Next, she showed me an industrial kitchen, as well as a smaller and more home-like second kitchen, saying that I’d use the secondary kitchen for my day-to-day needs. There was a breakfast nook off the secondary kitchen, tucked up against more floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city.

There was a single door set at the end of a short hallway just off the secondary kitchen. “What’s through there?” I asked.

“His quarters. The door is always locked, and that is the only area that is off-limits to you,” she said, gesturing for me to follow her.

She took me up an internal elevator to an open area with an indoor pool. The ceiling was glass, revealing the night sky. Through a door off this room were a sauna, a full bathroom, a massage room, a weight room, and a dojo, complete with sparring dummies and a rack of wooden practice weapons of all kinds.

Finally she led me back down the main floor and halted outside a pair of French doors, not far from the kitchens. “Through this door is the dining room, where he awaits you. If you are ready?”

Eliza held up the blindfold. I nodded, and she moved to stand behind me, tying it around my head. Once more, the world went black, and I was reliant on my other four senses.

“I feel I should say…I have worked for him for twenty years, Miss Kyrie. He is a good man. He has his own strange ways, and likes things just so, and he demands excellence in all things, but…he is a good man. I know you must be afraid, but please, you do not need to be. If there is anything I am able to do for you, you have only to ask. I am the chef as well, so if you wish any particular foods or would like a specific dish, just ask me. You have only to call for me via the intercom, and I will respond.” She patted me on the shoulder, and then I heard the door open and her hands took mine. “This way, please.”

She led me about fifty steps, my heels echoing on a tile or marble floor and far-away walls. “Miss Kyrie, sir.”

“Thank you, Eliza.” His voice came from my left, approaching over soft footfalls. “We will begin with the first course when you’re ready.”

“Very good, sir.” Eliza’s footsteps receded, in the opposite direction from where we’d come, and then a door opened and closed.

I felt his hands on mine, engulfing mine, pulling me forward several more steps, and then he pulled out a chair, guided me in front of it, and settled me down with his hands heavy but gentle on my shoulders. When I was sitting, his hands remained there, thumbs massaging between my shoulder blades. I was tense, I realized, and his strong, gentle pressure felt wonderful. Too wonderful. I almost moaned aloud, but managed to hold it back.


“So tense, Kyrie.”

“I’d say I have reason to be a little tense, don’t you?”

“Mmm. I suppose you do, at that.” His palms ran down my arms, and his thumbs worked into the knots around my spine with smooth, powerful, rolling strokes. Jesus help me, that felt good. “Are you hungry, Kyrie?”

My stomach gurgled, answering for me. He laughed, and I heard a chair scrape across the floor beside me. “How’s this going to work?” I asked. “You can’t expect me to eat with this blindfold on.”

“You’ll see,” was his cryptic response.

A few seconds later, I heard a door open, and plates were set down before us. I smelled soup, beef stock possibly, and fresh-baked bread. Eliza left, and I fumbled in front of me for a spoon, found it, and then hunted for the edges of the bowl. I found it, only to jostle it so scalding liquid sloshed onto my hand, causing me to jerk away and curse.

“Kyrie, Kyrie. So impatient. Give me your hand.” His voice was equal parts amused and disapproving.

I hesitated, and then held out my throbbing hand. My palm rested against his. I heard a utensil clink against glass, and then something intensely cold slid over the burned flesh at the web of my hand, between thumb and forefinger. I hissed in surprise, and then moaned in relief as the ice soothed the burn. After a few seconds, he set the ice cube on a tray or plate of some kind, and a cloth dabbed at my skin, drying it. And then my hand was lifted, and I his lips touched the burned place on my hand, kissing it. I felt a blush run through me, shuddering down my spine.

“What—what are you doing?” I asked, my voice squeaking.

“This…” he answered, between kisses. “Does it feel better now?”

“I—I…yes…” I breathed.

The touch of his lips was tender, sensual. The ice had soothed away the burn, leaving a faint tingle, and then his lips skated across my skin, warm and moist, and I couldn’t stop a shiver, couldn’t stop a gasp. His lips moved from the web of my thumb to the back of my hand, no longer soothing now, but kissing for the sake of kissing. Oh, god. He was kissing my hand? No one had kissed my hurts since I was a tiny child. My mother was never the kiss-it-better type, even on her best days. And my father, well, he’d been loving enough, but was often absent, working all the time.

Now the kisses moved across my knuckles, around the edge of my hand. I swallowed hard past the distraught lump in my throat, but still couldn’t catch my breath. Another kiss, to the knife edge of my hand. He turned my palm face up, and his lips touched the center of my hand. My fingers curled involuntarily and touched a stubbled upper lip, then brushed against his nose. His skin was so warm, soft yet rough, a perfect contradiction of manhood. Lips brushed over the heel of my palm, to my wrist. Oh, god, oh lord, oh shit. The touch of his lips was…overwhelming, gentle, sweet, insistent, and almost erotic. I was panting in shallow breaths, and as his lips kissed my forearm, it finally happened. I moaned. I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t believe it had happened. The sound was blatant arousal, breathy and sensual. I felt more than heard his rumble in response, and he pressed a kiss to the inside of my elbow, a place no lips had ever, ever touched. I was rocked to my core by the electric heat that flushed through me at the feel of his mouth just there. He felt my reaction, and kissed me there again. I exhaled, tipping my head back on my neck and fighting for composure. But I had none. Not even a shred. His fingers threaded through mine from behind, his palm resting on the back of my knuckles, and his other hand cupped my elbow, holding my arm out for him.

Another embarrassingly breathy moan slid from my throat as his lips touched my bicep, moved to the inside, that soft and tender flesh there. Hot soft wet lips, kissing me so intimately, so tenderly, I couldn’t prevent the sound from escaping me. I’d never been touched this way, never been kissed this way. His lips hadn’t touched mine, hadn’t touched me anywhere at all but my hand and arm, and yet I was more aroused than I’d ever been in all my life. I was shaking from head to toe, hot all over, mouth hanging open, barely breathing.