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       Bound, p.36

         Part #1 of Mastered series by Lorelei James
 

  off, which isn’t smart when I need the work, but the project is out of my usual realm.” She frowned. “Out of my realm photographically speaking.”

  “What do you mean?”

  Amery dropped into her chair and propped her bare feet up on the edge of her desk. “Several weeks ago this author contacted me, asking if I’d be interested in creating a cover for her next digital book. At first the whole thing tripped my warning bells because that was a day after the night I ran from you and your magic rope tricks.”

  A smile ghosted around his mouth.

  “Anyway, it struck me as coincidental that this erotic author I didn’t know wanted a specific image for her cover.”

  “And what image is that?”

  Her gaze hooked his. “A woman in bondage.”

  His expression didn’t change.

  “I thought you’d put her up to contacting me, expecting I’d ask her a lot of questions and during those conversations I’d get a handle on the mixed feelings I was having about you and your rope proclivities.”

  “And?”

  “And she did give me a different perspective, for which I owe her. I agreed to work on her cover. She’s not under deadline, and neither am I, so in my spare time, I’ve been thinking about how to create the image she wants—a woman in bondage that’s tasteful and sexy, yet doesn’t show any of her girl parts.” Amery twisted her ponytail around her finger. “The thing is, if I do a good job, it could open up a whole new income stream for me. I won’t get rich creating custom digital book covers, but any projects that keep me in business are worth attempting. So I can’t figure out why I’m dragging my feet.”

  Ronin remained quiet. But he paced, which wasn’t like him. After a couple of minutes she got tired of watching him. She tipped her head back into the headrest and closed her eyes.

  She’d just started to drift when warm lips pressed into her forehead. “Don’t crash on me now when I have a solution for you.” Then his lips brushed over hers half a dozen times before he sank into her mouth for a panty-dropping kiss. Then he pulled back abruptly.

  Amery opened her eyes. “Were we done kissing? Because it sure didn’t feel like it.”

  “I just wanted to make sure you were awake.”

  “Now I’m wide-awake and ready to strip off my clothes so you can fuck me over my desk.” She moved everything to the side, creating a large empty spot in the center. “See?”

  “Another time.”

  “Fine.” She set her feet on the floor. “What is your solution?”

  Ronin spun her chair around and placed his hands over her forearms on the armrests. “You need a picture of a woman in bondage. I’m a bondage master.”

  “And?”

  “And you should be the model.”

  Her mouth dropped open. “Are you insane?”

  “Hear me out. You want it tasteful and anonymous? Set up the camera with the right lighting and angle and all I have to do is press the button. You’ve got your artistic bondage cover.”

  “Ronin. Didn’t we discuss that I’m all right with you binding me as long as it’s not in public?”

  “Yes. But this is private. A shadowed photo of you is much different than me binding you in front of everyone at the club. And the bonus? You’ll get to see how absolutely stunning you look when I have you bound.”

  She stared at him, in shock and yet . . . not. “How would you bind me?”

  Pure pleasure warmed his eyes. “With your arms behind your back in a dragonfly sleeve. I’d use red rope. It’d be a gorgeous contrast against your pearly skin.”

  Maybe she was sleep-deprived or just curious, but she found she wanted to see herself as Ronin saw her: her naked body as a canvas for his artistic tying skills. “Okay.”

  Ronin kissed her quickly, but their teeth clacked together because he wore a big grin. “I’ll grab my bag.”

  “You just happen to have a bag of red ropes with you?”

  “I like to be prepared.”

  In the small studio, Amery chose a different backdrop and adjusted the umbrella lights. She rarely did portraits because she didn’t feel she had the artistic eye for it. But in this case only her back would be visible in the shot.

  Ronin hadn’t returned by the time she was ready to take a few test shots. After removing her shirt, she hooked up the remote button to the camera on the tripod. Using a roll of masking tape, she marked off a spot, stood on it with her bare back to the camera, and snapped a pic. Then she returned behind the camera and scrolled to the digital image. Too close. She backed up the camera, stood on the X, and clicked off another shot.

  Better. But the light glared off her shoulder blade. After adjusting the backlight, she threw a diffuser—just a piece of darker opaque fabric—over the top of the light. She found her mark on the X again.

  Before she clicked the remote, Ronin said, “Arch your back and turn your head to the right instead of looking forward.”

  “I don’t want anyone to see my face, remember?”

  “Only your profile is visible and you can darken that after you get the shot.” When he closed in behind her, his body heat warmed her and his presence soothed her. He tugged the ponytail holder free, running his fingers through the long strands. “There. Now take it.”

  Amery angled her head and pushed the button.

  When she whirled around, she expected to see Ronin behind the camera checking out the shot, but he remained off to the side, letting her do her job.

  “You’re right,” she admitted. “That is much better.” She tested a couple more, adjusting the zoom a fraction. After repositioning the tapes, she inhaled a deep breath, waiting for Ronin’s instruction.

  Then he was behind her, that deliciously deep voice in her ear. “You ready for me to start tying you, beautiful?”

  “Yes.”

  He placed a soft kiss on her shoulder. “Arms at your sides.”

  Amery lowered her arms and closed her eyes.

  She heard him behind her. The rustle of fabric as he removed his shirt and became Ronin the rope master.

  His bare skin brushed hers as he swept her hair aside. Then he unhooked her bra and slid it off. He brushed a kiss between her breasts as he unzipped her jeans, tugging them down her hips and to the floor. When she attempted to kick them free, he said, “No. Keeping them around your ankles will hold you in place.”

  Just another way he chose to bind her.

  His finger leisurely followed the lace edge of her panties hugging her lower curves. Then his lips thoroughly tracked her spine from the dimples above her ass to the nape of her neck.

  Although her pulse raced and her blood seemed to pump hotter with anticipation, she focused on her breathing.

  Ronin slipped rope over both of her shoulders. She felt a quick pull, and sections of rope brushed the inside of her arms as he secured the first knot. More rope slid up her wrists and over her elbows to cross her upper arms. Another tug, another caress on her skin beneath the knots. His soft, steady exhales drifted over her damp flesh.

  Goose bumps spread just from the nearness of his mouth to her skin.

  Callused hands were busy behind her, rarely jerky, never clumsy. At times the rope would swing across her calves, giving the impression of his fingers teasing her there, even when she felt his fingertips on her spine.

  The more knots he added to the rope configuration, the closer her arms got to touching. This pattern didn’t restrict her breathing like some of the chest harnesses he’d crafted. Yet Amery found herself floating into that same headspace, where his fleeting touches set off little pulses beneath her skin.

  He held her wrists and placed several thick loops in the center of the rope that kept her wrists from touching.

  Amery knew when Ronin finished. He stepped back to scrutinize his creation, much like an artist. Then he’d make minute adjustments to the ropes. Sometimes he’d circle her, looking from all angles. But this time he stayed behind her.

  And his voice was so per
fectly modulated it never abruptly brought her out of that trancelike state when he spoke. “Amery.”

  She didn’t have to answer him; he just needed to know he had her attention. She barely moved her head in acknowledgment.

  “You are stunning bound in red. I’m grateful you’ll get a chance to see the pure beauty that shines through you.” Then Ronin’s hands were on her once again, circling her hips as he snugged his body in behind hers.

  “Stay in this heightened state and tell me what I need to do to capture the picture.”

  Amery fought against the pull that would yank her out of blissful nothingness. “The remote button is attached to the camera. Press it when you have the shot you want.”

  There was movement behind her and Amery managed to stay still.

  He adjusted her arms higher. “Hold like that.”

  The shutter made a whirring click. Then another. And another. So many she lost count.

  Ronin didn’t suggest she change poses. She understood his gaze wasn’t behind the lens, but entirely on her.

  “Will you let me try something?” he asked. “I won’t move you, I promise.”

  “Yes.”

  “Stay still no matter what I do to you.”

  That meant he planned to touch her.

  Stretching out the anticipation was Ronin’s specialty. He’d never kept her hanging on the jagged edge for long. Yet knowing he could keep her there indefinitely, that she had no control in how or when he chose to send her soaring into pleasure, added another layer to their play.

  His gi pants teased her bare toes when he dropped to his knees in front of her. He kissed the skin below her belly button.

  The same time Amery released a little gasp of surprise, the shutter whirred behind her.

  Ronin’s breath drifted over the damp spot he’d just kissed and she bit her lower lip as the camera clicked. His warm mouth slid a fraction lower.

  Click.

  Another inch put his mouth right on the lace band of her panties.

  Click.

  But the sneaky man didn’t kiss her there; he dipped his tongue beneath the lace.

  She jerked and her head moved out of position.

  “Don’t move.” Those rough fingertips were on her hips and he tugged her panties down—not off—but far enough to prevent her from widening her stance.

  Click.

  Amery felt the hot wash of his breath over the rise of her bare mound. No. He wouldn’t.

  And then he did.

  Ronin burrowed his tongue into the top of her slit and licked down, then back up. Zeroing that flicking tongue directly on her clit.

  Somehow she held the position as he used that wicked tongue to drive her out of her mind.

  She thought she heard the camera clicking, but she wasn’t sure she wasn’t hearing the muscle in her jaw popping from clenching her teeth.

  No teasing. No slow buildup. Ronin just tongued her insistently until that breathless moment right before the orgasm slammed into her. Amery couldn’t help dropping her head back in ecstasy and sucking in a few gasping breaths as she gave herself over to the pleasure.

  Once the fog lifted, she let her face dip down, almost in supplication.

  Several more shots clicked.

  “Amery.”

  Her heart rate picked up.

  “Look up for a second.”

  As always when he bound her, she followed his instructions.

  “Good. Now turn your head and glance over your shoulder.”

  Her hair hung her face and she tossed her head to clear her line of sight.

  Click.

  The flash startled her, but she stared right into the camera lens.

  Click.

  “Beautiful, baby. Now relax.”

  She allowed herself a small smile but didn’t otherwise move.

  Click.

  Then Ronin’s hands were on her face and his mouth captured hers in a combustible kiss. Although her heart still thumped like mad, she existed in that post-orgasmic haze.

  “Need to have you like this,” he murmured against her lips. “Step out of your jeans.”

  As soon as she kicked them free, he herded her backward to her office.

  Ronin turned her around and bent her over her desk. She hissed in a breath when her nipples and belly connected with the cold surface.

  The head of Ronin’s cock nudged her hot, wet center. He jerked on the rope dangling between her wrists. “Arms up and keep them up. I want to see your ass shake as I’m fucking you.”

  Amery pressed her cheek into the cool wood and lifted her arms. The silken cord dropped between her butt cheeks.

  Ronin said, “Jesus. I can feel the rope teasing my dick.”

  He did a pelvis twist and plunged inside her cunt fully. Wrapping one hand around her hip, he repositioned her to keep her hipbones from banging into the desk. Then he twisted the rope in his other hand, pulling it as he fucked her.

  Each steady stroke fueled the fire between them. Ronin’s quiet intensity as he plowed into her kept her on the edge as she waited for him to detonate.

  When that moment arrived, he stopped slamming into her and shuddered as his cock emptied. The combination of her restraint and his passion set her off again. Her pussy clamped around his cock as it pulsed, milking every last seed.

  Then he lifted her up and cranked her head around to meet his avid mouth, kissing with such sweetness she melted.

  “Stay still,” he said gruffly. As he unwound the rope from her arms, his fingers brushed over the marks. “Still red even after the red rope is gone,” he murmured. “But they’ll fade in a few hours.”

  Why did she have a twinge of regret that they’d fade so soon?

  He held her for a long time and she relished the skin-on-skin contact. Then he played with her hair, twirling it around his fingers. He wrapped a thick chunk around his palm and brought it to his mouth, rubbing his lips across it. Each caress on her cheek and tender kiss on her forehead brought her back to herself. She felt secure that he knew exactly what she needed without her having to ask.

  “Better?”

  “Much. Thank you. For . . . all of it.”

  “I’m humbled by the trust you place in me.” He nuzzled her temple. “I’ll never take that for granted.”

  Men, in her experience, in the afterglow of great sex, would say anything in hopes of a repeat performance. But Ronin was different since he’d backed up his words with actions on more than one occasion. She could fall for him so easily.

  Don’t be a fool. You’ve already fallen for him.

  “Are you ready to see yourself on film?”

  “No. I’m afraid to look.”

  “Why?”

  “I don’t like pictures of myself.” Understatement. Amery hated pictures of herself. “I always look goofy. Like the redheaded stepchild who gets shoved into the background hoping no one notices her.”

  He pinched her chin between his thumb and forefinger. “Then you’ll be surprised by how breathtaking you look bound by me, won’t you?”

 
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