt this aroused in the presence of a man. No one had ever made her burn with a dance, a look, or the sound of his voice.
Kyler’s mouth twitched as he ran his thumb over the top of her hand. “See, sweetheart, you can dance.”
She blinked, realizing she had completely relaxed in his hold, and he was moving her around the dance floor, effortlessly. She leaned in to him, consumed by the strength of his hold. “Apparently, you’re a good teacher.”
He winked. “You bet your pretty little ass I am.”