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       Bound, p.32

         Part #1 of Mastered series by Lorelei James

  those openmouthed kisses that made her buck and moan. “Or you can stay here and take it.”

  Cocky bastard.

  “So what’ll it be?”

  “I can take it.”

  Ronin began drawing buzzing circles around her clit. “You sure?”

  “If you’d hold it there longer than three seconds, I guess you’d find out.”

  His chuckle tickled her ear. “Acting a bit bossy for a woman wearing my ropes.”

  “You’re acting a bit threatened by a vibrating piece of silicone and plastic.”

  While he held her vibrator directly over her clitoris, his mouth found all the hot spots down her neck and across her shoulders that made her writhe and moan. Then he sucked and tongued them unremittingly.


  “Stop thinking. Let go. Give it to me.”

  Give it to me. Bound by him, he reminded her that her pleasure belonged to him.

  Then the man bombarded her senses until bam! she was slammed into that white void. Mouth gasping, pussy throbbing. Coming so hard she felt it in her teeth, her toenails—even her earlobes prickled.

  She’d stretch out and purr like a contented cat . . . if she could move. It wasn’t lost on her that if Ronin could reach her clit with the vibrator, then he’d tied her up so he could fuck her. He didn’t always bind her with sex in mind. But whenever he did, she relearned the meaning of the word unravel.

  “I timed you,” he said. “Three minutes. Next time I make you come it will take longer. But there’s a catch.” His deep voice sent a hot curl of want straight to her core. “Come out of that shell and beg me to fuck you, turtle girl.”

  Yes. Please, please, please.

  No. Show some restraint. He’ll reduce you to a whore.

  Amery gritted her teeth against the judgmental voices that had ruled her since childhood.

  No. He’s not reducing me to anything. He’s empowering me to ask for what I want.

  “I don’t hear you begging. Do you want me to leave the room and give you some time to think about it?”

  “Ronin. Please.”

  “You want it.” His tongue traced the shell of her ear. “Ask me. Beg me. Plead with me. Prove to me you can. Just say the words I need to hear, Amery.”

  The seductive tone, the fleeting touch of his lips on her skin, that overwhelming want . . . finally it all came together to drop-kick those annoying voices right out of her head. She blurted, “Fuck me. Right now. Fuck me into an orgasmic stupor. Fuck me until I can’t walk.” But the part of her that liked to taunt him added, “If you think you’re up for it. Or are you waiting because you fear a . . . jackrabbit finish?”

  A growling noise reverberated against her neck one second, and the next Ronin was braced above her, shoving his cock into her so forcefully he rocked the coffee table.

  Between his hard-driving thrusts into her primed body, neither one of them hit the three-minute mark before they both exploded.

  As soon as Ronin caught his breath, he said, “You still with me?”


  After he climbed off, he crouched in front of her and ran his knuckle across her cheek. “Ropes off?”

  “Yes, please.”

  It amazed her how quickly he released the bindings, since he hadn’t rushed getting them in place.

  Ronin picked her up, arms still bound, and carried her to bed.

  After his full-body inspection, he held her face in his hands and took her mouth in one of those heart-melting, knee-knocking, sigh-worthy kisses that she never wanted to end. She snuggled against his body after he released her. “So that configuration was called the tortured tortoise?”

  “Tethered turtle,” he corrected.

  “Same thing,” she retorted. “I take it you’ve done that pattern before?”

  “Never on you.” Ronin kissed the pink marks on her wrists. “You were amazing. You looked gorgeous. I wish you’d let me . . .”

  Amery shook her head. They’d gone round and round about him taking photos of her bound, to show her how beautiful she supposedly looked. But she wasn’t ready for that. She didn’t know if she ever would be.

  “Anyway, thank you.”

  “I enjoyed it.” She drew circles on his chest. “Are you staying tonight?”

  “Yes. Now wrap yourself around me like you’re prone to and go to sleep.”

  She smiled because she knew how much he liked having her wrapped around his body—even when he wouldn’t admit it.


  THE following week, after one of the worst days of her career, Amery dragged her ass to a hole-in-the-wall bar that served strong, cheap drinks. It was the type of joint where people went to drown their sorrows alone. No guys trolling for a hookup. No bar floozies scamming on guys to pay their tab. No crazy sports fanatics with the TV cranked to ten thousand decibels. No annoying blowhard carrying on a never-ending cell phone conversation. No perky wait staff in skimpy clothing. Just an old bartender with a limited mixed drink repertoire and plenty of isolated booths and tables for one.

  She ordered two gin and tonics at happy hour prices and drained the first one in two gulps. After the booze took the edge off, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes.

  In addition to business problems today, her mother had called to nag her about her father’s clergy anniversary party. Being in a lousy mood gave her the balls, guts, whatever to tell her mother that she wouldn’t be attending the party.

  Shocking that a minister’s wife knew so much profanity and had no issue using it on her daughter. Pissed off and pushed into a corner, Amery had hung up on her, which carried the unhappy consequence of receiving a phone call from her father. She shouldn’t have answered, but being in a foul mood had allowed her to unload on him and he’d hung up on her too. After that, she’d half expected a stranger to walk in and stage a religious intervention on her parents’ behalf—or possibly they’d just hire an exorcist—because obviously she was possessed by the devil if she dared to speak to her parents in that manner.

  She snickered.

  No one in the bar looked at her as if she were crazy for laughing alone in a dark booth while knocking back two-for-one mixed drinks.

  Maybe she’d had a fight with her parents, and her friends, and she might be cracking the want ads for a new job, but at least she had a decent relationship for once in her life.

  Although maybe indecent was a better term for what was going on with Ronin. The man could fuck like a dream. He made her feel like the most beautiful woman on earth every time he touched her. He demanded and yet he gave back. Sexually everything was going great. She trusted him with her body, knowing they could give each other exactly what they needed.

  But on a personal level? When she wasn’t basking in the afterglow of astounding sex, or when he wasn’t literally tying her up in knots, and she considered what she knew of him beyond the surface stuff . . . she realized it was only surface stuff.

  He focuses on you so completely that he reveals little of himself.

  What he’d told her of his life and training wasn’t an intimate peek into him, but information she could’ve found on his Web site. And since the night she’d gone to the club and afterward they’d had that shockingly intimate conversation . . . he hadn’t revealed anything personal about himself. So that, coupled with Deacon’s comments about her being in Sensei’s flavor-of-the-month club, brought her doubts about the seriousness of their relationship to the surface.

  Speak of the devil. Her phone dinged with a text message from him.

  RB: Where are you?

  Drinking. Where are you?

  RB: On my way to get you. Tell me where you are.

  I’m lousy company. I’ll call you later, k?

  RB: Not okay. Where are you?

  I don’t need a babysitter. I’m fine.

  RB: I won’t baby you at all if you just tell me where you are.


  RB: I want to see for myself that you’re

  See? Now, that was boyfriend-ly concern, wasn’t it?

  No—he wanted control.

  Bullshit. He cared about her.

  Didn’t he?

  Screw it. Even if he didn’t and this was a fling, she wanted to see him tonight.

  She typed I’m at the Rialto Lounge.

  RB: On my way, hang tight.

  Too late, I’m already loose.

  Then she shoved her phone in her purse and bought herself round number three.

  So her vision was a tiny bit blurry when he walked toward her, but Amery would recognize that distinctive gait even four sheets to the wind. “Hey, sexy man. Lemme buy you a drink.”

  “No, thanks. I’m your DD since it appears you could use one.” Ronin looked around. “Interesting place. Come here often?”

  “When I need to.”

  “What happened that sent you scurrying into this lounge lizard’s paradise?”

  She wasn’t drunk, but she had a buzz, and that conversation would be a buzzkill. “Bad day and no, I don’t want to talk about it.”

  Ronin grabbed her chin and peered into her eyes. “Too bad, beautiful. Why are you drinking alone?”

  “You’re here now, so technically I’m not drinking alone. Just buy me another drink and quit judging me.”

  He headed to the bar and returned with a tall glass.

  “What’s this?”

  “Coke. I’m not down with your plan to keep drinking until you pass out. I snagged you some pretzels too.”

  “Gross. These have been gathering dust for twenty years.” She shoved the bowl aside and eyed the soda.

  “Amery.” He plucked up her hand and kissed her fingertips. “Baby, please talk to me about what’s going on with you.”

  Instead of immediately relating her job woes, she took the opportunity to address something else that she hadn’t brought up. “It bothered me more than I let on, watching you training with your black belts last week.” When he stayed silent and watchful, she continued. “Everything happened so fast the night we were attacked that I didn’t appreciate the nuances of your martial arts skills. Maybe it makes me naive, but I’ve focused on the graceful way you move, not why you can move with such stealth and precision. So when I witnessed your physical power and understood you are a force beyond anything I’ve ever seen? Seeing that side of you scared me.”

  “You know I’d never hurt you.”

  “You’re missing the point I’m trying to make. It’s like I was seeing you for the first time. What you do as a martial artist is so much a part of who you are. And since I don’t know that side of your life, you can understand why I’d feel like you’re a stranger sometimes. Why it feels like the only time we’re intimate is when we’re naked. You expect me to tell all and you don’t reciprocate.”

  Ronin’s gaze roamed her face. “I’ve shared more with you than anyone.”

  “You mean the kinbaku and shibari?”

  “Not just that and you damn well know it.”

  “That’s the thing, Ronin. I don’t. There’s so much you’re holding back from me. And what’s hidden beneath the surface might be some scary shit.”


  “So I’ll show you how this sharing thing works. Today, one of my biggest clients informed me they’ll be taking their graphic design work in-house rather than outsourcing starting the end of the month. And yes, I understand it’s just business, but it’s killing my business. I’ve lost accounts over the past few months for the same reason. I picked up a couple new projects, but this is my bread-and-butter client. I always worried about having a client like that, because I feared this very thing would happen. Now it has.”

  “I’m sorry.” He kissed the back of her hand.

  “I could look on the bright side and be glad they aren’t giving me the old heave-ho because the quality of the work has gone downhill or I’m slow in responding to their needs.” She swigged the Coke. “But I can’t think of anything besides that I’ll have to let Molly go.”

  “It doesn’t help to conjure up worst-case scenarios.”

  “I don’t need to conjure them, Ronin, because they’re already here. This is the reality of the situation. I set out to drown my sorrows so I wouldn’t have to think about it for the rest of the night, and I don’t appreciate you showing up here and forcing me to think about it.”

  “Why aren’t your friends here supporting you?”

  Amery sighed. “They ditched me to go to their gay bar hangouts.”

  “They left you alone after you’d been drinking?” he asked sharply.

  “No. I meant I didn’t invite them to my pity party because we had words and we still aren’t speaking. The words I’m waiting to hear from them haven’t made it back to me yet.” She wouldn’t tell Ronin he was the source of discord between them. “But in my defense of drinking alone, I wouldn’t have attempted to walk home alone. I would’ve waited until I sobered up and called a cab.” She poked his chest. “Self-defense rule number one I learned at Black Arts. Avoid dangerous situations. See? I paid attention in class.”

  “Do you have plans for the rest of the night?”

  “Wallow. Then wallow some more.”

  Ronin framed her face in his hands. “Come wallow with me in the pool. Or in the garden. But if you’d rather we can go to your place.”

  Amery looked into his eyes, entranced by how they changed color. Right now they were a warm, soft brown and filled with concern. Then she felt guilty for saying she didn’t know him when very few people got to see this caring side of Master Black and he showed it to her—even if only limitedly. “Your place has more toys.” When Ronin raised his eyebrows she amended, “Not what I meant.”

  “I’m calling that a Freudian slip anyway.”

  “Whatever. No weird sex toys,” she warned.

  “I promise only to use the usual sex toys.” He smooched her mouth.

  “Meaning ropes?”

  “Among other things. Let’s go.”

  Amery perked up at seeing Ronin’s motorcycle parked by the curb. “Did you bring me a helmet?”

  “Of course.”

  It seemed as if Ronin took the long way back to his place, but Amery didn’t mind. There were worse places to be than twined around his strong body.

  They held hands during the elevator ride.

  Ronin asked, “Are you hungry?”

  “No. I’d rather swim.”

  “Are you changing in my room?”

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