Quintessentially Q, Page 1Pepper Winters
Copyright © 2013 Pepper Winters
Published by Pepper Winters
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All music lyrics used in this book are written by Pepper Winters.
Published: Pepper Winters 2013: [email protected]
Publishing assisted by Black Firefly: http://www.blackfirefly.com/
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Editing: Stephanie Parent
French Translation: Louise Pion
Cover Design: by Ari at Cover it! Designs: http://salon.io/#coveritdesigns
Proofreading by: TJ Loveless and Robin Alexander @ Black Firefly
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This is a story of eroticism, horror, and sweet tragedy. It contains graphic scenes, but there’s always light in the darkness.
For all the esclaves of Q and lovers of twisted romance.
I ache to see your flesh bleed, scream for me, give me what I need,
let the rivers run, the monster inside has won…
I thought I would be her nightmare—her terror and darkness. I wanted to be. I needed her more than food or sunlight. Only when she came into my life did I start to live—intoxicated by her taste, screams, and joy.
But our fucked-up-fairy-tale didn’t exactly have a happy ending.
My esclave—so strong and fierce and sexually feral—wasn’t strong enough for what happened.
Her cage wasn’t me anymore.
It was them.
Naked and restrained, this darkness cannot be contained,
you, my esclave, have been claimed…
All I could think was—she’s dead. She had to be. All that blood, so bright with a coppery tang, almost sweet.
Her snowy skin was extra frosty, grey-blue eyes closed to me.
Rage and terror strangled me as I fell to my knees in the warm puddle of crimson. The whip in my hands grew slippery with sweat, and I hurled it away in disgust. I did this. I let myself go and showed my true self. The monster inside ruined the only brightness in my life.
“Tess?” I pulled her into my arms, dragging her cold, lifeless form closer. Blood smeared over us. Her red-welted body oozed with damnation.
“Wake up, esclave,” I growled, hoping an order would force those dove-blue eyes open.
I bent, pressing my cheek against her mouth, waiting endlessly for a small puff of breath, a signal I hadn’t gone too far.
Fear stopped my heart, and all I wanted to do was reverse time. Rewind to a simpler place where I lived with needs and urges, but never let myself believe I could be free. Rewind to the day when Tess arrived and I promptly sent her back to her stupid boyfriend Brax. At least if I did she would be safe, and my life wouldn’t have ended.
At least then, Tess would be alive.
My demons killed her.
I killed her.
I threw my head back and howled.
Something sharp bit my shoulder, and I flinched. Rolling away, I tried to ignore the call. I deserved to stay in this nightmarish hell. The hell I created for killing the one woman who stole my life and showed me an emotion I never dared dream of. A dream I never knew I wanted until Tess came into my life.
My cheek smarted as if someone slapped me, blazing through the darkness with a bite of pain.
I wrenched my eyes open to find a wild-eyed, blonde goddess on top of me. The debilitating terror wouldn’t leave, even though she was alive and glaring with passion I grew to know so well.
“What the hell, Q? That’s the third time this week. You going to tell me what you’re dreaming about to warrant howling like a werewolf?” Tess pinned my shoulders to the mattress, and I couldn’t stop muscles from tensing. I liked her on top, but I didn’t like her holding me as if she was in control. It wasn’t how I worked.
“None of your business.” I rolled, grabbing her hips to pin her beneath me. I risked a small smile. With her under me, my world righted again. I ran hands over her waist, up her throat, to her lips. Her breath fluttered, coming faster; the rest of my panic receded.
She was still breathing.
I hadn’t killed her.
Tess ran her hand softly over my cheek, tickling. “You should tell me what you’re afraid of. Brax used to—”
I froze, grinding my teeth. “If you know what’s good for you, you won’t finish that sentence.” Goddammit, why did she have to bring the ghost of her idiot boyfriend who treated her like a fragile princess into our bed?
Tess squeezed her eyes. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to…it’s just—I’m concerned. If you’re having bad dreams because of me, give me the opportunity to make them go away.”
It was too early in the morning to suffer an inquisition.
Four days had passed since Tess appeared on my doorstep and gave me no choice but to accept her. Accept her fire, spirit, and sharp tenacity. I may be a controlling bastard, but the moment Tess stalked into my life I lost my balls to her.
I hoped she didn’t know just how much she affected me, because I was shit terrified of what the future meant for us.
The promises she made of being strong enough for me; the blood oath that linked us together for as long as that blood pumped in our veins.
Four days since my life changed forever and I’d been in constant, excruciating pain ever since.
“Leave it alone,” I grumbled. This woman was an icy glacier to my unmovable mountain of a vow. My solemn vow that I’d never accept the fucking darkness or be a sadistic asshole like my father. The same vow that stopped me from stringing up helpless women like he did. But the glacier was winning—millimetre by millimetre, centimetre by centimetre. Her ice slithered between the hairline fractures of my will, making them larger, making the cracks harder to ignore.
For four days, I’d successfully ignored her advances for sex. Memories of taking her over the bar in the gaming room were still too raw. Tess couldn’t sit without wincing. I knew she hurt—not that she ever complained. I watched her every movement like a vulture studying the weakness of his prey. She thought she’d convinced me that she was fine, that the bruises didn’t affect her. Me. A man who smelled pain and fear as if it were a heady perfume— I knew the truth.
She said I hadn’t hurt her with my belt. She lied. I drew blood, for fuck’s sake. And I lived in a constant battleground, fighting the delicious satisfaction at her pain against my morality and horror at hurting her.
I never knew where the black urges came from. They were as much a part of me as my genetic code.
Tess didn’t deserve to be hurt—no woman did. But she
was willing to sacrifice her screams for me. For the promise of something I wasn’t sure I could give.
I fucking shouldn’t want to beat the ever-living daylights out of her, but I did. Oh, shit how I did.
“Q. You can’t keep all your thoughts locked up now you’ve let me into your life. I see the torment in your eyes. You promised you’d talk and let me in.” Her voice bled pain while her tiny fists clutched the sheets in annoyance.
We’d both made promises, and so far, neither of us had lived up to them. Not that it mattered—I had every intention of breaking my end of the bargain. She wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t strong enough.
Ce sont les premiers jours, idiot. Détends toi. Early days, idiot. Just relax.
But I couldn’t relax. I wasn’t strong enough to fight the urge to be such a manic bastard if I didn’t keep a tight rein at all times. Look what I did when Tess first arrived as my slave. I had no choice but to hunt her, hurt her, devour her.
If I had been a better man, I would’ve walked back up the stairs and ordered Franco to remove her immediately. Now I stood on the precipice of a dream come true—a woman who saw the real me, accepted me, and wanted a future with me—and all I could do was drown in nightmares of killing her.
“I’m exhausted,” I murmured. Did she hear the ulterior confession? That it hadn’t even been a week of accepting this relationship, and I was already fucking frayed. I needn’t have asked—of course Tess saw the truth. She saw too damn much.
“Stop fighting then. You haven’t touched me since I came back to you. We may share a bed, but you hardly look at me apart from when I flinch if I sit on a sore spot on my ass. You’re more remote than when I was sold to you.”
I growled deep in my chest at the sold remark. I hated the cunts who’d stolen and sold her. Every time I thought about what might’ve happened to Tess if she’d been given to another, I wanted to turn feral—to strip the falseness of businessman and paint my walls with their blood. Screw having civilized business meetings with criminals. I was done with that shit.
Images of Tess bound and beaten, raped and ruined, constantly assaulted me. The ironic thing was—now I was the bastard responsible. But by letting me use her, I found myself wanting to offer everything I had in return for her gasps of fear and whimpers of pain. I didn’t feel worthy and didn’t think I’d ever repay the debt of her gift.
My hands curled, and I trembled with pent-up rage. Anger directed at myself.
I’m fucking insane.
I sighed deeply, sucking in courage to give Tess a little of what she needed—a tiny insight into my rotten core of a mind.
“I can’t be tender with you. And I hate that I got carried away with hitting you.” There? Was she fucking satisfied? I opened up to her about things I wished I could vomit out of me. Hurl this darkness from deep inside; purge my heart so I could be sweet and kind and the perfect man for her. Not the savage, sex-hungry beast.
Her breath caught, and a soft finger trailed along my forearm. “Thank you. You don’t know what a relief it is for you to talk to me. Can you tell me about your nightmare now?”
I glared at her and sat upright. Pushy woman. She’d successfully freaked me out and pissed me off with her questions.
Rolling to the side of the huge bed, I perched on the edge with my head in my hands. I didn’t want to be a coward and run, but this was all too new. My tower room with its massive fireplace and ocean-sized white carpet still looked the same, nothing outward had changed, but Tess wreaked havoc on my soul. I didn’t know if I’d survive allowing her to dig deeper into my world.
The nightmare roared back to full colour. All that blood, so bright with a coppery tang, almost sweet.
No. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough. Somehow the evilness of my father would make me do the one thing I’d run from my entire life. I lived my life with rules, shackles. I wasn’t prepared to let a delicate, fragile little bird taunt me to untwine myself and chase her.
And I’d lose when I killed her.
On dirait une fille, putain, mercer! You sound like a fucking girl, Mercer.
I flinched as Tess scampered across the bedspread and draped herself over my naked back. Her soft fingertips traced my tattoo of fluttering sparrows and barbwire. I clenched my jaw as her touch whispered lower and lower, down my abs, heading to my cock.
I meant to stop her. I really did, but she grasped me hard through my boxer-briefs; I groaned. One touch was all I needed to make me achingly hard and drowning in dark desire.
Tess coaxed me to rigidness, all the while nibbling on my ear. “If you’re frightened of hurting me, Q…you won’t. I trust you not to go too far.”
I bit out, “I don’t trust you yet. I don’t want to break you.” I don’t trust myself to stop.
She stopped stroking and pulled back. Her warmth left me with a shiver. “I gave you my word to fight you. I’ve slept in your bed for four nights, and the most you’ve done is peck my cheek good night. You haven’t used your belt or chains or any of those toys I glimpsed in that mirrored chest of yours.”
Her eyes flittered to the end of the bed where the chest lay. Locked. No way did I want her going in there.
I groaned, gripping my head with stabbing fingers. What monster wanted to capture the blood of the woman he’d given his life to? What animal wanted to ensnare her screams to repeat over and over again like a perfect chorus?
I was right to keep myself so aloof, so obsessed with work. By staying overworked, I had no time for other needs.
I hadn’t been to work in four days. A new emotion kept me at home, never far from Tess’s side. The terror that she’d wake up one morning and realize she made a huge mistake kept me anxious and snappy. The thought of coming home from work to find her gone—well, both the man and the beast hated the very idea. But it was a mistake to think I could give up my way of life and not suffer consequences.
I had to find a way to cure myself. I had to stop this before Tess successfully goaded me into doing something I regretted.
Tess grumbled something and swung her legs off the bed. Her ass bore purple shadows from my belt. How many lashes did I give her that night? I counted thirty, but that was after the ones I’d already struck. My heart squeezed at the thought of how easy it was to lose myself around her, but a millisecond later it was overshadowed by the overwhelming urge to create more raw, angry bruises on her perfect skin. I wanted her over my knee. I wanted to have those perfect crystal tears splashing my thigh as I hit her.
Goddammit, she said I scarred her soul…would she let me scar her skin?
Tess stood before me. Her toned legs splayed, hands on her hips. So proud and regal in her own body. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. The beast inside prowled and hurled itself against the cage, trying so hard to get at her. To rip her. Ravage her.
I chained the monster back up, pulling myself together.
Tess folded to her knees between my legs and pressed her lips against my boxer-clad cock.
I jolted, gasping. The heat of her breath, the delicateness of her lips, drove me insane.
“If you won’t tell me your concerns, I’ll just taunt you until you can’t help it. You have me. I’m your slave while we’re in the bedroom, and I want to be used. I crave it. Why don’t you get that yet?”
She wanted to taunt me? Fine. I lashed out and grabbed a thick handful of messy blonde curls. Leaning down to her eye level, I stared right into the depths of her being, allowing her to see the turmoil in mine. The need, the anguish, the fine line of hatred and love for her for forcing me to accept this part of myself.
Tess sucked in a breath, shrinking beneath the weight of my stare. I shook her, loving the small blaze of pain in her eyes. Shit, would I ever become repulsed by hurting her rather than turned on?
“I understand you want me to show you what my fantasies are, but you have to give me time, esclave.” My heart raced at the word. For four days, I’d refused to call her anyt
hing but Tess. She wasn’t my slave. She wasn’t my possession. Never had been and never would be. I hated how even though I knew she was there on her own accord, I still wanted ultimate ownership. I wanted her chained and completely dependent on me. I wanted to feed her and bathe her. I wanted to be the very reason she stayed alive.
Fuck, I should get a pet.
Tess isn’t a pet, you bastard. She’s your equal. She’s Tess. Elle est à toi. She’s yours.
Her eyelids slammed closed and she swayed into me, her lips parting. “Say it again, maître. Remind me of my place.”
Shit, this fucking woman. She wasn’t curing me, she made it worse. How could I expect to avoid my nightmares when she forced me down this path?
Something unlocked inside, some darkness billowed, blocking out the light I’d been fighting so hard to keep bright.
Tess noticed. Her body tensed, her fingers digging into my thighs.
I bent closer, glowering. My heart beat thickly as black excitement unfurled. “You’re disobeying me, esclave. I think I may have to punish you.” The word punish set my muscles on edge and I gripped her harder.
She shuddered under my touch, eyes flaring wide with a sexy glint. The same glint that told me she was about to rebel and cause me to snap. Shit, I didn’t have the strength to stop myself again. My energy was depleted. The gates unlocked, and the monster was in full control.
Tess stroked my thigh once. “You aren’t allowed to punish me. I’ll run. I’ll leave you.”
My hands clenched into fists, digging into her flesh. Her threat was too close to my true fears, and I shuddered with rage. Even though I knew she did it deliberately it still riled me up. “You wouldn’t fucking dare. You returned to me. This isn’t a vacation, esclave. You don’t get to come and go as you please. You belong to me and I can do what I want to you.”
Her mouth parted, and she sucked in a shaky breath, but her eyes blazed with grey fire. “Don’t you dare touch me; I’ll ruin you.”