He sucked her nipple into his mouth, reveling in her response. The musky smell of her arousal drowned out the citrus now. Every tug of his mouth brought forth a fresh coating. Her pussy was pulsing, begging for his attention, but he had a little torture in mind.

He pinched her nipple between his fingers, the nubbin elongating. He slipped the clamp on, tightening it just to the point that it dangled. The jewels pulled her nipple, angling it down. As she gasped and fought to absorb the sensations, he tongued the second nipple before slipping the clamp on. With nimble fingers, he adjusted it until they sat perfectly on her breasts.

She would look beautiful with rings pierced through her nipples and a gold chain hanging between them. He could pull on the chain while she rode his cock, every twist tightening the clamps until she screamed out her pleasure. He kissed his way down her torso.

Or he could let the chain dangle, running down the valley of her breasts toward her pussy, where it would connect to a gentle clamp he’d secure around the pearl of her clitoris. He breathed her in, her musk filling his world.

She was so responsive. Her little clit poked out of its hood, begging for his affection. This was what he needed. He’d denied himself for so long, never reentering this life he longed for. He didn’t deserve to have a woman trust him so utterly, but now he realized how empty he’d been without it.

He let his tongue skim over the bud of her sex, delighting in the way she quivered. “Don’t move or I’ll stop.”

“Yes, Sir.” Her voice came out on a little squeak even as her hands twitched, as though she wanted to touch him.

But this was his time. There would be plenty of time later when he would let her explore to her heart’s content, but not now. He rubbed his nose along her pussy, gathering her scent around him. He wanted to drown in it, in her spice and sweetness. His tongue delved in, the delicious essence of her arousal thrilling him.

Over and over, he licked her pussy, eating her up. She was more sweet than any dessert. He could make a meal of her every night and still be hungry for her in the morning. He was dangerously close to her—and not just physically. Alarm bells went off in the back of his head. He needed to retreat, to rethink this whole situation, but he speared up, fucking her with his tongue. He lost himself, in his role as Master, in Piper’s sweet submission, in her giving heart.

“Come for me, concubine. Come all over my tongue.” He pinched at her clit as his tongue surged up and Piper shook.

Low moans erupted from her chest as her pussy clenched, orgasm overtaking her. A fresh coat of sweet cream covered his tongue. He wanted to revel in it, but his cock had had enough. He had to fuck her.

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Tal rose, well aware he was past all niceties. He’d never intended for Piper to see this side of him, but now that she had, there would be no hiding it again. “Present yourself to me. I want to fuck my slave.”

She didn’t hesitate. She turned and her ass was high in the air, the pink plug he’d forced in her between her cheeks. She’d been a virgin just days before, but now Tal had trussed her up and manipulated her into things she couldn’t be ready for, and he still couldn’t stop. She looked wanton, his own sweet doll to fuck and punish and do with as he pleased.

“My way, Piper.” He gripped her hips, lining up his unruly cock. He didn’t bother with a condom because he would force this on her, too. He was nothing but an animal, taking what he wanted with no intentions of giving back because he was ruined on the inside. “You think you can handle me? You think you’re ready for this? Because everything will be my way, my rules, my time. Tell me to stop or you’ll open a door you can’t close again. Please, Piper, let us just be friends.”

He was begging her because he couldn’t stop himself. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to feel so much for her. His heart was already pounding, his dick on the edge, and he wasn’t sure he could walk away if she said no.

Her head turned just enough for him to see the desperate desire on her face. “Take me, Sir. Please. Take me.”

Nothing would stop him now. He shoved his cock in, forcing his way past any resistance in one long thrust. He let go of everything, becoming a beast in the moment. He was an animal, and she was his fucking mate. He mounted her, thrusting up again and again, paying no heed to anything but the silky feel of her, the tight heat of her pussy. Over and over he rammed inside, gripping her hips and slamming her down.

She felt so good, her heat surrounding him, pulling him in. He lost himself in the moment, glorying in all the sounds she made as he pushed her toward orgasm. Her skin heated beneath his hand as his heart thundered inside his chest. So close to heaven. He no longer cared about the reasons this wasn’t a good idea. All that mattered was branding her, making her his.

Piper screamed as she came again, her pussy clenching down hard and forcing Tal to give up the game. His balls drew up, scalding heat pouring out of him in one long wave of pleasure. He came over and over, the orgasm rushing through his veins, binding him to her in ways he hadn’t imagined.

She was everything he’d ever wanted.

Piper collapsed, taking Tal with her, his chest cradling her back as they spooned, only the soft leather of the bench keeping them from falling to the floor.

Sweet. It was so sweet to hold her, his cock still inside, still connected.

I love you, my Piper. The words were on his tongue, right there, a bomb waiting to be dropped.

He loved her, and if anyone ever knew just how close to his heart she was, they could use her against him. A vision of Lily screaming as the radicals cut her and raped her swam across his brain. He’d been forced to watch, unable to help her. He’d been weak. He’d been useless.

He hadn’t loved her, and her death had nearly killed him. What would he do if they took Piper?

A cold chill crossed his spine. He couldn’t, wouldn’t, ever let her—or anyone else—know that he loved her.

Tal pulled himself out of her warmth and stood. His whole body shook, and he forced the emotion down with ruthless will. Since he refused to reveal his love to her, he needed to make sure she no longer loved him. “You can go now.”

Piper stilled, her whole body going from languid to tense in a single second. With very deliberate movements, she turned. “What?”

Those eyes were going to kill him. He wanted to take her in his arms, but he couldn’t. He had to let her go. “I’m through for the day. You can go.”

Tears pooled in her eyes. She scrambled up, fumbling a bit as she stood. “I don’t understand.”

Tal sighed, covering his heartache. He’d learned to act over the years, to keep his every emotion hidden. It was a skill he’d learned from years of dealing with the press and politicians. He picked up her skirt, tossing it her way. “I no longer require your services.” A thought struck him. Fuck. He was out of practice. “Aftercare. I forgot. Come here and I will take the clamps off and rub some salve on your nipples. Then you can go.”

“Why are you acting so cold?” Piper asked, her lip trembling slightly. He was proud of her. She made no move to cover herself. She simply stood there, asking for information. She obviously wasn’t going to run. But bloody hell, she was not making this easy on him.

So he had to make it hard on her. It was the only way to save her. Her heart should belong to his brothers. They were worthy of it. They had never broken, never cost a woman her life. They didn’t wake up screaming some nights.

“I’m not acting cold, Piper. I am cold. And I’m done. I told you that you wouldn’t like being my slave. I offered you a partnership, but you want to try to control me with sex. It can’t work. I will not allow it. Now run along and see to my brothers. I’m sure they have need of your services, too.”

Her eyes widened with obvious pain. “Wow. I did nothing to deserve that, Talib.” She stood there for a moment, thinking. Damn, but he was worried about that brain of hers. “Why are you so scared of me?”

He wasn’t going to play chess with her anytime soon. She would likely win. He forced himself to speak, keeping his voice even. He could not allow her to know she’d scored a direct hit. “I am not scared, Piper. Now I am merely bored.”

“Bullshit.” It was the first time he’d heard her curse. “Talib, I might have been a virgin, but I’m not dumb. What we just shared was something lovely and you’re trying to make it ugly. Will you please sit down like the kind man I know you are and explain yourself to me? You’re trying to make me run away. If you didn’t care about me, you would simply explain it in a patient voice. But I mean something to you, and you can’t stand it. You think you can say a few hateful words and get me to run, but I see you, Talib al Mussad. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that my love is stronger than you can imagine and a few little words aren’t going to make me run. You’ll have to be a man and ask me to leave.”

She stood there, so beautiful and smart and proud, turning his every argument against him. He was the one who felt naked now. He shoved his legs into his pants. Cornered. She’d fucking cornered him. “I can’t ask you to leave, Piper. I need this marriage to protect my crown.”

She snorted, obviously unimpressed by his countermove. “Yes, you needed to marry a poor economist from Texas to protect your crown. I don’t buy that, either. If you had to have a bride, you could have picked someone much more suitable. You wanted me.”

Now at least he could give her some hard truths. “Yes, Piper, I wanted you because I knew I could never fall in love with you. You were perfect in that way.”

A sad little smile crossed her face. “Poor Tal. You got caught in your own trap.”

Would nothing work on her? Why could she see through him when no one else could? “I do not love you. I won’t ever love you, but we’re bound together. My god, woman, how can you stand there and say you love me? Don’t you have any pride?”

“My love is worth more than my pride, Tal. And you wouldn’t treat me this way if you didn’t care about me. It’s perverse, you know. Sometimes we hurt the ones we care about most because even the thought of loving them is too much. You’re scared. I wish you would tell me why.” It was said with an almost sympathetic tone as though she truly pitied him.

He couldn’t stand it. “I tricked you into marriage. I’ve likely tricked you into a pregnancy. How do you feel about that?”

She held his eyes, hers clear and honest. “I can leave, Tal. I’m not some prisoner. Given the chance, I fully intended to sleep with your brothers, so you tricked me into nothing there. Oh, there won’t be a pregnancy anytime soon. Just in case I decided to…expand my horizons, I went to the doctor the day before we left. He gave me a contraceptive shot. I’m good for another couple of months. Now, I should probably have insisted on condoms given where Kade’s been, but he assured me he’s healthy. As for the marriage, well, I have some time to deal with that, which is precisely why you should talk to me.”

She didn’t get it. And the thought that she’d blocked his play pissed him off. He didn’t have to pretend anger now. “Get off the birth control, Piper. You are of no value to me if you can’t fucking conceive. None of us is safe until you’ve spat out a couple of kids.”

Finally she flushed, her whole body going red. “You don’t mean that.”

A weak spot. He could use that. He wasn’t about to let her best him. “I mean it, Piper. I mean every word. I have no reason to fuck you if you cannot conceive. That shot lasts a few months? Well, I will see you then, my darling. Until that time, allow my brothers to service you.”

She pleaded, her arms reaching for him. “Don’t do this to us, Tal. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

But it did. He couldn’t stand it a second longer. He turned and walked out the door.

Chapter Thirteen

Piper pulled the clamp off her breast, not quite able to stifle her scream. She really should have taken him up on the aftercare stuff. Her nipple had gone numb, but the minute she’d pulled the clamp off and her circulation returned, pain flooded her system.

Nothing like the hurt that had nearly broken her heart mere moments ago. She could handle the biting pain in her breasts, but the ache she felt in her gut was another matter entirely.

She felt stupid and right at the same time. Stupid because she’d thought she could get through to him. Right because despite his protestations, she knew he was scared. She’d made a study of the man. There wasn’t a cruel bone in his body. He knew the names of every member of his staff, regularly asked about their kids. He was unfailingly polite. If he wanted a polite, friendly relationship, he would have sat down and talked it out logically with her.

But he’d plotted and schemed, and when he’d made love to her, he’d lost himself. There was nothing polite about the way he felt, but now she had to consider the possibility that Tal’s past was more than a match for her love.