Lost… Hurt… Broken…
Dark… Emotional… Beautiful…
He was the last thing she thought she needed, but she was everything he wanted.
Abused and alone, Kitty had no idea how far she’d have to flee after she finally got the courage to run. She never would have guessed she’d end up halfway around the world, or in the home — much less the arms — of dominant Australian whip-master, Noah Carver.
He knows she’s damaged, that she needs safety and time to heal, but the way her submission calls to him has Noah thinking more about what could be between them than her history.
The only question now is what she fears more: standing up to her abusive ex-dom, or staying with a man she’s afraid to love?
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Hugging her towel, Kitty crept through the second kitchen archway, edging between the massive dining table and built-in china hutch, to peek out through the half-open drapes into the yard. She saw the radio first, sitting on the white-painted front porch rail, blaring its ‘80s music out into the yard where Noah was standing—no, not standing, dancing—step dancing, in form-fitting jeans, crocodile boots and worn tan hat, and a white t-shirt that fit him in a way that was at once loose and yet a second skin. She could see the ripple of muscle playing across his shoulders and back, bunching and flexing in his biceps as his arms moved to the beat, rising and falling, snapping out the rhythm with each of the whips he held, one in each hand. That was the source of the popping. Not one crack at a time, but two and three snaps to each fluid movement as he turned and stepped, and tapped his way through to the end of that Dire Straits song.
When it was over, the music paused long enough for him to reset himself. Head slightly bowed, he rolled his muscular shoulders, shook the whips out like long snakes in the dust around his feet, and then AC/DC started up. Thunderstruck. His foot started tapping. He found the beat, and then he began all over again. Fluid, graceful, line-dancing motions that he so effortlessly filled with a whole new accompaniment of tempo-keeping cracks from his whips.
She caught her breath, suddenly aware that her stomach was tightening and quivering right along with his punctuating music.
Abruptly retreating from the window, Kitty stood for a moment at the table, hands clutching and tightening and adjusting at her towel, feeling at once hot and flustered and confused and scared, and then stupid because she didn’t know why. Two tiny steps forward could have carried her back to the window for a second peek, but she made herself turn away.
The heavenly aroma of coffee drifted from the kitchen.
She hugged herself, knowing she ought to get dressed, but also knowing there was no way she was going back into her bedroom. Not now, possibly not ever.
She wandered as far as the living room, stopping again between the dark yawning maw of the hallway leading back to spider-infested doom — and the front door, with its multi-paneled glass windows that provided another peek at Noah out in the yard.
A sparkle of gold drew her eye into the living room. There wasn’t a lot of furniture to stumble around or useless decorations, but there were a lot of display boxes hanging on the walls. In each one, attached to a green-felt backcloth, was a coiled brown-plaited whip with a golden plaque the size of a business card. Noah’s name was engraved on each one, with the division of whip cracking that he’d won—most of which read simply ‘Mens’ Champion’—and the year. There were fifteen of them total, and they spanned nine years’ worth of achievements.
Scattered among them and along the fireplace mantel were pictures. Some of Noah at various ages; some of other people. Everybody had whips, and one was a newspaper clipping taken from the local paper in which the headline included both Noah’s name and the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where apparently he and others from the Australian Whipcrackers & Plaiters Association had put on the Opening Ceremony and, as the paper put it, opened the eyes of the world to the competitive sport of Australian whip cracking.
She was looking over his framed collection of Guinness World Record titles when the front door suddenly opened and Noah walked in. How she had missed hearing the music shut off, she didn’t know. It wasn’t as if he were trying to sneak up on her. The heavy tromp of his boots when he crossed the threshold, took one look at her in nothing but a towel, and abruptly stopped, was damn near deafening.
To his credit, he didn’t ogle her. He kept his eyes locked with hers and any hint of discernible expression locked tight behind a mask she could not read. It was probably disapproval. It had to be disapproval, though there wasn’t so much as a single censuring note in the way he finally said, “Rule Number Five, love. Admittedly, I did only specify shoes, but in my defense, I assumed you would know to put your clobbers on and not to go nuddy about.”
Both whips were in his hand, coiled and tied. But every experience she had in regards to whips had taught her how easy it was to make them ready for use again. It would have been so easy, especially with that thought running wild in her head, to be afraid of him. And yet, with his face void of expression, and his tone careful not to be too scolding, he made no move to come at her.
He smelled like sunshine, too, her brain supplied.
Like that should make a difference, she wanted the rest of her to argue, but in some weird way… it did make a difference. It was all she could smell, the sunshine, the dust and leather of his boots, the faint spice of his deodorant or soap, and the warm coffee spreading through the house. It made such a difference that, standing there, staring at him with those whips in his hand, her nipples budded into tight little peaks and a single thump of warm neglect pulsed between her tensing legs. She clutched her towel, tightening her thighs in an effort to kill the sensation, but like ripples on a still pond, that thump spread up through her belly, becoming a series of smaller pulses that she could feel steadily throbbing out through her sex and into her womb.
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About Maren Smith
Fortunate enough to live with my Daddy Dom, I am a Little, coffee whore, pain slut, administrator at my local BDSM dungeon, resident of the wilds of freakin’ Kansas (still don’t know how I ended up here) and submissive to the love of my life. An International and USA Bestselling Author, I have penned more than 120 novels, novellas and short stories, and am the author of the Masters of the Castle series.
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