Mastered, p.11
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       Mastered, p.11
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         Part #1 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks

  into her palm, and then she turned it over, her thumb clumsily opening the front.

  “Oh, Drake,” she whispered.

  Tears sparkled in her eyes as she looked up at him, and there was clear distress. What the hell?

  “You shouldn’t have. It’s too expensive,” she said in a panicked tone.

  And yet her finger trailed over the delicate angel pendant on the gold necklace nestled in the box.

  “Do you like it?” he asked pointedly.

  “I love it,” she said without hesitation. “It’s the most beautiful thing anyone has ever given me.”

  The ache in her voice gave him an answering ache in his chest.

  “Then it wasn’t too expensive.”

  “But Drake, you barely know me,” she protested. “You didn’t need to buy me a gift.”

  “And you didn’t need to cook me dinner,” he challenged. “And yet you did.”

  She looked flustered as if she had no idea what to say to that.

  He knew if he waited for her to take the necklace out and put it on, they’d be there all night, so he took the box from her lap, removed the necklace from the trappings, and then instructed her to turn around.

  She shifted immediately and once again, he was assailed by satisfaction that she heeded his commands without thought. This wasn’t a woman who could or would be just anyone’s submissive, and that made her all the more desirable to him. No, she was his submissive. He didn’t fool himself into thinking she was a natural submissive and would react this way with just any man. That she had chosen him, whether she consciously realized it yet or not, was something he would not take for granted, and he would most certainly cherish it for the precious gift it was.

  When she turned back around, her gaze and her fingers lowered to the necklace that rested in the hollow of her breasts. He’d nearly laughed when she’d shockingly said it was too expensive. This was the least expensive gift he’d ever given a woman, and yet it was so appropriate that he couldn’t pass it up. And there was also the fact that he knew he had to tread carefully with Evangeline. She wasn’t a woman to be draped with gaudy jewelry and clothing from head to toe. She wasn’t a woman who needed those accessories to shine or enhance her beauty. Her beauty needed no such embellishments or distractions.

  He slid his hand into hers and picked it up, shifting himself until they were closer, their thighs touching, their hands resting on his leg.

  “There are several things we need to discuss tonight, my angel, but first, I want to know what upset you this morning.”

  Her eyes flew up, startled as she stared at him in obvious confusion.

  “Something was bothering you when you left to go shopping,” he said patiently. “And it had nothing to do with our phone conversation. I’d like to know what it was.”

  Her eyes dropped and she fidgeted, her shoulders slumping as he watched her lips turn down into an unhappy frown. Justice had been right, and Drake suspected he knew precisely the source of her unhappiness.

  “Did the call to your girls have anything to do with your quietness and the lack of sparkle in your eyes this morning? Because, baby, you shine. You just being you, you shine. Unless something is bothering you or has upset you.”

  He cursed beneath his breath when Evangeline flushed and her lips trembled. She turned her head to try to hide her reaction—as if such a thing were possible. She was a woman with no artifice. One only had to look at her to know what she was thinking or feeling. It was a good thing she was inherently honest, because she’d make a terrible liar.

  He gently cupped her chin and turned her back to look at him, feeling like someone had punched him in the stomach when he saw the tears welling in her beautiful blue eyes.

  “Tell me,” he said.

  “They think I’ve lost my mind,” she said in a weary voice. “They’re worried. I don’t blame them for that.”

  “And?” Drake prompted, knowing there was far more to it than just this.

  “Steph told me I was a fool to depend on a man so much and asked me how long I thought it would take for you to get tired of me and scrape me off and then where would I be?”

  There was an edge of bitterness in her voice that suggested her friend’s caustic words had hit an already ingrained source of insecurity within Evangeline. If he could get his hands around Steph’s neck right now, he’d wring it. Damn woman had already caused enough trouble the night before. And she called herself Evangeline’s friend? Hell, with friends like her, who the hell needed enemies?

  “I shouldn’t be so sensitive,” she hurriedly said, her worried eyes tracking back to Drake’s as if she thought he would assume she was fishing for assurances or guarantees. “It was more the way she said it that bothered me, I guess. She sounded . . . angry. Sarcastic. I don’t know. Maybe even bitter. Like I betrayed them somehow by just up and leaving. And . . .”

  She trailed off, dropping her gaze, color once again flooding her face. She bit into her lip, and it was obvious she hadn’t intended to say so much. But he already knew how open Evangeline was and that she was honest to a fault.

  “And what?” he gently prompted.

  She sighed. “The night I went to the club, she, Lana and Nikki were all about how gorgeous I was and what a fool Eddie was and how he didn’t know a good thing when he saw it, blah blah. They told me I don’t see that I’m gorgeous. So if Steph really believed all of that, then why would she automatically assume that a man like you wouldn’t want a woman like me and would scrape me off at the first opportunity?”

  Drake had to breathe deeply to compose himself and control the blistering curse words that burned to spill out. Instead he reached out and framed Evangeline’s tear-streaked face in his palms and looked directly into those gorgeous, innocent eyes.

  “I imagine there were a lot of things behind that statement, Angel. I’m sure they were all taken off guard and weren’t prepared for you to suddenly move out when you’ve always been their constant source of emotional support. I’m right, aren’t I? It’s likely you they seek out when they get their hearts broken or someone’s pissed them off or they just had a bad day.”

  Her expression said it all. There was no need for her to respond, so he continued on.

  “And I’m sure she is worried about you, but baby, listen to me and listen closely, because you won’t like what I’m about to tell you, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”

  Her eyes locked with his, clear question reflected.

  “She’s a jealous bitch.”

  Evangeline gasped and would have responded, no doubt denying any such thing, but Drake slid one hand over so his thumb pressed against her lips, silencing any outburst.

  “She wasn’t lying when she told you how beautiful you are and that you have no clue how beautiful you are. But you aren’t a threat when you don’t know that fact and don’t act on that fact. Don’t think for a minute that she isn’t eaten up with envy that you’re where you are right now and she’s where she is right now, and she’s jealous as hell that it’s you and not her, and I’d bet my last dollar that she wishes she’d never given you that VIP pass to Impulse.”

  Evangeline looked stricken, but he also saw that his words made an impact. He could see her turning what he’d said over and over in her mind, replaying the conversation and coming to the same conclusion he had.

  Then she closed her eyes as more tears silently leaked down her cheeks, colliding with his hands. He leaned forward and, starting from the bottom up, kissed the lines away, first one cheek and then the other.

  “It doesn’t mean she hates you,” he said softly. “I imagine she already regrets her outburst and you’ll probably get an apology from her, and you, being you, will accept it and put it behind you and you’ll remain friends. Everyone is guilty of jealousy at some point or another. And everyone is guilty of saying things they don’t mean or lashing out at someone they love, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.”

  “Thank you,” she whisper
ed.

  He stroked her cheeks with his fingers, enjoying the simple act of touching her. The conversation wasn’t over by far, because despite Steph’s intent, she had planted a seed of doubt in Evangeline’s mind. One he needed to get rid of before it festered and ruined something beautiful.

  “Now, there’s something else about that conversation I want to address, and I need you to listen to me,” he said, making sure she knew how serious he was being. “You will never go without. You will always be taken care of. If it makes you feel more secure, I’ll see to it right away so you aren’t without means even when we’re together. I’ll buy you an apartment if you want to stay in the city, or if you prefer to live outside the city, I’ll buy you a house. Either will be in your name, of course. In addition, tomorrow I’ll start a bank account for you, unless you already have one of your own, and I’ll deposit two million dollars. However, when you’re with me, you aren’t to spend a fucking penny of your money. What you wear, what you eat, what you drink and anything else will be bought and paid for by me. Understand?”

  Evangeline looked utterly appalled. Her expression was so horrified that she looked as if he’d just threatened her with murder. She clapped her hands over her ears.

  “Stop! Oh God, just stop! I don’t want an apartment or a house and especially not your money. Are you just trying to make me feel worse?”

  A shudder of revulsion rolled over her body and she looked as though she would burst into tears all over again.

  “That sounds so cheap and tawdry,” she choked out. “Like I’m some paid prostitute. I’m here because I wanted to be here, Drake. Not because of what I could extort from you. Or because you have money. I only wanted . . . you. That you would think that . . .”

  She broke off and covered her face with her hands, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

  Drake cursed Steph, himself and this entire fucked-up situation. He knew Evangeline wasn’t like the other women he’d had and yet he’d just treated her like them. His attempt to assure her that she would never be put in a desperate situation if they were no longer together had gone horribly awry. He wasn’t used to women like Evangeline and he had no idea how to act.

  He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly against his chest, deeply shaken at her impassioned outburst. I only wanted . . . you. When had anyone ever wanted him the man? For himself and not what came with him? He was so stunned that he didn’t even know how to react.

  “I’m sorry, Angel,” he said gruffly. “That’s not how I intended that to sound. All I want you to know is that you’re safe with me. And that you will never go without. I swear that I meant no offense. It was a shitty thing to say, especially when I know damn well you aren’t a gold digger out to fleece me. I just didn’t think before I put it out there. I only want you to know—to believe—that I will always ensure you are taken care of. Do you trust me enough to accept my word on that?”

  Slowly, she pulled away from his chest, her eyes glossy with tears, but she stared him in the eye as if studying his sincerity or intent. He’d never felt so scrutinized in his life. Nor had he ever felt himself so lacking. There wasn’t a person in the world who could stare Drake Donovan down and make him feel an ounce of remorse or compassion. Except, apparently, a small beautiful angel who he knew was a far better person than him, but he wasn’t a good enough man to let her go.

  “You explained what me being with you would mean. That I would be submissive to you. That you control me. All of me. And that I don’t get a choice and I don’t get to say no. And that scares me, Drake. I won’t lie. I’ve never depended on anyone else. Only myself. It’s safer that way. I don’t get hurt when I don’t give power over me to someone else. Please don’t take this as me not trusting you, though God knows it wouldn’t be unreasonable not to, considering we’ve known each other less than forty-eight hours. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t trust you at least on an instinctual level. And maybe that makes me the naïve fool everyone is forever telling me I am. I just need to know more. You want me to submit. To give you ultimate power over me. How does that work exactly? I mean, what will you demand of me? I have to know everything or I’ll just scare myself silly imagining the worst-case scenario.”

  “I never want you to be afraid of me, Angel,” he said quietly. “Never that. I will not hurt you. I have exacting standards and expectations. They may seem extreme, but in my world they are necessary evils.”

  Her expression was faintly puzzled.

  “I never want you to feel caged, but I also realize life with me will be an extreme change for you and you’ll need time to adjust. Any time, and I mean every time you leave this apartment or go anywhere at all without me, you’ll have a man on you. And only one of my most trusted. You will be protected at all times.”

  Her eyes widened in alarm, but he plunged ahead before she freaked herself out more than she was already.

  “I’ll want you available to me at all times. There will be times when I want you with me when I have to go out. When I’m home, you’ll be here with me. When you aren’t with me, I’ll want to know where you are and who you’re with at all times. I will not be pleased if you forget to inform me of your plans.”

  She swallowed nervously.

  “I’ve already informed your employer that you’ll no longer be working there.”

  He broke off when she gasped and shot her a warning look that silenced the protest forming on her lips.

  “Your girls are taken care of. Their rent has been paid for the next two years and I secured a written guarantee from their landlord of no increase in rent for the next ten years. And tomorrow, I need you to get your parents’ bank account number as well as the routing number so I can wire the necessary funds so that they will no longer have any financial worry, and neither will you continue to work yourself to the bone to provide for them.”

  Evangeline’s jaw was clenched tight and she trembled from head to toe, whether in anger or just emotion he wasn’t sure. But knowing how much pride she had, he doubted it was the latter and most definitely the former.

  “You stepped into my world willingly, Angel,” he said softly. “And therefore, you agreed to my rules, my way. I promised you would be taken care of and never want for anything, and that extends to the people who matter to you.”

  Tears glittered brightly, hanging on her dark lashes, such a contrast to her honey blond hair and mesmerizing blue eyes.

  “It’s easy to see what I get out of this arrangement,” she said in a strangled tone. “But what do you get, Drake? Because from where I’m sitting, you aren’t getting the better end of the bargain by a long shot. In fact, I don’t see that you’re getting anything at all. So why would you do all of this?”

  “You, Angel. I get you. All of you. And believe me, you’re damn wrong about you getting the better end of the bargain. The way I see it, I’ll be forever trying to catch up, because having you is worth more than all the money in the world.”

  He saw her look of shock and the instant eruption of chill bumps on her arms.

  “All you need to do is be you, babe, and from what I already know, that isn’t going to be a problem, because you don’t have a fake bone in your body. And by being you, you’re going to be mine, and I protect and take care of what is mine. Give me your body, your submission, your obedience, your trust and you, and everything will be all right. I promise you that.”

  “I don’t know what to say,” she said helplessly.

  “You’ve already said enough. You told me yes. You’ve given me your trust. And to be honest, enough has been said tonight already. Right now, I’m going to take you into the bedroom and make you mine.”

  Drake stood and then simply slid his arms underneath her body and lifted her effortlessly into his hold and strode toward the bedroom. He laid her down on the bed with reverence that brought a knot to her throat. He followed her down, molding his mouth to hers in a hot, breathless kiss that was all consuming.

  He broke away only to
rain a trail of kisses down her jaw to just below her ear and nibble lightly at the sensitive skin, eliciting a cascade of chill bumps down her body. Then he licked at her lobe before sucking it gently between his teeth, nipping with just enough force to send shivers of desire down her spine.

  He leaned up again and his face hovered directly over hers so their eyes met and she could see the burning intensity in his dark gaze.

  “You are beautiful, Angel. And before tonight is over you’ll not only know how beautiful you are, you’ll feel it too.”

  Oh my God. This man was lethal.

  Slowly, as if she were the most precious thing in the world, he undressed her, piece by piece. Each time another item was divested, he would dip his mouth and explore the newly exposed region. She was gasping and arching into his touch and she still wasn’t fully unclothed.

  When her bra loosened, she experienced a brief moment of panic. Her breasts were just . . . average. Not firm and they wouldn’t be “perky” without the aid of a push-up bra. She’d purchased one only because in her line of work, displaying what few assets she had was to her advantage. They weren’t saggy. They were just there and a little squishy. Ugh.

  “What the hell is going through your head right now?” Drake murmured as he stared into her eyes.

  “You don’t want to know,” she muttered.

  “Stop thinking,” he ordered in a commanding tone that had her quivering to her core.

  His eyes glittered and she got her first true glimpse of the dominant man she’d given herself to.

  “Just feel,” he said, his voice softening from the dominant alpha male to what could only be described as a purr.

  “Okay,” she whispered.

  His head lowered and she sucked in her breath, waiting, aching, dying for the moment when his mouth closed over her nipple. She let out a wail of both pleasure and frustration when instead, he flicked his tongue over the already rigid peak, tonguing it to further rigidity. Then he turned and gave the other nipple equal attention, his movements practiced and unhurried.

  God, they’d been making love all of two minutes and he was already a million times better than Eddie, whose idea of foreplay had been biting—painfully—into each nipple, fingering her roughly and then spreading her legs and thrusting when she was in no way ready for him.

  She knew that if Drake spread her thighs and thrust into her right this moment, she would be wet and more than ready.

  Finally she got her wish and his mouth closed around her nipple, sucking gently at first and then harder with rhythmic pulls until her vision went blurry.

  “Oh God, Drake, you have to stop. Please don’t stop.”

  She knew she wasn’t making a bit of sense, but she was nearly delirious with ecstasy and all he’d done was kiss her lips, her neck and her breasts.

  He chuckled, his warm breath vibrating against her nipple, making it stiffen even more.

  “Which is it, my angel? Stop or don’t stop?”

  “I don’t know,” she wailed. “I don’t know what to do, Drake. Help me, please.”

  He lifted his head and looked deep into her eyes, his expression somber and so very sincere. “Trust me, baby. I’ll always have you. I’ll always guide you. I’ll always show you exactly what to do. You just have to let yourself go and trust me to get you there.”

  She palmed his face in her hands and lifted her head to kiss him, her first act of aggression. “I do, Drake. God help me, but I do. I feel safe with you. I’ve never felt so safe in my life.”

  A savage fire blazed in his eyes and she knew her words pleased him, that it was exactly the right thing to do and say.

  “Lie back, Angel, and let me love you. We have all night and I plan to take my sweet time pleasuring my lady.”

  She closed her eyes against the sudden wash of emotion. In that moment she felt wanted. Cherished. Like she mattered. That she wasn’t average and a nobody. Drake made her feel so very special, and she didn’t have the words to describe how very precious he made her feel. No man had ever looked at her like he did. No man had ever stood up for her, stood by her side and had her back. It was more than she could take in. She was completely and utterly overwhelmed.

  “Are you with me, baby?” he whispered. “I want you with me all the way.”

  “Oh yes, Drake. I’m with you. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here and right now.”

  He shuddered against her and then lifted himself off her just enough to divest himself of his clothing, and she stared with unabashed wonder at the beauty of this man. Her gaze traveled from the top of his body, over the broad expanse of his chest and finally to his taut abdomen that sported a delicious six-pack. But when her eyes drifted lower still to the whorl of hair at his groin and the enormous, turgid erection, they went wide with shock.

  Eddie wasn’t a small man, and it had hurt when he penetrated her. But Drake? He made Eddie look like a prepubescent teenager, and she swallowed nervously as she contemplated the fact that if Eddie had hurt her—a lot—and Drake was much larger, how on earth would she be able to take him?

  His cock was swollen and rigid, straining upward toward his navel, almost lying flat against his abdomen. At her best guess, he had to be at least eight inches in length, and she couldn’t even fathom how thick he was. Surely this wasn’t possible.

  And yet she was fascinated by the sheer maleness of him. His muscled, broad chest. His thickly roped thighs and bulging biceps. He towered over her, well over six feet, making her feel delicate and so much smaller. He could squash her like a bug without even intending to.

  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Her initiation into sex had been a disaster, and the man about to make love to her was much larger than her first lover.

  “Angel, look at me,” he said in a gentle tone that held none of the dominance of before. “I will never hurt you. Please don’t fear me. You’ve only had the bad, and now I’m going to give you the sweet. You said you trusted me. So trust me to make this good for you—for both of us.”

  His words fell like a cleansing rain, soothing her fears and apprehension.

  “Sorry,” she said, attempting to replace her grimace with a smile. “I’m not exactly an expert at this, but even I know you’re bigger than the average male.”

  She hesitated for a moment, holding her breath deciding whether she wanted to risk ruining such a poignant moment. But he needed to know what she was thinking.
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