For five years, Serena has run Fantasy Incorporated and has devoted her time to fulfilling her clients’ fantasies. Never her own. Until now…
Her most secret desire is to give ownership of her body to a man. Someone who will command her, pleasure her, and have complete authority over her. So she seeks out Damon Roche, owner of an exclusive sex club and a man strong enough to make her do anything he wants. Anything.
Together they’ll journey into a world she’s only dreamed of. She’s given the opportunity to immerse herself in a different life while her normal one waits for her to return whenever she wishes. Damon has no desire to let her go, however. Serena is the woman he’s long searched for, and it’s up to him to convince her to stay when the game is all over with. He wants their fantasy to become their reality and for Serena to remain his pampered, cherished submissive.
"Serena, Mr. Roche is on line two for you."
Her heart fluttered and slammed against her chest as she reached for the phone. Had he only just now gotten around to reading her email? Would he have anything to say about the fact she'd presented herself as the client? Oh, why hadn't she just come out and been honest and straightforward from the beginning?
"Mr. Roche," she said smoothly as she put the phone to her ear. She was proud of the fact that her voice didn't come out in a croak.
"I thought we'd agree you'd call me Damon."
His lazy drawl gave her a warm buzz, and she immediately relaxed. "All right… Damon. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I hope it's what I can do for you. Are you free for lunch?"
She smiled and loosened her grip on the phone. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. He didn't act any different now that he knew it was her looking for a man to make her his slave.
A cringe worked over her shoulders. She was really going to have to find a better descriptor for her fantasy.
"I'm intrigued," she said. "I'm free. Now what is it you're going to do for me?"
A light chuckle sounded in her ear. "Meet me for lunch, and I'll tell you."
"A man who teases," she mused. "Okay, I'll bite. Where would you like to meet?"
"I'll send a car."
"No," she said after a moment's thought. "Why don't I pick you up this time? We'll eat on my turf."
There was a slight pause.
"Ahh, you're a man used to getting his own way."
"Always," he said in a husky growl.
A shiver worked uncontrollably down her back, and her nipples puckered against the silk of her bra.
"I like to give a man his way in appropriate circumstances," she said lightly. "I tell you what. You come pick me up and we'll eat at my choice."
"I'll be there in half an hour," he said silkily.
"I look forward to it."
She was smiling as she replaced the receiver. She leaned back in her chair and flexed her toes under her desk. What the hell she was doing flirting with Damon Roche when he was lining up another man for her was beyond her, but the devil just took over when it came to the man.
Had he found someone already? Nervousness scuttled around her stomach and gave her a slightly nauseous feeling. Could she go to bed with a complete stranger? More than that, could she place her wellbeing, her trust, her entire self in his hands?
Maybe she hadn't thought this through adequately.
A worried frown tugged at her lips, and she rubbed her face with her hands. It wasn't too late to back out. She could meet Damon and tell him she'd changed her mind, right?
Of course you can, moron.
It wasn't as if this was some make-or-break business deal. It was sex, and she could say no at any time.
Feeling better about her options, she slipped her shoes back on and stood. A quick trip to the bathroom would tell her if she had any major repairs to do on hair and make-up.
Twenty minutes later, she walked into the lobby and was glad she'd chosen dressier heels today. They directed attention to her legs, which she knew without false modesty had drawn a man's stare more than a few times. Her skirt clipped the top of her knee, so she had plenty to show.
To her surprise, Damon was striding toward the door of the office complex. She smiled in greeting as he entered. He was dressed casually, as casual as a man could look in expensive slacks and polo shirt.
"You're early," she said as she checked her watch.
"I try to never keep a beautiful woman waiting," he said with easy charm.
"Good philosophy. Are you ready then?"
He offered his arm but didn't wait for her to take it. He reached with his other hand and enfolded her fingers in his firm grip before tucking it securely under his elbow.
They walked into the warm air, and she looked around for the Bentley. Instead, he guided her toward a sleek, black BMW parked in front of the entrance.
He opened her door and settled her inside before walking around to the driver's side. As he slid in beside her, she glanced appreciatively at the interior.
"You drove yourself," she said unnecessarily.
"It would appear so," he said with an amused smile. "So, where are we going?"
"Cattleman's. Do you know where it is?"
He grimaced. "Why beautiful women like you and Faith hang out in that place is beyond me."
"It has character," she said with a straight face. "But if you hate it, we can go somewhere else."
He pulled into traffic and maneuvered down the busy street. "No, I agreed to go to the place of your choosing, so Cattleman's it is."
"You're a snob," she said smugly.
He cast her a surprised glance and then evidently saw she was teasing him.
"Not a snob. I just enjoy…let's just say I enjoy the finer things."
Serena nodded. "Nothing wrong with that, but I have to tell you, I'm a beer and onion ring type girl."
"Barbarian," he said in mock horror. "I have nothing against some greasy finger food and a good beer, but I don't turn down a well aged steak and a good glass of wine either."
"Mmmm, steak. I love steak. I love meat. I'm a total carnivore. Cattleman's has great steaks."
"I'll be amazed if you don't order a girly salad. What is it with women always ordering salads, anyway?"
She pretended to consider. "Well, I'll order a salad if it has steak in it."
He laughed. "Then I guess we'll have steak for lunch."
They drove into the parking lot, and when Serena reached to open the door, Damon stopped her with a hand to her arm.
"Let me," he said.
He got out and walked around to open her door. Then he extended his hand down to her. Tiny little sparks shot up her arm when she slid her fingers across his palm. He pulled gently, and she stepped out to stand beside him.
"Thank you," she murmured.
Again, he tucked her hand under his arm and walked her toward the entrance. When they walked inside, the hostess greeted them, and Damon leaned in to murmur quietly to the young woman. She smiled immediately and nodded. Then she motioned for him and Serena to follow her.
They were seated across the room from the bustle of the lunch crowd. Serena settled in and raised an eyebrow as the hostess left.
"Bribery?" she asked. "This area is usually closed for lunch."
Damon smiled. "Let's just say I'm used to getting my way."
Serena snorted. "We've already ascertained that."
"I wanted a place we could speak privately," he said. "I have something for you."
Her heart slammed against her chest when he slid an envelope across the table toward her. She hadn't even noticed that he'd carried it from the car, but then her concentration had been on other things. Like how damn good he looked.
With trembling fingers, she opened the envelope. Before opening the folded pages, she looked up at him in question. She was fairly certain that this was what she'd asked for, but now that it was here, in front of her, she was a little frightened and a whole lot unsure.
"You hesitate," he said quietly.
"I'm nervous," she admitted.
"Quite natural. Are you having second thoughts?"
She flushed. "You never said a word about the fact that it was me…"
He shrugged. "I figured you had your reasons. You don't owe me an explanation."
She stared down at the paper then slowly opened it. Age, address, physical details, appearance, characteristics were all listed first. Her eyes flickered over the sheet as she tried to take in as much of the information as she could at once.
No criminal record, stable job and income. Her gaze shot back up the page, and it was then she saw the name staring boldly back at her. Damon Roche.
She gasped sharply, and she yanked her head up to stare at Damon. "I don't understand."
He raised one brow as he studied her intently. "Don't you?"
"Why?" she demanded.
If he'd intended to catch her completely off guard, he'd certainly succeeded. She was so rattled that her hands were shaking, and sweat beaded her forehead.
"Why not?" he asked calmly.
"Don't play with me. This wasn't our agreement."
"Our agreement was that you wanted me to find a suitable man for a sexual fantasy situation. I'm that man. I don't see the problem." He leaned forward in his seat and pinned her with his stare. "Would you prefer a complete stranger take you and possess you? If we had not met as we did, if someone else had set up our meeting, would you object to my being the man who controls your fantasy?"
"But why?" she whispered. "Why didn't you volunteer from the get go?"
"I didn't know you were the woman," he said simply. "When I found out, I knew I had to be the one to have you."
She gawked like a moron, her lips parted in shock. "You want me?"
"Why does that surprise you? You're a beautiful woman, Serena. I wanted you from the moment you walked into the restaurant. After I read your eloquent letter and saw who had written it, there was never any question as to whether I would step forward. No other man will have you."
Warmth sizzled through her abdomen, burning a path to her groin. Her clit pulsed and throbbed, and her nipples hardened until they ached. His vow whispered through her ears until it rebounded and echoed, seductive and alluring.
There was raw arrogance in his expression. Confidence. More than that, there was knowledge. Power. She craved it with her entire being. Wanted it and him more than she'd wanted anything else, and all she had to do was reach out and take it.
"Tell me, Serena, do you want me?" he asked softly. "Do you ache for me? Do you want my possession? Do you lie awake at night wanting a man strong enough to harness your sexuality, stroke it until the fire rages and then unleash it, set you free?"
"Yes," she whispered, her voice catching in her throat. "Yes."
"There is much we should discuss," he said. "But not here. We'll iron out the technicalities and lay the groundwork, but the more intimate details… we'll meet in a much more private setting."
As he said the last, he reached over and trailed a finger down her cheek and then pushed a tendril of her hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear.
"I very much look forward to that conversation," he murmured.
Heat surged to her cheeks, and she leaned into his touch before she could think better of it. "I don't know what to say."
"There's nothing to say but yes. Unless you've changed your mind? I can, of course, find another suitable candidate, but I can't be the only one of us who has felt the spark between us, Serena, and after reading your letter, I don't take you for a coward."
She was quite simply overwhelmed.
He reached across the table once more and captured her hand in his. His thumb rubbed absently over the top of her knuckles, sensual and distracting.
"Let's get the nitty gritty details out of the way," he said. "We can set a date to discuss the more… personal aspects after you've had time to digest it all."
"Nitty gritty?" she croaked.
He picked her hand up and brought it slowly to his lips. Her breath caught in her throat and refused to slip from her lips as she anticipated the touch of his mouth.
A brush of electricity sparked along her veins. Currents, warm and vibrant raced up her arm and sent prickles of awareness up the base of her neck until the tiny little hairs at her nape stood on end.
His lips moved softly up the crease of her fingers until they rested over her knuckles.
"The nitty gritty being the unpleasant details, the not so romantic side of our arrangement. Sterile perhaps, but necessary."
She raised her eyebrow in silent question, because at the moment she couldn't have spoken if she wanted to.
He reached for a sheet of paper underneath the others and handed it to her. Carefully, she pulled her hand from his and regretted the loss of his warmth. She picked up the paper and scanned the contents.
It was a medical report. And then she realized.
"Oh," she said softly. "You must think me the biggest fool. I hadn't… God, what an idiot I am."
He smiled gently. "Not an idiot, Serena. Just nervous and wanting to forge ahead before you lost your courage. You would have thought of it, I have no doubt, and you would have demanded what I have just given you."
"But I haven't, I mean I do see a doctor regularly, but I haven't gotten tests…"
"I can arrange it with my physician at a moment's notice," he offered. "It's important that you feel safe with me, and it is important that our good health is ascertained. I want to give you your fantasy, Serena, and I don't want any ugliness to intrude."
"I'll phone my doctor tomorrow," she said.
"Does this mean you're agreeing?" Damon asked.
She took in a steadying breath as she stared at the handsome man sitting across from her. Yes, he was gorgeous. He was confident, wore arrogance like a cloak, and God, she loved arrogant, assured men, but he didn't come across like an asshole. Was this man for real? Or was he just playing a role?
She wanted to find out so bad she could taste it.
She licked her lips and then nodded.
"I want to hear you say it," he prompted.
"Yes. I agree."
His smile was triumphant, and something dark and primitive flashed in his eyes. In that moment she imagined what it would be like to be his, and it filled her with a powerful longing.
"Have dinner with me this weekend," he said. It wasn't a request, and he seemed absolutely unapologetic that it was, in essence, a command. "That will give you time to see your doctor and think about me. And you. Us. Then we can meet to discuss the more intimate details of our arrangement."
Just the way he said intimate made all her girly parts tingle. And then it hit her that she was going to become quite intimate with this man. All fantasy aside, he was offering to give her reality. With him.
She would see him naked. He'd touch her, have his hands and mouth on her body. She quivered from head to toe and her knees knocked together until she had to put her hand on one of her legs to stop it.
Food? Completely forgotten. She had no hope of eating lunch. Not when all she was imagining was how he'd taste. Scorching flames burnt her cheeks when she remembered just how descriptive her letter had been.
"And I thought Faith was the only woman left on earth who blushed so vividly," he said in a tone tinged with amusement.
She groaned and closed her eyes. "I haven't a prayer of keeping it together. You've completely and utterly knocked my feet out from under me."
"As did you when I read your letter," he said softly. "I cannot allow another man to take what I already consider mine."
Her stomach clenched and a flush stole over her body. "You sound possessive already," she said faintly.
"And that's precisely the way you want me, is it not?"
She squirmed a bit under his scrutiny, but she wasn't going to lie or pretend to be bashful, even if she was ready to crawl under the table. Nothing about her approach had been shy so far, and there wasn't a need to start now.
"It is," she admitted. "I want… I want to belong. To a man," she added after a deep breath. "It sounds so crazy."
"Stop," he said with quiet authority. "I won't allow you to downgrade yourself for voicing your desires. They're yours. That makes them important. Valid. There is nothing crazy about them."
"It's not just about possession." She paused for a moment but was determined to go on, to explain what beat so incessantly at her. "I want the security of knowing I am… owned. Oh, but that's such a terrible word and yet I can't think of a better one. I want to be cherished, protected, pampered… valued. I want the man to know me as well as I know myself. I want him to anticipate my needs and fulfill them but at the same time I want to be important to him. I want him to be strong. Capable. Dominant without being an asshole. For just a little while, I want to be in his hands. To give myself into his care and keeping and be able to trust in him to shelter me, pleasure me and teach me how to please him."
She suddenly felt so vulnerable, as if she'd exposed herself in the most brutal of ways. She felt naked, stripped bare by her own words.
"Look at me," he said gently.
Her chin came up and she met his gaze.
"You don't trust me yet, and you shouldn't as we've only just met. But you will come to trust me, and when that happens, you'll give yourself into my care and keeping. When you do that, I will give you what you most want. What you need. And I'm going to love every damn minute."
Sweet Persuasion is Book 2 in the Sweet Series