Authors: Annie Jocoby
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Suspense, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Erotica
Copyright 2015 by Tobann Publications
All rights reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
he Gallagher Family
End of Illusions
Secrets and Lies
, CJ, breathe.
I attempted to take some cleansing breaths, but my heart was pounding out of my chest, and my legs felt weak. Too weak.
This shouldn’t be a big deal.
It shouldn’t be, but it was. I hadn’t been outside of my apartment for six months. For six months, I had been cowering inside of my apartment, binge-watching Netflix and wishing for the entire world to go away. My roommate, and best friend, Scarlett, was more than patient with me. Even as my bank account dwindled to zero, due to the fact that I wasn’t able to complete any free-lance photography assignments, she didn’t push me. Even as she came back into the apartment, day after day, and saw that I hadn’t moved an inch, she didn’t say anything.
“You’ll leave the house when you’re ready, CJ,” she said sympathetically. After what happened to me, she knew that I was fragile. She also knew that I hadn’t always been this way. “But I do miss the old CJ. Just so you know.”
I knew. She missed her partner in crime. Before the incident, she and I were typical New Yorkers on the prowl. We would dress up in skimpy clothing and go downtown to all the hottest clubs. More than once, I would be ditched at said bar, and would be greeted by a necktie wrapped around her doorknob. This was her signal for “do not disturb unless you’re dying, and maybe not even then.”
Sometimes I did it back to her. She didn’t mind, of course. We were young, loving life, and men found both of us attractive. We would giggle and dirty-dance with each other on the dance floor, grinding each other and smiling at the guys who would be eyeing us eagerly, wanting to break in. A bold guy would eventually join us in the grinding, and, if he was cute, one of us would end up calling dibs. And so it went, until the next cute guy would join in, and, with any luck, both Scarlett and I would end up hooking up with somebody at the end of the evening. Not necessarily sex, although sometimes it came to that, but groping and kissing and grinding.
That was then.
That was before my world came crashing in.
Now, here I was, on the sidewalk outside of my Soho apartment. This was an absolutely necessary step to regaining my life, I knew, but it didn’t make it any easier. But it was either this, or I would have to apply for social security disability. That would be beyond humiliating, although I knew that I could probably qualify for it, due to the fact that I had been unable to work for such a long period of time.
Too bad I’m not a writer,
I thought. If I were, I would never have to leave the safe confines of my tiny apartment. But I wasn’t a writer, I was a photographer. And a good one at that. I got my degree from NYU. I thought that I would conquer the entire world after I got out of that school. I would be a photojournalist in a dangerous place, always staying just one step ahead of the violence around me.
Although that was what I had aspired to, that wasn’t actually what I did. I actually was one of the annoying paparazzi who stalk celebrities and try to catch them in some kind of an unflattering or compromising way. It wasn’t exactly the substantial job that I had wanted when I got out of school, but it certainly did pay the bills. Without the cushion that I had built up from doing this job aggressively for the two years that I had been out of school, I would have run out of money a long time ago.
Now, it was time. My bank account was depleted, and, if I didn’t get back to my work soon, I would have to apply for government assistance. And Scarlett would have to find a new roommate, no doubt, as I didn’t think that I could afford to live in Soho anymore. I imagined myself in some Lower East Side tenement, getting fat on the couch as I listened to the sounds of domestic violence next door.
I stood on the sidewalk, and gripped onto a nearby railing. I looked around me, and the sounds and the sights were just too much. Too much. Cars were honking, people were yelling, and others were making rude gestures to one another. A lady walking her dog approached me, and the little white fluffy dog attempted to greet me by jumping on my legs.
Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs. But I was already freaking out, just being outside. I knew that I shouldn’t have done this all at once. I was reading on the Internet about my condition, agoraphobia, and I knew that I should have gone in baby-steps. First step outside the apartment and go back in. Gradually end up in the lobby of the apartment building, and go back in. With each gradual step, I would have gotten stronger and stronger, so that, when I finally stepped a foot outside, I would be courageous enough to face the world beyond the apartment building.
But that wasn’t what I did. I decided to try the “rip off the Band-Aid” approach, which consisted of me riding down the elevator and dashing outside, without any kind of previous preparation.
“Are you okay?” the lady with the dog asked me.
I nodded my head and said nothing.
“I’m very sorry about my dog jumping on you. I’m trying to train her not to do that. She looks like she frightened you pretty good.”
“It’s okay,” I managed to gasp out. My lungs were constricting, and I felt an intense squeezing in my chest. “I love dogs, really,” I said, still holding onto the railing.
She grabbed my arm and looked concerned. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you need me to call somebody?”
I shook my head and clutched my chest. “I, I, I….”
And that was it. I don’t remember what exactly happened next.
, and I had no idea where I was. I looked around the room, and it was someplace completely unfamiliar.
You’re dreaming, CJ. This happens to you all the time.
And it did. There were many, many times when I would wake up, and, for just a second or two, I had no clue where I was. Then, the disorientation would subside, and I would realize that I actually was in my bedroom the whole time.
I closed my eyes, shutting them tight. Then I counted to ten, and opened them again.
The place hadn’t changed. It still wasn’t my bedroom.
What this place was, though, was a gorgeous room. Way plusher and better decorated than anything that I could ever afford. Even when I was working. The floors were real hardwood, and the bed was comfortable and king-sized. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out on a terrace. I went out to the terrace and noticed the amazing view of the Manhattan skyline. I breathed in the air, and went inside before I could start to panic about being outside again.
I should have been panicking about being someplace unfamiliar. I apparently had been brought here when I was unconscious, too. But, for some reason, I felt comfortable in this place. For one thing, it wasn’t outdoors. I could handle confined spaces, such as apartments and buildings.
It was being outside that terrified me.
And the alarm bells weren’t quite ringing in my ears. Yes, I was someplace that was unfamiliar. And, yes, I apparently was abducted off the street and brought to this place. But my natural curiosity and inner need for adventure overrode any kind of apprehension that I should have been feeling in this predicament.
There was still an inner me that wanted to always taste excitement. She had been dormant, due to my acquired agoraphobic condition, but she was still there, somewhere. And she was delighting in being in this beautiful space.
I went downstairs and was astounded at the size of this place. The apartment was enormous, and I surmised that it was probably the penthouse of this particular building. The ceilings were over twenty feet high, and the enormous arched windows streamed natural light all around the place. The apartment was all modernly appointed, and I looked out onto the terrace, which had a Koi pond, a hot tub, and an enormous dining table that would easily sit 13 people.
“Oh my God,” I said, to nobody in particular. “So this is where they keep the light that doesn’t come into my apartment.” My apartment was always dark, seeing as the building was so close to the building next to it, so the only window to the place continually had blocked sunlight. None of the bedrooms had any windows, either. If I had suffered from claustrophobia, as opposed to agoraphobia, I never would have been able to live in my current place.
“Ola?” came a voice behind me. “Can I help you?” the voice said in broken English.
I spun around. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said. “I…my name is CJ. What is yours?”
The woman was small, round and had a friendly face. She was dressed in a typical maid’s uniform – black dress with a white collar and white apron. She had a duster in her hand. “Marguerita,” she said. Then she looked at me disapprovingly. “How did you get in here? I didn’t know that Mr. Sloane had a guest.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “But I don’t think that I am a guest. In fact, I have no idea how I got here or where I am.”
She shook her head. “Oh, mia, another one,” she said. “But your story is a little different from the others. They usually come here more than willingly.”
“I’m sorry,” I said again. “But I don’t know what you’re talking about. And who is this Mr. Sloane?”
“He’s the man of the house. He’s at work right now. Perhaps you should show yourself out?”
I bit my lip. I couldn’t “show myself out.” I couldn’t leave. I felt just as trapped in this enormous mansion as I did in my own dingy apartment. “I’m so sorry, Marguerita, but I can’t do that. Literally.”
She shook her head and started speaking in Spanish. Then she started vacuuming, her head shaking the entire time while she spoke in rapid Spanish to herself. I had no clue what she was saying, but I would imagine that it probably wasn’t favorable to me.
At that point, the newness and wonder that I felt upon waking up in this strange apartment was wearing off. I apparently was in the apartment of somebody with the last name of Sloane, who was apparently a very wealthy man. At least, from the looks of this place, he was very wealthy.
But what kind of a person was he? After all, he brought me here while I was unconscious. God knew what had happened after I got here. I didn’t feel like he had had sex with me while I was passed out, thank God, but, then again, anything was possible at that point.
And he was working. He brought me here, and then left me in a strange bed, while he went off to work.
At last, the sense of panic that I should have felt when I first woke up in this place started to well up within me. I couldn’t leave, and I didn’t want to stay. I had no idea what was going to greet me when this Sloane person came home. He had to be some kind of creep, some kind of wealthy creep. No normal man would do something like what he did. I, quite frankly, was frightened to meet him.
to meet my “captor”
about six hours later. He came through the door, and, in spite of my agitation and anger over the situation, my breath caught. The magnetic man was around 6’2”, with classic masculine features and thick dark hair. Piercing blue eyes scanned me through dark, thick eyelashes. He greeted me with just a hint of a smile.
I bowed my head, not wanting to look at that magnificent face. I cursed myself at being so shallow, because, all at once, instead of being annoyed at my “captivity,” I felt intrigued again.
“Hello,” he said in a friendly tone. “I must say that I’m surprised to see you still here. I would have thought that you would have already gone home,” he said, and then hurriedly added, “not that I wanted you to.”
“Uh, I’m sorry, but this is backwards to me. I have no idea who you are, and I’d be very surprised if you know who I am.”
“I’m Asher Sloane,” he said. “And I know that your name is CJ Parker.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Oh. And how did you know that?”
He laughed a little. “Psychic powers. Or maybe I just took a look in your wallet to see what your name is. You choose which of those options is more likely.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You peeked in my wallet?”
“I did. Don’t worry, I didn’t steal anything.”
In spite of myself, I started to breathe hard. My labored breathing was partly in response to how much I was drawn to this breath-taking man. His very nearness, coupled with his masculine scent and the pheromones that he was exuding from every pore, was sending my bodily sensations into hyperdrive. But there was another reason why my breathing was becoming labored.
I feared that he had taken the one thing that meant the world to me. The picture of Nathaniel. The little brother who was dead because of me.
The little brother I killed.
No, CJ, you didn’t kill him. Stop talking like that to yourself.
That was my inner voice talking. The inner voice was always fighting with my guilty conscience. The war raged inside of me every minute of every day, and I never knew which of the voices was louder. At the moment, my guilty conscience had the louder voice. Definitively.
I blinked my eyes, and ran upstairs to look at my purse. I hastily grabbed my wallet and looked inside. Relief flooded me as I realized that the picture, and everything else inside the wallet, was still intact.
I looked up, and there was Asher, standing in the doorway. “What, you didn’t believe me? I told you that I didn’t steal anything.”
I cocked my head. “I did believe you. It was just, uh, some things are more precious than possessions or money. I had to make sure that you didn’t somehow take one of my pictures that I carry around with me.”
He smiled again, and I felt like melting into a puddle on the floor. He put one of his hands on my shoulder, and a jolt of white-hot electricity shot all the way through my body. My hair stood on end, and I felt my panties getting wet.
Through panting breaths, I managed to eke out a weak “I really should go.” Then I shook my head.
Go? Go where? How? The second I walk outside, I’m going to panic and end up passing out on the pavement again.
“Shall I get my driver to drive you home?” he asked. His warm breath was on my neck, and I felt shivers down my spine. My body felt like it was being involuntarily claimed. As if I couldn’t leave for reasons other than the fact that I was afraid of being outside. I couldn’t leave because I didn’t want to, all of a sudden.
I jutted my chin out. “No, I’m fine. I’ve got cab money.”
“We’re pretty far from where you live, CJ,” he said. “Assuming that you live in the SoHo District, which is where I found you.”
“SoHo is where I live, in fact,” I said. “Where is this place?”
“Lenox Hill,” he said, referring to the tony Upper East Side neighborhood that was the playground for the rich and famous.
“Oh, okay, well, it will be a bit of an expensive cab ride home for sure. But that’s okay,” I lied. I was really at the end of my financial rope, which was why I tried to force myself outside in the first place. I desperately needed to have some kind of cash flow.
“Is it okay, CJ?” he asked me as he got even nearer to me. He brushed against me for just an instant, and I felt his hard, and enormous, cock lightly touch my body.
“Yes,” I whispered, feeling my heart racing. His lips were so close to mine, so close that I could smell the scent of cinnamon-infused breath. I parted my lips, wanting his mouth to drink in mine. I wanted to taste him while he did the same to me.
“Are you sure you want to leave, CJ?” he asked me as he put one finger on my chin.
I closed my eyes and nodded without a word. “Yes, I do, I…”
At that, I felt the gentle sensation of his soft lips meeting mine. He put one of his hands on the small of my back as he drew me closer to him. I resisted at first, but I soon found myself hungrily kissing him back. Wanting to devour him and drink him in, every part of him.
He commandingly put his hand on my upper thigh. I was wearing a knee-length jean skirt, and I felt his soft fingers working their way towards my now-soaking panties. I moaned softly as his fingers found their way to my throbbing clit. He pressed me into the wall, his hard cock now pitching a tent through his pants. As he put one of his fingers inside of me, he growled “your pussy is so tight. And you’re so wet for me.”
I didn’t want to be feeling like this. So alive, so invigorated. I didn’t know this man, even though I apparently spent the night in his apartment. I just now found out his name. Yet, I felt as if I was melded into that wall, because I couldn’t move an inch. I didn’t
to move an inch.
His lips once again found my own, and I grabbed ahold of his beautiful dark hair. It was if I was going to make sure that I kept his lips on mine. I was pulling him in, keeping him there.
“What do you want, CJ?” he asked me, as he took one of my wrists and bit it lightly. “Tell me what you want. Would you like some of this hard cock?” At that, he pressed against me and grinded into me. I could feel his massive erection stroking my body through his pants.
I nodded my head and swallowed. “Yes,” I whispered, in spite of myself. I could tell by the graceful way that he walked and moved that he was going to be a fantastic lover. And it had been so long since I had had sex…
Then an unwelcome voice broke the moment. “Uh, Mr. Sloane, I’m sorry to bother you,” Marguerita’s voice said just outside the door. “But I have to leave a little early today. My boy is sick, and was discharged from his baby-sitter.”
At that, Asher opened up the door. “It’s okay, Marguerita,” he said, and then said something in Spanish. “I’ll just have to order carry-out tonight.”
“Gracias,” she said, and then she was gone.
The spell was broken, though. I could still feel my heart pounding out of my chest, and my breathing was still extremely rapid. I could still feel my juices absolutely soaking my panties. A part of me was dying for him to come back and continue what he was doing. A part of me just wanted to run the hell away, as far and as fast as I could.
“I need to go,” I said. “Uh, I don’t really know how I ended up here, but I think that I need to express my gratitude for you, uh, rescuing me.”
He raised a single eyebrow. “You ended up here because you completely collapsed on the sidewalk. I asked my driver to take you to a hospital, but he apparently misunderstood and brought you here instead.”
“Was that this morning?” I asked him.
“Yes, it was,” he said.
“Then you obviously knew that I didn’t end up at the hospital. After all, when you walked in, you said that you were surprised that I was still here.”
“Well, yes,” he said. “Marguerita called me to tell me that you were here this morning. Then I heard nothing more from her, so that was why I was surprised that you hadn’t left yet.” Then he looked me up and down. “And I must say that finding you still here was really a pleasant surprise for me. Just the kind of thing that I need to see after a long day.”
“Your day was a long one?” I asked him.
“Every day is a long one these days,” he said, but he didn’t elaborate on that statement. “Anyhow, I don’t know about you, but I’m famished. Ordinarily, Marguerita makes dinner, but, as you probably heard, she has left for the day. Which means that I have to fend for myself.” Then he smiled devilishly. “Would you like to join me?”
I nodded and said nothing. Then I found my voice. “Sure, for delivery?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, but I was thinking more along the lines of a restaurant around here. There are some awesome ones just down the street aways. We could walk to my favorite Chinese restaurant if you like.”
I shook my head violently. “I, I, I, can’t,” I said. “I’m so sorry.” And then I sat down on the bed while Asher quietly looked at me. He obviously was trying to ascertain what was wrong with me, but, by the look on his face, he wasn’t quite getting it.