“Sure. Would you like a beer?”


“A beer would be fine.”


“Head out onto the back deck and I’ll bring it to you.”


Cam heard the sliding glass door open, forgetting Gracie was penned in the backyard until Domini shrieked. He turned just in time to see Domini leap on the antique oak table.


Gracie barked and raced around excitedly, thinking it was a game.


“Gracie! Sit.”


A disbelieving whimper sounded and then the Border collie obeyed.


“Good girl.” Cam crossed to the dog, ignoring Domini crouched like a cat about to pounce. He ruffled Gracie’s silky ears. “Listen up, pup. Domini hasn’t been around dogs as cool as you, so give her some time to adjust. Be on your best behavior and before you know it, you’ll have Domini sneakin’ you treats and rubbing your fat belly. Understand?”


Gracie barked twice.


“Good girl. Stay.” Cam grabbed a new rawhide chew out of the pantry. The second Gracie saw it her tail thumped. Her tongue flopped past her gums in a doggie version of a smile. He couldn’t help but grin. The damn dog cracked him up. “If I let you out in the pasture, you can’t be sneakin’ up on Colby’s cattle.”


A tiny, sad noise hummed from Gracie.


Domini said, “She’d do that?”


“Yep. Her breed is great for herding. Since I don’t have cattle she tries to herd everyone else’s cattle. Back here. The first couple times my brothers were amused. After that, not so much.”


Gracie whined pitifully again.


“I mean it, Gracie. No chasing cows.”


Two more barks.


Cam shot a look over his shoulder at Domini. “Be right back without the mutt. Grab the beer and I’ll meetcha outside.” He whistled loudly and Gracie raced out of the house hell bent for leather.


When he returned, Domini had curled up in a lounge chair in the far corner of the deck. Sunglasses covered her eyes and she’d wrapped both hands around a bottle of Bud Light.


He snagged a beer and eased himself into the chair beside her. “Sorry about that.”


“Not your fault I freaked out about a dog. I should be apologizing because I jumped on the table like a spooked cat.” She muttered in Ukrainian and gulped her beer.


“We all have fears, princess.”


“Even you?”


“Especially me.” Cam pried her fingers away from the beer bottle so he could hold her hand. “But maybe you oughta come clean about what happened that makes you so afraid of dogs.”


Domini gazed off into the distance, as if gauging her words. “When I was six, we were relocating from Kiev to Kharkiv because everything was in chaos due to the Chernobyl incident. We were waiting outside the train station, when two Soviet policemen showed up with a German shepherd police dog. A big, mean, snarly attack dog. Although I’d done nothing wrong, I…ran.”


Cam’s throat closed up.


“The dog chased me until it caught me. By the time the police and my parents separated me from the dog’s jaws, I was already bleeding badly. I remember little of the hospital except the excruciating pain when they stitched me up. The next day the same Soviet police came by and wrote my father a ticket.”


“For what?”


“Some trumped-up missing paperwork charge. Mostly they needed an excuse to explain why a dog that was supposed to be protecting people, attacked a child unprovoked.”


“Jesus. The police twisted it around so it was your fault?”


“Stuff like that happened all the time when we were under Soviet rule. Law enforcement there is nothing like it is here. So, we had to stay in Kiev another three weeks, during which I got an infection.” She shuddered. “I ended up back in the hospital and almost died. I’ve had…issues with dogs ever since, which is why my first instinct is to run.”


Rage filled him. Yet he managed a calm, “Where did the dog bite you?”


“You asked, I answered, so can we drop it now? It doesn’t matter.”


Cam stood. He braced his hands on the armrest of her chair and demanded, “Where did the dog bite you?”


Her pale eyebrows lifted above the rims of her sunglasses. “The first mark is on the back of my left shoulder and the second one is on my hip.”


“Lemme see.”


“Cam. It’s not important.”


“Then it shouldn’t be such a big goddamned deal to let me see it.” Why was he pushing her on this?


Because you want her to be physically scarred, same as you. You want to see it so you don’t feel like such a freak.


In angry, jerky movements, Domini slid the shirt down her left shoulder. She dropped her chin to her chest, leaving the nape of her neck exposed.


Oh fuck. His stomach clenched. The jagged edges of the white scar tissue showed where the dog had ripped a huge chunk of her skin off. Whatever sawbones had treated her in the Ukraine managed to piece it together, but not very well. How had he missed feeling those ridged scars last night?


Because you were selfish and then you were gone.


Seeing that broken section of her skin broke something inside him. He placed his mouth against her warm, sweet-smelling flesh and tenderly pressed kisses across every inch of the scar. And when he finished the first pass, he did it again.


Domini’s breath caught.


Cam dragged his mouth over the sexy arch of her neck, pushing aside the baby-fine strands of hair. He brushed his damp lips to her ear and murmured, “See, that wasn’t so hard,” before easing back and retaking his seat.


She hadn’t removed her sunglasses, but he knew she was watching him very closely.


“So what’s churning inside that pretty head of yours, princess?”


“I was just thinking I still run from situations that scare me. Dogs. People.”


“Do I scare you because I’m a cop?”


She shook her head.


“Good.”


“But that’s not entirely true. I’ve never been in this situation before.”


“What situation is that?”


“Asking you for something.”


“You afraid I’ll deny you?”


Domini shrugged. “Given our past…situation, maybe I am a little afraid you’ll think I’m weird for what I want.”


Cam reached out to reassure her, but thought better of it. Now was the time for talking, not touching. “Try me.”


“It’s about sex. At least, I’m assuming we’re going to have sex.”


Sweet Jesus. Hopefully she wasn’t one of those stump fetish freaks who could only get off with amputees. He’d never been with a woman like that, but lots of guys he’d met at the VA talked about being approached by women—and men—with that bizarre fetish. “So if I say, yes, I’m ready to nail you right now…you’d say?”


“Yes.” She removed her sunglasses and locked her gaze to his. “I’d say what I really want is for you to take control of me during sex. Just like you did last night when you handcuffed me, pushed me to my knees and made me suck you off.”


His heart began to race. “You liked that?”


“Yes. A lot.”


“Why?”


“I’ve never been able to really let go in any kind of sexual situation.”


“Why not?”


“I used to think it was because I was with a church organization for a lot of years and they taught us sex—wanting it, doing it—was totally wrong. But my real problem is I worry too much I won’t measure up because I’m so inexperienced. And if you haven’t realized it yet, I’m also shy.”


Cam smiled. “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”


Domini rolled her eyes. “So I’ve always fantasized about finding a man who will take away my choice, who won’t let me be shy about any aspect of sex. A man who will command me to please him and myself, but who won’t physically hurt me.”


“You looking at playing master and slave? The boot licking, collar-wearing type of role-playing and pretend punishments?”


“No. I just…don’t want to have to think about sex. I want to surrender my body to a man who pushes me to my sexual limits so I can experience the ultimate pleasure and give it back to him in return any way he wants it.”


“Have you ever been in this type of sexual relationship?”


“No. I haven’t had many lovers.”


“How many?”


“Three.”


It figured. Domini was as innocent as he’d feared. “So if you’ve had little sexual experience or exposure to a dominant male, how do you know so much about this?”


Color tinged her cheeks. “I don’t…well…besides reading romance novels with a bit of a domination theme. I realized that type of sexual relationship was what I was looking for.”


“Submissive?”


She nodded.


“Say the word. If you want to be submissive to me, you’ll say it.”


“Submissive.”


“So if you’re submissive, that makes me…?”


“Dominant.”


“Exactly. Do you know what it means to be under the rule of a dominant male, Domini?”


“No. But I know you’ll teach me. I want you to teach me.”


That little remark made his dick hard. “You wanna know why I stayed away from you? Because I couldn’t imagine you—sweet, kind, timid Domini—letting me have my way with you however I wanted. Letting me fuck your mouth, your cunt, your ass. I couldn’t fathom you’d be willing to let me call the shots and play rough.”


“How rough?”


“I’d never use my rougher edges as an excuse to hurt you. Spanking your ass with my hand is one thing, making you bleed by punching you in the face falls into a whole nother realm.


“For example.” He leaned forward, using his voice as a lure. “If I wanna handcuff you to my bed all night or all day, I will. If I wanna fuck you against the truck, I will. If I want you to go down on me in my patrol car when no one else is around, you will. If you agree to this, my rules are simple. Any time, any place, any position I say, you say, ‘yes’.”

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