Authors: Stacey Kennedy
Tags: #Adult, #Romance, #Contemporary
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Loveswept eBook Original
Copyright © 2014 by Stacey Kennedy
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
is a registered trademark and the L
colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
eBook ISBN 9780553391190
Cover design: Lynn Andreozzi
Cover photograph: iStock
Mary drove past the iron gate minutes before six o’clock and up the cobblestone driveway toward the Georgian-style mansion. Set back from the road, the redbrick residence was decorated with black shutters and white pillars. Flowers embellished every inch of the grounds, as did olive and Australian willow trees. Dmitri Pratt and Presley Flynn’s home was breathtakingly beautiful yet commanding in its own way, too.
She approached the circular portion of the driveway, and parked her car behind a limousine. As she turned off the engine to her Mercedes convertible, Mary tried to figure out whom the limo could belong to. Since the chauffeur was waiting patiently in the vehicle, she doubted it belonged to her dear friend Dmitri. Besides, he had always preferred to drive himself.
Curious now, she grasped the wine bottle off the passenger seat, and as she exited the car the stifling Vegas air engulfed her. Her high heels clicked against the stone driveway as she made her way to the dark hardwood front door. When she reached the entrance and knocked, the light breeze fluttered the hem of her mauve sundress.
Only seconds passed before the door opened, and Dmitri’s girlfriend, Presley, greeted her, wearing a strapless yellow baby-doll dress. Mary thought even with dark eye makeup around her gorgeous emerald-green eyes and her curled blond hair, Presley still looked much younger than Mary’s own fifty years.
“I’m so glad you could make it, Mary,” Presley said with her sweet smile. “It’s nice to see you again.”
Mary returned the smile, stepping into the house and hugging her friend tightly. Since Presley had come into Dmitri’s life, she had made it a point to invite Mary over for a weekly dinner. At first Mary had refused the kind offer because she worried it would bring back too many memories. Dmitri reminded her of her late husband, Charles, whom she missed dearly. Though after Presley’s numerous invites Mary felt rude saying no. Now she enjoyed their get-togethers, even looking forward to them. She released Presley and said, “Thank you for having me. How are things?”
“Couldn’t be better. I told you, or I think we talked about, my hours at the clinic being cut back, which is good and bad financially, of course, but it’s giving Dmitri and me more time together.” Presley’s soft, gentle voice was so welcoming.
“Wonderful news.” Mary offered the bottle of wine. “A treat for dinner tonight. A nice white that I think will complement whatever you’re serving.”
“Yum. Thank you. Let’s go into the kitchen and talk a bit before we eat.” Presley turned and headed in that direction, her curls bouncing around her shoulders.
Mary smiled, as Presley reminded her a lot of herself when she was twenty-five years old—passionate about life. She removed her high heels, leaving them at the door like she always did, and looked around the foyer. A huge balcony curved around the entire upper floor, leading to a grand wooden staircase. Dmitri’s interior designer, someone that Mary had recommended when he built the home just over four years ago, had outdone herself. From the art on the walls, to the decorative sculptures, the house exuded wealth. One of her favorite paintings was the Edgar Degas—she wasn’t sure if it was a print or an original, Dmitri could afford either. She always admired the entrance no matter how many times she’d seen it before.
Her gaze lowered to the cherry hardwood floors, and her stomach tightened. In the basement was a secret not many knew of unless they were members of the elite and exclusive BDSM dungeon Club Sin. A club that Mary had never attended—in fact, she had no idea what it looked like, only that the club existed.
Even if Dmitri owned the dungeon and would no doubt allow her membership, many of the members were his close friends and presumably closer to his age, thirty-five years old, or younger. It was one thing to visit your friends’ home for dinner; it’s quite another to have a dialogue half naked and dressed for play. Besides, most of Club Sin’s members were still single and she doubted any of them had children—the differences in their lives were vast, and therefore playing at the club lacked in appeal in more ways than one.
After Charles, her husband and the father of her children, and also her best friend and Dom, passed away, just over four short years ago, her need to play in BDSM clubs died with him.
She sighed through those still-painful memories and followed Presley when she heard voices coming from the living room. Glancing to her left, she noted Dmitri sitting on one of the leather couches. His features were stern and focused on his conversation until his eyes met hers; then he smiled.
With his blond hair and piercing blue eyes, Dmitri was a handsome young man. Though she’d known Dmitri for more than ten years, the relationship between them had always been strictly platonic. “Mary,” Dmitri said, waving her into the room. “Please come in.”
She immediately noticed another man with a dark head of hair showing hints of gray on the sides. When he rose from his seat, her breathing faltered and her gaze drank him in.
“Mary Schmidt,” Dmitri said. “Please meet Elliott Foster.”
Elliott was tall, at least six-foot-three, and compared to Mary’s five-foot-six frame, he towered over her. He had a powerful physique, obviously a man who cared for himself and lived a healthy lifestyle. It’d been quite a while since she’d allowed herself to have an interest in another man, but this guy, she couldn’t look away.
He was undeniably gorgeous, and he looked to be right around her age.
Excitement shot through her when the side of Elliott’s mouth arched in a half-smile. He offered her his hand in greeting. “It’s my pleasure.”
“Likewise.” Mary slid her hand into his and heady warmth seeped from his strong fingers into hers; she felt drawn in to his spell.
His grip tightened slightly and he observed her. Nervously, she shifted on her feet from side to side, suddenly very unsure in her own skin.
She removed her hand from his, and couldn’t help but cast her gaze downward. Partly anxiety but partly a result of his presence, a natural response for her, and unfortunately something he would also detect and understand himself.
A long pause passed before Dmitri cleared his throat, drawing Mary’s attention. “Elliott is a close friend. We do a lot of business together.” His normal conversation pulled her back into their surroundings.
“Oh, do you work at the casino as well?” she asked, keeping her focus on Dmitri, attempting to settle the racing of her heart. Without having Elliott confirm it, she
he was a Dom—for those in the lifestyle, it was instinctual. She could tell by his observation of her, the knowing smile, and the desire in his eyes. Possibly even in the way he commanded his space within the room. She didn’t know if he played at Club Sin or somewhere else, but experience led her to identify a sexual Dominant.
“I invest in many companies,” Elliott replied, his voice smooth and alluring, holding mystery. “Dmitri’s casino is one of them.”
She sensed his stare and peeked at him. When their eyes locked on each other, her stomach somersaulted. She realized this was the first time she’d been around a mature Dom since Charles had died.
The effect rattled her, because she was aroused, interested, and she liked it.
An unnerving ache sizzled between her thighs, reminding her she’d been neglecting her own needs. When Charles was alive their relationship was very sexual and they enjoyed their play in and out of the dungeon. She’d always been a submissive and fiercely reacted around a Dom. Now she realized she still craved the power a Dominant held—the confidence, and the kink he could offer.
Dmitri said, “We’re looking to expand at the casino, so I casually was inquiring to see if Elliott might want to be involved.”
Elliott smiled, yet it was his chocolate-brown eyes that held Mary’s focus. They were commanding, capturing her as he said, “And I casually said yes.”
Dmitri laughed at Elliott’s remark, but Mary couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t ignore the heat coursing through her. This man had a serious effect on her and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Someone brushed against her arm, drawing her gaze away from Elliott’s stare. She inhaled sharply, discovering Presley had entered the room. An awkward moment passed as Presley looked from Mary to Elliott, then her smile beamed. “You know, I made a little extra for dinner tonight. Would you like to stay, Elliott?”
Mary tensed, awaiting his answer. On one hand, she would enjoy knowing more about this man; on the other, heady guilt was riding her for even thinking that. She still missed Charles. She still loved him. In her heart, she still belonged to
Elliott’s gaze zeroed in on Mary before his grin turned devilish. “I would love to stay for dinner, thank you.”
“Just give us a few more minutes, doll,” Dmitri said to Presley and motioned to the papers on the glass coffee table. “We’re just wrapping up the details.”
Mary clenched her teeth, sensing Elliott’s focus remaining on her. She instantly shivered and swore his stare was similar to fingertips dragging over her flesh. Doing her best to hide her unexpected reaction, she followed Presley into the chef’s kitchen. She inhaled the warm hints of spices and settled her hip against the island, narrowing her eyes on Presley.
Presley gave a tight smile. “He’s handsome, isn’t he?”
“Presley,” Mary warned.
“I’m just saying, he is.” She laughed softly. “Besides, isn’t it nice to meet someone else in the lifestyle?”
What is this? Is she
Though Presley was referring to the relationship of a submissive and Dom when the two lived the BDSM lifestyle, enjoying the power exchange and kink, Mary hadn’t been involved in it since Charles passed. “If I wanted to meet others in the lifestyle, I would have arranged it myself, without your meddling.” She crossed her arms. “I didn’t come here tonight for a date, if that’s what you thought you were arranging.”
Presley opened the oven and peeked in before she glanced over her shoulder. “It’s not like I planned it or something. I don’t mean to step on toes or anything, but I thought it’d be rude not to invite him to stay for dinner. Even if Elliott wasn’t in the lifestyle, I still would have asked him.” She shut the oven and added, “Why, does it make you uncomfortable?”
Mary withheld her response, knowing it shouldn’t make her uncomfortable. If Elliott wasn’t a Dom, having another dinner guest wouldn’t be a problem. Yet she sensed something with him that made her feel unsteady. The heat burning through her reminded her she was attracted to him and that he was a Dominant, a man who was skilled in controlling women and getting what he wanted.
She lifted her chin, forcing the thoughts away. She was no longer a submissive and certainly was not going to act on her body’s response to him. Her fingers absentmindedly reached for her diamond necklace—Charles’s claim of her—which was the collar that marked her as his. No one could replace him. “You’re right. It would have been rude of you not to ask him. Just no matchmaking, got it?”
“Of course,” Presley replied with a smile. She moved toward the counter, grabbing the tray of buns. “But maybe it’ll be nice to talk with someone who isn’t”—she glanced over her shoulder and grinned—“my age.”
Mary laughed, picking up the bowl of summer salad. Nice way of not saying she was old, she thought. Regardless of the years between them, she’d grown fond of Presley in the few months she’d known her.
Though lingering tension followed Mary as she walked through the kitchen toward the circular dining room, she could not be happier for Dmitri and all of the success he had achieved as well. When Charles first hired him to work at the casino, Dmitri had seemed strained, as if something heavy was weighing on him. His years of employment with her late husband was how she’d got to know Dmitri, and over time he became more relaxed and another part of their family. Not only had he and Charles gotten along very well, but Dmitri was a Master and needed to release that controlling nature, so when he got involved in the lifestyle he became a more well-rounded young man.
Charles had introduced Dmitri to Chains, a local BDSM club, and mentored him. They had known Dmitri since he was in his twenties, and he had gone from a kid who struggled through life to a confident thirty-three-ye
Her late husband would have been proud of the man, and Dom, Dmitri had become.
Mary entered the dining room and placed the salad on the antique table, knowing Presley’s intentions were good. Perhaps Presley thought Mary was missing something in her life.
Maybe she was.
She’d always known she’d lost a piece of herself when Charles passed away. In the year Charles was sick with terminal pancreatic cancer, she hadn’t been interested in anything sexual at all. She only wanted her husband well again. Then in the years since his death, she hadn’t watched a BDSM scene, except for a few adult movies, which were much different from being in the club and seeing a live display.
It’d been a long time since she had sex or any sexual physical contact, with or without the kink she had once craved and needed in her life. She sighed as she aligned the fork next to the plate and noticed Presley watching her. “All right, spit it out.”