“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m going to feed you, bathe you, f**k you until you can’t move, and then I’m going to hold you while we sleep. And then when we wake up, I’m going to f**k you again.”

My heart melted and swelled simultaneously. “Promise?”

He laughed. “Yes, Kyrie. I promise.” Roth rolled me onto my back, leaned over me, and kissed me. “Now, wait here.”

I watched his tight, round, muscular ass ripple as he slid out of bed and walked out of the room. God, he was gorgeous. Knowing how he could make me feel made him all the more sexy. When his tanned muscles and blond hair were out of sight, I finally let go.

I cried.

Confused, ecstatic, crazy tears of raw overwhelmed emotion. It was just a brief, stormy spat and then done, but it was what I needed to be able to process everything I felt.

I’d started this crazy affair frightened and guarded and expecting the worst. Yet what I’d discovered in Valentine Roth was something totally unexpected, something unusual and incredible. My emotions were haywire, made insane and intense and confused by what we’d just done together, how hard he’d made me come, how perfectly he’d followed through on his promises, fulfilling the expectations he’d set up with our hours of foreplay. Yet that couldn’t explain what I was feeling.

It wasn’t just sexual appreciation. There was that in spades, of course. Valentine Roth was a goddamned champion in bed, not just in terms of staying power or a ridiculously short refractory period, but in the way he paid attention to me, the way everything he did seemed laser-focused on making me feel as good as possible, taking his own pleasure in giving me what I needed. What had just happened between us in this bed was every woman’s erotic fantasy. He was totally dominant, powerful and confident, skilled and passionate and attentive.

All of that being true, how could I not become attached to him? And I was. I was totally getting attached. It wasn’t smart, but there it was, truth distilled. I was getting attached to Valentine Roth.

Yet it was more than that, and this was where fear began to take hold. It was who he was out of bed that scared me, because it was that man I was developing sudden and fearfully potent emotions for. He was all those things, too; every descriptor I’d used for Roth in bed was true of the man in everyday life as well.


And I was falling for him.



By the time Roth returned to the bedroom, some fifteen minutes later, I was calm once more.

I knew I had to hold on to how I felt. I didn’t think Roth was ready for that kind of thing yet, because although he was the one who’d sent for me, watched me, was the one in control, my instincts told me that true, deep emotions were unfathomable to him. He wanted me; he wanted to own me, to have me. He enjoyed me. Appreciated me. Yes, he used words like “baby,” “darling,” and “love,” but those were casual terms of endearment, not protestations of love or anything like that.

I pushed away those thoughts and sat up as he set a tray down on the bed. He was still naked, and I couldn’t take my eyes off his body, couldn’t look away from his cock, which was still impressive, even flaccid. I wanted to make him hard again just for the pleasure of watching and feeling him grow in my hands, but my stomach rumbled when the scent of our leftover dinner hit my nose, quashing even my ravenous desire for Roth’s body.

“I don’t remember you bringing this home,” I said, grabbing a fork from the tray and digging in.

Roth sat cross-legged on the other side of the tray from me, taking the other fork and shoveling a huge bite of chicken Parmesan into his mouth. “I didn’t,” he said after he’d chewed a few times. “I was so focused on getting us back here and getting you naked that I forgot it. That message I sent earlier was to Marco. I asked him to have our leftovers brought here.” He took another bite, and then poured wine into a glass. There was only one glass, though, and he filled it nearly to the brim. “Marco would kill me for mistreating the wine like this, but I don’t care. Wine etiquette is for when you’re in public.”

After a healthy gulp, he passed the glass to me. We were sharing a glass of wine. Something about that made me giddy. “Well, you already know I don’t give much of a shit about wine etiquette,” I said. “I mean, if I’m out with you, I’ll try to follow your lead so I don’t embarrass you, but I clearly wasn’t raised with the kind of manners you were.”

He shrugged. “Just be yourself, Kyrie. I don’t care if you know how to appreciate fine wines. That can be learned. The beauty of your soul, however, cannot be taught, and that is what I appreciate most about you.”

“God, Roth. That’s so sweet. Thank you.” I gazed at him, letting some of what I felt for him flow through me and melt into my expression. “I feel the same about you. I mean, yeah, you’re the most handsome, sexiest man I’ve ever seen in my f**king life, but the more I learn about who you are, the more I appreciate you.”

Roth set his fork down very carefully, tilting his head to one side. His expression was inscrutable. “You…appreciate me?” He sounded stunned. “You don’t…resent me for claiming you the way I have?”

I shook my head. “Nope.” I endeavored to sound casual, so I paused to take a bite of lasagna, chewing and swallowing before I continued. “Look, I’m pretty in tune with my emotions, okay? When I figure out how I feel, I don’t waffle around about it. Once I know I like something, I’m all in. And I don’t fight feeling something just because it should be impossible or whatever. I know I should be insulted by the way you brought me here and told me you owned me, and I was at first. But…once I gave in to playing your game your way, I realized I liked it. Giving in, obeying your commands, is…freeing. It’s hot. I’ll never be a quiet, submissive little thing. Obeying doesn’t come naturally to me. It never has, and it never will. I’m strong, and I’m independent. But when you take charge and I let myself give in, I have fun.”

“Well. I’m glad for that.” He picked up his fork, but I could tell he was still deep in thought. “But that doesn’t explain you appreciating me.”

“No? Think about it, Roth. Think about me. Would I have gone this far with you, given in and obeyed and let you do all the things to me that you have if I didn’t trust you? If I didn’t enjoy it and enjoy you?”