Falling in deeper, p.21
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       Falling in Deeper, p.21
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         Part #11 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black

  He softened. “You went through something way harder than I can imagine. You haven’t worked through your trauma because you don’t have any resolution. I’m not implying that you’re selfish. I’m asking you to work with me. Let’s put your life back on track together.”

  She bowed her head and drew in a shuddering breath. He could practically feel her thinking. Stone clenched his fist, itching to lend his support by stroking her crown and caressing her jaw. But she had to reach some conclusions alone.

  “You want me to testify.” Lily looked as if the idea terrified her. “I understand why. I know I probably don’t have a future unless I do. I get that you want me to talk to you about it. I just . . . For seven years, I’ve tried to do everything myself. I let Axel understand my feelings as long as I didn’t involve him too deeply in my past. That was my burden to bear.” When Stone prepared to launch into his argument, Lily held up a hand to stop him. “I know you want to help. And I’m more touched than you know. But I’d be lying if I said that changing my mind and facing Canton after all these years is simple. I’m still thinking about this. It’s not a quick decision. Can we talk again tomorrow?”

  Tomorrow wasn’t good. Tomorrow, Axel might be rolling down the highway to get in the middle of this shit in the name of protecting his former sub. Tomorrow might be too late.

  But Stone couldn’t exactly force her to make a decision right now. He could only keep working on their trust and hoping that their future was important to her, too.

  “All right. We will be talking at first light. Understood?”

  “Yes,” she murmured.

  “That gives us hours to play, baby.”

  Her gaze snapped up, meeting his. Then a surprising coy feminine power transformed her expression. It was as if knowing that tonight she didn’t have to think about the past anymore flipped a switch inside her. Suddenly Stone understood. She’d become a pro at deferring the tough decisions ahead because she’d been doing it for years.

  That would definitely stop tomorrow.

  Lily smiled at him and sat back on her heels, thrusting her breasts up. “That’s good to know. Do you see something you want?”

  Oh, she wanted to toy with him? Stone couldn’t help a rueful smile at her sensual, playful tone. He enjoyed this side of her. Game on.

  He took a step closer and anchored one palm on her head so she had nowhere to look but his zipper and his throbbing cock imprisoned behind it. “Look straight ahead, right at me. What do you think?”

  “You’re hard.” She almost sounded proud.

  “Damn straight. But you know what, baby? When you look at me, I think you see something you want, too.”

  Lily licked her lips nervously, staring at his cock straining against his jeans. “I do.”

  To his shock, she leaned forward and nuzzled her cheek against the fold covering his zipper, nudging his bulge. The contact was like an electric bolt firing his blood. It shot straight to his dick. Crap, the woman was driving him out of his mind. He had to take control of the situation.

  Fighting for a steadying breath, Stone stepped away. “Stand up.”

  “You didn’t like the way I touched you?” She batted her lashes.

  “I think you know better,” he pointed out. “And we’ll get back to that, but I have an agenda tonight. I’m going to give you instructions. You’re going to comply without question. If you need clarification, I’ll provide it. Otherwise, I expect immediate obedience.”

  As his tone changed, so did her demeanor, and she lowered her gaze. “Yes, Stone.”

  Even her voice sounded submissive, and it did something to the man in him.

  Since direct confrontation wasn’t loosening her up, Stone had chosen a form of communication Lily was familiar with. According to Thorpe, Axel had used it to make completely different points with her, but she knew this game was serious. Stone intended for her to listen and obey. When she slipped into submissive mode, she didn’t want to disappoint. Right now, Stone would use whatever he could to make her see he was right.

  “Good. Before we get started, let’s cover a few reminders. What’s your safe word?”


  “That’s it. I will push your boundaries. But you’re free to use your safe word if I’m actually hurting you or you feel as if you cannot handle what I’m doing. Make sense?”

  “Yes, Stone.”

  “Good.” He couldn’t stop himself from caressing the crown of her head, letting her know that he both heard and appreciated her compliance. “Have I ever done anything to actually hurt or endanger you?”

  “No, Stone.”

  “Will I?” The question came out automatically because he knew the answer: never. But how hurt would she be if she heard about the deal the feds had tried to cut him? Very. She’d feel utterly betrayed. He wished he didn’t have to accept it to have a future with her. But with trust so tenuous between them, if he tried to explain the situation to her right now, every bridge he’d tried to build with her would crumble. He’d tell her soon; he had to. After tonight, when he hoped they’d be stronger.

  Then Stone realized Lily was still silent. It only reinforced all his worries about their trust. She’d given him all her other answers quickly, almost as if instinct had provided her replies. This one she thought about a few moments longer. While he understood, waiting for her to weigh her trust nearly ripped his guts out.

  “I don’t think so.” She lifted her gaze to him, her lower lip trembling. “I’m just being honest. Remember, I’m slow to trust. This is the fastest I’ve ever just . . . believed in anyone.”

  On the surface, it didn’t seem as if she had put much faith in him. But given what she’d been through and what he knew about her habits with Axel, he realized she’d put a lot of trust in him already. He needed to be worthy of it and be patient. She was staying with him in an unfamiliar place she couldn’t easily escape. She slept in his arms every night, too. Then . . . there was the sex. Thorpe had hinted that Axel hadn’t reached that point with Lily for months. Even more, Stone realized, she’d trusted him with her whole tragic, terrible story. She’d shared shame and danger and helplessness. Even now, she knelt in front of him with big eyes that pleaded with him to understand that she was giving her best.

  “I know, baby. Just like I’m trying to be patient. Being a pushy bastard is in my nature, but I’ll keep trying to stifle that side of me and be reasonable.” He caressed her cheek. “To be totally clear, I will never hurt or endanger you. I want you to remember that tonight.”

  “A-all right.” She sounded worried but didn’t argue . . . yet.

  With a satisfied nod, he pulled out his phone and launched the app to stream radio, choosing a mellow station that played ballads. He wanted her relaxed, calm. What he planned wasn’t romantic but held gravity. Stone needed her to feel it.

  “Put your hands in front of you, palms up, shoulder width apart.”

  Instantly, she complied, and he couldn’t miss the shudder that went through her. Yeah, she liked complex, adult Simon Says–type games. According to Thorpe, she enjoyed the challenge and played to win.

  Stone turned and retrieved a pair of cuffs, then stopped in front of her again. “I’m putting these on your wrists. Don’t flinch. If they’re too tight, say so.”

  “Yes, Stone,” she replied in a breathy whisper.

  Without hesitation, he buckled the leather cuffs, one around each wrist, and checked to make sure he could still fit a finger—but no more—under the wide strap.

  “Turn your palms down.”

  Again, she obeyed. The O-rings on top of the cuffs winked in the overhead light. Stone whirled around to the table behind him and reached for a long snap hook.

  He closed the little metallic device up in his fist. “Hands behind your back.”

  A bare hesitation later and she complied, winding her arms around her and grabbing the fingers of her left hand with her right. “Like this?”

  With slow steps intended to drum u
p her heartbeat, Stone circled behind her, pretending to consider whether to give his praise. “That’s correct. Hold still.”

  “Yes, Stone.” Her voice sounded a little lower, a little more remote, as if she were beginning to feel more and think less.

  Exactly what he wanted.

  He fastened the two-headed hook to her cuffs, one end to each of the O-rings. Then he rounded her again, staring down at the way the position thrust her breasts out. He wouldn’t be a heterosexual man if that didn’t get to him. But he couldn’t let her know that the very sight of her beat the shit out of his self-control, so he kept his groan of appreciation to himself.

  “Do your shoulders hurt?”


  “Good to hear. Tell me about the tattoo on your shoulder blade.”

  She dragged in a shuddering breath then spoke in the softest whisper. “The wren flying from its cage symbolizes Regina leaving the pain of this earth to be free. The rose in its beak is both for her middle name and because I wanted to give her a token of my love as she left me.”

  So simple and poignant. Something hot stung the back of his eyes. Tears. Shit, both her grief and her tribute moved him. How amazing that she’d chosen to honor the little girl’s memory this way. “It’s perfect. Now close your eyes. You don’t need to control anything here. I’ve got you.”

  He would remind her again if that would ease her along, but right now she needed to hear the assurance and the authority in his voice.

  With a little nod, Lily snapped her eyes shut. “Yes, Stone. Sorry.”

  He circled to her front again and grazed a fingertip over her cheekbone. “You’re forgiven.”

  And now it was time to put this game into overdrive.

  With a few clicks of a button on his phone, he turned up the music. On bare feet, he crossed the floor, exiting the playroom. He dashed down the hall, grabbed a few things from the fridge, then headed back.

  He sneaked up on the portal and stuck his head around the corner, trying to catch her peeking or otherwise giving him a sign that she didn’t trust him. But he found Lily exactly as he’d left her—head bowed, shoulders back, the long line of her spine an enticing view above the heart-shaped ass sitting on those fuck-me red heels.

  Sucking in a breath, he grabbed a refrigerated can and shook it, stopping before her again. “Open your mouth, tongue out.”

  Lily pressed her lips together for a moment. Thinking it over? Gathering her courage? Before he could bark at her about trust and compliance, she did as he’d bidden. Stone stood back and stared.

  Like a child sticking her tongue out to catch the rain, she waited. The way she sat back on her heels, eyes closed, awaiting his next move, undid him. She was fighting for this composure, but Stone had no doubt she did it because she wanted to please him.

  That realization was heady shit.

  He flipped off the top of the can and turned it upside down, right over her outstretched tongue. Then he pushed his finger against the red plastic dispenser. A soft whoosh filled the air. Whipped cream piled on her tongue.

  She managed to curl her tongue up in a little smile.

  Stone bit back a curse. Wouldn’t he like to put his cock right there?

  “Swallow,” he instructed.

  He didn’t have to tell her twice. She closed her mouth and sucked, smacking her lips with a widening grin.

  “Tongue out again.”

  Happily, she complied, almost comically eager for more.

  Stone couldn’t take his eyes off Lily, looking ready, breath held, anticipation rolling off her. Her nipples peaked. Her skin looked so damn luminous in the light. Goddamn it, he wanted to fuck all the games and make love to her.

  But she needed to trust him. She needed to feel the comfort of something familiar with him. She needed levity and joy in her life.

  What he wanted right now didn’t matter two shits.

  Stone approached the bench with his goodies again and set the whipped cream aside. He grabbed a couple of things that made him grin. He couldn’t wait to see what she made of this.

  He broke off part of a strip of bacon left over from breakfast and placed it on her tongue. She smelled it before she tasted it and started moaning impatiently.

  “Wait,” he demanded.

  She wriggled as if she had ants in her pants . . . despite the fact that she wore no pants at all.

  Popping off another plastic top and lifting the spout, Stone squeezed the bottle. As he watched honey coat her tongue, his cock got harder by the second. “Taste it, then swallow.”

  Lily drew her tongue past her lips and almost instantly started moaning. “Bacon and honey? You are a genius. Oh my god . . .”

  Stone grinned. “When I was a kid, my grandma made this casserole every Christmas morning with those two ingredients. It was always my favorite.”

  “It’s to die for. What’s next?” She sounded completely eager.

  “Not food. Hold still.”

  Her breathing stuttered. Awareness crept across her face once more as she remembered they were playing a game.

  He grabbed the next item he’d set aside from the table, then approached her from behind. That gorgeous ass bracketed by her red patent pumps and almost innocent white stockings turned him the fuck on. He bit back a moan and focused.

  “You’ve done really well so far. Keep your eyes closed and remember I’m here to protect and guide you.”

  She swallowed as if she knew he intended to challenge her boundaries. “You know I’ll try.”

  “Nope. In the immortal words of Yoda, ‘Do or do not; there is no try.’ And yes, I grew up a Star Wars nerd, so no talking smack.” Stone hoped his teasing would set her at ease.

  Lily gave him a shaky nod, then slid her eyes shut. Stone braced himself for the worst, even as he hoped for the best.

  Then he dropped the blindfold in front of her face, settling it over her eyes, and waited.

  She stiffened and sucked in calming breaths, clearly fighting her instinct to panic. Though she did well, Stone sensed she was losing the struggle and redirected her.

  He quickly tied the scarf off, then laid his palms on her shoulders and bent to murmur in her ear. “This is no different than having your eyes closed. You have a safe word, remember?”

  “But with my hands restrained, I can’t take the blindfold off.”

  “If you need to see, communicate with me.”

  “Blindfolds make me panic. I was never able to handle one with Axel.” She sounded anxious.

  Stone got the feeling that something terrible had once happened to her while she was blindfolded. If that was the case, he would try to erase that torment for her, make some good memories to counter the bad. “We will, you and I. Just stay with me.”

  Lily hesitated for a long moment. She trembled and struggled for air. Stone watched and worried and waited. Finally, she nodded. “Okay.”

  “I’ve got you. Now open your mouth.”

  She was familiar with this exercise, now comfortable giving him this access. Quickly, she stuck out her tongue, almost as if she’d decided that the faster she complied, the faster he’d remove her blindfold.

  He unwrapped a square of chocolate he’d found in the groceries Jack brought and set it directly on her taste buds. It began to melt almost immediately. She inhaled, taking in the scent, and gave him a groan of delight.

  “You can eat it.” He smiled at her excitement.

  Still licking her lips, she moaned. “Do you have more?”

  “Little glutton,” he teased. “No.”

  He had something else ready for her, and he was dying to know how Lily would take it and if she would enjoy it.

  “Open your mouth. Wide,” he demanded, reaching for the button of his jeans.

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