Say my name, p.23
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       Say My Name, p.23

         Part #1 of Stark International Trilogy series by J. Kenner
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  His voice has gotten softer even as his tone has become more commanding. It's an intense combination, and I feel my sex clenching in response to nothing more than his words. "Are you longing to submit completely, trusting me to give you what you need? To take you where we both know you want to go?"

  I nod, not sure I can handle speech at the moment. His smile is slow and sexy and victorious. He leans over and brushes a kiss over my lips. "Good. I want that, too." His finger hooks the top of the blanket and he pulls it down slowly to reveal all of me. My breasts, my waist, my hips, my sex. I hear the low noise he makes in his throat and feel the pleasure that comes with knowing he wants me. Then I shiver as he tugs the blanket the rest of the way down, exposing my legs, my feet, my toes.

  "Beautiful." His voice holds wonder, as if he has just discovered treasure, and I tremble with delight knowing that it is me that has filled his senses.

  He bends down, then draws my big toe into his mouth, sucking gently. I arch up at the unexpected sensation--the sensual sparks that race up my inner thighs to my already throbbing sex. "Oh, god."

  "Do you like that?" he asks, stretching out beside me, still fully clothed.

  "Not in the least," I say.

  "There are punishments for lying."

  "Really?" I drag my teeth over my lower lip. "That's very interesting information." I've never been spanked--that was not the kind of activity that fit with my previous approach to sex--but in this moment, with this man, I'm all about exploring the possibilities.

  He laughs, then kisses me. "Someone's feeling naughty."

  "Must be the sea air."

  "Must be." He traces his fingertip over my breast, his touch gentle, though my reaction is wild. "I still don't know the stories behind all of these."

  "Why don't you guess?"

  He sits up and pours us each a glass of wine. "What do I get if I'm right?"

  "A kiss."

  "How can I turn down that challenge?" He makes a spinning motion with his finger. "Over."

  I comply, and as soon as I'm on my stomach his fingers start dancing over my skin, teasing me, tracing my tats. Then he finger-walks up my spine to land at the small symbol right between my shoulder blades. "This one."

  "That's a hard one," I say.

  "It's easy enough to see what it is. The arrows for rewind, fast forward, and play. The square for stop and the split square for pause. It's a control panel for a digital recorder."

  "Clever boy. But the hard question is what does it mean?"

  "I have no idea," he admits. "But I'm curious enough to sacrifice that kiss."

  "I cut my hair," I say. "It used to hit right there. And when--" I take a deep breath and start over. "Bob liked my hair. Used to make a big deal out of it. And so when it was all over, I cut it. And that's what Cass put there."

  "Control," he says in a musing tone. "You control it. How long. How short. What color."

  I roll over, then prop myself up on my elbow and give him a kiss, long and deep, and when I pull away I let my teeth drag over his lower lip. "You're very good at this game."

  "I think I'd like to play again," he says, and I take satisfaction from the need that fills his voice.

  I start to roll back to my stomach, but he stops me. "No. This one," he says, pointing at the female symbol twined with a rose on my breast.

  I have to force myself not to squirm, because that is the one for Cass, and I'm not sure I want to tell him about that. But I'm the one who started this game, and I don't think there's a graceful way out. And the truth is that I have kept enough secrets from him. I don't need to hold on to this one.

  "All right," I say. "But you won't guess. A shame, since I was looking forward to administering your prize."

  "You have very little faith."

  "On the contrary, I'm quite certain."

  "Give me a moment." He moves to straddle me. He is still fully clothed, and his jeans brush against my bare skin in a way that shouldn't be provocative, but really is. He puts his hands on my waist, then strokes up until he reaches my breasts. He cups the right one, teasing it and playing with my nipple even as his other hand dances lightly over the tattoo.

  "You're just stalling." I'm a little breathless. Not only from the magic he's working on my breast, but because he's sitting right over my sex, and though I am not supporting all of his weight, I can feel his heat and the brush of denim against my sex. And, frankly, it's making me crazy.

  "Maybe a little," he says. "I thought you might enjoy the delay."

  He's got that right.

  I force myself to ignore the way my body is craving more than this slight touch and begin humming the theme from Jeopardy!

  He laughs. "Fair enough." He meets my eyes. "This is the one for when you slept with Cass."

  I am certain my face registers complete shock. "How did you get that simply from a tattoo?"

  "Not just a tattoo. That tattoo. And I got it because I know you. And once you told me she was gay it just made sense."

  I'm still a little flabbergasted. I'm also a little relieved. If my best friend were a guy, the question would naturally come up. Have you two slept together, and then we'd deal with it. But despite political correctness, no boyfriend ever asks a girl if she's slept with her best female friend. And despite being weirdly embarrassed about something I'm not the least bit ashamed of, I'm glad it's out. I don't want to be at the center of secrets between the people who are closest to me.

  I sigh, struck suddenly by how important Jackson is to me, and how quickly he's filled my world.

  Then again, considering all the wasted time, it hasn't really been quickly at all.

  He is studying my face. "Are you upset I asked?"

  "No. In fact, I was thinking that I'm relieved."

  "So did you two date?"

  "No--no, it was just once, and we were both a little drunk. And she made a pass and I guess you could say I caught it." I shrug. "We had fun. It was nice. Fine. I mean, I liked it, you know. But I'm not gay, although I guess maybe I was wishing I was. With the way I get, maybe I thought it would be easier. At any rate, she didn't have any expectations, and it really was never even weird after." I shrug again. "She's my best friend and I love her, but we're really just friends."

  He's watching me, his expression intense. "You trust her."

  "Of course I do."

  "That's why it was fine."

  He moves off me, and I take the opportunity to pull the blanket up, feeling suddenly strangely exposed.

  "She was in control, Syl. She was the one who had the power. But you were fine. No nightmares. And you liked it."

  I nod slowly. I'd never thought of it like that.

  He takes my hand, then raises it to his lips. "You can trust me, too."

  "I know I can," I say, but I see the truth in his eyes. We're not talking generically. He's talking about my past. About the things I've held back.

  He's talking about Bob.

  I manage a smile and reach for my wine. "I trust you," I say, my voice airy. "Although I'm not sure why. You're not keeping your promises, after all."


  "You promised me earlier today that I'd get kink," I say. "Wasn't that the plan you outlined on the way to Damien's? Instead, all I've gotten is talk, talk, talk." I let my head fall back into the pillows as if bored.

  "You do have a point," he says. "But with a boat on autopilot the kinds of things I have in mind may not be on the coast guard approved list of safe activities. But as soon as we're tied up at the dock ..."

  He lets his voice trail off as he bends over me, then brushes his lips over my belly. "In the meantime, you tell me if it looks like we're going to hit a whale or an island."

  His lips blaze a trail of kisses down my belly, making my muscles quiver and my body fire. When he reaches my pubis, he moves between my legs, then closes his mouth over my sex, teasing me with his tongue as his hands grip my hips to keep me steady against this onslaught of pleasure that is rising so fast because I
have been so damn close all day.

  Except I don't want it yet. Because I've decided what I want to tell him later. Not all of it. But most. Because I do trust him. And I want him to understand me.

  And so I will hold back my release as an enticement. My reward for sharing a secret.

  "Jackson," I say, as he brings me so very close. "Stop." I twine my fingers in his hair and pull him up.

  He looks at me with a question in those heat-filled eyes.

  "I want to stay here. On the edge. I like it. I don't want to go over yet."

  "Don't you? I'll remember that."

  I swallow, wondering what sort of sensual door I've just opened.

  "The thing is," I continue, "you never got your kiss for tattoo number two. And since I don't think I'm qualified to keep an eye on the ship, I think you need to go sit in the captain's chair."

  "Do I?"

  I just smile innocently.

  He laughs, but complies, and I follow him a moment later to the top deck. The chair is upholstered and reminds me of the bucket seats in luxury SUVs, with armrests that rise and descend. It's on a swivel base, and right now, it is facing forward and Jackson's hand rests on the wheel. The lights of Catalina are behind us, and I can see Santa Cortez getting bigger in the distance.

  "How much longer?"

  "About half an hour," he says.

  "Good," I say, then shift his chair. I get on my knees and press my hand against his crotch, my face tilted up to his. I want to tell him that he makes me feel safe. That I trust him. But the words don't come.

  I hope that he will understand from my actions.

  I drop my gaze and concentrate on his jeans. Slowly, I unbutton his fly, then free his cock. He's hard and huge, and I want this. Want to taste him. Want to feel his excitement building. I need to give this to him, this man who has given me so much already.

  I need to give him this pleasure before I give him the harsh reality of my secrets.

  I use the tip of my tongue to tease him. I keep one hand on his thigh, but circle his cock with the other, and I can feel the way his muscles tighten. The way he shifts in the seat as he silently demands more. I feel it, and I like it. This sense of power. Of knowing that I'm leading him someplace sublime.

  I can't take all of him, I know. But I draw him in, using my tongue and my hand to stroke and tease, keeping my mouth tight and sucking, trying to take him to the edge and growing more and more aroused with each small sound he makes. With the feel of his fingers tightening in my hair. With the way his cock tightens in my mouth and twitches as he comes close, so very close.

  "Stop." His voice is a low demand, and he pulls me gently up. I release him reluctantly, but rise to kiss him, thrusting my tongue in his mouth, letting him taste his own pleasure.

  "Are you sure?" I ask when I break the kiss.

  "I want to be on the edge, too."

  "Oh, really?"

  "I have plans for you," he says.

  "Isn't that interesting?"

  "Come here," he says, and draws me into his lap. The armrest is down, and I'm cradled in his arms. I'm a little cold from the wind, but I don't want to move to get the blanket. Instead, I snuggle closer, then sigh when he uses the control button on the dashboard to turn up the deck heaters aimed at the captain's chair before wrapping his arms around me.

  I feel warm and safe and protected, and begin speaking as if sharing this with him is the most natural thing in the world. "There's more, you know. About Bob, I mean."

  His body tightens under mine, and when he speaks I can hear the precision in his voice, as if he has carefully chosen his words. "Do you want to tell me?"

  "I don't know that I want to, but I think I need to." I look up at him just long enough to draw strength from the way he is looking at me. Then I snuggle against his chest, because it is easier to talk that way, when I am wrapped up warm in his arms.

  "It was rape, what he did. I know that. But I don't think I gave you the right impression when I told you the story before. It wasn't--you know--he didn't force me."

  "He seduced you," Jackson says, his voice full of vitriol. "If that's what you call that kind of behavior with a fourteen-year-old girl."

  I nod, feeling all of fourteen again. "He would touch me when he was adjusting a costume. He'd tell me I was pretty. That he wanted to touch my hair. That he just wanted to show me off." My mouth feels full of cotton, but I press on, because I want to get it all out. For some reason, right now telling Jackson seems like the most important thing in the world. "Lots of that. Pretty words. And reasons why his staff couldn't stay. And then he'd--"

  I draw a deep breath and swallow. "In the nightmares, it's never really the way it happened. I'm usually there twice. One of me is watching, and the other is with him. He usually ties me up. Or makes me stand a certain way. Or he's more forceful. Shoving his hand into my shirt. Making harsher threats. He just traps me somehow." I lick dry lips. "But it wasn't really like that. I mean, I know--knew--what he was doing was wrong. But it was all sort of clean."

  I lift my head long enough to look up, and I can see on Jackson's face that he wants to slap that word right out of the air, but I don't know how to describe it otherwise. Because that's part of what I hate so much.

  "That makes it worse," I say. "Because the thing is--the thing is--"

  "You responded. You climaxed."

  I press my face back against his chest and nod. "I hated what he did--hated it--but I liked the way it felt. I couldn't control it. It was intense. Overwhelming. And no matter how hard I tried to hang on, I couldn't. I didn't want to, but I--"

  "He stole your control," Jackson says. His words, tight and measured, are so full of fury I fear that one wrong word from me and they will go nuclear. "He perverted your pleasure. That fucker scarred you as deeply as if he'd had a knife, Sylvia."

  He gently tilts my head up so that I am looking at him. And now his voice is as soft as a kiss. "You did nothing wrong, baby, while he was a monster. And I swear to god, if I ever find him, I'll kill the son of a bitch."


  It's getting late by the time Jackson ties the boat up at the dock. I'd considered going onto the island tonight, but the only lights are at the dock and the area around the helipad, and stumbling around with flashlights seems silly.

  Besides, at the moment I'm more interested in being in Jackson's arms than being on my island. And it is Sunday, after all. A girl has a right to enjoy her weekend.

  I am in Jackson's cabin, wrapped up tight in his bathrobe as all those thoughts run through my head. And, frankly, the only thing I want right now is Jackson.

  As if my wish conjured him, he appears in the doorway. His grin is a little crooked and his eyes a little mischievous, and all I can think is how happy I am that we have reached the island and the boat is tied off and we don't have to be concerned about the autopilot putting us in the path of a cruise liner.

  In other words, time for the evening's fun.

  "I like seeing you in my robe." He leans against the doorjamb. "I like it a lot."

  "You might like it even better when I'm out of the robe."

  "I might at that." The room is small, so he is at my side in only three long strides. "Why don't you take it off and get under the covers?"

  "I could do that," I agree.

  I start to undo the tie, when his words still my hands: "We should get some sleep."

  I cinch the robe tight again and look up at him. "Sleep?"

  He brushes my lips with a butterfly soft kiss. "After everything you told me--"

  I grab his hand. "After everything I told you, I need this. Please, Jackson, don't make me sleep with those memories in my head. I want you. I want what you promised me."

  He studies me for a moment, his expression unreadable. Then he points to the bed. "Take off the robe."


  "No." He holds up a finger in a gesture of silence. "No argument. No objection. Are we clear?"

  We are. Very. And I
have to fight my smile of victory. Instead, I look up at him, my face bland, as I take the robe off and let it drop to the floor. I don't move, waiting for him to tell me what to do next.

  He says nothing, though. He simply stands there, right beside me, the heat he is emitting so intense I fear it will burn us. His eyes rake over me, and I see the bulge of his erection beneath the denim of his jeans. "Christ, you're beautiful. I could spend the rest of my life looking at you and still not have my fill."

  He moves closer, then traces my lip with his fingertip before ordering me to suck. I do, and with every tug I feel the heat between my legs grow more and more demanding.

  "That's right, baby." He uses his free hand to take one of mine, then slides it between my legs. He guides me, so that I am touching myself, my fingers sliding over my slick heat, and that would be erotic enough, but the combination of his hand, mine, the sucking, is all building up inside of me, growing and growing until I am so close that all I want to do is thrust our joint hands inside myself as I come.

  But just as I am on the verge of doing exactly that, he tugs his finger free of my mouth, then gently pulls my hand away from my sex. I breathe hard, mourning the loss, but I don't protest. I know enough to know that would be against the rules.

  "On the bed. Spread your legs."

  I do, albeit with more than a little shyness. But I am rewarded with a look of pure passion, and that emboldens me. I bite my lower lip and spread them even wider. And then, with my eyes on his, I reach down and slide my fingers into my sex, then arch up at the unexpected intensity of this touch, all the more powerful now that he is watching.

  "Good girl," he says. "Touch yourself. Stroke yourself. I need a minute, and when I get back, I want you hot and ready for me, so don't stop. But don't come. If you do, we're done for the night, sweetheart."

  Games. But I like them, and I do what he asks, stroking and teasing, and letting the pleasure build. And then, because I am determined to make him just as wild as he is making me, I bring my other hand up and play with my breast, teasing my nipple, and knowing that I cannot get too carried away because Jackson is a man who means what he says--and I am not ready for this night to be over any more than I want it to end without him inside of me.

  He said nothing about being quiet, and so I call to him. He is in the small closet area just inside the bedroom, and he is on the floor in front of the open closet door. There is a trunk open in front of him, but I cannot see what is in it. Not until he stands and I see a length of rope and something black and silky. He hesitates, then drops the rope.

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