“I’ve had a nice weekend, Abigail.”
I tried to wrap my head around his calling the last two days a nice weekend. Must be some sort of crazy dom humor.
“I’d like to proceed with our relationship,” he said.
I choked on a bite of muffin. “You would?”
“I’m very pleased with you. You have an interesting demeanor and a willingness to learn.”
I was surprised he could tell anything from the little time we’d spent together, but answered, “Thank you, sir.”
“You have an important decision to make today. We can discuss the details after breakfast and your shower. I’m sure you have a few questions for me.”
It might be the only opening I had and I took it. “Can I ask you something, sir?”
“Of course. This is your table.”
I took a deep breath. “How did you know I didn’t take a shower yesterday morning or this morning? Do you live here during the week or do you have a place in the city? How did—”
“One question at a time, Abigail,” he said, holding a hand up. “I am an extraordinarily observant man. Your hair didn’t look like it’d been washed yesterday. I guessed you didn’t take a shower this morning because you rushed in here like you had a demon chasing you. I live here on weekends and have a place in the city.”
“You didn’t ask if I followed your instructions last night.”
He took another sip of coffee. “I believe you.”
“Because you can’t lie—your face is an open book.” He folded his napkin and placed it beside his plate. “Never play poker, you’ll lose.”
I wanted to be angry, but couldn’t. I’d tried to play poker once with Felicia and lost badly. “Can I ask another question?”
“I’m still at the table.”
I smiled. Yes, he was. All that hard man-muscle, that gorgeous body, that smug grin—they were still at the table. With me. “Tell me about your family.”
He raised an eyebrow, as if he couldn’t believe that was what I wanted to know. “I was adopted by my aunt, Linda, when I was ten. She’s Chief of Staff at Lenox. My uncle died a few years ago. Their only child, Jackson, plays for the Giants.”
“I’ve seen his picture in the papers,” I said. “My best friend, Felicia, asked if I knew whether or not he was single.”
His eyes narrowed and his lips pressed together in a thin line. “How much did you tell your friend about me?” he asked. “I believe the papers from Godwin were very clear concerning my stance on confidentiality.”
“It’s not like that,” I said. “Felicia’s my safety call; I had to tell her. But she understands, she won’t tell anyone anything. Trust me, I’ve known her since grade school.”
“Your safety call? Is she in the lifestyle?”
I shook my head. “Quite the opposite, actually, but she knows I wanted this weekend, so she agreed to do it for me.”
My answer seemed to satisfy him, he gave a slight nod. “Jackson doesn’t know about my lifestyle and, yes, he’s single.” The corner of his mouth lifted. “I have a tendency to be a bit overprotective—he’s had to deal with his share of gold-diggers.”
“Felicia’s not a gold-digger. Granted, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a good-looking professional athlete. But she’s got the biggest heart of anyone I know and is loyal to a fault.”
He didn’t look convinced. “What does she do?”
“She’s a kindergarten teacher. Petite, red-headed, and gorgeous.”
“Why don’t you give me her number? I’ll pass it on to Jackson and he can decide if he wants to call her.”
I smiled. Felicia would owe me big-time.
His expression grew serious. “Getting back to what I said earlier, I want you to wear my collar, Abigail. Please consider it while you shower. Meet me in my room in an hour and we’ll discuss it further.”
His collar? Already? I wasn’t expecting to be collared so quickly. How come whenever I spoke with Nathaniel I always felt more flustered and confused at the end of the conversation than I did at the beginning?
From his spot on the floor, Apollo looked up at me and whined.
An hour later, Nathaniel waited for me in his room, holding a box. A cushioned bench was in the middle of the floor. He waved toward it. “Have a seat.”
When I’d left my bathroom earlier I found a silver satin bathrobe with matching panties and a bra waiting for me on the bed. I thought it was pretty high-handed of Nathaniel to set my clothes out, but I had agreed to his terms.
Which was why I gathered the robe around me and sat as daintily as possible on the soft bench. Nathaniel wore faded blue jeans and nothing else. Not even socks. I sighed. Even his feet were perfect.
He turned and sat the box on the dresser by his bed.
When he faced me again, he held a platinum choker made of two thick rope-like strands twisted together. Sunlight bounced from the facets of the numerous diamonds embedded in the platinum. “If you choose to wear this, you’ll be marked as mine. Mine to do with as I wish. You will obey me and never question what I tell you to do. Your weekends are mine to fill as I wish. Your body is mine to use as I wish. I will never be cruel or cause permanent harm, but I am not an easy master, Abigail. I will have you do things you never thought possible, but I can also bring you a pleasure you never imagined.”
My skin broke out in a cold sweat. He stepped even closer. “Do you understand?”
I nodded. “I understand, sir.”
“Will you wear this?”
Again, I nodded.
He moved behind me, his hands brushing my neck as he fastened the collar. It was the first time he’d touched me all weekend and I jumped at the contact.
“You look like a queen,” he said, moving his hands across my shoulders and pushing the robe off. “And now you’re mine.” His hands moved under my bra and gently swept over my breasts. “These are mine.” His hands ran down my side. “Mine.” He placed a kiss on my neck, then bit me gently.
His lips. His hands. His touch. I threw my head back and sighed at how wonderful they felt.
“Mine.” His hands continued their descent. He reached the waistband of my panties and pushed it aside. “And this?” He slid a finger inside me. “All mine.”
He moved his finger in and out and I discovered I’d been right about his fingers, they could do wonderful things. They stroked hard and deep, but right when I was on the edge, he pulled them out. “Even your orgasms are mine.”
I groaned in frustration. Damn it, would he ever let me cl**ax?
“Soon,” he whispered. “Very soon. I promise.”
Soon, like sometime in the next hour? The choker felt heavy around my neck. I reached up to touch it.
“It looks very nice on you.” He took a pillow from the bed behind him and put it on the floor. “Your safe word is turpentine. Say it and this ends immediately. You take the collar off, drive away, and never return. Otherwise, you will come here every Friday. Sometimes you will arrive at six and we’ll have dinner in the kitchen. Other times, you’ll come at eight and head straight to my room. My orders for sleep, food, and exercise remain. Do you understand?”
“Good.” He continued, “I’m often invited to society functions. You will attend these with me. I have one such function next Saturday night—a benefit for one of my aunt’s non-profits. If you do not have a ball gown, I will provide you with one. Is all this clear? Ask me if you have any questions.”
My brain was fuzzy, I couldn’t think straight. “I have no questions.”
He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “I have no questions…”
He wanted something, wanted me to say something. What was it?
“Say it, Abigail. You’ve earned it.”
The light dawned. “I have no questions, Master.”
“Yes. Very nice.” He pulled back, the excitement shining in his eyes once more. He went and stood behind the pillow and unbuttoned his jeans. “Now come and show me how happy you are to wear my collar.”
Felicia had raised an eyebrow when I returned home on Sunday, but hadn’t said anything. I supposed as long as I made it home in one piece, she wouldn’t comment. She’d told me I was stupid once and in her mind that was enough warning. And she had other things to occupy her time—Jackson Clark called her that night to invite her to the black tie benefit. She had accepted and they’d talked every day since.
That same Sunday evening, while Felicia had been talking to Jackson, I’d also been busy. I sat down at my computer and pulled up my browsing history. I had to see the picture of her again. Had to see if she had my collar on. I drummed my fingers on the desk as I waited. My collar. Could it really be mine if countless other women had worn it? The page loaded. There was Nathaniel, but my eyes weren’t drawn to him, just to his date.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw she didn’t have the diamond choker on. Instead, she wore a strand of pearls. I cocked my head to the side. Would Nathaniel have collared her with pearls? Frustrated, I shut the computer off.
Monday through Friday, I went to work as usual at one of New York’s public libraries, surrounded by books and the people who love them. Books usually soothe me. “Usually” being the operative word. Two days a week, I tutored teenagers in English and Literature. I enjoyed helping them, seeing the light in their eyes as they worked through an unusually hard problem or discovered a new skill—but on Wednesday one of my students had caught me fingering my collar. Just a simple, “Nice necklace, Ms. King” had me all a fluster. Nathaniel had forbidden me to take it off. I tried not to think of what the boy’s parents would say if they knew what I’d done last weekend. What I planned to do this weekend.
It’s not anyone’s business. My time is my time, I thought with a nod of my head. Then it hit me—my time on the weekends wasn’t mine anymore. It was Nathaniel’s.
By Friday it had been a long week. Technically, it hadn’t even been a week since I’d seen him, just five days. But it felt like ten.
Nathaniel was waiting for me when I pulled up to his estate that night at six o’clock sharp. He’d set out plates of angel hair pasta with clam sauce.
“How was your week?” he asked when I’d swallowed my first bite.
“Long,” I said. No need to lie about it. “How was yours?”
He shrugged. Of course he wouldn’t admit to looking forward to the weekend. But even if he would, there was no way he had as many butterflies in his stomach as I did in mine.
What would we do tonight? Would he touch me? I remembered how his hands ran over my body on Sunday and I shuddered.
“Apollo killed a gopher.”
I nodded. It was insane, both of us sitting and eating dinner like we were just a normal couple. Like it was a normal Friday night. Like he hadn’t chained me up n**ed less than a week ago and whipped me with a riding crop. Like I hadn’t liked it. I shifted in my seat.
“My friend Todd’s wife, Elaina, brought a gown by earlier. They’re looking forward to meeting you.”
My head snapped up at that. “Your friends? Does everyone know about us?”
He twirled a strand of pasta around his fork and brought it to his mouth. That mouth. Those lips. I watched as he chewed and leisurely swallowed. Ugh. It was getting hot in the kitchen. I quickly ate a bite.
“They know you’re my date,” he said. “They don’t know about our agreement.”
Agreement. Yes, that was a nice way to put it. I concentrated on cutting my pasta. Across from me, Nathaniel ran a finger around the rim of his wineglass. He was taunting me, playing me like a violin. And doing a masterful job.
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