I don’t notice that we’re travelling without security until we’ve reached our destination. The expensive looking sports car Christian helped me into at the hotel didn’t feel out of place despite the fact it could only accommodate two. I guess I assumed our security team would follow us in the SUV, but when we make it to the venue for Daves’ party, no one meets us at the entrance of the building.
“Where are Taylor and Woods?” I ask after we’ve stepped into the elevator and Christian has pressed the button for the rooftop bar.
“We don’t need them,” he says curtly. “You’re with me.”
I stare blankly back at him, unsure of how to react. This is the man who was so concerned about my safety that he’d assigned me a security detail for years without my knowledge. He hired three CPOs to be with me at all times just last year. Some of our worse fights have been over my disregard for their necessity…
And then I remember what he said to me last night.
I can protect you, Anastasia. Better than Sawyer. Better than anyone.
I hang my head, my worst fears confirmed. Nothing was resolved last night after all. We’re not fine.
“Christian, I’m sorry about Luke,” I tell him for the dozenth time. “I really do–”
“Stop,” he interrupts me, keeping his eyes focused on the steadily rising number over the door. “Not here.”
My breath catches, almost as if the chill is enough to freeze the air in my lungs. Nervously, I start to chew on my bottom lip, thinking about his promise back at the hotel. His darker, kinkier predilections have always excited me. Enticed me. Turned me into a carnal creature not only willing, but actually desperate to do anything and everything for his pleasure. For mine. But as I taste the energy flowing between us, I find that my excitement is overcome by something else.
“Christian…” I begin, but the moment his name crosses my lips, he’s on me. I feel the wall of the elevator at my back in the same second his lips come crashing down on mine.
“Did you doubt him, Anastasia?” he snarls into my mouth. “When you let him take you away from my security team to confront people who could be our enemies, who could want to hurt you? Did you worry where Woods or Taylor were with him?”
The words are an accusation, but my body is too consumed with his touch to pay any mind to his vaguely threatening tone. He’s planned it that way. He can play my body as adeptly as he plays the piano, and he uses that against me. His teeth pull at my bottom lip too harshly, and when I whimper, he soothes the bite away with a deep, soft kiss. His hands dig into me one second, then massage me the next. The juxtaposition of pain and warm pleasure create a reaction inside of me that I can’t control. My senses are heightened, my skin more sensitive, and the muscles between my legs clench with sweet anticipation. He knows my body better than even I do, and I’m putty in his capable hands.
I take a shaky breath. “You can protect me, I know that.”
“Good.” Soft fingers trail up the side of my arm and tug lightly at the sleeve of my dress. “I’m very aware of what’s under here and I want you to know that I’m thinking about it. I will be, all night. While you schmooze and mingle, I’m going to be standing by your side, holding your hand, and imaging what it’s going to look like later when it’s covered in my come.”
The elevator pings and the car slows to a stop. Christian leaves one last, chaste kiss on my lips, then takes my hand as the doors pull open and leads me out into the cool June night, not even giving me a chance to catch my breath.
I press my lips together as we meld into the crowd and try to shake away the kinky, sex-tinged thoughts that seem to fully occupy my mind. It’s difficult. My breasts are bare against my dress, so every slip of the soft fabric caresses my nipples, and the tightness of the straps wrapped around my body feels too much like bondage for me to forget.
Stay focused, Ana. You can do this.
The party is beautiful. There’s just enough light to illuminate the trees against the outer perimeter and make navigating the crowd of tables and people manageable. The bar is busy, the music is good, and the city looks down on us from every direction. Daves is standing on a podium near the railing, delivering the speech I listened to him give at least fifty times over the last few days.
“There she is,” I hear Scott whisper with relief. Christian and I turn in his direction and find him standing off to the far side with Carmen and a few people I don’t recognize, but who I assume work in the New York office. I nod in their direction and as Daves’ speech comes to a close, Christian leads me toward them.
“Carmen,” I say, reaching out to shake her hand first. “Great party.”
“Yeah, it didn’t turn out so bad.” She smiles back, then turns to Christian. “And you brought Grey. I didn’t realize you were in town.”
“Last minute trip,” he replies. “You look great, Carmen. As always.”
“Awh, flattery is not going to make me forget that you stole ‘Sure Connections’ right out from under me this week. That one stung, Christian.”
“Business is business. You know that.”
She sighs, but nods. “So I suppose now that you have connectivity under control, you’ll be expanding your state project off the west coast?”
“Yes, but not with ‘Sure Connections.’ Their technology is slow and outdated. I plan on stripping it’s resources and selling what I can.”
“What? Sell it? You fought me for SC for six weeks, Christian!”
“And you told my wife that I asked you not to hire her. You had to know I wouldn’t let that slide.”
The indignace on Carmen’s face vanishes, replaced by blank shock. Her mouth actually drops open and it takes her several seconds to recover. When she does, her back goes straight and her deep brown eyes turn black. It’s a look I’ve seen before, the carefully controlled sense of power. The CEO. And it’s mirrored on my husband’s face right now.
“What do you want for it?” she asks.
Christian smiles. “You know what I want, Carmen.”
“Not going to happen, Grey.”
“Well…” He shrugs. “Enjoy your weak signal output.” Carmen rolls her eyes and takes a drink from her flute of champagne, while I scramble for a way to erase the animosity building between them.
“Christian, have you met Scott?” I ask, grasping at straws. “He’s my New York counterpart.”
“Yes, I’ve heard,” Christian says. Scott grins and takes his outstretched hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Grey. Ana here has told me so much about you, I feel like we’ve already met.” His gaze shifts to me. “You sure are a lucky man.”
“Yes. I am.” Christian takes a step closer to me, wraps his arm around my waist, and kisses my hair. To the casual observer, it might have been an innocent show of affection, but I know better. It’s a claim, which may not fully resonate with Scott, but it does with me. And suddenly my mind is filled with the images he’d conjured back in the elevator. The same images he promised would be going through his mind all night. When I turn to look at him, I can see the promising glimmer in his eyes that tells me he’s kept his word.
“I’m glad Ana was able to drag you out tonight,” Scott continues, oblivious to our silent exchange. “I know how hard it is to get Emily out to these kinds of things. She thinks they’re dull.”
“It’s a party for a book that’s not even out yet,” the woman standing on Scott’s right says. “No one’s even heard of The Black Rose before.”
“But they will,” Scott says, through clenched teeth. “Things have to be built before they blow up.”
The woman shrugs and takes another sip of her drink, looking bored, while Scott takes a deep breath. I look between the two of them with confusion.
“I’m sorry. Do you work at GSP NY?”
“Oh, god no,” Scott answers for her. “This my wife. Emily, this is Anastasia Grey. From Seattle.”
“Wife,” I repeat, hoping the word doesn’t sound as shocked to everyone else as it does to me. She gives me a tight smile and holds out her hand.
“It’s good to put a face to the name,” she says. “Scott talks about you all the time.”
“Does he?” Christian asks.
“Of course,” Scott says. “Ana here has made quite the splash at Greenwich. You should be proud.”
“Very proud. My wife is the most incredible woman I know.” Christian turns to me and brushes my hair from my shoulder. His hand trails down my back, lower and lower… down to what’s his. And with the slight, but noticeable, emphasis he put on the word ‘wife’, I can’t help but think to myself that he might as well have just peed all over me for all his efforts to mark his territory.
“I’m going to get a drink,” he says. “Thirsty?”
His hand begins tracing over my behind, and the fabric of my dress is just thin enough that I can tell the pattern isn’t random. He’s tracing letters. M-I-N-E. Over and over again.
I can’t tell if it’s a declaration, or a promise.
And I can’t tell which of those possibilities it is that’s making my knees feel weak.
“Yes,” I croak, then clear my throat to hide my hoarse response. “Please.”
He smiles. “Don’t wander off.”
I nod, but his eyes stay fixed on Scott as he walks away. Scott smiles back, though I’m not sure if he’s trying to be friendly, or taunting him. Either way, he’s biting off more than he can chew with Christian. I’m still trying to swallow what he’s given me just tonight.
Christian. Swallow. Lingerie. Shit!
I take a deep breath and turn to Carmen, who also watches my husband walk away, though with a different kind of interest.
“I’m sorry about that,” I tell her. “If I had known that you two were… I wouldn’t have brought him.”
She smiles and lets out a small, patient laugh through her nose. “Don’t worry about it, Ana. I knew who you were when I hired you, and despite the optics, Christian and I are actually old friends. He’s ruthless, but so am I. And I know that what goes on between GEH and GC has nothing to do with your value at GSP. In fact, I wanted to offer you my congratulations. I saw your numbers for your branch’s latest release. It’s outstanding.”
I smile. “Thank you. But I have to give the credit to my team. Jacki has worked extraordinarily hard on this project and I think we’re seeing that reflected in sales.”
“Well whatever you’re doing, keep it up. We might just have to bring some Seattle to New York, right Scott?”
“Absolutely.” He tips his glass in my direction and I immediately begin to analyze his tone and body language. Never before has he been able to accept Carmen offering me praise without some sign of bitterness or resentment, but this time… he actually seems genuine. Maybe our talk this afternoon was real. Maybe he really does want to move forward as partners. Maybe I was overreacting back in the office.
Except I can still feel the heat of Christian’s MINE on my behind…
“Here, baby,” Christian says, coming up behind me and offering me a flute of champagne. I take a sip and am surprised. Normally, the champagne at these kind of parties is watered down and dry, but I find that, in this case, I enjoy the crisp flavor as much as the feel of the bubbles tickling my tongue.
“Delicious. Thank you, my love.”
“Of course.” He pulls me close and lowers the volume of his voice so that only I can hear him. “If I were you, I’d drink that quickly and get another. You’ll need it later.”
“Will I?” I ask, but he doesn’t return my playful tone. His eyes cloud over. “What?”
“Nothing.” He turns me so that his back is to Carmen and Scott, and I’m shielded from their view by his body. “I was just thinking about holding this glass to your nipples and watching them harden through that dress.”
He tilts the glass towards me, but I hold my fingers up to keep the cool glass away from the silk fabric over my breasts. “The scene isn’t supposed to start until after we’ve left. You’re not playing fair, Christian.”
“I never do.” He cocks his head to the side, and blatantly stares down at my chest as if he’s mulling over a complicated decision. “Maybe instead I’d pour champagne over them and clean it away with my tongue…”
“Christian.” Again, the muscles deep inside me clench, and his face breaks into a victorious smile.
“Look at that. It seems I don’t need the glass after all.”
I look down to see the outlines of my hardened nipples through the fabric of my dress, and groan. This damn bra!
“Fuck!” I hiss, and Christian takes my chin in his fingers.
“I don’t want to stay long.” I nod and drain the champagne still in my hand, but when I turn for the bathrooms, he stops me and hands me a small wooden box. “Take this with you.”
“To the bathroom?”
“Yes.” His voice is firm and even though I meant it when I told him the scene hadn’t started yet, I react to the command as if we were already in our a room alone and he had me on my knees.
“Yes, Sir,” I whisper back, then tuck the box into my purse and weave my way through the other guests to the bathroom.
I figure the best bet for my sensitivity problem is to just fill the openings in my bra with tissue paper to create a barrier between my nipples and dress, but the fabric is too thin for even a single layer of tissue to go unnoticed. The bathroom is empty besides me, a miracle for a party this size, so after several minutes deliberation, I do the only other thing I can think of, despite how humiliating it will be if someone walks in. I press the button on the hand dryer, and dip my breasts below the warm bursts of air.
By the grace of god, I get away with it.
Once I’m sure that the dress situation is under control and I’m not going to walk back out into a party filled with Gallagher Corporation execs looking like Jennifer Aniston in a season five episode of Friends, I pull the box from my bag and ease back the hinged lid.
Two silver balls connected by a small, black string lie on a bed of velvet and just the sight of them makes me wish I had a spare pair of panties.
The first time I wore these was on a jet ski in the middle of the sound, and they’d wound me up so tight, I practically dragged Christian to our bedroom to have my way with him. The second time was Paris…
My train of thought stops.
God, what I’d give to be in the place now that we were then. Before the lies. Before the hurt. Before I had to wonder what his intentions were when he got me alone. Truthfully, I shouldn’t worry. I know that. He’s never given me reason to worry before and he’s not the one who’s changed here. I have. I’m the one who got us here and I’m going to have to be the one to get us out.
With shaking fingers, I reach into the box and remove the balls. I shouldn’t wear them. I’m already wound up so tightly I could explode, and I still have to get through the rest of this evening before he takes me back to the hotel and fucks me six ways from Sunday. But if we’re going to move forward, he needs tonight. He needs to control me. And this is part of that.
I grip the balls tightly in my hand, and duck into the closest bathroom stall.
The party is in full swing when I emerge from the restroom. Daves corners me on my way back to Christian and asks to introduce me to several of his author friends, most of whom express to me over and over again their disbelief that Walter got the Anastasia Steele to represent his title. There are a few critics and journalists in attendance who ask about my next book, but I easily divert their questions back to The Black Rose. By the time I’m able to escape, Scott and Emily have already left, Christian and Carmen have retreated to a table near the bar, and the balls inside of me have done their job so well, I don’t know that I’ll make it back to the car, let alone our hotel room.
“I’m just surprised,” Carmen says as I approach and pick up the extra glass next to my husband. “I didn’t realize you were so passionate about clean energy.”
“I’m passionate about innovation. This isn’t just about clean energy, it’s about unlimited energy. Accomplishing what was previously thought to be impossible.”
“Oh I know your line, Christian. Your media blitzkrieg has made it all the way to New York. You’re really putting in the hours to get people to buy into this stuff.”
“That’s my PR team. This project is so much more expensive than we anticipated and the only way I’m going to be able to continue funding it is if I’m able to get the Mayor and city council to sign off on significant tax breaks. To get that, I need public support.”
“And a father in the Mayor’s office.”
“Ah, if only it were that easy.”
Carmen laughs and takes another drink. “Well, I think it’s a noble idea, but I also think you’re an idiot.”
She nods. “Don’t you realize what will happen if you pull this off? Eliminating the need for combustible fuel will eliminate the need for the corporations who make that their business. The Saudis, Exxon, BP, Halliburton… You prepared to take them on too?”
“I’m not worried about oil companies.”
“Don’t let your confidence in the technology make you a fool, Christian. This won’t be like stealing a tiny fiber optics company from me. These people will come for you, by any means necessary. Just a few years ago, there was a man named Howard Cook who used to run a company out of LA that focused on clean, renewable energy. He even got a patent approved by the USPTO. But right before he was able to start production, he was indicted for fraud and his company was torn apart and sold for pieces. Who do you think paid for the lawyers to investigate him?”
“Sinopec, 2011. And the technology his company patented was bought by Chinese oil barons, who have invested millions into keeping it buried. I know all about Howard Cook. He was clown and I won’t repeat his mistakes.”
“Alright, if you’re sure. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Oh, believe me, Carmen. I’d never accuse you of not offering unsolicited advice.” She laughs, and Christian empties his glass before turning to me. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah,” I practically beg. Carmen smiles as Christian places his hand on my lower back and, after a brief goodbye, he leads me back through the party towards the elevators. I do a quick scan of the crowd for Walter and find him laughing and toasting before a crowd of admirers. Our eyes meet and I’m able to give him a very proud smile before stepping into the elevator.
The moment the doors close, Christian’s arms wrap around me from behind. “And now…” he says, his low, seductive voice trailing off as he leaves a trail of kisses down the slope of my neck. I hum my pleasure back to him, and push my body into his, relieved to finally be here. The soft touch of his lips and the heat of his breath on my windchilled skin make the ache between my legs unbearable. I no longer feel the chill of the night air, my body is flushed with heat.
“Christian,” I say in a soft, needy breath.
“What were you and Carmen talking about?”
His lips don’t stop as he replies, and his hands continue to move freely over my dress. “The fusion project.”
“I know that. I meant, about people coming after you…”
“No one is coming after us, Anastasia.”
“But that man, the one the oil companies came after?”
“They found proof he was overstating company profits and defrauding investors. That’s not going to happen to me.”
“Just because you haven’t committed fraud doesn’t mean they won’t find another way to come after you.”
“And I’ll be ready.” His hand slides up my stomach to cup my breast and my head lolls back on his shoulder as I’m flooded with endorphins.
“You’d tell me if there was anything to worry about, wouldn’t you?”
He lets out a harsh sigh and his hands fall away from my body. I turn and watch him back into the wall and place his hands on the railing. The lust in his eyes has been extinguished, replaced now with irritation, and I don’t understand why.
“I just want to know,” I tell him. The elevator jolts as it stops on the bottom floor, and once the doors slide open, Christian pushes off the back wall to exit.
“Well there’s nothing to know.”
He stalks past me, leaving me to follow behind in his angry wake. He hands the ticket for our car to the valet and then leans against a pillar to check emails on his phone. He doesn’t even so much as look at me the entire time we wait, and the car is silent after we’ve pulled through the drive and out into Manhattan traffic.
“I wasn’t going to do anything,” I say, staring at my hands. “If that’s what you’re worried about. I told you I was done with all the scheming and I meant it.”
“You really think that’s the part of this that’s driving me crazy? You don’t think I understand going to extremes to protect our family?”
I shake my head with dismay. “I told you I was sorry about Luke. I shouldn’t have been sneaking around with him behind your back, and I wish I could take that back, but I wasn’t unfaithful to you, Christian. You have to believe me…”
His jaw twitches. “Tell me he’s nothing and all is forgiven.”
“No it won’t, because it would be a lie and you know it.”
“Then pick up your skirt.”
“Pick up your fucking skirt, Anastasia.” His eyes flash to me, a menacing warning, and I hurry to reach down for the hem of my dress. My body slides down in the seat so I can lift the fabric up over my hips, leaving my barely there panties exposed.
He reaches down between my legs and presses on my clit through the lace. It moves the silver balls back and forth, and I clench. Another press, and I gasp. He repeats the motion over and over again until I’m soaking wet and ready to come, but just before I do, he hooks his fingers under my panties, reaches inside of me, and pulls the black string so that the balls slide out of me and into his hand.
The promising heat vanishes the second they’re gone.
“Clean these,” he says, dropping them into my lap. I look around for a napkin or handkerchief, but find nothing.
He looks over at me, and his eyes move down to my lips. I swallow and look down at the glistening silver spheres in my hand. He watches intently as I slide the first one into my mouth, tasting myself on the metal. I suck hard and swirl my tongue over the smooth surface, then do it again with the second one.
“Good girl,” Christian praises me as I hand the balls back to him. He tucks them into the pocket on the inside of his tuxedo jacket, and I turn to look through the windows, hoping to see some landmark that will give me an idea how close we are to the hotel where I’ll finally get the release that was just robbed from me.
“Wait… This isn’t the way back to the hotel.”
Christian shakes his head. “No, it isn’t.”
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see.” I frown and turn to look out the window at the passing buildings and side streets I’ve never seen before. We drive out of the business district, then the residential areas… Traffic soon thins out until it’s almost non-existent. When we finally pull over and Christian takes the keys out of the ignition, the block we’ve ended up on is completely deserted. It’s not the kind of place I would imagine Christian choosing as a destination. There are no restaurants, hotels, or bars. Not even a dive. Most of the businesses on the block seem to be boarded up, except a bail bondsman a few doors down from where we’re parked, and a pawn shop across the street.
“Don’t move,” Christian tells me.
He climbs out of the car and I turn in my seat so I can watch him walk around to my side. When he opens my door, I take his hand and let him pull me out onto the sidewalk, but while his fingers stay entwined with mine, he doesn’t move. I jump slightly at the sound of the car door slamming behind me, and the resulting echo up the deserted street, while Christian steps close to me, his body only just not touching mine.
“Mmm,” he hums with contentment, sliding his hands over the sides of my neck and up into my hair. I can feel his heat wash over me when he leans down and presses his lips to mine with a warm affection that feels familiar and comforting in contrast to everything that’s happened between us over the last twenty-four hours. I move my hands up over his arms to trace the lines of his biceps, which are stark and impressive under my fingertips even through his jacket. There’s an undeniable, yet dormant strength to every line on his body. A tantalizing and sensual juxtaposition to the gentle touch of his hands and lips that bring goose bumps to the surface of my skin. “I love you, Anastasia.”
“I love you too,” I breathe back, entranced by the feel of his lips still brushing ever so lightly against mine. He smiles, then takes my hand again and tugs me towards the double doors directly behind us. There’s lettering on the glass that’s too peeled and faded for me to read, and the small entryway inside is flooded in florescent light that highlights the yellowing linoleum floors. We step through one more door that’s heavier and closes with a loud clunk, then make our way to a desk on the other side of the room. There’s a woman sitting there, seemingly so engrossed in whatever she’s typing that she doesn’t even look up as we approach.
“Good evening,” Christian says.
Her eyes move up, but her fingers don’t stop. “Do you have an appointment?”
“Odysseus.” She nods and looks back down at her computer screen again, and while we wait, I find myself pondering Christian’s response. Odysseus. The Greek king whose epic journey to get back to his love after being torn away by war is quite literally the stuff of legends. And Penelope, the wife who remained faithful to her king despite her many suitors. I’m not sure if the comparison is comforting or worrisome.
What is this place?
“Ah, here you are,” the woman says, and instantly her cold, aloof demeanor vanishes. She smiles when she looks up at us and finally pulls her fingers away from her keyboard. “You’ll just go down this hall, through the door at the end, and down the stairs. They’ll take your key there.”
“Thank you,” Christian says, and again, he takes my hand and tugs me away. There’s nothing in the hall he leads me down that offers any clues to where we’re going, but I assume it’s something big when we go through the door and find a hulking man waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs.
“Key,” he grunts. Christian reaches into his pocket, removes an intricate, golden skeleton key, and passes it to the man, who I can only assume is some kind of security or bouncer. He slides the key into the lock on the door, and turns it with a click. Christian moves me in front of him as he opens the door and I take a bracing breath before step inside.
The first thing that hits me is the music. It’s low, but bass heavy. Not something I would associate with anything on the radio, which makes me think Christian hasn’t brought me to a trendy nightclub. The room is fairly dark, illuminated only by different colored strobes and spotlights that seem to create just as many shadows as they eliminate. It takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust, but when they do, I go numb.
I never saw the inside of Kink back in Seattle, but I’ve thought of it enough that my mind has created a whole picture for me. I’d imagined stone walls with wooden furniture meant to restrain a submissive rather than make her comfortable. I thought the room would be lined with devices for torture and pleasure I wouldn’t be able to name. I believed that it would feel skeezy and predatory. The room before me, is none of that.
It could be an upscale lounge. The main floor is set up like a grid. Each seating area makes up a square about ten feet long by ten feet wide, and the smooth, black leather sofas they contain are recessed into the ground. The white stone walkways between each section reflect the lights moving over them well, adding color and a sense of whimsy to the overall ultra modern design. There’s a bar at the back that is illuminated so that it glows like ice. Nothing here seems vastly different from the club I was in the night before, except the people.
Everyone here is in various states of undress. Full suits, pleather bodysuits, lingerie, and several women who are completely nude. In many of the booths, there are people actively having sex while their neighbors carry on conversations over martini’s as if they’ve simply found themselves here with friends after a long day of work and there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on around them at all. There’s one particularly intense orgy taking place off to our right, but when I look away my eyes fall on another couple performing something I imagine to be very painful in front of two enraptured audience members.
“Don’t stare,” Christian whispers into my ear. “Watching is participation and only those who have been invited are allowed to participate.”
“How do you know about this place?”
“You think you’re the only one with Gresham’s phone number?”
I shake my head, grateful to know he didn’t come here with Elena. “No, I guess not. But, you’re not going to… not in front of all these people. Are you?”
“Voyeurism is not my thing, Anastasia. What is under this dress is mine, and mine alone.”
“So, what are we doing here?”
“There are private rooms in the back.”
“Good evening.” We turn and find a woman in a tight black dress smiling at us. Her makeup is overdone, but in a beautiful way. With her black hair piled on top of her head and her exaggerated black eyeliner, she looks like she’s just walked off a photo shoot for a pinup calendar. “Welcome to Sadique. Your room is ready, if you’ll follow me.”
Christian nods, then leans in as the woman turns to lead us past the bar. “Walk behind me.”
I take a step back and fall in place a pace behind him. There’s so much to look at all around me, but I force myself to stare at Christian, or down at our intertwined hands. A hundred questions bounce around my mind as we’re led down a dim hallway lined with doors in the same way as a hotel, but only one seems to stick.
What is he going to do?
“Alright, before you go in, I just have to get a statement of consent from both of you,” our guide tells us. “Do you acknowledge that anything that takes place in this room is fully consensual and that you haven’t been coerced into coming here tonight against your will?”
“Yes,” Christian says first.
“Yes,” I repeat.
“Good. Then I’ll leave this with you.” She hands Christian a key that’s similar to the one he used to gain entry to the club before. “If you need anything, just press the green button by the door and one of our staff members will assist you. Play safe, you two.”
She smiles as she moves past us, but Christian doesn’t wait for the clacking sounds of her heels to disappear up the hallway before he reaches down to unlock the door.
“Ready?” he asks, hand on the knob. I nod through my mounting nerves and hold my breath when he pushes the door open and steps to the side to let me pass.
This room is everything I imagined Kink to be. The walls are deep red instead of stone, but all the tools are in place. The room smells of fresh leather, so I assume everything here is new, but that also means that everything here is at Christian’s disposal. The belts. The whips. The rack of canes. There are metal instruments with sharp edges and clamps that make me cringe with pain just looking at them. Will he use those?
“Make yourself comfortable,” Christian says, walking past me. “There’s a bathroom there if you need it.”
“Are you going to punish me?” I ask, and he stops. He turns back to face me, but his expression is unreadable.
“Yes,” he says at last.
I start to chew my bottom lip. “Are you going to hurt me?”
“Do you think that’s something I would do?”
“I hope not.” The words seem to tremble as they cross my lips, but they have no effect on softening Christian’s expression. If anything, he turns colder. His eyes darken and his body grows stiff. Nervously, I suck my bottom lip beneath my teeth and look at the ground, wondering if my hasty confession will expedite the punishment he’s brought me here to deliver. When he steps towards me, I even jump slightly, but he doesn’t put his hands on me. He moves past me, fishes out the key again, and locks the door. With a sigh of relief, I turn my eyes back to the ground.
And that’s when I feel his touch.
The long fingers of his hand wrap around my arm and yank me back. I gasp as I fall into the door, expecting pain that never really manifests, then cower under him as he pins me to the wall. He grabs onto my jaw and tilts my head up so that I’m forced to look at him, and I see fire burning behind his eyes.
“This is why we’re here,” he growls. “Because you think there is even a possibility think I would hurt you. Because you must believe there is anything in this world that you could think or feel that I wouldn’t understand or that I would despise you for. Because it seems to me that no matter what I say or what I do, you still don’t trust me. You don’t communicate with me. And that’s not going to fly in here.” I nod, though it’s difficult with his hand still on my face. He must feel that, because in that same instant, his fingers relax, his hand falls to his side, and leans down to press his forehead against mine. “You were unfaithful to me, Anastasia. Not with your body, but with your soul. You gave another man your truth and your fears, and that’s not something I can easily forgive. So, tonight, you’re going to submit to me. You’re going to place your trust in me, and you’re going to make me believe it. I’m not going to ask you not to look at me and I’m not going to ask you to stay silent. I want to hear you. I want you to talk to me, even if you think I’m not going to like what you have to say. And I want that from this moment forward.”
“Now, do you think I’m going to hurt you?”
“Good. I don’t want to give you pain or humiliation, Anastasia. I want what I always want. Control.”
“I can do that.” I take a deep breath in. “Whatever you want, whatever I can give you, it’s yours. Just take it.”
“Tell me your safeword.”
I swallow my last bit of trepidation and fortify myself with the love I’ve made him doubt. With the love I know he feels for me, despite the hurt I’ve caused him. “Red.”
“Good. Now, don’t move.”
He turns away from me and walks to the center of the room. I take him at his word and don’t force myself to look down at the floor. Instead, I keep my eyes trained on him as he brushes the tips of his fingers over a leather covered chair, then the ropes and restraints hanging on the walls. He considers each item he comes across carefully, often testing whichever thing has caught his eye before carefully securing it back to its place on the wall. In a way, I’m given a tour of the room myself, through his exploration of the implements he has available to him.
After testing the integrity of a piece of furniture that looks a little like a wrought iron chain link fence standing up against the wall with just enough padding to make being secured with the leather cuffs in each of the four corners bearable, he decides he’s seen enough and he returns to the leather chair. His eyes stay on mine as he sits down and slowly unravels his bow tie, and once he’s relaxed, he places his hands on either arm rest and settles back until he’s comfortable.
“Lose the dress,” he says. I reach back and start fumbling with the zipper, which makes me feel clumsy. But once I finally get it down enough that I no longer have to struggle to reach it, I remember the scene and try to reveal the rest of my body in a much more seductive manner. He doesn’t look pleased.
“I didn’t ask for a floor show. Show me what’s mine, Anastasia.”
Instantly, my fingers release their hold on the fabric and the dress falls to the floor in a pool of gray. Again, I feel somehow more than naked. The way the lingerie leaves so much of my skin exposed has me hyper aware of my body, and as I feel Christian’s gaze move over me, I feel like I’m the physical embodiment of sex. When his eyes heat with his desire, mine pools down between my legs.
I step forward, shaking away the material that clings to my heels and wait for my next command. He lifts a finger and silently twirls it through the air, a signal for me to turn and give him the full view. I do, and once my back is to him, he gets up and presses his chest into my mostly naked back until I’m pushed flush against the door, then swings his hand up to smack me hard on the behind. I hiss at the sound.
“You’re too beautiful for your own goddamn good,” he whispers into my ear. I moan as his fingers begin to knead my flesh. “Do you know that I still fantasize about you? All the fucking time. It doesn’t matter how recently I’ve had you, or for how long. There comes a time, at least once a day, where I’ll be sitting in my office at GEH and the only thing I can think about is this.” His hands tighten on my ass again, and a small gasp of pleasure escapes my lips as his fingers pull me apart. “The way it looks when it’s pinked from my hand. Or when I have you bent over, spread open, and I can see my cock moving in and out of you.” He hisses as he takes a sharp intake of breath, and moves his fingers up the back of my arms to my shoulders. “You drive me fucking wild, Anastasia.”
“I feel the same for you,” I manage to breathe back. He groans and then pulls my head to the side with a sharp yank of my hair. I whimper with pain, but it’s quickly soothed away by his lips and tongue on the sensitive skin of my neck. I feel him nip me. I feel him suck. His mouth is so insistent that I’m sure he’ll leave me marked, but I can’t find it in myself to care. I’m too lost in the sensation of his erection grinding into my behind through his pants, and the texture of the door rubbing against my oversensitive nipples every time I squirm.
“Oh god, Christian,” I pant. His bites me right at the epicenter between my shoulder and neck, and then drags the tip of his nose all the way up to my ear, where he starts to suckle at my earlobe.
“Are you wet for me, baby?”
“Mhm.” The muffled sound barely makes it through my trembling lips, but he smiles all the same.
“Why don’t we check on that?”
He pushes more of his weight into me so that he can keep me pinned to the door without his hands and kicks the inside of each of my feet to get me to spread my legs. His thighs hold mine open as he reaches down, but when his fingers touch the miniscule scrap of lace that makes up my panties, he clicks his tongue in disapproval.
“This won’t do.” I’m jolted slightly as he hooks his finger beneath my thong and tugs, pulling my ass away from the door. I put my hands up to support myself in the new awkward position, while he grips onto the elastic that holds the lace together and then pushes his thumbs through the delicate fabric. Once it gives, he tears it all the way up the middle. My vagina is still framed by the tattered remains, but there’s nothing left to cover me. I’m exposed, open, and at his mercy.
One long finger drags up and down my lips, spreading my arousal up to my clit and back down again. Over and over, until my legs start to shake.
“Soaked,” he says. “God, I love the way you’re always ready for me.”
“Take me, Sir. Fuck me as hard as you can.”
My plea is met with a harsh slap across my ass, different from before. Harder. I clench with unexpected pain. “Ah!”
“That sounded an awful lot like a demand.”
His hand disappears from between my legs and once again tangles in my hair. However, this time, he doesn’t move my head to the side to give him easier access to my throat. He pushes me down onto my knees with bruising force.
“Open your mouth,” he commands. I take a second to regain my bearings, then do as he says. With one demanding thrust, he pushes his cock past my lips and my throat tightens at the unexpected invasion. I choke, and he starts to massage my scalp.
“Relax, Anastasia. Breathe through your nose.” I do, but my throat relaxing only enables him to push further inside. His hands act like anchors on the back of my head as he fucks my face, pushing me into him with the same force he uses to take me. My eyes start to water and mascara stained tears start leaking down my cheeks. I begin to drool. The sounds I make around him aren’t sexy and breathy, they’re wet and guttural. None of it dissuades him, and my arousal begins to pour out of me until the insides of my thighs are as slick as my inner lips.
“Oh, fuck!” he shouts, his deep timber reverberating with pleasure. “That’s it, Ana. Just like that. Shit! Shit! Shit!”
Just as quickly as he filled my mouth, he disappears. I fall forward onto my hands, sputtering and coughing, sucking in long pulls of air so I can catch my breath.
“Look at that,” he groans. I look up to see him slowly stroking his erection, and it takes me a moment to realize that it’s not for pleasure. The base of his cock is smeared with my lip color, and he’s spreading it up and down his shaft. “So fucking hot.”
His cock jumps in his hand and my mouth starts to water. I’m filled with such anticipation, such need, that I’m trembling on the floor. I want to leap at him, just like I did that day on the yacht. I want to get the lapels of his tuxedo jacket in my fist and push him back onto the bed on the other side of the room. I want to take what I want from him until I’m sated and satisfied. Waiting for him to do it for me is nearly torture.
“On your feet,” he says. I scramble up off my knees as quickly as I can, then take his outstretched hand. He leads me to a kind of bench that is separated into two halves. The padded top of one half is only a few inches off the ground, the other, a foot or so above that. Following Christian’s instructions, I kneel down on the lower half, then bend over the top.
“Fuck,” he breathes, dragging his hand softly down my back until he grips my ass. “The things I want to do to you…”
I want to tell him that he can do as he pleases. That I want him to use me the way he has in his fantasies. That I want to please him. But I don’t, because it would be redundant. He knows he’s in control. He knows I’m at his mercy. And the sting from the castigation I received the last time my pleas were taken as demands is enough to keep me silent.
“Don’t move,” he says, then he disappears out of my peripheral. Moments later, he returns with a bundle of natural fiber rope that scratches against the skin on my wrists as he fastens them to the legs of the bench. Next, he picks up a heavy metal bar with leather cuffs on either end, winds the buckles around each of my ankles, and then elongages the bar with a strong yank, pulling my legs so far apart, I can feel the stretch in my thighs.
“Too far?” he checks when I whimper.
He paces around me for a moment, examining me, circling me like a shark closing in on his prey. I’m so tight with need, my insides start to ache. The energy pouring off of him as he drinks me in stokes the heat growing unbearably hot inside my belly. And when he finally falls to his knees behind me, I nearly cry with relief at his touch.
His hands slide up the backs of my thighs and dig into the flesh on my behind. He spreads me open, putting me fully on display, before he leans down and kisses my clit.
“Easy, baby. We’re just getting started.”
“I need you,” I whine. “So bad.”
“All in good time. Relax.” He kisses me again, gently at first, but the more of my arousal he tastes, the more ravenous he becomes. Like he’s in a frenzy. It’s good that he told me he wouldn’t ask for my silence, because I wouldn’t hear his reminders or warnings over the loud, incoherent cries that rip their way from my chest.
“God, the way you taste, baby,” he says in a voice as rough as sandpaper. “So fucking sweet.”
“Mmm,” I whimper. “Don’t stop.”
“You like the way I eat you? The way my tongue feels inside you? Swirling around your clit?”
“Yes. God, yes.”
“Yeah? How about this?” He licks all the way up until he’s moved past my perineum and his tongue begins dancing around the entrance to my ass. It’s a surprise and my immediate reaction is to get away from him. I try to squirm, but the rough fibers of the rope around my wrists cut into my skin when I struggle, and his hands on my hips are more restraint than the bar between my ankles. He pulls back and spits on me, then uses his tongue to work the added moisture through my tightly bunched muscles. It’s taboo, and erotic, and filthy, and incredible. And when his thumb starts playing with my clitoris while he tongue fucks my ass, the room around me starts to spin until it dissolves completely into a sex crazed fog.
“Christian, wait,” I pant, thrusting my hips hard into the bench to gain some distance from his insistent, wonderful, intrusive tongue.
“Wait?” He sits back, but his tongue is immediately replaced by a finger that sinks deep inside of me. I clench again, and the added tightness makes even that one finger feel impossibly large. “Do you need to say something?”
My safeword. He’s asking for my safeword.
“I don’t want you to stop… I just, your tongue and my–” My entire body grows hot and I assume grows flush with embarrassment, and he responds by pushing his finger deeper inside of me.
“This is mine, just as much as any other part of you, Anastasia. Mine to spank. Mine to taste. And mine to fuck.” He starts to work another finger inside of me, and I let out a high pitched whine. “True or false, Anastasia?”
“Is. This. Mine?” His fingers push and pull in and out of me with each word. I struggle to breathe through the rapidly blooming pleasure. Words fail me. Rational thought seems to all but disappear. I’m lost to sensation, until his fingers vanish and he hits me hard across the ass once more. “Answer me.”
“Yes. It’s yours.”
“You’re mine,” he corrects me, and his fingers are once again replaced by his tongue.
Unable to deny him without denying myself, I surrender to the invasion and find that, once I let go of my unfounded embarrassment and trepidation, I actually enjoy the feeling of his tongue ravishing my most forbidden erogenous zone. More than enjoy… the feeling is mind boggling. Pure, uninhibited hedonism that erases expectations and judgements and lets me bask in euphoric delirium. And when I realize he’s going to make me come, I find myself pushing back onto that perfect and oh so talented tongue.
“That’s right, baby.” He pulls away but continues to play with my pleated bunch of muscles, using my slick arousal to heighten the feeling. I start to build. Each pass of his thumb feels as though it turns up the temperature of my body until I’m burning, ready to explode into an all consuming orgasm. I’m close. So close…
And then his hand disappears.
“No! No, don’t stop!”
“Shh.” He turns away, fumbling with something I can’t see, and my orgasm dissipates. It leaves an ache throbbing between my thighs that I can’t ignore. My second denial of the night and every cell in my body begs for release. I can’t even close my legs and let friction do the work.
“Christian. Sir. Master. Please…”
“This is going to be cold,” he replies. My brow furrows, but that’s quickly wiped away by shock as Christian drips an icy liquid over my ass. Lubricant, I soon discover, as the chill vanishes with the friction of his fingers. “Take a deep breath for me, baby.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to put a plug in you. It will be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll adjust. If you don’t relax, it will hurt.”
I take a deep breath and nod. “Yes, Sir.”
He presses the tip of something hard against my entrance and slowly works it forward. It’s easy to take at first, but soon it starts to stretch. Wider and wider, until the pleasure is overwhelmed with pain.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I beg, and he stops. His free hand begins to toy with my clitoris again and a finger dips inside of me until my muscles relax and the pain disappears.
“Almost, baby,” he whispers, and slowly, he begins to ease the plug the rest of the way in. When he leans down to kiss me, there’s a look of pride on his face. “This is going to be hard, Anastasia. And fast.”
I nod, and he moves behind me. His hands are rough and rude as he pulls me apart to make room for his erection, and he slams inside of me in one fluid thrust. The combination of him and the plug has me feeling overwhelmingly full, and his brutal, relentless rhythm threatens to turn me inside out.
“Oh, fuck!” I scream. His hand wraps around my hair and he pushes my face down into the padding on the bench, pressing down, holding me in place, as he ravishes me.
“Take it, Anastasia. Take all of it.”
He’s like a wild animal in the way he moves. The sounds he makes are raw and savage with his need, and his hands hold me so tightly I wonder if he’s hoping he’ll leave marks. It’s real control. Ownership. And all of that has me completely unravelling. Panting, moaning, screaming his name. For a punishment, he seems to be giving me everything I wanted leaving the party tonight.
“Oh god,” I scream. “Don’t stop, Christian. I’m going to come…”
“Oh, baby. You think I’m going to let you come?” I can’t register his response. I’m too lost in the urgency of my impending orgasm. But for the third time tonight, just as I’m about to fall over the edge of ecstasy, he stops and leaves me wanting.
“It’s amazing how fast you lose it, isn’t it? Five or ten seconds with no stimulation…” He leans down and claims my mouth in a slow, deep kiss that fans the flames of my desire for him, but does nothing to rescue the orgasm slipping through my fingers. By the time his lips pull away, I’ve lost it.
“Why?” I mewl.
“I told you I was going to punish you. You should know by now that I’m a man of my word.”
My protest is cut off as he slams inside of me again and picks up his relentless pace. He pounds into me like he’s trying to fuck the life out of me. And as if his assault wasn’t enough to bring me right back to the edge, he whispers and moans everything he’s feeling into my ear with each and every thrust. How tight I am, swollen from his repeated onslaught and denial. How much he loves looking at me, sweating and needy beneath him. How it drives him crazy hearing me scream his name. How I make him feel. How beautiful I am. How much he loves me. He builds me up over and over again only to deny me. And it goes on forever. I start to lose track of how many orgasms I’ve lost, and each time one falls out of my reach, the pain of its absence becomes more intense.
I came into this room fearing the items on the walls. But any torture they could inflict is nothing to this.
“Please,” I sob, tears rolling down my cheeks. “Please, Christian, let me come. I can’t take it…”
“Do you need to say something to me?” He pulls out of me to give me the chance to safeword, but I’m too distracted by the sight of his erection in his fist to consider it. His cock is bigger than I’ve ever seen it. The tip is so swollen from his own need for release that it’s nearly purple. My mouth waters at the sight of it, my body screams in need. I don’t want to safeword, because I don’t want him to stop. I want him to finish. I want him to finish me.
“Please, Christian. I’m sorry. I’ll tell you a thousand times that I’m sorry, but please! I can’t take it anymore. I can’t.”
“Yes you can.”
“Please… I don’t want to say it. It’s my word, Christian. But if I have to use it when I don’t want to, then it’s not my word anymore, and I need that word. Please, don’t force me to say it.”
For the first time, I see a crack in his otherwise perfectly stoic demeanor.
“Fuck.” His jaw tightens as he battles with the dominant determined to punish me for my indiscretions, and the husband who has only ever wanted to give me the world. His hand comes down on my back, his fingers dig into my skin, and slowly, he pushes inside of me once more.
“Tell me he’s nothing,” he says through clenched teeth.
My eyes screw closed and my fingers tighten around the bench. I’m at a loss. I know what he wants from me, but I can’t give it to him.
“He’ll never be you, Christian. I’ll only ever love you.”
He growls and then lowers his body down over the top of mine. His fingers work on the knots at my wrists and the buckles on my ankles, until I’m completely free of his restraints. Then he flips me over on my back, picks up his rhythm, and kisses me again. I wrap my arms and legs around him, holding him as close to me as is physically possible, and when I’m finally hit with the hurricane force of my orgasm, he pulls the plug out of me and forces me to reevaluate my personal definition of earth shattering pleasure. I scream his name over and over again until he too finds his release.
We come down panting, covered in sweat. My body is sore and weak. I feel drained. But only a minute or so after we’ve had the chance to catch our breaths, Christian gets up and reaches out for my hand.
“There’s a shower. Let me get you cleaned up.”
I nod sleepily, but let me help me to my feet. He half carries me as we make our way into the private bathroom, and sets me on the counter as he turns on the shower. He comes back to me and takes my mouth in a deep, all consuming kiss that lasts long after the room has filled with steam. Even when he lifts me into his arms and carries me into the shower, our lips never part.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper into his mouth.
The hot water burns against my sensitive skin, but I tolerate it because standing beneath the cascade means I’m standing in Christian’s arms. With a sense of care and gentility absent from the rest of this evening, he takes the soap and begins to clean my body. His hands soothe the sting from my raw behind. His fingers massage my shoulders and neck until I’m free of tension. He washes my hair, and holds me tightly against my body while I dip my head under the water to rinse away the suds.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“I’m fine. Are you?”
He swallows, and backs me up into the shower wall. I can feel a plea in his lips as he kisses me again, and the desperate yearning in the way his tongue caresses mine. “When I got on my plane yesterday morning, I really believed you were leaving me,” he says at last.
“That’s not a possibility. You’re never going to lose me, Christian. Not ever.”
“I want to believe that, Anastasia. But this weekend has frightened me in a way that I haven’t been frightened in a very long time. Not since I brought you to this city four years ago. I feel like you’ve forgotten everything we’ve been through together. Everything we’ve promised each other. Every time I’ve vowed to love and cherish you, no matter. How could you possibly think I wouldn’t understand what you were going through?”
“I don’t know. I guess I just spent so much time just trying to forget, that I ended up forgetting all the wrong things.”
He rests his forehead against mine and nuzzles the tip of my nose with his. “I’ll never let you forget again. Perhaps I haven’t been what you’ve needed these past few months. But that will never happen again. I’m here for you. Always. And I love you, more than my own life.”
“I love you too, Christian. So much.”
“Do not betray me again.”
“Never.” He lets out a long breath, then lifts my left hand and places a gentle kiss on my wedding band. My throat constricts and my heart beats heavily in my chest until he reaches down to turn off the water. When he looks at me again, there’s new resolve in his eyes.
“I forgive you.”
“Thank you.” I push off the wall and into his arms, wrapping my own around him as tightly as I can. His lips press into my wet hair and then he lifts me out of the shower. We gather our things and leave the room hand in hand, leaving the hurt and betrayal behind us. By the time he’s buckled me back into the car, I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
I fall asleep with his hand in mine.