There was a long pause before he spoke. “Please, what?” Emery’s voice was dom-like—cool, calm, commanding, not hard or biting like moments before. He shifted his feet, angling his body toward her—a few inches only, but it was enough to show she was getting through to him again. There might still be a chance.
She swallowed thickly. “Please, Sir.”
“And what do you request of me?” He pulled the hand that she clutched free of her grasp, but moved it to the crown of her hair, stroking. His palm moved down to her neck, fingers threading and pulling tightly enough to make her arch her back to ease the pressure. It forced her face upward, and she had to look into his eyes. He stood over her now, his towering posture not threatening but completely dominating. She didn’t cower but kept herself submissive, giving him what he needed.
No one understood. No one knew the agonizing grip of pain at losing someone you loved. But Emery did. And she wanted him to talk to her, to tell her how he’d survived with a broken heart. But when he turned to look at her, eyes so full of echoing pain, she came to a realization. He wasn’t stronger, at least not in this. He was just as wounded as she. They were both lost. He without his brother, she without Rachel. Lives taken from them that could never come back. Memories tarnished by other men’s evil, leaving them with nothing more than a child’s fear of loss and death.
She didn’t think he could give her the answers she needed. But he could give her the story, provide the details which might give her enough information to solve who was behind his kidnapping. She was so close to figuring it out. She could catch whoever was responsible and prevent them from harming Emery or anyone else ever again. It would have to be enough.
“I want your help to make the monster who did this to you pay. He’s still out there. You know that.” She paused, licking her lips. “And he could come after you again. It’s why you’ve kept bodyguards and security high for the last twenty-five years,” she guessed. Her reports always showed the same man shadowing Emery the few times he’d been photographed outside his home.
Emery’s lips pursed into a thin line and his brows drew down over his eyes, which were more the color of chocolate-kissed honey now.
“You think you can catch a man who’s eluded police and the FBI?”
Her heart jolted. He’d just admitted his captor had been a man. The reports said three masked men, but he made it sound like only one man was involved. What had happened to the other two? More puzzle pieces shifted.
“I’m a skilled reporter. I’ve focused on criminal stories for years, Sir. If you let me, I can use whatever you tell me to solve the case. I know I can.” She prayed he’d hear the sincerity and resolve in her tone. She meant every word. She’d protect him and catch the bastard who’d hurt him. As penance for Rachel. As penance for every child she couldn’t save.
He seemed to consider her request.
“What would you do for me in return?” His eyes promised he meant something sexual. Something that might shatter her lonely world into pieces and leave her craving him for the rest of her life.
“D-do for you?” Sophie stuttered. That was becoming an irritating habit she needed to fix. The man had the ability to tie her in knots when he got her thinking of other things besides her job.
“I’m a dom, darling. Your needs should involve me, and your thoughts should be about what I need and want. If I am nice and give you what you need, you must give me something in return. And no…I’m not talking about money or anything as trivial as that. My story, as you call it, is worth something beyond money. I will need something just as important from you in return.”
She hesitated. What could she give him? She had nothing to offer. Nothing but…herself. She could give herself to him. A scolding voice in her head warned her that it would be a devil’s bargain. But she silenced the voice. Damn the consequences; her body wanted him. Never had she crossed a line before, never had she wanted to. She was tired of being the good girl, tired of playing it safe. The hint of danger and the thrill of dark passion in Emery’s eyes was an escape, one she needed more than her next breath.
“I’ll give you anything. Name it and it’s yours. I came here knowing what to expect.” She threw a glance around the room, eyes touching briefly on the spanking bench before settling back on him.
He chuckled and brushed the pad of one thumb over her lips. “That’s a dangerous offer.” His hand dropped to her neck, his fingers curling around her throat, the touch a warning, but he didn’t hurt her.
“What if I demand you strip completely and I tie you to a St. Andrews cross and fuck you senseless? Or if I require you to walk through the main room and accept any intimate touch another dom wishes to give you? Would you agree to that? There are a thousand things I could ask of you that would not just push your limits but break them. You were spooked at the sight of one little bench, and that tells me everything I need to know. You may have studied domination and submission, but you haven’t lived it. The importance of this particular lifestyle is that one must always be safe, sane and consensual. Your offer shows no consideration for any of those, and half the doms outside would do things you might not consent to. You have natural submissive tendencies. It’s clear from the way you responded to my commands, but we aren’t in a vanilla sex world, Sophie. While this life demands trust, it is a dark world, full of fire, passion, loss of control. Are you truly ready for that?” The bite to his tone made her arousal sharp; her womb clenched in eagerness, even as she felt a cold sweat dew on her body as trepidation set in.
Sophie breathed deeply. He’d warned her, hadn’t just accepted her blanket offer. Trust. Even as scary as what he’d mentioned sounded, she also longed for a taste of that forbidden passion. She was hungry for it. But she needed to trust him in return.
“Would you really do those things?” She glanced away then forced her eyes back. He was watching her, the way a hawk at the tallest branches of a tree might survey a rabbit in the field below. Yet he was close, so incredibly close to her he could have kissed her.
With a sigh, Emery shook his head. “Absolutely, unless of course that fell within your hard limits. I’m not a saint, and I have only the semblance of being a gentleman, but I would respect your safe word. Sharing my bed would push you right to the edge of your limits. Lucky for you, I’m in no mood to bed a woman who inherently denies her submissive nature.”