Eventually, my body could take no more, and I fell back to the chair, panting, limp. I brushed a tendril of hair away from my mouth, and then let my hand flop to the side. Only, instead of the chair, my fingers found Roth. More specifically, found his thigh, and then his zipper. And the massive, iron-hard erection straining behind it.

Yet, before I could do more than register what I’d accidentally touched, he was pinioning my wrist and pulling my hand away. “Not yet, Kyrie.”

“Doesn’t it hurt?”


“Are you going to…take care of it? Or…or let me?” I asked. I expected this, knew it was coming, knew it was part of the game.

“No. Not any of that.”

“You’re just going to stay hard like that?”

A pause. “Yes. It will go away eventually.”

“But won’t that…cause problems?”

“That’s my worry, not yours.” His voice brooked no argument.

Too bad I didn’t plan on listening. “I don’t get it, Roth. I thought that’s how this was going to work.”


“Don’t think you know how this is going to go, Kyrie. You don’t. This isn’t about getting off. For me or for you.” His was pitched low, barely audible over the sound of voices chattering through intermission. “When you touch me, you’ll be looking into my eyes. Don’t you remember what I promised you when we first discussed our arrangement?” I nodded. “What was it? Tell me, Kyrie.”

“You told me we wouldn’t have sex unless I asked for it. Unless I begged for it.”

“Correct. And are you starting to believe me?”

“Yeah, I think I am.”

“Good. Now, fix your dress before Michael arrives with our refreshments.” I tugged the skirt down past my hips, then stood and let it fall to the floor, adjusting it until it felt like it was straight. I felt Roth’s fingers pull at the fabric, adjusting it slightly, and then his hand moved to rest on my hip, possessive and familiar. I sat down again, and I felt his shoulder nudge mine. “I thought you should know, Kyrie…I have never seen anything so beautiful as your face when you come for me.”

“I don’t think I’ve come so hard in all my life,” I admitted, flushing slightly.

His lips touched my ear. “Oh…darling Kyrie. That was just the beginning, sweetheart. The things I’m going to do to you when we’re alone…you don’t even know.” The promise in his voice had me shivering, clamping my legs together at the rush of heat that flooded me all over again.

I could barely focus on the rest of the opera, wondering if he’d touch me again, if he’d kiss me again, wondering what else he could possibly do to me. Yet he didn’t. He simply held my hand, his thumb occasionally caressing my knuckles. All through the opera and the car ride home, I half-expected to feel his touch find my core again, but it never came, and I was left off-balance, wanting more, wanting to touch him, to rip the blindfold off and see him, to see if his erection had subsided, wondering what he would do next.

He held my hand on the elevator ride up to his penthouse, all the way to the door of my rooms, and then he took both of my hands in his, pressing my back to the door.

I tilted my head up, ready for anything.

“Good night, Kyrie.” His lips brushed mine, swift and dry.

That was it? Make me come in the middle of the opera, then nothing? Just…good night?

“Good night, Roth.” I was frustrated, confused.

His hand left mine, opened my door, and I stepped back, turned around, away from him. He untied my blindfold, yet instead of taking it as he had the last time, he put it in my hands.

I saw his hands. They were even larger than I’d expected. I placed my palm against his, comparing. The tips of my fingers barely reached the middle of his, so he could fold his fingers over mine. His hands were rough, callused, thick and strong. The nails were cut close, filed into neat, even arcs. Not manicured or buffed, just cared for. He was still, frozen behind me as I held his one large, tanned paw in my smaller hand. I turned his palm to face down. The skin on the back of his hand was leathery, lined.

“Your hands are rough.”


“I was under the impression that you grew up…wealthy.”

“I did.”

“But yet your hands….”

He didn’t answer right away, but neither did he pull his hand from mine. I couldn’t help slipping my fingers through his. “I grew up very, very wealthy. My father is, even still, one of the wealthiest and most successful businessmen in the world. You wouldn’t have heard of him, because he keeps a low profile, stays out of the news and such. But yes, you’re right, I grew up rich. Spoiled. I never did a thing for myself as a child. My food was cooked for me, brought to me. My bed was made for me. I was driven everywhere by a chauffeur. I had bodyguards and personal attendants, private tutors. I grew up getting whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.” His voice was so close, pitched to barely a murmur, each word hesitant, as if he couldn’t believe he was saying all this. I didn’t dare breathe for fear he would clam up. “Such was my life until I turned eighteen. I spent a lot of time with my father. He was my hero. I idolized him. I wanted to be like him. I watched everything he did, went to work with him and asked questions and took notes, learned everything I could about business. I was being groomed to be his heir and successor. Or so I thought. Then, on my eighteenth birthday, my father took me to the gates of our estate in rural England, where a brand new BMW M5 was waiting. My father handed me a briefcase, told me to open it. Inside that briefcase was my passport and one hundred thousand British pounds. Also in that briefcase was a Beretta M9, three clips, and a box of ammunition. My father handed me the keys to the car. I will remember his words for the rest of my life. He said, ‘You’re on your own, now, son. That is your inheritance, and it’s all you’ll get from me. Go. Earn your own fortune. You can come back to visit anytime you want. But if you stay longer than a month, I’ll charge you rent, and any money you borrow I will expect to be repaid with interest. I earned what I have with my own two hands, and so will you. Goodbye, and I love you.’ And then he turned and walked away, closing the gate behind him.”

“That’s…kind of cold. I mean, he just…kicked you out, just like that? Cut you off?”

“Just like that. I had the clothes on my back, the car, and the contents of the suitcase. That’s it. I had friends, of course, places I could go, enough money to buy my own flat or stay in a hotel. But yet, I knew enough to know that a hundred grand would vanish rather quickly if I wasn’t careful.” Roth pulled his hand away, finally. “The story of how I ended up where I am now is a long one, and an often unpleasant and dark one, and I will not tell it now.”