Raven is ready to hang it up as a Domme and have an ordinary life. Trouble is, she wants and needs—all right, she craves—both a Dom and a sub in her life.
The sub she already has; it’s the Dom that will be harder to achieve. Especially when the Dom she wants resents the fact that she’s the trustee of his estate
and business…and that she did a brief stint years ago as his father’s Domme.
Ben never met a woman he wanted more than Rachel. He’s made sure over the years that his Sledge is more than a match to her Raven. Then the truth comes out,
dowsing those fires that ran deep when they first met. Fires that refuse to be denied. Obstacles are tricky little bastards.
It’s a golden opportunity for Will to get the two people he cares most about in the world together...with him. Using a few skills of his own, this contented
sub knows how to weave the threads that will bind them all as one. That’s when Rachel and Ben learn who's really in control. But will there be room for him once
the flames ignite?
How was she supposed to sleep now? Not that Rachel expected
she would in the first place.
She waited until Will was out, then eased from the bed,
slipped on her satiny underthings, and wandered to
the living room. She’d told him she’d stay the night. This news changed things.
Plus, she’d had time to process everything else.
A businessman wouldn’t issue a demand for her to appear, not
when he had everything he wanted in his grasp. A Dom…that was a different
story. Ben wanted her, front and center. And Will was pushing her toward him.
As for Oliver…
The three of them were in cahoots. Rachel had some strong
words for Oliver the next time they were face-to-face. For now, she had to
decide how to deal with this. Going home was always an option. Traffic this
time of night would be light. She could be in her own bed in less than two
hours, still not sleeping, and still wondering if Sledge/Ben was everything she’d
ever heard about and wanted.
Rachel plopped into the oversized chair and hugged her knees
to her chest. He’d be perfect for you.
Not words she’d wanted to hear. She wanted to remember how Ben had glared at
her over the table at the reading of the will, not how her heart raced when she’d
first laid eyes on him. Or how she’d tingled at the mere mention of Sledge.
Distance and walls had worked well. She was free and clear of all obligations.
Damn you, Oliver.
He’d known all along her interest in Sledge, her want of Ben.
Rachel could damn Oliver all she wanted, but she was the one
who’d allowed him to play her. To feed her need to face Ben Welsh one last
time…just to make sure he wasn’t as yummy as she remembered.
He’d be perfect for
Damn Will too.
Rachel clicked her nails against each other while she
pondered her next move. Home or…what? This was ridiculous. She was a Domme, for crying out loud, yet she sat here paralyzed with
What was it that Will had said? That she’d always had the advantage. What the hell
did that mean? She was half tempted
to wake Will up and demand more information.
Rachel forced herself to shove that annoyance aside for the
moment. There were more pressing issues to deal with. Ben decreed she’d stay at
his house. She hated the place, always had. But…so be it. He’d learn quick
enough to be careful what he wished for.
She crept back into Will’s room for her clothes and
suitcase. She dressed as quietly as possible, one eye always on Will. He woke
before she could wrap her fingers around the suitcase handle. The man had
always been a light sleeper.
“Do you want me to go with you?” he mumbled from the depths
of his pillows.
“I can handle this.”
“Play nice.” He rolled to his back and onto his elbows. “I
don’t want to get caught in the middle of something.”
Rachel arched her brow with her smirk. “Really? I thought
that’s exactly where you wanted to be.” She covered her hand over a feigned
gasp. “Oops, sorry. You want me in
the middle of you two.”
The sheet tented at his lap. Her work here was done.
“Sleep tight, love.”
Will had the good sense not to try to stop her or follow. If
she had any sense, she’d head for
home and not pick up the gauntlet thrown in her path. After all, she had
nothing to prove. She was Raven. It was Ben’s demand that got under her skin,
coupled with Oliver’s subtle manipulation and Will’s “by the way” suggestion
after their playtime. She was Raven. They were all about to learn a lesson
they’d never forget.
For all her bravado, though, Rachel’s hands were sweaty by
the time she pulled into the long driveway leading to the sprawling mission-style
home that had been in the Welsh family since Ben’s grandfather’s time. It was a
hideous attempt to reproduce Spanish aristocracy. She found the inside of the
manse dark and depressing, a horror movie waiting to happen. Staying here put
her at a disadvantage. She wondered if Ben knew that.
Outside, though, was a different matter. A lure to the
world. A here-I-am vista his grandfather had built to flaunt his success.
Despite the lush greenery and greenhouses that surrounded the house, the bright
white building with red tile roof stood out day and night. That, and the
vineyards that rolled across the hills behind it. Sunlight brightened the
sprawling two-story home during the day; security lights at night gave it a
lush allure. The house sat tucked away from the bustling city at its feet. A
reminder of her brief time as Roger’s Domme. A
reminder of a man she couldn’t get out of her mind, no matter how hard she’d
tried. A man waiting just ahead.
Her headlights swept the front windows as she pulled to a
stop on the cobblestoned drive. One side of the double oak doors swung open
before she could cut the engine. The security system would have alerted Ben to
her arrival the minute she pulled into the driveway and through the open
Ben stood on the threshold, dressed only in jeans. The light
cast his muscles in shadow, defining every one. Long arms bracketed him in the
doorway. His brown hair was tousled. Sweat glistened on his chest. Everything
she remembered and more, with the brooding intensity and dark-eyed gaze that
were Sledge’s trademark.
Rachel refused to allow him to intimidate her. She dropped
her gaze to his crotch and the erection stretching the confines of his worn
jeans. She could draw him closer, fish his cock out for her pleasure, and give
him the blowjob of his life. Show him who was really in charge. A real Dom
wouldn’t let her get away with it. Well, she’d see if all the rumors were true.
God, she hoped so.
She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans, cut the engine, and
slipped from the car with an elegance born of countless years of practice.
Because she sure as hell didn’t feel the picture of calm inside. Ben swept his
gaze down her body, setting off more shivers Rachel struggled to hide.
“I understand you’ve extended your hospitality to me.” Slow
steps brought her closer. It was impossible to muster sultry in sneakers. One
mark against her. “How could I possibly refuse?” She waved her arm toward her
car as she approached. “Be a dear and fetch my suitcase.”
Fire flared in his eyes, sending another jolt through
Rachel. She held her ground, but barely.
Ben blocked her passage. “I expect a please with that order, Miss Moore.”
It was the “Miss Moore” that did Rachel in. That subtle,
firm, yet strict, cultured tone delivered with precision that told her she was
dealing with a true Master. There were a thousand ways she could have
responded, but only one would get her what she wanted…needed.
* * * *
The barely whispered word empowered Ben in a way he hadn’t
anticipated. Her pulse fluttered at the base of her throat, begging to be
licked. There was a slow plunge along her neck as she swallowed.
She was more beautiful every time he saw her. Even more so
this close, making her better than any masturbatory fantasy could ever hope to
be. Long black hair, dark blue eyes, and a button nose. Plump lips.
He cursed the rise that relentlessly stirred below his belt.
He needed control. Having a steel pike of an erection wasn’t going to help. But
a man had needs, and Rachel had an allure about her that couldn’t be denied.
He’d known that from the minute he met her.
Ben pushed away from the door, allowing her access to the
house. She didn’t move until he brushed by her on his way to her car. He swore
he saw goose bumps sprout on her arm at the contact. Her reaction played havoc
with Ben’s control. He wanted to press her beneath him on the nearest flat
surface, wrap her legs around his hips, and hump her through their clothing.
His obsession added to the blood threatening to split his erection.
It grated on Ben’s nerves, frustrated the hell out of him.
He could deal with it to some extent when there was the physical and legal
distance between them. Now that he’d seen her again, reconfirmed how pretty she
was, how great she smelled, he wanted her more than he could stand. The fact that
she’d essentially turned her nose up at him this past year made it all the
worse. Ben wanted to haul her over his knee and teach her a few manners, show
her he was every bit her equal, dip his fingers between the wet heat of her
thighs. Right here. Right now.
Rachel burrowed under his skin with every second he was near
her. It didn’t help that she smelled like blackberries ripe from the bush. She
made him nervous, antsy…horny as hell. Why did she have to be so damn pretty?
All he could think about was Will and his monthly fuck breaks to see her. All
he could think about was how jealous it made him, how much control she had over
his life, how she’d been an intimate part of his father’s life and he hadn’t realized
it until the very worst possible time—when he was pondering ways to get her into
bed. All he could think about was peeling those figure-hugging jeans off her
He hurried to her car to retrieve her luggage. When he
returned to the house, she’d gone no farther than the foyer. She hugged her
midriff while she glanced around. The cathedral ceiling and sweeping staircase
dwarfed her. For a minute she looked lost, until she realized Ben stood nearby
watching. Her shields slipped back into place. Ben didn’t much like it either.
“You’re even more petite than I recall.” He set her suitcase
on the brick-red Spanish tile near her feet.
“I might be little”—she leaned forward and grabbed her
luggage—“but I’m mighty,” she finished in a deadly whisper.
The words and the promise they held coiled inside his body.
“If you’ll kindly tell me where I might find my room…”
“One would think you’d have the layout of the place
“One would.” She sniffed, princess-like. Another dig under
his skin. “Far be it for me to be presumptuous. After all, this is your home.”
“That it is, Miss Moore.” A house he could barely stand,
historic as it might be. It was dark and depressing, heavy with furniture an
elephant couldn’t budge. It was great for business…and pleasure, but the over-the-top
attempt at Spanish mission was too much to live in. This place echoed, was too
large, too cold. The only sign of life within these black-and-red walls was his
father’s playroom tucked away behind the wine cellar. Ben had made the guest
house by the pool his home long ago. It was where he’d stayed when he visited
“Did you have sex with my father?” The question, bottled up
too long, shot out of him. Rachel actually jerked from the impact. Good, he’d
caught her off guard. She recovered quickly, though, releasing her hold on her
suitcases. He could see her pulling in threads of control. Ben swore she stole
them from him.
“As a fellow Dom, you know the answer to that—”
“Did you?” Ben wasn’t in the mood for games.
“No.” Her nose twitched, like he’d been dismissed. “Our
relationship was business and very brief.”
“You have sex with Will.” And it bugged the shit out of him
sometimes, only because he couldn’t.
“Our relationship isn’t
“But it was.” He stalked around her, monitoring her
reactions, breathing in her scent, soaking in her heat.
“At one time.” Rachel didn’t budge, but her eyes followed
his every move.
“But it changed.”
Ben stopped behind her, close enough to let her know he
meant business, far enough away to keep her from taking over, from knowing he
was hard as marble. “Why?” he demanded.
Rachel looked around and lifted those deep blue eyes to him.
“Because I wanted him.”
“I see.” He passed a slow gaze over her features, looking
his fill while her skin flushed and his mouth watered. “You aren’t the only one
known for their control, Miss Moore.”
“Until a few hours ago, I was unaware you had any control
Was she telling him he had her at a disadvantage, or that
she’d never considered him a worthy challenge? Ben began his slow pace around
her again, trying to cover his indecision, and stopped in front of her. Judging
from the gleam in her eyes, it was too late. She’d seen the weakness. He had to
act quickly to salvage this. Ben wasn’t going to let her go now that he was so
“Just how mighty are you, Miss Moore?”
She closed the gap between them, coming within inches of
slithering against his body. “Very, Mr. Welsh. Would you like a demonstration?”
The whispered words kissed his lips.
“I expect much, much more than that.”
“We’ll see.” Rachel gave a small laugh and patted his solid
chest. “If you’re a good boy, I’ll show you what I’ve really got.” She was
playing with dynamite and looked like she loved every second.
His smile was slow in forming as he leaned her way. “And if
you’re a good girl, Miss Moore, I might even participate.”
“I look forward to that,” she softly replied.
Ben acknowledged the agreement with a nod. “Then by all
He sidestepped her and led her through the drawing room, the
dining room, and the kitchen, then down the stairs to the steel-reinforced
cellar. His insides shook. He half stumbled, head buzzing, his body urging him
to hurry the fuck up.
Fuck. He dug his
nails into his palms. The pain did nothing to wipe out the image of her warring
with him. He couldn’t tell which of them had won the skirmish for control,
because there was nothing controlled about the way he felt now. He wanted to…
He wanted her, plain and simple. Ah, hell. She’d be like a drug he couldn’t get enough of. Maybe she
The wine cellar opened up to an innocuous oak door set in
the concrete wall. Locked against the world, with only a trusted few possessing
He turned to face her. She stood with her hands clasped,
midnight-blue eyes monitoring his every move and expression. “I presume you’re
ready, Miss Moore?”
A barely perceptible gulp plunged down her throat. Ben
closed the distance between them and cupped his hand around her neck. Rachel’s
lips parted, ready…expecting a kiss.
It killed him not to give her one, but he knew one taste of her mouth and he’d
be fucking her six ways to Sunday.
He burrowed his face into her neck, just below her ear, and
licked down the column while he breathed deep. She trembled and crawled her
fingers up his torso. He clamped his hand on her ass and hauled her close
enough to feel what she did to him. Torture was pulling away when she plucked
at his nipple.
“Miss Moore.” He dismissed her with a nod.
Rachel stared up at him, mouth open, lips moist. A silent
battle of wills ensued. Ben nearly caved. God knew, his cock begged him to.
Electricity crackled over his skin, urging his jeans to drop and his groin to
tighten. Then her long eyelashes swept downward in clear and unexpected
He’d won. Victory felt like shit. Ben planned to make up for
Those dark eyes peered up at him again. A flush covered her
cheeks. He felt her heartbeat thud against his chest. A mask descended over her
expression, Raven replacing Rachel.
Ben refused to give her the upper hand. He cupped her chin.
“We are equals. Understood…Mistress?”
Rachel hypnotized him with the glide of her tongue over her
wet lips. “That would be Lady Raven.
She ran her finger up his torso, then parked it at the base
of his throat. Her eyes locked on that spot, her tongue licking another path over
“What shall it be? Whip play…or sex? Or both?” she finished
in a whisper.
The words did things to Ben he knew were illegal in some
parts of the world, even a few counties in California. He curled his hand
around hers and drew it down to his thudding heart.
“I’m shocked you would ask.”
“Somehow I doubt that.” She slipped from his arms. “I left
my bag of tricks at Will’s. I do hope you don’t mind me borrowing yours.”
“It would be my pleasure.” Ben realized his mistake too
Rachel grinned. “It certainly will be.”
Giving her his back, Ben unlocked the playroom. Rachel
ducked under his arm and pushed the door open. She flicked on the lights and
walked to the padded bench that circled this end of the vast room. Observers
could slip in and watch the play on the other side. Of course, there were also those
who preferred to watch in stealth, and they could be tucked on the other side
of one-way mirrors banking the opposing wall.
Rachel made sure her ass was lifted high while she took off
her shoes and socks. His to look his fill. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear
she was daring him to do something. Fuck her. Spank her. Hell, he did know better…and the temptation was
too hard to resist.
Ben sidled up beside her, pressed one hand to the small of
her back, and smacked the other palm against her sweet ass. Most women would
shriek in protest, jerk upright, flail—if only halfheartedly—against another
swat. Rachel froze.
“You’re playing with fire, Mr. Welsh.”
“I do hope so, Miss Moore.” He landed another smack.
A low groan lifted her backside. “Oh, you’re going to have
to do better than that if you hope to impress me.”
Ben chuckled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get everything you need,
Miss Moore.” He dipped his hand between her thighs. “And more.”
Her knees buckled, and he swore he heard a tiny whimper.
Sheer willpower was all that kept him from hauling her away for an all-night
fuck. A woman like Rachel—like Raven—needed so much more than that. If he
expected to keep her…
Ben jerked at the errant thought. She’d snagged him from her
first smile. He wasn’t willing to let her go. If she knew how much power she
held over him, over his emotions, she’d walk all over his heart…and out of his
life. His distraction cost him.
Rachel scrambled from his hold and peeled the T-shirt over
her head. Full breasts spilled over white bra cups, the nipples a dark shadow
dead center. Ripe for the plucking too. Deep cleavage promised sweet relief.
“I usually wear a leather vest for this type of activity,
but this will have to do for tonight.” Rachel flipped her hair back; time
Ben palmed his crotch and tried to find a comfortable
position. He followed every strand of hair up, the purse of her lips, the lift
of her breasts as she captured the black tendrils in her hands and wrangled
them into a haphazard topknot. A few dared defy her, trickling down enticingly
to her neck. God only knew what held her hair in place, because Ben couldn’t
see a damn thing.
She gave Ben a playful smack on the shoulder. “Come on, big
guy. Time to show me whatcha got.”
Sure strides took her to the far end of the room, past all
the playroom equipment to the wall-sized cabinet beyond. No hesitation. Rachel
knew where she was going. Ben watched her open the cabinet and peruse the
selection of crops, whips, paddles, and floggers arranged inside. Her selection
was quick. She tugged on leather gloves that hugged her fingers with as much
perfection as her skintight jeans did her ass. It was the way she smoothed the
leather into place that made him ache—stroking each finger like she’d stroke
She damn well knew it too. Ben saw her smirk reflected in
the surrounding mirrors. They’d see who was smiling when she was over his lap,
those tight jeans binding her knees, and her ass afire from a good paddling.
“You might want to find a safe place.” Rachel edged past
him, a six-foot bullwhip looped in her right hand, a basket of white votives
and tapers in the other.
Rachel randomly placed the candles around the room on
equipment, benches, and the floor, then tossed the basket aside as she took
center stage. The candles remained unlit. Ben leaned against the horse, out of
the line of fire. He hoped.
Legs braced, fierceness etched in her face, she swung the
whip over her head in elegant arcs. He anticipated the crack. Hearing it still
generated a full-body gasp. It was the flex in her biceps, the mastery of her
control, the power in the follow-through. The candles didn’t stand a chance.
Neither did he. It was enough to make a man come all over himself.
Ben knew his crotch sported a damp shot. It was the least of
his concerns at the moment. Not coming all over himself held the top spot.
He watched her nail every candle over and over again,
splitting each in two. She was the whip, and it was her. Sweat glistened on her
skin, trickled down her breasts. And when she’d beaten the unlit candles into
submission, she swung his way. The whip curled around his feet, mere inches
from his bare toes. Somehow he managed not to flinch…or to come.
“Your turn.” Rachel tossed him the handle. Ben caught it in
one hand while she hopped onto the horse beside him, her ass temptingly close.
“You realize I’m going to have to top you.” And he meant
that in every possible way.
She cocked her head his way. “I’d like to see you try.” Her
whiskey-smooth voice held more invitation than caution.
“I do love a challenge.” Ben slipped his hand over her hip.
Rachel swung around until that hand was poised near her
crotch. “So I’ve heard.”
The words seeped into Ben’s blood, raced his heart, and
tightened his balls. She’d been keeping tabs on his Sledge self. He cupped her
knee and slid his hand up her thigh until his fingers were scant inches from
the apex. Rachel gave little away, but the fluttering pulse at her throat sure
“I’m waiting,” she singsonged.
Ben grinned. “For what, Miss Moore?”
A flush crawled over her face. “I think we both know the
answer to that.”
Ben glided his hand upward, pressing his palm into her belly,
then around until his fingers girdled her ribs and his thumb brushed the
underside of her breast. He wiggled it under the bra cup and tugged it down,
releasing her tit to him. Rapid yet controlled breaths shook the morsel of
light brown flesh. He flicked his thumb over it, watched it harden. God, he
knew what that felt like.
Rachel curled her fingers around the horse. Those long
lashes swept downward. She was his. Ben prayed he didn’t screw up.
He traced his thumb over the other cup. Though he longed to
watch it spill into his hand too, he kept his gaze on her face for the
slightest glimpse to warn him off. The only thing that changed was her lips,
parting on a gasp when his thumb grazed her hard nipple.
“I’m going to fuck you, Miss Moore.” He bent to capture his
A small whimper fell against his ear. “Not if I fuck you
first, Mr. Welsh.” She snagged the edges of her bra and tugged it back into
place. “I’m still waiting for that demonstration of your talents.”
“You’ll be pleased, Miss Moore.” He skirted his hand down to
her hip and stepped away. Only one problem remained—how he was going to
maneuver with an erection wedged down one leg.