Unrestrained, Page 1Joey W. Hill
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF
JOEY W. HILL
"I can't tell you how impressed I am with Hill's books. Okay, hotter than hell, yes, but Hill manages to do more than that. She doesn't repeat herself even after such a big backlist, and somehow she manages to say something with her books . . . She loves her characters and treats them with respect. This is one hell of a writer."
--Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author "Joey W. Hill is one of the best authors of erotica for a reason--her exceptional ability to bring together complex characters along with gripping romances that revolve around the world of BDSM . . . When Ms. Hill writes a love scene she brings all of the senses to life."
"This is a scorcher! It's one of those books that keeps the sexual tension on superstrength and leave you squirming for a resolution."
--The Forbidden Bookshelf
"Joey W. Hill blends the erotic and emotional perfectly . . . providing readers with a gorgeous romance."
"Joey W. Hill's books are nigh on impossible to define as each has to be read for itself and each offers the reader something uniquely theirs to relate to. Not only are they great books, they also pick at your soul."
"I do not expect many erotic romance novels . . . to be full of literary depth or to leave a lasting impression . . . Ms. Hill's beautiful way with words, impressive plot and evocative characters managed to reach inside my heart."
"Stripping away the emotions and layers . . . Joey W. Hill demonstrates her fantastic ability to develop characters and bring them to life on the pages of her story."
--Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"Fans of Ms. Hill will devour this story and start all over again once the journey is completed. The characters are more than mere sums of parts on paper; they are people who live, breathe, hurt, crave and love."
--Long and Short Reviews
Berkley Heat titles by Joey W. Hill THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT
THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN
A VAMPIRE'S CLAIM
BOUND BY THE VAMPIRE QUEEN
TAKEN BY A VAMPIRE
Berkley Sensation titles by Joey W. Hill A MERMAID'S KISS
A WITCH'S BEAUTY
A MERMAID'S RANSOM
SOMETHING ABOUT WITCHES
IN THE COMPANY OF WITCHES
LACED WITH DESIRE
(with Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, and Denise Rossetti) UNLACED
(with Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, and Denise Rossetti) Specials
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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A Penguin Random House Company This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Joey W. Hill.
Excerpt from Control copyright (c) 2013 by Joey W. Hill.
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-10163884-2
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hill, Joey W.
Unrestrained / Joey W. Hill.--Heat trade paperback edition.
Heat trade paperback edition / December 2013
Cover photograph: Getty.
Cover design by George Long.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Special Excerpt from THE NAUGHTY BITS NOVELLAS
It's impossible to write a book where a SEAL is the hero without researching and attempting to understand the remarkable qualities these individuals have to possess to do what they do. Dale being a retired SEAL didn't change that a bit; if anything, my research made it clear that being a SEAL is a state of mind, more of a calling than an occupation.
So my great thanks to Lynn and Lauren for their contacts, guidance and research assistance on this part of the book. The military is a vast subculture, with so many details to get wrong when writing about them. I respect those in the armed forces greatly, and wanted to portray Dale accurately. I am grateful to Lynn and Lauren for helping me do that. Since Lauren indicated she "really, really loved it" when I inflicted the whole manuscript upon her for a beta read, I hope that reflects success (laughter).
Another vital part of the book was addressing the daily challenges of being an amputee. As a person fortunate enough to have two whole legs, I couldn't anticipate all the things this affects, like taking a shower, picking up someone to carry them--even the way a person takes off or puts on clothes (an important issue in an erotic romance--grin). So I extend my deepest gratitude to Sue for her personal insights on all these matters, large and small. She endured phone calls that were like mini-interrogation sessions and also beta read the whole thing for me to ensure I didn't miss anything. Thank you, Sue! (BTW: I put in the brownie comment just for you.) I also thank Lynn and Lauren for checking with their military/veteran contacts on this, particularly issues related to benefits, et cetera.
A final quick note: One of the research sources Lynn provided me was former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's amazing book Service. Dale's "boat story" is a modified version of a true incident in Mr. Luttrell's book. Though that book and my other SEAL resources gave me so much information that developed Dale's overall personality, I wished to acknowledge my thanks for that specific example to demonstrate how they handle the difficult things they do.
As always, any errors I've made on any of the above or other details are entirely my fault, and I thank all of these folks and sources, as well as my usual beta readers and Berkley editing team, for helping to make this a far better book than it would be without them. If I've missed anyone, please forgive the oversight. An author never does it alone!
The first time she stepped
into a BDSM club, it felt like home. Surprised wasn't the right word for her reaction. Surprise was what one felt toward a party thrown in one's honor, planned on the sly by someone else. When she stepped into that dim environment, inhaled the intangible layers of want and need intertwined with the surface scents of tears and sweat, perfume and leather, her unconscious revealed the secret it had kept for so long. This was where she belonged. It rose up into her chest, an unexpected comfort and validation. Ironic, given that she hadn't been there for herself. Not essentially.
Roy had talked her into giving it a try. He wanted to take the play they did in the privacy of their home into a discreet but more populated world. It had mattered to him, so she'd prepared herself to accept it, no matter how sordid it might end up being.
Everyone knew New Orleans had a seedy side. No one bothered to call it an "underside," since it was broadly displayed in the French Quarter at all hours of the day, and it had worsened since Katrina, when more of the city's criminal element shifted into that section. But then she found there was an actual underworld, and the darkness there was heated, welcoming. Not seedy at all. The perspiration gleaming on marked skin, the cries of pleasure and pain, the glitter of eyes in the dim light, the energy that pulsed in Club Release like its own power source . . . it reminded her of what she'd felt in some of the old churches in the city.
That connection had come much later, when Roy got sick. Occasionally there would be things at the company she had to handle in person, so she'd leave him with his nurse for the bare minimum time necessary. One day, on the way back home, she obeyed an impulse driven by simple weariness of spirit and allowed herself a fifteen-minute detour into a small Catholic church. It had a trio of archways beckoning the faithful, and the smell of stone and wood over a hundred years old. She'd sat in the sanctuary, stilling her mind, letting everything go for those precious few moments. She realized the ambiance that compelled hushed voices, a still soul, was like what she felt in the club. There was also euphoria, a contained joy, the best kind to feel. Things always felt more intense when restrained. She'd seen it in how Roy reacted to it, though she'd never experienced it firsthand.
Though she didn't share why she'd stopped at the church, not wanting him to worry about her, she'd shared that comparison with Roy. He smiled at her, nodded, his eyes still bright in the gaunt face. They remained bright until the last few days, when he slipped into that pre-death, morphine coma so common to cancer patients. At the end, she'd whispered in his ear, commanded him to let go. She told him that she'd be all right, that his Mistress would always love him. He would like her putting it in those terms, she knew. So his Mistress let him go, even as his wife sat at his bedside, clutching his hand, the loneliness closing around her when his breath stopped and he obeyed her.
"Want another one?"
She returned to the present and Jimmy, who ran the bar at Club Release. He'd drawn her back out of herself. Since it was a private club run as a nonprofit membership group, they didn't serve alcohol, but they had a good selection of drinks, everything from chili pepper cocoa to lemonade or O'Doul's. He gave her glass a significant glance. "I can top that to two-thirds, Lady Mistress, so you can slip in a little more of that vodka you don't think I'm seeing."
She gave him a faint smile. "My sleight of hand's out of practice."
"Naw. You just know that I already know. And you're sad tonight." He hesitated, put his hand on the bar next to hers, no contact, but the offer of connection was there. "You know, it's been over two years. Dillon and Seth are easygoing, gentle subs. Either one of them would help you break the dry spell. It's no different for us than it is for a vanilla person going on that first date. It might even be a little easier, because they saw you work with Roy and know how you operate. You can tell me 'shut up, bitch' if I'm way off base, but I can't help but feel you're looking for something."
"Maybe. I'll think about it." It wasn't the first time he'd suggested it, though he hadn't been as blunt in the past. It also wasn't the first time she'd given that noncommittal response.
When she started coming back here, a few months ago, they'd let her lack of participation pass without comment. They'd known her and Roy in a way no one else did, which meant Club Release offered a unique type of sanctuary. However, not only was she no longer playing, she was hardly watching when she showed up. She just closed her eyes and listened, using the club's sounds as the soundtrack to her own personal memory reel. It was bound to invite more pointed comments after a while. Sometimes it could be a pain in the ass, people knowing certain parts of you too well . . . and other parts not at all.
Yes, she'd felt at home here, with Roy. But it was as if she'd lost weight and the mirror showed a core version of herself that other layers had disguised. It made her think it was time to put down the whip and do something different. Be on the other side of the whip. Craving the lash, the pain . . . the release.
The first time that thought crystallized in her mind's eye, refusing to be shrouded, it had startled her. She wasn't used to analyzing and thinking about herself in a solitary way. It was always in relation to something else, someone else. Roy, first and foremost, and then a hundred others lined up after him. Family members, the community, business.
Though this was when she normally would pay her tab and go home, she didn't want Jimmy to pry further, so she would make an effort. She rose, picking up her drink, and wandered into the Fortress of Solitude. In this section of the club, no talking was allowed. A safe gesture replaced a safe word, and submissives were gagged. Their bodies, eyes, and faces broadcast what was happening to them. A Master or Mistress ordered them through touch: a hand on their shoulder to guide them to a restraint, a tug of the leash, a pressure to put them on their hands and knees. It was a good place to avoid conversation.
With it being Tuesday night, she'd hoped no one would be in there, that the few members in attendance had gravitated toward the more social rooms, which also had more popular equipment. Her hopes were short-lived.
At least it was only one couple, a Master and his female sub. She didn't recognize the Dom, but she hadn't been to the club in over a month, too busy with other things. He wore a black eyemask and bandanna knotted at his nape. Together, they hid all of his features except his mouth, the line of his jaw. He wore tight black gloves.
Practitioners of BDSM came from all walks of life, many of them average Janes and Joes whose unremarkable facets became polished gems when their true natures sparkled in these rooms. She'd seen it happen with lean Goths, bikers, comfortable middle-class types, military, and then those like her. Her infallibly ladylike demeanor, the old Southern money roots she couldn't and wouldn't try to conceal, had earned her the nickname Jimmy had spoken tonight. Lady Mistress.
Despite the diverse club population, she was fairly certain she'd never seen a Master quite like this one. Unless it was in one of the confusing, erotic dreams that had been teasing the edges of her sleep of late, dreams she didn't feel comfortable sharing even in this venue. Perhaps especially in this venue.
She'd handled fund-raising for the USO charity ball three years running. During that time, she'd become friendly with a variety of military wives. One night she and Roy had the pleasure of hosting a dinner party for them and their spouses. Several of the husbands were Navy SEALs. She'd noted a unique stamp to the way they carried themselves, the look in their eyes. On top of that, each had an impressive physique. It was understandable since, in the SEALs, the body was pushed to the max in terms of endurance, speed and strength. One of the wives told Athena that many of the men, even those who'd never been injured, ended up requiring some disability benefits by the end of their career, due to the punishing demands on joints, muscles, skeletal system.
"They never quit. They just go until the body is completely worn out." The wife had said it half jokingly, though her eyes had followed her husband with that combination of fierce love and quiet acceptance military wives had to possess for the marriage to last.
his Master had that unique stamp to him. If Athena was right and he was a SEAL, he definitely wasn't at that worn-out point. The black jeans and unmarked black T-shirt defined a body that said he was capable of pretty much any physical demand. She wondered at his age, his hair color. He wore silver-tipped cowboy boots. There was no other ornamentation on him. His concentration was on the woman dependent on his mercy.
If it wasn't a Tuesday, with such sparse attendance, she expected he would have had far more of an audience, but maybe that was why he preferred a quiet weeknight. Maybe he considered her as much of an intrusion as she'd initially considered him. But though Athena sensed his awareness of her presence, he didn't seem distracted by it.
Willow, his submissive, was a regular at the club, one who craved heavy punishment from a Master, hence the pseudonym. A willow bent under any punishment, but didn't break. She was tied spread eagle to an upright metal frame. This room had several frames like that, as well as a pegboard of whips, floggers, paddles, thumpers and uncomplicated restraint options. The Fortress of Solitude tended to attract those who preferred to use the basics and let psychological domination do the rest.
At the moment, this Master was utterly still. He held a cane in one large hand, the end resting in the half-curled palm of the other, while his gaze coursed over his captive's body. Willow was stripped to the skin, which would be a viewing pleasure for anyone watching, but his body language said that was irrelevant to him. Even more importantly, it told Willow she was stripped for his pleasure alone.
He stood with feet evenly braced, T-shirt pulling across his shoulders and chest, his ass and thigh muscles taut beneath the mold of the denim. The tilt of his head, as if he was listening to something no one else could hear, made the rule of silence not a guideline, but a mandate that would incur punishment if broken. Athena wet her lips.
His profile could have been etched from granite, his jaw looked that resilient. She wanted to see the rest of his face. She thought he'd be dark haired, because the scattering of hair on his arms was dark, and his five-o'clock shadow was a blue-black that made a woman think of pirates. Since the shadowing in the room made it impossible to determine his eye color, she imagined them as green, then brown or blue. A dark blue, like a cold ocean, hiding pleasures and dangers both.