Truly helpless, p.16
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       Truly Helpless, p.16

         Part #10 of Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill
 

  He cleared his throat. "To answer your question. Duncan. You asked me if that was my real name. It is. Duncan Marius Walczek."

  "Okay. It suits you. Though you hold yourself a different way when you say it. It's not a familiar fit, but more honest, maybe. Why meet me here to tell me that?"

  "I want to get back into The Zone. I like the work. I need it. And I'd..." He sighed. "I'm sorry for how I acted. I can do better for you, if you'll give me another chance."

  "So your primary motive is getting restored to The Zone's good graces and employment." She lifted a finger before he could answer. "Fortunately, I'm interested in you, Marius. Duncan." She purred the name, intrigued when he shifted. It made him less confident, more uncomfortable. Her evaluation was correct. It was his truer name.

  "It's a self-serving relationship," she continued. "But I have no desire to cater to your side of that equation. I'll take this where I want it to go."

  He came a step closer, but at her stare, he moved back. "So does that mean we can try again, whatever it is you're willing to try?"

  A little edge to his tone. He was sure he was getting a victory, though she sensed some surprise...maybe even a little disappointment that the challenge hadn't been as difficult as he'd expected.

  "Maybe." She slid a thorough perusal over him, head to toe. "First, you take me on a normal date."

  If she'd told him to lie down in the street and pretend to be roadkill, she couldn't have surprised him more. "Excuse me?" he asked, brow furrowing.

  "You're a man, I'm a woman. You do know how to take a woman on a date? You didn't hit puberty, walk into a BDSM club and that was the sum of your hookup experiences?"

  "No." He didn't smile. "It's been awhile, though."

  "For me, too." She met his troubled gaze. Interesting. This did kind of freak him out. "I've seen the sub. I want to see the man, how he treats a woman outside of a club. So I want a normal date."

  He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. "I don't get it."

  "Is there a question there?" She leveled cool eyes on his arms. The muscle in his jaw twitched, but he uncrossed them.

  "Why do you want a normal date, Mistress?"

  An extra bonus. She hadn't required him to call her that, but it had a nice sound to it, sliding down her spine like his fingertips.

  "It's too easy for you to weaponize yourself inside the BDSM world," she said evenly. "It may be what you crave, but you've poisoned it, and I don't think you know how to purify the waters. Show me who you are outside of the scene, why you'd be worth the risk to go inside it with you again. I'm going to give you a clue, so you have a slim chance of not fucking it up. No over-the-top grand gestures that mask the man behind a show. You're limited to a fifty-dollar budget."

  His scowl deepened. "Teenagers spend more than that just to go out to the movies."

  "Yeah, they probably do."

  "I can afford--"

  "Your income is not the issue. Fifty dollars. Save receipts."

  "No."

  She'd turned to open the car door but stopped, brows raised. His jaw set in a stubborn line, he stepped forward. Closing his hand over the car door handle, he opened it for her and stepped back. "If it's a real date, no guy would show a woman his receipts. If you say fifty, that's what I'll do. I assume you can take my word on that at least."

  "I can." She'd laid her hand on the window frame, and his other hand was resting just above it. Their smallest fingers were touching, a brush of contact. He withdrew, his touch sliding over hers, and then he thrust his hand back into his pocket, as if he might be burned.

  "A real date," he said. "Next Friday, at six? I'll pick you up."

  "In front of Safe Word," she said.

  He scowled. "You can trust me to pick you up at your place."

  "That may or may not be true, but I'm not letting you into that part of my life."

  "Right." He watched her get into the car. "Because this is just about getting back into The Zone for me, and trying out a new sub for you, because you like new flavors."

  "Maybe. It doesn't bother me that you're using me as a means to an end, Marius. Why should it bother you, unless it isn't just about that?"

  She'd put the keys in the ignition and lowered the window before letting him close the door. Reaching through the opening, she pinched up a small section of his shirt over his abdomen, tugging on it lightly, both a tease and a gentle rebuke. He stilled under her touch.

  "Don't calculate or measure," she said. "Just answer my question, first thing that pops into your head. Do you know what you want?"

  "Yeah. And no." His gaze flickered as if he hadn't meant to speak so baldly, revealing a confusion of feelings.

  "That's okay, because I know what I want." Her grip on his shirt telegraphed her demand. As he bent toward her, she leaned far enough out the window to meet him partway and nibble on his bottom lip. Nice and full, a heated cushion, just the right kind of firmness.

  When he would have responded in kind, she made an admonishing noise. "I'm the one doing the tasting here," she said. "Be still."

  She was aware of his hands landing on the window frame, the resulting tension rippling through his biceps.

  "Sweet. So many wicked, sweet things I could do with that mouth." She drew back, and met blue-gray eyes heated with desire, and conflict. Would he try to seize her, use physical force to make more of the kiss? She could feel that energy shuddering off him, but his eyes had that wary look. He'd talked himself out of it, for his own reasons. Maybe not the right ones, but that was all right. She'd take home some good fantasy material from her side of the kiss.

  "I look forward to our date," she said, letting go and starting the engine. "How do I reach you if my schedule changes? Tyler didn't have a phone number on file for you; just your message inbox on The Zone private forum."

  He nodded. "I have a pay-as-you-go phone for Tal to contact me about fights, but that's all I use it for. Tyler agreed to let me keep The Zone account for now, just to send and receive messages. I can check it at the library."

  Interesting. She was sure Tyler had allowed that specifically to ensure she could communicate with Marius. And so Tyler could hack in and track what was going on between them, the protective control freak. She bit back a smile at the thought.

  "Be sure and check that inbox, at least once daily," she said. "See you Friday. Oh, and Duncan?"

  That little ripple again as she used his given name. She met his stormy eyes, letting him see the heat and intent in her own. "I'm not unhappy with the choice you made, coming to see me today at Marguerite's direction. But while you're under my command, no other Mistress gives you orders. I don't share my toys. Got it?"

  A nice flare of heat among gray clouds, like heat lightning. He moistened those tempting lips. "Yes, Mistress."

  Chapter Seven

  Several days felt far longer than she expected, waiting to see him again. In between the demands of her job, her busy social life and the usual weekly home chores, she couldn't keep her mind away from what he was doing with his daylight hours. Did he have another job other than The Zone and his fighting? Where did he live? Did he have a pet?

  Had he lain in his bed this week and closed his hand over his substantial cock, thinking of her? She had a couple nice sessions with her vibrator, imagining his muscular body naked and straining, hips lifting off the bed to shove his cock into his grip, his eyes fixed on her. Waiting for her to give him permission to come. Waiting and waiting, until he was quivering, his lips peeled back in a snarl, eyes wild.

  "You can't come in your hand. But you can come inside my pussy."

  Her own climax had surged through her as she imagined the way he'd bolt up from the mattress, seize her around the waist and take her up against the wall, pounding inside her, all that strength hers to command and call. Could he put his head on her breast afterward, defenses drained away? She wanted to have him sleeping in her arms, his body heavy against hers, damp with their combined heat.

&nb
sp; She was aware her fantasies and questions were where a woman went in her head when she was interested in a man. She could be fully infatuated without being led around by her heart or pussy. Women put too many obstacles in their own way. It was her heart to risk, and if it got burned, she much preferred it to happen because she chose the path she took, no regrets.

  She admitted she was worried about him being in the ring again. She kept thinking about that scar under the Aussie man's eye. Or Marius's disturbingly flat statement about losing moments thanks to repetitive head injuries.

  She couldn't control any of that, though. And as the day of the date dawned, she let herself enjoy curiosity and anticipation about what he'd planned for their night. She had no expectations. He might blow it, surprise her, or come up with something that passed muster but wasn't memorable. But she'd walk away with more information about him, no matter what.

  On principle, she was five minutes late. When she arrived at Safe Word's parking lot, he was leaning against his car, watching for her. He was shaved, wearing his white dress shirt and jeans again. He wasn't diverse in the fashion department, but that was fine by her. It was a good look for him. He had two shirt buttons open, straddling the line between exceptionally modest and disco-era. The decision showed enough of his chest to help her imagine her fingertips sliding into the opening. She'd stroke the crisp hair and muscled chest, feeling his heat and heartbeat.

  The tails of the shirt and the crossing of his ankles drew her gaze to the packaging beneath the jeans. That, too, earned her approval. She was in the mood to get hot and sweaty tonight, aroused and wet. She'd said a normal date, and she had no intention of having sex with the man, but there was a lot of playing room between chaste distance and sexual penetration.

  He jogged over to her car, holding up a hand to keep her from getting out. When he reached her, he opened the door and leaned on the outside of it. "Full service date, right? Door opening and everything."

  "Did you go onto the Internet and brush up on your top 100 dating tips?"

  "A man doesn't reveal his sources," he said, poker-faced, then the expression relaxed into a smile. "Fuck, you look good."

  She was sure that wasn't in the dating handbook, but it worked for her. She liked it when his roughness slipped through. Until he figured that out, it told her when he wasn't acting.

  She'd left him a message in his Zone inbox, asking what dress the night would require, and he'd responded "casual sparkly, but comfortable shoes. Sexy always works."

  He wasn't much of an online chatter, but that worked fine for her, too.

  She'd chosen a pair of jeans that fit her the way she and any straight male with a pulse liked, and combined it with a shirt with a halter-style back and which stopped just above her navel. That allowed him a glimpse of a small strip of smooth skin and the delicate silver spiral charm she wore on her navel piercing. The top also revealed a provocative amount of cleavage between full breasts held high in her lace bra. The back was a series of thin straps that crisscrossed her bared flesh, one thicker strap masking the bra line.

  A spider-shaped pendant rested in the pocket of her collar bone, the jewelry a sparkling array of onyx and rhinestones. The boots she wore under the jeans were comfortable but gave her ass a nice swing.

  As Marius offered her a hand out of the car, his grip heated and firm, their bodies brushed. The contact set off the expected sparks along her skin. He registered it, because he started to draw her closer. She held fast. "The kiss attempt happens at the end of the night, not the beginning."

  "Not a woman who eats dessert before the meal. Check." He released her hand and closed her door when she moved out of the opening. As his back had to face her while he accomplished that, she allowed herself to brush it with her fingertips. "You look nice, too. And you smell good."

  He looked over his shoulder at her. She leaned against the rear passenger door of the car, her hands folded behind her hips. "A brushing of mouths, a brief greeting of sorts, is acceptable. Can you handle that?"

  He braced a hand against the top of the car, by her head, and leaned in, sliding a hand along her waist. As he closed the distance, she spoke again. "Like your mouth is a feather, stroking lightly across my lips."

  His fingers twitched on her waist, his gray eyes flickering. He wanted to take more, to coax and seduce. By her instructions, this was a "normal date," but she wanted to start with this subtle reminder that she was the Mistress. What was deep inside of him needed that, too, a tug on the sub part of his nature.

  Their mouths were very close. The solid wall of his chest pressed against the give of her breasts, another hint of deeper pleasures. His eyes slid to her mouth, but as he came so close contact was only a breath away, his lashes lifted so they were looking directly into each other's eyes.

  A lot of subs would avert their gazes at half this proximity. It didn't have to be a requirement of the Mistress. Something instinctive in the sub defaulted to deference.

  But there was another kind of sub. One who would lock onto his Mistress's gaze with near violent tenacity, as if knowing the survival of some critical part of him depended on it. Sometimes there was another layer under the desperation. Simple, lovely need. To serve, protect, hold fast.

  She saw a glimpse of it, a light in his eyes, in the dark pupils, and her heartstrings tightened.

  "Hello there, Duncan," she said softly.

  He stilled. She used the blink of uncertainty, where he stood between the decision to fight or retreat, to caress his jaw. And remind him he had a higher priority than his reaction. Her command.

  "My kiss," she said. "Light as a feather."

  She reminded herself how badly this man could fuck up a woman who eased up too soon, trusted him prematurely. Right now, she would treat him as she would a wild animal. Just because he took food from her hand didn't mean he'd stopped seeing her as prey.

  He nodded, a barely perceptible movement, and closed the distance. She kept her hand on his jaw in case he decided to disobey and devour her, but she didn't expect that. The hand was mainly to keep that whisper of contact between them as long as she damn well wanted it.

  He had firm lips, a little chapped. His breath was cinnamon and mint, his jaw smooth under her hand. He was a furnace. She'd noticed that before. Her bad boy had all the fires of hell burning inside him, twenty-four seven. A shiver ran through her as his shoulder and arm muscles flexed, his hand molding in tighter contour to her waist and hip. That indication of rising desire matched what unfolded inside her at the teasing contact between their mouths.

  She'd leaned forward. So had he, his chest more firmly pressed against her breasts. His hand left her hip so his arm could slide farther around her waist. Yet he still obeyed, keeping that same light, provocative touch between their lips. Tendrils of desire glided up her inner thighs like a painter's brush, only she imagined it as his mouth. What a beautiful mouth he had. That twist at the corner gave his kiss a different pattern of friction, less uniform and more pleasing.

  She broke the contact, easing back and rubbing her thumb over his lips, a lingering touch. He'd been perfectly restrained, but had offered so much erotic potential her lower belly had become a butterfly garden. She moved out of the shelter between him and the car.

  "So," she said, aware that her voice was a throaty purr. "Where are we going?"

  He cleared his throat. "Would you prefer to take your car? Mine--"

  "Is perfect. It reminds me of the car my prom date drove."

  She adjusted so she had her hand in the crook of his elbow, showing him how she wished to be escorted. "Though hopefully you will not have a bag of weed and giant can of Icehouse under the seat, my date's master strategy to get me so mellow I'd melt out of my clothes."

  "Did it work?"

  "What do you think?"

  He gave her a shrewd perusal. "You came out of the womb in control, Mistress."

  "You're saying it to charm me," she said mildly. "But rumor is I told the doctor how to cut the
umbilical cord. I'm kind of fuzzy on those details, but it sounds like something I'd do, particularly if I thought he wasn't doing it right. You still haven't answered my question. Where are we going?"

  He paused at the passenger door of his car and reached in his back pocket. The shirt stretched over his chest and shoulders. When he noticed her noticing, she arched a brow.

  "I don't pretend not to enjoy what's mine to look at," she said. "You have a problem with that?"

  "No, ma'am," he said with that wry smile she liked. In prison, inmates were required to be formal with the C.O.'s. Always "yes, ma'am," or "no, sir." Hearing those two words on Marius's lips was a pleasant distraction and pure fantasy material combined.

  She shifted closer and touched his mouth, this time in a more functional way, punctuation to her question. "How did you do that? The crooked lip."

  "Guy with brass knuckles. I kept clear of them for most of the fight, but had to risk them up close and personal one time to get in a solid shot to his gut and drop him. It doubled him over and I finished him off with a knee to his face that broke his nose, so we both got bloody."

  "It does seem so." She took her touch away, quelling her irritation with his disregard for his own life. He was so matter-of-fact, reminding her of her high school years, being around boys who boasted about carrying guns and dealing drugs. Thank God, that world hadn't been directly part of her middle-class suburban one, but it wasn't as far from that of her closest friends, so she'd had exposure. Still, thinking of how Marius jeopardized himself bugged her, probably more than it should at this point in their relationship.

  Proving it, she realized he'd pulled something out of his pocket for her to see and she was looking down at it without seeing it. She was caught up in visions of him with his face torn up and bloody, no hands to wipe the blood away and tend to him, other than his own. He'd become quiet and tense, deducing from her silence she wasn't pleased. Then she saw what he was holding. She seized his wrist in a death grip, making him jump as if she'd sprung out at him from behind a door.

  "No fucking way. Oh my God. Seriously?" She practically squealed like a teenager. Laughter at herself took over, warmth rushing through her body. "All right, who told you? How did you find out I love Boyz II Men?"