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       Bound, p.12

         Part #1 of Mastered series by Lorelei James

  Fuck, fuck, fuck bounced in her brain. Think, Amery. She kicked out behind her and connected with his knee. That caused him to loosen the hold.

  But he didn’t let go, which meant she still didn’t have it right.

  She reached behind her and cupped his groin. His cock was completely hard. In class.

  “Let go,” he said in that deadly quiet, yet demanding tone.

  Feeling bold, she managed to rasp out, “Maybe you should show me how you get out of this hold.”

  In hindsight, she probably deserved to get thrown on her ass.

  One second she’d had a loose hold on his groin; the next he’d twisted her arm behind her back, knocked her to her knees, and placed his elbow on the base of her neck while pushing her face into the mat.

  Ninja skills: 1.

  Amery: 0.

  The position didn’t hurt anything but her pride. Although the man had her pinned down—when had he grown an additional pair of arms?—he still had the flexibility to put his mouth on her ear. “Smart responses will always get you in trouble. A challenge will always get answered. Understand?”

  “Yes, Sensei.”

  He released her and said, “Stand.”

  Amery didn’t bother to look around and see if anyone was watching them. Being dumb enough to taunt Master Black was humiliating enough.

  Then the man wrapped his arm around her neck again. “Free yourself.”

  She raised her arms and grabbed two handfuls of his hair. Before she could pull hard, he let her go.

  “That wouldn’t work if I were a bald man.”

  She faced him. “Isn’t self-defense all about adapting? I would’ve tried another move on a bald guy.”

  “Show me.”

  Dammit. She’d fallen right into that one.

  His muscled arm snaked around her throat. This time she reached for his ears, intending to tear them off his head, but he dodged her. Same thing when she attempted to scratch his face or gouge at his eyes.


  “There isn’t an automatic response for me yet, like there is for you,” she choked out. “This is only the second class. I don’t think I’ve even learned some of the maneuvers you expect me to know.”

  “Then next class you’d better pay closer attention because there will be a test afterward.”


  Master Black dropped his arm and stood in front of her, blocking her from the room. “I will push you, Amery, because I have a personal interest in your safety.”

  Sandan Zach clapped his hands and said, “Everyone line up.”

  Sensei offered her a bow and disappeared around the corner.

  And she still found it really hard to concentrate for the remainder of class even when he wasn’t in the room.

  • • •

  AFTER class, Molly was quieter than usual. Amery should’ve let it go, but that wasn’t her way. “Something wrong?”

  Molly whirled on her. “How is it fair that you get Sensei Black’s personal attention? I was the one who was traumatized after being attacked by a homeless thug, not you. I’m the one who needs to know how to defend myself. But this class is just like everything else in my life.”

  “What do you mean like everything else in your life?”

  “Forget it.”

  Count to ten. “No, Molly, you started it. Tell me.”

  “You won’t understand. You’re so pretty that everyone is drawn to you. And it’s stupid for me to be jealous of the attention you’re getting from Master Black, because even if you weren’t there, he wouldn’t be focusing that attention on me. I don’t shine like you do. I’m just a bland blob that everyone overlooks.”

  Amery was shocked and a little pissed off by this conversation. “Why did you ask me to attend this class with you?”

  “Because I didn’t want to go by myself.”

  “So by having me there as your crutch, you don’t have to mingle with other students, you don’t have to step out of your comfort zone. That’s what this all boils down to, Molly.”

  “No, it boils down to I’m a freak who’s having a hard time making friends here. Then it seems I’ve been on the outside looking in my whole life.”

  And whose fault is that? Amery didn’t voice that, but she certainly thought it. She’d been raised that way and she’d overcome it. Molly could overcome it too. But she wasn’t even trying. “You can change that.”

  “I don’t know how.”

  “Getting ticked off at me isn’t the way to do it.”

  “So how did you meet people after you moved to Denver?”

  “I made sure I was open to it. I introduced myself to my neighbors. I’ve tried to get to know some of the people who live on this block, whether they’re working at the coffee shop or they own the business across the street. I’ve had smoothies with a couple women in my yoga class. I’m sure there are people in your master’s program who’d love to hang out with you. Do you know anyone in your apartment complex?”

  “I’ve met a few people.” Molly sighed. “When I act bold it doesn’t feel right.”

  I know how that goes. “Take it one step at a time. Tell yourself you’re going to connect with one person each week who is out of your normal realm.”


  She pulled up to Molly’s apartment building.

  Molly faced her. “Thanks, Amery. And sorry for . . .”

  “No worries. It gets easier. But, sweetie, you’ve gotta try.”

  “I will. I promise.”

  • • •

  AN hour later Amery stood at the front window in her living room, watching the rare summer rain. She’d opened the windows to let the scent of warm, wet concrete fill the room. The curtains billowed in the damp breeze and droplets spattered against the floor.

  There was something so cleansing about rain. Something soothing.

  Her phone buzzed on the coffee table. Tempting to ignore it and wallow in the fresh air, letting the rain wash away her troubles for one night.

  But she picked it up and felt that little twist in her stomach when she saw Ronin’s name. She answered, “Yes?”

  “I’m in back, soaked to the bone. I’ve been beating on the door for five minutes. Will you please let me in?”

  She’d been so lost in thought she hadn’t heard him. Ironic that most of her thoughts had been about him.

  After ending the call, she made her way down the spiral staircase. She swung open the heavy door and momentarily lost the ability to breathe.

  The streetlamp bathed Ronin in a silvery glow. Water dripped off the ends of his hair and ran in rivulets down the planes and angles of his face. Droplets sparkled like liquid diamonds and flowed down his black leather coat.

  He stared at her, equally mesmerized. In that moment she knew what would happen if she let him in. But he didn’t push. Didn’t speak. He left the decision up to her.

  Was she ready to be Ronin Black’s lover?

  And the answer came quickly in a mental shout. Yes.

  Amery stepped aside.

  He scaled the step and stood before her.

  A cold blast of air gusted in as she closed the door, sending a shiver through her.

  Her shivers intensified when she looked at him. Larger than life but so deadly still. A predator poised to pounce.

  “If you get the coat dried off, the leather will probably be fine.” She continued to babble. “You can use my blow-dryer on the lining so it doesn’t get moldy. There are towels in the bathroom upstairs—”


  Just the way he said her name shut her up immediately.

  He stepped forward, full of grace and purpose.

  She stayed frozen, letting him come to her. Watching the rise and fall of his chest. His strong jaw was set, as was his mouth. When he got close enough she could see his face, the searing heat in his eyes had her backing up a step. Then another.


  She stopped.

  “Yes or no.”
r />   Still giving her a choice. Amery barely whispered, “Yes,” and Ronin was on her, his hands on her cheeks, holding her head steady for the onslaught of his kiss.

  Her mouth opened to welcome him. She tugged him closer, desperate for body to body contact, craving his passion. But he continued kissing her, holding her head hostage while the rest of her body clamored for more.

  Ronin’s kiss was all-consuming. Controlling. Fiery hot.

  She slipped her hands inside his coat, digging her fingernails into his pectorals. Wanting to rip the material free so she could feel his heated skin beneath her hands. His mouth dragged her deeper into the kiss, deeper into him. Her pussy grew slick. Her nipples hard. Her desire greater.

  He released her mouth, and whispered, “What you do to me,” against her throat. “Need you now. Fast and hard. The rest can come after.”


  Ronin’s coat hit the concrete floor with a wet splat. He ditched his T-shirt and unbuckled his belt.

  She hooked her fingers into the elastic band of her sweatpants, shedding the sweats and panties. Next came her shirt, and lastly her sports bra.

  How she’d managed to get undressed with Ronin mere inches from her surprised her as much as the fact that he was naked too.

  “I see you’ve got ninja clothes-removal skills,” she said with a soft purr, finally getting her hands on his bare skin.

  “You should’ve seen how fast I put on a condom.”

  She stared at him. “You’ve already got a condom on?”

  “Yes, because I don’t want to wait. I don’t think I can.” He slapped his hands on her ass and lifted.

  Amery wrapped her leg around his hip and he hoisted her up until both legs circled his waist. She clutched his neck as he walked backward. How could he see where they were going with his mouth doing such wickedly naughty things to her ear?

  He stopped, pressing her back against the circular staircase. “Reach above you and grab on to the railing.”

  “But I want to touch you.”

  “You will. But for now, baby, I need you to hang on.”

  Her palms bit into the metal as she wrapped her fingers around the thin hand railing. She wasn’t supporting her weight—Ronin’s body bore every bit of that. Seeing the lustful expression as his golden-eyed gaze started at her breasts and tracked upward, her sex clenched.

  He whispered, “Beautiful,” and dragged an openmouthed kiss from the inside of her arm above her armpit to the bend in her elbow.

  Amery had no idea that tender section of flesh was an erogenous zone. A soft moan escaped. Each nibble and lick sent a bolt of electricity straight to her pussy. “Ronin. Please.”

  One of his hands slipped between their bodies. He positioned his cock at her entrance, swirling the head through the thick cream pouring from her. “You’re so ready for me.”

  He didn’t have to tell her to keep her gaze locked on his; she couldn’t look away from him. He pushed inside her on a slow, slow, slow glide until his cock was fully seated.

  Amery fought the urge to close her eyes, wanting to savor the connection. The feeling of fullness. The heat and hardness of him finally inside her.

  Then his mouth was on hers in a soft kiss as he withdrew. And just as slow as the first thrust was, the second thrust was fast and deep.

  She gasped in his mouth as he began to fuck her with hard, steady strokes. Each time he bottomed out, tingles broke out across her body. Her nipples tightened. Her toes curled. She squeezed her pussy muscles around his shaft after every upward thrust.

  Ronin broke the kiss to demand, “More.”

  He’d moved his hands to protect her lower back from slamming into the metal framing of the staircase. His strength was such he kept her from hitting it even as his hips jackhammered into her.

  She did close her eyes then and let the reality of the situation sink in. The hottest man she’d ever met was all up in her, driving her to the point of no return, making her body quake.

  “I’ve wanted you like this since the moment I saw you,” he growled against her throat. “Sexy spitfire, throwing her pants at me.”


  “Sassy with a side of sweet obedience.” He nipped her earlobe. “I never had a prayer of staying away from you.”

  His words, coupled with the grinding of his pelvis on her clit, worked magic on her and she whimpered.

  “You ready to come?”


  “And if I said I wanted you to wait?” he said against her lips as he stared into her eyes, without missing a single hard stroke.

  Amery was so primed, her body so super-sensitized that one more hot kiss below her ear would ignite the fire he’d started inside her. But something in his glimmering eyes offered assurance that any delay he decided she needed would be worth it. “Then I’d wait,” she said softly.

  That must’ve been the right answer, because his mouth was on hers, kissing her voraciously. He rolled his pelvis, keeping the contact on her clit continuous.

  Her orgasm blasted through her and she fought the urge to let it send her spinning into cyberspace. With as hard as her cunt was contracting, Ronin would be coming right behind her. She wanted to see his face when he lost control.

  Then it happened. His head fell back. His body kept pumping at the same pace, but it was as if everything had switched into slow motion. A bead of sweat rolled down the cord straining in his neck. She bent forward and licked it, which made his entire body tremble.

  She whispered, “Such a beautiful man,” and brushed her lips across his rigid jaw.

  After he stopped moving, she let go of the railing and twined her arms around his neck, threading her hands through his hair, craving closeness from this sometimes aloof man.

  “Hang on. We’re not even close to done.” His cock slipped out of her and he hoisted her higher on his waist.


  IT was the most marvelous thing ever, being in Ronin’s arms as he carried her upstairs. She pressed her lips to the side of his throat, breathing him in. The scents of man, sweat, and rain completely filled her senses.

  “I like that little hum you just made.”

  “That’s because you smell divine and it’s romantic how you’re whisking me off to bed.”

  He laughed softly.

  Then they were in her bedroom.

  “Last time I was up here, you had on way too many clothes.”

  “Not the case now, is it?”

  “No.” Ronin set her on the bed. He covered her mouth with a languorous kiss. She melted deeper into the mattress and tried to tug him down with her. He pulled away and said, “Be right back.”

  Amery was too sated to ask questions. She stretched. The sheets were cool and a little damp from the open window. Pushing the pillows aside, she rolled over onto her belly, spreading her arms
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