Theirs to cherish, p.8
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       Theirs to Cherish, p.8

         Part #8 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
Page 8


  If Thorpe was here with Sean’s blessing, she wasn’t going to worm out of this conversation, damn it.

  As she set Sean’s collar down on her nightstand, Callie mentally sorted through everything she could tell him. He must know that she had feelings for her Sir. More feelings than she was comfortable with. Thorpe missed very little, so he was no doubt aware that Sean had never taken her past her limits, ignored her safe word, or acted in any way out of line. Besides, if she was going to skip out on Thorpe after he’d kept a roof over her and ensured her safety for four years, she owed him more than a flat-out lie.

  Wringing her hands, she forced herself to meet his intent gray gaze and confessed something else that had been niggling in the back of her brain. “Something is . . . off about him. ”

  That clearly piqued Thorpe’s interest. “In what way?”

  Callie tapped her toes. She had to express her concerns about Sean without giving her past away. Putting Thorpe in the terrible position of harboring a known fugitive wasn’t how she wanted to repay his kindness.

  “He asks a lot of questions. I don’t like them. ”

  Thorpe sent her a wry smile. “If it’s about your limits, that’s to be expected. Pet, he’s a Dom. It’s his job to get in your head. Frankly, you need some untangling. You might find it uncomfortable—”

  “He doesn’t need to know how many brothers and sisters I have, the name of my first pet, if I ever took special trips as a child . . . He seems really focused on things that shouldn’t matter if all he wants is a sub in a club. ”

  It was nothing Thorpe did or any change in his expression, but Callie had the distinct impression that he was enraged. “Has he always behaved this way with you?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “You should have told me the first time,” Thorpe scolded.

  “It’s not your problem. ”

  That only made him more forbidding. “You’re always my concern, Callie. ”

  The possession in his voice excited her more than she wanted to admit. “Well, I’m telling you now. What he wants to know seems weird. ”

  “I agree. ”

  “Just like it’s weird that he walked into Dominion and immediately had some sort of hard-on for me. ”

  “That’s not weird. That makes him a man. ”

  She rolled her eyes. “There are plenty of other subs here. ”

  “None of them are you. ”

  Damn it, sometimes Thorpe could—after weeks of being a giant pain in her ass—say the nicest things. She teared up. Gawd, she was really going to miss him.

  “But . . . ” he went on. “I don’t like the questions he’s asking you, either. I don’t see how they’re relevant to helping you down your submissive path. ”

  “Exactly. The other thing is . . . In almost every other way, he’s too good to be true. ”

  Thorpe regarded her intently. “Do you think he’s a player?”

  “No. ” But something wasn’t quite right. “I’m not sure what to make of him, though. ”

  Because if Sean was a cop, a bounty hunter, or an assassin, wouldn’t he have either dragged her in or done her in by now?

  “What did he say to you tonight that made you want to run away from him?”

  Oh. Ouch. Yeah, she needed to remember that Thorpe never hesitated to go for the jugular.

  “Nothing he meant to be threatening or scary. ”

  “Good to know. Be more specific. ” Thorpe’s tone sharpened.

  “It’s . . . personal. ”

  “Dodging my question isn’t an option, pet. ” That warning note in his voice made her shiver. “I’d rather not see you leave over whatever drivel he spewed. Tell me. Maybe I can fix the situation. ”

  It was embarrassing enough that he’d probably seen her and Sean having sex. He’d been so close, he couldn’t have missed their climatic finish. “You didn’t hear?”

  “Callie, I’m not getting through to you, so let me be plain. You will tell me now or I will paddle your pretty little ass. ”

  “You can’t do that!”

  His smile contradicted her. “I’ve informed Sean that it’s a distinct possibility. Besides, you’ve taken off his collar. If you think he’s being less than honest, you don’t intend to put it back on, do you?”

  “Why would I? I already told you, I’m leaving. ”

  “Not until I know why. ”

  She jumped to her feet, gaping at him. “You’d keep me here against my will?”

  Thorpe crossed an ankle over his knee and brushed an imaginary thread from his trousers. “Your tone suggests I should be uncomfortable with that idea. Until you’re honest with me, I assure you I’m not. Furthermore, if Kirkpatrick is troubling you, he’s nothing I can’t handle. Am I clear?”

  Callie blinked at him, processing everything he’d delivered in that low, almost relaxed voice. She wasn’t fooled. Under his urbane, oh so cultured façade beat the heart of a predator. She’d seen him take rivals apart both mentally and physically. Thorpe wasn’t someone a sane person crossed.

  Callie weighed her words carefully. “Sean made me realize I’m not cut out for a Dom/sub relationship. ”

  “Really, pet?”

  She sidestepped his question. “And I’m a little bored with Dallas. Los Angeles is calling my name. Every time Xander comes by and talks about his trips to the city, it sounds fabulous. It’s just time to move on. ”

  Thorpe said nothing for a long moment. He simply stood and towered over her, that charcoal stare boring into her. “There will be consequences for anything less than totally honesty, so think carefully, Callie. Would you like to recant or amend your statement in any way?”

  Shit. Thorpe knew something. Or everything. Had he heard Sean’s declaration of love?

  She tossed her head back and thrust her hands on her hips. This was going to be ugly no matter what. Might as well go for broke. “Butt out and stop acting like you’re my father. ”

  He stilled. “That’s one role I will never fill, but I have no problem putting you in your place. ”

  Callie didn’t even have a moment to wonder what his silky vow meant before he hauled her into his arms and dragged her, kicking and screaming, back to her bed. He sat, wrangling her with embarrassing ease, then spread his long legs and laid her over his lap, face down.

  “You are not going to spank me!” she insisted.

  Thorpe didn’t hesitate for an instant. “I am. I told you there would be consequences. You should know I always keep up my end of a bargain. ”

  He planted his huge palm in the small of her back, silently telling her how futile her struggles were. With his free hand, he slid the silk of her robe up and over her bare ass. Her entire body tensed. What was he seeing? Thinking? And why was the thought of his discipline so damn arousing?

  There was definitely something wrong with her.

  “Don’t I get a safe word?” she demanded.

  “I’m not strapping you to a cross and unleashing a single tail on you, so don’t insult me. I know you. I’ve spanked you before. ”

  For demonstration purposes, yes. In fact, the first time, she’d giggled—until he landed a single smack on her ass. Then it hadn’t been funny anymore. By the fifth swat, she’d been uncomfortably wet. By the tenth, she’d had to bite back a plea to come. Thorpe had some mysterious effect on her that she didn’t understand.

  “I’m not afraid. Last time you did this, you couldn’t get my clothes off fast enough. When you did, you couldn’t wait to run away. You’re not going to do anything to me now. ”

  Thorpe’s grip on her tightened.

  Crap, she was taking a huge chance by throwing that night in his face. No doubt, she was pissing him off. She suspected she was also arousing him, because as she wriggled on his lap, Callie couldn’t miss the fact that he was hard as hell.

  “Wrong,” he quipped in her ear. “I’m going to spank you until you answer my question and apologize for your disr
espect. ”

  “You’re not my Dom. ”

  “But I am a Dom, and this behavior is unbecoming. Start counting, pet. Don’t stop until I do. ”

  Callie tried again to squirm away. She rubbed against his cock, and he hissed. Then his palm landed on her ass in a blistering blow.

  “Ouch!” she protested, resisting the urge to rub her right cheek.

  “Yes, that’s why it’s called punishment. ”

  “This is Sean’s right, not yours. ” She grasped at straws.

  “Not if you’ve rescinded his collar. Since you said you had, I’ll remind you that you live here, you work for me, and you’re being very bratty. That’s three strikes, pet. ”

  She had no chance to scrape together a reply before he hit her again. Her left cheek stung, but not as much as her pride. And it didn’t take long for tingles to dance across her skin. Her blood heated, and her body melted under his touch.

  Damn it.

  “You haven’t counted yet,” he pointed out. “Shall we start over?”

  “I’ve never understand a Dom’s fascination with a sub counting. You’re educated. You can get to ten without me. ”

  “You think I’m stopping at ten?” he drawled.

  Callie drew in a breath and tried to calm herself. “Thorpe, please . . . Can’t I have a little privacy? Isn’t it enough for you to know that Sean didn’t mean to upset me?”

  “No. As long as you’re at Dominion, that’s my call. I’ve protected you for years and I don’t plan on stopping. ” He paused. “It pleases me to know you’re safe, but I find all this defiance when I’m trying to help you deeply disappointing. ”

  The fight went out of her. Callie hated to let Thorpe down. Most everyone else could blow it out their ass for all she cared. But the big Dom mattered too much to her—and he knew it.

  “You’re being manipulative,” she grumbled. “One. And two. ”

  “I’m always manipulative when you’re being both mouthy and dishonest. If Mr. Kirkpatrick didn’t show you the error of your ways, I will. ” He punctuated the statement with another swat to her right cheek.

  “Three. ” She knew she sounded pouty.

  Thorpe always got the best of her. Half the time she couldn’t decide if she resented that as much as the way their verbal fencing made her ache endlessly for him. It didn’t matter that she inevitably lost their battles of will. The power radiating off Thorpe aroused her like nothing else. It always had.

  But Sean had a huge chunk of her heart. What sucked more was that caring about either—much less both—of them was not only futile, it could be deadly.

  Chapter Four

  THORPE couldn’t take his eyes off Callie’s reddening ass . . . just like he’d never been able to in the past. He took a particular pride in knowing she wore his mark, even temporarily.

  God, he was a sick fuck. But that wasn’t going to stop him.

  He had to discipline her. More important, he had to give her a reason to stay.

  Her body perched over his lap, her every muscle tense. She panted. Her skin flushed. Callie might be angry as hell with him, but one thing was clear and sent a jolt of electric desire to his cock: She hadn’t stopped wanting him in the last two years any more than he’d stopped craving her. And if she was going to rescind Kirkpatrick’s collar, now might be his only chance to touch her. If she still ran, it would hurt like hell—but he couldn’t let this chance slip by.

  Dragging in a ragged breath, he brought his hand up and smacked her ass again, repeating the gesture the second the count left her lips. Slowly, her body thawed until she sank into him, her responses turning breathy.

  Ten, eleven, twelve . . . He slipped into a rhythm, slow and meaningful, deliberate, measured, strong. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen . . . Why was it so fucking easy to get into his Dom space with Callie? He never had to try. The moment he touched her, it was there, a boundless pool of it. He felt her needs as if they were his own. With her sprawled across his lap, he could read her utterly, each and every nuance.

  She wanted him. Yes, she’d been thinking about that goddamn Scot earlier. She was likely also wondering how she could have feelings for two men at once. As much as he disliked Kirkpatrick, Thorpe wondered that, too. But that bastard was no longer important. This tempo, his punishment, her peace—they both needed it. Then he’d bring her against his chest and care for her, cuddle and shower her with worship, find out what she needed to stay.

  Callie might not be his, but he’d do whatever it took to keep her here.

  “Twenty,” she whispered, absolutely limp against his thighs.

  Thorpe had no doubt her head was floating. Her defiance was gone. Her ass throbbed a fiery red. Her cunt seeped a sweet musk. His hand tingled. His mouth watered.

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