Peek of the Week

Read the first 3 Chapters of my newest release, SWEPT



 Add to GoodreadsChapter 1


Atlantic waters lapped at the bow of the forty-foot yacht, splashing lazily against the painted scrolled lettering of her name: Trifecta. Emerging from a blissful afternoon nap, Rory Campbell pulled at the cashmere blanket bunched at her feet, wrestling it over her shoulder and succeeding in tugging it past her leg. The sudden draft washed across her bare skin.

A hand meandered beyond her hip, brushing over goose bumps with fingertips that warmed her in their wake. She felt the hand drop onto her ass. Nothing clumsy about it. Those fingers now hugged the round full flesh meeting Rory’s thigh. Possessive fingers.

Rory arched toward the touch. “Jack.”

He curled his fingers under the elastic trim skimming the swell of her ass cheek and tugged softly. “What are these?”

Rory yawned through a grin with her head still buried in her pillow. “They’re called panties. Maybe you’ve heard of them?”

Jack took a slow breath inward and out again. “They’re contraband on this vessel, and you know it.”

Yes, she did know it. Could it be called a mistake when the rules are intentionally broken? Rory Campbell never thought she would call herself a rule breaker. With Jack Rothman, though, she seemed to always find herself on the right side of wrong. She rolled over, squinting against the rays of sun pouring into the cabin’s open skylight. Her slackened ponytail flopped to the left with the lean of her head. “Will you punish me?”

Jack mirrored the tilted angle of her neck, and his sandy blond hair fell past his brows and into his hooded gray eyes, catching in his lashes. Rory had begged him to grow it long. It fit his new independence from the corporate stranglehold his father’s company once had on him. She sat up, shoulders back, chest forward with her two newly pierced nipples high at attention.

He shook his head just slightly at her sudden posture. “You’re too eager. I think it would be more of a reward than anything else.”

Rory felt the corners of her mouth twitch in the struggle not to smile or pout; she couldn’t decide which. “Is that going to stop you?”

“Hasn’t yet.”

And just like that, his eyes steeled and the long stretch of muscle along his jaw tightened in that way that always caused her to clench.

Jack leaned forward and placed his index finger under her chin, a distinct motion. With just the tip and the barest of exertion, he guided her toward him. Rory followed, almost as if she were floating. She was lost in the power of him as he encouraged her onto all fours with merely the glint in his eyes and the feather-light touch of his finger.

She didn’t need to ask why he was compelled to punish her. It was no more a mystery than why she craved the hard and firm connection of his palm against her ass.

Jack loved with his control, though control had been wielded on him with only contempt by the man who was supposed to be his champion. Even if love was absent, his father had found use for Jack; as the dutiful son, as the pawn in his business dealings, as his ticket to easy street. Jackson Rothman Sr. had manipulated his son without remorse, and though Jack’s scars remained unseen, they weren’t without remedy. Rory understood this. After a year together, she knew his truth just as he had helped her get to know her own.

It was a journey they hadn’t taken alone.

“Spencer should be back from his run any minute.” Jack slipped around behind her, dragging his fingertips over her hip on the way. “I think I’ll make you wait until he gets here. You know how he likes to watch you take your medicine.”

“That’s because it makes him crave his own.”

Jack shook his head. “You and your fiancĂ© are more than a handful. You’d both have me disciplining you day and night.” A slow smile crept into the corner of his mouth. “But you’re not getting your way. Not this afternoon.”

Rory felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise with her enthusiasm. A shiver ran through her and settled into a weighty ball of anticipation in her cunt. Jack could draw out time like one long elastic stretch of saltwater taffy. He could make the air seem thin and her head feel as if it was made of helium. The waiting was so much worse than his punishment could ever be.

In this parallel universe of Jack’s making, worse meant better, punishment was reward, and two men, not just one, gave her the best of everything she needed in a relationship. Suddenly, she couldn’t keep the smile from her lips. “I love you, Jack.”

Jack took hold of her jaw and swung his gaze at her, locking his wintery eyes on her brown ones. “Love you too, naughty girl.”

It hadn’t been quite a year since she’d first heard him say those words to both her and Spencer. Jack and Rory didn’t have the history that she and her fiancĂ© had. Rory and Spencer had years of struggles and triumphs to forge their love in bedrock, solid like the mountains Spencer was so fond of scaling.

“It’s so weird giving a dock slip as your address.” Spencer’s voice came from the bow of the boat. “Pizza will be here in about a half-hour. Ror? Jack?”

“Better leave some cash on the deck for it,” Jack said and grinned at her. Rory grinned back. Her wait was over. “We’re down here. Rory was taking a nap.”

“In the middle of the day? You feeling OK, babe?” Spencer rambled down the steps like a heavy drumroll and finally appeared, his performance shirt clinging to his chest with sweat.

“I’m fine,” Rory said. She raised her eyebrow. “But I’m in trouble.”

Spencer put down the towel he had been using to wipe his forehead. She recognized the sudden shift in his posture, a different kind of attention in his crystal blue eyes. “Oh yeah? What are you in for?”

“Panties.”

Spencer laughed. “You were warned. I heard him myself. No underwear allowed on the boat.”

Jack rolled up the sleeves on his crisp white shirt. His tie had been long discarded. Jack had no need for ties once business was concluded. She knew that the bid presentation he’d had with the corporate board of the largest mall in Boston had ended almost two hours ago. The question of what delayed him from getting back to the boat was only a mild curiosity. At the moment, she had other things on her mind.

Jack leaned down toward her, speaking his words only inches from her face. “You are on vacation, Rory. There is absolutely no reason for you to need to put anything between me and that sweetness between your legs.”

Rory scraped her bottom lip with her teeth and blinked at him. “Yes, Sir. I’m sorry, Sir.” What was it in her that made those words such a compulsion? Specifically, why was she so compelled to say those words to Jack? She was apologizing for something she’d done on purpose, with the hope his wrath would rain down on her. All the while, her shoulders slumped and her pussy wept at the sheer sound of the two words on her tongue.

“Rory.”

“Yes, Sir.”

This was a game she needed to play. Jack knew why. Thanks to him, so did she.

“Sit up straight and look me in the eye, Rory,’” Jack said to her, and another shiver ran down her spine as she eagerly complied.

Spencer tugged at the edges of his shirt and pulled it over his head. “Damn, I need a shower.” He licked his lips and looked at Jack. “Will you wait?”

“Take your time. Rory has a lesson to learn about patience.”

She sat on her knees, legs tucked behind, shoulders now rolled back and her hands folded in her lap. This was the stance she’d learned to take; the proper stance of a submissive.

“The sight of you like that will never get old,” Spencer said.

“Not even when I get old?” Rory replied, shifting her eyes in his direction.

Jack’s coarse growl swung her attention back to him. “You’re going to get five more lashes for that bit of self-doubt, sweetheart.”

“Yes, Sir.” She had expected as much the moment her question was in the air. Rory knew what it was to call someone Sir and mean it. The word weighed heavy, not the respectful cordiality passed from worker to boss, from student to teacher. Sir was akin to Master between Rory and Jack. He had mastered her insecurities and called her out on her insane pursuit of perfection. He was the slayer of that insidious beast inside of her, a relentless, gnawing beast that had nearly eaten her alive from the inside without even bothering to reveal itself. Spencer showed her how to love and be loved, but Jack showed her how to love herself.

Spencer shook his head at her in mock pity. “You never learn.”

She answered on a fluttering breath. “I’m sorry.” The apologies made her feel free. Mostly because, in truth, they were completely unneeded. Spencer loved her, Jack loved her as much. There wasn’t a thing in her life that she should be sorry for. Her apologies were patently ironic. These games helped her to remember that.

“You are not to talk that way about yourself. Ever. Sit there perfectly still and forgive yourself first then wait for your punishment like I want you to.” Jack began unbuttoning his shirt. He eased closer to her, that unmistakable glint in his eye. “If you move a muscle, I’ll know.”

Spencer winked at her. “You know he will.”

Rory nodded, the idea of breaking the rules again bubbling up to the top of her head.

“And you…” Jack pointed to Spencer. “Get naked because I’m joining you in the shower. I need to wash that meeting off of my skin.”

Rory frowned, breaking her submissive posture to speak freely. “It didn’t go well?”

Jack shrugged, looking as if he’d like to drop the subject. “I’ll get the contract… eventually. That mall is one big-ass energy hog, and my company is the only green design firm in the Northeast that can handle such a large-scale conversion to solar.”

“But…” Spencer said, following directions and untying the string in the band of his running shorts.

Jack arched his eyebrow in Spencer’s direction. “But they’re not convinced that solar is the way to go.”

Spencer looked up and spoke in a smooth, even tone, sarcasm laced in the words for the right ears to detect. “What are they, morons? How could they not listen to you?”

Jack smiled at Spencer, and Rory smiled too. They had chemistry, such an acute understanding of the other. It was sexy as hell to watch.

“How could they, in-fucking-deed.” Jack took hold of Spencer by the neck, flexing his fingers around him just under the Adam’s apple. He took one long lick up the side, from his shoulder to his ear. “Now go get in that shower. You’re filthy.”

   -

 Spencer took a nice big sniff of Jack, inhaling the sandalwood and vanilla scent of his cologne. It was something he would never wear himself. Scrubbing up with supermarket-grade soap was more his speed. Teeth brushed, a swipe of deodorant, a comb through his hair, that summed up his grooming routine. Jack, on the other hand, spent more time on his hair than Spencer took for all of it. If a man could be considered pretty and still be considered masculine, then the title would fit Jack Rothman. But Spencer would never dare call him that to his face. Jack wasn’t ever good at taking compliments. Odd, when he spent so much time and money to get them.

His cologne seeped into Spencer’s lungs, a rich and thickening scent that brought only one word to mind: sex. The smell of Jack was the smell of a feast to a starving man, and Spencer was always starving for Jack. He could admit this now. It no longer made him flinch to say it. He needed this man in his life, in his life with Rory. Spencer’s gaze wandered to where she sat perched on top of twisted covers in the center of the king-sized cabin bed. Their gazes locked as Jack pushed his hands into the front of Spencer’s shorts, sliding the elastic waistband south. Rory pursed her lips just slightly, her tongue then swiping at her bottom lip. She knotted her hands together, and he saw a shiver run through her. The look on her face alone could make him come in his shorts.

“Please, Sir,” she said. It was barely a whisper. Oh fuck yeah, Rory was deep into the game. Nearly a year had passed since they’d begun their three-way relationship, and Spencer could still be surprised about just how deep her need for submission ran. He’d never be able to do the things that Jack did to her—correction—the things he did for her. Nothing even close to the scenes they played had ever crossed his mind until Jack came into their life.

But playtime wasn’t the end-all to their relationship with Jack. There were lazy nights in front of the TV and movie dates and candlelight dinners that didn’t end with wax dripped onto pebbled skin. Yet the scene was always there, coursing beneath every movement, every word, ready to be played out. Sometimes with a look or a subtle remark. Sometimes like this, hard and raw. Either way, Jack made the rules.

“What do you think, Spence? Should I have mercy on her and let her join us?”

Spencer would have gotten the answer to that question wrong once upon a time. But now he knew better. Now he knew Rory better. “No.”

Jack grinned in such a sinister way it could have been mistaken for malice if Spencer didn’t also know Jack. “You want me to let her stew in her juices, then?” Jack took hold of Spencer’s cock and stroked him a few times before he laid a hot, lingering kiss on his lips.

“It’s what she wants.”

Jack glanced her way. “It’s the punishment that makes your reward so much more meaningful. Isn’t it, sweetheart?”

Spencer watched as Rory blinked slowly and drew in a deep breath, taking her time as if she savored the feel of those two simple words in her mouth. “Yes, Sir.”

Jack smiled. “Baby, you are in perfect form.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

He winked at her and gripped Spencer by the length of his stiffened shaft, leading him off to the shower like an obedient pet. Spencer didn’t protest. His days of pretending he didn’t love having Jack’s heavy hands on his body were long over.

They were alone inside Trifecta’s luxury head, with its Carrera marble tile walls and its custom-designed oversized glass shower. Spencer reached for the buttons still fastened on Jack’s shirt. Jack stood still, arms held out slightly from his sides and allowed Spencer to undress him. Like a cat offering cheese.

Spencer went silent. Jack would take control. He always did.

“Have you been practicing?”

Spencer cracked a sly smile. On the way back to the marina, Spencer had beaten his previous record, holding his breath for just under three minutes while running at full speed. Pushing himself was part of his DNA. He nodded and opened nice and wide.

Jack knotted Spencer’s hair in his fist and thrust his mostly hard cock into that flagrant invitation. He buried himself in Spencer’s mouth, settling the salty head practically on top of his tonsils. Jack’s breath hitched slightly, just barely detectable to Spencer’s hungry ears. Spencer knew too well that he’d have to work a lot harder for Jack to break form with even as much as a sigh when he was in full Dom mode. From the way Jack almost tore a patch of hair out from the back of his head, Spencer guessed today wouldn’t be a cake walk either. But then again, Spencer never liked to take the easy way through a challenge. It was the reason he free-climbed up the sides of mountains for fun and why Jack was so irresistible.

Spencer fought the urge to choke as Jack’s cock lodged against his soft palate, preventing all air from reaching his trachea. He relaxed into it, the danger, the sheer helplessness. In some ways it was not very different from drowning, but with Jack, terror wasn’t flooding his veins. It was adrenaline, a drug Spencer had been prescribing himself since he could remember. Now he had a dealer.

Jack pushed him just far enough. Just enough to feel the threat of suffocation lick the surface of his consciousness. Spencer didn’t struggle, didn’t pull away. Those were the rules. Jack withdrew, and Spencer took a deep breath that would have been desperate had he been worried. But Spencer wasn’t worried at all. He was proud.

Jack loosened his grip in Spencer’s hair and dragged his fingertips across his cheek. “Nice.”

“Yeah, I’ve been practicing.”

“Come here,” Jack said, guiding him to his feet. When Spencer stood, Jack planted his hands flat on his chest and pressed him against the cool tile wall. The breath Spencer was finally allowed to take might not have been desperate, but their kiss was full of everything that once clawed to break free inside of him. Rory was his rock. Jack gave him wings.

Jack’s tongue took long, hot sweeps into Spencer’s mouth as he reached past him to turn on the shower. Washing each other was a given. Spencer would leave the bathroom smelling like sandalwood after all. What else Jack had in mind, Spencer could only hope.



Chapter 2




Rory sat with her hands folded and waited, just as she’d been told. Every grunt and groan from Spencer ricocheted in her ears. She closed her eyes and let the deep, rich tone of Spencer’s pleasure vibrate inside of her. Her need grew larger with every minute, swelling up from her depths and feeling as if it might make her explode. And the waiting was heaven because she had learned discipline and control. Rory’s bouts of anxiety were almost entirely in the past. No hives, no worrying. All her life she’d been struggling to cope. Jack had given her the power to conquer that demon. Now the more she waited, the more she was deprived, the more she was punished, the stronger she became.

Then the wait was over.

Jack strode back into the sleeping quarters still wet from the shower and still hard. “You kept your position. Good girl,” he said, charging toward her.

Jack took her with stark determination, pulling her forward across his lap as he sat down. She held her arms over her head, and he grabbed hold of both her wrists in one strong hand, stretching her as long as possible. His other hand cut through the air and sent a swift breeze past her thighs as it landed the first stinging blow to her ass. Jack’s grip around her wrists tightened as the second lightning-fast slap connected with her. Rory inhaled sharply and let out a whimper on the third blow.

Her toes curled, and her fingers contracted into fists. Spencer stood in the doorway, his bath towel draped around his neck. Jack struck her ass again, and Spencer pressed his lips together, his fingers finding their way around his semi-hard shaft.

Ten full-throttle spankings and Jack seemed satisfied. Her skin stung worse than the worst sunburn she’d ever had. But that throbbing pain was always followed by pleasure, and it was the pleasure that made it all worth it.

He flipped her onto the bed and gripped her thighs hard enough to press his fingertips into her flesh. He was inside of her quickly, like a knife cutting through butter, buried to the hilt. For a moment he stilled and then withdrew. Kisses rained down on her neck and chest, and his words were soft and sweet now that her reward had come. The strokes filling her ebbed and flowed like the harbor waters around them.

“You looked so amazing sitting there. You know it took every last bit of my willpower to make you wait.” He supported her chin between his thumb and index finger and stilled himself again, staring into her eyes. There was a lot present in that stare. Rory felt the sum total of those emotions sweep over her and cherished the adoring kiss he delivered to her lips. “Say it, Rory. Say that you know it.”

“I know it.”

“I love you. Do you know that too?”

“Yes.”

He rolled his hips, sending his shaft to her depths. “Would you like some proof to back that up?”

She lifted one eyebrow with a sly smile. “Every psychological theory needs to have supporting data.”

“You would know, Dr. Campbell-Hartley.”

“I’ve only just barely started on my doctorate, and Spencer and I won’t be married until summer.”

“Your future has been told,” he said, dipping his head and kissing her neck.

Rory placed her hand on his shoulder. “Not exactly.” She pressed her lips to his ear. “Spencer and I talked it over, and I’ve decided to take the name Hartley-Rothman.”

Jack flashed her a look of genuine surprise. For a fleeting second, Rory caught a glimmer of something a lot like fear in his expression. She wasn’t sure.

“Spence?” Jack said without turning toward him. He didn’t take his eyes off of her, and she watched whatever that was in his eyes give way to something more like hope. “Is this true?”

Spencer crossed the room and slipped onto the bed next to them.

“Yeah. She’s going to petition for a legal name change. Are you cool with it?”

The smile started in the corner of Jack’s mouth and soon took hold of his entire face. “What do you think?”

“Even though she’ll be married to me, we wanted to make sure that you had an official place by our side. Nothing else seemed right.”

Rory laced her fingers into Jack’s. “I like the sound of it: Dr. Rory Hartley-Rothman. It has a beautiful ring to it.”

“And your parents, Ror? What do they say about this idea to take my name?”

Rory tried to look Jack in the eye, but she faltered and found herself dropping his hand and stretching through a yawn. “I haven’t told them.”

Both Spencer and Jack gave her a knowing look.

“Not because I’m afraid to…I just didn’t think it was important right now.”

“It’s plenty important to me that you don’t alienate your parents.” Jack stroked her cheek with his thumb. “If my mom were still alive, I’d be chewing her ear off about how much I love you two. But as it is, both Spencer and I are short on parents we can rely on. Your folks care about you, and I know it’s important to you what they think.”

Rory nodded softly and studied Jack’s expression, wondering if he was testing her. “They’ll be over for Easter and can see for themselves how happy we are. They already tolerate our relationship with you, Jack. I don’t see why this would be an issue.”

“That’s because you’re great at seeing the good in people, sweetheart,” Jack said.

Spencer kissed her forehead. “And it’s one reason why we love you.”

Jack cupped her cheek. “The other reason is that sound you make when you are about to come.”

“Haven’t heard that sound in a whole twenty-four hours,” Spencer said. “Too long.”

“Way too long,” Jack agreed. He gave her the hungriest look she’d seen yet. It was enough to make her shiver. “But this time I’m going to have to take it from you.”

Rory’s mouth opened. She wasn’t sure she knew what he meant by that. “Take it?”

Jack’s gray eyes smoldered, and he slipped his hand around her neck. “Turn over.”

There it was: that instinctual fear, that thrill, that soul-melting burn inside. She obeyed him without hesitation, without an inch of doubt, even when he spoke in that voice. Correction; especially when he spoke in that voice.

Rory laid flat on her belly and listened as Jack directed Spencer to reach into the cabinet below the bed. He pulled out the black leather box sized for tools, longer than his arm. In regal red script, her name was embroidered across the top. Spencer slipped the latch and raised the top. “Pick your poison, Jack.”

“Spreader bar and the longer rope for the binding you will tie.”

“I get to do the honors, huh? Sweet.”

Only a rock climber could rival a sailor in his talent for tying knots. Rope play had come easy to Spencer. He’d told her once, as they shared a bath following a scene with Jack, that tying her up felt like securing her, like keeping her still in a chaotic world. He’d laughed afterward, dismissing his confession as crazy. He’d told her to forget it and started to change the subject, but Rory had reached behind her and cinched her wrists around his neck, draping herself back against his chest.

“We’ll just have to be crazy together because I love that you feel that way, Spence.”

He’d laughed again, and that time she’d felt the vibrations of a full-throated chuckle. “Crazy together then it is,” she remembered him saying, and the words had resonated with her. Their normal, their crazy…it was all the same.

Rory registered the look of steady calm on Spencer’s face as he removed the shiny chrome bar with gray velvet-lined leather cuffs attached at each end. He reached over her to secure her ankles inside the custom-made leather sheaths. A simple buckle ensured there would be no escape.

“Take the reverse prayer position,” Jack instructed.

With her head laid against the soft sheets, she arranged her arms behind her back and pressed her palms neatly together. In her training over the past year, Rory had taken up yoga classes to practice both flexibility and discipline. It was something she’d pursued on her own in her quest to become a more worthy submissive. Rory was a perfectionist. Even she could admit that now. Yoga was a healthy outlet, one of many Jack had helped her uncover.

Spencer got to work on wrapping the black nylon rope around one of her wrists in four precise rows and then continued on the second wrist. Then he took each end and laced the rope around her forearms, immobilizing her in that position. In the mirrored closet door next to their bed, Rory watched him work. The rope was corded around itself for further reinforcement, and then Spencer crafted an intricate butterfly knot to finish it all off. She thought they were finished, but Jack took two shorter ropes from her box. He held her hips and raised them into the air, placing her ass high and open to him. The ropes were looped around each thigh in slide knots that were then connected to her wrists. She couldn’t move her body an inch in any direction. It was even difficult to move her head, and the cool sheet warmed beneath her cheek. She was at their mercy. Rory acknowledged the stretch of her muscles and let her senses drink in every second as they ticked by.

“Do you need a gag?”

“I don’t know.” Truly, she didn’t. There was something in the air that felt different. What had Jack meant when he’d said he would be taking her orgasm from her? It sounded as though she’d be forced to break the rules, to yell out without permission. Would she need a gag? Rory swallowed hard. She hoped so.

“I’ve got you covered, baby,” Spencer said, grinning at her as he took hold of his swollen cock.

“Open,” Jack said, and Rory was reminded how much better it was to be commanded by Jack than asked. Of course he knew this.

Spencer took position at the side of the bed and slowly slid his shaft between her lips. He rested there, and she ran her tongue up and down his shaft, causing him to moan. She wasn’t entirely powerless.

“Don’t make him come before he’s allowed, Rory,” Jack said. “You’ll be the one to suffer the consequences.”

She understood.       

Her pussy throbbed in anticipation, and she wasn’t even sure what he had planned. The distinct hum of a vibrator suddenly filled her ear. “Just so you know, sweetheart, this isn’t that cute little toy you like to play with. I picked up something more suitable before we left New York.”

The first tap of the gyrating shaft against her ass and she jumped. Jack grabbed her ass cheek possessively and pushed the vibrating dildo into her pussy without any further introduction. His thrusts were fast and hard, almost brutal. Almost. Rory felt her body clench and brace against the onslaught.

Then he slowed to nearly a stop. Ball bearings whirled inside her causing her to want to squirm. She knew better. The reprieve was short-lived. He fucked her hard again with his newly acquired tool. She wanted to scream out, but Spencer’s cock muted any chance of it escaping her mouth. It took every ounce of discipline to keep from hurting him. Her jaw remained lax, her lips softly encasing him.

Jack held still again. Rory took a deep breath through her nose. Above her, she heard the two of them kissing. The sound made her want to moan.

Then the dildo was gone. Cold wetness fell on her exposed asshole, and the dildo returned in her tightest hole. He’d raised the vibration level, the sensation taking over her body entirely. Rory had been initiated into the practice of anal sex by Jack and Spencer. They’d been her patient instructors, helping her to understand her body until it was open and receptive.

Jack twisted the vibe, and the pleasure taking over her was immediate. There wasn’t much chance to savor it alone. Jack filled her cunt with his full length just a few heartbeats later.

“Fuck her mouth,” Jack said to Spencer. “You should have your orgasm now.”

Spencer trailed his fingers over her cheek and palmed the back of her head. “Thank you, Sir,” he said.

“You’re welcome, Spencer.” Jack leaned down to her ear. “Now, I’m going to fuck you senseless, Rory. So senseless that all you’re going to want to do is slip into an orgasm and let it take over.” He threw his hips into her, punctuating his syllables. “But you…will…make…me…proud and focus all your energy on Spencer. When you come, it won’t be because you achieved orgasm. You aren’t achieving anything today, sweetheart. You will come because I forced it from your body. I’m not giving you a chance to orgasm. I’m taking it from you. Understand now?”

She did understand, and his words were as arousing as the sensations penetrating her physically. He stripped her bare to her soul. In a scene with Jack, she had nothing, was responsible for nothing. It was freedom. The sweetest kind.

There was a trippy war raging inside her. She willed herself not to succumb to the pleasure Jack wielded and concentrated on pleasing Spencer. In her position, cheek pressed to the mattress, face poised at the edge of the bed, she focused on sucking Spencer each time he slid between her lips. In her mind she thought of nothing but keeping her mouth open for him. She was a captive slave, a prized hostage. Spencer grabbed her hair and pumped her mouth at a frenzied pace. As he poured his seed down her throat, she was nothing and everything all at once.

There was a place Rory went when her senses overloaded and the endorphins took her over the edge. She felt like she was drifting on a cloud, blowing in the wind. It was peaceful. She was outside of herself, staring at her image in the mirror as if it was a window to another bedroom. Two men she loved had reduced her to mere flesh for their pleasure alone. Her body began to shudder, and a grit-filled moan formed in her throat.

“Here it comes, sweetheart,” Jack growled. “I want it. It’s mine.”

She burst into pieces. That moan turned into a sob as the orgasm slammed through her. She was exhausted by the time the last tingle fled her toes. Aftershocks raged in her core, and she was left a limp pile of flesh.

Delicate fingers unclasped the buckles at her ankles. Jack also began untying her arms. They would be sore for days. A scene like this was something that took time to recover from. The high she’d received would take hours to dissipate as well. She could feel her parched lips pulling into a wide grin. Spencer sat down on the bed and rained kisses on her aching shoulders and back.

“You were amazing, Rory,” Jack said, returning to her with a bottle of water and some zinc lotion for her tender skin. “Fucking amazing. That was beyond hot.”

“You are the strongest woman in the world, baby,” Spencer said as he gathered her into his arms once she was free of all restraints.

Jack packed up the tools of his trade into her box and placed it away again. He joined them on the bed and planted a soulful kiss on her lips before beginning the delicate ritual of aftercare he was always sure to deliver. He nudged her to lay on her stomach and began to soothe the angry burn from the ropes and the crimson imprint of his assaulting hand. She felt peace and a sense of freedom she was certain she could never describe in words.

Lying there, boneless and floating on the sensation, Rory found her voice, though it was hoarse and weak with the fog of her orgasm still clouding her head. “I love you both, so much.”

Spencer stroked her cheek. “Not as much as we love you, baby.”



Chapter 3




She was taking his name. Jack let the gravity of Rory’s announcement settle over him as he piloted Trifecta to their next destination. The news made his efforts to secure potential key accounts for his green engineering firm even more crucial. She was planning to call herself Rory Hartley-Rothman, and Spencer had given her his blessing. More than ever, Jack wanted to keep his promise to take care of both of them. The weight of that promise already had him walking a few laps around the block right after the mall deal crashed to an untimely death. He gazed out on the darkened bay as the yacht rocked gently. The sailor in him found it soothingly familiar, but not as much as usual.

It wasn’t that they needed his money. Rory was a modest woman, and Spencer would sooner swallow tacks than take a handout. The promise had been to himself. As long as they were his, he would make sure they needed for nothing. The house he’d designed to sit on a three-acre plot just two miles from the base of Spencer’s favorite ridge was a big part of his plans. Designing the lavish four-bedroom structure had been easy. Paying for it while his newly reformed company was still getting off the ground was proving more difficult.

A particularly sadistic March chill swept through the wheelhouse as Spencer entered with two bottles from the deck cooler. Spencer took a sip of his beer and handed another cold bottle to Jack.

“Just one more meeting in Boston before we head back to New York,” Jack said to him. It was half statement, half apology. “I don’t guess that this was the kind of vacation you were imagining when you put in for the time off from work. You’d probably be having more fun rigging explosives on dry, solid land.”

Spencer took another swig. “Don’t you worry, Cap’n. I think I’ve finally got me sea legs.” He smiled in that way that said don’t be ridiculous, even while he did a great job at poking fun at himself.

Spencer was good at saying a lot in only a few words. Jack loved that about him, his quiet strength. Jack would have once described him as stoic, guarded even. Spencer had been a man with a fear of drowning and a bigger fear of the truth living within. But over the past year, Spencer had grown more and more comfortable with the water and also with his bisexuality. Jack was keen on taking credit for both.

“Want to take her into the harbor?”

“You’d let me handle your baby?”

“What’s mine is yours. You know that.”

“And what’s mine is yours, too,” Spencer said and met Jack’s eyes for an extra heartbeat before he shook his head. “But no, I’d rather watch you do it.”

“Is Rory still up?”

“She’s neck deep in some psychological report on sexual role play. Just a little light reading before bed.”

“Is she, now?” Jack smiled out over the shimmering waters, tinged white with the light of the full moon.

“Want to talk about what happened today?”

“What, at my bid meeting?”

“No, at the hotdog stand when they asked Mr. Suit and Tie to show some proof that you weren’t with the health department.” Spencer rolled his big blue eyes. “Dude, of course at the meeting.”

Jack let out a chuckle despite the jibe. Spencer also had a way of getting Jack to laugh at himself. But his meeting hadn’t been funny in the least. “It was weird. On the phone the board president seemed very excited by the prospect of going the solar power route for the whole mall, but when I got there, they rushed me through my presentation and practically shoved me out of the door.”

“Huh.”

“I mean it’s not like I don’t give a good presentation.”

“Mmm, you’re very presentable.”

“Damn straight.” Jack smiled at Spencer. How lucky was he to have a guy who could put him in a playful mood no matter the circumstances? It was Spencer’s way, easy and unassuming but solid like a pillar next to him, ready to be leaned on with nothing owed in return. Jack had recognized that strength in Spencer from the first moment they’d met, long before they’d been trapped together in a watery grave below the streets of Manhattan. In that tunnel accident, Jack had become only more aware of how much he wanted to know Spencer Hartley inside and out. One of the worst days of his life had turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.

“Fuck them. Boston General is a much more important account anyway. If I land that, I’ll have a leg up on all the hospital contracts in the area.”

“You’ll nail it. I know you will.”

He’d better. Jack hadn’t thought twice about buying the twenty-foot yacht he piloted south through the dark. Trifecta had been a celebration gift for landing the first large-scale contract with a new Korean-owned golf club in wealthy Bergen County, New Jersey. Jack had hired a translator and flown to Seoul himself to seal the deal. Securing that job had been such a long shot that, when the ink was dry, he had felt invincible. Finally, the company his grandfather had built from a small New York drafting service into a nationally recognized engineering firm was earning back the reputation he’d died building. Now three months and five rejections later, Rothman Development’s domination of the East Coast green development sector didn’t seem like such a sure thing.



***

 

Jack bolted upright up in bed, and his first instinct was to make sure Rory and Spencer were lying next to him. He hadn’t awakened either of them. They stirred and nuzzled closer together. Jack swiped the back of his hand across his brow. Soaked. So was his entire torso. He checked the clock. 6:22 AM. It was almost ten minutes before his alarm was due to sound. He reached over and disabled it. At least he’d spared Rory and Spencer from awakening before they needed to. Fucked-up nightmares were good for that at least.

He’d been having the same bizarre dream for weeks since the weight of his financial troubles started to sink in. He swung his feet to the floor and stood up, stretching the last of his slumber away. A chill ran over his skin that had little to do with the cool early morning temperature in the cabin.

The dream was dark, both in spirit and in the absence of any illumination. Though Jack could see nothing in the dream, he had a certain awareness of where he was: in the private home of New York City mayor, Thaddeus Daniels, with his cock in the mayor’s mouth. For someone else, the dream might have been an amusing curiosity, the kind of thing one jokes about in the light of day. You know you’ve lost it when you start dreaming about the mayor sucking you off.

But it wasn’t an amusing curiosity at all. Mayor Daniels had blown him more times than he’d ever be able to forget. Eventually he’d walked away, but this was a dream brimming with revisionist history. The dream haunted him. In it, his feet were shackled to the floor, immobilizing him, making him helpless to leave Daniels on his knees the way he had in reality. Then there were mysterious hands at his wrists, pulling him in both directions and a familial voice in the room. “We do what we have to do to get ahead, son.”

Jack scrubbed his skin harder than usual in the shower while he fought to keep his stomach from tumbling over on itself. He needed to rid his mind of that shit and fast. He had an important deal to close, the one that would save his company and help provide for his future with Spencer and Rory. Thaddeus Daniels was in his past. So was his father’s control over him. Fuck them both. Jack’s focus belonged on the future.

Fog wafted over the harbor like a million restless spirits. The temperature was predicted to take a nosedive as the seasonal thaw of spring warred with an Arctic blast from Canada. Rory and Spencer were still snuggled up in bed. Jack took another look toward Trifecta from the dock before heading down Atlantic Avenue. He’d decided to walk to Boston General, no matter the raw morning. The extra time would be useful to help get his mind in the game. He needed to close this deal, no matter what it took.

The sidewalks were crowded with others just like him, in business suits with ten-dollar towers of coffee in their hands. Jack walked a steady pace, rubbing the stone in his pocket, which Rory had found on their last walk on the beach in Rhode Island. This was their future on the line. If he failed to lock in a major account, bankruptcy would be the logical next step. Bankruptcy equaled failure, and failure was not an option.

He arrived early, by almost twenty minutes. Too early to announce himself. It wouldn’t be wise to appear overly eager or, worse, desperate. Jack took a seat in the lobby and browsed the headlines on his cell phone. Mafia crime boss sentenced to life. Jack hadn’t really been following the Galotta trial, but he read the article anyway.

“Your name is Rothman?” The words rolled from one syllable to the next on a thick monotone accent.

Jack looked up to find two large men staring down at him. From the looks of them, they didn’t work for the hospital. The leather peacoat on one of them belonged on some kind of henchman and not a medical professional.

“Who’s asking?” Jack said with mild interest and placed his phone in his breast pocket.

“Now we know it is you,” the other man said. The accents were Russian; he was sure of it. They were the kind of accents that hadn’t been watered down for the sake of assimilation. “You come with us.”

“I have a meeting in a few minutes,” Jack said passively. “What’s this about?”

“Change of schedule. No meeting with the hospital today.”

Jack reached for his phone again. Maybe he’d missed a message or email. There had to be some mistake.

The larger of the two men pulled his coat aside and exposed a handgun tucked into a shoulder holster. “I asked nicely, Mr. Rothman.”

Jack glanced around. No one else seemed to be aware of the fact that these men were armed and were threatening him.

“What the fuck is this? Some kind of shakedown? Do you want money? You’d have better luck squeezing blood from a fucking stone.”

One of their phones rang. The smaller one answered, his expression flat and cold as he spoke in Russian. Then he handed the phone to Jack.

“Mr. Rothman, please forgive this crude invitation. I’m sure Maxim hasn’t exactly been polite.”

“Who is this?”

“My name is Viktor Balashov, and I have a proposition you will want to hear.”

“I have a meeting—”

“It’s been canceled. You don’t want to waste your time on another bid proposal that isn’t going anywhere, do you, Mr. Rothman?”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“I can be your new best friend, or your worst enemy. Let us speak in person and find out which way this is going to go. My car is parked outside.”

“And if I don’t want to have this meeting with you?”

“I cannot force you to see reason, but you should at least give yourself a chance. I’m finished talking on the phone. Do what you need to do.”

Then there was nothing.

Jack handed the phone back and stood up. He thought about walking out of there and calling the police, let them figure out what these guys were after. They’d probably be interested in what concealed weapons were doing in a metropolitan hospital. With these shady characters, there was nothing to say that this meeting wouldn’t end with one of those guns in Jack’s face. But alerting the authorities wasn’t going to get him any answers about why this asshole in the car outside was certain his bid meeting was going to result in another failure. Jack needed to know, and it was just about worth risking everything to find out.

“I’m not getting into anyone’s car,” Jack said, his mind racing. “The benches at the edge of the park across the street will do fine. Tell him that’s all he’s going to get.”

The taller one smirked and pressed his phone to his ear. Jack figured speaking to this mysterious character out in the open was a safer bet. At least he hoped so.

“OK, outside. Let’s go,” the taller one said and turned toward the front door, waiting for Jack to walk first.

 As they exited the hospital, Jack spotted the dark-haired, middle-aged man on the park bench with one more henchman standing to his side. He didn’t get up as Jack approached, nor did he remove his sunglasses. In fact, he didn’t even look in Jack’s direction. The man named Viktor Balashov stared off into the traffic passing back and forth in front of him. Even when Jack sat down next to him, there was no acknowledgement of his presence.

Jack began. “So, you have my attention. What is this all about?”

“I do not make it a habit of letting anyone else set the terms of a meeting. You can be certain that this is the last time I make the exception for you, Mr. Rothman.”

Jack frowned. This one had balls of iron. “Are you going to clue me in or jerk my chain all day?”

“Show me disrespect another time and you’ll have a chain around your neck attached to the anchor of that beautiful yacht of yours in the harbor.”

Jack grew angrier and then horrified in the same instant. He started to speak, but thought better of it. If Balashov new about Trifecta, he may well know about the two passengers inside.

“Now that you are ready to have a civilized discussion, I’ll clue you in as you put it.” He removed his sunglasses and placed them into his breast pocket. “My business interests now include your company.”

He paused. The moment was long enough to for Jack to begin to digest his words but not long enough to respond.

“In Europe we have relationships with several hand-selected companies in the construction and design sectors. Now our American assets could use some diversification, and your firm is like a ripe fruit, ready to be picked.” He narrowed his eyes as he seemed to size Jack up with a head-to-toe inspection.

“What do you mean that you have an interest in my company? It’s an employee- owned corporation. You can’t just make me an offer to buy it. Doesn’t work that way.”

A disarmingly gentle smile appeared on Balashov’s thin lips. “Please excuse me. I apologize for not being clear.” The smile evaporated. “From now on, we will be your contractor of choice on all projects. Our labor is the only labor you will use, and in addition, our take on every job will be twenty percent.”

Jack frowned and then laughed. “You’re kidding, right? This is some kind of sick joke.” Despite the attempt to dismiss Balashov’s statement, he felt his blood begin to boil.

“I assure you that it isn’t.” Balashov stood up and affixed the buttons of his charcoal blazer. “Consider the advantages of cooperating, Jack. The reasons are many.” He pulled a black box from his breast pocket and took out a long, skinny cigarette. A flame appeared for him automatically from one of his lackey’s lighters. “But perhaps you only need two.” The smile was back. “I thank you for your time.” He began to walk off. “Sergei will fill you in.”

The largest of the henchmen followed Balashov, hurrying in front to open the door to his black Mercedes. Another shoved piece of paper against Jack’s chest. “Your meeting has been rescheduled for tomorrow. Nine thirty. Don’t be late.”

Incredulous, Jack took the paper and looked at it. Professional letterhead of Boston General addressed to Viktor Balashov. It read in part:

Your bid proposal has been accepted, and Empire Construction has been designated an official vendor contractor on all forthcoming capital improvement projects within a ten-year period. Upon expiration, a renewal agreement will be considered. Contracts are forthcoming.

Jack could only imagine what threats had been levied to secure a commitment like that. He ran over to the car and banged on the tinted black window. It cracked only slightly.

“If you have already have this, then what do you need me for?”

“It’s simple. You design, we build, and everyone makes lots of clean money.”

 Money laundering, of course. The Russian mob was more known for laying Johns than laying bricks. Not to mention the drugs and black market shit they peddled.

Every move he’d made to secure another contract, Balashov had been one step ahead of him. Somehow, he’d gotten a hold of his date book. Crafty motherfucker. “Who else is working for you?”

“I have lots of friends, Jack. We’ll be good friends, too. You’ll see.” Then the car pulled away.